A sepia-toned photograph of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a capella group from Fisk University.

Sigurd Springer’s Music Box

My dearest Helga,

I feel that I must write you although the tales from the front are quiet. I hope that you are getting on well, but I can’t help but feel anxious that you are suffering from ennui in my absence. Were you frightened by the sight of the bright lights in the sky last month? I was worried that they would perturb your delicate soul.

In hopes of lightening your spirits, I wanted to send you some of the newest music that we are listening to out here as we strive to fight for justice and freedom. Private Johnson was able to secure one of these new confounded “phonoautographs,” which can play music out loud! It is truly an amazing new technology that has brought a lighthearted feeling to the whole dark proceedings.

So, here is my favorite music from this year, the year of our lord, 1872!

A sepia-toned photograph of John Philip Sousa, a bearded man wearing the militaristic uniform and hat of a marching band conductor.

John Philip Sousa

I recently heard this young whippersnapper named John Philip Sousa when I was in a local tavern with the boys. Wow! What a rousing performance! Full of patriotism and vigor. I’m sure he’ll be composing marches that folks 150 years from now will still be writing about. I can’t wait to hear him on that phonautograph, blasting at the enemy as we approach. Who that enemy is, I’m still unclear on that front, but the sergeant has promised we’ll find one soon.

A sepia-toned photograph of Richard Wagner, a taciturn looking man wearing mutton chops and a cravat.

Richard Wagner

This Wagner guy, coming out of Germany, is really making bangers – the British breakfast sausage. He also composes some great music! This stuff really gets your blood pumping, feeling like you’re ready to go to war. I love playing this for the boys before we charge the line. It’s almost like some insane warlord made music for fighting.

A sepia-toned photograph of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a capella group from Fisk University.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers

We’ve also had the pleasure of being visited by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a capella group from Fisk University! This was truly a treat. While they didn’t give the drive to war of Sousa and Wagner, their delicate harmonies and beautiful vocals truly lifted all of our spirits to the heavens. They sang “The Gospel Train,” and I do declare that this new a capella trend is a truly revolutionary style that employs the range of all voices. I can’t wait to find them again!

A sepia-toned photograph of Myllarguten, a seated Norwegian man gazing down at the fiddle he's holding.


I was also saddened to hear of the death of Myllarguten. Given your Norwegian background, my dear Helga, I’m sure you were very familiar with his folk fiddler style that really transformed the face of contemporary music. There is no doubt in my mind that 150 years from now, critics will be looking back at this year and declare that the loss of Myllarguten was really where music started going downhill. I’m not sure music, as a medium, will ever be able to return from this catastrophic loss.

* * *

With that, dearest Helga, I will leave you at your leisure. I do hope you find yourself full of good spirits and in good health. I promise I will return home soon, and upon my return, I will give you that ring you’ve had your eye on.

Your brother in Christ,

Sigurd Springer


Sigurd Springer is a Private First Class in the US Army. When not fighting against “the enemy,” Springer courts his love and tries to find the choicest melodies. You can reach him by telegraph @noahjspringer.


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