The Grand Victorian Ballroom: Waltzes, Quadrilles, Contras, Polkas, and Other 19th Century Dance Music (Gaslantern Records, 2012), with its accompanying sheet music, is the second of two CDs I received for my birthday earlier this year, along with North & South. But unlike North & South, this album was designed for dancing, so it is both beautifully played for listening pleasure and entirely functional as dance music. The musicians, once again, are the members of the Orchestra of the Gilded Age (I still don't know exactly who those members are) conducted by Jeffrey Hunter.
As with North & South, there are no liner notes included with the disc, but the Gaslantern website has all the details of sources, composers, dates, etc. All of the tunes except the two contra dances are dated between 1850 and 1870, perfect for a mid-century or American Civil War-themed ball. The contras are also quite appropriate; though their tunes are older, they were still popular and attached to common dances in this era.
While the focus is on American composers, the album includes the two quadrilles with European connections: the Prince Imperial Quadrille (French, but popular in America) and a Lancers set adapted from Jacques Offenbach's opera, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein.
My immediate advice: if you enjoy mid-nineteenth-century dancing, proceed directly to Gaslantern's website to order this CD. It's not available digitally; you have to buy the actual disc. The sheet music can be ordered in either physical or PDF format and includes dance notes for the quadrilles and contras.
If you want more information first, a track-by-track breakdown is below...[behind the cut, with other commentary]