Bella C. Landauer Collection of Aeronautical Sheet Music
The Bella C. Landauer Collection of Aeronautical Sheet Music is one of the treasures in the National Air and Space Museum Library. The earliest known aeronautical song was published in 1785. Entitled Chanson sur le Globe Aerostatique, it depicts a Montgolfier balloon ascending from the Tuilleries in Paris. This piece was followed by countless musical compositions dealing with all phases of aeronautics. "Wrong-Way" Corrigan had his bard, no less than Lindbergh. And there was always someone to opine musically about such disasters as the wreck of the dirigible Shenandoah or the Hindenburg. Most of the music written in the early 19th century until the age of the airplane, fell into three categories: songs expressing the author's desire to fly to distant lands or even to the moon, comic songs about ballooning mishaps, or purely romantic songs.
The importance of music as a mirror of the times has largely been overlooked in aeronautics. It remained for Bella Landauer, a veteran collector whose son was a pilot, to recognize it. She started collecting sheet music in the early 1920's, scouring music shops, publishing houses, auctions and private collections for sheet music with an aeronautics theme. She consulted publishers' lists and personally inspected old musical stock, gradually building up a formidable collection that included many rare scores, almost all with an illustrated cover. The pioneer days of flying in the United States brought a plethora of music which will be remembered nowhere except in Mrs. Landauer's collection.
-description exerpted from an essay by Paul McCutcheon on the original Landauer Collection website .