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Lilia's Polka by Kate Chopin (1899)

Kate Chopin had the love of music instilled in her at a very young age. Not only was she taught to play the piano by her grandmother, but also when she was a child at Sacred Heart Academy, her mother, Eliza, had her take extra lessons in piano. Kate also belonged to the Academy of the Visitation for Extra Musical Training. She was able to read music and repeat by ear,opera music that she heard. An 18-year-old Kate O'Flaherty was struggling to describe the emotional effects of music on her soul, as her Commonplace Book says. She plays on this in The Awakening, some thirty years later, when Edna is "deeply susceptible to music and also cannot put into words how the glorious piano playing of Mademoiselle Reisz plays on her deepest emotions" (Toth and Seyersted 195). Nothing is known about the emotions that inspired Kate to write this polka, other than her daughter's name being Lelia. Polkas at the time, were very popular among the German and German Americans in St. Louis. H.H. Rollman, the publisher of it, probably saw a market and rushed to do business with Kate.