After the Ball

 Audio Guide

Narrated by Joel Peresman, President & CEO of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Sheet music reached peak popularity in the final decade of the 19th century as hit songs were performed at a range of popular entertainment venues. During this decade, one song in particular took the music publishing industry by storm. The song? “After The Ball.” Written by Charles K. Harris in 1891, the “After the Ball'' song was a classic waltz that told the story of a bittersweet romance. It was the first hit single to sell one million copies, eventually selling five million copies during its publishing run. The runaway success of “After the Ball” sparked a boom in the music publishing industry which enabled Charles K. Harris to establish his own company located right in the heart of New York City’s Tin Pan Alley. “After the Ball” formed a foundation for the music industry’s viability and began the industry’s association with New York City. The city became the heart of the music business for many years to come, guiding the style and sound of American popular music.