The piano piece “Chopsticks” was originally named The Celebrated Chop Waltz, presumably written by Euphemia Allen in 1877—who was thought to have been 16 at the time—and published under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli. The name Chop Waltz refers to how the piece was to be played, as she wrote at the top of the sheet: “This part (primo part of the duet) must be played with both hands turned sideways, the little fingers lowest, so that the movements of the hands imitate the chopping from which this waltz gets its name.” [ 2 ]
Variations of Chopsticks have been composed almost from its inception. Ostensibly, in 1879, it was American Publishers who changed the original name.
Coincidently (or is it?), four bars of a piece (also in 1877) were written or played by the daughter of Russian Romantic composer, Alexander Borodin (1833 – 1887). It was named The Cotelettten Polka from the French word côtelette, meaning “cutlet” or “chop.”
Intriguing to think that a small, ubiquitous bit of music has such a rich background.