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Richard March is a world-class authority on polka.

All polkas sound the same, right? As Frankie Yankovic sang in the 1950s: “It’s just another polka/Just another polka….”

If you believe that all polkas are alike, you have a lot to learn—and you can do so in Europe’s Musical Heritage in the Midwest: Polka, Balkan, Scandinavian Traditions, a course offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies from September 21-November 2. Instructor Richard March will explore the variety of European musical traditions that took root in the Midwest in the 20th century.

March is a world-class authority on this subject. He’s the author of the new book “Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka,” as well as the former Wisconsin State Folklorist and host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Down Home Dairyland.” In the course, he’ll use recordings, documents, and photographs to cover a remarkably wide range of genres and musicians. While Yankovic popularized the Slovenian-style polka, there are also distinct Polish-American, Norwegian, Croatian, and even Mexican styles.

The Steve Meisner Band plays Slovenian-style polka.

The Steve Meisner Band plays Slovenian-style polka.

“The immigrants from Europe in the 19th century and the recent Latino immigrants to the Midwest have brought a plethora of music traditions that have either evolved here or stayed much the same, so that we have a magnificent Midwestern musical mosaic,” March says.

For more information about Europe’s Musical Heritage in the Midwest: Polka, Balkan, Scandinavian Traditions, see the video above or contact Sue Sawatske, ssawatske@dcs.wisc.edu, 608-263-6670.