While still a teenager, Louisiana-born Gottschalk made a name for himself in the Parisian salons, earning the admiration of no less than Frederic Chopin. Gottschalk soon also became a pop culture phenomenon, with his music flying off the shelves. The secret to his success was in doing for the indigenous music of the Caribbean what Chopin had done for the Polish Mazurka-crafting polished gems of stylized salon music out of popular dances. "Memories of Havana" was composed at the start of one of Gottschalk's South American tours. His travels certainly provided him with ample musical material. With the aid of the modern technology of steam locomotive travel, Gottschalk's second United States tour alone clocked in at 95,000 miles and somewhere around 1100 concerts.