« AnkstesnisTęsti »
preciate the refined and sterling selections | given, were delighted at hearing them rendered in a manner greatly superior to anything hitherto known. From the 9th of October to the 15th of November sixteen concerts were given at the "Tabernacle," in New York, and four in Brooklyn. The form and quality of the programmes selected were even thus early fixed upon, and, we believe, rarely afterward abandoned. They contained always a couple of good overtures; parts or the whole of a symphony; two solos; while the rest of the selections were of a more popular character.
This series of concerts created much interest among the real music-lovers of New York, but pecuniarily they brought nothing, the receipts often falling considerably below the expenses. This was partly owing to the fact that the exciting political events which followed the Mexican war, and preceded the election of General Taylor, were then at their height. At the close of the series a complimentary benefit was tendered to the orchestra by a number of resident musicians and amateurs, and the event called together the first and only crowded house of the seaThis concert took place at the Tabernacle on the 11th of November, and a number of vocal and instrumental soloists, then popular, assisted, including Madame Otto, Mrs. Horn, Messrs. Timm and Scharfenberg, and Signor De Begnis. The performance throughout pleased amazingly, and its success served to revive the drooping spirits of the members. The gleam of light, however, was of brief duration. Before the close of the month, two other orchestras arrived from Europe, each with a reputation already established. One, the "Saxonia," was of fair ability, while the other was no less than the famous orchestra of Joseph Gungl, from Berlin, out of which their own forces had been largely recruited. The Germania Society was now almost bare of finances. The first excitement over its arrival was already subsiding, and the members felt themselves in no condition to compete with these formidable rivals.
About the end of the month they went to Philadelphia on the invitation of a gentleman from that city, who had heard them play in New York, and who defrayed either the whole or a part of the expense of the trip. But in Philadelphia they were no less unfortunate, and their arrival was in the highest degree ill-timed. Madame Laborde, with the Italian opera company we have already mentioned, much more popular from its
novelty than for intrinsic excellence, was just then in the city, and in the full tide of success. The wild excitement which was created by the discovery of the California gold mines, the intensity of which many comparatively young readers may still recall, was just now beginning to agitate the public. mind. Altogether, the prospect seemed far from propitious.
The first concern of the members was to provide themselves with such quarters as their waning resources would permit. They engaged board at the "White Swan Hotel," then in Race street, above Third, at the certainly moderate rate of three dollars per week for each member. In order to introduce themselves more readily to the notice of the public, the society engaged the Musical Fund Hall and sent invitations to members of the press, and a large number of the most prominent musicians, music-teachers and amateurs, residing in the city.
This first performance in Philadelphia took place on the afternoon of December 4th. Its result, as well as that of the succeeding concerts, was pretty much the same story over again. Artistic success, immense; pecuniary success, infinitesimal. Four concerts were given at Musical Fund Hall, and the losses at each were so serious, that to lessen the expenses the much smaller hall of the Chinese Museum, at Ninth and Chestnut streets, was engaged. Two more concerts followed in that locality, and still, when the poor fellows undertook to figure up the results, the only figures that stared them in the face were ciphers. In a moment of desperation, they abandoned the Museum, as they had already abandoned the Musical Fund, hired a melancholy room, then known as "Arch Street Hall," and advertised a series of " Promenade Concerts," to begin on January 1st, 1849. The rent of this spacious and imposing structure was to be ten dollars per night, and on this eventful New-Year's Evening, after waiting patiently for the most persistent late-comer to arrive, the receipts amounted to nine dollars and a-half. In the middle of the concert, the worthy proprietor of the hall, taking advantage perhaps of the title given to the entertainments, himself appeared on the "promenade" and announced to the unhappy musicians that unless the ten dollars rent was forthcoming, then and there, he would turn off the gas. The despairing members one and all, with the utmost possible promptness and unanimity, desired him to "turn it off," and so ended the first and last of the "Promenade Concerts."
selves seemed a very forlorn hope. A number of propositions were made and rejected, one of the most amusing proceeding from the commander of the drums, Herr Njorth. The worthy drummer was the possessor of a very charming wife who was, withal, an "expert" at dancing, and Herr Njorth thought if she would appear between the parts of the programme in a dance or two it might produce an effect. Some of the members, the more youthful ones, seemed to favor the proposition. But it was indignantly voted down by the older ones, who regarded such an innovation with a holy horror. The meeting ended in nothing, save a general desire to be home again, and they separated still undecided as to their future.
In Philadelphia, as in New York, the few who were good judges of a musical performance were mortified and indignant at the wretched success of these concerts. They justly regarded it a calamity quite as great in its effects on our own public as on the visiting musicians. The only reparation in their power took shape, as in New York, in a complimentary concert, at which the orchestra was associated with the famous violoncellist, George Knoop. This concert, which was one of the finest ever given in Philadelphia, took place on the 6th of January. We will add here the programme entire, since it reveals a degree of richness totally beyond the experience of musiclovers at that day:
such conscientious musicians, the effect produced may be imagined. For years afterward the "Germania and Knoop concert" was a subject of pleasant memories and frequent reference by many who had heard it. One such success as this, however, could not bolster up the waning fortunes of the orchestra. The men were out of money and out of spirits. After some further deliberation they resolved to disband and each shift for himself. One joined the United States service as band-master; a few returned to New York, but the greater number remained in Philadelphia. If they had possessed the means it is quite probable they would have hastened back to their native land with the utmost expedition.
A few weeks after the orchestra had separated, a profitable engagement offered at Washington, to give four concerts and to perform at an "Assembly Ball," and the grand Inauguration Ball. The offer was, of course, accepted, and the dispersed members hastily recalled. After the inauguration festivities the Society concluded to try concerts again. This time they fixed upon Baltimore, and on the 8th of March gave their first performance in that city, at Brown's building; the more fashionable resort, Carroll Hall, being engaged by Gungl's band, which performed the same evening.
The condition of musical taste in Baltimore at the present day is not very flourishing. The receipts of the symphony concerts, which were directed by Mr. L. H. Southard, of the Peabody Institute, for several years, fell short of the expenses. The field, generally, has been so far from promising, that Mr. Southard, after a number of years spent in trying to cultivate it, some time ago abandoned the undertaking and went back to Boston. The honor, however, was reserved for Baltimore at that early day, to accord the first genuine success to the Germania Society. At the first concert, although the hall was by no means crowded, the demonstrations of pleasure and approval were more decided than the players had before heard anywhere. A second performance, on the following evening, was still better, and a general excitement was created. A mass at the Cathedral followed on Sunday, and the same evening a sacred concert was given at Zion Church with the greatest possible success. Gungl and his orchestra returned abruptly to New York, leaving the Germanians in possession of the field, and of Carroll Hall. But Carroll Hall proved soon to be too small for the increasing crowds, and the per
formances were continued at the Holliday Street Theater.
Now followed success as great as it was unexpected. Eight concerts were given to crowded houses, and the members of the orchestra were wonderfully elated. Many excellent compositions were now perform ed for the first time in America, among them Beethoven's Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies, Spohr's Consecration of Tones, overtures by Mozart, Weber, Mendelssohn and Spohr, a large amount of chamber music, and, in connection with the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, Rossini's "Stabat Mater," and Romberg's " Lay of the Bell." The business agent of the orchestra, Mr. Helmsmüller, was at his wits' end to plan suitable announcements for many of these concerts. At the very beginning of the series, so unexpectedly successful, he had advertised the "Farewell Concert." Now he was obliged to follow it up with such titles as "Grand Symphonic Entertainment;""By request, One More Concert ; "Another Farewell Concert ; They won't let us go," &c. But at last it had to come to an end, and the posters read:-" Most Positively the last Farewell Concert."
Having pushed their success in Baltimore as far as prudence would seem to dictate, they now resolved upon a visit to Boston. On the route to that city concerts were given at New Haven, Hartford, Springfield, Worcester, and Providence, with moderate success. They arrived in Boston on the 14th of April, and played the same evening. Here, again, a slight misunderstanding of American customs seemed likely to mislead them and disconcert their plans. The musical "season" ends in America while still at its height in London; and in the continental cities to which our artists had been accustomed the changes of season were very little regarded. But in America, even now, by the 14th of April, the concert season may be considered very far spent; and so the result of this first Boston concert was far from encouraging. They made a very small beginning indeed, the entire receipts being only twenty-three dollars.
The artistic success of this concert, however, was complete, and succeeding performances were more and more encouraging. The Boston public has enjoyed, for two generations or more, the reputation of pos
*It is said, by another authority, that the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven was first given in Boston about 1842.
| sessing the most refined and enlightened taste to be found on this continent. With no disposition to dispute her high artistic repute, we are inclined to trace it to a somewhat different source than superior judgment and unerring taste. The chief cause of it rests in the simple fact that what her people really like they will have, and are always ready to pay for. While other cities may be haggling over terms, and other audiences are hanging back until prices fall, Boston, having found a good thing, steps in, and, outbidding every vacillating competitor, bears the prize triumphantly within her own charmed circle. It was very much in this way that Boston treated the Germania Society. The season was virtually over. According to all precedent, the violins should have been boxed up, the flutes unscrewed, the kettle-drums hustled into their musty garrets to keep company with spider-webs, and the general average of concert-goers prepared gratefully to button up their pocket-books and thank God that one expense was over.
But the first concert of the Germania Musical Society opened the Bostonian eyes, and the unfastening of the Bostonian purse followed as a matter of course. They did not stay to ask whether it was May or November. Twenty-two concerts were now given in rapid succession, and the unabated enthusiasm was highly encouraging to the members. The last five concerts were played in connection with the then famous vocalist, Fortuneda Tedesca, and the hall was invariably filled to overflowing. It is a fact worth recording that at these twentytwo concerts the overture to "Midsummer Night's Dream" was played entire forty-four times, the audience in every instance insisting upon a repetition.
The high-road to success was now at length reached, and despite the near approach of summer, engagements from other cities flowed in rapidly. Good, paying concerts were given in Lowell, Taunton, and New Bedford, directly following the Boston series; and even New York, which had so decidedly given the cold shoulder to this enterprise, now offered an engagement to play at "summer festivals" in Castle Garden. This offer was accepted, and by the end of the series summer had come in good earnest.
About this time some of the more influential pioneer visitors at Newport had set about the project of making that resort a fashionable watering-place. Their artistic taste and judgment were well shown in their engagement of the Germania Orchestra for
the entire summer. Indeed, for six successive seasons the musicians found themselves regularly coming back to Newport again from their various wanderings; and it would not be too much to say that the popularity of Newport was quite as much due to their presence as to any other influence.
During this first season their plan was to play twice a week as one band; the rest of the time they were divided among the different hotels. The guests, among whom were many of their former friends from Baltimore, listened most attentively to the music, even going so far as almost to give up dancing during the entire summer. The cozy evenings at the "Atlantic" and "Bellevue" are still recalled with great pleasure by the surviving members. The entertainments resembled promenade concerts. Regular programmes were made out by the musical portion of the guests, and the playing drew crowds of listeners, filling parlors, halls, and piazzas with an audience far more attentive than could have been expected under the circumstances.
The numerous Baltimoreans who were at Newport that summer had by no means forgotten the musicians, nor the warmth with which they had greeted the orchestra in its day of obscurity. Now that its reputation was insured, they were no less anxious to participate in its triumphs. A subscription was set on foot, and very soon raised, for a series of thirty grand concerts to be given in Baltimore during the coming season, thus insuring the stay of the orchestra during the entire winter. This unprecedented series of concerts was given between November 27, 1849, and April 6, 1850. They were all well attended, and awakened an interest, not only popular, but unmistakably genuine.
During this long stay in Baltimore, the members had formed numerous personal friendships, and the time of parting did not arrive without bringing many regrets. The hearts of the young men had not been unimpressed. It was said in those days, and widely believed, that the Germania member, who should marry, forfeited his membership. This was not literally the case; but, recognizing the difficulty of maintaining domestic ties in a life necessarily so nomadic, the members, for a long time, refrained from such ties. The director and the drummer had been benedicts before the orchestra came into being; the rest remained single.
When the day of departure at length came, numerous friends assembled to bid them farewell, and the good wishes of
the entire community went with them on their way.
Now followed a tour throughout the Eastern States and Canada. Splendid success was met with everywhere. An overwhelming demonstration greeted them at Montreal, where seven concerts were given. The best portion of the citizens filled the house nightly, and the officers of the English regiments stationed there showed their appreciation and hospitality by giving the members a standing invitation to their mess, besides letters of introduction to their brother officers at other military stations.
The tour which they were now making was extended to nearly all the cities of Western New York, and lasted until the Newport season opened. It was, at this time, the custom of the orchestra to give seldom more than three concerts per week, and thus the members had large opportunities for social recreation, as well as for visiting points of interest in the various places through which they journeyed. In this way they gained a most thorough knowledge of the whole country, and it would be difficult to select an equally numerous group of American citizens who know so much of the geography of their own country, as did these peripatetic Germans.
The second season at New York began and ended with nothing eventful to record. At the close of the summer, the season of 1850-51 was again passed in Baltimore, where a second series of thirty concerts had been subscribed for. At the close of these concerts, which were fully as successful as those of the previous winter, the orchestra went on a four weeks' trip to the Southern States with Parodi, Amalia Patti, and Strakosch. Following this engagement was one with Jenny Lind, for whom they played in nearly thirty concerts, and when these were concluded, they repaired to Newport for the third summer.
At the close of the subscription concerts in Baltimore, Mr. Lenschow, the original director of the orchestra, had tendered his resignation, and Mr. Wilhelm Schultze, the leader of the violins, was chosen conductor ad interim. This arrangement continued with excellent results until the beginning of their Newport season, when the talents of Carl Bergmann-then in New York-becoming known to the members, he was elected to and accepted this important position.
During the season at Newport it was resolved to spend the following winter in Boston. While this resolution was pending,
there was much difficulty in making it unanimous, and six of the members resigned. An agent, however, was at once dispatched to Germany to supply their places, and the new players arrived just at the close of the Newport season. A two-months visit through the Eastern States served to convert the fresh arrivals into valuable members, and, thus equipped, the orchestra began its season in Boston. By careful management, and the exertions of friends, a sufficient number of subscribers was obtained for twenty orchestral concerts. It was by far more difficult here than in Baltimore. The Musical Fund Society and the Boston Quintette Club, two well established instrumental organizations, had each a large subscription list, for the entire winter, and the Handel and Haydn Society, which also had its regular subscribers, would of course employ the home musicians for its oratorios. Great rivalry now took place between the organizations. The Germanians being the better performers, and enjoying, as a result of their varied experiences, far more practical management, gradually got the better of the Musical Fund Orchestra. Even the Handel and Haydn Society finally engaged the Germanians for its concerts, and from that date their professional status in Boston was unquestioned.
It was at this time that the so-called "public rehearsals," destined to be so extraordinarily popular, were first undertaken, and here the great contralto, Miss Adelaide Phillips made her first public appearance, singing at nearly all of the afternoon concerts. These so-called "rehearsals" were thus named, in part, at least, from the fact that they were given in the afternoons, and to avoid using that frequently absurd anachronism, matinée. But the word was doubtless shrewdly chosen also, in deference to that well pronounced disposition of the human mind to enjoy everything that seems to be exclusive, or which the masses are presumed not to have the privilege of enjoying. It was remarked by Charles Dickens that the greatest happiness of the average human being, was to go "dead-head" to the theater. It was no doubt partly owing to this tendency that these "rehearsals" were so popular. At the close of the winter of 1851-52 in Boston, the Germania formed a connec tion with Ole Bull, traveling with him very extensively in the North and West, for nearly four months. Then, again, a delightful summer (the fourth) at Newport. During the leisure hours of this summer, plans were laid of a more ambitious character than here
tofore, with a view of spending the winter again in Boston. The Boston Music Hall was now nearly completed, and in the anticipation of an increased general interest in the subject of music, it was determined to enlarge the orchestra to thirty members, besides securing additional attractions in the way of soloists.
At the close of the season in Newport, the month of October was spent in Philadelphia. Their arrival was somewhat early in the musical year, but they were welcomed with a plentiful display of enthusiasm. They gave five concerts alone, and seven in combination with Madame Sonntag. These were the most brilliant concerts that the orchestra ever gave in Philadelphia, and to use the words of a member, "they were a most astonishing contrast" to those hapless entertainments which took place there in their earlier days.
The Boston Music Hall was now quietly engaged for every alternate Saturday evening, and for every Wednesday afternoon during the whole winter. An engagement with Alfred Jaell, the pianist, and Camilla Urso, the talented lady violinist, was perfected, and thus well prepared the Ĝermania entered upon the most successful year of their organization, and one of the most brilliant in the history of music in America. In addition to the regular Wednesday "rehearsals" and ten grand subscription concerts in Boston, series of three or four each were given in Charlestown, Taunton, New Bedford, Lowell, Newburyport, Providence, Hartford, Worcester, New Haven, and Portland, with single concerts at smaller places. Numerous performances were also given in connection with other artists, Alboni, Sonntag, etc., and with the Handel and Haydn Society.
The success of the public rehearsals on Wednesday afternoons was something prodigious. At one of them there were 3,737 tickets taken at the door, by actual count. True, the price was low-eight tickets for one dollar. At one time there were more than ten thousand tickets issued and in the hands of the public, while their use was so general that they have frequently been given and taken in "making change." It is a curious fact that seven hundred dollars' worth of these tickets were never redeemed, although a fund was reserved for a long time by the members for that purpose, even after the orchestra had finally separated. Occasionally afternoon and evening concerts were given on the same day, but the crowds continued undiminished.