Philharmonic Society of New York Concert: 25th anniversary

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Carl Bergmann

Price: $5.00 for 5 subscription tickets; single tickets $1.50 each

Record Information


Last Updated:
22 January 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 May 1867, Evening

Program Details

Bruch’s work is not listed in the advertisements.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Beethoven
aka Preludes, Les
Composer(s): Liszt
aka Jubel overture; Jubilee
Composer(s): Weber


Announcement: New-York Times, 22 April 1867, 4.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 22 April 1867, 8.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 27 April 1867, 601.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 April 1867, 4.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 28 April 1867.
Announcement: New York Musical Gazette, May 1867, 53.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 May 1867, 7.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 01 May 1867.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 02 May 1867, 12.

“The public are respectfully informed that, to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the organization of the Society a GRAND CONCERT will be given. . . . Rev. Franklin Johnston will deliver an appropriate address on this occasion.”

Announcement: New York Post, 03 May 1867.
Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 04 May 1867, 617.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 04 May 1867, 4.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 04 May 1867, 8.
: Strong, George Templeton. New-York Historical Society. The Diaries of George Templeton Strong, 1863-1869: Musical Excerpts from the MSs, transcribed by Mary Simonson. ed. by Christopher Bruhn., 04 May 1867.

“To Steinway Hall for the extra Philharmonic Concert - the 25th Anniversary of the organization of that Soc’y - its ‘Silver Wedding.’  How well I remember its first concert, in Nov. or Dec. 1842!  Programme was the C Minor Symphony, an ‘oration’ by a Rev. Franklin Johnson, which was brief and unpretentious.  He told us how ignorant this community was of first class music in 1842 - how the nascent Philharmonic Soc’y had to import its scores from Europe, &c &c.  Then we were afflicted by ‘Preludes: Poeme Symphonique’ by that miserable Liszt.  They set my teeth on edge.  This deluded composer is master of counterpoint, laws of composition, orchestration—or in other words, of Musical Language.  But he has nothing to say.  So he turns musical language up and down and exhausts all its resources of ‘verbal’ antithesis brilliancy and jingle, without a single musical thought to justify his mechanism and monkeyism.  It was an exasperating composition.  Then came a concerto of Mozart’s for two pianos (No. 7 in E flat) - most graceful and elegant.  Long chorus for Basses and tenors, something about Frithioff’s Saga - by one Max Bruch.  Very long and rather slow - and then, for finale, Weber’s brilliant beautiful Jubel overture.”

Review: New York Herald, 05 May 1867, 7.

“The Philharmonic Society celebrated their silver wedding, oir twenty-fifth anniversary, at Steinway Hall last night by a concert, which was attended by a crowded and fashionable audience.  The principal feature of the concert was the splendid singing of the männerchor of the celebrated Liederkranz Society in Frijolf’s Saga [sic], by Max Bruch, a work which we spoke of before when sung by the same society at their own hall.  The rendering of this masterpiece last night deserved all praise, and added more laurels to the already plethoric wreath worn by the society.  Madame Rotter and Fred Steins were the soloists, and acquitted themselves in the most satisfactory manner.”  

Review: New-York Times, 06 May 1867, 4.

“We are glad to state that the concert in celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Philharmonic Society, given on Saturday evening at Steinway Hall, was quite successful in its results.  The audience was large and quite distinguished.  Between Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, which led the programme, and Liszt’s ‘Poem Symphonique,’ heard frequently, but never listlessly this season, the history of the Philharmonic Society, since its organization formed the subject of an oration by Rev. Franklin Johnson, which had its interested as well as merely attentive listeners.  The spirit of the address was congratulatory and hopeful.  The concerto on the programme was Mozart’s No. 17, in E flat, with Mr. Wm. Mason and Emile Guyon at the pianos—thinking less of self display than of the sublime old Master—and the full Orchestra, under Carl Bergmann, in fastidious harmony.  The result was one of the most faultless performances, and its reception by the audience was commensurate with its deserts.  In addition to the customary Overture, which on this occasion was Weber’s ‘Jubilee,” in E, the programme was prolonged by a cantata on Frithiof’s ‘Inga,’ by Max Bruch, for soprano and baritone, chorus and orchestra; about the laborious dullness of which cantata, in spite of some undeniable beauties, we do not believe that any number of hearings would be likely to modify our opinion.  A more fatiguing piece was never sung or listened to.  Mme. Ratter, Mr. F. Steins, and the Leiderkranz Society were heard in it.” 

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 06 May 1867.

“The Philharmonic Society celebrated on Saturday evening its 25th Anniversary in the grandest concert of the season.  The performance opened with Beethoven’s C Minor Symphony, No. 5, rendered by the society at its first concert 25 years ago, and therefore a glorious reminiscence.  It would be difficult to speak thoroughly of a work so profoundly thorough as this characteristic symphony, which nobly formed in all respects, combines the strength and symmetry of entire structure with the most perfect freedom of parts but of how many of Beethoven’s kingly symphonies the same, and little more is to be said.  The orchestral triumph of the evening was undoubtedly Liszt’s symphonic poem or preludes.  The best it seems to us, of all his compositions, and as contrasted with some others, a broad revelation of all the quality of genius to which he can lay claim.  It would seem to measure substantially every modern orchestral effect and, at the same time, it is probably less theatrical than any work of his that we have heard.  It has the character of an overture, but it aims to be something more, and it is in fact, a symphonic poem, with as much right to the name as possible.  There is not want of melodic feeling in this poem, no deficiency of contrast—the variety of which and sometimes their grandeur, are exceedingly impressive.  In fact, we seem to have, in Liszt’s poem, Wagner’s force, with little of his harshness, and we suppose just such a symphony as this would be acceptable to Wagnerians as to everybody else.  We cannot praise too cordially the general execution of this difficult but compensating work.  The effect of what can only be described as a gust of violins culminating into the grandly measured storm of the concluding march was electric and warming, and it would seem impossible to overrate it as a piece of well-managed orchestration, for which all thanks to Mr. Carl Bergmann.  The cantata of Frithoff’s Saga [sic], a new work by Max Bruch—the breath of the Norlands and the mystery of the Sagas running through its choral chapters—was sung at length by the Liederkranz, Madame Rotter, Mr. Frederick Steins, and a tasteful tenor whose name does not appear on the bill, giving acceptable soli.  The Liederkranz has never acquitted itself more ably and it is seldom that choral performances are so deeply and delicately and at need so vaguely and darkly shaded.  The work must be heard many times before final judgement, and, of course, it is the intention of the Society to repeat it often.  The programme still further included a Concert for two pianos, by Mozart, delightfully played by Mr. William Mason and Mr. Emile Guyon, and Weber’s beautiful and inspiring Jubilee Overture.  There was, beside, an almost irrelevant but respectable oration by the Rev. Franklin Johnson sandwiched between Beethoven and Mozart and suffering to the extent of the contrast.  When the Philharmonic requires a speech, it has only to tune its instruments, and discourse Beethoven, who will answer well enough and on all counts, for whatever the Society has to communicate with reference to music.  In this way music will be its own eulogist, and we shall be happily spared the tedium of unprofitable words in its praise.  Nothing impaired the success and enjoyment of this most generous entertainment of the year, except the stifling atmosphere of the hall.  The night was warm, and there was no ventilation, even to the smallest window, and the public once again dumbly submitted to what was simply an outrage upon its comfort, for which we hold the keepers of the hall to blame.”         

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 11 May 1867, 632.

The event was well attended. The opening of the concert with Beethoven was appropriate, not only because the same work opened 25 years ago. The work is just as popular as it was 25 years ago. (…) Liszt’s “preludes” were played with precision and fervor. Bergmann was very much in his element with the “preludes” and his enthusiasm was transferred not only to his musicians but also to the audience in a fashion never experienced before. Mason and Guyon played Mozart with expression.

The performance of the “Frittzjofssage” did not make a favorable impression on the audience. The work has its beauty; however, it seemed to lack a harmonious style. Maybe we will like it better when we hear it a few more times. 

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 11 May 1867, 633.

(First part of review resembles the earlier NNYMZ review – see above) The solos (“Frittzjofssage”) were sung satisfactorily. The choruses were very good without exception. The accuracy and confidence of the singers contributed significantly to the success of the work. We appreciate the effort of the performers. Without their eagerness, this kind of work would not be heard in public.

Review: New York Musical Gazette, June 1867, 60.

“The musical event of the past month was the concert of the Philharmonic Society on their twenty-fifth anniversary, May 4th.  It was a success musically and financially, the audience large and appreciative.  The programme opened with Beethoven’s symphony in C minor, the same work with which they began their career twenty-five years ago.  The orchestra gave proof in their rendering of this and the rest of the programme, which included Liszt’s ‘Poeme Symphonique,’ of the able leadership of their conductor, Mr. Carl Bergmann.  Of course there are few of the original members remaining.  William Mason and Emile Guyen, at the pianos, gave to the audience Mozart’s Concerto, No. 17, in a style worthy of it.  In addition to the customary Overture, which on this occasion Weber’s ‘Jubilee’ in E, the concert was prolonged by a cantata on Frithiof’s Saga by Max Bruch, the music of which, on the whole, heavy and somewhat tiresome.  It would have been much more interesting if the programme had afforded a brief outline of the legend, with which it is barely to be supposed that the general public is very familiar.  The history of the Philharmonic Society since its organization formed the subject of an oration by Rev. Franklin Johnson.  It was interesting, but in a condensed form would have been more acceptable in the morning paper than at the concert, which was prolonged to a very late hour.

           The Philharmonic Society has struggled alone until it has become, it is to be hoped, a permanent institution, for it has done a great deal toward the cultivation of a higher musical taste, and made us familiar with classical music to which we should otherwise have been strangers.”