Thomas Symphony Soiree: 5th

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
William Berge

Price: $1.50

Event Type:
Choral, Orchestral

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
18 January 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

23 Mar 1867, 8:00 PM

Program Details

William Berge, director of the Mendelssohn Union.

The orchestra was comprised of eighty members. The New York Tribune announcement says the orchestra was "reinforced" for the occasion.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Schubert
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Text Author: Goethe
Composer(s): Beethoven


Advertisement: New York Herald, 18 March 1867.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 20 March 1867.

Program, performers, price.

Announcement: New-York Times, 20 March 1867, 4.

"Steinway Hall.--Mr. Theodore Thomas' last symphony soiree for the season will take place on Saturday evening next. The pieces in rehearsal for the close of this admirable series of concerts are the 'Entr' acts to Rosamunde,' by Schuberth [sic], Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 A [sic] and the 'First Walpurgisnight [sic], op. 60,' by Beethoven [no period]"

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 20 March 1867, 8.
Announcement: New York Post, 20 March 1867.

Brief. "The fifth and--we regret to add--the last, for this season, of Theodore Thomas's soirees, is to be given at Steinway Hall on Saturday evening."

Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 March 1867.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 21 March 1867.

“The chorus of the Mendelssohn Union under Berge, will be a strong auxiliary to Mr. Thomas’s orchestra which, as reinforced for the occasion, will include not less than eighty performers. The whole choral and instrumental force will be concentrated in the celebrated Walpurgis Night, four vocal soloists also taking part in it.”

Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 21 March 1867.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 23 March 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., 23 March 1867.

“Took Johnny and Temple to Theo. Thomas’ Concert tonight which they enjoyed. Ellie had to attend an amateur concert at Jerome’s theatre in aid of the Southern Relief Fund.

Concert was very good.  ‘Two Entre-Acts to Rosamunde’ by Schubert were satisfactory.  The second seemed really genial and melodic--not unworthy the author of the Serenade and scores of loveliest songs besides. His orchestral work has always seemed to me far below those compositions. A movement from a piano concerto of Chopin’s (Op. 11) was very pleasant to hear. Then came Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis-night (Op. 60) for chorus and orchestra. Good honest real Music, but not particularly interesting. I don’t doubt tho’ that I should rank it high if I knew it well. Finale, the magical VIIth Symphony. I use that over-worked and much abused adjective deliberately. The first three movements, at least, possess something like a supernatural power, a power quite peculiar and beyond that of any orchestral work except perhaps the C minor Symphony. Even that, tho’ certainly nobler and grander than No. 7--conceived in a loftier spirit, executed with more varied resources of genius--even the C minor is without the wonderful fascination of No. 7. What is there in all music as fresh as that wonderful 2nd movement, the memorable allegretto? So fresh, so free and as it were extemporized and as uncanny withal?”

Review: New-York Times, 25 March 1867, 5.

Irregular capitalization and oddly-placed quotes in this article.

“Mr. Thomas gave his fifth and last symphony soiree, at Steinway Hall, on Saturday evening. The programme was quite good, although it promised no novelties. Novelties, indeed, must be rare at such entertainments as this, which are made up almost entirely, and as far as regards instrumental pieces altogether, of classical music; for no music, however fine, is to be received as ‘classical’ until it has sustained the test of time, just as no man, however virtuous in his life, can be canonized unil long after his death. At the farewell symphony there were four umbers, and their order was, First, The ‘Two Entre’Actes to Rosamunde,’ by Schubert, repeated from the programme of Mr. Harrison’s last popular concert. Second, ‘Chopin’s Concerto in E minor,’ for the piano, at which Mr. Emile Guyon displayed some nervous, but forcible and expressive playing. Third, The ‘Third Walpurgis Night,’ by Mendelssohn, in which Mr. Hill, Mr. Duschnitz, and Miss Hostin undertook the solos, and Mr. Thomas employed the entire force of his grand orchestra, together with the chorus of the Mendelssohn Union; the Union, however, appeared somewhat reckless at those certain periods where the sudden and trying cessations of vocal sound are demanded at culminative moments, and where equally sudden and immediate outbursts are required. The orchestra was in marvelous harmony, and gave a unanimous weirdness to the heathen orgies which Mendelssohn has so perfectly expressed in the music of the Walpurgisnight. The last number on the programme was ‘Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, A,’ and must be classed among the very best of the many fine performances of Mr. Thomas’ orchestra. There is something so like the expression of the four periods of the human life in the four movements of this grand symphony, that as each is heard its vivid reproduction of the feelings find ready echo in the age that it touches, for there is in the first all the vivacity of childhood, in the second the dreaminess of youth, in the third the alternate severity and fantastic flights and ambitions common to manhood, and in the fourth, as in age, a retrospection which embraces all that has gone before. Mr. Thomas conducted, as he always conducts, in the true artistic manner, without any apparent regard to the fact that an audience was observing him, and as if solely to give expression to his own emotions. The symphony soirées which this young chief among musicians has given have been among the worthiest musical enterprises of the entire season, and it is good to know that Mr. Thomas’ perseverance in them through previous struggling times has been rewarded by their adoption at last as an institution of the Winter, which the public would greatly miss if anything should cause their interruption.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 25 March 1867, 8.

A large and elegant audience attended the last of these concerts this season. Thomas’ concerts have become gradually more popular over the last three years; especially since he integrated more modern pieces and excellent soloists. This season he hired the Mendelssohn Union which allowed him to present works that included choral parts. The level of performance of the musicians can be equaled to the Philharmonic orchestra, and although therefore competition, Thomas’ concerts were rather looked at as stimulating the musical interest in the audience. In this last concert the significantly enlarged orchestra did justice to all the works performed. The vocal parts of the concert we have heard performed better before.

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 28 March 1867.

“Music. The late memorable Symphony Concert, the last of Mr. Theodore Thomas’s excellent series, borrows a thought in its honor from the most popular feature. A night so rife with the ideas, imagination, and spirituality of the masters (witness Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Chopin), was as good as a Walpurgis Night’s Feast. So grand a programme is rare, and it happily crowns a season that for its wealth of solid entertainment is seldom surpassed. Let us consider the programme. First came two Entre’actes by Schubert, the beauty of form and freedom of which we have already noted. Had he written nothing else, they would give him claim to singular prominence as a symphonist; but it is well known by this time that Schubert belonged to the bards as well as to the troubadours. Accordingly here is an allegro in the mood of Beethoven, with a largeness of phrase and a grandeur of accent, hardly to be expected from any else—conceived in the honor of mastership and in the liberty of genius. If after this, a majority of hearers would regard the andantino following as a passage of rarer texture, the richness of these two interludes must be inferred. Their contrast is exquisite, thanks most to the subtle interweaving of melodious colors in the langorous andantino—a poem for the Elfland that looks at itself reflected in still waters. Succeeding Schubert, came Chopin, in the piano concerto E minor, Emile Guyon at the piano, opening with just a slight dash of flippancy, but deepening and brightening as he proceeds, and once or twice, almost in the midst of his performance, eliciting half-pertinent applause. Only the first movement of the work, the allegro maestoso—tender and dreamy in its majesty, darkling and sparkling in its liveliness, and set against a strongly shaded orchestral background, was played by Mr. Guyon. Afterward came the First Walpurgis Night, one of the best poems of Mendelssohn, wedded to a highly iminaginative one by Goethe—the tradition of the witch orgies on the Brocken, wrought into symphony and song by one and the other. A Shakespearean super-naturality belongs to neither; and Mendelssohn’s is not Beethoven’s way of treating the mystic and the grotesque. But he responds with ethereal delicacy, and a powerful ideality to the muse of Goethe. The preluding symphony, as a whole, has a finer depth and sweep than the body of the poem, but nothing in the work surpasses the shuddering and fugitive chorus of druids, wherein demons threaten to come with torches through night glooms and rocky hollows to howl with owls and ravens—for which we have the assurances of Goethe’s verse. Besides this is the prayer of the priest, (sung with rude but sterling and earnest expression by the basso, Marco Duschnitz) an invocation of the highest harmonic character. Finally, came Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, with a vivacious opening movement, capitally played; succeeding this the Allegretto, shadowily and solemnly at first til caught in the temperate delight of its sequel. The presto, a marvelous passage, possessing all that the Walpurgis Night wants, is the third movement. What is comparable at all to its very sorcery—the rush and speed of its gusty humor, the storm of its imaginative sweep, the dance as it were of wind and elves. In this and in the last movement, allegro con trio, the orchestra had opportunity to illustrate some of the grandest eccentricities of the composer in the strongest effects of the violins. A soughing of the winds, with all the suddenness of a gale, seems to come from the orchestra in the latter—but the wildness of the presto was even a more exacting test of Mr. Thomas’s 80 instrumentalists. They were equal to it, and what more need be said? A better performance on the whole has seldom been given in America.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 30 March 1867, 586.

Schubert’s two entr’actes from Rosamunde are full of charming, melodic and modulatory effects; especially the andantino, which consists of an expressive melody with variations, is captured with genuine Schubert traits. We do not know in which relation the music expresses the drama behind it, because we don’t know it (the plot). In no way does it seem to fulfill the purpose of the centre act.

Guyon played Chopin with skill; however, he was still not the proper pianist to execute this work appropriately. Not only individual expression was missing, there was also a lack of poetic air which Chopin’s compositions are engulfed in. In addition, his touch of the keys was too rough and monotone.

Beethoven’s symphony was a worthy finale. It was performed exceptionally well.

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 30 March 1867, 588.

Almost the exact same review as that in the New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold.