Historical Soirée of Classical and Modern Piano Music

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Price: $1

Event Type:
Chamber (includes Solo)

Record Information


Last Updated:
13 June 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

06 Feb 1868, Evening

Program Details

The unidentified keyboard work by Handel is listed in the citations as "Aria and variations, D minor."

The unidentified keyboard works by Bach are listed in the citations as a "Sarabande" and "Passepied."

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Appassionata
Composer(s): Beethoven
aka Carnival jest from Vienna; Fantasy images
Composer(s): Schumann
Composer(s): Handel
Composer(s): Bach
aka Bravour-Studien nach Paganini’s Capricen "La Campanella"
Composer(s): Liszt


Advertisement: New York Herald, 04 February 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 05 February 1868.
Announcement: New-York Times, 05 February 1868.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 05 February 1868.
Review: New York Herald, 07 February 1868, 5.

“Amusements. Steinway Hall.—Miss Alide Topp, a lady who has made herself the highest reputation as a pianist this season, gave a very risky and extraordinary concert last night. She appeared in Steinway Hall as the only artist in the concert, and undertook the dangerous experiment of playing all sorts of piano music—Beethoven, Handel, Bach, Schumann, Claussen, Chopin and Liszt. In some she was eminently successful, in others she failed. Yet the impression on the minds of all leaving Steinway Hall, and there was a large and fashionable audience at the concert, was that Miss Alide Topp was an artist of rare talent of considerable versatility. A clear, vigorous and well delivered touch, a trace of womanly sentimentality, rendering a great composer’s ideas, and a poetic, delicate and exquisite interpretation of each work were the characteristics of Miss Topp’s playing. Some cavillers have found fault with her playing, but they have failed to do justice to her wonderful sentiment, and appreciation of the ideas of the author. Miss Topp may safely challenge competition with any of our pianists (Mills always excepted), and bear off triumphantly the highest honors. There were some blots last night in Beethoven’s sonata, and a fantasia by Schumann, but the rest of the programme made up for it. Alide Topp has proved herself the Arabella Goddard or Clara Schumann of America, and the musical public will never suffer such talent as hers to rust in obscurity. The concert was an entire success.”

Advertisement: New York Post, 07 February 1868.
Review: New York Post, 07 February 1868.

“Amusements. Other Musical Matters. Last evening Miss Alide Topp gave a concert at Steinway Hall, which was of a rather singular character. She performed on the piano-forte a large variety of compositions by the masters of many different schools, including Beethoven, Liszt, Bach, Chopin, Schumann and Handel. The performance was entirely unrelieved by either orchestral or vocal music, so that Miss Topp had to depend on her own unaided efforts. It is a very high compliment to her to say that she sustained the interest of her auditors throughout the whole performance. There are very few pianists who could do as much. Her interpretation of so many different styles of music was a surprise even to those who have admired her great powers of execution. It is almost a matter of course that she should have shown less comprehension of some of the selections than of others. It is not given to any pianist to interpret both Beethoven and Liszt with equal fidelity, and it is not strange that Miss Topp was not so successful in rendering the ‘Sonata Appassionata’ of the former as she was in giving the ‘La Campanella’ of the latter. The impressions produced by the whole performance, however, were decidedly favorable to the taste, the musical knowledge, and the executive power of the young pianist.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 07 February 1868, 4.

“No other lady pianist, and few artists, indeed, of either sex, with whom we are familiar, would have ventured the dangerous experiment which Miss Topp tried last night of entertaining an audience for an entire evening without assistance of any kind, and with a selection of music fitted only for persons of a somewhat refined and cultivated taste. The popularity, however, which this young artist has well won in New York, justified her in the venture, and we were glad to see that a good audience was her reward. She called her entertainment a “Historical Soiree of Classical and Modern Piano Music,” and in a certain sense it was historical, inasmuch as it presented compositions from several of the principal masters of the art during the last hundred or hundred and fifty years; but the title would have been more appropriate if the programme had been arranged in historical order, and the change of styles from Bach to Liszt had been more clearly presented. The opening piece was Beethoven’s Sonata Appassionata, op. 57, a composition belonging to that master’s second and perhaps the most pleasing, though not his greatest, period, and this was followed by an Aria with variations in D minor by Handel, and a Saraband [sic] and Passepied by Johann Sebastian Bach—the great Bach. Schumann’s Carnival Fantasie a Liebesgesprüch by Claussen, a Cradle Song of Chopin’s and two pieces of Liszt’s La Campanella and the Mephisto Waltz completed the list of selections. The success and the generally appreciative spirit with which Miss Topp interpreted these varied compositions was a surprise even to many who were keenly sensible of her extraordinary ability. The majestic beauty of Handel’s simple Aria was given perfectly and the elaborate variations were executed by a hand, which, with all its brilliant technique, never lost the thread of the theme. In the two dances of Bach’s likewise, the clearness of the interpretation was very noticeable, and the execution was particularly bright and delicate. Claussen’s little love song is a very short and tender piece, but it produced no effect. The superb Carnival piece of Schumann’s, however, called out a profound enthusiasm, which was well deserved. This, and the Handel aria, were, perhaps, Miss Topp’s best efforts. The romantic tenderness and melancholy of Chopin’s Berceuse were given with a degree of sentiment for which we were quite unprepared. In the Beethoven sonata we were less pleased. The andante was played well, with good taste and impressiveness. The two allegros were brilliant, were in fact too brilliant. They were executed with precision and neatness, but the spirit of Beethoven was not there. Miss Topp dazzles with her performances; but the artist who would represent Beethoven must not be content to use gay colors and gilding. There is a delicate pathos, and indescribable and ethereal beauty in the works of that wonderful master which it is no disparagement of Miss Topp to say that she has failed to grasp. She is a magnificent player in her own line, but she cannot play Beethoven. When she reached Liszt, at the end of the programme, she seemed to launch forth into her native element. The public is already so well acquainted with her in the character of interpreter of the eccentric Abbé that we may spare ourselves any criticism on this part of the evening’s entertainment, only adding that she acquitted herself with her accustomed power and brilliancy and was enthusiastically applauded.”

Review: New-York Times, 10 February 1868, 5.

“Miss Alide Topp ventured on the hazardous experiment of giving on Thursday evening last a concert of piano music alone. Steinway’s small saloon was entirely filled. The lady opened with Beethoven’s ‘Sonate Appassionata,’ which she played coldly and with no sort of feeling, but with considerable power and technical skill. The last movement was singularly tame and inanimate. The same remarks apply to the greater portion of the ‘Faschingschwank’ by Schumann, a very interesting and difficult composition. Handel's aria and variations in D minor, and Bach's Sorrabande [sic] and Passepied were beautifully played. In such pieces skill rather than feeling is required, and Topp’s skill is unquestionable. The ‘Berceuse’ of Chopin, and ‘La Campanella,’ by Liszt, although taken slower than usual, were charmingly rendered. Miss Topp is a fine artist. Not the least remarkable characteristic about her is the grasp and retentiveness of her memory. She plays everything without notes, from a concerto to a waltz.”