Article on forthcoming German choral festivals

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Last Updated:
8 September 2017

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23 Apr 1868

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Article: New-York Times, 23 April 1868, 11.

“The Approaching Celebrations of the Saengerbund and Schutzen-Corps—Extensive Preparations for the Festivities—The Results Hoped for.

During a number of years past we have chronicled in the columns of the Times, every Summer, accounts of the grand German-American fesivtals, which were celebrated in the great cities of the Union, and were conducted in succession by the Turners, singers, and Shooters, (Schützen.) The history of these festivals is an early one. The first immigrants from the Fatherland brought over with them not only strong arms, the love of work and the desire to succeed in life, but also a peaceable disposition and social characteristics which led them to enjoy the world without falling into its prevalent excesses. Hence the organization, at a very early date, of singing societies, (Saengerbunds,) and Turner societies in almost every village, town and city in the United States.

As the tide of immigration increased and brought with it almost countless numbers of our Teutonic brethren from beyond the ‘great pond,’ these organizations were largely augmented, and to-day they are to be reckoned by the thousand—spread all over the land—north, south, east and west. Scarcely a place is to be found containing more than a hundred German inhabitants without a singing society, and the first church or saloon is speedily followed by the organization of a ‘Glee Glub.’ For reasons easily explained, the ‘Singers’ and ‘Turners’ took the lead in this social movement, while their younger brethren, the ‘Shooting Societies,’ followed as soon as the others had prepared the ground for their appearance.

As time passed on the transplanted societies grew to be flourishing and sturdy trees; their importance began to be realized, and it was unanimously resolved by the members of each fraternity to imitate the customs of their fathers by holding annual conventions, to deliberate upon measures best adopted to forward their interest, and at the same time to celebrate their achieved success by public festivities on a grand scale and peculiar to each organization. These conventions, beginning unpretentiously first in counties, then States and sections of the country, eventually became national in their character, embracing all the Northern States, and being attended by thousands of active participants and multitudes of increased spectators of all nationalities.

The last grand festival of this kind was the singing festival which was held in Philadelphia on July 1st, and its immense success has been almost universally acknowledged by all lovers of innocent amusements.

This year will be marked by the celebration of two of these grand festivals, both of which may be very properly termed international, as delegations from several hundred European societies are expected to be present. The happy results of the recent German war thus do not only appear in more gracious Governmental relations of the two countries, but as well in the, if possible, more intimate relations between the Germans in America and their kinsmen in the old country.

The first of the gathering will be the Singing Festival, to be held in Chicago, commencing on the 16th of June next and terminating on the 20th [it may be 26th] of the same month. What a gathering of singers there will be! If present indications do not fail, Chicago will then place Philadelphia in the shade.

The organization under whose direction the affair is to come off, numbers more than one hundred societies, belonging to the great Northwest, and therefore will be largely augmented as the festive day approaches. The Empire State will, of course, be represented also. Already the Arion and Liederkranz—‘champions of song,’—have resolved to participate in corpore in the magnificent celebration, and each of the other leading metropolitan societies will be represented by a large delegation. Besdies, the cities of Berlin, Veinna and Cologne-on-the-Rhine have signified their intention to send four representatives each, and these will be entertained by the Liederkranz during their stay in this city. The people of Chicago may, therefore, well expect a musical treat. The Arion, which has been aloof, lately, from singing-excursions, numbers among its members operatic singers of the highest renown—such as Lotti, Weinlich, Formes and Steinecke and no one doubts, therefore, that this society will bear home with it the laurels of the championship in the societies and by the societies themselves. In addition to these the Committee of the Grand Shooting Festival to be held in Vienna, Austria, this year have given notice of their intention to send a prize amounting to about $800 in gold, and the New-York Committee have resolved to return the compliment by forwarding their brethren in Germany a first-class Steinway piano-forte, valued at $1,500, which will at the same time represent American art in the very cradle of piano manufacture.

One of the most interesting points in their affair will be the examination and trial of fire arms… [Short paragraph on this matter.]

The attendance at this festival is expected to be the largest ever seen on any similar occasion. The New-York shooting societies include nearly 3,000 members, (among whom there are many Americans,) and the guests who have accepted the invitations tendered to them will be equally numerous. New-York will, of course, send forth its entire Teutonic element, and the German people of the adjacent cities will flow hither as spectators. The space allotted to the festival will, therefore, be too small for the accommodation of the multitudes, and the proprietors of the large parks in the neighborhood of Jones Wood are making extensive preparations for the reception of the vast overplus of those who will participate in the festival.

The interest of the enterprise are cleverly presented to the public by the Fest Zeitung, a journal published by the Press Committee, under the editorial management of Gen. Sigel. Already four numbers of this paper have been issued, three more are to be given out before the festival, and ten will be published during its continuation, while three more will come out after its conclusion.

The Committees are hard at work. They meet nearly every day, and neither pains nor money is [sic] spared by them to achieve the utmost success. The arrangements are of such a character that unless some unlooked-for interruption occurs meanwhile, the City of New-York will be entertained, in June next, with a civic festival which, for its grandeur, has neber been equaled by kindred demonstrations.”

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 08 August 1868, 8.

Not a typo; publication date is in August.

Announcement of a photograph of all the delegations heading to the festival in Chicago. The photographer is Hermann Jaenicke of 207 Bowery.