Harrison Sunday Concert: 14th

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison

George W. Colby

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
15 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

05 Jan 1868, Evening

Program Details

First appearance of Michelo Turner in the Harrison Sunday Concert series.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Handel
Participants:  James Caulfield
Composer(s): Schubert
aka Altieri polka
Composer(s): Pfeiffer
Participants:  Oscar Pfeiffer
aka Skaters
Composer(s): Liszt
Participants:  Oscar Pfeiffer
Composer(s): Caulfield
Participants:  James Caulfield
Composer(s): Traditional
aka Star spangled banned
Composer(s): Smith
Text Author: Key
aka red white and blue
Composer(s): Unknown composer


Advertisement: New York Herald, 03 January 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 03 January 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 05 January 1868, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 06 January 1868, 5.

“The fourteenth Sunday concert at Steinway Hall last night was crowded to a greater extent than any of its predecessors. The artistes were: Oscar Pfeiffer, the celebrated pianist; Miss Antonia Henne, contralto, and Messrs. Turner, Simpson, and Caulfield. Pfeiffer played one of his most charming pieces, the ‘Altieri Polka,’ a gem of salon music, and ‘Les Patineurs,’ by Liszt. In both pieces his splendid school, the Viennese, was shown to the utmost advantage, and the encores which he received were well deserved. Miss Henne sang like an automaton, without soul, feeling or expression, ‘Ah! sestinto,’ by Mercadante—an air which requires all those qualities in a singer. George Simpson proved himself one of our sweetest tenor singers in his rendering of Balfe’s ballad, ‘We May be Happy Yet.’ Mr. Turner played the zither—a rarely heard instrument in this country—like an artiste; but some of his selections were an insult to the occasion and the audience. ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ is hardly a fit subject for a Sunday concert. The organ playing was very poor, Mr. Caulfield’s own composition, [A . . . illeg.] March,’ being particularly so. Mr. G. W. Colby officiated as conductor.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 06 January 1868, 4.

“A novel feature was introduced in the concert at Steinway Hall last evening. Mr. Michels Turner played two original compositions on the zither, and received double encores. The music is too soft and sweet to be distinctly heard in every part of the hall. During the evening Mr. Turner, in response to repeated calls, with rather questionable taste, played ‘Yankee Doodle,’ ‘Pop Goes the Weazle [sic],’ ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ and ‘The Red, White and Blue,’ which were received with uproarious applause. Miss Antonia Henne sang the cavatina ‘Ah Sestinto,’ and Schubert’s ‘Wanderer,’ in a voice singularly mellow, especially in the upper registers, but apparently susceptible of better cultivation. Mr. Oscar Pfeiffer gave one of his own compositions and a fantasia from Listz [sic] with almost rigid military precision, as compared with the ease and exquisite finish marking Mr. De Meyer’s playing. Mr. George Simpson sang the ballad, ‘We May be Happy Yet,’ but made a better rendering of ‘The Fisher Maiden.’ Mr. Caulfield presided at the organ, and Mr. G. W. Colby at the piano. The hall was well-filled, but the concert was much inferior to its predecessor.”

Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 07 January 1868.

“Sunday evening’s concert, at Steinway Hall, was quite sparkling. Here’s a faithful account of it. We first heard an overture by Handel, on the organ, by M. Caulfield. He didn’t get through this long fugue badly. Then we waited five minutes, and M. Turner, the hero of the evening, appeared in his glory and majesty. M. Turner is a man of five feet, seven and a half inches, weighing 180 pounds. He is dark and strongly, even largely, built. His gait is slow and, so to speak, unconscious. The audience seems a matter of indifference to him; he greets it with a slight inclination of his head. He is dressed in a sackcoat of alpaca that completes his unique appearance. M. Turner is absolutely one of a kind; before beginning, he already conquered the audience.

M. Turner plays Hungarian instrument which has no name in our language. It’s a type of zither that you lay on a table, and you pluck its strings with more or less skill. M. Turner handles this instrument marvelously. It laughs, it cries at will. He wasn’t only encored, he was called back three times and called back with foot-stamping enthusiasm. The artist accepted these ovations with the teasing coldness that seems to be his nature.

After M. Turner there appeared a tenor, M. Simpson. Many fans who live in America today remember Lablache and his improbable corpulence. Well, M. Simpson hasn’t the least resemblance to the great Neapolitan singer, for he is very puny. Moreover, he was dressed perfectly fashionably and took pleasure in singing, in full gullet-voice, a tedious ballad by Balfe. Luckily, M. Pfeiffer came on to replace M. Simpson, and he electrified the audience. He played the glittering polka that he had dedicated to Mme Altieri, and a piece written for solo left hand. M. Pfeiffer is the best pianist who may be in America, and as far as we’re concerned, we can’t ever say as many good things about him as we think.

Scarcely had M. Pfeiffer reheated the audience that a white frost came along to freeze the hall. Mlle Henne, who sang a cavatina by Mercadante, is one of the coldest singers that Heaven has ever granted us the grace to hear. In the same way that M. Simpson doesn’t remind us of Lablache in any way, so Mlle Henne on no account recalls Alboni. The public, for its part, was very charitable toward her.

M. Caulfield, the organist, came back again with a piece of his own composition that vigorously teased the audience’s ears, then the immortal Turner reappeared, always handsome, always impressive. This time again, he was called back 3 times, and to be truthful, he deserved it. He played the Star spangled Banner and a Yankee Doodle with a craftiness of purpose and a caustic irony that enchanted everyone. Few would fall short if they shouted Vive Turner.

Upon this, M. Simpson arrived to throw cold water on such enthusiasm. He uttered a ballad by Meyerbeer from his cottony throat-voice. M. Pfeiffer fortunately made us forget him by playing Liszt’s Patineurs. It’s impossible to have more verve, precision, soul and brio. Then the young lady of the cavatina sang a melody by Schuberth [sic], for which they obligingly called her back, then M. Caulfield made the organ resonate under his brawny fingers, then the public left the hall, then the gas was extinguished, and silence, shadow and mystery reigned in the hall whose axis, perpendicular to 14th Street, runs from Southwest to Northeast.”