Antoine Dessane Concert: 1st

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Price: $1 reserved and unreserved

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
15 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

08 Jan 1868, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Selections from Dessane’s Offertory included the Andante and Allegro.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
aka Spinning song from Wagner’s Flying Dutchman; Spinning chorus from Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer
Composer(s): Liszt
Participants:  Alide Topp
Composer(s): Liszt
Participants:  Alide Topp
aka Peter the hermit
Composer(s): Mambre
Composer(s): Thomas
Participants:  Eugénie de Lussan
Composer(s): Boisselot
Text Author: Scribe
Composer(s): Dessane
Participants:  Antoine Dessane
Composer(s): Dessane
Participants:  Antoine Dessane
aka Rothe Sarasan, Der; Introduction and variations on a Russian theme
Composer(s): David [composer]


Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 22 December 1867, 8.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 07 January 1868, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 07 January 1868, 4.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 07 January 1868, 7.
Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 08 January 1868, 8.
Review: New York Herald, 09 January 1868.

“Steinway Hall.—Mr. Dessane commenced a series of concerts at this hall last night before the smallest audience of the season. He was assisted by Madame De Lussan, Miss Alide Topp, and Messrs. Heynau, Zeiss, Schwartz and Colliere. The programme consisted of Carl Schubert’s [sic] string quartet No. 4, in A minor; Mendelssohn’s quartet No. 4, opus 44, in E minor, vocal selections from Mambre, Thomas’ Mignon, and Ne touches pas à la Reine, by Boisselet; two organ solos by Dessane and two piano solos, by Liszt. The quartets were very badly played, the instruments being at times out of tune, and no expression or sentiment being communicated to them. The vocal pieces were mediocre in execution, and Miss Topp played in her well known effective style the piano extravagances of Liszt.” 

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 09 January 1868, 4.

“So far as the quality of the music was concerned, Mr. Dessane, last night made an auspicious beginning of his series of concerts, but we fear the pecuniary results were not encouraging. He presented an excellent programme to a very small audience. Schuberth’s string quartette No. 4 in A minor, and Mendelssohn’s No. 4 in E minor, with the addition of a number of solo pieces, both vocal and instrumental, ought to have attracted a much larger house. The quartettes were well rendered by Messrs. Heynau, Zeiss, Schwartz, and Dessane, and were pretty well appreciated. Miss Topp played two piano compositions, both of course by Liszt—his transcription of the Spinning Song from Wagner’s ‘Flying Dutchman,’ and a Polonaise. Mr. Colliere gave an effective scena by Mambré—Pierre l’Ernite. He has a fine baritone voice, which he uses with great artistic skill and strong dramatic expression. Madame de Lussan sang a waltz from Ambroise Thomas’s new opera ‘Mignon;’ neither the air nor the singer pleased us as much as they appeared to please the audience. Mr. Colliere and Madame de Lussan also gave a duet from ‘Ne touches pas la Reine,’ by Boisselot, a composer who, since the successful production of this opera (his only one, we believe), has abandoned lyric composition for the manufacture of pianos. The remainder of the programme consisted of two solos for the organ by Mr. Dessane, and one for the violin by Mr. Heynau.”

Review: New-York Times, 10 January 1868, 4.

“Mr. A. Dessane gave the first of a series of six soirees on Wednesday evening at Steinway Hall. The attendance was singularly small, and this, too, in spite of the fact that unlike his predecessors [referring to previous remarks on chamber music in New York] he had a fine night. Perhaps it was this unusual occurrence that injured him. The programme was long, too long. In miscellaneous or popular music there is but small effort required to listen, and none whatever to understand. But in chamber music attention is the first requisite, and the moment it is overtaxed it loses the power of discriminating. Two quartettes, an andante and allegro for the organ; an introduction and variation for the violin; a grand Polonaise de Concert, and a scherzo for organ, is too much, especially when it is remembered that there were vocal pieces and another piano solo. Fortunately, however, there was not much occastion to over-tax the attention. The two quartettes can be dismissed at once. Although they were rendered in a way that was certainly not up to the mark of professional playing, they were not, perhaps, brought quite down to the level of common amateurism. An unhappy medium of terrible tameness was the result, than which we have never listened to anything more depressing. The auditors, like the pupils at Dr. Blimber’s establishment, immediately took farewell of their spirits. They were not rescued from this condition until Mme. De Lussan sang the waltz from Ambroise Thomas’ opera of ‘Mignon,’ for which the lady obtained an encore. At such a moment the multiplication table would have been encored. But the multiplication table is certainly not half so diffiuclt as this disjointed, ill-balanced affair. It was written to accommodate the vanity of a singer, and served the same purpose on Wednesday night. Mme. De Lussan has ability and vivacity as a singer, but neither are witnessed to advantage in such a piece. M. Colliere recited the story of ‘Peter the Hermit’—music by Mambre—and suited the action to the word with great personal courage and devotion. If it had not been for the gentleman’s dress, the music in his hand, the piano by his side, the platform upon which he stood, the gas clusters above his head, a a few other trifles, we should have really supposed he was ‘Peter the Hermit.’ But these local drawbacks detract very seriously from the value of excessive action, which indeed is permissible only on the stage of a theatre, where scenery and costumes, as well as music and action, contribute to the illusion. To be sure there was a singer here some years ago who used to sing the ‘Brave’ with two [illeg.] pistols in his belt and a red pocket-handkerchief round his head. In this true Italian costume he had a fearful aspect, and succeeded in striking terror into the souls of his listeners. But this is not a good precedent. To return to the concert, Mr. Colliere has a fair bass voice, and with the exceptions above made—which were not to our taste—sang well. Miss Alide Topp played Liszt's arrangement of the Spinning Song from Wagner's opera of the ‘Flying Dutchman’ in a very creditable way. She is a good artiste, with a clear perception of the meaning of this sort of music. But there is no variety in her style, and not much certainty in her execution. Mr. Dissane [sic] presided at the piano-forte; also at the organ; also at the violoncello.”    

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 18 January 1868, 173.

Musical Correspondence…New York, Jan. 10.—On the evening of the 8th inst., Mr. A. Dessane began a series of six ‘Grand Concerts’ [toujours grand] at Steinway Hall, with the following programme:

Andante and Allegro. Offertory in G major, for the Organ…..A. Dessane (Dessane)

‘Pierre l’Eremite’…..Mambré

Quartet, No. 4. Op. 40. A minor…..Carl Schuberth (Messrs. Leopold Heynau, 1st violin; A. Zeiss, 2d violin; Max Schwartz, Alto, and A. Dessane, ‘cello)

Grand Valse of the new opera, ‘Mignon’…..A. Thomas (Mme. E. DeLussan)

Spinnerlied aus dem fliegenden Hollander und Wayner [von Wagner?] übertragen (Miss Alide Topp)

Introduction and Variations sur un theme russe for the Violin…..Ferd. David

Quartet No. 4. Op. 44, E minor…..F. Mendelssohn

Duo of the Opera, ‘Ne touches pas a la Reine’…..Boisselet (Mme. E. DeLussan and Mr. Colliere)

Grand Polonaise De Concert in E dur…..Liszt (Miss Alide Topp)

Scherzo in A minor for the Organ…..A. Dessane

The unique feature of this enterprise consists in the fact that at each concert two string Quartets are to be performed, with, of course, the usual amount of trash to float them.

When we consider the paucity even here in New York, of intelligent and cultivated listeners we hardly feel disposed to blame Mr. Dessane for treating the public to a conglomeration so anomalous as the above list, in which the beautiful E minor Quartet ‘shines like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.’

And even this piece—so full or aromatic pain, so bright with Mendelssohn’s own peculiar charm, with its wavering lights and shadows delicately blended—even this was almost murdered outright by poor playing; for it was only in the passage marked presto agitato that the violins and cello manifested signs of that artistic unity and oneness of design, which is the charm of quartet playing. 

The other Quartet is musician-like enough in its construction, but weak and spiritless; untouched by what somebody calls ‘the Promethean fire of genius.’          

Mr. Dessane’s organ pieces are decidedly French [frothy shall we say?] but were well played. 

We refrain from any pleasantry at the expense of the ‘flying Dutchman’ and music of the past; but while the spirit of fault-finding is upon us, we may as well ask why it is that Miss Topp, on every possible occasion, devotes her really fine talents to the thankless performance of Liszt’s rambling and incoherent piano-forte pieces, which, whatever merits they may be said to possess, are certainly most brain-distracting.

The other solo performers were not remarkable.”