Event Information

Steinway Hall

Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison

George Frederick Bristow

Price: $1.50 reserved; $1

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
24 August 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

30 Jan 1868, Evening

Program Details

For oratorio premiere, see event entry of 12/28/68, Daniel.

Performers and/or Works Performed


Announcement: New-York Times, 20 January 1868, 5.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 27 January 1868, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 28 January 1868.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 29 January 1868, 4.

“We are happy to learn that Mr. Bristow’s oratorio of ‘Daniel,’ which was performed with such emphatic success a few weeks ago, will be repeated at Steinway Hall on Thursday. Miss Brainerd, Miss Hutchings, Mr. Hill, and Mr. Thomas taking the principal solo parts, and the Mendelssohn Union the chorus. The desire for its repetition among musical people has been unanimous, and there will probably be an overflowing audience.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 30 January 1868, 4.

“We took particular pleasure not long since in dwelling at length upon the beauties of Mr. Bristow’s new oratorio of ‘Daniel.’ We notice with increased satisfaction that it is to be repeated to-night at Steinway Hall, under the direction of the composer. The distribution of the parts is the same as before. The choruses will be sung by the members of the Mendelssohn Union, and the orchestral partition will be interpreted by Mr. Theodore Thomas’ orchestra. We urge our readers to be present.”

Review: New York Herald, 31 January 1868, 5.

“Steinway Hall—Daniel.—George F. Bristow’s magnificent oratorio, ‘Daniel,’ was given for the second time at Steinway Hall last night. A second hearing of this work confirmed our first impressions of it. It is, indeed, the work of a thorough musician, gifted with genius. Outside the beaten track of oratorio ‘Daniel’ will be more acceptable to modern taste than many of its predecessors. There is not a solo, duet or chorus in the entire oratorio but bears the stamp of originality and dramatic talent. It may be called a holy opera, and the variety of ideas in it causes it to be interesting from beginning to end. As the handiwork of an American composer, ‘Daniel’ reflects the highest credit on our country in the realms of art, and there are few, if any, composers in Europe at the present day who are capable of writing anything equal to it. Miss Brainerd and Miss Hutchings distinguished themselves in the soprano and contralto parts, but the rendering of other singers was by no means equal to the performance of the first night. Such a sublime work should receive more attention and be heard more frequently.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, February 1868, 28.

“New York . . . The new oratorio of ‘Daniel,’ by Mr. Bristow, an American composer, who needs no introduction to our readers, was the second in course of the four oratorios which Mr. Harrison has arranged to take place at monthly intervals. It was given under the composer’s own direction, and was very well received. The choruses are difficult, and the singers were hardly as familiar with them as was necessary to take them up with promptness, but they were effective. The conception is dramatic. It has not yet been published, but before it is, we hope that some of the long quartettes and a few of the choruses will receive some pruning from the composer’s hand.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 01 February 1868, 4.

“The success which attended the first performance of Mr. Bristow’s new oratorio during Christmas week, and the general expression of a desire for its repetition, led to a second representation of it at Steinway Hall on Thursday evening. The illness of Madame Parepa rendered necessary the substitution of Miss Maria Brainerd in the principal soprano part, and a slight change was made in some of the subordinate male solos; otherwise the distribution of the piece was unaltered, the chief burden of the performance falling on Miss Brainerd, Miss Charlotte Hutchings, Mr. Hill, Mr. J. R. Thomas, the Mendelssohn Union, Theodore Thomas’s orchestra, and John P. Morgan, organist. Mr. Bristow has attempted in this oratorio to combine an old, and as many people think, an antiquated form of composition with a modern style of music. He has endeavored, while preserving the stately dignity and religious impressiveness of the oratorio, to catch some of the airy charms of the lighter methods of musical expression, and to write for the taste of the present generation. If his muse moves to an old measure, she is not, therefore, decked in by gone fashions, nor does she ape the formal steps and flourishes of her great grandmother. Mr. Bristow’s ‘Daniel’ has been called a remarkably dramatic work, but that term does not fairly express its peculiarity. Handel’s oratorios are the very essence of dramatic music, as much so in their way as the operas of Meyerbeer and Verdi. Mr. Bristow’s music is dramatic also; but the models upon which it is formed are by no means those of Handel. The tedious old roulades, the cut and dried cadences, which were almost the only embellishments known to the old sacred composers, he has entirely discarded. He has allowed a freer play to fancy than used to be thought decorous, he has avoided the old conventional stiffness, and he has not hesitated to go to the theater for some of his most agreeable effects. His melodies are not merely dramatic, but they have much of that sensuous style of beauty to which the modern ear is accustomed in the best lyric compositions. He besprinkles the whole oratorio with very striking orchestral ornaments; and in the charming duo which he makes of the reed instruments, especially in accompaniments to plaintive airs, he reminds us—odd as it may sound—of Gounod. There is an especially fine employment of the reeds in the overture, where they take up the burden of the lament of the captive Israelites, after it has been carried awhile by the violins. There is a very tender and beautiful quartet in Part I, ‘Help us, O God of our salvation,’ in which the bass viols in the accompaniment are noticeably good, and the instrumentation of Daniel’s aria, ‘Blessed be the name of God,’ is also excellent. The quartettes in the first part, the one we have mentioned, and ‘Return unto thy Rest,’ are probably the most effective numbers in the oratorio. These, as well as the concerted piece for the Angel (soprano), and a small chorus of Holy Children, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ are admirably delicate and full of pathos. In Part II, the choruses are, without exception, spirited and pleasing. The best solos are Daniel’s ‘Break off thy sins,’ and the alto aria, ‘I am the Lord thy God.’

The principal performers on Thursday night all deserved praise. Miss Brainerd is as good a substitute for Madame Parepa as could be desired. She has of course neither the voice nor the culture of the queen of oratorio, but she excels her in feeling, and always sings with taste and correctness. Miss Hutchings has one of those rare voices which go straight to the heart. She is capable of awakening more intense emotion than any other singer we know, and the only regret on Thursday was that her part was so short. Mr. Hill and Mr. Thomas were both unusually good. The chorus deserves emphatic commendation for intelligence, correctness, and a delicacy of expression which large bodies of singers very seldom attain. In ‘The sacrifices of God’ they were admirable, a result which must have been attributable in pretty even measure to the skill of the conductor and the capacity of the individual members. Mr. Bristow led both chorus and orchestra, and kept them both under excellent control.”

Review: New-York Times, 03 February 1868.

“The second performance of this fine musical work was given at Steinway Hall on Thursday evening, in the presence of a large and attentive audience. The favorable impression which was generally expressed on its first representation was more than confirmed on this occasion, and this too despite a reduced chorus and the absence of Mme. Parepa-Rosa. The lady, as has been stated elsewhere, was indisposed. Her place was taken by Miss Brainerd, who acquitted herself of the ungrateful task in the best possible manner. Ungrateful, we take it, because it is not easy for any one to follow immediately in the footsteps of Mme. Parepa-Rosa. The music, moreover, is extremely difficult, and taxes the resources of the most accomplished artist. Miss Brainerd rendered it with feeling and enthusiasm. We have no recollection of ever having heard her pure sympathetic voice to such decided advantage. The remainder of the caste [sic] was the same as heretofore, and the singers generally were in good condition. Mr. J. R. Thomas sang the long recitative of Daniel with superb effect. It is a treat to hear so fine a piece of declamation in the concert room. It is noticeable in the recitatives of this work, and to a less extent in the arias, that whilst there is necessarily a certain repetition in the matter of words, in order to fill out the musical measure, there is always a due sense of emphasis which falls in the right place. In other words, a proper consistency between sound and sense. This is not to be found so readily in the works of the old masters, or of their successors, Mendelssohn and Costa, all of whom were foreign to the tongue, and meandered according to the feeling of the music, not of the words. Mr. Bristow unites both with rare skill. His melodies are delicious; his concerted pieces are ingenious but clear, and his recitatives are powerful dramatic statements. The treatment of the orchestra is more free and operatic than in any other oratorio with which we are acquainted, while the choruses are striking from their harmonic treatment and the varied effect which they produce. The work, in short, is that of a master whose judgment is calm, his invention fresh, and his knowledge perfect. We trust that the oratorio will find its way to the great cities of the country. It is worthy of frequent repetition both here and elsewhere.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 15 February 1868, 189.

“Mr. Bristow’s oratorio ‘Daniel’ was a second time performed on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 30, and—judging from the comments of the daily journals—met with, as I predicted, a favorable reception. One critic lauds the work to the skies and says that there are ‘few, if any composers in Europe capable of writing anything equal to it,’ which may or may not be true. Mme. Parepa being ill, the soprano part was taken by another lady.”