Spring Tide Singing Festival of the Orpheon Society: 4th

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Charles Jerome Hopkins

Carl Bergmann

Event Type:

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
20 February 2023

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

18 May 1869, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Performed by pupils of the school of the Orpheon Society.

Jerome Hopkins delivered speech, “Our Academies of Music and Their Aid to the Art.”

The program included additional unidentified works, including vocal solos performed by George Rockwood and Gertrude Frankau Hess, and a madrigal by the chorus.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Life
Composer(s): Hopkins
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  Alice [soprano] Dagron
Composer(s): Hopkins
Participants:  Charles Jerome Hopkins
aka Heavens are telling
Composer(s): Haydn


Announcement: New York Sun, 17 May 1869, 1.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 17 May 1869, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 18 May 1869, 9.
Review: New York Herald, 19 May 1869, 7.

"The fourth springtime Orpheonist festival given here last evening was an incomparably brilliant success—brilliant in the large and fashionable attendance, brilliant in the rare and diversified extent of the musical entertainment, and last and not least, brilliant in a pecuniary point of view. Most conclusive evidence was given that the public not only has become aware of the existence of Orpheon free schools, but that they justly appreciate the inestimable utility of the school instruction afforded by them and the high artistic merit achieved and on such occasions as last evening exhibited and witnessed with unbounded enthusiasm. The spacious stage, over which, in semi-circular form, appeared, in brilliant gas characters, the word ‘Orpheon’ was compact with the musical performers, consisting of the Orpheon free evening school for adults of both sexes, the Orpheon free afternoon school for ladies and girls, the Orpheon free choir boy school, the Orpheon Madrigal Club, the Orpheon Oratorio Society and grand orchestra from the Philharmonic Society. Mr. Jerome Hopkins was director of the festival and Mr. Carl Bergmann conductor of the orchestra. The programme was lengthy, but its select variety and the fine singing and splendid music served to relieve it of any approach to monotony, as well as keep up in the vast audience the same unflagging interest and high pitch of enthusiasm to the close. Leading off the programme was a fourth movement of a symphony entitled ‘Tif,’ composed by Mr. Hopkins and performed by the orchestra. It is a spirited composition and was admirably rendered. Next came a scene and aria from ‘Il Trovatore,’ sung by Mme. Dagron with artistic feeling and effect. A chorale followed, performed by the full chorus of Orpheonists and orchestra, with a delicious resonance of rare melody; then a song by Mr. George C. Rockwood, the tenor who warbles with the sweetness and softness almost of Brignoli; then the glee, with echo, ‘Hail, all Hail, thou Merry Month of May,’ which the audience compelled to be sung over again; then a soprano solo by Mme. Hess, who has a voice of rare compass and flexibility; then a piano solo and waltz, with orchestral accompaniment, composed and performed by Mr. Hopkins tumultuously applauded; then the vocal quartet, ‘My Love is like the Red Red Rose’ by Mme. Hess, Miss Livingston, Mr. Rockwood and Mr. Keith; then the chorus, ‘The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God,’ from ‘The Creation,’ performed by the Orpheon Society; then a madrigal by the Orpheon Madrigal Club sung ‘Alla capella,’ and lastly, closing the first part, remarks by Mr. Hopkins. His remarks were in a high key, but highly appropriate as it was as an exposition of the utility of free orphan schools it was a relief when the programme was resumed. An effort was made to put him down by stamps and hisses, but it was ineffectual. He had prepared his ‘say,’ and would have it, and did have it. The audience had to accept ‘Hopkins’ choice.’ This afflictive oratorical interlude over, the programme was finally renewed, and everything went on harmoniously to the end. Marches, chants, anthems, solos, quartets, and choral performances made up the second part, which, if anything, was better than the first.”

Review: New York Sun, 19 May 1869, 1.

“The Fourth Springtide Festival of the Orpheonists was given last night at the Academy of Music before a full house. About two hundred chorus singers, several artists, and a grand orchestra performed. Their efforts were generally appreciated by the audience; the choruses especially received hearty applause. One of the features of the evening was an address from Mr. Jerome Hopkins on ‘Our Academies of Music and their Helps to Art.’ It was humorous, sarcastic, and severe. He ridiculed the idea of the ‘Academies’ being of any advantage to the masses, and advocated elementary vocal schools for the million. Mr. Hopkins hit everybody and everything very much after the manner of George Francis Train, and amused his audience highly. It was the most original ‘opera’ ever performed upon that stage.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 May 1869, 5.

“The fourth Spring-tide Singing Festival of the Orpheon Society’s Free Choir Schools was held last night at the Academy of Music, and what with the parents and grandparents of the young singers and the miscellaneous patrons of the enterprise, the building was entirely filled. A strong orchestra, under Mr. Carl Bergmann, occupied the back of the stage, and the singers, most of whom were girls and boys, crowded the front. The performance opened with a movement from Mr. Jerome Hopkins’s Symphony entitled ‘Life,’ which we regret to say failed to awaken very intense enthusiasm. The singing of the choir children, in whose young voices there is a charm which simply atones for little artistic shortcomings, was more thoroughly relished, and in Weber’s glee, ‘Hail, all hail, thou merry month of May,’ was deservedly encored. The chorus singing of that portion of the company of 200 known as the Orpheon Oratorio Society was not very good, and the Orpheon Madrigal Society made a rather unfortunate failing with Festa’s charming ‘Down in a flow’ry vale.’ Vocal solos by Madame Frankau-Hess, Madame Dagron, and Mr. Rockwood, piano performances by Mr. Hopkins, and orchestral selections under the baton of Mr. Bergmann were interspersed through the evening. The feature of the evening, however, was an address by Mr. Hopkins, on the subject of [Orpheonism.] He regretted that the duty of presenting this subject before the American people had fallen to such an incompetent orator, but unfortunately every organ of the musical profession except himself was governed by unworthy motives, and the press without exception was the slave of those who paid for its opinions. [Profound sensation.] Look at American cheese! [Cheers.] Why, time was when this product was ridiculed and depreciated [blushes]; yet now it was exported to England. The same thing was true of locomotives. Should he speak of operas? [Thunders of applause.] He knew of five American gentlemen who had composed operas, and could not get these represented. He wanted to reform all this. [Cries of ‘That’s right,’ Do it.’] But the trouble was with the venal, corrupt, ignorant, truculent, bloody-minded and ignorant Bohemian oyster house newspaper writers [prolonged cheering and applause], who condemned all his music before they had heard it. [Cries of ‘Oh!’ ‘Shame.’] Why, where would those supercilious critics have been if it had not been for the common schools? Sweeping the streets for their bread and molasses! [A voice—‘Molasses are too good for them.’] The common schools have kept such men out of the gutter, but what have they done for the Orpheon Society? What has anybody done for it? If you asked the Common Council for assistance they would send you to Blackwell’s Island. Even the Directors of the Academy of Music would not let him have the use of the building without paying for it. [Groans.] Of course, they were business men, and what did business men care for music? They were business men who managed the Brooklyn Philharmonic Society, which sprang up like a mushroom on a dung-hill, flourished for a while in an atmosphere of sickening exhalations, and expired leaving the odor of an egg—well an egg not overburdened with freshness. (Commotion in the boxes; several people go out.) They were business men who established Mr. Beecher’s Plymouth great Bethel [with marked expression]—a sort of place of moral entertainment for man and Beast. (Here most of the audience sneered,) and what was the result? Why, it pained him to say that no Orpheon classes had ever been admitted to that establishment. Mr. Hopkins then proceeded to demolish quite a large number of churches, Lowell Mason’s Psalm-books, the late William B. Bradbury, all the music journals except The Orpheonist and Philharmonic Journal, and the managers of the various places of amusement in this city, and, after eloquently setting forth the claims of his free singing classes to public support, sat down amid salvos of applause, which shook the Academy to its very foundation.” 

Review: New York Musical Gazette, June 1869, 59.

“The active and eccentric Mr. Jerome Hopkins gave his ‘Fourth Spring-Tide Festival’ at the Academy on the 18th ult. The orchestra, conducted by Mr. Bergman, and the 200 young singers did their part of the programme to the satisfaction of a very large audience. Mr. Hopkins did otherwise, as he delivered himself of a foolish diatribe upon popular music.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 05 June 1869, 48.

“The World, May 23, winds up its musical report with the following:

‘It is a relief to know that June winds up the grand concerts of the profession, and that the stereotyped phrases about the “well-rendered” aria and the “depth of feeling” of the fiddler, and the technical facility of the pianist will disappear for a while. One concert there was during the week, called the “Springtide Festival of the Free Choir Boy and Choral Schools of the Orpheon Society,” which merits some notice, as it falls outside of the weak category we have alluded to. This annual festival is pretty generally known as Mr. Jerome Hopkins’s concert, though it is also well known that he never receives any pecuniary benefit from it. This is the fourth year of the these festivals, and they have steadily grown in excellence and in the esteem of a large number of church patrons, despite the sneers of the critics and the contempt of the few who regard the attempt to teach music to the young as a belittling occupation for an artist. On Tuesday night, the Academy was entirely filled by a very brilliant audience. There were four hundred performers seated on the stage, a large portion of which was occupied by an efficient orchestra from the Philharmonic Society, conducted by Carl Bergmann. The solo performers were Mme. Dagrou, a cultivated soprano and pupil of M. E. Millet; Mme. Frankow Hess, soprano, a pupil of Mme. De Lussan; Miss Louise Livingston, a careful and generally excellent contralto; Mr. Rockwood, the well known tenor, and Mr. Jerome Hopkins himself. All these artists distinguished themselves by their earnest and painstaking efforts. Mrs. Hess, in a difficult aria from “Robert le Diable,” displayed her culture and ability in an unforced manner, and was warmly applauded. The choruses were especially improved since the last festival. The superb chorus. “The Heavens are Telling,” from “The Creation” and a stirring glee of Von Weber’s were most effectively given.

A Te Deum Laudamus (part chant, part anthem and part solo) was performed antiphonally and accompanied by the orchestra. This was a novelty, it being the first instance of antiphonal chanting with orchestra that we know of in this country. The two choir boys (Masters Ottiwell and Seyroux) who sang the solos in the Te Deum, elicited a great deal of enthusiasm. The soprano, a bell-like voice, ran up without any effort to the clear high A, and both sang their parts with more than the usual sweetness and charm which belong to boys’ voices. Mr. Hopkins figured somewhat prominently throughout. He performed an original concert waltz on the Weber grand, conducted the Te Deum, re-appeared in his “Sepoy March,” and finally read a paper to the audience explanatory of the design of these free schools and their relationship to church choirs. In the course of his remarks, he animadverted strongly upon the Common Council, the churches, the Board of Education, and especially the directors of the Academies of Music in New York and Brooklyn, for their total neglect to fulfil the requisitions of their charters, which made obligatory the supplying of musical instruction and the awarding of prizes to musical composers. The speech was an injudicious one, and when the speaker proceeded to take the directresses of the orphan asylum to task for refusing to admit regular vocal instruction into the establishments with a view to some kind of a yearly singing exhibition such as takes place at St. Paul’s in London, his audience objected strongly. A great deal more was said, which may have been true enough, but was out of place, and was, moreover, tinctured with a certain bitterness that was unpalatable. Mr. Hopkins is engaged in most creditable work. He is really making his profession a positive benefit to the community by laying it at the feet of those young people who are unable to command this kind of instruction with money; and, whatever may be his personal fitness, the endeavor is worthy of praise and emulation, but he seems to be aware that enthusiasm, and particularly musical enthusiasm, in its moments of elation, is indistinguishable to the average mind from lunacy itself. As Mr. Hopkins depends upon the average many for support, or at least is continually complaining of their treatment, something should be conceded to them. Let it be moderation. Zeal in good works is sure to bring its own fruition, and no man can enter so praiseworthy but thankless a field as that of gratuitous public instruction without becoming aware, sooner or later, that perseverance, like virtue, is its own reward.  But zeal in words is dangerous and inconsistent with that humility that ought to characterize all apostles, whether of ideas or of sound.’”