Beethoven Centennial Festival: New York Times: General Advertisements, Announcements, Reviews, and Articles

Event Information

American Institute Coliseum

Carl Bergmann
Max Maretzek
George [tenor] Weeks
Carl Rosa
Patrick S. Gilmore
James Pech
William F. Sherwin
Carl Zerrahn

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
1 November 2021

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

13 Jun 1870

Program Details

General advertisements, announcements, articles, and reviews published in the New York Times for the Beethoven Centennial Festival, a jubilee of eleven concerts beginning on June 13, 1870 (see separate event entries for concerts).

Performers and/or Works Performed


Announcement: New-York Times, 19 May 1870, 4.

“We have received information to the effect that a grand musical festival is now being planned for occurrence in June. It is to last four days; it is to be held in the exhibition hall in Third-avenue and Sixty-third-street—the building being enlarged for the occasion—and is to be under the direction of Mr. P. S. Gilmore, Carl Bergmann and other distinguished conductors. Mme. Parepa-Rosa will sing and so will several prominent artistes whom efforts are now being made to engage, while an orchestra 1,500 strong, and a chorus number 3,000 will assist. We learn that the aid of many local business men has been guaranteed, and, to be brief, that the festival will surely take place.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 23 May 1870, 4.

“Reliable information in regard to the Beethoven Festival, to the positive occurrence of which allusion was made in these columns a few days ago, is gradually being obtained. Negotiations are really progressing with many of the eminent soloists in the United States, and we understand that the co-operation of all the orchestral leaders and of all the singing societies of this City and vicinity has been secured. Special compositions are to be interpreted, oratorio music is to be sung with immense choruses, and concerted pieces from popular operas, such as trios and quartets, to be given by half a dozen tenors and as many sopranos, contraltos and basses, to each artist unusually intrusted [sic] with a share of the performance on the stage. Concerning the building once known as the Skating Rink, and about to be transformed into the local Coliseum, several details have reached us. Contracts have been entered into by the projectors of the festival that additional width shall be given to the building, which at present may be accounted one of the largest in America. The extent of the addition is to be eighty-two feet, and arches are to cover the space thus added. This will give the building a clear length of 430 feet, and a width of 200 feet, unobstructed by pillars and obstacles which impeded the sight and hearing in the Boston Coliseum. The roof forms a clear span from wall to wall, and is supported by immense iron arches, which converge and join together at a height of 100 feet from the ground. The building itself is of corrugated iron, and possesses great durability, and at the same time resonance, giving acoustic properties that may be reckoned as almost wonderful in such a space. The area of the structure is 86,000 square feet, and allowing four and a half feet for each person—much more than the average accorded in our places of amusement—the structure will with ease accommodate 20,000 persons sitting. With extra stage room and promenade, it may be safely calculated that fully 25,000 people will be at ease during the performance. The stage will be 115 in length by 180 in depth, and will seat an orchestra of 800 musicians for the great numbers of the festival, and a chorus of 3,500 persons, to be recruited from all the operatic organizations in the City, and also from amateur choirs. In the space allotted to chorus and orchestra, the seats will be so constructed as to give a perfect view both to the persons engaged and to every one of the auditors. The entire space between the stage and the entrance is to be filled in with chairs and sofas, while the areas between them are to be broad and free. Altogether, the building, which in itself is perculiarly [sic] fitted to the use for which it is now destined, will be so rearranged as to render it perfectly suited to the festival.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 23 May 1870, 7.

“The public are respectfully informed that the School Board of the Xth Ward, consisting of the following gentlemen [lists men], have in the kindest manner given permission to the children of the grammar schools of that ward to assist Mr. George F. Bristow in giving a festival in honor of the centennial anniversary of Beethoven at Steinway Hall, on the evenings of June 16, 20, and 22. Mr. Bristow, feeling that the present year should not be allowed to pass without some respect being shown to the memory of so great a man, has taken this step to show that even children desire to commemorate that event.

It may be well to state that there has not, nor will there be, any interference in the studies of the pupils in the preparation of this festival. Further particulars hereafter.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 25 May 1870, 4.

“Signori Lefranc and Reyna yesterday signed contracts to sing in the Beethoven Festival in June.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 28 May 1870, 5.

“The Handel and Haydn Society are to come to New-York 500 strong, to take part in the Beethoven Musical Festival.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 June 1870, 7.

Multiple cards on this page.

Article: New-York Times, 02 June 1870, 5.

the beethoven festival.

We learn with satisfaction that each day brings fresh promises in regard to the attractiveness of the Beethoven Festival. Yesterday formal engagements were entered into with Signor Lefranc, Signor Brignoli, and Miss Clara Louise Kellogg, and we are informed that steps were taken which indicate a speedy closing of arrangements with Mme. Parepa-Rosa. Last evening a first rehearsal of a section of the chorus was had at Steinway Hall, and to-night the training of the numerous bodies continues. There has come a gratifying response from the neighboring towns to the invitation to join in the festival, and Hartford, New-Haven and Waterbury will be especially prominent. The Boston Handel and Haydn Society met Tuesday night to rehearse the music. The Society itself will be here in large numbers. Henry Erben has built a large organ for the festival, it having been found impossible to procure the Boston Coliseum organ in time. This instrument will contain two sets of keys, two and a half octaves of pedals, thirty-one stops and fifteen hundred pipes. In respect of the programme, that embodying the vocal music is not yet complete, but as far as designated the selections for instrumental interpretation, if all familiar, are all of marked impressiveness. Wegner [sic] is to be particularly well represented, his overtures to ‘Rienzi,’ to ‘Tannhauser’ and to ‘Lohengrin’ being chosen. Meyerbeer will contribute his ‘Fäckeltanz’ and his ‘Coronation March.’ Mehul’s ‘Chasse du Jeune Henri’ and Litolff’s ‘Robespierre Overture’ are also to be performed. Mr. Gilmore, we believe, is now here, and actively superintending the arrangements.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 02 June 1870, 7.

“SPECIAL NOTICE. Vocal Societies, Solo Artists and Conductors of Specialties will please send in the names of their Concert Morceaux immediately for the entire Repertory, as the programmes are to be arranged for publication on Saturday next.”

Article: New-York Times, 03 June 1870, 5.

“Preparations in connection with the choral arrangements for the festival are progressing, and it is anticipated that no less than two thousand singers will be drawn from different parts of the country. Boston is to send 700 members of the Handel and Haydn Society; Hartford will furnish 200 or more; New-Haven about 250; Waterbury 60, and Newark 200 or more. The conductors engaged are P. S. Gilmore, Carl Bergman [sic], Carl Zerrahn and Dr. James Pech, the last of whom is to direct the oratorios of the ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Creation.’ The various divisions of this large chorus are meeting daily at Steinway Hall and passing through the necessary rehearsals.”

Article: New-York Times, 04 June 1870, 7.

“An announcement printed elsewhere gives a full list of the artists engaged for the Beethoven Festival to occur week after next, at the American Institute Coliseum. We recapitulate the names of the solo performers and of the principal musicians, for the purpose of record. The directors have positively secured the vocal co-operation of Mme. Parepa-Rosa, Miss Kellogg, Mrs. Caroline Richings-Bernard, Mrs. Howard Paul, Mme. Gazzaniga, Miss Hersee, Miss McCulloch, Mrs. Seguin, Mlle. Canissa, Mme. Rotter, Mme. Johannsen, Mlle. Dziuba, Mme. Anna Bishop, Signor Brignoli, Signor Lefranc, Mr. Castle, Herr Habelmann, Signor Filippi, Mr. Nordblom, Signor Massimiliani, Signor Lotti, Herr Herrmanns, Mr. Whitney, Mr. S. C. Campbell, Mr. Drayton, Signor Petrilli, Signor Reyna, Signor Susini, Signor Randolfi, Mr. H. Peakes and Mr. W. Formes. The principal choral aid will be supplied by the Handel and Haydn Society, of Boston, numbering 500 members, while the local organizations and societies from the neighboring towns will swell the mass to 3,000 voices. A coliseum organ, especially built for the occasion, will strengthen an orchestra of 550 members and four military bands, the last named bodies being Gilmore’s Boston Band, and Dodworth’s, Grafulla’s and Downing’s Bands, from this City. To the list of conductors already printed, and embracing Messrs. Bergmann, Zerrahn, Maretzek and Pech, is to be added the name of Mr. Carl Rosa. It is evident that if the Boston Festival had the merit of relative originality, it presented no combination of great and varied talent at all approaching that promised by the management of this year’s musical demonstration.” 

Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 June 1870, 9.

Card is the length of the page. Full list of participants.

Announcement: New-York Times, 06 June 1870, 4.

“A very little information is to be added to the notices of the Beethoven Festival already printed in these columns. We are requested, however, to state that the transformation of the Coliseum auditorium into a thoroughly comfortable place having been effected, and the engagements of the numerous artists having been terminated, the sale of tickets will be commenced this day at Schirmer's, No. 701 Broadway; Ditson's, No. 711 Broadway; Dodd's, No. 914 Broadway, and Devlin's, No. 2 Wall-street.”

Article: New-York Times, 08 June 1870, 4.

“Additional gossip in relation to the Beethoven Festival cannot fail to be interesting, when it is remembered that it related to a week of festivities, on each day of which fully 25,000 persons will tenant the Coliseum. The salient points of the programme are now at hand, but the leading numbers of each afternoon and evening being printed elsewhere, they need no recapitulation here. We may, however, call attention to the special interest of the oratorio entertainments, which will have the principal co-operation of Mme. Parepa Rosa, of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, (six hundred strong,) of Dr. Pech’s Society of Choirs, (with seven hundred voices,) and of the New-York Mendelssohn Union, the Brooklyn Choral Union, the New-Jersey Harmonic Society, the Williamsburg Mendelssohn Association, and the Plainfield Harmonic Society. This statement of choral aid insures the interpretation of the concerted parts of ‘The Creation’ and ‘The Messiah,’ by no less than 2,000 singers, all familiar with the text. The miscellaneous arrangements for the Festival, we have only to say, are progressing most favorably. Yesterday the new organ, weight upward of forty-two tons, was placed in the Coliseum. A tariff of reduced fares, agreed upon with the principal railroad and steamboat companies, will soon be made public for the benefit of suburban persons desirous of attending the Festival. For the information of West-side residents, it is announced that the Belt Line will cause numerous cars to be run between Third and eighth-avenues, and half fare to be collected from passengers. There can be little doubt, we think, of the success of an affair, the preparation for which has been so complete. The daily sale of tickets, we learn, is extremely large.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 08 June 1870, 7.

Page-long card with programs. Prices in separate card.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 June 1870, 7.

“MUSICAL FESTIVAL. Passengers to and from Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk will be carried to and from during the Musical Festival week at excursion prices.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 June 1870, 7.

“MUSICAL FESTIVAL. Passengers to and from Albany and Troy will be conveyed to and from during the Festival Week for $2.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 June 1870, 7.

“PASSENGERS to and from Portland, Me., will be carried each way at half fare.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 June 1870, 7.

Programs for the week. Prices in separate card.

Announcement: New-York Times, 12 June 1870, 4.

“The preparations for the Beethoven Festival are now wholly completed and no grounds exist for the slightest doubt that the first concert will be commenced punctually at 8 o’clock to-morrow evening. The Coliseum being in readiness for an audience yesterday, a tour of inspection enabled the privileged visitors to arrive at a decision favorable to its absolute fitness for the grand concerts of which it is to be the scene. The spacious floor is covered with substantial seats, on which 11,000 spectators will find accommodation after entrance through passage-ways and relatively lengthened strolls through aisles of sufficient breadth to dispel, after a glance at them, all thought as to a possibility of experiencing discomfort in reaching or in occupying them. At the extremity of the building, facing the broad stage, has been erected a gallery whereupon 2,000 persons will find seats. From all points the view of the artists is excellent, while the acoustic qualities of the place seem admirable. The organ is now installed, and awaits the master touch. Five hundred music stands stud the platform, and will be looked upon by as many musicians on Monday evening. A battery of twelve guns will then be in position outside the Coliseum, and its voice under electric control of the orchestra within. The novelty of the affair, the unquestionable talent of the performers concerned, and a recollection of the impression wrought by the grandeur of the renderings at the Boston Festival last year, will surely crowd the edifice, vast as it is. The list of singers we have already printed, and have given estimates of the strength of the instrumental and choral forces. We now add to the record of incidents and announcements preliminary to the festival the programme of the first concert. It is arranged as follows: [lists program].”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 June 1870, 7.

An advertisement for Peters’ new Beethoven editions.

Review: New-York Times, 17 June 1870, 5.

“The following letter from Carl Zerrahn, Conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, and one of the leading musicians of the country, now conducting the chorus in the Beethoven Centennial Jubilee, should have weight with intelligent musicians:

Messrs. S.D. & H.W. Smith—Gentlemen: My attention was particularly called to your American Organ by one which was used in the public performance recently of the oratorio of the ‘Creation,’ under my conductorship. It rendered valuable service in the support of the choruses and accompaniments of the recitatives.

The purity and sweetness of tone were excellent, and I was especially struck with the great power of the sub-bass notes. This has led me to make a careful examination of your different styles of organs and the interior workmanship at your manufactory.

The quality of tone bears the closest resemblance to the pipe organ, and I cheerfully testify to their great superiority in this respect, as well as in the finish of the mechanical parts. Respectfully yours, CARL ZERRAHN. —New-York Tribune.”