Beethoven Centennial Festival: New York Tribune: 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 Tribune 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 Daily Tribune, 21 May 1870, 4.

Black bar at right side of column renders many words illegible. “As Beethoven was born in the middle of December, it is of course the most obviously [illeg.] that a centennial celebration of his birthday [illeg.] in the middle of June. Therefore certain [illeg.] men of New-York purpose using the great [illeg.] (this being the hundredth year since his birthday) make money by a series of grand concerts [illeg.] to be given in about three or four weeks from [illeg.] time, with a large orchestra, a monster chorus, many popular solo singers as can be [illeg.] -tribute their services. The Rink is to be [illeg.] it is estimated that a band of 500 pieces [illeg.] 3,000 can easily be got together, Mr. Gilmore from Boston to give the thing a start, and [illeg.] conductors taking turns with the baton. [Illeg.] will be in general something like those of [illeg.] -tival, with this difference, that they will [illeg.] many operatic selections, such as solos, [illeg.] finales. The Brignoli troupe, now singing at the [illeg.] of Music, has been engaged, and negotiations are nearly concluded with many other artists. [Illeg.] engagements have actually been made [illeg.] while to go into particulars. The collection [illeg.] offers many difficulties and its drilling [illeg.] but they are not insuperable. About the [illeg.] need to be no trouble whatever; the material [illeg.] is good and abundant. Now if the managerial enterprise will go sensibly about their business [illeg.] us needless humbug, we have no doubt our Festival will be a very enjoyable affair. [Illeg.] the faintest idea of honoring the memory of [illeg.] and if they persist in calling this a Beethoven [illeg.] -tion they only expose themselves to unnecessary criticism. Their object is to make money. [Illeg.] -ble object, in which the public will cheerfully [illeg.] and we see no reason to be ashamed of it.”

Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 30 May 1870, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 31 May 1870, 5.

“It is announced that Parepa and the Boston Handel and Haydn Society have been engaged for the New York Musical Festival. This, however, is not true—at least as yet. Negotiations are pending, and it is probable that the famous choral society of the Hub will [illeg.] 400 or 500 of its members under Carl Zerrahn, to be augmented by the addition of some of our local choruses, and perhaps societies from other cities. If this arrangement can be made Parepa will join them in the production of two or three oratorios, with Mr. Whitney, the Boston basso, and probably Mrs. Seguin and Mr. Nordblom, both of whom are said to excel in this description of music. It is mortifying to think that we must send to Boston for a really good chorus; but if the Handel and Haydn Society come, we shall hear the best oratorio singing that has ever been heard in New-York.”

Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 02 June 1870, 7.

“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 Daily Tribune, 03 June 1870, 4.

“A committee from the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, consisting of Carl Zerrahn, Loring B. Barnes, and G. W. Warren, yesterday concluding with the managers of the Musical Jubilee an agreement for the participation of about 500 members of the Society in the performances at the Rink. This important question settled, the rest of the preparations will be comparatively easy. We congratulate our readers upon the Society’s acceptance of the invitation, not only because it will be pleasant to welcome so fine a body of singers to New-York, but because with their help the Jubilee will acquire a dignity and an artistic importance which it would hardly have without them. They will be the backbone of the choral forces, and we now risk little in predicting that we shall hear at this festival the finest chorus singing ever heard in New-York.

We can now announce also that Mme. Parepa and Carl Rosa also accepted yesterday an invitation to take part in the exercises. Mme. Parepa will sing in oratorio, and Mr. Rosa will probably conduct some classical orchestral music. The lists of solo artists engaged thus far includes Miss Kellogg, Mrs. Edward Seguin, Signor Le Franc, Signor Brignoli, Signor Randolfi, Signor Reyna, and in fact nearly all the most popular opera singers now within reach. The operatic music will be directed by Max Maretzek. Mr. P. S. Gilmore will conduct five miscellaneous concerts, introducing some of the popular features of the Boston Jubilee. The oratorios we take it for granted will be conducted by Carl Zerrahn.

We have hitherto refrained from saying much about this enterprise, in doubt as to what shape it would take; but we are satisfied now that it is really to be an important musical event, and is likely to be artistically excellent.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 04 June 1870, 6.

“It may perhaps be remembered in New York—and it certainly is not forgotten in Boston—that we ventured, in a mild and friendly way, to make one or two disrespectful jokes last year about the great Peace Jubilee which set the Hub of the Universe a whirling in such an insane and disorderly fashion. Possibly it may also be remembered that we drew from the vagaries of that insane week auguries of much future good,—a revival of popular interest in the best kinds of choral music, an enthusiasm for real art, an appreciation of the great truth that the people need recreation quite as much as they need work. Our hopes are fulfilled even sooner than we expected. A mania for monster concerts has seized upon the whole hemisphere. From Maine to California the people are possessed by the spirit of song. Feet that erst lifted themselves to the measure of the can-can now beat four-four time to the burden of Handel’s choruses, and the furthest stretch of impropriety which young people today allow themselves is the Anvil Chorus, with a hundred musical blacksmiths and an electrified park of artillery. Let us rejoice in the great and glorious change without inquiring too closely into the agencies of our regeneration. Bergmann, Doremus, Thomas, Parepa, have all done much in the cultivation of high art; but maybe it is Gilmore after all, with his hammers and cannon, and his peal of bells, and his flaming enthusiasm, whom we must hail as the apostle of the new musical revival.

The New-York Jubilee has begun, to be sure, with an inordinate amount of brag; but that is an imperfection which we are bound to pardon. We are used to making many allowances for programme-eloquence, and if we are promised ten we have learned to be content with five. Architects may wonder how twenty-two thousand spectators are to be crowded into a building which, with all the proposed additions, will hardly hold ten thousand. Musicians may marvel at the promise of three thousand singers in a city where chorus singing is so shamefully neglected as it is in New-York. Experts may open their eyes a little at the ‘superlatively distinguished’ and ‘unapproachably excellent’ solo artists (all of the very first rank), whose names fill a list as long as the scroll of Leporello; and we will not deny that the unregenerate may smile at the announcement of a quartette from ‘Martha’ with a triple Nancy and a five-barrel Plunkett. But why should we haggle about trifles? One does not call for filet aux champignons at a barbeque. Beethoven, perhaps, if he had his way, would keep his birthday (when it comes) in a rather different style; but what has Beethoven to do with this affair except to lend it his name, and have maybe a day in his honor smuggled into the programme for the sake of appearances? When we ask for ‘Hail Columbia’ must we be answered by the Symphony in D minor? For our own part, we are quite satisfied with both the promises and the prospects. We know at any rate that we shall hear the best chorus and the best orchestra in America. We know that all the opera singers in the country, coming down in one fell swoop, will teach us (if they do not quarrel too much with one another) something of the music of the spheres. It is a heavenly outlook which even the supposititious smoke of possible cannon cannot wholly obscure. Must we be angry then with a little humbug, and take to measuring benches in the Rink and counting noses among the chorus? It is wiser far to throw up our hats and shout ‘Glory!’—to set ourselves diligently to work proving that the New-York Festival is almost as big and as good as the famous Festival of Boston, and as soon as it is over to get up another which shall be bigger and better than anything the world has ever seen.”

This article was reproduced in full in Dwight’s Journal of Music on 06/18/70, p. 260.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 04 June 1870, 7.

“The Musical Jubilee is fast taking shape. Six of the best conductors now available have been engaged—Mr. Bergmann to direct the symphonies, Mr. Carl Rosa and Mr. P. S. Gilmore for miscellaneous orchestral music, Mr. Carl Zerrahn for the ‘Elijah,’ given by the Handel and Haydn Society alone, Dr. James Pech for the ‘Creation’ and ‘Messiah’ with the Boston and other choruses in combination, and Max Maretzek for the operatic selections.”

Advertisement: New-York Daily Tribune, 06 June 1870, 6.

Multiple cards with performers, programs, prices, etc.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 08 June 1870, 5.

“Among the home societies who are to take part in the Beethoven Musical Festival, are the Brooklyn Choral Union, 250 voices, W. B. Cummings, President; the New-Jersey Harmonic and Madrigal Society of Jersey City, Wm. F. Sherwin, Conductor, 150 voices; Williamsburgh Mendelssohn Association, Charles W. Cheshire Conductor, 100 persons; Plainfield Harmonic, W. F. Sherwin, Conductor, 60 voices; the Mendelssohn Union of New-York, William Pond, President, 175 voices, and Dr. Pech’s Society of Choirs, nearly 700 voices strong. These are said to be familiar with the Oratorios of the Creation and Messiah, as well as the choruses of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Thus we are to have a home force of nearly 1,500 voices, who have been in active study through the Winter.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 June 1870, 8.


Ever since Mr. Patrick S. Gilmore gave his wonderful military peace jubilee down in Boston, the musical people of New-York have been hoping that some Gilmore would be inspired to organize a similar entertainment in this city. Many promises were made, but it remained for the gentlemen who compose the Beethoven Society to put in execution what others only proposed. It was during Easter week that the Beethoven Centennial was decided upon. A few earnest workers held a meeting and formed the present Society. The Empire Skating Rink on Third-ave. was secured, and steps were immediately taken to engage the best singers and performers in the country. Notwithstanding the innumerable jealousies which are said to exist among musical persons, letters of congratulation [sic] and acceptance poured in from New-England and New-Jersey.

The Massachusetts Societies sent words of cheer, and all the members promised to do their best. The Handel and Haydn society of Boston said, ‘We shall go, over 500 strong,’ and Messrs. Gilmore, Zerrahn, and others who wielded the baton at the Peace Jubilee last Spring, answered the call with alacrity. With harmony and enthusiasm success was sure, and now the day draws near when the great festival will begin.

A transformation has been wrought at the rink. Early last Monday morning Mr. George Turney of Bridgeport, with a small army of carpenters, commenced a war on 200,000 feet of pine lumber. To-day a building 300 feet long is filled with seats for 15,000 persons. This is not all, partitions have been removed, dressing rooms have been constructed, and many thousand feet of flooring have been laid on the stage and in the balcony. What one week ago was a skating-rink is now a mammoth concert-hall. The stage is about the usual hight [sic] in front, but it rises gradually from the center to the walls on the sides and rear. It is 75x180 feet. The orchestra will occupy the front part of the platform, and the choir will be seated on either side of the great organ. Additions have been made since the stage was first completed, so that now it will accommodate about 3,000 persons. Up from the waste of yellow pine rise nearly 2,000 pipes of zinc and gold, encircled with carvings of polished walnut. Two rows of ivory keys glisten in an unprecedenting case, waiting for the master’s hand. Mr. Gilmore pronounced this organ far superior to the famous instrument of the Boston Coliseum. It was constructed by Mr. Henry Erben of this city, and it is said to possess great power and sweetness of tone. Owing to the great hight [sic], it was necessarily built partially below the stage flooring.

The building known as the Mechanical hall [sic] during the late American Institute Fair, is being transformed into dressing-rooms, of which there will be four 62x50 feet each. Besides these there will be smaller ones under and on each side of the stage, and four rooms of box seats back of the orchestra row. From the walls at the right and left statues of Beethoven and Mozart will look down on the musicians, while on either hand [sic] busts of Hayden [sic], Mendelssohn, Handel and other great composers will be placed draped in the flags of their respective nations. Places of egress have been cut through into Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth-sts. Private rooms have been provided for guests, members of the Press, and leading artists. The wants of the orchestra have not been overlooked, and the most timid may have no fear that their books and choice sheet music will be lost or thoughtlessly carried away. The auditorium will sustain with safety any number of people or [illeg.] on a secure foundation.

The galleries ascend through the whole length of the building, and arrangements have been made to occupy this space with sofas. The numerous stairways and openings will enable the singers and others to reach the balcony and distant parts of the stage at all times during the festival, even when the house is packed. Musical experts say that the building is much better adapted for the purposes of the festival than was first supposed. Indeed, it is claimed that not a single voice will be lost in any part of the building. During the ovening [sic] concerts more than 1,500 gas jets will blaze along the arched roof, while in other parts of the edifice there will be two great sunlights and 16 calcium lights. The scale of prices was made before the auditorium or balcony was constructed, and as it has been found that some of the prices for seats are out of proportion with those in other parts of the house, a slight change will be made and announced next week.

The following is a list of the singers who are to participate in the festival: [list of singers].

In addition to these there will be about 400 visiting singers from different parts of the country, who will not be constantly present.

The instrumental performers will, on special occasions, number 500, and for purposes of accompaniment, about 200. There will also be 50 anvils and two batteries of artillery.

A monster calliope will play outside of the building for the benefit of the public.

Mr. Gilmore will take an active part in conducting the music. Carl Rosa’ Carl Zewahn [sic], the great leader at the Boston Jubilee; Carl Bergman, conductor of the N. Y. Philharmonic Society, and Dr. James Pech, will assist in the several departments.

Among the singers will be 40 leading operatic starts, including Parepa-Rosa, Miss Kellogg, and Mrs. Richings-Bernard. The various societies have been busily rehearsing during the past few weeks. To-day there will be a full rehearsal, and on Monday Madame Parepa will open the festival with the Star-Spangled Banner. Manager Grove and his associates are working hard, and they want no praise until the Jubilee has proved a success.

Capt. T. S. Copeland has been detailed with a force of 100 policemen to perfect and arrange the police department of the Coliseum during the Jubilee.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 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.”

Article: New-York Daily Tribune, 20 June 1870, 5.

“In a pecuniary sense the Festival must have been disastrous. In an artistic sense, despite some excellent performances to which we have done full justice from time to time, it has also been a failure. A Beethoven Festival it has not been in any sense of the word. During the whole eleven concerts only two compositions by Beethoven have been played, and both were played badly. There has been very little classical music of any kind. The musical portion of the community has consequently viewed the enterprise with disfavor, and the intelligent and cultivated classes of the city have looked upon it as a huge humbug. The exaggerations, not to say false pretenses, of the advertisements were too flagrant to be excused. The blunders and confusion in the management were too obvious to escape notice, and too annoying to be borne with patience. It must be a very strong attraction, indeed, which will draw New-Yorkers on hot days and nights to the region of Third-ave. and Sixty-third-st.,—or to any other region which is only accessible by the Third-ave. Railroad—and when experience had shown, as it did the very first night, how shadowy and unsubstantial the promises of the anonymous managers were, whatever interest the people had felt in the jubilee instantly died away. The gross misrepresentations of the character of the concerts disgusted worshipers of the classical school, and the glaring falsehoods about details from the opening statements of the capacity of the building and the dimensions of the orchestra and chorus, down to the recent fable of the promised presence of Gen. Grant, irritated everybody else. The visitors consequently on ordinary days were confined to unwary souls from the suburbs; on only one evening was there a truly metropolitan audience, and that was when the Handel and Haydn Society sang half of ‘Elijah.’ The appearance of the house on that night, contrasted with its appearance at other times, proved that New-York, while it does relish and respect a fine classical performance, has not much patience with charlatans. ‘It is easy to humbug New-Yorkers,’ said an experienced manager to use once, ‘but take care they don’t find you out, for then you can’t do anything with them.’

We are far from saying that the performances as a rule were poor. If they had been announced as a series of great popular concerts, at reasonable prices, no one would have complained; but purporting to be a jubilee of celebration of the centenary of the greatest composers, with tickets $4 a piece for each performance, they invite the severest criticism. The first and most obvious fault was the want of a recognized musical head. Programmes got themselves made somehow or other in town-meeting, and these were followed or not, as convenience dictated. A splendid array of operatic artists was present, but nobody knew how to turn them to account. With the repertory at their command we might have had an unequaled variety of selections, but parts had not been furnished for the orchestra, and the list of possible pieces was consequently reduced to the few of which the music could be bought or borrowed at a moment’s notice, and these were repeated over and over again. Several eminent conductors were engaged, but the orchestra was of second-rate quality, and had no rehearsals. Better music is given by Theodore Thomas every night at the Central Park Garden than was given any time last week by the orchestra at the Rink. The choral performances, from which so much was expected, were (with the exception always of the ‘Elijah’), weak and uninspiring, and ‘the grand combined force of 2,500 voices’ sang with not much more effect and not much more accuracy than our poor little Harmonic Society. The only oratorio given entire was so poorly given and fell so flat that the managers had not courage to try another. If ‘Elijah’ had been presented on Tuesday instead of ‘The Creation,’ there would have been a very different result. The Handel and Haydn society was wasted. Deprived of a fair opportunity to show its ability, and treated with a gross discourtesy—for which a complimentary speech from Dr. Pech but poorly atoned—it has been sent home in a most uncomfortable frame of mind, and the many hundreds in this city who were anxious to hear it are not only disappointed and mortified, but have the additional chagrin of knowing that the Society will not readily trust itself to a New York manager again. Nothing, in fine, carried the Jubilee through the week except Parepa and Gilmore,—and we may add Mr. Carl Rosa, whose labors in bringing order out of the chaos of ‘miscellaneous’ music into which the festival degenerated almost as soon as it was born, have been unremitting and invaluable. But it is not in singing against cannon that Parepa is at her greatest. In scenas like Beethoven’s Ah perfido!, or standing at the head of a grand choral force in the modest works of Handel and Mendelssohn, her very presence is an inspiration of sublimity. The Rink Jubilee, however, has not called forth her unrivaled powers, and grand as most of her singing has been, too much of it has been (through no fault of hers) wasted on unworthy themes. Of course she could not give her best where it was not wanted. Of Mr. Gilmore’s popular Slam pieces we have no desire to speak disrespectfully. Nobody knows better than he himself that they are artistically and meretricious and worthless, and ought not to be, as they have been here, the principal features of a musical programme. What will do for a celebration of the Fourth of July will not do for a celebration of Beethoven. They have been given, however, with great effect, and Mr. Gilmore personally has earned the good will and respect of the whole public.

The effect of the Festival upon art we believe will prove unfortunate. The Boston Jubilee, with all its little absurdities and shortcomings, and the inevitable imperfection of performances in which 10,000 voices and 500 instruments took part together, gave an extraordinary impulse to musical enterprise all over the country, infused vitality into scores of choral societies, developed a latent popular taste for the works of the best masters, and set forward the average musical culture of New-England a good half generation. The Jubilee in New-York on the contrary has discouraged musicians, disheartened musical societies, and strengthened the vulgar prejudice which calls Handel stupid and Mendelssohn a bore. Even the least cultivated ear listens with delight to a grand chorus sung with spirit by a mighty choir; but such indifferent performances of oratorio music as we generally have in New-York cannot possibly interest any except those who know enough of art to go behind the imperfections of the interpreters and catch the spirit of the composer. The Festival of last week has developed nothing but the popular taste for gunpowder, and that was strong enough already. One of these days we shall perhaps have a genuine Musical Festival. Whoever undertakes the herculean task of getting it up will find the recollection of this sham one formidable obstacle to overcome.”

Article: New-York Daily Tribune, 22 June 1870, 5.

“Some person intent upon a continuation of the mammoth joke, perpetrated under the name of Beethoven, at the Third-ave. Rink last week, inserted an advertisement in a morning journal yesterday morning, informing all persons having claims upon the Beethoven Centennial Association that they could obtain information of a pleasing character at No. 117 Fourth ave. Hither flocked all day yesterday the interested who read or heard of the advertisement. Delegations of musicians, choristers, artists, and supernumeraries crowded the cars from every direction. The atmosphere was green with the air castles of national bank bills erected by their pleasant thoughts, and already their pocket-books grew plethorie. Arriving at the shrine of their pilgrimage, No. 116 [sic] Fourth-ave., it proved to be—ominous sight—a lager beer saloon. Entering its sow-dusted precincts, the throng approached a youthful bartender, and requested that he would open his money-drawer and satisfy their claims. The bartended blandly smiled and informed them that he had no money, but that if they would seek Mr. Miller, the Treasurer of the Association, at his office, No. 35 Chambers-st., they would probably ‘hear of something to their advantage.’ The throng obeyed and entered the cars, and soon the clerks at No. 35 Chambers-st., the store of Messrs. Hurd & Miller, were overwhelmed with a multitude of eager questioners. Here the cruel joke was exposed; the clerks informed them that Mr. Miller was out of the city enjoying a vacation after his labors of the festival week, and that no money had been left to pay off claims. Slowly and sadly the visitors left the store, satisfied that their claims would not be honored for the day, and that the insertion of the advertisement was perhaps but a continuation of the joke of which they themselves formed a part last week.”