Beethoven Centennial Festival: New York Sun: 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 Sun 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 Sun, 26 May 1870, 1.

“A monster festival, similar to the Boston Peace Jubilee, is proposed in this city in June. The Empire Rink is to be fitted up for the purpose, and disinterested vocalists and musicians from all parts of the State are expected.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 28 May 1870, 3.

“The famous Handel and Haydn Society of Boston will come to New York to sing at the great Beethoven Musical Festival in June. They will number 500 strong. This will be one of the great features of this rare musical treat to be offered our citizens.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 04 June 1870, 1.


Announcement: New York Sun, 06 June 1870, 2.

“The centenary of Beethoven will be celebrated in this city next week by a monster musical festival. Over 3,000 singers will appear, including six grand opera companies and many first-class musical associations. The chiming of bells, the roaring of artillery, the clinking of five hundred anvils, and the pealing of an immense organ, built especially for the occasion, are to be added to the notes of numerous bands and orchestras and the voices of the singers. Bergmann, Maretzek, Zerrahn, and Gilmore are to officiate as musical marshals. To accommodate the immense throng who, it is expected, will rush to see and hear this great musical uproar, the Empire Skating Rink is to be enlarged so that it can hold 20,000 people. One of the features of the festival will be a grand matinée of 5,000 singing children. All that is wanted to make the affair a complete success in this city is addition of a genuine earthquake and a half-dozen nitro-glycerine explosions. Perhaps Manager Grover may be able to secure these stunning distractions.”

Article: New York Sun, 09 June 1870, 2.
“Music Stands in New York.
It would be hard to credit, did not figures prove it, that in the big city of New York, crowded with musical societies, the managers of the big musical jubilee find it hard to gather a sufficient number of stands for the use of their artists, and have had to order fifteen hundred to be made. As they swallow up every musical society in the city, it would seem that outside the theatres there are not more than two thousand music stands in New York.” Additional paragraph enumerating singing societies that will perform.
Review: New York Sun, 20 June 1870, 2.

“The performances at the Coliseum came to a close on Saturday evening. The audiences during the latter part of the week were fair in numbers, and seemed to take especial pleasure in the performance of the national air with its thunderous accompaniment. There were many drawbacks to the full success of the festival, not least of which was the great haste with which it had been prepared.”

Review: New York Sun, 22 June 1870, 1.



The New York Festival Failure—Parpea Rosa and Miss Kellogg on a Strike—No Money, No Song—The Managers to Shell out $500 for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’—Gilmore’s Forlorn Hope.

New York Correspondence of the San Francisco Bulliten.

New York, June 20.—The great Beethoven Centennial is all over, and the performers are counting their profits and losses. The affair was started with only a fortnight’s notice, and the details were far from complete when the first day of the festival arrived. Everything was in confusion; but for the first day or two the outside public did not know much about it. By the third day, however, everybody who had been hired began to be in doubt, and then

the striking for wages began.

The printers who furnished the programmes refused to deliver them unless they were paid for in advance, and the result was that at several of the performances there was not a programme to be had until the day’s work was half over. Then there was such a row among the performers that the commencement at more than half the concerts was from fifteen to sixty minutes late. Saturday evening, for example, the concert was to begin at 8 o’clock. At that hour there was not a single person in the orchestra, and only scattered individuals were among the chorus. The audience grew impatient and made a great deal of noise, and finally Gilmore’s band came in, and was followed by the orchestra.

they were hissed,

and so was Carl Rosa, who came to conduct the first piece. It was very natural for the audience to hiss the conductor; but, instead of being to blame for the delay, Rosa was one of the men who assisted materially to bring order out of chaos.

behind the scenes.                                

The performance behind the scenes was infinitely more amusing than the one presented to the audience, and it is a pity that the public did not have a good chance to see the fun. There were strikes in all the languages of the continent of Europe. All the strikers were talking and gesticulating at once, appealing to anybody who by any possibility had the least authority. Here was a prima donna, whose turn had arrived to go on the stage, but she refused to move an inch until the money was in her hands or the hands of her agent.

parepa on strike.

Parepa sent word from her dressing room to the manager, the message being carried by her agent, that she would not sing. ‘She no sing,’ said the agent, ‘unless she have ze money.’ Sing she would not, and the manager was obliged to come down with the stamps. Then the stately Parepa appeared, went to the front, and smiled as sweetly and as charmingly as though there never had been the slightest trouble of any kind about the cash returns. Then

miss kellogg followed parepa’s example,

and with her arms folded she stood silent until her agent delivered her ultimatum. A check for $500 was handed to her and she demurred, owing to a doubt about its correctness. But she went on the stage while her agent jumped into a carriage and drove to the bank to see if it was all right. The check was correct, and there was no more trouble with Clara Louise until she was to go on stage again.

The stately Brignoli, in a mingled patois of English, French, and Italian, said he could not move till the money was in his hands. Kellogg had gone forward and was to sing the Miserere from ‘Trovatore’ with the assistance of Brignoli. Of what use is one in the Miserere without the other? The management thought they could persuade Brignoli to go forward, out of politeness to the lady, if for no other reason; but they could not persuade him, and very reluctantly they

handed him his cash,

when he smilingly joined the smiling Kellogg, and together they went through their part of the performance. Mrs. Richings, Mrs. Seguin, and one after another all the solo singers, refused to move a step without their money; and thus the row went on, delaying everybody, and putting audience, managers, singers, orchestra, and chorus into bad humor.

the artillery performance.

A great feature of the entertainment was the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by a batter of artillery and Madame Parepa, with the assistance of the orchestra and chorus. The artillery behaved well enough until the last day, when it refused to fire another gun unless it had the money that was due. The captain of the battery was a good-natured but firm German, and as he was persistent in his refusal to shoot,

the managers shelled out,

and came down with a check for $560. But it was Saturday after banking hours, and the German, like Kellogg, was a little dubious. He wanted his money, and as Gilmore was to conduct the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ the Germans naturally applied to him. Gilmore explained that it was all right, that the check was good; but the Germans would not consent to receive it. The audience was noisy. Parepa was waiting, Gilmore was waiting, the chorus was waiting, the orchestra was waiting, but the artillery was not quite ready to wait. Finally, the Captain said that he would shoot if Gilmore would pay him $100. ‘All right,’ said Gilmore, and he took $100 from his pocket, handed it to the captain, rushed to the stage, and in a moment Parepa, chorus, orchestra, Gilmore, and guns were thundering away at the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’

The fifty red-shirted performers on the anvil were hired from the Italian Opera chorus. They were induced to put on red shirts to make them look like firemen; but not one had ever run with the machine or

knew a hose from a symphony.

In the afternoon of Saturday the Anvil Chorus was down on the bills. The fifty red shirts had been paid—that is to say, all of them had not been paid. Money for part payment had been given to one man who claimed to be the head of the chorus, and, instead of distributing it equally, he had given it all to a few of the performers, and left the others without anything. At first they refused even to put on their shirts unless they were paid; but, after a good deal of persuasion, Gilmore got them inside of their garments. They stood in line, as they usually stand before marching in, but they utterly refused to budge a single inch.

money, money, nothing but money,

was their cry. Gilmore tried to explain, but they would not listen to his explanation. Finally a happy thought struck him; and while explaining the situation he managed to get the line pretty clearly defined. Then suddenly swinging his baton, he shouted as if at the head of a regiment, ‘Fall in! Right wheel! Forward! March!’ and at the same time he tramped away as if he were trying to go through the floor. The bewildered singers immediately marched forward, and before they knew what they were doing they were at their anvils. Gilmore was at his stand, and the ‘Anvil Chorus’ was performed with artillery, anvils, and everything, all in good order. Not one of the audience suspected to what strategy they were indebted for the successful display.

a dumb chorus.

The audience on Saturday evening observed that with all the trouble that had been reported, the chorus seats were well filled. When the conductor waved his baton, the chorus stood up; but when it came to the singing, the sound they gave forth was very weak, considering the number of singers. It was like the report of a pistol when one expected the sound of a four-pound gun. The way the joke occurred was as follows: The chorus had become disgusted, and four-fifths of the singers went away on Saturday afternoon, determined not to return. They gave their tickets to anybody who would accept them without the slightest regard as to whether he could sing or not. Consequently four-fifths of the persons in the chorus

knew nothing about music,

and could no more sing in oratorio, symphony, or opera, than a clam could work at civil engineering; and though it happened that while there was a large chorus in point of numbers, there was a very weak chorus in point of sound.

The managers of the affair did they best they could; but time and circumstances were against them. In the Boston Peace Jubilee, months were required for preparations; but in the Beethoven Centennial, the affair as arranged in less than three weeks. Consequently everything was in confusion at the start, and many of the solo singers did not know what they were to do.

The location of the rink, or coliseum, is very bad, being on Third avenue, near Sixty-third street, about four miles from the City Hall. A person riding there on the cars of the Third avenue Railway

must go through a torture

varying from an hour to fifty minutes, the passengers being packed into dirty cars—packed as closely as sardines in a can—and when they emerge in warm weather, such as we had during the jubilee, they are about as oily as the aforesaid sardines[.] Had the coliseum been easy of access over good roads, with frequent and rapid communication, twenty thousand people who stayed away would have been present at the entertainment.

the germans of new york

almost unanimously refused to take part in the Beethoven Centennial. They could not understand why the birthday of Beethoven, which occurred in December, should be celebrated in June; and no body of Germans took part in the affair. The only ones that sang or played in the concert were hired for the occasion, just as everybody else was hired. It is rumored that the Germans are making preparations to have a real original Jacobs Beethoven celebration late in the autumn or early winter.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 30 June 1870, 2.

“Mr. Leonard Grover's Beethoven centennial celebration turned out a failure; but, as is well known, there is another planning which is to take place in New York city [sic] on the 17th of next December, the birthday of the great composer, and is to be conducted by men whose only object will be to honor Beethoven's memory. This celebration will in all probability be completely successful; for it is the Germans who are at the bottom of it, and whatever they undertake in the musical line, they are accustomed to accomplish. All over Germany the day is to be solemnly celebrated, and people there are already looking forward to it with generous enthusiasm.”