Beethoven Centennial Festival: New York Clipper: 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 Clipper 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 Clipper, 11 June 1870, 6.

“The Beethoven Centennial Festival, which is to be held at the American Institute Coliseum next week, promises to be a grand musical success, nearly all the leading musical talent in the country having promised to be present. The building has been enlarged so that it will contain 20,000 persons, and a grand Coliseum organ is being built by Erben. Six opera companies contribute their quota of artists, among them who are [lengthy list of performers and conductors]. The orchestra will comprise over five hundred leading virtuosi and four military bands, besides Gilmore’s band, from Boston, and the leading bands in this city. One of the principal features of the programme, which embraces a whole week of performances, will be the oratorios, the ‘Messiah,’ ‘Creation,’ and the ‘Elijah,’ with the largest chorus of skilled voices ever brought into requisition for the rendering of similar works in this country. The compositions of the most eminent American composers will be presented in addition to those of the great masters, and one day will be set apart for the works of Beethoven. Another additional treat will be a grand matinee, when five thousand children will raise their voices in harmony. More than sufficient money has been guaranteed to defray the expenses, and, from all indications, New York is going to outdo the Boston jubilee.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 18 June 1870, 6.

The week of the Jubilee has come. The ‘big sing’ commences at the ‘last skating rink’ on Third Avenue, this day, 13th inst. There’s a good deal of money in it, but it is not a sure thing that much will be got out of it. The managers have laid out stacks of notes, and we hope they may not be disappointed in their great expectations of finding the Coliseum a gold mine. Boston and its big organ had the cream of this sort of thing, and the metropolis has no idea of playing second fiddle in this jamboree of sounds, and that is why we hear so little said about it. The public don’t appear to hanker after it much. Jim Fisk’s Sabbath evening concerts are big enough for them, and that ‘sweet spirit,’ Nully Peiris, sings well enough to please our pious souls and satisfy the musical cravings of a moderate appetite. Besides, James Fisk takes us in for fifty cents a head, reserved seats included; whereas, the other jubilee’s rate of fare starts a feller on an exploring expedition to see if he has got the price. All that our Jubilee Jim needs to make his show a big thing on Sunday is a park of sacred cannon, and a hundred pious blacksmiths to do the anvil chorus. But nil desperandum; we shall see.”

Review: New York Clipper, 25 June 1870, 6.

“We have had a right lively week of it, and everything has been done to amuse and interest the inhabitants of this greatly belled city. First, we had the Beethoven Centennial Festival, or second edition, revised, but not improved, of the late Boston Jubilee: and considering that the ‘late lamented’ Mr. Beethoven would not have reached his ‘old hundred’ until next December, provided he had lived that long, we must say that great disrespect has been shown to his memory by adding unnecessarily and without the sanction of his descendants, six months to his old age. And coupling his name to the speculation, under all the circumstances attending the big sing, is another wrong upon the rights of the deceased man; for, instead of harmony between the managers and performers, the elements engaged exhibited the greatest discord, and it was just as much as the leading spirits could do to bring the singists [sic] up to the bull ring, and keep them in any kind of subjection. It was harder work than ever Rarely [sic] had to do with the most obstinate of his vicious horses. The grand summing up will show a frightful pecuniary failure, and furnish a lesson to would be speculators that New York must be ‘taken up tenderly and treated with care,’ before she will permit herself to be led like a lamb to a musical slaughter.”

Review: New York Clipper, 25 June 1870, 6.

The Beethoven Musical Festival commenced at the Skating Rink, on Third avenue at the corner of Sixty-first street, on Monday evening, June 13th. The managers are said to have been Leonard Grover, Hurd and Miller. The whole festival was prepared in great haste, and although considerable energy and tact was displayed on the part of the management up to the initial performance, we regret to say that after that event the reverse was the case. There seemed to be no head to the whole ffair [sic], and the festival ran itself. On the second day, in the afternoon, all the operatic chorus singers ‘struck’ for their pay just previous to the performance of the ‘Miserere,’ which created an awkward contretemps. After considerable delay the matter was adjusted and the performance proceeded. A day or two later, a difficulty arose between the printer and the management. So, on several occasions, the audience was without programmes. The number of the chorus and orchestral fluctuated from day to day, but at no one time were there present more than 2,000 choristers and 230 in the orchestra. The opening attendance was about 7,000, which fell off on Tuesday afternoon to about 3,5000, and in the evening to about 2,500; on Wednesday, the attendance was only fair; on Thursday, in the afternoon, not more than 2,000 were present; on Friday evening there was the best attendance of the week, both audience and artists. The festival closed on Saturday evening, 18th inst., with a complimentary benefit to P. S. Gilmore. As a matter of record, we append the names of the musical societies and artists who are supposed to have appeared during the festival: [lists performers]. There was a grand organ built expressly for the festival, a park of artillery and a chime of bells, and fifty anvils for the anvil chorus. On Saturday afternoon 5,000 children of the Sunday schools of New York appeared. The rate of admission fluctuated from the opening until Thursday, the prices, with reserved seats, being:— First parterre, $2; dress parterre, $3; orchestra, $4; balcony, $2. After Thursday the price of admission was fixed definitely at $1, with $1 extra for reserved seats. That there was bad management, and violations of certain agreements if most true. The N. Y. musicians were discharged on Friday. They had been originally engaged for the entire week at $70 each. The musicians from Philadelphia were engaged at $50 each per week. A strike for salary was made daily, and they insisted upon receiving their money every day before the performance commenced. The English choristers were engaged at $20 each for the week for the ladies, and $24 for the males with $2 each extra for the men that performed on the anvils. None of the choristers of the Parepa or Richings English Opera Troupe received any salary for Saturday night. On Saturday evening the performance did not commence until ten minutes of 9, in consequence of the English choristers refusing to sing until they were paid for Friday’s services, and they did not go on until the anvil chorus was to commence, when, to oblige Mr. Gilmore, and at his earnest solicitation, they went on for that, and then left. When the choristers went to the management on Saturday evening to be paid, they were told there was no money in the treasury, and they must depend upon the receipts of the night for their pay. When the night came the manager said he would pay after the concert. In their contract those who came on from Philadelphia were to have had their fares on and back paid by the management, which was not done in either case. The whole affair is unhesitatingly pronounced one of the greatest fizzles of the age. Gilmore was paid, we are told, $10,000; and Parepa is said to have received from $3,000 to $5,000 for her services.”