Madrigal Concert: 1st

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Dr. [amateur musician and conductor] Brown

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
12 March 2022

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

21 Apr 1870, 8:00 PM

Program Details

“[I]n aid of the Wilson Industrial School and Mission.” No citation provides a full program, but the New York Times review of 04/22/70 does list all of the composers represented on the program. Chorus of sixty. Quite likely, only one of the Mendelssohn Lieder from op. 48 was performed; no indication of which it might have been.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Two grenadiers
Composer(s): Schumann
Text Author: Heine
aka Seven last words of Christ on the cross; 7 last words
Composer(s): Haydn
aka Praise forever to God, the father
Composer(s): Rossini
Participants:  H. R. Romeyn [tenor]
Composer(s): Linley
Participants:  Mary E. Simms
aka Sweet honey sucking bees
Composer(s): Wilbye
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
aka When all alone my bonny love
Composer(s): Conversi
aka Flower now calleth forth each flower
Composer(s): Smith
aka Dorothy
Composer(s): Hatton
aka Erste Frühlingstag, Der; Sechs Lieder im Freien zu singen; 6 Lieder im Freien zu singen
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Composer(s): Call


Announcement: New York Post, 13 April 1870, 2.

“Subscribers to the series of the Madrigal Concerts in aid of the Wilson Industrial School and Mission, have been notified that the first of the series will be given at Steinway Hall on Thursday evening, April 21st, at 8 o’clock. Any tickets for the series remaining unsold may be had at Schirmer’s, No. 701 Broadway. It is also announced that no seats will be reserved later than 8½ o’clock on the evening of the concert.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 15 April 1870, 2.

See event referened of 04/12/70: Yale College Glee Club Concert.

“[Illeg…] occasion to comment in yesterday’s issue with seeming severity, but with entire justice, on the pretensions of some young collegians from Yale who made bold, without any proper qualifications, to appear as public conert singers. They styled themselves a glee club. We think it doubtful if any one of them ever sang a bona fide glee; for of all the varied forms of musical composition this is the most rarely heard.

“What can be done in this way the Madrigal Society, under the direction of a distinguished physician and equally distinguished amateur musician, will show on next Wednesday [sic] evening.

“A finer body of voices—we say it advisedly—has never been gathered together in this city. The gentlemen and ladies who compose the Society are all sight readers and good solo singers.

“As a rule soloists decline to use up their voices in chorus singing, but some powerful musical magnet has drawn them together for the three concerts now proposed to be given.

“If the Yale Glee Club will get a dispensation from lessons and attend these concerts in a body, the lesson will do them more good than a month’s drill at New Haven.

“The subscription tickets remaining unsold can be had on application at Schirmer’s, 701 Broadway.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 16 April 1870, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 16 April 1870, 5.

“‘April is in my Mistress’s Face,’ sang old Morley in one of his charming madrigals, and that or something equally appropriate will sixty ladies and gentlemen sing next Thursday, at Steinway Hall. The entertainment is the first of three subscription Madrigal Concerts to be given for the benefit of the Wilson Industrial School by the admirable company of amateurs who first revived our taste for the beautiful forgotten music of our great grandparents a year ago last December. Their programme we have not yet seen; but in the course of the series, they propose giving in addition to the glees and madrigals two choruses from Haydn’s ‘Seven Last Words,’ two from Mendelssohn’s ‘Psalm CXIV.,’ and two each from the ‘Antigone’ and ‘Œdipus at Colonos’ of the same composer.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 17 April 1870, 4.

“A series of three madrigal concerts in aid of the Wilson Industrial School and Mission, is to be commenced at Steinway Hall, on Thursday evening next, and to extend over the two succeeding Thursdays. About fifty voices will interpret the programmes, which are to embrace selections from works rarely brought before the public. Notice is called to the fact that tickets will be sold only by subscription and for the course.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 18 April 1870, 2.

“There are several musical performances to be given the present week of much more than ordinary excellence…

“Of the glee and madrigal concert to be given to-morrow evening at Steinway Hall by the Madrigal Society, which unhappily is without a name, though it deserves a noble one, we have already spoken. Those who are fortunate enough to attend it will hear probably the best glee singing that has been done in this city certainly within the present generation. There are fine traditions of what George Loder and others did in this direction in old days, but that is of the past. For the present there is nothing that will compare with what this Society will give us in the three concerts of which this is the first. The subscriptions, if any seats are left unsold, are received at Schirmer’s, and also by the managers of the Wilson Industrial School, in aid of which organization the concerts are to be given.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 19 April 1870, 8.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 April 1870, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 21 April 1870, 5.


Announcement: New York Post, 21 April 1870, 2.

“As the spring season passes on and there are event hints of the summer—that period when the voice of the concert singer is mute—there is manifested a sudden activity on the part of concert givers. Several interesting entertainments are announced.

“A madrigal society, combining a number of well-known resident vocalists, will give a concert at Steinway Hall to-night, for the benefit of the Wilson Industrial School and Missions. Tickets have been sold by subscription. The concert of to-night will be followed by two others, to be given on Thursday evenings, May 5 and May 19.”

Review: New-York Times, 22 April 1870, 4.

“The Madrigal Concert at Steinway Hall last evening was very numerously and fashionably attended, and entirely successful, from an artistic stand-point. The programme was a most liberal one, Linley, Gibbons, Hatton, Weelkes, Wilbye, Ries, Mendelssohn, Von Weber, Haydn, Rossini, Converso and Meyer being represented within its limits. From this rehearsal of names, it may be inferred that the night was not altogether occupied by the rendering of the peculiar music referred to in the title. The few madrigals given, however, were executed with faultless taste and true precision, and were the more agreeable alternates to such vigorous and unartificial descriptive melody as Schumann’s ‘Two Grenadiers,’ to the solemn strains of the quartet from Haydn’s ‘Passion Music,’ to the theatrical but tender ‘Domine Deus’ from Rossini’s ‘Messe solenelle.’ The soloists were [no small caps for these names] Miss Mary E. Simms, Mr. W. H. Beckett, Mr. S. B. Whitely, pianist, Mr. H. R. Roineyne [sic], and Miss Emma C. Thursby.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 22 April 1870, 4.

“The first of the three subscription concerts of glees and madrigals offered by a club of amateurs for the benefit of the Wilson Industrial School, attracted a fair audience last night at Steinway Hall, and all the best pieces on the programme awakened that genuine delight which is far more flattering than noisy applause, though it may not be so emphatic. The chorus was as strong as it has ever been—numbering more than sixty voices—and, though it is composed in part of new material, its drill has not been impaired, and the new recruits sing with all the precision and finish of the eldest veterans. If there is any fault in its composition it is that the bass is too heavy. The preponderance of this part was conspicuous in the first piece, Morley’s familiar madrigal, ‘My bonny lass she smileth;’ but in their subsequent selections these gentlemen curbed their power. The basses, however, are peculiarly and exceptionally rich, while the tenors, though many in number, are comparatively weak, and now and then uncertain. In most of the male choruses, especially the selections from the ‘Antigone’ and ‘Œdipus in Colonos’ of Mendelssohn, the trifling defects of both sections disappeared, and the voices blended in swelling tones which were really magnificent. Our choral societies, with a hundred voices, seldom produce so fine an effect as we got from these thirty gentlemen last night.

“It was the madrigals after all that we went to hear and the only fault we have to find with these is that they were so few. In a programme of twenty pieces only six belonged to the class of compositions which give the club its distinctive name. Morley’s ‘My bonny lass,’ Wilbye’s ‘Sweet honey-sucking bees,’ and ‘The silver swan,’ by Orlando Gibbons, are well-known, and will be loved as long as love for all that is sweet, and graceful, and ingenious in music survives. ‘The Nightingale,’ by T. Weelkes (A. D. 1600), and a still earlier composition, ‘When all alone,’ by Gironimo Conversi, are little inferior. Ford’s delicious morsel, ‘Since first I saw your face,’ reappeared as part of a glee arranged by Sir Henry Bishop, the second part consisting of a trio of Dr. Calcott’s; they fit well enough together (for Bishop had a knack of adapting and patching the inspirations of better men), though we confess to a preference for the original form in which Ford’s madrigal is so exquisite that it is almost profanation to touch it. The glee was sung as a quartette, and in obedience to a recall the singers gave the pretty Suablan melody, ‘Come, Dorothy, come,’ which was received with so much favor at all the madrigal concerts last year. [Lists other pieces on program.] There were several solo performances, but these being such as one can hear anywhere, call for no criticism.”

Review: New York Post, 22 April 1870, 2.

A pleasing miscellaneous concert, in which the madrigals were not numerous enough to entitle it to the name given to it on the programme, took place last night at Steinway Hall, before a large audience. A chorus of some sixty ladies and gentlemen, including a number of the best voices in the city, gave their services for the benefit of the Wilson Mission, which is an industrial school for girls, located on the corner of Avenue A and Eighth street. In this institution poor girls are taught dress-making, machine sewing and house work, and are every day provided with a warm dinner, which in some cases is the only meal they receive during the day. There is an incumbrance [sic] on the building of $20,000, and the Madrigal Society, under Dr. Brown’s musical guidance, offered to give these subscription concerts towards defraying this debt. The concert of last night was the first of this series.

“On entering the hall each auditor was presented with the most elegant programme yet produced in this city. It was a stitched pamphlet printed in silver letters, and contained the words of the principal madrigals and songs, with interesting explanatory notes, and with a reduced facsimile of the title page of ‘Music Transaplina,’ an old volume of madrigals printed many years ago, ‘in favour of such as take pleasure in musick of voices.’

“There were twenty pieces on this programme, the madrigals being Morley’s ‘My bonny lass she smileth;’ Orlando Gibbons’s ‘Silver sawn,’ ‘Weelke’s ‘Nightingale,’ Welbye’s ‘Honey-sucking bee,’ Stafford Smith’s ‘Flower now calleth forth each flower,’ and Converso’s ‘When all alone.’ They all found admirable interpretation, and the different parts were taken up with eminent precision of time and accuracy of intonation. The bass voices were the most numerous, and served as a noble foundation for the others. The encores were frequent enough to show that madrigal music has a popular hold on our audiences.

“Of the more miscellaneous selections, Mendelssohn’s four-part song—or, speaking more plainly the chorus—called ‘The First Day of Spring,’ deserves special notice. Very interesting as a fragment of a great musical composition rarely heard was the chorus and quartet ‘Father, unto They hands I commend my spirit,’ from Hadyn’s ‘Passions.’

“Several solos were sung during the evening, but they were not of a specially interesting character. Mr. Beckett, the basso, sang well Schumann’s rather dreary song, ‘The two Grenadiers,’ a composition which is only relieved from insipidity by the borrowed energy imparted to it in the adaptation of the melody of the Marsellaise [sic] Hymn in the last verse. Mr. Romeyn selected the ‘Domine Deus’ from Rossini’s Mass. Miss Mary Simms sang in excellent style, Linley’s quaint imitation of old-fashioned music, ‘O bid your faithful Ariel fly.’ Among others who sung solos or in quartets, were Miss Emma Thursby, Mrs. Loveridge, Mrs. Miller, Miss Hamlin, Mrs. Johnston, Mrs. G. W. Brown, and Messrs. Rockwood, Aiken, Hall, Leggat, Brown and Miller.

“The next concert will take place at any early date. Let the preference be given by the director to madrigals; and in the line of soloists we notice the names of two or three in the list of choristers who would be available. At a previous madrigal concert Mrs. Estaphievo sang most acceptably; and Mr. Leggatt should not be left to bloom and blush unseen amid the ranks of the chorus.”

Review: New York Sun, 23 April 1870, 2.

“The concert of the Glee and Madrigal Society, given on Thursday evening in aid of the Wilson Industrial Mission, was all that the most sanguine admirer of the old English classical music could desire. Of course the same effects cannot be produced by a chorus of sixty as by larger bodies, and perhaps the otne was not quite full and massive enough for so large a concert room as Steinway Hall. But as far as a chorus of sixty could go, this one went. Within the limit of their numbers they sang almost faultlessly well. Some of the madrigals were of great intricacy, written by those learned men of the old school who delighted in a profound study of counterpoint, and gave their utmost skill to working out subtle, curious, and new effects, balancing one theme against another; writing harmoniously in five parts, while each part carried on its own melody. They were like the jugglers who keep their five balls flying through the air, each receiving its impetus from the same hand, all moving in harmony, and yet each independent of the other. Some of the madrigals were among the best ever written. Such a one was John Wilbye’s ‘Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees,’ composed two hundred and sixty years ago, but immortal in its loveliness, commencing with a strain as gentle and soothing as the hum of bees on the wing, and worked out in forms of varied beauty.

“The madrigals were contrasted finely against some of Mendelssohn’s noble music to the Greek tragedies of Sophocles, sung by the male portion of the chorus. There are to be two more of these rarely to be heard concerts, both in aid of the same mission. One is to be given on the 5th of May, and the other on the 19th.”