Academy of Music
29 August 2023
Contributions by the mayor of New York and other details regarding the forthcoming festival.
Preparations for the forthcoming twelfth general Saengerfest.
Programme for the forthcoming Twelfth National Musical Festival of the North-eastern Saengerbund of America.
“Chorus of 3,000 male and female voices.” Orchestra of 150.
The festival takes place every sixth year in New York; comprises about one hundred singing societies of the Eastern, middle, and Southern states; events planned.
“The Reception concert last evening drew together a large audience, mainly Germans, and the performance was, on the whole, highly satisfactory. Still there were noticeable shortcomings, not the least of which was the wide gap between the ‘thunder in the index’ of the programme, and its realization on the stage. Why need the managers in such cases announce, in all the bravery of capitals and full-face type, that the New York Saengerbund is a ‘male chorus of eight hundred voices,’ when they know that they could not probably seat half that number on the stage, and in practical fact did not reach much over a quarter of the estimate? They did not in terms promise to produce eight hundred singers, but they implied it. Then why ‘Grand Orchestra’ for a company decidedly below the usual number, and not distinguished for any noticeable trait of grandeur except the big drums and fiddles? But all this can be treated more minutely another time, and we only seize the occasion for a rap over the shoulders of our Teutonic friends at programmatical style in general.
The chorus, whatever its numbers, did well in Mendelssohn’s long and not specially interesting ‘Lobgesang,’ or Hymn of Praise, though a few more rehearsals under the wand of Herr Paur would have given greater smoothness and precision to their performance. A marked disadvantage in the use of the Opera House for choral purposes is the sad waste of power due to the position of the chorus at the back of the stage. In consequence of this much good vocal material, which should have gone to swell the majesty of the general effect on the auditorial tympanum, went wandering up among the flies and windlasses and carpenters’ galleries and did no one any good.
Mme. Lichtmay in her first arias, such as the ‘Lob den Herrn,’ and her duo with Mme. Becker, ‘Herret des Herren,’ sang decidedly ill. Her vicious habit of sliding up or down to her note, instead of taking it firmly and promptly, was unpleasantly prominent, and in the duo, at one point, the two singers seemed striving which get the farthest from the key. As she warmed with the music, however, she sang better, and her duo with Mr. Candidus was warmly applauded.
Mr. Candidus, in the Lobgesang and in the spirited Rienzi Battle Hymn, sang well. The honest simplicity and steadiness of his delivery was very gratifying, after the spasmodic quavering of the ultra-Italian school which we have lately heard from the same stage. The Rienzi hymn, as its stirring quality might lead us to expect, was heartily encored.
Dr. Damrosch, in Beethoven’s violin concerto, opus 61, only added to the popular conviction of his merit as a violinist. The firmness and delicacy of his bowing were especially manifest in the last fine-spun chords of the movement, and threw the audience into a state of most un-Teutonic rapture, which found vent in a stormy recall.
Lindpaintner’s overture, with its odd employment, yet distortion of ‘God Save the King,’ was spiritedly rendered by the orchestra under Bergmann, and closed the performances.”
Activities during the day; programme for the evening concert. “The concert was not one of unusual excellence, though the performance was [illegible] good.
There were several serious drawbacks. In the first place the singers were very unfortunately arranged. The whole of the front of the stage occupied by [several words illegible] large orchestra of sixty or seventy [illegible] of tone between [6 lines illegible] and indistinct, as though heard from a great distance. Of these there could be no forte passages, for the voices had no chance to make themselves heard; nor could there be any delicacy of shading. The [choruses?], as a consequence, sounded even [illegible], and yet they were very well sung—that is, with precision and excellent intonation.
The same cannot be said of the solo parts. It is truly a pity that a lady gifted with so fine a quality of voice as Mme. Lichtmay should mar it by such conspicuous faults of method. Her intonation was uncertain, and her constant use of portamento, to which we have often before referred, as trying to the nerves as ever. Certainly nothing is more unpleasant than to listen to a singer who constantly slides up and down the scale from note to note, instead of singing each note by itself.
Mr. Candidus and Mme. Lichtmay sang the very beautiful duet, ‘My Song shall be Away,’ with very good cheer, though bearing in mind the superb manner in which it was recently given in Boston at the Handel and Haydn Festival by Madame Rudersdorff and Mr. Cummings, the great English oratorio singers, the points in which it could have been improved were much more numerous than we should care to name.
Of Dr. Damrosch we have heretofore had occasion to speak with praise, and his performance last evening of the movement from the Beethoven Concerto was as finished and artistic as when he played at the last Philharmonic concert.
Wagner’s Battle Hymn suffered from the same causes that marred the choruses in the Hymn of Praise. The singers, instead of being in front, were at the back of the stage, out of sight of the audience, and away from the reach of that sympathy that should always exist between performer and auditor. No performance, however good, could have its proper effect under such circumstances.”
“The reception concert came off last evening, at the Academy of Music, and a grand affair it was, judged from a popular point of view, as well as a fine musical entertainment, considered merely in its artistic aspect. It opened before a pretty full audience, and all through the evening companies of ruddy damsels and gallant cavaliers came trooping in from extraneous revels, crowding the boxes, the balcony, and the aisles, giving the ushers no end of trouble, getting into the wrong seats and refusing to come out again, shouting ‘bravo!’ and wanting everything over again, carrying on vociferous conversations with remote friends, and altogether filling the opera-house with such merriment and bustle as it never witnesses in its normal state of existence. Before the evening was half over, the seats were all filled, and the background of people who hadn’t any seats was as dense as a tropical forest. The concert opened with Mendelssohn’s ‘Hymn of Praise,’ conducted by Mr. Agricol Paur, the director of the N. Y. Liederkranz. Madame Lichtmay, Madame Becker, and Mr. Candidus, had the solo parts; the chorus was furnished by the Liederkranz (male) and the New-Yorker Sing Academie (female); and the orchestra, about 80 strong, was composed of the material so familiar to us in the Philharmonic concerts and other classical entertainments. There is no special criticism to be passed upon this performance. If not a very spirited interpretation, it was, at any rate, a good one. The symphonic introduction was well rendered; the chorus was firm and correct; and the solo artists satisfied all but the most exacting critics—and exacting critics on such an occasion were out of place. The best numbers were the choral, the soprano and alto duet, ‘I waited for the Lord,’ and the first soprano solo, ‘Praise thou the Lord,’ which Mme. Lichtmay sang admirably; the conspicuously ineffective portion was the great soprano and tenor recitative. A great deal of the effect of the chorus was lost by its being placed so far back that the voices went up into the flies. The front of the stage was filled with empty benches; then came the orchestra; and back of all were the singers. At the sides of the balcony the voices were sometimes entirely inaudible.
After the ‘Hymn of Praise’ Dr. Leopold Damrosch played the first movement of Beethoven’s violin concerto, Mr. Carl Bergmann conducting the orchestra. We have heretofore expressed our opinion of Dr. Damrosch’s execution of this great work in very warm terms. He played last night, if possible, with even more warmth and more exquisite finish than at the last Philharmonic concert. The applause broke out at intervals all through the performance, and became a perfect tempest at the close, when he was twice recalled and presented with a gorgeous wreath, which he had the good taste not to put upon his head. The ‘Battle Hymn’ from Wagner’s ‘Rienzi’ was then sung by the great Sängerbund male chorus under the direction of Mr. Bergmann, and this too aroused a fine frenzy of enthusiasm, in which a large share of the honor seemed to be intended for Mr. Bergmann personally.”
From the Weekly Review, July 1: “There were four concerts this week, the first taking place last Sunday night at the Academy of Music. Mendelssohn’s ‘Lobgesang’ was the principal work of the evening. Owing to the fact that the sound was not thrown into the audience, but escaped through the side wings of the stage and up into the lofty regions of the carpenters and painters, and also that the singers sat quite in the background, about a hundred feet from the conductor, very little of the music could be heard. It seemed that everybody on the stage felt uncomfortable also, with the exception of fifty empty benches, which were placed behind the conductor. These benches had it all to themselves, and seemed to enjoy it hugely. Mr. A. Paur conducted, but he too seemed to be depressed, for he gave us but a very tame performance. The orchestra played without precision and fire. There was very little light and a good deal of shade, there was no climax. The very long instrumental introduction, beautiful as it is in many parts, became tedious; and when the last note of the whole work had died away there was a great relief in the audience.
The solo parts were sung by Mme. Lichtmay, Mme. Becker, and Mr. Wm. Candidus. Mme. Lichtmay forced her voice, and sang considerably out of tune, and Mme. Becker could scarcely be heard. Mr. Candidus sang in tune, pronounced distinctly, and gave on the whole satisfaction. He might, however, have improved his singing by a little more ease and fire.
Next to the ‘Lobgesang’ came the rendering by Mr. L. Damrosch of the first part of Beethoven’s violin concerto, which elicited genuine applause on the part of the very excited audience.—The best part of the programme, at least in reference to effective rendering was that of the ‘Triumphal Hymn’ from Wagner’s Rienzi, under the direction of Mr. Bergmann, the solo being sung in excellent style by Mr. Candidus. The performance was very spirited, and gave rise to an enthusiastic call for an encore. The concert was concluded by a very indifferent performance of Lindpaintner’s ‘Fest overture.’”