Inauguration Ceremonies of the Metropolitan Fair for the Benefit of the U.S. Sanitary Commission

Event Information

Metropolitan Fair Main Building

William Berge

Event Type:
Band, Choral, Orchestral

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
31 May 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 Apr 1864, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Carl Bergmann, arr.; Berge, musical dir., cond.

Ran from 04/04/64 to Saturday 04/23/64.Gotham (p.879) says: “In April 1864 the U.S. Sanitary Commission held a Metropolitan Sanitary Fair to raise money for its activities. Organized by the wives of leading businessmen, it was held in two buildings erected at Union Square (with interior decoration by the young architect Richard Morris Hunt). For three weeks, an estimated ten to thirty thousand daily shoppers thronged the stalls, raising $1,365,000.”

The Fair opened on April 4, 1864, but only in the Main Building on 14th Street. The Union Square Buildings of the Fair opened on April 5.

There seems to have been several venues for music, including the Main Building on 14th Street, the Union Square Music Hall, on the east end of the Union Square Buildings, and the Children’s Department of the Union Square Buildings. Different names are used in different sources, however, making it difficult to know the exact arrangement of the venues. There is mention, for example, of the Union Square Concert Hall, which I assume is the same as the Union Square Music Hall.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka The President’s March
Composer(s): Phile
Text Author: Hopkinson
Participants:  Seventh Regiment Band
aka Star spangled banned
Conductor: Berge, William
Composer(s): Smith
Text Author: Key
Composer(s): Dresel
Text Author: Holmes


Announcement: New-York Times, 04 April 1864.

Review: New-York Times, 05 April 1864, 1.
The words of the army hymn are included in the review.  “A memorable day was yesterday in the history of the City and of the country. . . . The ceremonies were commenced at 8 o’clock, with ‘Hail Columbia,’ by the Seventh Regiment Band, after which ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was effectively given by Messrs. Colburn and Moulton, the chorus being by a choir of one hundred and fifty from the choirs of the different churches; they were accompanied by the band, and all under the leadership of Mr. Berge.  The effect was very fine, and the audience enthusiastic in approval. . . .
The army hymn, composed by O.W. Holmes, was superbly sung by S.C. Campbell, assisted by the choir and band. . . .

At the close of General Dix’s address, the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ by Handel, was sung with great effect by the choir, accompanied by the band. . . .

The exercises were concluded by singing the doxology in ‘Old Hundred,’ in which the vast audience united with the choir, and filled the spacious edifice with its grand melody.”
Review: Musical Review and World, 09 April 1864, 119.
“The great Fair for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission commenced last Monday.  The music on the opening night did not amount to much.  But after all, the money can be taken without music, as has been proved thus far, the receipts amounting to more than $100,000.”
Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 30 April 1864, 232.
“Otto Dresel’s ‘Army Hymn’ (words by Dr. Holmes, music not, as some of the N.Y. papers had it ‘by O. Dresdel’), was performed at the inauguration of the Fair in grand style, by a picked chorus of 200 voices and the famous 7th Regiment Band, for which it had been instrumented by Carl Bergmann.”