Annual Purim Ball: 3rd

Event Information

Academy of Music

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
5 June 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

22 Mar 1864, Evening

Program Details

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New York Herald, 22 March 1864, 10.

Announcement: New-York Times, 22 March 1864, 4.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 22 March 1864, 7.

Review: New York Post, 23 March 1864, 2.

“As early as last week the tickets for the Purim ball were all sold, and thus the promise of a large company at the Academy of Music last night was an assured thing. Mayor Gunther was present, and, of course, all the brilliancy and fashion of our Jewish fellow-citizens were fully represented.

The Academy was handsomely decorated, the stage was draped in white, while the words ‘Merry Purim’ were displayed in burning gas-jets with a monogram beneath. The boxes were occupied by ladies in elaborate toilets, the show of diamonds being especially fine, while on the floor were a number of fancy dresses, among them, an Indian girl, two Bacchantes wearing leopard skins, several magnificent queens, Neapolitan and other peasants, a Hungarian ‘Trovatore’ and several Irishmen.

The room was full, but, owing to the restrictions as to the sale of tickets, was not crowded. The supper arrangements were admirable, and, altogether, the management of this ball offers a worthy precedent for subsequent similar entertainments.”

Review: New-York Times, 23 March 1864, 1.

“Last evening the Purim Association gave their third Grand Fancy Dress Ball, at the Academy of Music. The Association was formed in 1862 by nine young men of the Jewish faith, its first ball was given at Irving Hall in 1862, and its second at the Academy of Music in 1863, and its third at the same hall last evening.

[Provides history of Purim.] From that to the present the festival of this deliverance of the Jews has been celebrated by the most extravagant expressions of happiness, calling upon each other at their houses, in every dress and guise which could possibly add merriment or joy to the occasion, and using every means they could devise for the utmost enjoyment and celebration of this great and happy event. Of late years their number has so increased that time would not allow them to visit all the friends they wished, nor would their houses hold all the friends they wished to entertain.

To obviate this difficulty, nine young gentlemen of the Jewish faith, in the year 1862, organized the ‘Purim Association,’ the object of which was to collect all parties together for the general enjoyment of the festival, and that all friends might meet. . . .

The Academy was beautifully dressed…

The parquet was floored even with the stage, affording, with that, the most ample room for enjoyment of the dance.

The hall was crowded with a most brilliant assemblage, who entered into the enjoyments of the occasion with a zest seldom equaled; the costumes were very rich and beautiful; the diamonds worn by the ladies magnificent. [Lists some of the costumes.]…Helmsmuller’s and Grafulla’s Bands gave constant music, to which the feet of the merry dancers kept time. At twelve o’clock they unmasked and then what surprise was created. Husbands found they had been fliriting all the evening with their own wives.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 23 March 1864, 8.

“Last evening, the local Purim Association celebrated Purim with a magnificent masked ball in the elegantly decorated Academy of Music. The huge salons of the Academy were filled till this morning with an exceptionally large crowd. Beautiful masks and ladies’ sumptuous attire made the whole event a most appealing sight. The number of guests in attendance at the ball is estimated to be 3,000.”

Review: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 24 March 1864, 8.

“To yesterday’s short report on the Purim Ball, we will add more detail.

The origin of the Purim celebration was already reported to our readers in earlier years; therefore it requires no further elaboration. Purim was invariably celebrated as the happiest festival by the Israelites; at this celebration, droves of costumed revellers go by carriage and on foot to the homes of their friends where they are hosted. In our city, whose population expands with every passing year, it is difficult for young people with a large circle of friends to visit them all on the same evening. Therefore, three years ago, nine young men formed a small group, which founded the Purim Association. Its purpose, in addition to putting on an annual ball so that friends and acquaintances can convene, is to pursue praiseworthy, benevolent ends. The surplus funds from last year’s ball benefitted various benevolent societies; whereas this year’s, as we hear it, will go towards the founding of a free school.

For months the committee has been making the best preparations for this recent ball. Only a limited number of tickets were sold, and the strictest control was exercised at the door. The Academy’s look was magical: a graceful drapery spanned the third tier, while the first and second were decorated tastefully with garlands of flowers. The stage was draped in white; at one end was a fountain pouring out eau de cologne, which spread a pleasant atmosphere throughout the whole room. In the background, the wish, ‘Merry Purim’ was displayed, under which the monogram of the Association was displayed in gas lights. All this heightened the total impression. 

The elegant sight-seers took up the parquette, galleries, and loges; while the platform, onto which only fully masked persons were allowed, swayed with masks of every genre. We wish to point out special sights: a rich Hungarian Magyar costume, a cupid who supposedly incites mischief, several bacchantes, queens, and a German student. The jokes in one masquerade, whose participants everybody knows, have been described too often to be repeated. The unmasking, precisely at midnight, dispelled all doubt as to identity; and many a big surprise can be reported. Supper took place in the souterrain, and was prepared according to Jewish food-rite, of course.

Among the eminent guests, we noticed our Mayor Günther, Major Jolim, Dr. Cordova and others.

The lively ball carried on till early morning. Dance enthusiasts must have found it difficult to tear themselves away from the alluring tones of the music, played by Grafulla’s and Helmsmüller’s bands alternately.

The ball was indisputably one of the most splendid of the season, and owes a large part of its glorious success to the tireless efforts of the committee. Much praise is owed to the young people who made the careful arrangements and controlled their execution.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 25 March 1864.

Mostly about the appearance of the hall. “[O]ne of the most brilliant affairs of the season. It was largely attended by the elite of the city. . . . The house was tastefully decorated.”