Central Park Mall
Harvey Bradley Dodworth
30 May 2013
“Yesterday, as on each proceeding Saturday, and as will be the case on every succeeding one, the Park Concert was numerously attended. It is not the crowd size which strikes one, but rather the nature of the crowd. In this, a democratic country, the most democratic institution is the Park Concert. All nationalities and creeds, all colors, all grades of society alike are here. The gentle breeze fans the cheek of the Fifth avenue belle as well as the dusky Dulcinea. The soft strains of melody strike the ear of the war worn, battered, wounded veteran the perfumed exquisite with the same sweetness, and the only difference probably is that beneath the ragged coat there is a bigger soul, a better appreciation of music, than under the padded vest of the up town [sic] hotel lounger. . . .
MUSIC FOR THE PEOPLE
To say that listening to good music is not as [illeg.] as reading of good books would be absurd. The influence it exercises is well known; and if a taste for music be implanted in the minds of a people that people will become great and prosperous. It does not require a police force to keep the audience at this concert in [illeg.] a spirit of courtesy and harmony pervades all. Every person is attentive.
Yesterday, near the music stand, a dandy was lounging. A portion of the overture to ‘Semiramide’ struck him as familiar, and with execrable taste and as execrable a voice he commenced humming it. ‘Damn you,’ said an attentive listener near him. ‘Did you refer to me?’ the dandy inquired. ‘Oh, no, sir,’ said the other, ‘I but cursed the band whose loud playing prevented my hearing your singing.’ Amidst a roar of laughter the dandy vamosed [sic].
The programme comprised selections from Verdi’s, Mendelssohn’s and Meyerbeer’s choicest compositions, together with those of many others who, though perhaps not so well known to fame, yet have written sweetly. The overture to Semiramide, before referred to, was performed with exquisite taste, and that to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with an accuracy we have seldom heard equalled [sic]. While the latter was being performed a gentleman who sat beneath one of the awnings discoursing sweet nonsense to a lady ‘cousin’ of his, wondered if Shakespeare or Mendelssohn ever were in America, as, if they had, with the heat, not to mention the mosquitoes, they would not have dreamed much in midsummer. ‘My dream,’ said he, with a glance of excruciating tenderness on his companion, ‘bear but one burden, and that is—‘ ‘If you please, will you let me listen to the music,’ said an old lady, much to the annoyance of him of the monotonous dreams. The Violetta Mazurka, as also the Lucia Quickstep, by H. B. Dodworth, received considerable applause, and Strauss’ Soldier’s Polka came in for a fair share of approbation. . . .
. . . [The author is in a hot air balloon.] [T]he only thing that tells us we are not astride some comet’s tail, and immortal, is the hearing of the strains of music from the band below, which was performing the ‘Star Spangled Banner with commendable vigor.”
“Sundays and Saturdays are the grand gala days for visitors. On Saturdays our Jewish citizens turn out in full force, and give vent to their enjoyment on their Sabbath, by sundry walks and strolls. Around the music-stands they congregate in large numbers, visibly enjoying the operatic selections afforded by the programme.
Yesterday the heat was great and the crowds at the Park were greater, if that could be possible. . . .
Standing for a moment beneath the shadow of the pagoda, where Dodworth and the Central Park Band poured forth delicious melody, the eye was filled by the everchanging aspects of the gathering crowds. Every known degree of city life was there, from the millionaire leaning from his carriage to the humble shop girl and the [illeg.] mechanic. The man about town, the fashionable lounger, the school girl, the man of science and the pitch salons, the blackleg, and the honest worker, all were there. As the ladies and their attendant beaux passed along the gravel walk, they were compelled to run the gauntlet of the young men of the city, who stood in awful array on either side, gazing with complacent eyes upon the fair ones passing up and down.
[mostly illegible paragraph] Nearly 40,000 persons visited the Mall yesterday.”