Premiere of Millard’s Mass: Dr. Cummings’ Church

Event Information

St. Stephen's Catholic Church

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
19 September 2012

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

03 Sep 1865, Morning

Program Details

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Millard
Participants:  William Berge


Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 September 1865.

“At Dr. Cummings’s Church in Twenty-eighth St. on Sunday morning last, a new Mass was sung, the composition of Mr. H. Millard. A Mass to-day is not an attempt to give musical expression to the profound, sublime beauty of the sacred words, but a medley of airs in the operatic style, pretty, brilliant, and as noisy as possible. It was not so that Haydn, Mozart, Bach, or Cherubini viewed the offering of the Mass; to them it was as serious as the act of prayer, and the results of their religious inspiration are works which, through every change of taste and fashion, will remain as models of grandeur and beauty. Mr. Millard has adopted the modern style of operatic worship and has produced a Mass which will probably be popular, as it is full of pleasing melodies and makes no approach to strict style or scientific elaboration.  One or two of the solos are earnestly passionate only in their opening phrases, though they are melodious and effective throughout.  The concerted music is well voiced but presents the same excellences and defects as the solos.  Mr. Millard unquestionably has ideas, and good ones, but he seems to lack the requisite science to use them properly.  Scarcely one subject that he starts is persistently followed. He presents motives enough for two Masses, but developes [sic] neither. The thoroughly educated musician carries out his chain of thought, producing the requisite contrasts without destroying the unity of idea. He gives thus a harmonious whole, while the inexperienced composer crowds into the same space only disconnected thought with a feeble result. Mr. Millard starts well, but becoming timid he grows feeble as he goes on, till the whole work assumes an air of frivolity from which bolder method would redeem it. His Mass will doubtless become popular, but he can do much better, if he takes more time and works more conscientiously, approaching his subject in a tone of mind more in consonance with its gravity. The Mass was well sung throughout, saving a few imperfections necessarily attending the first performance of a new work. The organ accompaniment, which is sometimes quite brilliant, and again presents too much of the tum-tum-ti of the Italian opera school, was well played by Mr. Berge, displaying great skill in the management and an ample control of the resources of the instrument.”