Annual Excursion of the Mendelssohn Union: 9th

Event Information


William Berge

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
6 June 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

07 Sep 1865, 7:00 PM

Program Details

Program also included unidentified orchestral works for dancing by Strauss, Michaelis, Gounod, and Zitti, as well as “several unpromised” piano solos performed by William Berge.

The event took place on a barge, the Walter Sands, that went up the North River and then up and down the Hudson. NYP calls it the 12th Annual Excursion.

J. Della Torre, director and president of the society.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Masaniello; Mute Girl of Portici; Stumme von Portici
Composer(s): Auber
aka Prayer; Ave Maria
Composer(s): Wallace
Composer(s): Wallace
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Composer(s): Costa
aka When the swallows homeward fly; Wenn die Schwalben heimwärts zieh'n
Composer(s): Abt
aka Mose in Egitto
Composer(s): Rossini
Composer(s): Handel
Composer(s): Berge
Composer(s): Berge
Composer(s): Berge
aka March; Fest march; Festmarsch; Grand march; Tannhauser. Freudig begrussen wir die edle Halle. Allegro
Composer(s): Wagner
Composer(s): Auber


Review: New York Post, 08 September 1865, 3.

“The Mendelssohn Excursion. moonlight and music.

            The softest summer airs were not more delicate than those of last evening. Although we are nominally in the autumn season, no chilling breath sharpened the atmosphere of the clear September night.

            The Mendelssohn Union were thus fortunate in their selection of an evening for their twelfth annual moonlight excursion, and the members of the society largely availed themselves of the opportunity. The party left the foot of Morton street in the barge Walter Sands at about seven o’clock, and proceeded up the river as far as the upper Palisades. The barge—which by the way was towed at an almost imperceptible degree of speed—cruised around this delightful part of the river, while the excursionists amused themselves by judicious use of lung, tongue and toe.

            The lung department, under the charge of Dr. Bergé [sic], included a choice selection from the repertoire of the society, three choruses from Wallace’s ‘Lurline,’ the war song from Costa’s ‘Eli,’ an elaborate choral extract from Mendelssohn’s ‘Athalie,’ an admirable arrangement for chorus of Abt’s air ‘When the Swallows,’ Rossini’s chorus, ‘Night Shades no Longer,’ and the immortal ‘Hallelujah’ of Handel. Mrs. Cooper also gave an exquisite performance of the ‘Inflammatus’ of Rossini. The choruses were all well sung, and the ‘Hallelujah’ was given with especial vigor and precision.

            The dance music was also worth of note. Mr. Bergé had selected a good orchestra, which performed among other selections a brilliant quadrille—Lancers—by Christian Bergé [sic] and a march by William Bergé. The march from Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ and the ‘Fra Diavolo’ overture were among the leading orchestral performances of the evening.

            The eating arrangements were not up to the mark; otherwise the excursion was an entire success—although it was prolonged till between two and three o’clock this morning.”

Review: New York Herald, 09 September 1865, 5.

“Music by Moonlight.  Grand Moonlight Excursion of the New York Mendelssohn Union."

The ninth annual excursion of this society took place on Thursday evening, the barge Walter Sands being handsomely fitted up for the occasion. The members and their friends were on board at seven o’clock P. M., and the gaily attired craft moved up the North river, laden with the usual ‘fair women and brave men.’ The orchestra of the society supplied the music for dancing and accompaniment of the vocal selections.  The cherished and familiar overture to Masaniello was rendered in a style that would have touched the heart of the critical Auber himself had he been present.  We doubt very much if there is any musical composition more abused or butchered by tasteless and unappreciative musicians than this exquisite gem.  Its charmed grace and simplicity are completely ignored in the hands of remorseless pianists and orchestras, and nothing could have impressed more favorably of the superior training, keen musical discrimination and admirable expression of the Mendelssohn Union than their conception of Auber’s best work.  Three selections from the works of William Vincent Wallace opened the vocal part of the programme.  We are by no means an admirer of the author of Lurline and Maritana as an operatic composer, as his style savors strongly of the ‘patchwork’ order, being devoid of individuality or unity; but as a balladist he is unapproachable.  The Ave Maria in Lurline is a simple, touching hymn, one of those compositions that reach the heart and cause its inmost chords to vibrate. The effect on the calm waters of the Hudson, slivered by the witching moonbeams and fringed by dark masses of foliage, through which the lights of a passing train would occasionally gleam, was the impersonation of enchantment. It was no longer the busy Hudson, with its myriad treasures of wealth and commerce, that [large section of the article is completely illegible]. But the great feature of the programme was the Hallelujah Chorus, and seldom have we heard it rendered with more spirit and precision. Professor Wm. Berge and Mr. Della Torre, President of the society, wielded the baton in turn.

          After the vocal selections were concluded the votaries of Terpsichore began to stir themselves.  And seldom is the light fantastic toe favored with such dance music as the Mendelssohn Union orchestra afforded. Strauss, Michaelis, Gounod and Zitti supplied this portion of the programme. The barge proceeded a consiberable distance up the river, and cruised up and down until the ‘wee sma’ hour’ indicated the propriety of returning. Professor Berge concluded the musical exercises with his grand fantasie, ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ a perfect bijou of plaintive tenderness.  In every variation the simplicity and beauty of the unequalled melody is preserved—a matter which is too often neglected by composers. [Lists performers.] Miss Sims possesses a clear, pleasing and well cultivated voice; and Mrs. Cooper, in the Stabat Mater, received deserving applause. Messrs. Dayo and Conklin made very efficient floor managers, and Mr. J. Della Torre, President of the Mendelssohn Union, a very commendable director. An excellent collation refreshed the party after their dancing, and when the boat reached the dock of Morton street, at three o’clock A.M., no one seemed to think the eight hours on the barge more than one pleasant scene of intellectual and social enjoyment. Messrs. Alden, Brown and Duclos formed the Reception Committee, and won the smiles of all by their courteous demeanor.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 September 1865, 1.

“The New-York Mendelssohn Union commenced its season with a pleasant moon-light excursion on the North River. The programme consisted of instrumental pieces by a compact little band of first-class performers, some eight or ten choruses by the Society, and dancing. The choruses were excellently sung, singularly so for open air, dim lights and a promiscuous crowd. Those from W. V. Wallace’s beautiful opera, ‘Lurline,’ delighted everybody. It is to be regretted that the later works of this eminent composer are not often heard in America, where the greater part of at least two, ‘Lurline’ and the ‘Amber Witch’ were written. But we understand that the Mendelssohn Union purposes to give the whole of Wallace’s ‘Lurline’ in concert form, with orchestra, during the present Winter. The solo singers, all members of the Society, acquitted themselves most creditably, and Mrs. Cooper sang the ‘Inflammatus’ from Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater,’ gracefully and with much effect. Mr. W. Berge ably conducted the whole performance, and added much to the pleasure of the evening by his courteous and genial manner, and by performing several unpromised solos on the piano, which were warmly applauded. The President, Mr. Della Torre; the Librarian, Mr. Pollock, and the Floor Manager Messrs. Conklin and Deyo, were untiring in their efforts to insure the comfort of the members and their guests.”