Literary and Musical Soiree

Event Information

Academy of Music

Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]

Price: $1

Event Type:

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
3 October 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

04 May 1865, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Benefit for the Sick and Wounded Soldiers of the Military Hospital on Lexington Avenue.

The concert was supposed to have taken place on April 20, 1865, but was postponed because of Lincoln’s death.

Orchestra of seventy.

Pauline Canissa, Robert Heller, and Alfred H. Pease were originally scheduled to perform but did not appear.

Kempton performed “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean” as an encore.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Text Author: Cordova
Participants:  Rafael J. de Cordova
aka Oh, Columbia, the gem of the ocean; Columbia, the land of the brave
Composer(s): Shaw
Text Author: Shaw
Participants:  Jennie Kempton
aka March funebre; Sulle Morte d’un Erol; Eroica
Composer(s): Beethoven
Composer(s): Meyerbeer


Advertisement: New York Herald, 01 May 1865, 7.

      “Grand combination of talent.  Literary and Musical Soiree.  in honor of our recent victories.  for the Benefit of Sick and Wounded Soldiers.  and in aid of the Ladies’ Relief Fund of the Lexington Avenue Hospital.  Announced for the 20th of April, and postponed in consequence of the death of the President, will take place on Thursday Evening, May 4, 1865.  The following artists have generously volunteered their services: Mrs. Jennie van Zandt, Soprano.  Mrs. Jenny Kempton, Contralto, (her only appearance this season.)  Mr. Theodore Thomas, Mr. J. Farley, Tenor; Mr. Robert Heller, Pianist; Mr. Alfred H. Pease, Pianist; Mr. F. L. Toulmin, Harpist; Mr. William Dressler, Accompanyist [sic], and Mr. De Cordova.  The celebrated patriotic poem, THE SOLDIER, to which will be added a brief ‘In Memoriam,’ written by Mr. De Cordova expressly for this occasion.  The concert will be under the direction of Mr. Thomas, with his grand orchestra of seventy performers.”

Announcement: Courrier des États-Unis, 01 May 1865.
Announcement: New York Post, 04 May 1865.

      “At the Academy of Music to-night there will be a literary and musical entertainment for the benefit of the Lexington Avenue Hospital.  The vocalists include Canissa, Kempton and Farley, and the instrumentalists, Thomas, Heller, Pease and Toulmin.  Mr. de Cordova will recite his patriotic poem, ‘The Soldier.’”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 May 1865.

      Includes list of 18 committee members who arranged the event. 

Review: New York Post, 05 May 1865.

      “The concert at the Academy last night, in aid of the Fifty-first street hospital, was attended by an audience only sufficient to comfortably fill the parquette.  The orchestral performances, under the direction of Mr. Theodore Thomas, were excellent, and the vocalization of Mrs. Kempton and Mr. Farley were equally good, although the efforts of the latter were not fully appreciated.  As an encore Mrs. Kempton sang ‘Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,’ which drew forth continued and enthusiastic applause.  Mr. de Cordova repeated his favorite poem, ‘The Soldier,’ which was produced with good effects both of scenery and music; and was followed by an ‘In memoriam,’ written by Mr. de Cordova expressly for this occasion.  Here again there were scenic and musical effects.  On the rising of the curtain, a bust of Abraham Lincoln, on a column draped with the American flag, in mourning, was seen standing in the centre of the stage.  The orchestra subsequently played the march funebre from Beethoven’s Eroica symphony.

      The disappointments were numerous.  The absence of Mlle. Canissa and Mr. Pease were apologised [sic] for.  Mr. Heller was also absent, but no apology was given in his case.  The orchestral achievements of Mr. Thomas were, however, unusually good, and almost compensated for the loss due to the non-appearance of these artists.  The concert concluded at a very late hour with the brilliant and fascinating Struensee polonaise of Meyerbeer.”