Grand Sacred Concert

Event Information

St. Ann's Church (Astor Pl.)

Manager / Director:
Louis Dachauer-Gaspard

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
30 December 2014

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

17 Dec 1865, Evening

Program Details

Chorus of thirty voices.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Dachauer-Gaspard
Participants:  Louis Dachauer-Gaspard
Composer(s): Corrini
Composer(s): Verdi
Composer(s): Boieldieu
Participants:  Octavie Gomien
Composer(s): Meyerbeer
Composer(s): Auber
Composer(s): Negri
Composer(s): Wels
aka Super flumina Babylonis; Presso il flume stranier ; Psalm 137
Composer(s): Gounod
Participants:  Chorus, unidentified
Composer(s): Torrente
Participants:  Miss A. [soprano] Wells


Announcement: New York Post, 16 December 1865.

     “[A] concert for the opening of the new organ by Erben, which is, however, not yet finished.”

Announcement: New York Herald, 17 December 1865, 8.

     “Another Large Organ. St. Ann’s Catholic church, Astor place (Eighth street), the Rev. T. S. Preston pastor, has just erected a very large organ, from the manufactory of Mr. Henry Erben, of this city, at a cost of ten thousand dollars.  A grand concert will take place this evening at the church, on which occasion the organ will be performed on for the first time. No doubt there will be a rush for tickets, for, some of the first talent in the city has been engaged.  The following is a brief description of the new instrument—It has three full sets of keys, from CC to A in sit, and fifty steps, and a pedal organ of two and a half octaves; it has six sixteen foot stops, and sixteen eight foot stops, and seven reed stops, eight mechanical stops, two composition stops and over three thousand pipes.”

Review: New York Herald, 18 December 1865.

     “MUSICAL. Grand Sacred Concert at St. Ann’s Church, Eighth Street. The three Titans of Music—as the renowned organs of Weingarten, Cologne and Haarlem have been appropriately named—may well look to their laurels, and fear lest they be eclipsed some of these days by an American instrument; and such an instrument will, doubtless, be heard in Gotham ere long, completely eclipsing the [?] great organ of Boston, with its ‘quaker’ pipes and half stops, over which the pious burghers of the ‘Hub’ went into ecstacies. The latest triumph of American organ building is the magnificent organ of St. Ann’s, lately constructed by Mr. Henry Erben.  A brief description of this regal instrument was given in the HERALD yesterday.  We shall present our readers to-morrow with a detailed description of its various parts, the peculiarity of many of its stops, and the novel and ingenious combinations in the mechanism, which will place it in the highest rank among the organs of America.

     The church of St. Ann’s was crowded to excess last evening to hear this masterpiece of human skill speak for the first time. Archbishop McClosky, Rev. Mr. Starrs, Rev. T. S. Preston, pastor of St. Ann’s; Dr. Anderson and other clergymen occupied seats in the sanctuary.

     The artists who were to unlock the vast musical treasures of the new organ were . . .  satisfied in the concert. The instrument—not being yet completed, and the opportunity of making themselves thoroughly acquainted with its peculiarities, there was but little display of its powers. Mr. Louis Dachaner, organist of St. Ann’s directed the concert. The programme was a rather injudicious selection, as it comprised only pieces suitable for the opera and an orchestral accompaniment. We reverence Verdi, Boildieu, Welz and Gounod in their proper sphere, but for the church and the organ we infinitely prefer the old German school. Arpeggios, trills, fiorituri, and abrupt transitions are necessary ornaments to the rendering of a libretto; but they degrade the organ, and never, except in the hands of a great artist, can be heard with pleasure.  Neither should the mania for improvisation, which seems to afflict the organist of the present day, be carried to such an excess that instead of one motive branching off into fugues and various sub-themes without ever losing its individuality for a single bar, we are regaled with snatches of popular melodies, forming a patchwork piece entirely devoid of meaning or sentiment.  The vocal pieces were unexceptionally rendered, a soprano solo from Torrenti, sung by Miss Wells, and a contralto solo from Boildieu, sung by Miss O. Gonnin, being the leading features of the programme. Although we shall reserve our description of Mr. Erben’s work until to-morrow, we may here add, for the benefit of our Boston friends, that there are no blind pipes or stops or painted gingerbread work about it; but everything, even to the smallest piece of carving, is solid and of the best materials.”

Review: New-York Times, 18 December 1865, 8.

     The concert was “very impressive and eminently successful.  The new organ attached to this church was opened for the first time, by Mr. Louis Dachauer, in the beautifully executed Sinfonia, the first feature of the programme.  The Super Flumina Babylonis, of  Gonnod [sic], was next given by the entire chorus of thirty voices, with thrilling effect—followed by selections from Corrini, Torrento, Verdi, Meyerbeer,  Auber and Negri, in which the Misses Wells Bodenhama [sic] and Gamien [sic], and Señor L. Remi and Messrs. Dessane and Pecker [sic] distinguished themselves.  The concert was highly enjoyed, and reflected much credit on Monsieur Dachaner as conductor.”

Review: New York Herald, 19 December 1865, 1.

     “The New Organ of St. Ann’s Church, Astor Place. We present our readers to-day with the most noticeable features of this magnificent instrument. The case is in the Elizabethan style, highly ornamented and decorated in the most artistic style. It is thirty feet wide and twenty-four feet deep. There are forty-three large metal speaking pipes in front and at the end of the organ. The largest centre pipe in front is the CCC, sixteen feet from the great manuel doule diapason. There are six sixteen foot diapason stops, and sixteen eight foot stops. The solo stops are as follows:--In the great manuel, the gamba, wald flute, nighthorn, flageolet, trumpet and clarion.  In the choir manuel, the dulciana, keraulophon, clarabella, gemshorn, flute d’amour, flautina, cremona and bassoon. In the swell manuel, the vive d’amour, flute d’cheminee, piccolo, horn, hautboy and vox tremolo, which has an admirable effect.  It has six mechanical or coupling stops, and two composition stops—one to bring on the full organ, the other to take off the chorus stops.  The pedal manuel is from CCC two and a half octaves, and has the following stops:--Grand diapason, sixteen feet; contra gamba, sixteen foot metal; boutdon, octave, violoncello and trombone, of sixteen foot metal.  All the stops in all the manuels run through the entire scale.  It has over three thousand pipes.  The cost of this organ was ten thousand dollars, and was contracted for about a year since.  It is proposed to illuminate the large metal front pipes by an ingenious contrivance which will add much to the appearance of the organ.”

Review: New York Post, 22 December 1865.

     Says the concert was on Sunday night.  “[T]he instrument, notwithstanding its incomplete state, gave general satisfaction.”