James M. Wehli Matinee: 1st

Event Information

Wallack's Theatre

Price: $1 to all parts of house

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
20 March 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

17 Jan 1866, 1:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Wehli
Participants:  James M. Wehli
Composer(s): Wehli
Participants:  James M. Wehli
aka Polacca
Composer(s): Chopin
Participants:  James M. Wehli
Composer(s): Wehli
Participants:  James M. Wehli
Composer(s): Wehli
Participants:  James M. Wehli


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 09 January 1866, 5.

     “One of the most popular and one of the most talented pianists of the present day, is now in the city, and will give a series of concerts, commencing next week.  Mr. Wehli possesses a power over his audiences equal to that of Gottschalk; he does not startle them into bursts of applause, he delights them into an expression of admiration which generally results in a double encore.  Such was the result in every case at DeKatow’s concerts last Winter.”

Announcement: New York Post, 10 January 1866, 2.

     Wehli “has been heard enough in New York to win a splendid reputation, but not enough to gratify the popular craving for his brilliant and enjoyable style of playing”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 January 1866, 5.

     “The fashionable ladies of New-York have taken the matter in hand, and Mr. Wehli’s series of matinees will be the most brilliant reunions of the season.”

Announcement: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 15 January 1866, 33.

     Mr. Mills has not been successful with finding an engagement yet. Therefore he decided to give several performances at the Wallack’s Theater. We wish him luck for his matinees. His talent of verbal eloquence is almost equal to his piano playing. This is not always to his advantage.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 January 1866, 8.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 17 January 1866.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 17 January 1866, 5.

     “Mr. Wehli is one of the most accomplished pianists in the country, and in certain specialties is unequaled in the world.  He possesses a power over his audiences which we have never seen surpassed, and yet there is not a spark of clap-trap in his style.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 January 1866, 5.

     “A large and fashionable audience attended Mr. Wehli’s matinée yesterday morning.  Wednesday is not recognized as the fashionable matinée day, but Mr. Wehli’s attraction overcame that objection, and inaugurated a system which will probably be followed.  The assisting artists were Madame Fleury, Urban [sic] and Mr. S. C. Campbell.  Of the lady we will say, that her improvement since we last heard her is remarkable.  She has gained in the method of managing her voice, which is consequently smoother and more equal; and her style is much toned down, though scarcely less brilliant and effective.  Her progress is very marked, and at the present ratio of improvement, with her fine voice and attractive manner, she will soon reach a very high position in her art.  After an encore, she sang a German song with English words, in a graceful and passionate manner, pronouncing the language with very good accent and with promising distinctiveness.

     Mr. S. C. Campbell, whose voice is truly beautiful, large in compass and rich in quality, sang with much taste, feeling and refined sentiment.  He must watch with jealous care a certain tendency to a nasal intonation, and he should certainly pay much more attention to the delivery of his words.  It is but very rarely that his enunciation is distinct; he forms the words, but does not utter them, and it is only rarely that we can distinguish a word here and there.  This is a radical fault, but it is not irremediable.  A little care, a proper respect for his consonants and sibbilants [sic], and he would elevate his worth a hundred per cent.

     Mr. Wehli, on this occasion, certainly surpassed all his previous efforts.  He is one of the few artists who have passed the ordeal of a concert tour without losing the integrity of his style or his own artistic respect.  Indeed, to-day, he plays better than he did when he arrived, some months ago.  His first piece, ‘Romance Nouvelle,’ a very charming subject, sustained and brilliantly surrounded, was played with the most exquisite taste.  His sympathetic and sensitive touch, literally made the piano sing with all the sustained power and passionate emphasis of a well trained voice in some inspired moment.  His ‘Trembling Leaves,’ which followed, exhibited the utmost perfection of touch; so much delicacy, combined with lightness, rapidity, feeling, and just and distinct phrasing we have never heard from any man—we do except any of his great predecessors, for this is a specialty in which Wehli has no rival.  His interpreting of Chopin’s ‘Polonnaise’ was all that could be desired, he entered into all the  refinements of the author’s delicate imaginings, throwing over it that yearning, unrestful feeling which pervades, nay,  characterizes all the writings of Chopin.  It was a revelation of the author’s soul, and should silence those cavilers who suggest that Wehli can only play his own music.

     His left hand piece, ‘Home Sweet Home,’ is really a wonder-piece, embracing as it does the same class of difficulties which are usually distributed between the two hands, the melody sustained, immersed in arpeggios throughout the key board, with brilliant octave passages above and below, double notes, thirds and sixths and double shake, all are crowded into the work for one hand, and are accomplished by Mr. Wehli in a manner which leaves the critic nothing to do but to admire.  WE have no intention of being enthusiastic, although it is hard to repress it in the case of such rare excellence, but we are satisfied that in the left hand power Mr. Wehli has no equal in the world.

     Mr. Wehli played his Faust Fantasie, for the first time in New-York.  It is a composition calculated to surprise and delight, and it is one of the most effective pieces of its class.  As a Fantasia it can hardly be surpassed for compactness, just proportion, for perfect oneness of idea, for the embodying in a connected form the scattered beauties of a great work, and connecting the main thoughts, by phrases of lesser importance drawn from the same source.  It present, of course, enormous difficulties, but they are subordinate while producing the most brilliant effects.  There are many passages very beautiful in imagination and construction, which prove Mr. Wehli thoroughly well schooled.  Altogether it is a work which reflects high credit upon the composer.  Its execution was in every respect perfect.  WE need only mention his wonderful octave playing in both hands, which [for igniting?] rapidity and brilliant delicacy could not be excelled.  All that Mr. Wehli did was encored, and we have rarely seen so much enthusiasm at a matinée, where the female is so greatly in excess of the applauding element.  Mr. Wheli owes his extraordinary sway over his audience to the purity of his style, to the perfection of his technique, to his tender and sympathetic touch, and to the refined sentiment and expression which he throws into all he does.  His wonders of execution are only wonders in connection with the above characteristics, for there is no perceptible effort in anything he does, the feeling experience by his hearers being that of entire satisfaction with something that is perfect.  Mr. Wehli won all the honors of an unqualified success, and the praise and admiration his brother artists unqualified in their expressions of his brilliant ability.”

Review: New-York Times, 19 January 1866, 4.

     “Mr. Wehli’s first matinee at Wallack’s Theatre on Wednesday last hardly attracted the attention which it deserved. The attendance was poor, but it included many excellent people whose applause is worth having, and whose approbation indeed is a success in itself.  When the entertainments are better known, they will, we are sure, become popular.

     Mr. Wehli played several of his own compositions with remarkable brilliancy, and won an unusual amount of applause from his fair listeners.  His technical skill is in some respects extraordinary.  Accustomed for many years to touch the public with these morceaux, he insinuates them now with unfailing effects. The original pieces are melodious and thoroughly popular; the fantasies are carefully and artistically constructed—that on Faust being in every way the best we have yet heard.  Mr. Wehli played it very finely, as, indeed, he played everything.

     Mme. Fleury Urban and Mr. S. C. Campbell were the vocalists, and rendered full justice to the pieces allotted to them.”

Review: New York Herald, 20 January 1866.

     “Since Thalberg we have had no such exquisite executionist, nor a performer who so completely commands the pianoforte…There was a good deal of curiosity when the first matinee was announced to find out where it was to take place, as the name of the establishment was not mentioned. But the public, in their eagerness to hear Wehli, were determined to find out the place, and so did, and Wallack’s theatre was never so crowded before as at the Wehli matinee on Wednesday.  It appears that Mr. Wallack made a kind of a contract with Wehli not to advertise ‘his establishment in the New York Herald;’ but Wehli, who is a very ingenious man as well as a great artist, advertised himself, and said nothing about the ‘establishment.’  Wallack has for some time been producing a kind of entertainment that the public evidently did not relish very heartily; and it was a lucky incident that Wehli, who can afford to pay a very handsome rent, as he is so liberally patronized, took the theatre for his matinees, as it just enabled the manager to make both ends meet.  The rent that Wehli pays will about save Wallack in the nick of time.”

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 22 January 1866, 46.

     Wehli played with the usual brilliance. It is said he will perform in the next Philharmonic concert.

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 22 January 1866, 49.

     Poorly attended event. Mr. Wehli is quite an acceptable musician. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to find success in the West and will therefore return to England soon.