Blind Tom Concert

Event Information

Irving Hall

Price: $.50; reserved $1

Event Type:
Chamber (includes Solo)

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
5 February 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

09 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM
10 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM
11 Apr 1866, Matinee
11 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM
12 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM
13 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM
14 Apr 1866, Matinee
14 Apr 1866, 8:00 PM

Program Details

New York Herald advertisements include: “S. C. J. Thayer, agent.”

Performers and/or Works Performed


Advertisement: New-York Times, 04 April 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 07 April 1866, 7.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 09 April 1866, 6.

     This remarkable negro boy, who has attracted so large an amount of public attention, will give a series of entertainments at Irving Hall, commencing this evening. His musical talent seems the only faculty out of his mind which is actively developed, and that is naturally circumscribed in its operations by the lack of cöoperation of the others which are dormant. Considering his mental condition, his musical ability is remarkable, and is naturally the subject of comment and wonder to all. He plays with great fluency and with considerable dash, though not with unerring accuracy. He catches melodies with ease, and can repeat the form with appropriate harmonies of a composition after hearing it but once. Every note in the scale to him has an individuality; he can tell any note or any number of notes, whether struck singly or simultaneously, with his back to the instrument. He sings, plays the cornet, and exhibits all these accomplishments, undergoing any test put to him, at all his concerts.”


Announcement: New York Herald, 09 April 1866, 5.

     “Blind Tom, the negro pianist, commences a series of concerts this (Monday) evening at Irving Hall. The musical inspiration which sustains the genius of the artistic prodigy is of the highest order, and his execution wonderful for its accuracy and delicacy of fingering. As many of our readers are already aware, Blind Tom can, however long or difficult the piece, imitate it upon hearing it once only, and, without understanding a single rudiment of written music, compose gems of great ability. To be appreciated Blind Tom must be seen and heard. Grand ‘Tom’ matinees have been arranged for Wednesday and Saturday.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 09 April 1866, 4.
Review: New-York Times, 10 April 1866, 4.

     “Irving Hall.—‘Blind Tom,’ the eccentric but not retiring, blind but not stupid negro pianist, commenced a series of entertainments here last evening, and exhibited, as heretofore, his marvelous imitative and musical powers. The hall was crowded, and ‘Tom’ seems to give general satisfaction. He plays every evening until further notice.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 11 April 1866.
Review: New York Clipper, 14 April 1866, 6.

     “A real, live nigger—not corked up for the occasion—is to give the lovers of his race an opportunity to see him without his being able to see them. ‘Blind Tom’ is its name, and the piano its occupation. If you are used to having your ‘eyes shut up,’ you will be told that the black is blind, that playing the piano is natural to him, that he is of idiotic extraction, and all that sort of thing; consequently he endorses President Johnson’s policy, Civil Rights Bill and all other bills not constructed on the same model as himself. ‘Nigger Tom’ is to show in this city during the week. Fifty cents will take you in, and other scents will bring you out. Seriously, however, this live black can play the ‘possum as well as the piano. At the present time, when this eternal nigger business is agitating the public mind in this city, we do not think it a wise proceeding to bring these black monstrosities here, and attempt to foist them upon white people as living examples of our artistic advancement.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 14 April 1866.
Review: New York Herald, 14 April 1866.

     “The concerts of this extraordinary boy are nightly crowded at Irving Hall. Last night a number of distinguished musicians attended to satisfy themselves as to the genuineness of Tom’s remarkable qualities in music. The tests were very severe and of a nature to satisfy the most sceptical [sic] that there was no humbug or l’eejee mermaidism about the boy or his manager. True, in reproducing a piece which is played for him for the first time, he gives but the outline. Still he gives more than the most noted artists could under similar circumstances. Tom sings very well also, and some of our bassos would be much improved by copying after him. He seems to live in a world of sound to judge from his acute perception of anything transmitted to him through that medium. He can instantly tell the several notes of any chord struck on the piano, and spell the name of an object by a person striking any of those keys which have been taught him to represent the letters of the alphabet. His greatest feat was playing a distinct air with each hand and singing a third at the same time. There are many other strange and unaccountable traits in Tom, which stamp him as a musical phenomenon, and although we cannot expect to hear an artist in him, yet, as nature’s pupil, he is well worth hearing.”