Philharmonic Society of New-York Concert: 5th

Event Information

Academy of Music

Carl Bergmann

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 June 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

21 Apr 1866, Evening

Program Details

Posthumous debut of Burgmüller’s concerto (but unclear if it was world, American, or New York debut).

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Beethoven
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Participants:  Maria Scoville Brainerd
aka Serenade-barcarolle
Composer(s): Gounod
Composer(s): Burgmüller
Participants:  William Mason
Composer(s): Wagner
aka Franc juges
Composer(s): Berlioz
Text Author: Ferrand
Composer(s): Gounod


Announcement: New York Musical World, 18 April 1866, 198.

Lists part of the program.

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 April 1866.
Announcement: New York Post, 19 April 1866.

      “On Saturday evening, at the Academy, will be given the fifth, and, we regret to say, the last of the concerts of the Philharmonic Society. The orchestra will consist of eighty members, under the direction of Mr. Carl Bergmann… [Gives program.] The fact that this concert is to be the last of the season should induce a large attendance, if only to close it in a manner that will encourage the society to new earnestness of endeavor. In other cities much greater encouragement is given in this way than has been the case here, not only in Boston, but in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukie [sic], where the Philharmonic concerts are always crowded with the best class of audiences. We trust that the attendance at the public rehearsal on Saturday morning will be better than usual. Those who would fully appreciate and profit by the evening performance will find the rehearsal very beneficial.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 23 April 1866, 8.

new-york philharmonic society.

     The fifth and last concert of the twenty-fourth season of the Philharmonic Society took place at the Academy of Music on Saturday evening last before a large and very fashionable audience. The programme was as follows: [gives program]. Carl Bergman, Director.

     This was the least interesting of all the programmes of the season. To devote an entire act to Wagner and Berlioz, with such hosts of unperformed works of known beauty, and popularity in the library, is, to say the best, a positive error in judgment.

     To hear the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven, is, however, enough pleasure for one evening; it is one of his broadest and grandest conceptions. What a swing there is to these brilliant alternating scale passages for violins and basses in the first movement, and how effective that semi-close, where the wind instruments answer the single G notes of the strings, appearing to die away for many bars, then bursting into the brilliant finale. It is in these wonderful delays, where the ear is kept in extreme suspension, and then satisfied in a dazzling and startling manner, that Beethoven makes his most overpowering effects. The allegretto [sic] is one of the most lovely movements in the whole range of his symphonies. It opens softly with the strings, then comes a delirious solo for the violincelli, wonderful in the richness and fullness of its sound, followed by an exquisite subject sustained by the wind instruments, and leading into a flowing and lovely triplet passage for the violins, which was played with the perfection of one sole performer. There is nothing more beautiful in thought, expression and effect, than this movement in any class of music. The presto [sic] is a sharp, bright subject, distributed in catchy points, for the various groups of instruments, very difficult to execute with exact promptness, but performed by this orchestra with wonderful decision, spirit and accuracy. The singular effect of the holding note, now for the strings, and then for the brass, sustained through a variety of changing chords, culminating in a grand burst of the whole orchestra into the principal theme, is a thought grand and overpowering in its effect. The allegro con brio [sic] is a wonderfully bold subject for the violins, full of energy, and with a dash of seeming delirious joy. Its treatment throughout has all the variety and mastery of orchestral resources of Beethoven’s best movement. The whole symphony was performed in a masterly manner. There were no weak points; the most delicate artistic coloring was manifest throughout, giving double point to the bold and massive effects. Perfect pianissimos were obtained, which hightened [sic] the fortes, and in point of delicacy, vigor, brilliancy and precision, it would be difficult to find any orchestra that could surpass this performance. Miss Maria Brainerd was evidently laboring under the effects of a cold, and her voice though clear, was wanting in its accustomed volume. It was natural then, that she should give Mendelssohn’s grand and passionate aria, Infelice, with less than her usual effect. Such music is at all times foreign to the character of her voice and style, for they require high dramatic power, and passionate, vehement utterance. In the lighter music of the classic school, Miss Brainerd has no equal in the city. She sang the aria, however, smoothly and with strict adherence to the text. In the second part, she substituted, for ‘Let the bright Seraphim,’ a Serenade-barcarole by Gounod, to which Mr. Theo. Thomas played the violin obligato. This was pleasantly performed by both, but the composition is scarcely worthy of Gounod.

     Mr. Wm. Mason introduced a concerto, a posthumous work by Norbert Bergmüller [sic], which we very much regret was ever disinterred, for it is a most lugubrious addition to our piano-forte literature. It is, of course, a musicianly [sic] work, or Mr. Mason would not have introduced it; but it is long and tedious, devoid of inspiration, without breadth or fire—in fact, it is common-place and small, and utterly uninteresting. The orchestral portions of the work have undue prominence, but they are far better treated than the piano part, which seems, indeed, rather an accessory than a principal. Mr. Mason played well, all his passages were clear and properly phrased, and he exhibited all the brilliancy which the piece allowed; but it was the regret of all that he had wasted his talent upon such an ungracious composition.

     The two overtures by Wagner and Berlioz were splendidly performed, and two or three of the audience, who were a little hard of hearing, were especially delighted with the tremendous blasts of the brass instruments, in Les Francs Juges, feeling that such special emphasis was given as a delicate attention to their infirmity. Mr. Bergmann conducted the whole performance in a masterly manner. He has made the influence of his ability felt through the whole series of the Philharmonic Concerts, and the result has been to the entire satisfaction of the subscribers and the public. The orchestra has never maintained so high a pitch of executive excellence, and it is safe to say that the New-York Philharmonic Society stands to-day more firmly in favor with the public than at any time during its existence, and, with fair business prospects, we expect the subscriptions will be larger in the coming year than they have ever been before.”

Review: New-York Times, 23 April 1866, 4.

     “The last concert of the Philharmonic society was given at the Academy of Music on Saturday evening. One of the finest audiences of the year assembled on the occasion, thus bringing the twenty-fourth season to a brilliant close. The programme opened with Beethoven's Seventh Symphony—the grandest tone poem extant. It was played with matchless precision. We have never heard a mass of instruments speak with greater delicacy. The same remark applies to the other instrumental works, which were rendered equally well. These were Wagner’s ‘Characteristic Overture to Faust,’ and Berlioz’s overture, ‘Les Francs Juges.’ We have often written of these interesting productions. They were never executed better than on Saturday night. The soloist was Mr. William Mason. When this gentleman plays in public, and he does so far too seldom, we are pretty sure to hear a piece of more than average interest. The selection this time was novel—being the posthumous concerto in F sharp minor of Norbert Burgmuller, a young composer of decided promise, who met with an untimely death, being, if we are not mistaken, drowned while bathing. It is not a great work, nor could we detect any particular novelty of idea or freshness of treatment in it. It is, however, very gracefully made. The ideas are clear and elegant, and are treated with pleasant variety. The music lies nicely beneath the hand, and was rendered faultlessly by Mr. Mason, whose beautiful touch imparted a degree of warmth and coloring to what might otherwise seemed inanimate and artificial.”

Review: New York Post, 23 April 1866.

     "The concert of the Philharmonic at the Academy on Saturday night was in every way a brilliant success, and terminated the season in a most satisfactory manner. The audience was very large, appreciative and enthusiastic. Beethoven’s seventh symphony [sic], which was the first piece in the programme, was never rendered here with more real artistic feeling and effectiveness. The overture to ‘Faust’ and ‘Les Francs Juges’ were performed with equal fidelity and perfection. Miss Brainerd was the vocalist of the evening, and fully maintained her reputation. Mr. William Mason played a concerto written by Norbert Burgmuller, with his usual masterly skill.”

Review: Musical Review and World, 25 April 1866.

     There could not have been a more appropriate ending to the last Symphonic Concert of this season than Beethoven’s No.7. It is an homage to “Joy” as in no other of his works. The performance was detailed, yet it lacked the broadness which is characteristic for Beethoven.

     The debut of Burgmüller’s concerto was a disappointment. He was highly praised and said to be oriented towards Schumann. We could not recognize Schumann’s influence and found his piece rather “dry”.

     It was an excellent concert and the low attendance not justified.

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 25 April 1866, 212.
Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 28 April 1866, 232.

     Gives program. “The glorious Beethoven Symphony, as well as the two overtures, were well played by the orchestra.  Miss Brainard [sic] sang Mendelssohn’s pleasing aria, and, in the place of the air from ‘Samson,’ to the performance of which the vice-president announced ‘circumstances’ were opposed ‘not to be controlled by the Society,’—a tame barcarole by Gounod, with violin obligato. Mr. William Mason introduced Norbert Burgmüller’s piano-forte Concerto to us. We had expected more from a composer once held by Schumann in such high estimation. The composition offers very few new ideas, and is not interestingly instrumented. It was, however, played finely by Mr. Mason.

     We regret to say that a large majority of the persons who attend these concerts give audible and most ill-bred proof, by loud talking during the performance, that they are neither admirers nor students of music. There was a time when it was possible hear a fine Andante, without an undercurrent of loud whispers in accompaniment, and a continuous ‘St! st!’ in rebuke of the whisperers.”