Comingio Gagliano Concert

Event Information

Irving Hall

Theodore Schreiner [pf, cond.]

Price: $1

Event Type:
Chamber (includes Solo)

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 July 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

22 May 1866, Evening

Program Details

Gagliano’s “Cassa Armonica” (water-filled glasses, to be played on the rims with the fingertips)

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Woman is changeable
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  Francesco Mazzoleni
Composer(s): Bellini


Announcement: New York Herald, 20 May 1866.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 21 May 1866.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 22 May 1866, 4.

“The Signor plays upon a rare and curious instrument of extraordinary musical power.  It is composed of a large scale of glasses perfectly attuned which the Signor manipulates with extraordinary dexterity, brilliancy and expression. The tones are beautiful in the highest degree.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 22 May 1866, 5.

“The Signor is a performer on the musical glasses, exhibiting fine taste and skill in producing the sound and delivering it.”

Announcement: New York Post, 22 May 1866.
Review: New-York Times, 23 May 1866, 5.

“Signor Gagliano gave his first concert here last evening. The Hall was not very well filled, owing perhaps to the smouldering ruins of the Academy, which were an irresistible attraction to the public. Signor Gagliano plays upon the musical glasses—a series of tumblers arranged in an oaken box, and put into vibration by the tips of the fingers. The musical result is therefore pleasant and amateurish. The instrument cannot, we think, take any prominent place in the concert room. If it were capable of this expansion it would certainly receive it from Signor Gagliano, who plays with much clearness, precision and musical effect. Ordinarily, the ‘musical glasses’ have found their way into the hands of charlatans. Signor Gagliano is a musician, and delivers a melody with true artistic feeling and emphasis.

Signor Mazzoleni, sang superbly, and was ably supported by Mlle. Ortolani and Signor Antonucci, both of whom were in excellent voice.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 25 May 1866, 5.

“At his concert on Tuesday evening, at Irving Hall, Prof. Gagliano introduced an instrument upon which he performs with great dexterity and grace. This instrument is simply a box of glasses, tuned by the introduction of water, to the various intervals of the scale. It is absurd to call this instrument new, for we heard a similar one played upon in London thirty-five years ago.  The tones are produced by keeping the fingers moist, and passing them over the rims of the glasses in a certain manner, to accomplish which with delicacy and certainty, requires long and patient practice.  The tones produced are of an exquisitely melodious quality, and are susceptible of a positive and beautiful crescendo.  Prof. Gagliano has acquired unerring skill in the manipulation of these glasses, producing the tones with promptness and rapidity, executing delicate cadenzas and double notes and throwing over all a more delicate and exquisite grace and expression than we thought possible to produce from such an instrument. Nothing more beautiful than the tones produced can well be imagined, and the performance seemed to give the greatest satisfaction to the audience, for every piece was not only warmly applauded, but loudly encored.  The Professor should, however, be more particular in tuning his glasses, for nearly all the upper tones were exceedingly flat, which militated greatly against our personal enjoyment.  The novelty, however, is really a most pleasing one, and under the skilful hands of the Professor, cannot fail to delight all who listen to its bewitching tones. We should advise that, at the next performance, a square piano-forte shall be used, for tones of the grand piano are altogether too loud for combination with the delicate intonations of the ‘Cassa Armonica.’

    Mdlle. Ortolani sang the aria from ‘La Sommanbula’ very brilliantly and effectively, and did full justice to her share of the concerted music. Signor Antonucci sang with excellent taste, using his very fine voice with judgment and effect.

    Signor Mazzoleni, the tenor glorioso of the Maretzek company, mistakes the area of Irving Hall for that of the late Academy of Music. He uses the same for both places, but what was effective in the Academy amounts to positive shouting in Irving Hall. Besides, stage and concert singing are essentially different in their requirements. In the concert room we expect more grace, more delicacy and more artistic refinement, and Signor Mazzoleni, with his beautiful gift, would do well to study these requirements if he would sustain a first-class position as a concert singer. Signor Gagliano will soon announce another concert.”

Review: New York Herald, 25 May 1866.

“On Tuesday night this gentleman introduced to a very small fraction of the public of New York, assembled in Irving Hall, a novel kind of instrument which he call a ‘cassa armonica.’ It consists of a harmonic box containing thirty-four glasses, from which the professor, by parsing his forefinger over the rim of each, produces not exactly as the programme announced, ‘a superb, harmonic melody, resembling the voice of a full soprano,’ but a rather pleasing tone, or sort of hybrid flute and violin.  This tone was rather shaky at times, especially in rapid passages, and exercised the professor’s forefinger and patience considerably.  The only full soprano voice it could possibly resemble would be that of a centenarian or a teething baby.  The instrument is a novelty, however, and may be of interest to some.  Mdlle. Ortolani and Signors Mazzoleni and Antonucci assisted in the concert.  The last gentleman sang with the expression and cultivated method of a true artist, but Signor Mazzoleni displayed but the wreck or shadow of his former voice.  What it lacked in quality, he tried to make up in quantity, when singing the canzone La Donna e Mobile.  This charming serenade he sang in a manner that should rather frighten the lady out her senses, than incline her to hear his tale of love.  The upper notes were painfully shrill and coarse and the lower ones very little better.  We were surprised to find such a complete wreck of a voice, for at intervals he evidently showed that his tenor voice had known better days and more sweetness of tone.  The concluding terzetto, sung by Mdlle. Ortolani and Signors Mazzoleni and Antonucci, was admirable, if we accept the criterion of excellence in vocal or instrumental music suggested at a concert a few nights since.  In speaking of the organ pieces performed at the concert, a rather rustic specimen of musical genius remarked to his neighbor on the adjoining seat, “We have an organist home in our church that can beat that chap hollow.  Why, he draws five stops to his one and makes everybody jump during the service.”  Judged by this standard the concluding trio was en regle and proved that the lungs of the singers were in sound condition.  The audience got out as speedily as possible. Mr. Theodore Schreiner was conductor on the occasion.”