The Complete Review of the First Music Program in Music Hall


The First Performance
- 6,000 Spectators in Attendance
- The Concert a Great Success
- A Splendid Chorus of Trained Singers
- Enthusiastic Reception of a Public-Spirited Citizen

The New York Times Archives
Published May 15, 1878

Special Dispatch to the New York Times.
Cincinnati, May 14, 1878

The great music hall, upon which the attention and affections of the citizens of Cincinnati have been centered for a year past, was tonight dedicated to the arts with a grand burst of harmony. Four years ago Cincinnati gave its first musical festival under the auspices of Theodore Thomas with some misgiving, but with large hope. The programme at that time included such numbers as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn's "Walpurgis Night," Gluck's "Orpheus," and Handel's Dettingen Te Deum. It was considered a difficult programme for a new and crude chorus but the singers accomplished their work so thoroughly that Mr. Thomas immediately determined upon another festival with a programme a grade higher, and calling for more exacting and laborious application on the part of all concerned. The second festival included the Ninth Symphony, Wagner's "Lohengrin," Bach's "Magnificat" in D, Brahms'" Trumphiled" and the " Eijah." It was very successful and resulted in a determination to make the Cincinnati May festival a regular biennial occurrence in the future, To make the permanent home for the enterprise Mr. Springer came forward with nearly $200,000. The citizens gave $100,000 more and tonight the grand temple of music was dedicated with imposing ceremonies, and amid the rejoicing of people.

The audience began to gather at 6:30 o'clock and within an hour the vast building was filled, every seat and all the aisles being occupied. There were not less than 6,000 persons in the hall when Mr. Thomas raised his baton for the overture to Glubk's "Alceste" which introduced the programme. The choral members of this opera soon demonstrated the wonderful power and precision of the chorus. The body of singers numbers 70, and, though smaller than the choruses of the two preceding festivals, it has been so judiciously organized and so thoroughly drilled under the indefatigable labors of Otto Singer that it is in every respect an improvement upon its predecessors. It is doubtful if a more perfect chorus of trained singers was ever collected in America. It is a matter of considerable pride that this splendid organization is composed almost wholly of American singers, the Germans, who are regarded as the musical class in this city, not having recovered sufficiently from their tendency to cliques to participate. Mme. Pappenhom as Alceste, was lacking in dramatic force in the early part of the work, but toward the close showed more animation and sang with wonderful clearness and power. The other soloists were Miss Emma Crouch, Miss Heckle, Messrs. Whitney, Adams, Remmertz, Fritsch and Tagllapletra.

At the close of the "Aceste," the performance of which awakened great enthusiasm, the ceremonies of the dedication of the hall took place. Mr. Julius Dexter, Chairman of the Building Committee, delivered the keys to the Musical Festival Association in an appropriate speech, the substance of which was that the great Music Hall so long waited for was finished, was paid for, and was safe. Joseph Longworth, in behalf of the Festival Association, replied in a speech which surprised his own friends. He is a private citizen of wealth and great generosity, but has seldom been heard in public. His address to-night was an effort worthy of an orator. He paid a high compliment to the liberality of the venerable citizen who, by his lavish gifts, had made Music Hall possible, and declared that it would be a more enduring monument to his memory than could have been built in marble. The reference to Mr. Springer produced outbursts of applause and at the conclusion of the speech there were loud calls for Mr. Springer. As he was led upon the stage there was a scene of indescribable enthusiasm. The whole audience rose to its feet, handkerchiefs were waved, the air was filled with cheers, a shower of bouquets descended from the ladies in the chorus upon the head of the venerable patron of music, the orchestra partook of the spirit of the occasion, and the noise of hundreds of instruments was added to the shouts of the people. At length, when the tumult had subsided, Mr. Springer made a short speech; but his voice was not sufficient to make himself heard beyond the immediate circle of those about him. He is nearly 80 years of old.

The next number was a festival ode written by Otto Singer, conductor of the chorus. It was of the Liszt school of music, and barring some crudeness in instrumentation, and inferior character of the words, was very successful. It afforded an occasion of testing the capacity of the great organ. Besides the organ accompaniment to the principal choruses, the whole movement was devoted to the organ alone. The instrument was played by George E. Whiting, of Boston, and astonished every one with its wonderful power and richness and variety of effect. The concluding number of the concert was the third or "Eroica" symphony of Beethoven. This gave a field for the display of the capacity of orchestra of 106 pieces, which Mr. Thomas holds to be the finest organization of the kind ever got together in the United States. The concert closed shortly before midnight, having lasted nearly five hours. The matinee to-morrow afternoon will be devoted to lighter numbers, and in the evening the "Messiah" will be rendered.

(Note: This work has been copied as it appears in the original. The apparent errors of spelling, grammar and punctuation in the original are in most cases a product of the usage standards of the time. e.g. to-morrow, and programme.)