The Second Season - Tour Concerts 1882-1883

The Second Season -  Tour Concerts 1882-1883

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of the early Boston Symphony history is the extent of the performances outside of Boston. By the end of the 1895-96 season, less than 750 of the 1400 Boston Symphony concerts were given within the city limits. Much of the documentation of these tour concerts ranges from sketchy to nonexistent. Few programs survive from the first years of the orchestra's history, leaving us only contemporary newspaper accounts to tell us about the Boston Symphony's pioneering ventures. This itinerary was assembled by cross-referencing repertoire from the BSO performance card file. From there, the schedule, confirming what is mentioned in Mark De Wolfe Howe's book on the Boston Symphony's early years*, and a letter Georg Henschel wrote to Brahms, October 29th, 1882**, finally comes to the surface here.

*Howe states: "The education which Henschel and the Orchestra were bringing to the public was by no means confined to the twenty-six concerts and rehearsals of the second season in the Boston Music Hall…six concerts in Sanders Theatre…besides three concerts each in Salem, Providence and Worcester…a total of fifty-one concerts for the season."

**…in 22 weeks ahead of me I have about a hundred rehearsals and 44 concerts to conduct (every Saturday one here in Boston and every Thursday one in a nearby city of New England).



Newport, RI, Opera House-October 11th, 1882, 8PM

Though this program is one of the few to survive from the early years, the significance has been overlooked for decades. This is the first program the Boston Symphony gave beyond walking distance of the Charles River.

The concerts in Newport were short lived, as we only have three visits documented, whereas the concerts in Providence continued for more than a century, and numbered in the hundreds.

This concert was something of a preparation for the Boston program later that week, as the Beethoven First Symphony and the Wagner Rienzi Overture were later performed there (see Boston II. October 14th, 1882).
The Wagner Rienzi Overture had further renditions in Salem (October 26th) Worcester (November 2nd), Cambridge (November 9th) and Providence (November 16th).

 

 

Portland, ME, Concert I. (of 2) - City Hall October 18th, 1882 8PM?

There is no record of any sort of this first performance in Maine at the Boston Symphony archives, we have only a single review from the Portland Evening Argus as a reference. Mark DeWolfe Howe states that there were two programs that season in Portland, and the concert of March 28th, 1883 is referenced as the second of two. It was the opening concert of "Stockbridge's Course" a festival of ten concerts presented by Ira Stockbridge, which also included the Boston Ideal Opera Company.

PROGRAM INCLUDED:
Bargiel: Adagio for 'Cello and Orchestra (William Mueller,'cello)
Schumann: Two Grenadiers (Henschel, baritone & piano)

The listing above is obviously incomplete, as the review only referenced the music without being specific in most instances. I'll surmise that the ballet music mentioned was the Schubert Rosamunde, and there is Menuetto mentioned, which points to the Beethoven First Symphony, performed in Boston the previous week, or the Haydn Symphony No. 97, which was given in Boston the following Saturday. What was lost in program details was more than made up in one of the most direct assessments of the ensemble we have from the period, and a very colorful description of concert decorum that evening, "What was particularly exasperating was to have two inspired young idiots applaud loudest and longest after Herr Mueller's performance, and during the very next piece, the sweetest of the evening-the ballet music-kept up a continual conversation…." The orchestra was praised for its "high degree of excellence, although not so perfectly drilled as Theodore Thomas, as was noticed in the drawing of the bows of the violinists. In Mr. Thomas' orchestra, they draw their bows as one man, while in the orchestra last night each man appeared to be for himself. The work of the orchestra, however, was excellent, and the performance of each piece was greeted with applause. Nothing was repeated however."

 

 

Salem, MA Concert I. (of 3) Mechanic Hall-October 26th, 1882 7:45PM

No program survives for this concert, the listing below is taken from a notice printed in the Salem Register.

Beethoven: Dedication of the House Overture
Handel: Rodelinda: Aria (Henrietta Beebe, soprano)
Haydn: Symphony No. 97 in C 
Mendelssohn: Italy; The Charmer (Miss Beebe; Henschel, piano)
Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture

We have here an instance of a soloist performing first on tour and later in Boston. Thus we ascertain with confidence that the Rodelinda aria was Mio caro bene, as that is the aria she performed in Boston (see Boston IV. October 28th, 1882). Miss Beebe later appeared at Sanders Theatre (see Cambridge concerts February 22nd, 1883) singing Mozart, Barnby and Rubinstein. She later taught at Jeannette Thurber's National Conservatory in New York (when Dvorak was there) and her reputation was strong enough that a separation from her husband warranted a notice in the New York Times. The Dedication of the House opened the first concerts in Boston and Cambridge in 1881, though Henschel neglected to keep gesture consistent (see Newport above). The Haydn had been performed the previous week in Boston.

 

 

Worcester, MA Concert I. (of 3) Mechanics Hall-Nov. 2nd, 1882 7:30

The program below is probably not the order it was performed, not all the works listed in the BSO performance card file were mentioned in the review, and the soloists were mentioned last. Louis Schmitt had played the complete Bruch Concerto in Boston the previous Saturday (see IV. October 28th, 1882), Mrs. Allen sang also sang two of these songs as a last minute substitute in Boston (see XV. January 13th, 1883). The Gounod must have been a tremendous hit the previous week, and Henschel made good use of it throughout the rest of the season.

Weber: Freischutz: Overture
Bruch: Concerto in G minor: II. Adagio (Louis Schmitt, violin)
Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2
Rubinstein: Scena "E dunque vero" (Mrs. E. Humphrey Allen, soprano)
Jensen: An der Linden (Allen; Henschel, piano) 
Tchaikovsky: Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Allen; Henschel)
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture

Many of the cities that were on the orchestra's calendar in 1882-1883 could be considered cultural backwaters. Not Worcester. For many seasons the city had hosted a renowned music festival as well as a fine concert hall that exists to this day, Mechanics Hall. Perhaps for this reason the critic of the Worcester Evening Gazette found time to compare Henschel's conducting unfavorably to Theodore Thomas: "Certainly his method is the reverse of the imperturbable Thomas…who is as calm as General Grant in the wildest passages of Wagner. Henschel's baton flourishes like a pennant in a high wind and seems almost to mark every chromatic note in the score."

Note the relatively early time of the concert, this was to assure that the orchestra would be on the 9:41 train back to Boston.

 

 

Providence RI Concert I. (of 3) Music Hall -November 16th, 1882 7:45

Here marks the beginning of an impressive tradition, the first concert of more than 450 in Rhode Island's largest city, which continued for more than a century. The three concerts were offered as a subscription for $1.50 and $2.00 with individual concert seats for 75 cents. The listing below is the matter of some conjecture; the review in the Providence Journal obviously references the program out of order.

Weber: Freischutz: Overture
Ernst: Concert Pathetique (Bernard Listemann, violin)
Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette 
Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C, "Linz" 
Haydn: Creation: "On Mighty Pens" (Alice Constance Ward, soprano)
Wagner: Meistersinger: Pogner's Address (Georg Henschel, baritone)
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture

This concert denotes the first-ever Boston Symphony performance of the Mozart "Linz" Symphony, and our scribe at the Providence Journal reports that Mozart is "somewhat out of fashion in the present day, so far as genius of the first order can be out of fashion". Both the Mozart and the Ernst were presented two days later in Boston. The Freichutz received its fourth performance in a month, with several more to come. The Journal praised Alice Ward for her voice of "remarkable purity" used with "classic spirit and restraint". These soloists replaced the originally announced Carl Baermann, who performed in Providence in December.

 

 

Salem, MA Concert II. (of 3) Mechanic Hall-November 24, 1882 7:45

This concert took place on Friday evening, which meant that the musicians spent that afternoon at Boston's Music Hall rehearsing the program to be performed on Saturday night, then boarded the train to perform the concert program below. The order of the program is guessed at, but reflects to a degree the music as it was presented in Boston on November 4th.

Weber: Freischutz: Overture 
Mendelssohn: Capriccio brilliant (Miss Olga von Radecki, piano)
Haydn: Creation: "On Mighty Pens" (Alice Constance Ward, soprano) 
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'acte 
Vieuxtemps: Fantasy on Slavonic Melodies (Bernard Listemann violin)
Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre

The abundance of soloists is all the more impressive considering that none of the music was performed in Boston the following evening. Alice Constance Ward was the daughter of prominent Bostonian Andrew Henshaw Ward. Notably, she never sang with the orchestra in Boston. Olga von Radecki made two more appearances over the next three seasons.

 

 

Worcester MA, Concert II. (of 3) Mechanics Hall - Nov. 30th, 1882, 7:30

The following program does not survive, and the order is guessed at.

Wagner: Parsifal: Prelude
Handel: Alessandro: Ne trofei d'Alessandro (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'acte
Bargiel: Adagio for 'cello and orchestra (Wilhelm Mueller, 'cello)
Weber: Die Freischutz: Cavatina (Lillian Henschel) 
Nicolai: Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture

Without audio recordings during this era, we are completely reliant on the press reports of the event to glean what occurred. Frequently they can be a source of entertainment on their own, above and beyond their critique of the concert (see the Worcester concert of November 2nd, 1882 above). But relying on these sources has its drawbacks. Consider that our reviewer reported that Parsifal "was given with the vigor and dash so imperatively demanded by this author's compositions". If that wasn't enough, we are amazed to learn that the Schumann's Symphony No. 4 had its four movements merged into two, not because of the composer's indications, but "by the anxiety of the conductor to get through in season for the late train to Boston."

 

 

New Bedford Concert I. (of 2) Grand Opera House-Dec. 15th, 1882 7:45

This concert took place on a Friday evening, after the public rehearsal at 2:30 that afternoon in the Music Hall in Boston. Here we have an advertisement in the New Bedford Evening Standard, which lists the program below.

Mendelssohn: Ruy Blas: Overture
Weber: Freischutz: Cavatina (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 
Auber: Acteon: Air (Lillian Henschel)
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'Acte
Vieuxtemps: Fantasie on Slavonic Melodies (B. Listemann, violin) 
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture


Our review is one of the most glowing of the season. "It takes consummate ability as well as nice sense of musical effects to lead a large orchestra with unanimity through such a variety of curious musical thoughts as are presented in the scherzo movement of Schumann's D minor Symphony; and anything short of absolute unanimity would have made the beautiful composition commonplace and barely endurable." There was more anxiety surrounding the travel (see Worcester the previous week), in this instance a "special train" was provided, which meant that encores were not given.

 

 

Providence RI Concert II. (of 3) Music Hall-December 21st, 1882 7:45

We have a notice in the Providence Journal detailing the program below. As promised in November, Carl Baermann appeared after canceling his Providence appearance the previous month.

Wagner: Parsifal: Prelude
Henschel: Piano Concerto (Carl Baermann, piano) 
Schubert: Symphony in b minor "Unfinished"
Liszt: Don Juan Fantasy for solo piano (Carl Baermann)
Rubinstein: Feramors: Ballet Music: Dance of Bayaderes; (Candle Dance of the Brides of Kashmire); Wedding March


This was the last time the Henschel Piano Concerto was performed with Baerman as soloist, subsequent performances featured the composer.

The Candle Dance from the Feramors was listed but not performed, as the orchestra needed to depart in order to make the train back to Boston. No announcement was made, and the Providence Journal reported: "The last number on the program…was not given for some unexplained reason, the musicians leaving the audience sitting, which was naturally felt to be rather cavalier treatment." Henschel and the Boston Symphony performed the Candle Dance as part of their final concert of the season on January 18th, 1883.

 

 

Salem, MA III. Concert (of 3) Mechanic Hall-December 28th, 1882 7:45

Along with the Newport program the previous October, this is the only non-Boston program that survives from the 1882-1883 season.

The Salem Register of January 1st, 1883 reports that the audience was large and appreciative of the efforts of Henschel as both pianist, composer and conductor as well as the performance of Lillian Henschel.

 

 

Worcester MA Concert III. (of 3) Mechanics Hall-Jan. 4th, 1883, 7:30

The following program for the concert is based on a notice in the Worcester Evening Gazette. Reserved seating was 75 cents.

Mendelssohn: Hebrides: Overture
Raff: Piano Concerto: !st movement (Arthur B. Whiting, piano)
Stradella: Aria di Chiesa (Emily Winant, contralto) 
Schubert: Symphony in b minor "Unfinished"
Bruch: Loreley: Prelude
Mozart: Marriage of Figaro: Voi che sapete (Emily Winant)
Rubinstein: Feramors Ballet Music: Dance of the Bayaderes; Candle
Dance of the Brides of Kashmire; Wedding March


Emily Winant sang the repertoire listed in Boston (see VI. November 11th, 1882), though only the composers were listed in the newspaper.

The final review from Worcester for the season, perhaps in regret of the harsh words earlier in the year, states that "the city is indebted to the patron of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its conductor for three concerts of great interest, given not as a speculation, but for the love of good music. We hope there has been no such pecuniary loss as to warrant the abandonment of the experiment, for we feel quite sure of the greater public interest here for another season in a similar series. In Boston, the success of the symphony concerts has been beyond expectation." Worcester indeed saw the Boston Symphony at least annually for the better part of a century. Other venues encountered in the 1882-83 season were not so lucky.

 

 

Providence RI, Concert III. (of 3) Music Hall-January 18th, 1883, 7:45

The above notice in the Providence Journal lists the following program below, but with the Weber Cavatina from Freichutz instead of the Henschel. The review of the concert gives the strong implication that the Henschel was performed as a substitution.

Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture 
Graun: Tod Jesu: Lo the heaven descended (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4
Rubinstein: Feramors: Candle Dance of the Brides of Kashmire
Henschel: Hymne au Creator (Mrs. Henschel)
Wagner: Tannhauser: Overture


The Candle Dance was performed in January since it was omitted the previous month (see December 21st, 1882). As also with Worcester the previous week, the review was very positive, with a "sincere regret" that the Boston Symphony concerts for the season in Providence had come to an end.

 

 

New Bedford, Con. II. (of 2) Grand Opera House-Jan. 25th, 1883, 7:45

The program below is taken from the listing in the New Bedford Evening Standard. One can also ascertain from this listing that this second trip to New Bedford was planned after the first, as the concerts were not sold as a pair. The notice gave warning that the concert was going to begin promptly, as concertgoers the previous month didn't notice the early start time given.

Bruch: Loreley: Prelude
Henschel: Piano Concerto (George Henschel, piano) 
Weber: Abu Hassan: Aria (Gertrude Edmonds, contralto)
Schubert: Symphony in b minor "Unfinished"
Rubinstein: Feramors: Dance of the BayaderesBeethoven: Lied (Gertrude Edmonds; Henschel, piano) 
Wagner: Tannhauser: Overture


Miss Gertrude Edmonds was given a very positive review, yet I do not find another BSO appearance by her save for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony that concluded the 1882-1883 season. The Henschel Piano Concerto was regarded as the "gem of the evening".

 

 

Lowell MA, Concert I. (of 2) Huntington Hall -February 8th, 1883, 7:45

The Lowell Daily Courier not only listed the program, but mentioned what a significant event the concert was going to be. They had mentioned the recent announcement of Miss von Radecki, as she not listed in the advertisement for the concert. The two Lowell concerts were not announced and sold as a pair, and the success of the first visit in February resulted in a return trip in March.

Weber: Freischutz: Overture 
Graun: Tod Jesu: Lo the heaven descended (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Mendelssohn: Capriccio Brilliant (Miss Olga von Radecki, piano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'Acte
Henschel: 3 Songs in Folkstone (L. Henschel, sop.; G. Henschel, piano) 
Vieuxtemps: Fantasie on Slavonic Melodies (B. Listemann, violin) 
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture


Commentary for both the concert Lowell concert of February 8th and the Fitchburg concert of February 15th is below.

 

 

Fitchburg MA, Concert I. (of 2) City Hall-February 15th, 1883, 7:45

The two Fitchburg concerts were sold as a pair, with reserved seating for both concerts at $1.50.

Mozart: Magic Flute: Overture 
Graun: Tod Jesu: Lo the heaven descended (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4
Weber: Freischutz: Cavatina (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Vieuxtemps: Fantasie on Slavonic Melodies (B. Listemann, violin) 
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'Acte
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture


Both the first Lowell and Fitchburg concerts were "reviewed" by practically the same document. The turns of phrase and descriptions were such that one must doubt what precisely happened at either venue. Here's Lowell: "The D minor symphony of Schumann evidently impressed the audience thoroughly. The concert closed with Wagner's brilliant Rienzi Overture, a selection well adapted for sending home audience and orchestra in the best possible humor." And now Fitchburg: "The D minor symphony of Schumann thoroughly impressed the audience, and Wagner's brilliant Rienzi overture was well adapted for sending home both audience and orchestra in the best possible humor." On close examination, it seems that the Lowell review was edited to suit the Fitchburg concert, deleting any mention of the Mendelssohn (which was cited in the Lowell paper) and there is no mention of the Mozart, which was listed in the BSO performance card file as well as listed in the Fitchburg paper the day of the concert. This journalistic short cut did not happen again when the BSO visited both cities in March.

 

 

Lynn MA, Music Hall-March 2nd, 1883, 7:45?

This concert took place on a Friday evening after the Boston public rehearsal.

The Lynn Bee listed the following program, and the seats went for 75 and 50 cents.

Weber: Jubilee Overture
Graun: Tod Jesu: Lo the heaven descended (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 
Hiller: The Sentinel: CapriccioWeber: Freichutz: Cavatina (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'acte
Wagner: Rienzi: Overture

The review of this concert was quite brief, rather positive, but lamented the fact that only 300 people attended the performance. Still, Henschel and the Boston Symphony returned to Lynn the following November.

 

 

Lowell MA, Concert II. (of 2) Huntington Hall-March 8th, 1883, 7:45

The program below was printed in the Lowell Courier, and the review confirms the order as well as the contents.

Weber: Jubilee Overture 
Handel: Acis and Galatea: As When the Dove (Gertrude Franklin, sop.)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
Hiller: The Sentinel: Capriccio 
Mozart: Bella mia fiamma, K. 528 (Gertrude Franklin) 
Bargiel: Adagio for 'Cello and Orchestra (Wilhelm Mueller, 'cello)
Rubinstein: Feramors: Dance of the Bayaderes; Wedding March

It must've been a challenge for Georg Henschel to find a soloist for a second tour appearance of a season. The first one invariably went to his wife, along with the concertmaster Bernhard Listemann. Principal 'Cellist Wilhelm Mueller could be counted on to play the Bargiel Adagio, but after that Henschel may not have found many soloists willing to journey with the orchestra. On this evening in Lowell, the evidence suggests that he struck gold. Making her debut was a former Kirk Street Church chorister Miss Gertrude Franklin, and though she didn't have a legendary career, she appeared with all the BSO Music Directors of the 19th Century. The Lowell Courier's review has boundless enthusiasm for the 25 year old soprano, and also mentions that the hall was exceedingly cold, which must've made her BSO debut all the more impressive. She made her Boston debut the following December.

 

 

Fitchburg MA, Concert II. (of 2) City Hall-March 15th, 1883, 7:45

The program was listed as follows in the Fitchburg Sentinel.

Weber: Jubilee Overture
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1: 1st movement (B.J. Lang, piano) 
Schubert: Symphony in b minor "Unfinished"
Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette (by request)
Weber/Liszt: Polacca Brilliante (B. J. Lang)
Rubinstein: Feramors: Dance of the Bayderes; Candle Dance of the Brides of Kashmire; Wedding March

This second trip to Fitchburg was distinguished by the first-ever Boston Symphony performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, albeit just the first movement. Given its world premiere in Boston in October of 1875 with a pick-up orchestra as part of Hans von Bulow's American tour, Benjamin Johnson Lang was pressed into service at the last possible moment as conductor of that premiere. He later was soloist in complete BSO performances of the work.

 

 

Portland, ME, Concert II. (of 2) City Hall -March 28th, 1883 8PM?

The program does not survive, and a newspaper listing has yet to be discovered. What is below was assembled from the concert review as well as repertoire referenced in the BSO performance card file. The concert took place on a Wednesday evening, allowing the orchestra to spend the night in Maine before journeying back to Boston. It ended shortly before 10:00, implying a start of 8:00.


Wagner: Tannhauser: Overture
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor
Hiller: The Sentinel: Capriccio
Weber: Freischutz: Cavatina (Lillian Henschel, soprano)
Reinecke: Manfred: Entr'acte
Vieuxtemps: Fantasie on Slavonic Melodies (B. Listemann, violin)
Rubinstein: Feramors: Dance of the Bayderes; Candle Dance of the Brides of Kashmire; Wedding March

The review is not nearly as entertaining or colorful as the Evening Argus notice of the first BSO performance in Maine the previous October, but we are told that the Schumann 4th left the audience in a state of apathy. It certainly was not due to unfamiliarity with the music on the part of the orchestra, as they had played the work in 8 cities that season before Portland.