In 1872, the largest musical concert in the history of the world was held in Boston at the newly-built coliseum, which could hold 100,000 people (quite an architectural achievement for 1872, wouldn't you say?).
The World Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival, honoring the end of the Franco-Prussian War, took place in the Back Bay area of Boston, approximately where Copley Square is today, and my great-great grandfather, John Allen Gould of Walpole, was there. He saved his “official programme;” it’s been stored in his tin document box since then; this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt gave me the excuse to bring it out again.
Bands from London, Paris, Berlin and Dublin performed; Johann Strauss (remember the "Waltz King?") was there, as well as his son, who directed a 2,000 member orchestra for a performance of Verdi's Il Trovatore.
The United States Marine Band played.
One of the most popular performances was by the Fisk University Jubilee singers -- it was the first appearance of an African-American chorus in a large musical production!
Johann Strauss played the violin. The audience demanded -- and got -- an instant repeat of his new "Jubilee Waltz."
It was a pretty big deal!
The “programme” listed a few wonderful numbers: Rossini’s Overture from William Tell (I’ll bet those Bostonians never imagined the Lone Ranger and Tonto barreling over the plains!); Bach’s “Commit Thy Ways;” “Let the Bright Seraphim” by Handel.
Strauss added another waltz: “Wine, Women and Song.”
There was a sextette from Lucia, performed by a “bouquet of Artists, Chorus and Orchestra.” All members of the bouquet were listed on a facing page, including two sopranos from Portland, Maine, two altos from Bangor, one Portland tenor, and a bass from Bath, just 6 miles north of my town.
While most people enjoyed the World Peace Jubilee, not everybody was pleased. One critic wrote:
The great, usurping, tyrannizing, noise and pretentious thing is over, and there is a general feeling of relief, as if a heavy, brooding nightmare has been lifted from us all.
Oh, well...can’t please ‘em all!
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