The Germania Orchestra
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History of the Germania Orchestra
- An account of the Germania Musical Society Orchestra
The Germania Musical Society Orchestra in 1850
The roots of the Philadelphia Orchestra can be traced to fifty years before its founding in 1900. This was with the visits of the Germania Musical Association Orchestra, the first U.S. orchestra which we would regard as being 'professional', even if they often failed to make a professional living from being musicians of this orchestra. The Germania Orchestra was a touring group of about 23 musicians, all trained in Germany, who toured the eastern U.S. in 1848 and 1849, playing symphonic music. They gave their first concert in New York City on 5 October 1848 directed by Carl Lenschow.
These German musicians, encouraged it is said by the European unrest of 1848, banded together with the determination to go to the U.S. and perform as an orchestra. Many of these musicians had played in the Joseph Gung'l orchestra of Berlin (which also later toured in the U.S.). in 1848, the Germania musicians voyaged to London and then to New York City 74. Their first concert was in New York City on October 5, 1848 71, followed by 20 more concerts in New York and Brooklyn. In January, 1849, the Germania Orchestra played in Philadelphia, again with critical praise, but financial losses 74. As and example, the Germania Orchestra regularly played the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer's Night Dream Overture' which was received enthusiastically by the audiences. To put this into context, consider that Mendelssohn had only died about 18 months prior to this performance.
In many ways, the Germania Orchestra was a revelation, since orchestra playing in the U.S. at that time - certainly playing at a professional level - could be said to barely exist. In contrast, the Germania Orchestra was comprised of able musicians, playing together in ensemble, with a thorough understanding of the music. In spite of these advantages, the reception in Boston, New York and Philadelphia did not fund their growth. The Germania Musical Association continued, in a struggling way for some five years, mostly under the direction of Carl Bergmann 71.
Germania Orchestra in 1850 (left to right, with some guesses) Carl Zerrahn (at left with flute), G. Hoffitz, Charles M. Schmitz (violin), Ferdinand Thiede (bassoon), Karl Meisel (violin), W. Balke (bass), William [Wilhelm] Buchheister (viola), H. Luhde (cello), Charles Bartels (bass), William [Wilhelm Heinrich] Schultze (violin), Carl Bergmann (conductor and cello), W. Brandt (violin), C. Stein (violin), W. Thomas (violin), Carl Sentz (violin), W. Meier (oboe), Christoph Plagemann [Plaggemann] (horn), Henry L. Albrecht (viola), Henry [Heinrich] Ahner (trumpet), M. Moritz [or Morritz] (trumpet), H. Küstenmacher (horn).
Some members of this group played a role in the musical development in the U.S. and in Philadelphia in particular, which led to the eventual creation of the Philadelphia Orchestra. When the Germania Orchestra visited Philadelphia in January, 1849, and could not pay either its hall or its musicians, and a few of its musicians apparently remained in Philadelphia. Then, in 1856, a local Philadelphia orchestra was organized and again adopted the Germania Orchestra name 72. In the 1884 book by William Mactier, Sketch of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia 77, this creation is described:
"...In September, 1856, an orchestra was formed in this city [Philadelphia] consisting of twenty-eight professional members. As many of these members had been formerly connected with the Germania Musical Society, it was proposed to give to this organization the name of the Germania Orchestra..." 77
The (newer or reorganized) Germania Orchestra was conducted by Carl Sentz and also by Charles M. Schmitz, both of the original 1848 Germania Musical Society. (Charles Schmitz had performed in Philadelphia in the early 1850s at violin recitals of the Musical Fund Society) 77. William Stoll, Jr. was usually the 'Leader', or Concertmaster during much of the 1870s and 1880s. It seems that Christopher (or Christoph) Plagemann, horn and Henry L. Albrech, viola, both of the original Germania Musical Society also played in the 'new' Germania Orchestra. Also, according to materials of the Library of the University of Pennsylvania:
"...Carl Sentz was the director of the Germania Orchestra, begun in 1856, incorporated in 1860 and disbanded in 1895. About one half its members continued playing in the Henry Thunder Orchestra, all of which was incorporated into the Philadelphia Orchestra. Sentz came to this country as a drummer with the Steiermarkisches Orchestra..." 72. [note: The last sentence may be incorrect; Carl Sentz seems not to have arrived with the Steyermark Orchestra, which did tour the U.S. beginning in 1846 75, but rather to have arrived with the 24 musicians who sailed to New York City in September, 1848, and who formed the Germania Orchestra 74.]
The Germania Orchestra of Philadelphia continued active in the 1880s, including playing at the inaugural ball for President Grover Cleveland's first term in March, 1885. In about 1883-1884, Max Bendix (1866-1945) became Concertmaster of the Germania Orchestra of Philadelphia. During this period, there were other orchestras around the country which adopted the 'Germania Orchestra' name, but, other than Boston, the only group having direct membership from the original 1848 Germania Musical Association Orchestra, with the musicians who sailed from Europe in 1848 was the orchestra based in Philadelphia.
During 1895-1897, the Philadelphia Music Fund Society helped fund the Philadelphia-based Germania Orchestra to expand its number of Friday concerts under William Stoll, Jr 78. During this same period in 1893, an amateur orchestra, the Symphony Society of Philadelphia was active under the conductor Dr. W. W. Gilchrist 79.
The Philadelphia-based Germania Orchestra disbanded in 1897. As stated in the University of Pennsylvania Library reference above, about one half of the Germania Orchestra musicians continued playing in the Thunder Orchestra. This was a new Philadelphia Orchestra organized by Henry Gordon Thunder, Jr. (1865-1958).
Henry Gordon Thunder
Henry Gordon Thunder was, like his musician father, was an organist and choir master. In 1896-1897, with the slow expiration of the Germania Orchestra of Philadelphia, Henry Gordon Thunder organized an orchestra in Philadelphia that was known by his name. In the Summer of 1900, prior to opening of the first season of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a critic wrote this about the Thunder Orchestra:
"...During the past three years [i.e. the seasons of 1897-1900], series of symphony orchestra concerts have been played in the Musical Fund Hall [in Philadelphia], and the programs show that in this third year of fifteen concerts the works played number 165 by 71 different composers, from Bach down to the present. Among the ambitious selections, Liszt's 'Faust Symphony' may be mentioned. In a note closing the program, Mr. Thunder states that the support has not improved as fast as was hoped and that every concert has resulted in a loss for him, and a sacrifice on the part of the musicians, who have played more for the sake of the pleasure of the music, than for the money they hoped to get out of it...73.
Contemporary accounts said that a large number of the Thunder Orchestra players, plus musicians from the Symphony Society of Philadelphia were included in the newly-organized Philadelphia Orchestra during its first season in 1900-1901.
Other Information on the Original Germania Orchestra
This is a collection of various information about the musicians of the Germania Musical Association Orchestra, as it was in its inception in 1848-1850. Most birth dates come from the 1850 U.S. Census, and all births were in Germany.
Charles Lenschow (1821-1890) was conductor of the Germania Orchestra, in 1848, later succeeded by Carl Bergmann. Lenschow composed songs and marches with some success, including 'Panorama of Broadway, New York'. Lenschow died in Baltimore, Maryland in 1890.
Karl or Carl Meisel
(1829-1908) Played at the first violin desk, next to Schultze.
Meisel also became in 1854 a second violin with the Mendelssohn
Quintette of Boston. Meisel later became a violin with the
Boston Symphony 1881-1882, 1883-1885. At the time of his
death, he was the oldest member of the Boston Symphony.
William (Wilhelm Heinrich) Schultze (January 10, 1828-September 26, 1888) violin was born in Hanover, Germany where his father was a bandmaster. Schultze studied with Karl Müller 1843-1845 and Karl Böhmer in Berlin 1845-1847. Became leader of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club in Boston 1859-1878 75. Also played in the Boston Orchestral Union and the Musical Fund Society. Later, in 1877, Professor of Music, Syracuse University. Died in Syracuse in September 1888, while playing a recital 75.
Ernest Pfeiffer (1817-circa 1866) flute. Born in Saxon, Germany. Flute in the original Germania Orchestra. After the Germania Orchestra disbanded in 1856, Pfeiffer worked until about 1865 in the Philadelphia Institution for the Blind. Pfeiffer died in during the 1860s 74.
Carl Zerrahn (1827- ) first flute and later conductor. Zerrahn was born in Malchow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, July 28, 1826. His early musical studies were in Rostock (in the North of Germany on the North Sea) at age 12. He then studied in Hannover and Berlin. In 1848, with about 24 colleague musicians, was organized the Germania Musical Society. Beginning in about 1854, Zerrahn became musical director of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston.
Charles M. Schmitz (1824-circa 1900) violin. Schmitz later played with and conducted the 'new' Germania Orchestra in Philadelphia and was, with Carl Sentz a frequent conductor of the Orchestra in the 1870s and 1880s.
William Ferdinand Thiede (Prussia 1822-Baltimore December 23. 1911) bassoon. Germania Society 1848-1854. Also played in the Boston Orchestral Union and the Musical Fund Society. Then moved to Baltimore where he conducted the Haydn Amateur Orchestra.
W. Balke (1828- ) bass
H. Luhde (1821- ) cello
Carl Bergmann (1821-1876) Conductor and cellist of the Germania Musical Association. Bergmann briefly led an orchestra in Chicago, following the 1856 disbandment of the Germania Orchestra. Bergmann remained in Chicago for only two concerts, since the musicians were not accepting him. Bergmann returned to New York where he conducted the New York Philharmonic society 1855-1865, sharing conducting with Theodore Eisfeld during this period. 1865-1876, when he died, Bergmann was sole conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
Carl Sentz (1828-after 1888) Germania Society 1848-1854. He was the leading second violin. First taught at the Young Ladies Academy in Worcester, MA. Then went to Philadelphia and was a professor of music in Philadelphia, where he pursued a conducting career. in 1876, Carl Sentz was conductor of a Philadelphia group in London at the U.S. organized celebration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. independence. He was also active in conducting an orchestra, sometimes called the Germania Orchestra in Philadelphia, and nearby cities in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as larger summer festival orchestras. In November, 1883, Carl Sentz conducted an orchestra at the Atlanta (Georgia) Music Festival.
Christopher (or Christoph) Plagemann or Plaggeman (November 28, 1819-after 1880) French horn settled in Philadelphia after the Germania Society disbanded.
Henry (Heinrich) Ahner (trumpet). After the Germania Orchestra broke up in 1856 toured the U.S. with soprano Teresa Parodi. In 1858, Ahner came to Chicago to try to build a viable orchestra 76. '...With an orchestra of 26 pieces, he gave popular concerts in Chicago in 1856, 1857, and 1858.' However, economic results were bad and Ahner not a particularly good business man 76. Henry Ahner died shortly thereafter in Chicago in 1858.
M. Moritz (1826- ) trumpet
F. Hasse (1828- ).
H. Küstenmacher (1821- ) horn
D. Ohlemann (1826- ) oboe
Fredrick or Ferdinand Zöhler viola Germania Society probably only 1853. Also played flute with the Boston Orchestral Union and the Musical Fund Society. Also Harvard Musical Association.
William Thomas Germania Society 1850-1854 may have lived in New York City.
Friedrich George Haehnel (or Hähnel) (1827-1902) clarinet
William Stoll, Jr. violin
Robert A. Gerson states 5 that Leopold Engelke, born October 26, 1826 was a member of the original Germania Orchestra. However, since records shown that Leopold Engelke emigrated to the US in November, 1859, he could not have been part of the 1848 Germania Musical Society musicians. Engelke was active in chamber music in Philadelphia and also taught music. He died before 1900.
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32 The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. Cleveland 1997.
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44 This was in an all Wagner concert in Carnegie Hall, February 1, 1948. The New York Times. New York. February 2, 1948.
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57 Cedar Rapids Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa. April 29, 1956.
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65 page 71. Wister, Frances Anne. Twenty-five years of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1900-25) op. cit.
66 page 8. Some Principals in Great Orchestra. Iowa City Daily Press. Iowa City, Iowa. April 22, 1909.
67 page 11. Musical Chit-chat. Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. November 8, 1903.
68 page 14. Fritz Scheel Nervous Wreck. Trenton Evening Times. Trenton, New Jersey. February 9, 1907.
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70 Page 177. Kupferberg, Herbert. Those Fabulous Philadelphians. Charles Scribner's Sons. op. cit.
71 pages 260-262. Faust, Albert Bernhardt. The German Element in the United States.
72 Keffer Collection of Sheet Music. Philadelphia in Images: Portrait of Carl Sentz Library of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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79 pages 103-123. Hassen, Marjorie Hassen. Philadelphia's Musical Legacy. University of Pennsylvania. 2000.
80 pages page 248-248. Wister, Frances Anne. Twenty-five years of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1900-25) op. cit.
81 page 1. Stokowski Quits Phila. Orchestra. The Chester Times. Chester, PA. January 2, 1936.
82 page 79. Ardoin, John, editor. The Philadelphia Orchestra, A Century of Music. Temple University Press. Philadelphia. 1999.
83 Eugene Ormandy - A Centennial Celebration. Otto E. Albrecht Music Library of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. 2000-2003.
84 pages 156-162. Rosenberg, Deena and Bernard. The Music Makers.
85 Philharmonia Orchestra History. Philharmonia Orchestra website. 2009. http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/about/history
86 Music Section. Wakin, Daniel J. Muti Named New Director at Chicago Symphony. New York Times. New York. May 5, 2008.
87 Lebrecht, Norman. The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power Citadel Press. New Jersey Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-2088-4.
88 Music Section. Wakin, Daniel J. and Povoledo, Elisabetta. La Scala Conflict Grows as Workers Ask Conductor to Quit. New York Times. New York. March 18, 2005.
89 page 14. Kurnick, Judith K. Riccardo Muti: Twenty Years in Philadelphia. University of Pennslyvania Press. Philadelphia. 1992. ISBN: 978-0-8122-1445-1
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93 Wendling Quartet to Give Opening Concert Tomorrow. Harvard Crimson. Cambridge, Massachusetts. October 2, 1922.
94 Page 25, Music Section. Aldrich, Richard. The Wendling String Quartet. New York Times. New York. October 17, 1922.
95 Page 29, Music Section. Aldrich, Richard. Berkshire Music Festival Begins; Wendling String Quartet of Stuttgart, Germany Makes Its American Debut. New York Times. New York. September 29, 1922.
96 page 13. Symphony Orchestra will Give Concerts . Berkley Daily Gazette. Berkley, California July 7, 1937.
97 page 40. Van Den Burg Joins Faculty at Mills. Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California March 29, 1942.
98 page 22. Cellist to be Soloist Over KGO Tonight. Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California July 6, 1928.
99 page 5. Van Den Burg to Lead Symphony . San Mateo Times. San Mateo, California July 24, 1936.
100 page 24. Music Institute Plans Summer Program . The Valley News. Van Nuys, California May 18, 1971.
101 page 127. Canarina, John. Pierre Monteux, Maître. 2003. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN-13: 9781574670820.
102 page 28. The Violinist, Volume XXIV. Violinist Publishing Company. Chicago, IL. January, 1919.
103 page 23. The Horn Call, Volumes 1-3. International Horn Society. 1971.
104 American Consulate General Death of American Citizen. Genoa, Italy. November 18, 1974.
105 pages 24-25. Nathan, G. J. and Mencken, H. L. The Smart Set, Volume 65. New York, NY May, 1921.
106 page 2. Orchestra Principals All American Trained . Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Daytona Beach, Florida May 19, 1964.
107 Page 40. Inter-American Music Festival, Issue 2 Organization of American States, Inter-American Music Council. Washington, D.C. 1961.
108 page 348-349. Keim, Friedel. Das große Buch der Trompete. Schott Music. 2005. ISBN-13 978-3795705305.
109 Steinberg, David. Professor falls under flute's spell. Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 2003.
110 Page 306. Toff, Nancy. Monarch of the Flute: Georges Barrère (1876-1944). op.cit.
111 Fair, Demetra Baferos Fair. FLUTISTS’ FAMILY TREE: IN SEARCH OF THE AMERICAN FLUTE SCHOOL. Ph.D. thesis Graduate School of Ohio State University. 2003.
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113 page 31. Geisler, Pat. Gifted flutist, resident artist at Oberlin has household of musicians. Elyria Chronicle Telegram. Elyria, Ohio. November 16, 1969.
114 page F-2. Robert Fries of Oberlin will blow the pipes for Scottish dancers. Elyria Chronicle Telegram. Elyria, Ohio. November 7, 1971.
115 page 205. Marckwardt, Albert H. Charles C. Fries. Linguistic Society of America. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1968.
116 page 4. Twenty-fourth Annual Commencement and Conferring of Degrees. Curtis Institute of Music. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. May 11, 1957.
117 page 1. Philadelphia Orchestra Horn Section at NHW. New England Horn Society. Cornucopia Magazine. Concord, Massachusetts. February 2005
118 page 12. Music Club To Open Season . Huntingdon Daily News. Huntingdon, PA. October 7, 1947.
119 page 22. A Fine Concert . Oakland Tribune. Oakland, CA. September 9, 1895.
120 Franz Trenner, Franz, English Translation by Bernhard Bruechle. Der Vater: Franz Strauss aus der Neuen Zeitschrift fuer Musik. Gustave Bosse Verlag. Regensburg, Germany. 1955.
121 Morley-Pegge, R. The orchestral French Horn. Its origin and evolution. Ernest Benn Ltd., London. 1973.
122 page 22. by 'C.L.G.' Music . Manchester Guardian. Manchester, England. March 28, 1894.
123 page 14. by 'Musicus' Glasgow . London Musical Courier. London, England. October 15, 1896.
124 page 23. Marquardt Noted Soloist, Here for Summer . Colorado Springs Gazette. Colorado Springs. Colorado. June 21, 1914.
125 Dale, Maryclaire page 13. Philadelphia conductor to end career with Beethoven's Ninth . Altoona Mirror. Altoona, PA. May 10, 2003.
126 Rodríguez-Peralta, Phyllis White.; Chapter 3. Philadelphia Maestros: Ormandy, Muti, Sawallisch . Temple University Press. Philadelphia, PA. 2006. ISBN: 1-59213-487-4
127 Eschenbach, Christoph.; Christoph Eschenbach website.
128 page 32. Cooper, Stefan Trumpet Players of the San Francisco Symphony 1911-1995. International Trumpet Guild Journal. February, 1996.
129 pages 226,227. Tarr, Edward H. Tarr, Carter, Stewart Carter, editors. East Meets West: The Russian Trumpet Tradition from the Time of Peter the Great to the October Revolution . Pendragon Press. New York, New York. March, 2004. ISBN-13: 9781576470282.
130 page 52. Philadelphia - Changes in the Orchestra. The Violinist, Volume 16. Chicago, Illinois. October, 1913.
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