The following event took place at the 65th Regimental Arsenal, located at the corner of Broadway and Michigan.
The Power of Song
A Welcome to the Members of the 30th Song Festival Society by their Brothers in Buffalo
The Raising of the Society Flag -
William J. Bryan, William J. Buchanan and the Bavarian Music Chorus
"The measure of human worth is placed within our hands.
At the beginning of June 1854, when there were around 60,000 people in Buffalo, the newspaper Democracy described the festiveness of the German clubs as follows: "Has it occurred to the average American that we have a German population among us, numbering more than 25,000 souls, whose customs and habits we know about as much as we know about the Tartars. Their newspapers, we believe there are three, are for us unreadable. The German population lives in its own sequestered part of town. They have their own schools, their own recreational areas, their own social order and their own organizations. Interaction between the two nations is strained. We would be happy if it were otherwise. Their peculiarities lead the observer to view them as puritanic in their endless sources of scholarship. We know from one rather strange experience that not only are their customs and habits pleasing but also that a developed strength of reason, a scientific and philosophical spirit is to be found within these people. It waits to be discovered by the perceptive individual willing to go past the barriers. There are reasons for these circumstances which need not be discussed here. We would gladly see accord between the factions of our population - especially between Americans and Germans, who for the most part seem to be the most isolated."
How happy the writer of this article would have been to see his wish fulfilled. His own eyes would have convinced him when he saw the first group of German choruses take the place of honor at the beginning of the opening concert yesterday evening at the Armory.
What a change in fifty years. How has this happened? For the most part it is due to the German Singing Societies scattered throughout the nation. It is they who have evoked an understanding of our language through the art of their song. They have found a place in the hearts of the American people and have established a means of cross communication.
The cultural mission, that the German Choruses will fulfill, is twofold. Their influence upon the Anglo-American culture is not as easily discernible as it is upon the German-American culture. What will be decided is which of the two is more-fully blessed and better-situated.
Above all else, the singing societies have dispelled the absurdly false "Dutchman" image held by Anglo-Americans. To the native-born, English-speaking American, being German was synonymous with beer, swiss cheese, and slavish devotion to a strictly regimented existence. We can thank the singing societies that this stereotype has been nullified in all but the unredeemable hick. And there is more. With the change in our image there advances, hand in hand, a new Anglo-American perspective. The power of German music may succeed in bringing the German-American populace one step closer to the point where Anglo-Americans might say perhaps these "foreigners" aren't so bad after all. When the bigotry in this land has diminished and when the image and worth of the German-American people have risen in like proportion, the cultural influence of German societies and especially that of German singing alliances will be acknowledged.
That the latter will occur is especially important because it relates directly to the inner workings of music.What has been accomplished in the field of music is directly related to the entire musical life of the great North American Republic, which has given to it a new force and a new direction. No less important is the mission of the German-American singing societies - although this may not be clear. Life here grasps the individual harder than anywhere else in the world. The fight for continued existence is more intense than on the other side of the ocean. Work! Make money! These are the words which assault the immigrant's ear as soon as he enters the dock and these words never leave him. Aesthetic pleasure and empathy for the prosperity and misfortune of others tend to disappear with the rush for the dollar. The mother tongue is abandonned. German song brings us back from this everyday existence. Its awe-provoking tone summons us back to the days in our parent's house. It reminds us of our roots. The cool, rational businessman, the tired worker, the overwrought intellectual will remember that there are better and more beautiful things in this world than the almighty dollar. It is no small task for our singing societies to temper the flames of American enterprise with the shield of German spirituality. Our singing societies are aware of their high mission and they are doing their best to rise to the challenge. If they were to forget their language and slump into the same existence as other American clubs, with their interest in sports, they would lose the reason for their existence and disappear into obscurity. Resolutely they will fulfill their cultural mission and thereby validate their continued existence as they establish the principle that "German is spoken here".
Just about everyone sat at long rows of tables set up from one end to the other of the gymnasium of the Arsenal. At 8:15 conductor John Lund went to the podium amid a storm of applause which shook the house. He bowed and with a quick tap of his baton called the orchestra to order. After the Festival Overture, Mayor Diehl was introduced by president pro-temp William Miller. Mayor Diehl extended a heartfelt welcome to the singing guests and encouraged them not to forget the other worthwhile attractions on hand at the Pan-American Exposition. In the name of the United Singing Societies, Charles A. Wenborne, chairman of the reception committee, delivered to those singers in attendance the welcoming address.
Singers from near and far!
The essence of germanic song has formed a niche in the heart of the populace here in Buffalo as well as throughout the country. Here everyone knows what a song festival means. Germans came to this region as foreigners and yet today everyone knows what a sängerfest is since the word has become a part of the popular language. The entire populace of Buffalo, just like the place of our forefathers on the Rhine and the Oder and the Puritan colonies, enthusiastically celebrate the songfest and extend the hand of friendship to its singers.
It is a fact that the administrative authorities of the State of New York know the value of song festivals as witnessed by their willingness to let us revamp the 74th Regimental Armory in order to serve as our concert hall. Tomorrow the United Singing Chorus will fill that giant hall with resounding tones. Then there will be the most beautiful of dedication ceremonies.
You will notice at the Pan-American Exposition that music has wide-spread significance. You will find the Temple of Music to be a most impressive building.
At the afternoon concert on Wednesday a skilled chorus of 3000 school children will perform for you, showing that music is an important part of the future as well - each of the children is proud of his contribution to the song festival. Within each child is budding the conviction that national glory and power are not the ultimate goals of human striving but rather that lifelong happiness is achieved through humanistic works in the field of art, in the circle of happy singers as melody melds one's heart with those of his brothers.
Brothers in song! In this hour where we realize our greatest achievement, with this formidible representation of the German alliance, let us be grateful to every simple German immigrant who planted German song and German tradition in American soil, who cared for and protected the saplings so that the mighty tree would grow, under whose canopy Germans and their contemporaries of other origins can find upliftment and recreation. We wish the best to the North American Singing Society, which has strengthened and augmented the heritage of German-American song. To each and every one of them we offer our warmest welcome!"
The mass choir of the Buffalo singers presented the opening hymn, composed by John Lund. It was beautifully sung and was gratefully recognized by the entire group on hand.
Charles G. Schmidt, President of the Committee of the 29th Saengerfest in Cincinnati (1899) brought the flag, which had been entrusted to him two years ago, up the ramp and delivered a few parting words. He put it into the hands of this year's President,
A sustained and stormy round of applause greeted the appearance of the arriving singers with justified certitude and acknowledgement of the high accomplishments of the society leaders.
Mr. Deiler, whose full-bodied, clear voice could be heard in every corner of the concert hall, said with the passing of the flag:
In the name of the North American Singing society I take this flag from your hands and thank your city for the wonderful festival during which we celebrated the golden jubilee of our society.
This festival was for us a return to our father's house. In 1849 there were 118 singers in our society and the first little house was constructed in Cincinnati. As I said during the jubilee, it was built to "bring the German song from the realm of heaven and give it to the world, to establish a nation of singers from the source of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico - from the pines to the palms - and from the Atlantic Ocean extending past the other side of the Missouri.
And just as the father's house was decorated to celebrate the homecoming, as the heart and hand was extended, as the call of welcome echoed past the windows and doors, so Cincinnati, Queen of the West, prepared and then welcomed us 2 years ago. By that time the North American Singing Society was three times as large and bolstered by the experience of 50 years of triumph. Be thankful, singers from Cincinnati, for what our ancestors were and for what we are now. Be thankful to your city for what she has done for you.
And here we are again, travelling up Lake Erie to Buffalo, flying our banner as we did in 1860 and 1883, proliferating the society's tradition.
What a good idea it was to hold the treasures and the accomplishments of the Pan-American Exposition here in this city, where people from every part of the world can gather to look in awe. Here Germany's sons compliment Columbia's gem.
By this I mean the wonderous gem that is German song. It is the Holy Grail, full of secret power, and capable of giving the soul the sweetest blessing, renewing the world-worn with courage and hope, infusing the oppressed with the air of freedom and the sunlight of wonder, imparting awe and joy in each human heart.
No dragon guards this treasure, no curse accompanies this song's gold, no misfortune awaits the owner. You can grasp this treasure with both hands and watch it grow with every song, benefiting all who partake of it.
This noble treasure of song, particular to the German people, allows us to honor the fatherland. Let it shine, let it resound, until all human hearts are changed through its magical melody and transported from the dust of the everyday world to the almighty ideal.
To you, the brothers of song from Buffalo, I extend the thanks of the society for calling us together. We come as guests and you give us shelter. Our song shall resound under the leadership of your city's concert master. I give to your house the society's blessing with the flag which has brought us success and acclaim.
Hold it high so that the 30th National Society Singing Festival may bring fame to the North American Singing Society and to German song.
Singers, stand and greet the festival city. May Buffalo prosper!
Clamorous applause followed the speaker's address.
A member of the Indianapolis Men's Choir gave the president a laurel wreath with two large white silk bows without further commotion and without further oration.
William Miller, First Vice-President
accepted the flag with the following words:
How highly he esteemed the privilege and how deeply he understood the responsibility. May the following words reflect everything which this flag means to him: "Most honored president and brothers in song! For the honor which you bestow upon me by entrusting the singers of this city with the care of this flag, let me bow at your feet. - It is the banner which German singers have carried for 52 years victoriously and gloriously through difficult times. The flag which has forever established German song from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and incredibly contributed to the culture of our new homeland. It is the flag which has convinced the world that you can live happily in its shadow without becoming oppressed by it.
Mr. President, in handing the society flag to me in order to deliver it to our festival president, I assure you that the brief time in which I take charge of this dear symbol of our united efforts will be the proudest moment of my life. May the group about to receive this flag cherish and protect it as well as your group and other groups of the past.(There was a warm round of applause)
A powerful rendition of Matthias Rohr's gripping poem "Forget Not" with music composed by Henry Jacobsen, was given by the soloist Julie L. Wyman of Buffalo's United Singers. Everyone noticed that the singer had captured the essence of the poet's verse. A mighty storm of applause echoed throughout the hall as the last of the notes resounded. The Aria from "The Queen of Saba" was sung by Julie L. Wyman and the United Singers performed "The Many Musicians", bringing the official program of the first concert to a close.
A very receptive audience greeted the individual and group visitors. Around 11 o'clock there was a might round of hurrahs at the entrance to the hall which wafted from one end of the theater to the other. The sounds of jubilation were reminiscent of a storm at sea.
Scarcely had the last lines of the song been finished when the Bavarian Music Chorus from Old Nuremberg entered with great fanfare. They were greeted with much celebration. Maestro Jacob Peuppus, conductor of the chorus, led the way as the musicians sang the "Star Spangled Banner" and then "To You, the Victor's Laurel".
Amid enthusiastic applause, William J. Buchanan, General Director of the Pan-American Exposition, was introduced to the Chairman of the guest groups, Adolph Fink. Mr. Fink was looking a little worn-out since it was close to midnight.
Mr. Buchanan said that it was a great honor to greet the group in the name of the Pan-American Exposition Company. The company had nostaligically looked forward to their arrival. The weather had not been good for the past few days but certainly their arrival would bring sunshine sure to last until the last concert. The singers should consider Buffalo their home and if there was anything they wanted which they didn't see, they should just ask.(applause) There were more introductions, some people left and a few groups sang - and with a thunderous last dance, the Bavarian musicians closed the opening celebration.
The singing societies taking part in the United Singing Festival are:
One of our brothers of song, of strict Saxon upbringing, wrote to his wife at home in Pittsburg the following poetic letter which we couldn't resist letting our readers in on:
My beloved wife!
Your absent but devoted husband...
Continued on page 5
Translation and Page Design by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks