Music at the Exposition


A. Melver-Brisbine. "Music at the Exposition." Omaha Daily Bee 1 June 1898: 7.


Five Months of Vocal and Instrumental Harmony in Store.


The Great Show Will Offer a Liberal Musical Education to Every Visitor Interested in This Side of Its Attractions.

By A. Melver-Brisbine.

No plan that has been conceived for the broadest and best interests of the Transmississippi Exposition should be more happily commented on than the musical work. To tell the average easterner or foreigner that the music will be a leading factor and educator in any western exposition is to cause prompt unbelief. Not long since, while in Boston, I had a chat with Mr. Philip Hale, the eminent critic and lecturer, and as I unfolded the scheme that was to be carried out by Director Kimball, he laughed and said: "Why, it is simply wonderful; we in Boston can hardly grasp the idea." Never before in the history of any exposition in America will such attention have been given the American composer. It is going to be first, last and all the time American music. to prove the fallacy existing abroad that America has no music. It should have been done years ago, but it rests with Omaha to gain the happy prestige.

Great interest centers upon the music for the opening day. Rendered by the exposition chorus, 150 strong, increased by the chorus from Lincoln of 150 members, the great hymn of welcome, composed especially in honor of the occasion by Mrs. H. H. A. Beech of Boston, the words by Mr. Henry Blossom, jr., of St. Louis, should be a great and glorious invitation, artistically sung to all our friends east and west, to extend their interests to the exposition. A most interesting plan has been the engaging of the Apollo club of Chicago, which will be entertained in Omaha for three days, giving three of their famous works, the "Messiah," "Elijah," the "Swan and the Skylark" and an interesting mixed program.

The Thomas orchestra, opening the first day, will continue an engagement of five weeks. This will be a delightful musical treat, as well as a broad educator to every-body attending the exposition. Their programs will consist of the most famous orchestral works and not an empty seat should be seen in the auditorium during their sojourn with us. The soloists already arranged for are Mesdames. Jenny Osborne Hannah, Genevieve Clark-Wilson, Katherine Fisk, Messers. K. Cowper, Frank King Clark, Charles W. Clark, George Hamlin. and several others yet being decided upon for the early days in June. Velvet voiced Katherine Bloodgood if not abroad will probably be obtained early in June. Music Treats in Store.

For the fall, towards September and October, one may expect to see and bear David Bispham, Ysaye, Joseffy, Sydney Eiden, Corinne-Moore-Lawson and many others prominently known in the musical world. Director Kimball's interest is continuous, his plans interesting and the whole scope of the work from beginning to end has been on a broad cosmopolitan basis. Sufficiently unique to attract even the attention of the composers themselves is the idea of three days of original manuscripts by famous American composers. Works vocal and instrumental that have not as yet been beard are to be given for the first time during these concerts. E. A. McDowell, who occupies the chair of music at the Columbia college; Ethelbert Nevin, Mrs. H. H. A. Beech of Boston; George W. Chadwick, director of music of the New England university of Boston; Margaret Lang, Henry Holden Huss, Edgar Kelley are those al-ready expressing their interest in the plan and others are coming daily into the field. The best artists will be engaged to give these programs and the plan is to be a successful one.

A word of special praise should be given the exposition chorus of 200 members who have worked so long and faithfully over the various works allotted them and have been ably drilled by Mr. Thomas J. Kelly, director. A book was specially published for the chorus containing the following complete works:

I have had the pleasure of listening to two or three rehearsals and I can truthfully say that the Omaha chorus is doing as artistic work as any of the eastern choruses with whom I am familiar. They have no small part in the makeup of the musical scheme for the exposition and it is the pleasure in, anticipation to hear them during the season.

Mr. Thomas J. Kelly was an excellent choice to generally superintend the musical work at Omaha connected with his department. He is a brilliant, clever man, with exceptional talents, and not so many years will elapse before he is heard of in a cosmopolitan way throughout the east as well as the west. Mr. Kimball feels quite jubilant over what has been accomplished, and to know him personally is to realize that he has made and will continue to keep the music of paramount interest during the five months of the exposition.

All of the brass band music will also be arranged for by the director, and if the fates are propitious, the greatest bands of our country will be heard. The visitor will be helped in his sightseeing by delightful strains from the Washington Marine, Iowa's famous band, then Sousa in all the glory of a dozen new marches, with his magic baton; it will be a continuous gala time of sweet sounds. Even with the distant mumblilngs of discontent heard now and again along musical lines, less trouble has resulted in the work of the musical plans than is usually the case.

Acoustics of the Auditorium.

The Auditorium, where "harmony" will prevail, is a perfect little home for music. The stage is broad, the acoustics excellent, seats comfortable, and nothing is left to be desired. Several lectures of interest on musical topics are to be arranged, and, unless he is in Europe, we are to hear Mr. Philip Hale of Boston, in a famous talk on Russian music. This would be of marked interest, as Mr. Hale Is a most forceful and interesting speaker—as his pen is clear in writing. Preparations for the National Congress of Musicians, to be held In Omaha at the end of June, have progressed far enough to render it possible to submit an outline of the work to be presented and a partial list of those who are to take part in it. Much remains to be done, perfecting the program for the recitals and concerts, the details of which will be announced later on.

The congress will begin its sessions on the morning of Thursday, June 30, and will close on the evening of Monday, July 4. The days will be devoted to essays and recitals; the evenings to concerts. The Transmississippi Exposition has very generously placed at the disposal of the Bureau of Education, for these concerts, the Thomas orchestra and the Auditorium upon the exposition grounds.

As the first step in the organization of the congress the Bureau of Education appointed

Mr. Homer Moore chairman of the executive committee of the congress and authorized him to select six gentlemen to constitute the remainder of the committee. Six have already accepted the positions offered them as follows: Louis C. Elson, Boston; William H. Sherwood, Chicago; Gerrit Smith, New York; A. M. Feel Pittsburg; Ernst R. Kroeger, St. Louis, John C. Fillmore, California.

These gentlemen are representative, musicians of national reputation, leaders the advancement of art in their sections o the country. Mr. Bison, musical editor of the Boston Advertiser, is a writer, lecturer and teacher second to none in the United States. Mr. Sherwood is universally characterized as "America's greatest pianist" and is moreover a composer of marked ability. Mr. Foerster is one of the most original of our native composers and is especially successful in the classical forms. Mr. Kroeger Is pianist and composer, the director of a fine music school and a writer upon musical subjects. Mr. Fillmore is a specialist in that department of Indian ethnology which pertains to music, and he is one of the best known original investigators in that domain in the world.

Program for Monte Congress.

The program for each day includes four essays upon carefully selected subjects, two recitals and an evening concert, as stated above. Among the subjects and their ex-pounders already determined are the following: "The Beautiful in Music and in Nature," Johannes Wolfram, of Cleveland; "Music as a Factor in an American Education," George C. Low, Vassar college; "The Piano and Emotion," Constantine Sternberg, of Philadelphia; "The Relativity of Tones," A. J. Goodrich, of Chicago; "Our National Music," Louis C. Elson, of Boston; "The Soul of Beethoven's Music," Albert Ross Parsons, New York; "Music in the Public Schools," N. Coe Stewart, of Cleveland; "The Harmonic Basis of Indian Music," John C. Fillmore, of Claremont, Cal.; "Indian Music and Ethnology," Miss Alice C. Fletcher, of Washington, D. C.; "The Influence Upon Music of Greek and German Mythology," John S. VanCleve, of Chicago; "Music and the Development of Child Individuality," William C. Tomlins, of Chicago.

It is the intention to devote this congress particularly to the advantage of American music and American musicians. No more fitting opportunity will ever be presented than tills one for the advancement of Americanism in musical art, and the generous co-operation of the leading musicians of the whole country insures its fulfillment. The American composer is to have right of way at every concert and recital, and his productions will be placed side by side with the greatest works that Europe has given us. Monday, July 4, will be called "American Music day" and will be devoted especially to a disccusion of hte various phases of American musci—past, present and future. The programs will be made up of compositions by American and an earnest effort will be made to so celebrate our national holiday that it will mark an epoch in the history of music on this continent. Saturday, July 2, will be called "Indian Music Day," and will be devoted to an exposition of the results of original research in the music of the aborigines of Alaska, the United Staets and Mexico. The services of John C. Fillmore, principal of the musical department of Pomona university, California, and of Miss Alice C. Fletcher of Washington, D. C., have already been secured, and they will deliver addresses upon the music of the Indians of the United States. They will be assisted by Mr. Francis La Flesche, an Indian, now a resident of Washington, D. C., who will sing a number of Indian songs, to illustrate the addresses. Mr. Fillmore and Miss Fletcher are original investigators in the domain of Indian music, and are well known to ethnological students not only in America, but in Europe. They will not only give to the world for the firs ttime, at this congress, a number of most important facts but recently discovered, but will also advocate some theories relative to what may be called natural selection in musical evolution, which will, without doubt, shed important light upon the very important subject of the nature and origin of primitive music. It is expected that two other investigators, well known in their departments, will co-operate with Mr. Fillmore and Miss Fletcher, and deal with the music of the Alaskans and the Aztecs. The evening concerts will be devoted to composition founded upon Indian themes, among which will be heard the famous "Indian Suite," recently composed by McDowell, and a symphonic poem, composed by Ernst Kroeger of St. Louis.