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Nov. 6, 1903: Birth of an orchestra

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • November 6, 2012 - 2:34 PM

 

The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra's first concert, performed in the magnificent Exhibition Building near Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in southeast Minneapolis, drew a favorable review from newspapers on both sides of the river. The Tribune's music critic was quite taken with the flower arrangements in the unfinished hall.
The orchestra's first violin section in 1903. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

 

FIRST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CONCERT A GREAT SUCCESS

Minneapolis heard its Symphony orchestra last evening for the first time, and judging from the result of the few weeks of rehearsal, the orchestra of fifty men will be one that in every manner carries out the ambitions of the director and concert meister.
 
The audience which was of exceptional size, combined the most fashionable and the most musical people of the two cities, and the large auditorium presented an attractive picture. The stage was hung with green, and banked in palms, with enormous flaunting pink chrysanthemums holding the center of the stage near the director. The same flowers in pale yellow color outlined the stage.
 
Despite the fact that the hall is in a state of unfinish, as it were, the incomplete appearance held no jarring note. Mr. Fayram bespoke the indulgence of the audience, and explained that it was hoped the hall would be entirely arranged for the next concert to be given Tuesday week.
 
Mr. Oberhoffer as director, and Frank Danz as concert-meister, have been nobly supported in their endeavors to present a well-balanced assembly of artists, by the artists themselves, who have worked with success of the most pronounced type for their guiding star.
 
The numbers chosen for the concert last evening were: Prelude to the Meistersinger, Wagner; Symphony in B minor, Schubert; Liszt’s symphonic poem, “Les Preludes”; “Moszkowski’s Serenata”; and the Aragonaise from the ballet suite in “Le Cid,” Massenet, and Rossini’s overture to “William Tell.”
 
Madam Sembrich sang the aria from “Traviata,” Verdi; and the waltz aria of Johann Strauss, “Fruhlingsstimmen,” with orchestra accompaniment, and a group of three songs with piano accompaniment: “Der Nussbaum,” Schumann; “The Lass with the Delicate Air,” Arne; “Staenchen,” Richard Strauss.
 
The stringed instruments in the Moszkowski “Serenata,” and the overture to William Tell were worthy of most mention in the orchestra numbers, the last number especially was given with more fire and life than any other selection. The instruments played in unison and harmony that brought well rounded climaxes and sweeping harmonies of sound. The Moszkowski number was given feelingly, and technically faultless.
 
Madam Sembrich and her beautiful voice with its tones like clear pure colors, was compelled to respond to two encores, and at the closing number a burst of prolonged applause called her again and again before the audience.
 
In her numbers of last evening an impression of reserve power was received that made one long for a song that would call forth the full glory of her splendidly handled voice. “Ah, fors’ e lui,” the aria from Traviata, revealed the beauty of her upper register, and her high notes filled the hall like the proverbial silver ripple of the waterfall.
 
Schumann’s sweet little song, “Der Nussbaum,” gave an opportunity for the display of the deeper tone qualities, and the other numbers completed a song program giving an admirable cycle of changing emotions as portrayed by Madam Sembrich in artistic abandon.
 
C. F. K.

 

The Exposition Building stood above St. Anthony Falls in this postcard image from about 1905. The building was razed in 1940 to make way for a Coca-Cola bottling plant. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)

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