University Libraries


UA MUSIC LIBRARY READING ROOM NOTES



No. 3 (2000-01)

Compiled by the Music Library Staff



Mark Germer, Music Librarian; Lars Halle & Aaron Meicht, Circulation Supervisors



(To contact the editor see the end of this page.)


Included in this issue:

In Conversation with Donald Chittum
A Chronology of Music in Philadelphia to 1900 (Part 1)
A Chronology of Music in Philadelphia to 1900 (Part 2)






In Conversation with Donald Chittum

Professor of Music Donald Chittum, a long-time faculty member and former director of the School of Music, sat down with the UArts Music Library staff to record for us his perspective on the School in its various incarnations. The following excerpts from this conversation have been condensed and edited for continuity, though we have tried to retain the informal tone. Those who would like to hear the complete interview may do so in the Music Library. We began by asking Professor Chittum how he first came to the Philadelphia Conservatory.

The Philadelphia Conservatory of Music was patterned on the European type of conservatory. In other words, it was not a comprehensive type of university-oriented school that was post-secondary, necessarily, and that gave degrees. There were all kinds of instruction going on in the conservatory for musicians as early as four, five, six years old, all the way up through degree-bearing [i.e., granting] programs. I say that as a prelude to mentioning that I started at the conservatory when I was in high school [in Atlantic City]. And I was accepted in the degree program--this was in 1948, my senior year in high school. So, that was a wonderful time for me, and in 1948 I was taking music theory, eartraining, orchestration, counterpoint, and music history--all of these kinds of things that were very important--piano, violin--when I was still in high school. I had started studying theory and harmony when I was about 12 or 13, privately with some members of rather prestigious orchestras. I remember one especially, who was a principal clarinetist at the Pittsburgh Symphony. His name was Herbert Cuff and he taught me theory while I was still taking drum and percussion lessons. When I was in high school, there were a couple of students from Atlantic City who were enrolled in the [Philadelphia] Conservatory, and who were having trouble with their harmony assignments, and asked me to help them. And they said, "Well, why don't you go and check out the school? You look like you might do very well there." I did, and that started my career. I guess I've now been connected with the school in one way or another for 52 years!

I stayed on with the school through two years at the collegiate level and then "made myself available" for military service. I went into the Army for nearly two years. I [joined] in October of 1950 and came out in the early summer of 1952. It was a wonderful experience. I was a band-training, non-commissioned officer. I was a conductor. It was wonderful for me because I learned how to teach, really to teach, in the Army. I learned that, first of all you have to make things very clear to people. And also you have to not ask anybody to do anything you wouldn't do yourself. They are just a few simple rules but they are very, very important.


In the 1950s the Conservatory boasted an internationally acclaimed faculty. Professor Chittum recalled some of the important figures teaching there at that time.

I took a year off and came back in the Fall of '53. [So I came back to] the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. And [the composer Vincent] Persichetti was there, the composer-conductor Boris Koutzen was there, and [the composer and pianist Edward] Steuermann was there; [the pianist Olga] Samaroff-Stokowski--was no longer there when I got back, but [had been] there when I left. [Also the famous pianist] William Kappel was at the school slightly before I started as a student, or had finished working with Olga Samaroff-Stokowski. I didn't know him personally. Evelyn Christman-Quick was the music history teacher. There was a string teacher named [William] Bless. Abe Pepinsky was a very, very fine violist, and he also had a very strong background in the science of music--in acoustics, in the psychology of perception, things of that nature. So he came to the Musical Academy before the merger of the Conservatory with the Academy, and taught courses in psychology and acoustics and related academic areas to music. He was very brilliant; he aslo served as Academic Dean of the Academy. Joe Arcaro was on the piano faculty. John Carlin was very important to me--he was a piano teacher and a guide to me. He gave me all contemporary piano music to play instead of the usual five-finger exercises. Allison Drake was on the piano faculty. Joseph Castaldo [came to study at this time, and] we were classmates together. Steuermann above all was phenomenal. Phenomenal teacher. Olga Samaroff-Stokowski was also one of those teachers who almost become a mother to her students.

We asked Professor Chittum about his transition from student to credentialed faculty member.

I finished the degree program, I think, in 1955. But, because of the way my program was arranged--there was a two-year master's[-degree] program--I started the master's program concurrently with the bachelor's. A very important teacher for me was Katherine Grube. [The director at this time was] Maria Ezerman-Drake. And her son was Hendrik Drake. He ultimately became the director of the school when it merged with the Academy. But Katherine Grube was phenomenal. As a matter of fact, when I was in the master's program I was her graduate assistant. And that's how I got the job here. She developed an incurable cancer, and so she talked to Mrs. Drake and said "Look, it doesn't make much sense to hire a substitute when Don has been working with me, now, for two years." When it came to make the appointment for the following year, Mrs. Drake said: "Would you like the job?" [Katherine Grube taught] theory, eartraining, keyboard harmony. And she was wonderful to me.

Professor Chittum continued his education while evolving into a full time professor.

I studied conducting privately with Persichetti. We [worked on] literature that went well beyond what the conducting classes did. My master's degree concentration was in 20th-century harmony and he was working on the 20th-century harmony book at the same time. So we had a lot to talk about. His conducting class, for me, was priceless. We covered a lot of the 20th-century literature. I worked with Sol Schoenbach and Oscar Shumsky [as] chamber music coaches, in the summer program for about five years in Ventnor, New Jersey, called the Ventnor Youth Orchestra. Here I was in my twenties with two guys that were phenomenal in their knowledge of repertoire and experience. I was just quaking in my boots whenever I was around Shumsky especially. I was on the faculty and I was working towards a doctorate part-time, 'till '63 when I got my doctorate, with a major in theory and a minor in conducting. I studied both with Koutzen, formally, and [on my own] with Persichetti.

Professor Chittum also spoke about the problems beginning to face many of the smaller institutions in Philadelphia at the time.

There had been waves of G.I. Bill students flooding colleges and schools everywhere throughout the country from the Second World War and even after the Korean War. So the schools had an influx of students whose tuition was being paid for by the government, and they were flourishing. By the end of the '50s those students weren't there anymore. But these were, most of them, proprietary institutions. In other words they weren't public, just musicians [who] banded together and created a school--got a charter from the state. But it became rather evident to many of them that [survival would be difficult] because of the working conditions. There were theaters in Philadelphia employing musicians, there were hotels employing musicians. But the jobs for live musicians were [disappearing] and that was the beginning of the end; and we can see that [this process] is still continuing today. With the recording and electronic means of reproduction all of those [employment opportunities] started to go away. The schools really found out that they couldn't attract students to remain viable.

Apart from The Curtis Institute of Music and The Academy of Vocal Arts--small, exclusively scholarship institutions--there were several conservatories of music in central Philadelphia: Combs Conservatory (from 1885), The Neupauer and Sternberg schools (about which little is known), Temple's School at 1521 Locust, The New School of Music (from 1943), The Philadelphia Musical Conservatory, and The Musical Academy. We asked Professor Chittum to locate for us the original spot of the Conservatory and the Academy.

The Conservatory was at 220 S. 20th St.--the building no longer exists; there were two buildings there, 220 and 224. And the Academy was at 1617 Spruce St., where the Garden Restaurant is now, and you can seen the plaque out in front that they've been kind enough to keep: that is the plaque from the original school.

Most small schools with a life as long as this one will go through difficult times. Professor Chittum talked about the first of several transformations that would eventually lead to the University of the Arts.

Hendrik [Drake] and Joe Castaldo and I were very close friends, and we kept talking about the plight of both institutions; and over many long evenings and much beer we said: "Why don't we talk to the powers that be in our own schools and see if a merger couldn't be facilitated." It came to pass in 1962--in the spring of that year the schools had completed a merger. And [thus] began their first year as the Academy--'62-'63 was the first year that we taught as one body and both student bodies were merged. The reason why the name "Academy" was kept rather than "Conservatory" or Conservatory-Academy, or something like that, was that the Academy's charter was a multifaceted, multi-purposed [one] from the State. In other words, it allowed for a greater number of programs to be created without seeking a revision of the charter. So the Conservatory charter was returned to the State and the Academy's was kept. I think we still have the Academy's charter upstairs in [the current director] Marc Dicciani's office. The schools came together and became one school with a new program, a whole new curriculum, and put it very solidly on a collegiate level.

Pepinsky remained as dean during the time of the merger of the Conservatory and the Academy, [under] Castaldo. After he retired [the composer] Arthur Custer came in. [With this appointment,] we were looking to become more and more collegiate in our physiognomy, so to speak. We felt that we had to get Middle-States and NASM accreditations. The accreditation was a matter of standing in the profession, [and] it opened up the possibility of foundation support. It also gives the students [a] greater sense of legitimacy. And it makes student transfers easier, in and out of the school, [or] going on to higher education.

Arthur Custer worked very hard to help us get a curriculum together and credit-hour things--the kinds of things that are just standard in colleges, where in the old days people used to pay by the courses. Another school, outside music, that was having a problem--the same kind of problem these other schools were having--was the Philadelphia Dance Academy; same problems, but in another field. Ultimately, they merged [in 1977] with the Academy so that we had a dance department.


The new institution still had little in the way of capital. It had its buildings and some pianos, but the student body supplied orchestra instruments and scores. We asked Professor Chittum what it was like for the students during those early years.

[There was] a mini-chamber orchestra. Maybe three or four violins, just enough to cover the parts. Not many brasses. Most of the students in the conservatory were either composers, pianists, or singers. I would say ninety percent. And consequently the chamber music ensembles were things like: Class for piano trio (with piano, violin, and cello), or there would be maybe a sonata class (if there was a trumpet, then there were certain trumpet sonatas that could be played with piano), but everything was built around the piano. There might have been a quartet every once in a while--a string quartet. They did a lot of solo vocal literature, and arias, but not opera productions. Every once in a while there might have been a one-acter put on. You know, maybe Pagliacci. There were programs in which there would be a spring concert, and [the] chorus would be involved. And they would perform big choral [works] like the Brahms [Deutsches] Requiem. Or if they wanted to do Cavalleria [Rusticana] they'd have to hire an orchestra, you know, to give the singers an opportunity. Almost every faculty member would play at least one major recital [during] the school a year.

In the Academy [the great American composer] Roy Harris taught as visiting professor. He still lived out West, but he came once a week. At the time of the merger there were a number of people on the faculty who had a long-standing relationship with both schools. It was almost like a love, a "family kind of thing." And some of them really were pressed--for instance, Vincent Persichetti came in two days a week to the Conservatory at the same time he taught two or three days at Juilliard. It was really draining him, and his career was just flying at the time. That's when Persichetti decided that he would [only] keep his three days or so at Juilliard [and discontinue his teaching in Philadelphia]. So then Castaldo became the head of the composition department for both schools. And I was heading musicianship and theory. A lot of faculty from both schools merged into one faculty, but a lot of new people started to come in [also]. [The composer] Mike White came in. He's now still at Juilliard. And there was Bob Suderberg. Andy Rudin came in from Penn, [and there were other] young composers. It was a very exciting time. Then, of course there were a lot of very fine perfomers who came in as well. Philadelphia Orchestra people were the base of the performance faculty. Maureen Forrester [taught voice] for a number of years. [This exciting period lasted,] I would say, a good ten years.

Late in the '60s Andy Rudin had come over [having received] his graduate degree from Penn. He was the [electronic] studio assistant at Penn. [With his help and Castaldo's support,] we got the second Moog synthesizer [ever built]. Robert Moog came and installed it and spent a week or two here with Andy, showing us how to use it. I was using it, Mike White was using it, Castaldo was using it. But Castaldo didn't stay with it long at all because it was just too "mechanical" for him. Andy brought that technology over to the school and taught classes, and all the faculty members were very excited about the potential. We would make trips a couple times a year to the Princeton-Columbia studio with [Vladimir] Ussachevsky and [Mario] Davidovsky. [Milton] Babbitt [of Princeton University] was also involved. Babbitt was the Princeton representative and Ussachevsky [represented] Columbia. [The composer of electronic music] Davidovsky also did some teaching for us, [and led the] New Music Ensemble. Also Bob Morris was here. He came in the 80s and taught several years. There were a lot of good composers coming through. There have been some very exciting times, and I think that Castaldo was the guy that made that happen.


Another evolutionary step began to take shape in the 1970s under the directorship of Joseph Castaldo.

We expanded along Spruce Street and then [into] the Lu Lu Temple building, which was 313 South Broad Street, [when it] came on the market. By that time, Hendrik Drake, who had been the first director of the combined operation back in '62 resigned from the position and Joseph Castaldo became the director in the late '60s. He saw the opportunity to get that building to move the school over. And with that movement over to 313, the name was changed to the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts as it exists now within our institution, to allow for theater, dance, and music.

While we were in that building the name of the school changed from the Philadelphia Musical Academy to the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, [which it was called for] about ten years. And at that time Castaldo was really interested in making us--in terms of administrative structure--a real academic institution. So he created a new administrative structure and had three deans brought in. [He established positions for] dean of students, dean of administration, [and] dean of faculty. Richard Castillion was the dean of students. He was a pied piper [who mentored many students]. And he was a wind ensemble person. The best I've ever seen. The best conductor--and [skilled in working] with the students. He'd make them play so well they surprised themselves.

[Another important figure was] Clem[ent] Petrillo, a phenomenal pianist from the "old school" [with an] Italian conservatory-type training. He was very thorough in his teaching, very demanding. He taught solfeggio when the schools merged, and piano, at the Academy. Ultimately he became head of the piano department, [but he also served as Dean, after Arthur Custer]. He was a facilitator, and an implementor, and made sure that things got done. He served Joe very well in that way. He was dean for, I would say, about eight years. Then [Fred] Kaufman briefly served as dean and director of the School of Music. When he left the institution, they decided that they wanted to have a separate dean and a separate director of the school. So they hired Steve Jay and in the same year they asked me if I would be director of the School of Music. Finally, the same thing happened, in a way, at the Philadelphia College of Art [and Design]: again, the separateness didn't seem to insure a healthy viability for the future. And Joe Castaldo had always had a dream of a college, or university, of the arts. In Pennsylvania, the university charter stipulated a certain number of graduate programs. What we had all done--both the College of Art and PCPA--[was make the decision] not to offer [advanced] graduate degrees. I got one of the few doctorates, one of the last ones. The idea was to build the school up from below--to have a solid undergraduate program and then to work on master's programs. Both [also] had extensive preparatory departments, [as when] I first came almost 20 years earlier.


Professor Chittum was involved at each phase of these developments.

[Eventually] I held a variety of--you name whatever--positions. I was Chairman of Composition and Theory, and then I was Director of Graduate Studies for a while and then I was in charge of certain specialized programs. I was kind of like the troubleshooter I guess, [whenever] they needed somebody to do a certain kind of a thing, just like my being the Director of the School of Music here [after the merger with PCAD]. [After the merger which was formulated in '86-'87,] the plan was that I would take the school through [the NASM] process in 1990 and then stay on for another year. It took a couple years--I think I stayed 2 or 3 years after--until about '93, and then I went back into the teaching faculty, and my administrative assistant at the time, Marc Dicciani was appointed director.

We asked Professor Chittum to discuss in more detail some of the influential people present throughout his time at the School.

Edward Steuermann


I never studied with Steuermann, but I knew the students who did study, my fellow students. He had a way of teaching at the Conservatory where the student would take a two-hour lesson every other week instead of an hour lesson. And they could play anything they wanted, it didn't matter what they brought. The studio had glass doors, it was like French doors, [and] you could see what was going in there when you walked by. And they would put the music [unopened] up on the piano, and it would sit there, and then they would start to play. And then, maybe about after ten minutes you would hear Steuermann say, "No..." He'd go over to the piano and play [from memory] the piece that they were working on. He knew everything! He played everything! And that's the [kind of] mind that I was exposed to.


Oscar Shumsky


With Shumsky [it was similar]. He and I and Shoenbach were working in the summer and my job was to coach woodwinds and brasses--chamber music. But one night I was conducting one of the Mozart Serenades and I said to Oscar, "Why don't you come in. I'd like you to hear a rehearsal and maybe talk to me about it." So, I had the students set up in the conventional way which was, I think, an octet--2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons was the instrumentation. And he listened for the first half and then I said, "I'm having trouble with balances, and I'm also having trouble when the flute and clarinet or the flute and oboe are playing in octaves, [with] intonation and ensemble." So he says, "can I try something?" And I said, "Yeah." So he says, "We're going to sit the two flutes and the two oboes together right in a row [of] four, [with] the two oboes, the two clarinets and two bassoons right behind them, so there [will be] two rows of four with the first players in the middle of the box." He says, "Now try it." And the problem went away. He says, "Well, you know it sounds much better, but you know that part where such-and-such is happening?" He goes over and starts to play the piece on the piano--a woodwind piece. He's a string player! And he played for, like, five [or] ten minutes, talking--just playing this piece. And I'm saying to myself, "What am I doing here?"


Vincent Persichetti


Persichetti--the same thing. We walk into class, and I remember specifically, students would bring scores--full scores of their own work--and he'd play through them [with] no problem, all [parts] transposed--nothing to it. What he couldn't play he'd sing. And I remember that we all thought "He's seen the piece a couple weeks in a row, so he's got a feel for it." One day a kid went down to [the music publisher] Elkan-Vogel, and they had just published Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. He put it up [on the piano and] showed it to Persichetti. Persichetti was like a vacuum cleaner. You put a score [in front of] him, he had to grab it and put it on a piano, you know. And he starts to play this thing, this full orchestral score. [I also had] conducting lessons one-on-one with him. Our lessons were: He'd play the piano and I would conduct him. He would give me pieces like Ruy Blas--the overture by Mendelssohn--where it starts and stops, and starts and stops. Or things like Beethoven['s] First Symphony, at the end of the introduction where the tempo changes, and how do you get that four-five note descending passage in the time of the new movement, from the old to the new one. It's very tricky. We were doing the Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements, I think. We got to a place where there's a big oboe solo, and he doesn't play it. And he's just playing along, playing along. And I said: "Dr. Persichetti, I'm not hearing the oboe." He says: "Oh yeah!" I say: "What [do you mean] 'Oh yeah'?" He says: "He's not playing!" I say: "Why isn't he playing?" He says: "He's lost. You remember back on page 22, you missed a very important cue after he had rested for about five minutes, and you didn't cue him."


Theodore Antoniou


One of the important things that Joe Castaldo did was to hire [the Greek composer and conductor] Theodore Antoniou to teach [at first] some of the theory classes, like the fugue class [and] orchestration. What then happened was that a tremendous emphasis on [the musical] avant-garde--not only 20th-century music, but [experimental] avant-garde music--developed very quickly. Then [as I described before] we had composers coming in: [Morton] Feldman, [Ernst] Krenek, [Milton] Babbitt, [Vladimir] Ussachevsky--anybody that was anywhere in New York, or any passing through Philly, going from Philly to Chicago or New York to Chicago. Also [John] Cage, [Pierre] Boulez. Boulez was here conducting the [Philadelphia] Orchestra. Theodore had him come in. Theodore knew all of these people because he conducted their music in Greece and here, so he was in correspondence with these people with questions about the pieces and things of that nature. [Karlheinz] Stockhausen [visited] the School--he was teaching at Penn. [In the late '60s to the early '80s,] there was just one big-name composer after another. Theodore stayed, I guess, 'till about '85. He's a wonderful, wonderful person. Again, an inspiration to me. There's an old adage: If you want to be better you've got to play with players who are better than you. Not where you're the best player in the group, but where you're the worst. And that's when you get better. Fortunately, I think I owe whatever success I've had in my career to the fact that I've always been surrounded by people who have been so much better at what they do than I could be at what they do, and then I've learned from them.

[In these years, too, the students and faculty performed major works with Antoniou, such as Stravinsky's] Les Noces--we did that twice. We did Les Noces twice because there were always good pianists at the School. And you need four pianos to do Les Noces. Theodore did a lot of large orchestral works. Sometimes Theodore was the conductor, not always--and he was a marvelous conductor. We used to do annual concerts in the Convention Hall, the one up on 34th Street. I heard some of the standard works conducted in those concerts like Tchaikovsky's Fourth [Symphony], or Debussy['s] La Mer or the Nocturnes--Theodore conducted these--that were just mind-shattering performances. With the School orchestra!


By all accounts, the Castaldo-Antoniou years were a most exciting time when the School had a distinctive focus. Integrated into the conservatory curriculum, experimental and avant-garde music was being championed with an awareness of new developments--some ultimately of lasting interest, some not--throughout the world. The students were part of a vital community. We asked Professor Chittum why, apart from the economic advantages of the influx of students, the school seemed to thrive so wonderfully at this time.

It has much to do with personality, because strong leaders of a school--if they are there any appreciable amount of time--put their stamp on the school, and give it a focus, an orientation. No school can do everything. The administration simply wanted it, not tolerated it--wanted it! [Castaldo] wanted it, and worked [to sustain] it. Consequently, a lot of people did things for nothing; Boulez never got a nickel for coming here as a guest! I remember that many of our courses had a very heavy concentration in 20th-century literature--[notably] the ensembles. I also taught courses in Music Lit[erature] that were devoted to specific things. I taught a course in Beethoven quartets, just the Beethoven quartets, to undergraduates. There were courses in music literature or vocal chamber music--very specialized for a small group of people. That's expensive, to have ten kids in a class, you know--and for that to be a quarter, maybe, of a teacher's load--to teach just those ten students is very expensive. Somebody has to say, "that's important"--somebody at the top. But somehow there was support in the [School and beyond in the local] community, and there were people who believed in what was going on, and so a lot of these things came off.



A Chronology of Music in Philadelphia to 1900 (Part 1)

by Mark Germer

A chronology can serve as a preliminary step on the way to narrative history, a sketch in which few images take suggestive form. What follows is a selective and provisional notice of dates and facts relevant to the history and growth of musical communities in Philadelphia, derived from sources accessible in the Reading Room of the Music Library. Many entries have yet to be corroborated with sufficient sources to qualify them as solid; corrections and emendations are solicited.


1694
Hermits of the Wissahickon and Women in the Wilderness, German pietist sects, settle in the valley between Germantown and Roxborough, bringing viols and other instruments. Virginals of the lady's sect are the first recorded keyboard instruments in Pennsylvania. The Hermits become known as organ-builders. (The community will move to Ephrata in 1735.)

1697
Swedish organist Jonas Auren settles in Philadelphia; plays the (new?) organ by 1703 at the Old Swede's Church, in Wicaco, southwest Philadelphia.

1698
Johannes Kelpins begins compilation of the Hermit's hymn book, with hymns composed by members of the community.

1704
Christopher Witt, keyboardist and organ-bulder, joins the German pietists; purchases virginals from the Wilderness community in 1725; builds a large pipe organ in his home in Germantown.

1716
Friends, or Quakers, issue a statement condemning plays, music, and dancing in Philadelphia. Music will play no role in the well-known Friends Schools of Philadelphia until the 20th century (Germantown Friends School purchases its first piano in 1914 and appoints its first music teacher in 1927).

1726
Early records of "English and Negro Servants" receiving instruction in psalmody at Trinity Church (to 1751).

1728
Pipe organ installed in Christ Church.

1729
First music printed in Philadelphia, a psalm book, by the Franklin Press.

1730
Goettliche Liebes und Lobes Gethoene, 1st of three hymnbooks printed by Benjamin Franklin's printshop for the Ephrata Community (other volumes followed in 1732 and 1736).

First published advertisement for music lessons in a Philadelphia newspaper, including "playing on the spinet".

1737
Francis Hopkinson born; will become Colonial composer and promoter of concerts, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

1739
Early publications of sacred music by Andrew Bradford and Christopher Saur.

The American Band, an ensemble of German immigrants, formally constituted.

(or 1737?) Johann Klemm (or John Clemm) of Philadelphia completes first pipe organ built wholly in the Colonies; will be installed at Trinity Church, New York.

1740
George Whitfield, noted traveling preacher, gives several public sermons in the city, resulting in the cessation of public music-making; Alexander Hamilton notes in his diaries that the effects of those sermons were still felt in 1744.

Members of the American Band found first Association for the support of concerts in the Colonies.

1742
Gustavus Hesselius, Swedish organ builder, established; builds first American spinets and virginals.

1743
Two organs, as well as brass and string choirs, in use by Philadelphia Moravian Congregation at Broad and Race Streets.

1744
Philadelphia Music Club sponsors private concerts in coffee house, as recorded by Alexander Hamilton on visit to the City.

1745
Congregational song noted at newly founded synagogue by the community Mikve Israel.

1748
Organ heard at St. Joseph's Church in Willing's Alley, Philadelphia's first Catholic church. John Adams later remarked on the quality of the chant singing here, in his diary of 1774.

Philadelphia Dancing Assembly formed at City Tavern, on 2nd Street, north of Walnut.

1749
John Beals advertises as teacher of several musical instruments (Pennsylvania Gazette March 21).

The Kean-Murray Company presents musical plays (ballad operas?) at Plumstead's Warehouse, King Street.

1752
First music printed in Philadelphia from movable type, the hymnbook of Christopher Saur, Kern alter und neuer, in 700 bestehender, geistreicher Lieder.

1754
Flora, or Hob in the Well, British ballad opera, previously performed at Charleston, SC, presented (at College of Philadelphia); the first specific identifiable music drama performance in Philadelphia.

Visiting Hallam Troupe of London stages ballad operas at Plumstead Warehouse--against opposition of the Friends and the Governor.

1757
Thomas Arne's masque, Alfred, produced by Francis Hopkinson at College of Philadelphia (later named University of Pennsylvania).

First Philadelphia Public Concert, January 25, at the Assembly Room, in Lodge Alley (advertisement in January 20 Pennsylvania Gazette, but no programs survive); under the direction of John Palma. At the second concert, March 17, George Washington is in attendance. Appears to be the first known chamber music subscription series in the Colonies.

1758
The Hallam Troupe, reconstituted as The Old American Opera Company, returns to Philadelphia; also some performances at Society Hill in 1759.

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, Philadelphia branch, offers training to slaves in singing of the psalms.

1759
Francis Alberti advertises as teacher of the violin "according to the new Italian method" (Pennsylvania Gazette December 13).

Michael Hillegas operates first music store in the American Colonies (to 1774), offering instruments, tutors, ruled paper, strings, and sheet music. (He later becomes the first treasurer of the United States.)

Probable founding of The Orpheus Club, the earliest forerunner of the glee club music societies at the University of Pennsylvania.

1760
Organ installed at College Hall; will be played often by Francis Hopkinson.

1761
Publication of Urania, or A choice collection of Psalm Tunes, Anthems and Hymns, with 198 pages of music, by James Lyon, printed partly in 1760, sold by subscription in 1761, advertised for sale to general public in 1762; most successful of all the English language tune books.

1762
Benjamin Franklin modifies the European conception of musical glasses, turning them sideways on a rod, thus inventing what he calls the "glass armonica"; Mozart, Haydn, and others will subsequently write compositions for it.

1763
Collection of Psalm Tunes compiled by Francis Hopkinson.

James Bremner, Scottish organist and concertmaster, settles in Philadelphia, to become organist at both St. Peters and Christ Church.

Reaction against the Quaker opposition to music, in anonymous pamphlet, "The Lawfulness, Excellences, and Advantage of Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of God."

1764
Subscription concerts advertised in the Pennsylvania Journal, held at the Assembly Room, Lodge Alley.

1766
Old American Opera Company opens the Southwark Theatre, the first venue in the Colonies to become known by the phrase Opera House; the same season also offers Thomas Arne's Thomas and Sally.

1767
First ballad opera composed by an American (Andrew Bartón) is announced, aptly named The Disappointment; the performance is canceled on account of its satyrical plot.

1770
Hallam Company presents the Masque of Comus of John Milton, presumably to the music of Henry Lawes.

Peter Erben born in Philadelphia; will become well-known organist and composer of church music in New York City.

Hopkinson assumes post of organist at Christ Church.

1774
One Vidal, guitarist and mandolinist, concertizes in Philadelphia.

H. Viktor, German inventor, settles in Philadelphia (invents "trumpet with drums" instrument).

1775
(or 1774?) John Behrent, piano maker, established; manufactures the first American piano.

1776
Revolutionary period and British occupation. American theatrical works banned to 1779. British entertainments flourish privately, including a flotilla from the Delaware to the City with musicians on barges in May 1778, just before the British evacuate; Daniel Smith, operator of City Tavern, must flee with them, as a Tory loyalist.

1778
The Philadelphia Dancing Assembly reconstituted; dance orchestra music begins a new ascent in popularity.

1781
Hopkinson's Temple of Minerva performed, an "oratorial" entertainment.

1782
German flutist Wilhelm Braun settles in Philadelphia.

1783
Alexander Juhan, violinist from Charleston, settles in Philadelphia.

1784
Arrival of Andrew Adgate, singing teacher, who founds the Institute for the Encouragement of Church Music.

1785
Urania Society founds Adgate Free School, a singing school operating to 1793; Andrew Adgate publishes Lessons in music instruction.

Henri Capron, French cellist, settles in Philadelphia.

1786
Alexander Reinagle, English harpsichordist and singer, settles in Philadelphia.

Hopkinson prepares music portions of The Book of Common Prayer for Philadelphia's Protestant Episcopal Church.

New concert series initiated at Pennsylvania Coffee House; music of Haydn, Vanhal, Stamitz, J.C. Bach, Toeschi, Gossec, and other composers of the European vanguard are presented to Philadelphia audiences (to 1793).

1787
John Aitken and Thomas Dobson, music publishers, established. The only sheet-music publishing in the country between 1787 and 1793 takes place in this Philadelphia shop.

George Washington attends concert organized by Reinagle at City Tavern; he will later engage Reinagle as music teacher for his granddaughter. The concert includes music by Haydn, Martini, and local Philadelphia composers Lewis and Henry Hallam establish Old American Opera Company (to 1794).

Adgate's school singing society reconstituted as the Urania Society, to provide support of choral music performance (to 1800).

1788
Charles Taws, piano maker, moves to Philadelphia from New York.

Choral concert given at Reformed German Church, advertised to have orchestra of 50 and chorus of 200.

First publication of songs by American composer, Hopkinson's Seven Songs.

Collection of psalmody, A Selection of Sacred Harmony, published (compiler anonymous), the 1st of three editions; its preface contains an early recognition of the importance of the Boston composer William Billings.

1789
Charles Albrecht, piano maker, established (or earlier).

1790
"Grand Concert, Vocal and Instrumental" held in the new U.S. Capital by Company of French Musicians.

1791
The New American Opera Company, or The New Company, presents several productions in Haymarket Concert Hall, mainly British musical plays. It is this troupe for which the Chestnut Street Theatre will later be built. Reinagle becomes comanager and chief composer, supplying overtures, ballet-pantomimes, entr'actes, and songs.

1792
Victor Pelissier, French composer and hornist, settles in Philadelphia.

1793
Moller and Capron Music Store established.

New Theatre Opera House, also called Chestnut Street Theatre (at the time the grandest theater in the country), opens.

Benjamin Carr, British singer and composer, settles in Philadelphia; debuts as singer in following year.

Raynor Taylor also arrives, British organist and composer who had worked at the Chapel Royal under Handel.

George Gillingham, English violinist, performs with Carr and Taylor at the Chestnut Street Theatre.

1794
Chestnut Street Theatre Orchestra, of 20 musicians, is formed; ballad operas titled Robin Hood (composer unknown) and Tammany, by James Hewitt, on an American Indian theme, are given.

George Willig, German-born music publisher, established; will later publish Stephen Foster's first song, "Open thy lattice, love" (1844).

Performance of Paisiello's Barber of Seville (at the New Theatre?).

1795
The New Theatre presents Reinagles' The Volunteers, and the following season Carr's The Archers (music now lost); works by American composers assume a regular presence.

1796
Gretry's Richard Coeur de Lion performed by visiting French Company of Comedians.

1798
The psalmodist Andrew Law provides singing instruction in his Philadelphia school, advertising the cost at $2 per quarter. To 1803.

1800
John Hawkins of Philadelphia applies for first United States patent on an upright piano; demonstrates the instrument at the Franklin Institute in 1802. (He is also the inventor of coiled strings for bass notes.)

1801
Publication of A Collection of Spiritual Songs and Hymns by Richard Allen, the first hymnal designed specifically for an all-black congregation; by the minister of the American Methodist Episcopalian Church.

1802
George Blake, music publisher, established.

Rodeph Shalom synagogue founded; in the 19th century its locally built organ will become widely appreciated.

1807
First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia founded.

1808
First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia founded.

1809
Francis Johnson, bandleader and music educator, settles in Philadelphia; he will become the most sought-after bandmaster of his time, will take his ensembles to Europe, and introduce popular European traditions to Philadelphia in turn.

Haydn Society of Philadelphia founded.

1810
The New Music School is opened by Peter Dupre (26 Spruce St.)

Significant collection of sacred music, Vocal Harmony, published by George Blake.

1811
The first of several year-long residences of Lorenzo da Ponte, formerly Mozart's librettist, and opera impresario.

1812
Thomas Loud (Jr.), son of English piano maker, settles in Philadelphia.

1813
William Henry Fry born; will become important American composer of opera.

1814
The New American Opera Company produces Taylor's The Aethiop.

Handelian Society founded to support choral concerts.

1815
Edwin Pearce Christy born in Philadelphia (November 28); will found one of the earliest known blackface singing troupes (1843), the Christy Minstrels.

1816
Allyn Bacon, music publisher, established.

1817
The Bohemian violinist and composer Anton Philip Heinrich settles in Philadelphia; conducts the Southwark Theatre Orchestra; will dedicate an 1834 orchestral work, The Treaty of William Penn with the Indians, to the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.


A Chronology of Music in Philadelphia to 1900 (Part 2)

by Mark Germer

A chronology can serve as a preliminary step on the way to narrative history, a sketch in which few images take suggestive form. What follows is a selective and provisional notice of dates and facts relevant to the history and growth of musical communities in Philadelphia, derived from sources accessible in the Reading Room of the Music Library. Many entries have yet to be corroborated with sufficient sources to qualify them as solid; corrections and emendations are solicited.


1820
Musical Fund Society formally founded by, among others, Carr, Taylor, Benjamin Cross, and the painter Thomas Sully. The Society also establishes a music library.

John Cromwell, black singing-school teacher, begins training church musicians.

1821
First Musical Fund Society public concert; includes Beethoven's 2nd Symphony.

1822
Musical Fund Society-spnsored performance of Haydn's Creation, at Washington Hall (Chestnut Street Theater)

First American performance of Rossini's Barber of Seville (by the Henry Phillips Company).

1823
An operatic singing school, The American Conservatorio, founded by Filippo Trajetta, son of the famous Italian opera composer Tomaso.

1824
The four Loud Brothers expand piano manufacture in Philadelphia (to 1854).

Ball held for visit of General LaFayette, with the band of Francis Johnson.

Musical Fund Society Hall built, on Locust Street, west of 8th Street (part of the facade still stands); designed by member of the Society, architect William Strickland.

St. Cecelia Society organized, conducted by Thomas Carr (to 1830).

Founding of Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to safeguard colonial and later manuscript collections, including music.

1825
Musical Fund Society Academy founded, to offer music instruction.

1827
African Harmonic Society of Philadelphia founded, to promote church music in the black community.

Septimus Winner born, May 11; will become one of Philadelphia's most well-known popular song composers.

French Opera Company of New Orleans presents French music theater works (the first of eight visits).

1828
German violinist Henry Dielman settles in Philadelphia, plays in the Chestnut Street Theatre Orchestra, and begins career as a composer.

1830
Apollo Society formed to give chamber music concerts.

Leopold Meignen, French conductor, settles in Philadelphia.

1831
Charles Stieff, German piano-maker, settles in Philadelphia.

1832
Da Ponte again in residence; acts as impresario for the Montressor Troupe (1833) and the Rivafinoli Opera Company (1834), Italian traveling companies that bring Italian opera, including Bellini's Il pirata and Rossini's Otello.

Mozart's Die Zauberfloete possibly presented (March17) in its first American performance (unconfirmed).

1833
Anacreontic Society, music society for senior musicians, founded (to 1860).

1834
Mozart's Marriage of Figaro performed by The Wood Company, newly founded local opera troupe, at Chestnut Street Theatre.

1835
Following upon Italian opera craze in New York City, The Wood Company presents hugely successful production of Bellini's La Sonnambula (on February 14). In the wake of Italian opera, English ballad opera is nearly abandoned over night.

Philadelphia Maennerchor founded by Philip Wolsiefer (cont. to 1962), the oldest German singing society in the United States.

Leopold Meignen and Augustus Fiot found music publishing firm (to 1839).

Charles Jarvis, English pianist, settles in Philadelphia.

1837
Prussian piano maker Johann Heinrich Schomacher established.

1838
Francis Johnson introduces English-style promenade concerts to Philadelphia (to 1844), including "Voice Quadrilles" in which band members sing.

1841
First confirmed American performance of Mozart's Magic Flute, (in English) by the Musical Fund Society, conducted by Benjamin Cross, billed as its "Grand Musical Festival"; visitors from New York and Boston come to the premiere.

First American performance of Bellini's Norma (January 11) by The Wood Company (in English). The opera was translated and staged by the Fry brothers, especially William Henry Fry, for whom the opera was inspiration to compose Leonora (see 1845).

Performance of Haydn's The Creation at the First African Presbyterian Church, by fifty-piece orchestra and 150-voice chorus.

Fry's opera Aurelia the Vestal completed; is thought to have remained unperformed.

1842
Lucy McKim Garrison, born in Philadelphia (October 30); will conduct pioneering work in collecting slave songs in the Sea Islands in the 1860s.

1843
Musical Fund Society Concert Series brings the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (first of five appearances).

1844
Frank Johnson Brass and String bands continued by Joseph Anderson (to 1860).

Meignen assumes post of conductor of the Musical Fund Society Orchestra (to 1857).

1845
Premiere of W. H. Fry's Leonora (June 4), first grand opera by an American composer to be performed; at the Chestnut Street Theater, conducted by Leopold Meignen.

Premiere, with the MFS Orchestra, of Meignen's Grand Military Symphony (17 April).

Winner Brothers Music Store opens.

Rise to prominence of Philadelphia school of black popular song composers, including Aaron Connor, James Hemmenway, Isaac Hazzard, William Appo--among first black composers to publish music in the United States.

1847
Havana Italian Opera Company brings Rossini and Verdi to Philadelphia, including Rossini's Mose in Egitto (first version of Moise) in 1847 and Verdi's Luisa Miller in 1852.

1848
John Albert, violin-maker, established (to 1921).

Germania Orchestra from Berlin gives a series of six concerts.

Lee & Walker, music publisher, established.

1850
Eight recitals given at Musical Fund Society Hall by Jenny Lind, to great acclaim.

1851
G. Andre & Company, music publisher established at 19 South 9th Street (later moved to Chestnut Street; to 1879).

1852
Recital of Adelina Patti, age 7 (September).

1854
The Pyne and Harrison English Opera Company visits Philadelphia at the start of a three-year tour of American cities.

1855
Philadelphia's first black minstrel theater, The 11th Street Opera House, opens (in former Presbyterian Church); the minstrel performer and popular song composer James Bland will later become associated with it.

1856
Germania Orchestra constituted under directorship of Carl Lenschow (to 1895); named after visiting ensemble (see 1848).

Philadelphia Musical Journal and Review begins publication (26 nos., through 1857).

1857
Opening of the Academy of Music, with a production of Verdi's Il Trovatore by the La Grange Opera Company. At this time it is considered the finest opera house in the country, modeled after La Scala, with 2900 seats.

1858
Philadelphia premiere of Rigoletto at the Academy of Music.

Revised version of Fry's Leonora performed, now in Italian as Giulio e Leonora, at the Academy of Music (29 March).

1860
Black Opera Troupe founded; directed by Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a former slave brought to Philadelphia as a child, and a self-taught instrumentalist and singer.

New Chestnut Street Theatre built, near site of original; continues its concert traditions (to 1940).

1861
Kellog Opera Troupe founded by the singer Clara Kellog to promote and perform French opera.

1862
The great German-American conductor Theodore Thomas organizes an orchestra (1861) that will make regular visits to Philadelphia to 1878.

1863
First American performance of Gounod's Faust at the Academy of Music.

1864
First American performance of Spohr's Jessonda at the Academy of Music.

Premiere of W. H. Fry's third grand opera, Notre Dame de Paris, a benefit for Civil War wounded, at the Academy of Music (4 May).

1869
Philadelphia Beethoven Society founded

1870
The blind organist David Wood, of Pittsburgh, becomes choirmaster at St. Stephen's Church.

Founding of Philadelphia Musical Academy by John Himmelsbach; in 1876 directorship transferred to Richard Zeckwer (to 1917, when Academy merges with Hahn conservatory).

Performance of the revised version of the New York composer George Bristow's opera Rip van Winkle (orig. 1855) at the Academy of Music (November 21).

1872
Orpheus Club, a male-voice choral society, founded (to present).

Composer and organist William Wallace Gilchrist moves to Philadelphia, becomes choirmaster of St. Clement's Church; will become greatly honored in Philadelphia, and head of voice instruction at the Philadelphia Musical Academy (1882).

Aimee French Opera Company brought to Philadelphia for the first of eight visits.

1873
By now a prominent conductor, published theorist, and admired teacher, Leopold Meignen dies (in June).

1874
Philadelphia Mendelssohn Club founded (to present).

1875
University of Pennsylvania establishes first chair of music and composition (held by Hugh Clarke).

1876
Theodore Presser founds Music Teacher's National Association.

J.W. Pepper, music retailer, established; will become largest of its kind in the country.

American premiere of Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander (in Italian).

Theodore Thomas introduces Wagner's Grosser Festmarsch written for the bicentennial of the United States.

Jacques Offenbach brings concerts of operetta selections.

1877
Founding of Philadelphia Conservatory, the earliest chartered music school in Pennsylvania, thus the first to be able to award degrees (will merge with Philadelphia Musical Academy in 1962-63).

Earliest student orchestra of the University of Pennsylvania founded; their rehearsals are discouraged by the University, and another is only established after 10 years.

Audience at Academy of Music assembles to hear piano recital by telephonic transmission from New York (April 13; the pianist "Boscovitz" has not been identified).

J.W. Pepper's Musical Times begins publication (title varies; to 1912).

1879
The Church Choir Company formed to attract amateur musicians to secular concert groups; becomes training ground for singers in operettas conducted by John Philip Sousa, resident in Philadelphia 1876-1881.

Catalogue of printed music in the Musical Fund Society Library is published (304 titles with full part sets).

1880
Philadelphia Musical Academy moves to 1617 Spruce Street.

1882
Performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin by the New York composer Caryl Florio (pseudonym of William James Robjohn) at the Academy of Music; this opera was then his most famous work, but he is remembered now as composer for and promoter of the saxophone. He wrote many works for the Dutch-born saxophonist Edward Lefebre, who introduced the instrument to the United States in the 1870s.

1884
Theodore Presser, music publisher, established.

The Etude magazine begins publication in Philadelphia by Theodore Presser (moved from Lynchburg, Va., 1883)

Treble Clef Club, a women's choral society, founded (to 1934).

1885
Combs Conservatory, the third most important of Philadelphia music schools, founded by Gilbert Raynolds Combs.

1886
North's Philadelphia Musical Journal--from 1889 The Philadelphia Musical Journal--begins publication (6 vols., to 1891).

1887
David Wood, 19th-century America's greatest organist, becomes Director of Music at the Philadelphia School for the Blind (to 1910; school moves to Overbrook in 1899).

Debut of violinist Arthur Hartmann, age 6, son of Hungarian immigrants; would find fame in Europe and perform with Debussy.

1888
The Grand Opera House, built by John Betz, opens at Broad and Montgomery Streets; Gustav Hinrichs, German protege of Theodore Thomas, founds resident company (to 1896). American premieres include Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, (1891) and Puccini's Manon Lescaut (1894).

First of visits to Philadelphia of Metropolitan Opera Company of New York, with production of Verdi's Otello (May 4).

Violin maker Carmen Primavera established.

1889
Metropolitan Opera brings first full performance of Wagner's Ring of the Niebelungen, on four consecutive nights (March 26-29), conducted by Anton Seidl. (Afterwards, Met visits are suspended until 1896, owing to lack of interest.)

1891
The visiting Boston Festival Orchestra is conducted by Peter Tchaikovsky; program includes Tchaikovsky's B-flat minor piano concerto.

1892
William Wallace Gilchrist's First Symphony performed (manuscript survives at the Free Library).

1893
Founding of the Philadelphia Symphony Society, under the leadership of Gilchrist (to 1900); though staffed by amateur players, it forms a principal connection to the later founding of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

1894
Ferruccio Busoni performs on the occasion of another visit of the Boston Orchestra.

Berliner Gramophone Company founded in Philadelphia by Emile Berliner, marking the birth of commercial phonodisc production and sale; represented in Europe by the Gramophone Company (London) and Deutsche Gramm-ophon Gesellschaft (Hanover). Initial list for sale (issued in November) contained 52 titles.

1895
Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel given American premiere by the (Gustav) Hinrichs Company, at the Academy of Music.

1896
Visiting Her Majesty's Opera Company from London gives American premiere of Giordano's Andre Chenier.

1897
Philadelphia Choral Society founded; conducted by Henry Thunder (to 1946).

Marian Anderson born in south Philadelphia (February 27)

Philadelphia public schools formally include music in the city's elementary curriculum.

Philadelphia Free Library makes first purchases to establish a music collection, five years after its founding.

1898
Victor Talking Machine Company founded in Camden; with the Berliner Company, places Philadelphia area in leading position in manufacture of phonodiscs and phonographs (and later of radio). Will consolodate with Berliner in October 1901; disc pressing begins in Camden in 1902. Company's recording Studio located at 10th and Lombard Streets, Philadelphia.

1900
Two orchestral "Philippine Concerts" organized to benefit families of soldiers killed in the war with Spain; leads to discussions on founding a permanent orchestra.

Interest on the part of musicians in various local orchestras and the efforts of the Musical Fund Society lead to founding of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The first performance on November 16, conducted by Fritz Scheel, included music by Goldmark, Beethoven (the Fifth Symphony), Tchaikovsky, Weber, and Wagner.


Works Consulted:

Albrecht, Otto, et al. "Philadelphia," in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1986), III, 547-54.

Democratic Souvenirs: A Historical Anthology of 19th-century American Music, ed. Richard Jackson. New York: C.F. Peters, 1988.

Gerson, Robert. Music in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Theodore Presser, 1940.

Hall, Charles. A Chronicle of American Music, 1700-1995. New York: Schirmer Books, 1996.

The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, Founded 1820. Philadelphia: The Society, 1970.

Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History. New York: Norton, 1997.



UA Music Library Reading Room Notes No. 3.1 (2000-01)


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Edited by Mark Germer

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