Author Archives: Paul Nance

Ella J. Graham, Contralto Soloist and Teacher of Art

We know some of the names of St. Paul’s soloists in the nineteenth century, but very little about their lives and careers. There are exceptions, especially those who went on to operatic careers (Lucy Eastcott, Henry Squires and Isabella Hinckley) and our one composer (James Mason Sayles), but for most of the rest we know only their names.

That absence has been remedied by a biographical sketch in one of Mrs. Grace McKinlay Kennedy’s scrapbooks: “Life of Ella Jane Graham,” lovingly written by Ella’s younger sister, Maude Graham. Ella J. Graham was St. Paul’s alto soloist from 1891 until 1899. When her musical career ended about 1910, she returned to St. Paul’s and remained an active member (particularly in the Business Women’s Guild) until her death in 1936.

Ella Jane Graham certainly had a very successful musical career as a young women. A 1898 newspaper article describes her as “Albany’s foremost contralto.” And St. Paul’s solo quartet during the period in which it was anchored by Ella Graham and soprano Anne North Turner Rogers must have been a wonder. But Ella Graham’s teaching career — an astounding 56 years of service — and her influence as head of the Albany High School art department, deserve to be remembered and honored.

Two of Ella Graham’s nine siblings are also of interest. “Eddie” (George Edward Graham, 1863 – 1910) was head of Albany’s office of the Associated Press, and later a war correspondent and assistant managing editor of the Los Angeles Examiner. He was author of Schley and Santiago, an account of the decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. Howard Graham (1865 – 1933) was also a journalist, the resident manager of Proctor’s theaters in Albany, and later manager of theaters in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Ella Jane Graham

Life of Ella Jane Graham

George Lytel Graham, was born in Carlysle [Carlyle], England August 12th 1827 and died March 23rd, 1883, 56 years old. He came to the United States as a book agent for a London firm. Came to Albany, where he joined the St. George Society. They procured him the position of Sexton of St. Peter’s Church, where he served in the old St. Peters, and the present day edifice.

Elizabeth Jane Jones, born in Manchester England, August 22nd, 1837. Came to the United States with her Mother, when she was 13 years old. Went to Philadelphia, where they stayed with her Mother’s sister, Aunt Jane Morehouse. She then had an offer from the Albany Hospital as a nurse which she accepted. Lived in Albany all the rest of her life. She had a position as nursery governess to some Albany children. Here she met Father, and in her early twenties, she married him.

Mr. John Tweddle, was Father’s best friend, who came from England. Was a Malster [maltster]. He could not understand why Father did not have a trade. He gave Father a natal day present every year, so he could go back to England each year on his vacation.

Ella Jane Graham was born March 21st, 1860, 2nd oldest member of the Graham family. Died June 4th, 1934 . Funeral was from St. Paul’s Church. There were 12 sons and daughters. All the members of the family were born in Maiden Lane, except brother James. After that we moved to 10 High st. which is still standing.

Ella and my oldest sister, Mrs. Theo. Liecty, both went to school 2, then on State above Hawk St. Ella and Kathryn both graduated In 1874 from the Albany Free Academy, on State below Eagle St. Kathryn then went to work in the Weed Parsons co., where she met her husband, and married him –- years later. Ella graduated from the Albany Free Academy in the class of 1878, passing with high marks in all her studies. It was then she choose [chose] to teach.

So she persuaded her Father to ask his good friend Hon. Andrew S. Draper to see what he could do for her, as he was a member or the Board of Public Instruction, and after a small delay, he had her appointed Chart Class Teacher at School No. 5, on North Pearl St., Prof. John A. Howe, being the Principal. There was no Kindergarten at that time. I remember she used to tell me with much mirth, how Mr. Howe would say to her, just lookin[g] causally at her, go to your room please, the bell has rung, and then knowing he bad made a mistake, would say, excuse me please, you are so young looking Miss Graham. She taught there 30 years, and worked up to the 9th grade. There were 9 grades then.

When Prof. Theo. Hailes, lost his teacher of drawing in the Senior High School by marriage, he came to Ella, and said you are too good for grade teaching, apply tor Teacher of Drawing, and I will back you,. She did, and got the position, where she taught for 26 years, making in all 56 years of teaching in the Public School system of Albany. She loved drawing and music.

As Father died in 1883, and we were a large family, Mother had very little except what came in each week. Brother Will was engaged at that time, so that left Ella and Eddie to support the family, so they carried on. Ella as a young girl sang in St. Peter’s choir, so when she earned money of her own she took lessons from Prof. Chas. White, who came from New York each week. Her first position was with Mrs. Emily Hendrie Miller, organist of the Calvary Baptist Church, then on the corner of State and High sts. Her next position was at Holy Innocents, where she sang 4 years. Then she was called by Prof. Geo. E. Oliver to sing alto in St. Paul’s Church. The quartette included, Anna North Turner Rodgers, Soprano, Ella Graham, Alto, Elsworth Carr, Tenor, Ed. Kellogg, Baritone. He sang quite a few years and then retired. Ned Parkhurst filled his place and stayed until Prof. Oliver retired. The following are the churches she sang in besides the above. Jewish Synagogue. There they thought her voice was not loud enough so she did not stay. Trinity Methodist, First Presbyterian, Madison Ave. Reformed, which was the last one she sang at. After that she came back to St. Paul’s Church, and rented a pew.

These are the houses we lived in while she was with us. Moved from 10 High St., to 28 LaFayette street, where my Grand Mother died at the age of 87. Moved to 242 Hamilton street. Then Howard was married, and Alice at St. Paul’s by Freeborn G. Jewett and Dr. Battershall. Elizabeth Graham Edge is her only survivor. Then Eddie married, and Ella, Mother and I, moved to a smaller place, 101 Eagle St., and mother died there, after living there 8 years. Ella taught Night School, so she thought she should be nearer her work, so we moved to 429 Hamilton St. below Quail St., near the High school, where we lived 8 years. Then Betty came up north to go to school, and we moved to 256 Quail st., lived there for 8 years, Ella passed away suddenly the last year of our stay there. We moved next to 471 Hamilton St., living there 8 years, where Alice Edge died suddenly. Then Betty and I moved to 151 Western Ave., a nice apartment.

Ella’s life was one of sacrifice and love.

Written by Maude M. Graham, April 1946.

Ella Jane Graham, 1930

Independence Day 2021

As we celebrate Independence Day, I thought everyone might enjoy seeing this sheet music cover of arrangements of two patriotic songs for piano. They are the work of St. Paul’s own George William Warren, our organist and choirmaster from 1848 until 1860 (excepting the ten months that he played at Second Presbyterian).

George William Warren’s arrangement of two patriotic songs (1861)

These arrangements were published in 1861, the year after Warren left St. Paul’s to take the same position at Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn. 1861 was also the first year of the Civil War, and in the image we see a Union soldier boldly displaying the Stars and Stripes. In this period, the United States did not have an official national anthem; “Hail Columbia” and “The Star Spangled Banner” were both popular on patriotic occasions. “Hail Columbia” is still used today as the Vice President’s ceremonial entrance march.

While Warren is the most prolific and best-known 19th century musician and composer to be associated with St. Paul’s, one rarely sees his name today. You will, however, find him in our hymnal, as the composer of “National Hymn,” the melody to which we sing “God of Our Fathers.” Is it coincidental that the accompaniment to “National Hymn” starts with a fanfare reminiscent of the ruffles and flourishes that traditionally precede “Hail Columbia”?[1]


[1] Warren composed “National Hymn” in 1892 as a contribution to the Episcopal hymnal then in preparation. It was first sung by a quartet and large chorus on October 10, 1892 at St. Thomas Church during a Columbian service, celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in North America. The setting was published in The Churchman that same year, and appeared in The Church Hymnal published in 1894. See “Beginning the Festival: Thanksgiving Services in the Churches” New York Tribune 8 Oct 1892, 1; “St. Thomas’ Church,” New York Herald 10 Oct 1892; “In the Churches: Special Services Appropriate to the Anniversary—Many Out-of-town Visitors” New York Sun 10 Oct 1892; “The Episcopal National Hymn” Buffalo News 24 Dec 1892, 1; “Music,” The Churchman, volume 67, number 7 (18 Feb 1893), 244.

In a 1901 letter, Daniel C. Roberts, the author of “Faith of Our Fathers,” wrote that Warren composed the melody as a member of a two-person committee charged with selecting “a hymn for the centennial celebration of the Constitution.” Could the Rev. Mr. Roberts have misremembered, or been misinformed? No contemporary account mentions a connection to the centennial of the Constitution’s adoption, which had occurred four years earlier, in 1888. Roberts’ letter is transcribed in Louis F. Benson, Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1923), 122.

Master Burke Comes to Albany

Albany had a rich cultural life in the first half of the 19th century, as business from the Erie Canal made the city a hub of commercial and artistic life. I’ve written about some of the famous actors who appeared in the Albany Theatre, and most recently about composer and virtuoso pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s friendship with George William Warren, St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster from 1848 until 1860. But there was another international star whose strong ties to the city of Albany have become obscured by time.

Albany Argus, June 1860

When George William Warren resigned his position at St. Paul’s in 1860, heading for his new position in Brooklyn, his native city could not bid him farewell quietly. A huge “Farewell and Complimentary Concert” was organized in Warren’s honor, to be held June 28, 1860 in conjunction with the dedication of Tweddle Hall, on the northwest corner of State and North Pearl Streets.

A highlight of the event was the Dedication Address, written and recited by William D. Morange. This was an extended verse oration, beginning with a recital of Albany’s early history, and reaching its climax with a description of the city’s glories in the mid-19th century. Among those mentioned, of course, was the night’s honoree:

Here Warren – gifted George, the child of art
The genial artist, with the mammoth heart –
Whose soul all music, when his boyish hand,
Tinkled the triangle in Joe Burke’s band,
Is brimming o’er with jolly music now,
When artist laurels deck his manly brow –
Here Warren lives, whom all the world admires,
Whose very presence pleases and inspires.

William D. Morange, A Poem Delivered at the Complimentary Concert to Geo. Wm. Warren (Albany: Munsell & Rowland, 1860), 13.
Cover of George Wm. Warren’s “Song of the Brook”

Who, I wondered, was Joe Burke? And what this this band in which a youthful Warren performed? We have another clue. In 1865, Warren dedicated his “Song of the Brook: Pastorale for the Piano Forte” with the words “Homage from an old student to Joseph Burke.” We know that Warren had very little formal musical education, so discovering one of his teachers is exciting. But it is far more interesting to find an international star who enriched Albany’s cultural life.

Joseph Burke as Teddy O’Rourke (credit: University of Illinois Theatrical Print Collection)

When Joseph Burke first visited Albany in 1831, the thirteen year old was already an experienced public performer. Master Burke (as he was then styled) had been playing the violin since age 3, and had appeared in theaters in Great Britain and Europe since age 5, acting in roles usually reserved for adults. Born in Ireland, Burke was brought to this country by his parents in 1830. He first appeared in the Albany Theatre on June 20, 1831, acting in two plays and conducting the orchestra in an overture between the plays. During the 1830s, Burke appeared four additional times on the stage of the Albany Theatre, and developed close friendships here.[1]

Master Joseph Burke (credit: Furness Theatrical Images Collection)

Burke acted and played across the United States until 1838, when he abruptly left the stage. We do not know why Burke quit acting, but his impresario father may no longer have been able to market a man of age twenty as a child prodigy. There are also clues that Joseph’s father had lived extravagantly on his son’s income, and may have amassed considerable debt. Certainly, in later life Joseph Burke adamantly refused to discuss his time on the stage.[2] No matter the reason, in 1840 Joseph Burke settled in Albany, and began to study law in the offices of William L. Marcy, the former governor of New York.

While Joseph Burke gave up acting in 1840, he did not give up music. In addition to his law studies, he performed on the violin, conducted and (as we have seen) taught music. Burke was a force in forming and developing the Concordia Society, an amateur orchestra that played four concerts a year in Albany between 1840 and 1844. This, apparently, is the “band” in which George William Warren played. Burke was the orchestra’s leader (that is, concertmaster) for the first season, and also its conductor for the remaining three seasons. He performed solos at each concert, and routinely received rave reviews from local music critics.[3]

Joseph Burke (credit: University of Illinois Theatrical Print Collection)

Although he was admitted to the bar, Burke never practiced law. Instead, in 1844 he decided to further his musical career. He traveled to Belgium, where he studied with the great violinist and composer, Charles Auguste de Bériot. Returning to this country in 1845, Burke intended to give his grand first concert in New York City, but he was convinced to perform it first in Albany by a letter he received signed by forty-three prominent Albanians, the list headed by Thomas W. Olcott, Gideon Hawley, John Van Buren and Thurlow Weed. This distinguished group wrote that they:

“feel that a claim upon you, arising from intimacy and personal friendship formed during your long residence in this city, warrant them in soliciting you to modify your arrangements so far as to make your first appearance before an Albany audience”[4]

Responding to this heartfelt plea, Burke agreed,

“[A]s I admit with pride and pleasure the justice of what you are pleased to call your ‘claim’ upon me I without hesitation accede to your flattering request.”[5]

Burke then set off on a series of successful concert tours across the United States. In 1850, he signed a contract with P.T. Barnum to perform with soprano Jenny Lind on her American tours.[6] Rumor has it that he fell deeply in love with Jenny Lind, but was never able to express his feelings to her. When she married another man, Burke was heart-broken and never married.[7] He lived the rest of his life in New York City, performing and teaching violin, while spending his summers at his farm in Batavia, New York. A highlight of Burke’s career was the United States premier of the Mendelssohn violin concerto, which he performed with the New York Philharmonic on November 24, 1849[8].

Burke’s last concert in Albany was in 1859, but he continued to visit the city regularly. When he died in 1902, the Albany Argus published a lengthy obituary, recalling in detail his connections to the city. And Burke clearly retained an affection for this city and its people. Among his papers was found a “very carefully treasured” copy of that 1845 letter, begging him to perform his first concert following his return to Europe in this city of Albany.[9]


[1] Joseph Burke’s first engagement at the Albany Theatre extended from June into early July 1831. Subsequent appearances were in July 1833, February 1834, December 1836 and October 1837.

[2] The pianist and composer Richard Hoffman, said of his close friend, “After he gave up the stage, which was in the thirties, he could never bear to refer to the time when he was an actor. As soon as he ceased to be a child and to act as a child phenomenon, he had a disgust for the theatre.” “Joseph Burke’s Varied Life,” Sun and New York Press 26 Jan 1902, 32. And in 1879, when Henry P. Phelps wrote Burke, asking for his recollections of his time on the Albany stage, he responded, “There is nothing of any possible interest in the way of personal incident or reminiscence, during my residence in Albany, that I recollect, to furnish you with. Perhaps some of ‘those who still remember me’ may, but I doubt it.” H.P. Phelps, Players of a Century (Albany: Joseph McDonough, 1880), 153-156.

[3] The group’s last concert for which I can find a notice was 7 Feb 1844. There is no further mention in local papers after that date, or any explanation of its fate.

[4] “Mr. Joseph Burke,” Argus 25 Nov 1845, 2.

[5] “Mr. Joseph Burke”.

[6] Native Albanian John Underner, St. Paul’s organist from 1846 until 1847, was Lind’s accompanist on these American tours.

[7] This story of unrequited love is gracefully told in Carl Carmer, “The Irish Wonder and the Swedish Nightingale,” in Dark Trees to the Wind (New York: William Sloane Associates, 1949), 151-165.

[8] A copy of the concert program may be seen at https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/e82e06bd-9340-4831-9a29-85c1ea8767df-0.1

[9] “Why He Liked the Tribune,” New York Daily Tribune, 21 Jan 1902, 10.

St. Paul’s Church in 1910: “A Centre of Social Service in Albany”

On Sunday morning, October 23, 1910, the Albany Argus dedicated half of the front page of its second section to a long piece on St. Paul’s Church. Titled “A Church at Work: Social Service at St. Paul’s,” the article described St. Paul’s in glowing terms as “a Centre of Social Service in Albany,” with detailed descriptions of fourteen parish activities.

The congregation that the newspaper describes is certainly energetic. But what is most impressive is that this description could be written of St. Paul’s in 1910. Only ten years earlier, a New York Times columnist had described St. Paul’s as “a church in Albany that is the very reverse of rich and marked by the signs of decrepitude sometimes incidental to advanced age.”[1]

Albany Argus 23 Oct 1910, page 9

This transformation may be attributed in large part to the parish’s new rector, Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks. When he arrived in Albany in 1906, Brooks immediately began a program of rejuvenation, starting with a campaign to repair and beautify the church.

By late 1907, that effort was well under way with major enhancements to the church nave and a new enthusiasm for parish outreach.

Since then [late 1906] two windows had been put in place, two were now being constructed, a baptistery had been erected, the chancel enlarged, the organ reconstructed, two tablets had been erected and the credence table rebuilt. Meantime the Sunday-school had doubled its offerings for missions, the parish had met its apportionment and had also made various gifts for charities.[2]

The 1910 Argus article describes the motivation behind all this new activity. It seems likely that the following, connecting St. Paul’s efforts to the guilds of the medieval English church, must have been written by Brooks himself.

Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

The church at work nowadays is an interesting development in Christianity, and one of the most active an interesting examples of it in Albany is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The old and original idea of a church was a collection of people who paid a minister to preach the gospel on Sundays, and a Sunday-go-to-meeting place in which to congregate and listen to the minister’s preaching, But very far back in the history of the Church of England the development of the church at work is interestingly chronicled in a history of the English guilds, in which it is set forth in very early English that: ‘The pouere men of the parisshe of seynt Austin begunnen a gylde in helpe and amendment of here pouere parisshe churche.’[3] So it came about that the help and amendment of parish churches soon made them a meeting place on other days than Sunday, and as the guilds grew the temporal purposes of the churches broadened.

Now the calendar of the month for such a church as St. Paul’s would include a list of activities happening on nearly every day of the week to astonish an old-fashioned churchman of the once-a-week variety.

Here are the highlights from the social services listed in the 1907 Argus article:

Harry Van Allen

Services are held on the first Sunday of each month, and literary and social meetings are occasionally held. As the missionary resides 100 miles away, his visits arc necessarily short and infrequent, and it is not deemed wise to undertake to do too much, but the results of the mission work, even under such restrictions, seem to be highly satisfactory, and the mission itself is one of the most peculiar and interesting agencies tor good connected with St. Paul’s.

St. Mark’s Church Design
  • St. Mark’s Chapel. The article describes the work of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew organizing a chapel in Pine Hills that grew into St. Andrew’s Church. After St. Andrew’s became an independent parish, the Brotherhood turned its attention to “the new Delaware avenue section that has grown so enormously in the last year or so.” As we have seen in an earlier post, the chapel survived only for a few years more, closing in summer 1913 when they lost the lease.

The results of attendance at the Sunday school and the afternoon service have justified the opening of the chapel. Sunday school is held on Sunday afternoon at 3:15 and a service with sermon or address at 4:30. The building, which was formerly a storehouse. has been remodeled and made comfortable, heated by a hot-air furnace and lighted by electricity. Undoubtedly as the district grows the chapel will grow until St. Mark’s will become a church by itself.

  • St. Paul’s Cadet Corps. This must have been short-lived effort. I have been unable to find other references to it in Albany newspapers of the 1910s and 1920s.

St. Paul’s Cadet Corps came into existence last November and grew to a body of 50 well-drilled soldier boys under command of Major Charles B. Staats of the Tenth Regiment N. G. S. N. Y., who has drilled them Friday afternoons at 4 o’clock. The purpose of this organization is to teach the boys of the parish the life of the soldier. The boys are taught the setting-up exercises at the beginning, and later on will go to the State armory for drilling and instruction in the manual of arms. Through this corps it is hoped to produce a lot of boys who will have a soldierly bearing, who will walk erect and have a knowledge of the life a soldier in all its varied aspects.

The first meeting of the corps this season was last Friday, and there is a fine outlook for the year.

  • Men’s Guild

The Men’s Guild is a sort of club for service, which has an annual banquet, an annual “moonlight excursion,” and regular meetings at which addresses were made during the year by the following: Judge Randall J. LeBoeuf, on “Alaska,” Police Justice John J. Brady, on “Juvenile Delinquents,” State Forest, Fish and Game Commissioner James H. Whipple, on ”The Preservation of Our Forests,” Prof. Jesse D. Burks on the “The Mountain People of the Philippines,” Major R. R. Biddell, “War Reminiscences.”

  • Parish Aid Society. This group provided work for women in sewing aprons, towels, dusters and other small items at home. The society gave the materials, and then offered the finished product for sale to members of the church. The Society also organized a “woman’s exchange” in which women could advertise willingness to care for children or the elderly, or to make baked goods.
  • Church School

The church school of St. Paul’s is 84 years old. Among the children who learned their lesson of the day at St. Paul’s were the late Bishop Satterlee and the present bishop of Los Angeles. The kindergarten was substituted for the primary department two years ago and with the full kindergarten equipment of chairs, tables and materials. The work among the children has been especially successful. The enthusiasm and loyalty of the school grows, and the “mite box” offering for mission was the largest of any school in the diocese last year.

  • Altar Guild

An Altar guild sounds ecclesiastical rather than energetic, bur the Altar guild of St. Paul in the course of Iast year held five regular meetings and a number of entertainments that raised the balance due of the amount pledged toward the improvement of the chancel in commemoration of the eightieth anniversary of the founding the parish. It held a linen sale, a rummage sale and gave two plays, beside furnishing flowers for the altar and distributing them to the sick at the close of the services.

  • Periodical Club

A church periodical club is a bright idea. As this little paragraph of the club urges: “The matter of sending a periodical, a paper or a magazine to some distant point to a missionary or to a mission station is a very simple and inexpensive thing. All the society asks is that your send a paper or magazine after you are through with it and pay the postage. The expense is slight. The pleasure and the delight you may give a missionary may not be measured. Why not begin with the New Year and use this simple means of making some on happy?

  • Girl’s Guild. Apparently, the St. Paul’s chapter of the Girls Friendly Society (which a few decades later became one of the most dynamic of the parish’s activities) had not yet been organized.

Meetings of the Girls’ guild are held every Friday evening from September until June, and last year lessons were given for five months by Miss Hills, of the Albany Academy for Girls.

  • Mothers’ Meetings

Weekly meetings of the mothers were held during last winter and four dozen garments made for the Child’s hospital, the season closing with social evening and refreshments.

  • Junior Auxiliary

What does a junior auxiliary do? That of St. Paul’s church held 15 meetings last year, dressed 30 dolls for mission boxes, and gave a cake sale.

  • Women’s Auxiliary

The Woman’s Auxiliary to the board of missions, St. Paul’s branch, sent boxes to North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, and to nearby villages in this State.

St. Paul’s Jay Street Parish House, 1920
  • Parish House: These activities refer to the older section of the Parish House, built in 1883. The portraits are now a part of St. Paul’s parish archives.

The demands of the future of the church will lie in the direction of an enlarged parish house where work among young people may be carried on efficiently, and this has been ensured by the purchase of vacant lots adjoining the church property. One of the interesting features of the parish house is the emphasis of the personal element in the making of a church by the collection of portraits of the men who have helped to make the church from the beginning portraits of rectors, wardens, vestrymen, uniformly framed and hung on a line about the four sides of the room, the parish family from 1827 to 1910.

  • Systematic Giving: this supplemented income from pew sales and rentals. A campaign to add $100,000 to the parish endowment and to free the pews did not start for another ten years.

Systematic giving enables St. Paul’s to carry on its activities without financial handicap. Each subscriber sends to the rector a pledge card containing the amount pledged per week and the name and address of the subscriber. A package of envelopes bearing the date of the Sundays in the year is then sent to the subscriber and these are then placed upon the offertory plate, with the amount pledged inclosed.one for each Sunday, as each Sunday of the year rolls around. The amount pledged by each subscriber is a confidential matter between the subscriber and the rector.

  • The article also briefly mentions that the church library has a circulation of upward of 900 books, a summer school cooking class and Christmas dinners for the poor.
Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

The Argus article ends with a final statement of the theological motivation for these activities:

St. Paul’s ought to be a centre from which those forces which count in the Christian life should go forth and be identified with the institutions of our city which have as their aim the good and the welfare of our fellow men. We are thankful that there are men and women in St. Paul’s who count it a privilege to be of service to humanity in its largest and broadest sense. There should be no narrow parochialism nor spirit of sectarianism among us, but rather breadth of mind and Christian charity.


[1] “Topics of the Times,” New York Times 21 Jan 1900.

[2] “Tablet Unveiled in St. Paul’s, Albany N.Y.,” The Churchman, volume 96, number 16 (26 Oct 1907), page 649.

[3] Brookes may have been referring to the guild established in 1380 in the parish of St. Augustine, Norwich.

George Wm. Warren’s “The Andes: Marche di Bravura”

In 1860, George William Warren resigned as St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster, ending a 13-year association with the church. He accepted a similar position at Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, where he continued and strengthened his long friendship with artist Frederic E. Church and piano virtuoso and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

Church was in New York City until 1861, but even after his move to the future site of Olana, he traveled frequently to the city and maintained many ties to the city by mail and telegraph[1]. Warren must have profited by Church’s role on powerful funding organizations there.[2] Of Gottschalk, who was also in New York after an extended tour of South America, Warren said that after the move “for a few years I was more intimate with him than ever before.”[3]

Louis Moreau Gottschalk and George Wm. Warren, Saratoga Springs, 1864. The seated man may be pianist Harry Sanderson, with whom they concertized that summer (credit: J. Paul Getty Museum)

Warren’s strengthened ties with both Church and Gottschalk are exemplified in Warren’s composition “The Andes,” honoring Frederic E. Church’s masterpiece “The Heart of the Andes.” Gottschalk then helped Warren to create a stirring two-piano version that the two performed in four concerts in Brooklyn and Manhattan during 1863.

The Heart of the Andes

Following a sketching trip to South America in 1857, Church had begun work on “The Heart of the Andes” in his New York City studio. Working on this massive painting seems to have taken all the artist’s energy. In late 1858, an arts columnist reported, “Mr. Church will have but little leisure to receive visitors at his studio, and desires to be freed from unnecessary interruption.”[4] One visitor, however, seems to have been welcomed: George William Warren remembered, “I was with him many times when he painted the ‘Andes’”.[5]

Frederic E. Church’s “The Heart of the Andes” (credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

We do not know when Warren first saw the completed work. It was first displayed during April and May 1859 in Manhattan, and then went on an extended tour of London and the United States,[6] returning to the United States in early 1861. Warren may have seen it in April 1861, when it was displayed in Lowe’s Building at the corner of Court and Joralemon Streets in Brooklyn, a few blocks from Holy Trinity Church, where Warren was organist.[7] Gottschalk’s biographer says that both Warren and Gottschalk viewed the painting at Goupil’s gallery in Manhattan. This must have been in April 1862, the only time in this period that the painting was displayed at Goupil’s.[8]

This display in spring 1862 was to be the painting’s last public appearance for some time. Frederic Church had earlier sold the painting to William Tilden Blodgett for a then astounding figure of $10,000. After the display at Goupil’s, it was delivered to Blodgett, who installed it in a dining room especially designed to show off the work.[9]

George Warren reported a dramatic scene in that dining room at a dinner party he and Gottschalk attended. The event was probably a celebration of the installation of “The Heart of the Andes.” In response to a criticism of American music by an English nobleman, Gottschalk improvised a rousing version of George Root’s “Battle Cry of Freedom.” Warren describes the reaction of the attendees:

I never heard anything like it, and never will again; for Liszt himself could not have appreciated the situation, and Liszt is not Creole-American. The effect was earthquakean almost. These men of art are enthusiastic; and they were frantic. The uproar could have been heard a mile. Gottschalk was almost killed with embraces, – and the gentleman from England had departed.[10]

The Andes: Marche di Bravura

Warren later reported that his enthusiasm for the painting led him to write “some music which is published for the Piano – with an illustration (by him [Church]) in the title.”[11] This is “The Andes: Marche di Bravura, Homage to Church’s Picture, ‘The Heart of the Andes’,” published late in 1863.[12] The cover illustration is included in the catalog of Church’s works, under the title “Andean Snow Peak.”[13]

Like all of Warren’s other published piano pieces, “The Andes” first appeared in print as a work for a single instrument. It is certainly possible that it was composed in that form, but, as we will see, it first performed publicly as a work for two pianos.

Cover to George Wm. Warren’s, “The Andes: Marche di Bravura, Homage to Church’s Picture, ‘The Heart of the Andes'”

We do not know when Warren wrote the piece. He could have composed it as early as 1859, as he watched Church paint. Or, as S. Frederick Starr implies, could it have been written soon after he and Gottschalk viewed the painting at Goupil’s in the spring of 1862?[14] A third timing for the composition is suggested by Robert Offergeld, who describes the work as “polemical” and suggests that it was written as a response to the event in Blodgett’s dining room. Like Gottschalk’s improvisation on “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “[i]t is a spirited march against the Philistines for use as propaganda for the American music party.”[15]

Warren’s composition “The Andes” was first performed publicly in the spring of 1863 at Gottschalk’s Grand Concert in the Brooklyn Academy on March 28, 1863 with Warren and Gottschalk as the duo pianists.[16] That first performance was enthusiastically reviewed in the New York Times: “This [“The Andes”] was most heartily encored, and will by no means damage the already high appreciation in which Mr. Warren is held in Brooklyn.”[17]

But all reviews were not so positive. On its first page, a Boston newspaper printed a review of the March concert signed “Blott,” describing “The Andes” as “a trashy sort of March for two pianos, filled with polka-like reminiscences.”[18]

When the concert was repeated April 7 at Irving Hall in Brooklyn[19], “Blott” again picked up his pen and dipped it in acid. At the Irving Hall concert, Gottschalk, he wrote, “has also played a pack of trash called “March in Homage to Church’s Picture ‘Heart of the Andes’ ” (for two pianos), with the composer, a Mr. Geo. Wm. Warren, who is one of the most clownish of pianists when compared – as of course he had to be – with the polished Gottschalk.”[20]

This critique reminds us of a Troy critic almost a decade earlier who described Warren’s “fanciful and somewhat comic style” of improvisation[21], but “Blott” may have been writing more out of jealousy than impartial musical judgment. “Blott” was the pseudonym of Charles Jerome Hopkins, an aspiring pianist and composer starting a career in Brooklyn at the same time as Warren.[22]

Gottschalk and Warren repeated the piece two additional times that year: on November 7 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music[23] and November 9 at Irving Hall.[24] As far as we know, these four were the only performances of the version for two pianos.

In all advertisements for this two-piano version, Warren is named as the composer. But the fact that Gottschalk played in all four public performances has led some to surmise that Gottschalk had a hand in either the composition of the original work or the creation of the two-piano version. Robert Offergeld makes the most dramatic claim, writing that after Warren composed the piece “Gottschalk promptly made a thunderous two-piano version of it.”[25] Starr is less definite, saying only that Warren composed the two-piano version, “apparently with Gottschalk’s involvement.”[26]

Louis Moreau Gottschalk and George William Warren, Saratoga Springs 1864 (credit: Gottschalk Collection, New York Public Library)

The work for duo pianos was never published and I wonder if it was ever written out in that form. Given both pianists’ skill at improvisation, it seems likely that large parts were improvised in these early performances. I can imagine the two collaborating with only a brief sketch of the work before them, sharing improvisational riffs and playing off of the other’s ideas. If so, each of the four joint performances may have been different, each a joyous and fresh take on Warren’s original sketch.

[1] Gerald L. Carr, “Frederic Edwin Church as a Public Figure,” in Franklin Kelly and Gerald L. Carr, The Early Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, 1845 – 1854 (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1987), 14

[2] “Church was also extremely well connected: his friends included some of the richest and most powerful figures in New York, and he sat on several artistic and philanthropic committees including the founding trustees of Metropolitan Museum.” Caroly Troyen “Washington: Frederic Edwin Church,” Burlington Magazine, January 1990, 70-72, quoted in Bridget Falconer-Salkeld, “Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Evidence for the Dedication of ‘Adieu funèbre’,” American Music, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Fall, 2007), 357.

[3] Octavia Hensel (pseudonym of Mary Alice Ives Seymour), Life and Letters of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (Boston: Oliver Ditson and Company, 1870), 208.

[4] “Fine Arts,” New York Evening Post 15 Nov 1858, 2.

[5] 29 May 1900 letter from Warren to Isabel Charlotte Church. Courtesy of Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The full relevant portion reads: “I was with him many times when he painted the ‘Andes’ & my enthusiasm made me venture some music which is published for the Piano – with an illustration (by him) in the title & which I will have mailed to you in a few days. I have many letters from him. Some of the most valuable I had to part with (to autograph seekers) etc, etc. I am sure that the Dudley Warner’s proposed volume will be interesting and most valuable.”

[6] The first classified advertisements appeared in New York Evening Express 29 Apr 1859 page 2 and New York Tribune 29 Apr 1859 page 1. The final insertion (“Will Close This Day”) is New York Tribune 23 May 1859 page 2. Church’s agent, John McClure, had originally intended to display the painting at Lyric Hall [see classified advertisements, New York Tribune 25 Apr 1859 page 2 and 27 Apr 1859 page 2]. But gas lighting there made viewing the painting so difficult that after a single day McClure and Church moved the painting to the Studio Building, where it could be illuminated by a skylight. See Kevin J. Avery, “’The Heart of the Andes’ Exhibited: Frederic E. Church’s Window on the Equatorial World” The American Journal of Art, volume 18, number 1 (Winter, 1986), 52-72. Gerald L. Carr includes a photograph of one of the Studio Building shop-window sign in The Early Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, 15.

[7] See advertisements in New York Herald 12 Apr 1861, 17 Apr 1861; New York World 27 Apr 1861, 29 Apr 1861, 30 Apr 1861, 1 May 1861.

[8] S. Frederick Starr, Bamboula!: The Life and Times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 355, citing The New York Times 1 Mar 1863. This reference is clearly an error: there is no mention of the painting having been displayed at Goupil’s in the New York Times for that date or elsewhere during early 1863. There are, on the other hand, frequent references to a display there in late March through early May 1862. See, for instance, “Amusements This Evening,” New York Times 29 Mar 1862 page 7 and 31 Mar 1862, page 4. The “Final Exhibition” of the work was advertised in the New York Tribune 1 May 1862, page 7.

[9] “Paintings,” Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 28 Mar 1863, 2.

[10] Hensel, 208-209. S. Frederick Starr identifies the nobleman and provides important additional context in Bamboula!, 355-356.

[11] 29 May 1900 letter from Warren to Isabel Charlotte Church. Courtesy of Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

[12] Warren inscribed Church’s copy on November 12, 1863.

[13] “Andean Snow Peak,” #729 in Gerald L. Carr, Frederic Edwin Church: Catalogue Raisonné of Works of Art at Olana State Historic Site (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 507.

[14] Starr, 355.

[15] Robert Offergeld, liner notes for The Wind Demon, Ivan Davis, piano, New World Records compact disc 80257-2, 9-10.

[16] The 28 Mar 1863 concert at the Brooklyn Academy was advertised in New York Herald 27 Mar 1863 and 28 Mar 1863; announced New York World 28 Mar 1863; previewed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 28 Mar 1863; reviewed New York Times 30 Mar 1863, Brooklyn Daily Eagle 30 Mar1863.

[17] “Amusements,” New York Times, 30 Mar 1863. In another slight aimed at Warren, “Blott” also remarked that during this concert Gottschalk “was recalled after every piece excepting the ‘Heart of the Andes.’”

[18] “Letter from Our New York Art Correspondent,” Boston Evening Transcript 3 Apr 1863.

[19] The 7 Apr 1863 concert in Irving Hall, Manhattan “First Grand Concert Third Series of Mr. L. M. Gottschalk” was  previewed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 3 Apr 1863; advertised New York Herald 2, 3, 5, 6 Apr 1863, New York World 6, 7 Apr 1863; announced New York World 7 Apr 1863; reviewed New York World 10 Apr 1863

A broadside for the concert is reproduced in Thomas Nelson, George Wm. Warren: Bridging the Sacred and Secular in Nineteenth-Century American Music (Albany: Albany Institute of History & Art, 2010), 25. The bottom of the broadside mentions the next concert: “Gottschalk’s Second Grand Concert” on 9 Apr 1863.

The New York World 10 Apr 1863 review specifically mentions Warren and Gottschalk performing “The Andes.” It also refers to a repeat of the concert “last night” (9 Apr, “Second Grand Concert”), but it is not clear if the march was performed again at that concert. “The Andes” is not mentioned in reviews of “Third Grand Concert” 11 Apr 1863 [New York Evening Press 11 Apr 1863, New York Tribune 11 Apr 1863, New York World 11 Apr 1863, New York World 13 Apr 1863]

[20] “From Our N.Y. Musical Correspondent,” Boston Evening Transcript 14 Apr 1863, 1.

[21] Letter to the editor, signed “Philomel,” Musical World, volume 10, number 9 (28 Oct 1854), 102.

[22] “Blott” is identified in correspondence (signed “Jacques”) published in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 22 Apr 1863. Hopkins advertised a concert of his own on 19 May 1863 in the 14, 15, 16 and 19 May 1863 issues of Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Hopkins gave 21 and 24 Oct concerts with Gottschalk, advertised in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10 and 21 Oct 1863.

[23] The 7 Nov 1863 concert in the Brooklyn Academy of Music was advertised in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 3 Nov 1863, 5 Nov 1863, 6 Nov 1863 and 7 Nov 1863; previewed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle 6 Nov 1863; announced New York Tribune 6 Nov 1863; reviewed Brooklyn Daily Eagle 9 Nov 1863.

[24] A broadside for the 9 Nov 1863 concert in Irving Hall, Manhattan (“Grand Gottschalk Concert for the Benefit of the Rose Hill Ladies’ Soldiers Relief Association.” is reproduced in Thomas Nelson, George Wm. Warren: Bridging the Sacred and Secular in Nineteenth-Century American Music (Albany: Albany Institute of History & Art, 2010), 25.

[25] Offergeld, 10.

[26] Starr, 355.

Crotchets and Quavers

George William Warren

When the Albany Morning Express announced George William Warren’s marriage in September 1858, the newspaper mentioned neither his profession, nor his position as St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster. The only identification given is a nickname, “Seven Octave.” Apparently, this was identification enough for their readers, but it means nothing to us. The standard concert grand piano in the mid-nineteenth century had a span of seven octaves. But why would the newspaper identify Warren in such a way?[1]

This question was answered when I chanced on a weekly column published between 1856 and 1858 in the Albany Morning Times. Titled “Crotchets and Quavers,” the column covers Albany music and artistic scene in a lively, gossipy style. And each column is signed “Seven Octave.”

Isabella Hinckley (credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Even without the Morning Express identification, there could be little doubt that George William Warren is the author of “Crotchets and Quavers.” He himself is frequently mentioned, including his concerts, organ exhibitions and the piano juries on which he sat. There is frequent mention of organs and church music, particularly at St. Paul’s and Second Presbyterian, the two churches in which Warren played in this period. And many of the posts relate to Warren’s closest friends: Erastus Dow Palmer, Frederic Edwin Church and Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Seven Octave also frequently updates Albanians on the European operatic careers of Warren’s former soloists at St. Paul’s: Lucy Grant Eastcott (now styled Madame Escott), Henry Squires and Isabella Hinckley.

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

And Warren himself confirms that he used the pen name. After moving to Brooklyn in 1860, Warren began writing dispatches signed “Jem Baggs” in the “Musical Correspondence” column of Dwight’s Journal of Music. In the last of these dispatches, he wrote, “We have written many indifferent gossiping musical letters in our day, and were last known in your paper as Jem Baggs. We like our first name better, and with your permission will hereafter be again a Seven Octave.”[2] Although Warren seems to have intended to continue with his old pen name, this is the last reference to Seven Octave that I can find in Dwight’s Journal.

The scholar S. Frederick Starr found several of these “Crotchets and Quavers” columns pasted (without identification of its source) into a scrapbook belonging to Warren’s friend Louis Moreau Gottschalk. In his Gottschalk biography, Starr mentions four items from the column, all matching those in the Albany Morning Times issue of 24 May 1856.[3] Starr assumed that Gottschalk was the author of the column primarily because Gottschalk later published five compositions under the name Seven Octaves (note the plural). It seems likely that Gottschalk borrowed the pseudonym from Warren. This must be what Gottschalk meant when he wrote in November 1864 that he was “composing five new contraband pieces that are to be published under the aegis of a borrowed paternity.”[4]

“Crotchets and Quavers” is particularly interesting because it was written during an eventful period in George William Warren’s life: his departure from St. Paul’s after eight years as organist and choirmaster, his year at Second Presbyterian, and his return to St. Paul’s. Items in these columns clarify Warren’s reasons for these changes, as well as giving us a detailed look at artistic life in Albany in the period.

For a taste of the content, here a sample of items from “Crotchets and Quavers” for May 24, 1856. Sections quoted by S. Frederick Starr are in bold. Over the next few months, I will post excerpts from all the “Crotchets and Quavers” columns I have located, with notes on their significance for our understanding of both George William Warren and of life in Albany in the 1850s.

Madame Escotte (Mrs. Eastcott that used to be) is singing Verdi’s Traviata in English, at Drury Lane, London.

Speaking of Madame La Grange reminds us that her concert with Gottschalk in this city was a great success in every way. A large and brilliant looking audience graced the occasion and it was decidedly the most elegant musical affair we have ever had in this city. Madame La Grange looked, sang, and was dressed superbly, and displayed wonders of vocalization, such as we never beard, even from Jenny Lind or Madame Sontag. Gottschalk played as only he can play, on two admirable Grands, one of which (the Cecilian) was particularly delightful and seemed to suit him to perfection. The audience were very enthusiastic and the illustrious artistes were rewarded with rapturous applause and beautiful flowers. but [sic] we will not particularize, as we expect a fine critique from the Albany correspondent of the Musical Review, who signs himself Allegro.

The Buckley’s sang well and the Theatre was crowded at their performances. Their burlesques are very funny and the music of them is very enjoyable. Mr. Percival has an admirable voice and Frederick Buckley’s violin playing was a great deal too good for the audiences, who had not the manners to listen to that part of the entertainment which pleased good taste.

We are happy to know that Mr. Cherbuliez, the splendid Basso at St. Peter’s, is receiving many pupils both in singing and French, and he is giving great satisfaction as a teacher. Gottschalk, who lived in Paris for ten years, says his accent is admirable, and we are right glad to have such a musician, linguist and excellent gentlemen to live with us.

Miss Hinkley is going to Italy in about a year, where a thorough course of study will make her one of the great singers for the future.

When people build such high structures as the bank building in Broadway, why do they not put some little finish to the side walls, which in this case show almost as much as the fronts. This is a great fault in our city buildings, which a little paint might very much improve.

The Delevan House improvements are nearly completed, and when we say that it will be the most beautiful [sic] arranged and tastefully ornamented hotel in America, we hardly do it justice.

Domestic musical news is scarce. LaGrange and Gottschalk have come and gone, but the memory of that superb concert will be meat and drink to some folks for a long time.

Boardman, Gray & Co. are making a grand piano, which we soon hope to hear.

Miss Sullivan, the principal Soprano at the cathedral, has an excellent voice, which she uses with much Skill. By the way — the new Trombone stop in Carmody’s Organ is very fine and adds much to the power of the instrument.

Speaking of organs, the one in St. Paul’s Church is miserably out of order, and that bothers – Seven Octave

[1] “Matrimonial Items,” Albany Morning Express 17 Sep 1858, 3.

[2] “Musical Correspondence,” Dwight’s Journal of Music, volume 23 (17 Oct 1863), 119-120.

[3] S. Frederick Starr, Bamboula! (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 234-235.

[4] Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Notes of a Pianist, ed. Jeanne Behrend (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006), 230. The entry is dated 1 Nov 1864.

St. Paul’s “Two Minute Charley”

As we dig out our cars and driveways from yet another Albany snowstorm, I wanted to share a story from a snowy winter 90 years ago. This tale is told in the memoirs of Arthur R. McKinstry, St. Paul’s rector between 1927 and 1931.

Arthur R. McKinstry

In those years, McKinstry tells us, Albanians stored their cars from December until April because of the cold and snow. For transportation, most used trolleys and taxis, renting a car and driver for special occasions.

St. Paul’s rectory was next door to the church, so you might think that McKinstry’s transportation needs would be minimal. But he was also vicar St. Stephen’s in Elsmere. Sundays meant two trips to Delmar: one in the morning for the service and one in the afternoon for the church school. And of course he would be regularly called on for visits to parishioners, weddings and funerals.

Albany NY Knickerbocker Press, June 13 1920

For winter transportation, McKinstry relied on the Albany Motor Renting Corporation, whose garage was located conveniently just up Lancaster Street from the church. This firm offered a variety of services, including taxis, weekend excursions in the country and limousines for weddings, funerals and other special occasions. They boasted that their fleet included the popular Cunningham Car, manufactured in Rochester, New York.

Albany NY Times Union, May 27 1921

In his frequent trips with these drivers, McKinstry learned that they had nicknames for the ministers they frequently transported.

When I begged my informants to tell me what they called me, the chauffeurs balked. However, after much persuading they consented to reveal my nickname. They said, “When you came to the city we didn’t know very much about your terminal facilities. The first funeral we had at St. Paul’s Church was in the dead of winter, a very cold day, and after getting the congregation nicely seated, we all went off to a speak-easy. We had expected you to last at least thirty minutes. But you fooled us. You lasted only fifteen minutes, and we got bawled out by our employers. So we call you “Two Minute Charley.”

Arthur R. McKinstry, All I Have Seen: The McKinstry Memoirs by the Fifth Bishop of Delaware 1939-1954 (Wilmington, Delaware: Serendipity Press, 1975), 36-37.

After leaving Albany, McKinstry had quite an illustrious career, including connections with two presidents. As rector of St. Mark’s, San Antonio, he conducted the wedding of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. And with the intervention of President Franklin Roosevelt (whom he had come to know quite well during his Albany years) he was offered the rectorship of Washington D.C.’s St. Thomas Church, Du Pont Circle. McKinstry declined that offer, but ended his career with another Du Pont connection, as the fifth bishop of Delaware.

Arthur R. McKinstry

Mr. Starkey Returns to Albany

In our first 193 years, no St. Paul’s rector has been a native of Albany, and very few have maintained their connections to this city after leaving Albany for retirement of for their next assignment. And, as far as I knew, the only rector to be buried in Albany was J. Livingston Reese – St. Paul’s rector for a record 27 years – who is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

J. Livingston Reese monument, Albany Rural Cemetery

 

Thomas A. Starkey

I was corrected a few weeks ago in a post by Paula Lemire, the Albany Rural Cemetery historian, about a second St. Paul’s rector resting there: Thomas Albert Starkey, our rector from 1854 until 1858. I was surprised: of our rectors in the 19th century, he was among those with the weakest ties to this city. He was rector at St. Paul’s for four years, and for at least six months of that period was on sick leave and not living here. True, he was also rector at Christ Church, Schenectady for four years. Most importantly, he left St. Paul’s under difficult circumstances, with the congregation in turmoil over his “high-church notions” and hopelessly divided over selection of his successor. Since he went on to become the bishop of Newark, I assumed that he was interred there.

All in all, Thomas Starkey seems one of the least likely of our early rectors to have been buried in Albany. But I had forgotten that his second wife, Julia Rathbone, was an Albany native, and member of a prominent local family. Her brother, John Finley Rathbone, was founder and president of the Rathbone Stove Works. Mr. Starkey’s grave is in the Rathbone plot of the cemetery, next to his wife, and surrounded by other prominent members of the family. Following his funeral in East Orange, New Jersey, Starkey’s remains were brought to Albany, where graveside services were conducted by Bishop William Croswell Doane. Among the assisting clergy was our rector, William Prall, whom Bishop Starkey had ordained to both the diaconate and priesthood.

Gravestone of Thomas Alfred Starkey, Albany Rural Cemetery

 

 

 

 

Inscription on gravestone of Thomas Alfred Starkey, Albany Rural Cemetery

A brief biographical sketch of Bishop Starkey

Thomas A. Starkey

Thomas Albert Starkey was born in 1818, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated as a civil engineer, and worked in that profession in the Pottsville, Pennsylvania area. In 1844, Starkey married Sophia Elizabeth Jackson and the couple had one child, Kate. He was ordained in Pottsville in 1848, and served as a missionary in that region for the next two years.

Thomas A. Starkey was next rector of Christ Church, Troy from 1850 until his call by St. Paul’s, Albany in 1854. Starkey seems to have been troubled by poor health. He twice requested leaves of absence for that reason while at St. Paul’s. The first was withdrawn at the request of the vestry; the second request for leave, and his resignation six months later, were both granted on grounds of his poor health. He later served at churches in Detroit, Washington D.C. (that appointment also ended by his poor health), and New Jersey.

Thomas A. Starkey

Thomas Starkey was elected the second bishop of Northern New Jersey 30 October 1879 and consecrated at Grace Church, Newark on 8 January 1880, serving that diocese (renamed the Diocese of Newark in 1886) until his death in 1903. Sophia Jackson Starkey died in 1869. He married Julia Rathbone (the widow of James C. Kennedy) in 1877, and she survived him, dying in 1916.

George William Warren’s friendship with “the highly gifted Gottschalk”

George William Warren

At St. Paul’s, we remember George William Warren as our organist and choirmaster for 13 years, and certainly as our best known church musician during the 19th century. But during his years as an active musician in Albany (1843 – 1860), George William Warren was busy and creative on a wide scale outside the church: he organized concerts, participated in trials of new organs around the region, published many compositions, both religious and secular, taught private music lessons, organized singing classes and launched the careers of several opera singers, including Lucy Eastcott, Henry Squires and Isabella Hinckley.

This is not a bad record for a young man – Warren was only 32 years old when he left Albany – who has been described as a “self-taught musician.”[1] You might think that Warren was something of a big fish in a small pond, isolated from the larger currents of musical and artistic life in the United States. But it is mistake to think of mid-19th century Albany as an artistic backwater, or of Warren as isolated. This city was the home of or host to several major artists, with frequent connections to the larger artistic world, particularly in New York City. Musicians and artists frequently visited here from New York, and news arrived daily in newspapers and journals carried on Hudson steamers and the railroad. George William Warren was part of that busy exchange.

Erastus Dow Palmer (credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

During his years in Albany, Warren developed close friendships with two nationally known figures. In Albany, he met sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer. Palmer’s daughter remembered that Warren was “an intimate friend and frequent guest in our house.”[2] In an 1884 letter of introduction, Palmer wrote “Mr. Warren has been and is one of my dearest friends for thirty years.”[3] And Warren’s 1857 composition “Song of the Robin” was “[d]edicated to his distinguished friend, E.D. Palmer of Albany.”

 

 

 

 

Frederic Edwin Church (credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, Allen County Public Library)

By the mid-1850s, Warren had also become close to New York City artist Frederic Edwin Church[4], then at the peak of his career as a landscape painter.[5] In a lively correspondence in 1856 – 1857, Church addressed one of his letters to “My dear friend Warren,” and another “To my amiable George.”[6] And Warren’s 1857 composition “Cobweb Tarantella” was “[d]edicated to his eminent friend, Frederick E. Church of New York.”

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

This creative trio of American artists expanded in October 1855 when Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the internationally known piano virtuoso and composer, arrived for a concert in Albany. Palmer and Warren both attended the concert[7], and Warren subsequently provided Church with a letter of introduction to Gottschalk.[8] An “enduring close friendship”[9] developed among the artists, enhancing the creative efforts of all four.

 

George William Warren met Gottschalk two days before the concert, when the two met in private. In a contribution to a local newspaper, signed only with his initials, Warren described his initial reaction:

Gottschalk’s Concert – For the first time I have heard Gottschalk! He was so kind as to play for me on Saturday morning for more than an hour but I can but attempt to describe the effect he produces. I can only say that the great expectations I have formed of his wonder[f]ul ability were more than twice realized. All the extravagant praises which we have seen of his European triumphs are no ideal words, and he comes up to them all, and sets adjectives in despair.

Let every music student, and, in fact, why will not every person who owns a piano, go to his Concert this evening, and hear what a glorious instrument it becomes under the matchless fingers of this greatest of players yet heard in this country? Yes! You may have heard [Maurice] Strakosch, and [Marie] Jaell and [William] Mason, but there is something in Gottschalk which places him at the head of this most brilliant art; and what we say does not make us like Strakosch, Jaell or Mason the less, only the highly gifted Gottschalk the more.

Go then, one and all, and see if this is not the truth.

G.W.W.[10]

Years later, Warren described the effect of that first hearing, and of the power of Gottschalk’s  personality:

Gottschalk came to Albany (where I was then living) in October, 1855. I then heard him for the first time, and succumbed at once. It was love at first sight, – love for the man, his genius, his most extraordinary playing, and the utter (inner) simplicity of character, which I discovered at a glance; although many, who were never willing to do him justice, saw only the outside man in evening dress, decorated with medals, and doing his utmost to please a promiscuous audience. They knew not Gottschalk in private life, at the piano (he was always there), with a few warm friends listening, — the tender-hearted, sensitive artist and loyal friend, ready with extended arm to help any poor struggling wight of the key-board, — ready with a good word and resistless smile to reward the efforts of his confrères of the profession.[11]

And, writing under the pseudonym “Jem Baggs”[12], Warren described Gottschalk’s effect on him:

[Gottschalk] is decidedly the musical Lion of the present. There is something in Gottschalk which pleases me beyond all the pianists I have heard. He has all the technical execution to absolute perfection and more besides, which is just Gottschalk and nothing else. In his inspired moments he sends an electricity through his hearers, indescribable to such as myself who cannot write half I feel or think, but which is irresistible to all; but why attempt what I cannot do, for I am not able to write of him as could wish or he deserves.[13]

The friendship among these four continued for Warren’s remaining years in Albany, although, of necessity, much of Warren’s contact with Church and Gottschalk was by letter.[14] From Warren’s correspondence with Church, however, we know that he visited Church in New York City, and on one occasion was planning a joint trip there with Palmer.[15]

Despite both Warren’s and Gottschalk’s description of an intimate personal and professional friendship, two Gottschalk scholars describe the two as an odd couple. Gottschalk’s biographer, S. Frederick Starr, argues that Gottschalk and Warren represent divergent strands in American Music. In contrast to Gottschalk, who represented an emotional, unrestrained, aesthetic new type of music,

Warren stood in the same solid Yankee tradition as Lowell Mason, even to the point of editing a major Protestant hymnal, Warren’s Hymns and Tunes. Yet while he and Gottschalk stood on opposite sides of many fault lines running through American life, Warren was drawn at once to the composer from New Orleans.[16]

The same theme is struck by Robert Offergeld:

One of the more amusing aspects of the lifelong friendship between Gottschalk and Warren is that Gottschalk, the flagrantly antipuritanical young virtuoso, seldom failed to enchant the most respectable people. Socially Gottschalk was unreservedly liked (doubtless to the extreme irritation of Dwight[17]), by numbers of proper Bostonians, including Mason, the Chickerings, Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the F.G. Hills, the James Thomas Field. But Gottschalk seemed specially attractive also to the officially most respectable of all musicians – those who composed nineteenth-century America’s hymns, and in the 1850s they were the largest, the most successful, and by far the most solvent composing fraternity in the Western World.[18]

But I think Starr and Offergeld do not fully appreciate George William Warren’s own strain of emotion and enthusiasm. They seem not to be aware that by 1855, Warren had published at least 17 popular pieces including eight lively dance numbers: three schottisches, two polkas, two waltzes, two tarantellas, and a redowa.[19]

Even his religious works could not be described as sober or restrained. A contemporary reviewer opined, “I cannot concede that the style of music usually performed in this church [St Paul’s, Albany] is that of legitimate church music. A great portion of it is of Mr. Warren’s own composition, and is, in most instances, very nicely wedded to the words: yet I am more reminded of the concert room by it than of the church.”[20]

The anonymous reviewer Philomel in describing the celebration of a new Hook organ at St. Paul’s Church, Troy, wrote, “Mr. Geo. Wm. Warren organist of St Paul’s Albany next extemporised in his usual fanciful and somewhat comic style.”[21]

When Warren objected light-heartedly to this characterization, Philomel explained that he intended no disrespect, that he was merely describing Warren’s “off-hand, dashing, sprightly, operatic, and in view of his unmistakably volatile temperament, occasionally comic style. Indeed a man cannot break away from the general current of his thoughts, and Mr. Warren’s musical expressions are the natural outbursts of a heart, (to all outward appearance at least) free from care, and overflowing in its excess of joy.”[22]

All of this sounds very similar to the descriptions of the emotion-driven improvisations that were at the heart of Gottschalk’s compositions.[23] Warren certainly wrote sober, four-square hymn tunes; if he is remembered at all today, it is for “National Hymn,” the tune to which the hymn “God of Our Fathers” is usually sung. But the George William Warren of the late 1850s was far closer to the spirit of Moreau Gottschalk than that of Lowell Mason. No wonder that Gottschalk told his student and friend, Mary Alice Ives Seymour, “Warren’s sympathy for me is perfect – he understands every phase of my nature.”[24]

Louis Moreau Gottschalk and George William Warren, Saratoga Springs 1864 (credit: Gottschalk Collection, New York Public Library)

The intimacy and compatibility of these friends is best exemplified by their collaboration on Warren’s composition “The Andes,” for which Gottschalk helped produce a two-piano version that was the hit of New York concert halls in the spring of 1863. In my next post, I will turn to this work, an homage to “Heart of the Andes,” painted by their mutual friend, Frederic E. Church.

[1] So described in an obituary for G.W. Warren’s son, Richard Henry Warren, cited in Bridget Falconer-Salkeld, “Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Evidence for the Dedication of ‘Adieu funèbre’,” American Music, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Fall, 2007), 357.

The claim in Warren’s obituary that his “musical education was received at Racine College, Wis.” is surely mistaken. Racine College was founded in 1852, at least four years after Warren says he began his career as a professional musician. “Dr. George W. Warren Dies from Apoplexy,” New York Times, 17 Mar 1902. Warren received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Racine College in 1883. “Religious News and Comment,” The Brooklyn Union 4 Aug 1883.

[2] Letter of Frances Palmer, Frances Palmer Gavit Papers, Albany Institute of History and Art, quoted in Falconer-Salkeld, 357.

[3] E. D. Palmer’s 21 Apr 1884 letter of introduction for Warren to John Quincy Adams Ward, quoted in J. Carson Webster, Erastus D. Palmer (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1983), 312.

[4] Church did not move to The Farm (later the site of Olana) until 1861. Olana Partnership, “Frederic Church and Olana Timeline,” https://www.olana.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SLDP-Timeline-Susan-Turner.pdf accessed 6 Jul 2020.

[5] Falconer-Salkeld, 356.

[6] Four letters from Church to Warren, dated Apr 1856 – Jun 1857, quoted at length in Falconer-Salkeld, 359-360.

[7] A month after the concert, Gottschalk sent Warren “my regards to our eminent, amiable, and sympathetic friend, Palmer.” 10 Nov 1855 letter from Gottschalk to Warren, transcribed in Octavia Hensel (pseudonym of Mary Alice Ives Seymour), Life and Letters of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (Boston: Oliver Ditson and Company, 1870), 71-72.

[8] A digital copy of Church’s 24 Apr 1856 letter thanking Warren for writing “a note of introduction to Mr. Gottschalk” is available at New York Public Library Digital Collections https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/be606a96-8ea9-19e1-e040-e00a18066e03 accessed 9 Jul 2020.

Church probably met Gottschalk when he attended a Gottschalk concert in New York City later that winter. S. Frederick Starr, Bamboula!: The Life and Times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 215.

[9] Falconer-Salkeld, 356.

[10] “City News,” Albany Evening Journal, 22 Oct 1855, page 2.

[11] 20 Apr 1870 letter from Warren to Octavia Hensel, transcribed in Hensel, 208.

[12] I find five “Jem Baggs” posts in the “Musical Correspondence” column of Dwight’s Journal of Music, all but one datelined Brooklyn: I Dec 1860, 285-286, dated 14 Nov; 19 Jan 1861, 343, dated 14 Jan 1861; 27 Jul 1861, 134-135, dated 22 Jul; 7 Sep 1861, 181-182, “Aurora, Cayuga Lake, N.Y.”, dated 26 Aug; 22 Feb 1862, 374, dated 18 Feb.

Thomas Nelson identifies “Jem Baggs” as a Warren pseudonym. Thomas Nelson, George Wm. Warren: Bridging the Sacred and Secular in Nineteenth-Century American Music (Albany: Albany Institute of History & Art, 2010), 22-24.

[13] “Musical Correspondence,” Dwight’s Journal of Music, 22 Feb 1862, 374. Dateline: Brooklyn, 18 Feb.

[14] Falconer-Salkeld, 357.

[15] Each of the four letters from Church to Warren, dated Apr 1856 – Jun 1857 (and quoted at length in Falconer-Salkeld, 359-360) mentions planned visits by Palmer and Warren to New York City. Warren also mentions having been “with him [Church] many times when he painted the ‘Andes’,” which would have been at Church’s New York City studio in 1858 or early 1859. [Letter from Warren to Church’s daughter Isabel Charlotte Church in the Olana State Historic Site Archives, quoted in Thomas Nelson, George Wm. Warren: Bridging the Sacred and Secular in Nineteenth-Century American Music, 26.]

[16] Starr, 215.

[17] John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, and a venomous critic of Gottschalk and his music.

[18] Robert Offergeld, liner notes for The Wind Demon, Ivan Davis, piano, New World Records compact disc 80257-2, 8.

[19] Nelson, 36-37.

[20] Musical World and Times, New York, volume vii, number 161(?) (3 Dec 1853), 107.

[21] “The World of Music,” Musical World, volume 10, number 9 (28 Oct 1854), 102.

[22] “Musical Correspondence, “Musical World, volume 10, number 17 (23 Dec 1854), 206. For a later description of Warren’s skill at improvisation, see “New York’s Church Organists. Some of the Great Musicians Who Direct the Choirs in This City” New York Herald, issue 110 (20 Apr 1890), 25.

[23] Starr, 233-234.

[24] Hensel, 207.

Centennial of the Harry J. Van Allen Tablet

Harry Van Allen Memorial Plaque

It was one hundred years today that the brass tablet honoring the ministry of Harry John Van Allen, first deaf priest in the Diocese of Albany, was installed near the baptistery of St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building. The service that Sunday afternoon featured a sermon by our rector, Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks, an address by Oliver Allen Betts, principal of the New York School for the Deaf in Rome, and a musical program by St. Paul’s choir. Mr. Betts interpreted the service and the music for the many deaf persons who attended. The tablet was unveiled by Harry’s daughter, Mary Oliver Van Allen. The tablet was originally paired with a bas relief of Harry, which, unfortunately, we no longer have.[i]

In his sermon, Dr. Brooks “upheld Dr. Van Allen’s life as an example for all persons.” I’m pleased that the tablet is still prominently displayed near the chapel door, still reminding us of Harry Van Allen’s life of service.

Harry Van Allen

As an aside, I’d like to expand on a point made In a previous post in which I told something of Harry Van Allen’s impressive record as missionary to the deaf in the dioceses of Albany and Central New York. I mentioned briefly that Bishop William Croswell Doane had initially been reluctant to accept Van Allen as a candidate for holy orders. This is a controversy we know about only thanks to two articles in The Silent Worker, a publication of the New Jersey School for Deaf-Mutes. The first, from October 1895, reports:

We are informed that Mr. Van Allen, formerly an instructor in the Pennsylvania Institution, having studied for the ministry, applied some time ago to the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Albany, for ordination. The Bishop thought that it would be against the rules of the church to ordain to the ministry a man who is deaf, and he expressed his intention to bring the question up before the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.

We have followed the reports of the Convention, so far as published up to our going to press, but have seen not notice of such action.

There was, at last date, a proposed canon on ordination in committee, but the text was not given in the reports.

The question was settled in favor of the deaf, so far as the diocese of Pennsylvania is concerned, some twelve years ago, we think, when the late Henry Winter Syle presented his learned and well-reasoned argument in support of his own application to be ordained by Bishop Stevens.”[ii]

followed by this update two months later:

We learn that Bishop Doane of the Diocese of Albany has, after careful investigation, changed his opinion that a deaf man cannot properly be admitted to the ministry, and has decided to ordain Mr. Henry (sic) Van Allen. We are very glad to hear this, as Mr. Van Allen will, we are sure from our knowledge of him, be a useful and acceptable minister to the deaf.

The Bishop’s willingness to change a conviction formed on insufficient consideration does him honor.[iii]

William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany (credit: Library of Congress)

Bishop Doane’s own description of Harry’s ordination to the diaconate mentions the question of the “fitness” of ordaining a deaf person, and concludes with an aside that may explain his reluctance:

Friday, December 16th [1898], in the Cathedral, I ordained the Rev. Harry Van Allen to the diaconate. Dr. Silliman presented him and Dr. Pendleton preached the sermon. The Rev. Dr. Chamberlain interpreted the service, being one of the three clergymen devoted to the deaf-mute work. There were present beside, the Rev. Canon Fulcher, the Rev. Dr. Sill, and Messrs. J. N. Marvin, Paul Birdsall and Hegeman. Dr. Pendleton’s sermon added greatly to the interest of the service, both in its vindication of the fitness of ordaining a deaf-mute to the sacred ministry, nd in its statement of the work that has been already accomplished among them.

While I have no question that such an ordination is perfectly justified, I felt bound to instruct the deacon, who is able somewhat to use articulate speech, always to repeat the words in the administration of Holy Baptism with his lips, in addition to saying them in the sign language.[iv]

Harry Van Allen (courtesy Gallaudet University Archives)

It appears, then, that Bishop Doane was not in agreement with those bishops who, believing “that impairment of one of the senses was an impediment to ordination,” had opposed the 1876 ordination of Henry Winter Syle.[v] Rather, Doane, was concerned that the words of a sacrament (for a deacon, baptism) be spoken aloud. Because Harry Van Allen had become deaf at age 9, he spoke intelligibly, and was able to comply with this requirement.

[i] “Bronze Tablet Erected in St. Paul’s Church to Memory of Dr. Van Allen,” Albany Knickerbocker Press 14 Jun 1920.

[ii] The Silent Worker, volume 8, number 2 (October 1895), 9.

[iii] The Silent Worker, volume 8, number 4 (December 1895), 8.

[iv] “The Bishop’s Address,” Journal of the Proceedings of the Thirty-first Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Albany (Albany: Weed-Parsons Printing, 1899), 45.

[v] Episcopal Church, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (New York: Church Pub. Inc., 2010), 542.