Category Archives: Music

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.

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.

Donald Shore Candlyn

Donald Shore Candlyn

Last Sunday, I shared some of the treasures of Christmases past that were preserved in the four folio volumes of Grace McKinlay Kennedy’s Memory Book. Today marks a more solemn occasion, one that Mrs. Kennedy has also preserved. Today is the 75th anniversary of the death of Donald Shore Candlyn.

I’ve written about Donald Shore Candlyn, who died heroically in the Battle of the Bulge. But reading through Mrs. Kennedy’s scrapbooks, I’ve found some more details. First, an original photograph of the 19-year-old sergeant. And also the citation for Candlyn’s posthumous Silver Star, contained in a letter to T.F.H. Candlyn from Major General Edward F. Witsell of the Adjutant General’s Office, dated 20 Aug 1945. Military censors have replaced both the precise location of the events and Candlyn’s regiment number with asterisks.

Silver Star

For gallantry in action near ****, on December 26th, 1944.

On the evening of 26 December 1944, Company E, ** Infantry Regiment, completed a successful attack and entered the town of ****. Communication lines between the company and the Battalion Command Post had been disrupted by enemy fire and as the company failed to establish contact by radio, it was necessary to send a runner to the Command Post for further orders. The man assigned this mission was held up by heavy enemy fire, and did not get through. Sergeant Candlyn, assistant mortar section sergeant, volunteered. He ran forward through intense fire, and before reaching the Battalion Command Post was killed by a sniper’s bullet. His unusual courage under enemy fire and his aggressiveness in action reflect the highest credit upon Sergeant Candlyn and the armed forces of the United States.

 

Veterans Day 2019: Dirk Roor

Memorial plaque for World War II Dead

In a previous post, I wrote about  the 255 men and women from St. Paul’s church who served in the Second World War and about the plaque bearing the names of those who died in that service. That post concentrated on one of those names, Donald Shore Candlyn. On this Veterans Day, I’d like to tell you about another of the fifteen named.

Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 17 May 1934)

Dirk Roor was born in Albany in 1925. Both of his parents were recent immigrants from the Netherlands, and the first time we find Dirk mentioned in the newspapers is this picture of him, age 9, dressed in a traditional Dutch costume, including wooden clogs.

Dirk had been baptized in Albany’s First Reformed Church, but his mother (who had beem widowed in 1934) enrolled him in T. Frederick H. Candlyn’s choir of men and boys at St. Paul’s. The next time we find him mentioned in the newspapers, he is again in costume, but this time for Halloween, posing with other trebles from St. Paul’s choir and the choirmaster’s wife, Dorothy Ridgway Candlyn.

Choirboys’ Halloween. Dirk Roor is at left.  (Knickerbocker News 28 Oct 1938)

Dirk is probably also in this formal picture of the 1937 St. Paul’s choir, but I have been unable to identify him.

St. Paul’s Choir, with T.F.H. Candlyn, 1937

After graduating from Albany High School, Roor enlisted in the Army Air Forces in March 1944. He was a turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator that was declared missing in a combat mission over Hungary in March 1945, and his mother received confirmation of his death five months later. At the time of his death, three months before the German surrender, Sergeant Roor was 19 years old.

Sgt. Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 24 Aug 1945)

Dirk Roor is buried in his parents’ native country, in the American cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands.

Loyalty Week, 1955

Last year, Jennifer Johnston shared with us the program from St. Paul’s 1990 production of “Fat, Fat Jehoshaphat.” Now Jennifer has made another discovery: a brochure produced over 60 years ago as part of a St. Paul’s stewardship campaign. The leaflet includes photographs of a typical Sunday at St. Paul’s, giving us a view of the state of the parish in that period.

This 1955 stewardship campaign was called “Loyalty Week,” beginning on November 13 of that year. This brochure was distributed, and “The Messenger” (which was mailed weekly to every household) encouraged families to bring their pledge cards to church on Sunday. The preacher that day was Arthur R. McKinstry, rector of St. Paul’s from 1927 until 1931, and by this time the Bishop of Delaware.

Arthur R. McKinstry

This was only nine years after the end of World War II, at the height of the Red scare (the Army–McCarthy hearings had been held the previous year), the year after the armistice that paused (but did not end) the Korean war, and at the beginning of the Cold War. With both the United States and the Soviet Union testing nuclear weapons, the United States in January of that year had begun development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. We have to agree with Deacon Mole (a character in the Walt Kelly comic strip “Pogo”) that the newspapers in that period were “Full of Doom, Gloom and rumors of Boom.”

 

 

 

 

No wonder, then that prominently placed on the brochure’s front page, in all capital letters and a bold typeface, is the warning “CIVILIZATION IS IN PERIL IN AN ATOMIC WORLD, IF THE WORLD IS UNCHRISTIAN!”

Loyalty Week 1955: Brochure Cover

Once we flip to page two, however, the view is much sunnier. There are five photographs:

Nave, with 324 worshipers:

Loyalty Week 1955: The Nave

A Sunday school room:

Loyalty Week 1955: Sunday School Classroom

Women’s luncheon:

Loyalty Week 1955: Luncheon

Women’s group, at work sewing):

Loyalty Week 1955: The Church at Work

There are no corresponding photographs of men’s participation, but a text block assures us of their active involvement.

Loyalty Week 1955: Men’s Activities

Chancel Choir and clergy (the rector, F. Graham Luckenbill and his assistant, Robert J. Evans). The choirmaster, Clarence A. Hollister, is on the far right of the middle row.

Loyalty Week 1955: Chancel Choir and Clergy

The accompanying text describes an active, growing parish, and includes annual statistics of 25 baptisms, 35 transfers and 19 confirmed. “This is far from sensational, but it is also far from standing still.” The author highlights increases over the previous year with both Sunday attendance and Sunday School enrollment doubled. These are certainly noteworthy increases, but one wonders why that particular comparison is made.

Loyalty Week 1955: Note from the Vestry

Milton W. Hamilton’s 1977 history of the parish provides the necessary context: the previous years had been a very difficult one for St. Paul’s:

The Reverend Oliver D. Carberry, who became rector in 1948, was an able and effective preacher, but he became involved in a controversy over church music, in which he was opposed by several vestrymen. There were other disagreements and several resignations from the vestry. Feelings ran high, and a number of families left the church. A call by one vestryman to stop this trend was tabled. The Reverend Mr. Carberry resigned February 22, 1954, to accept a call to St. Paul’s Church, Fairfield, Conn. The loss in membership, however, was reflected in less financial support. A contributing factor was that now few members lived in the downtown area. In 1948 a rectory had been purchased in western Albany. The Reverend F. Graham Luckenbill (1954-1958) recognized the need for a parking area, and it was necessary to take out a large bank loan to buy a lot for this purpose.

The impression of a thriving parish in 1955, then, relied on a comparison with the previous year, which had been a disaster. And the long term problems that had weakened St. Paul’s (white flight from downtown Albany, the decline of the neighborhood, loss of families because of controversies and debt) could not be easily overcome.

Clarence A. Hollister

In addition to the resignations of the rector in 1954, choirmaster Walter Witherspoon had resigned in September 1955, to be replaced by Clarence A. Hollister.

Bishop Frederick L. Barry

We have not found records of the results of this Loyalty Week, but the long-term demographic changes in the neighborhood would only continue to worsen for the next few years. Within three years, the parish was so weakened that when F. Graham Luckenbill resigned as rector in 1958, Bishop Barry appointed Luckenbill’s curate, Donald I. Judson, as priest-in-charge, discouraged the vestry from calling a new rector, and suggested that St. Paul’s either merge with another parish, or construct a new building elsewhere in the city. As we saw in an earlier post, the vestry rejected Bishop Barry’s advice, and instead called Nelson F. Parke.

But in October 1955, those challenges seemed surmountable, and we can appreciate the enthusiasm and vision of those who organized Loyalty Week and produced this brochure, promoting an enthusiastic view of St. Paul’s future.

My thanks to Jenn! What other treasures may she be able to find?

St. Paul’s Tiffany Window

Even long-time members of St. Paul’s may not be aware that our building contains a Tiffany[i] window. Because “Christ the Good Shepherd” is in the vesting room, only clergy, servers and altar guild are able to see it regularly.

“Christ the Good Shepherd” window

We have mentioned before that ten of the Lancaster Street nave windows (most of them the work of J. & R. Lamb Studios) were moved to the narthex of our current building in 1966. Unfortunately, less than forty years later, the windows’ supports were found to be unstable, and they were sold, replaced by contemporary stained glass. So it is that only the Tiffany “Christ the Good Shepherd” remains of windows from the Lancaster nave. Windows from the Memorial Chapel on Lancaster Street, however, can still be found in our chapel.

J. Livingston Reese

This window is a memorial to John Livingston Reese, rector of St. Paul’s from 1864 until 1891. Those twenty-seven years make Reese St. Paul’s longest-serving rector. A history of the church where Reese served before St. Paul’s described Reese, “known years afterward as the aristocratic rector of St Paul’s Church, Albany,” as “[t]all, well-built, a veritable patrician, with a keen analytical mind, and eloquent, born to command.”[ii] He must have been an imposing figure indeed, and perhaps more respected than loved by many. Reese left a sizable endowment to St. Paul’s, which provided significant income to St. Paul’s in the early twentieth century. He is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

J. Livingston Reese monument, Albany Rural Cemetery

Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson

Funds for the window were raised by a committee of women of the parish, chaired by Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson. It was unveiled on November 12, 1899 in a service with a special musical program, overseen by organist and choirmaster George Edgar Oliver.[iii]

George Edgar Oliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albany Times Union 11 Nov 1899

The original design included a panel of equal size with images of two adoring angels that stood above the image of the good shepherd.[iv] In 1964, the angel window (with all of the windows not moved to the Hackett Boulevard building) was auctioned by New York State, and sold to Chapman Stained Glass Studios in Albany.[v] The windows fate after that sale is not known.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] See the Tiffany Census http://www.cambridge2000.com/tiffany/html/site/3.2.8.html last accessed 02 Jun 2018.

[ii] “Fiftieth Anniversary of St. Paul’s Church, Lock Haven, Pa.” The Church Standard, 7 October 1905, 731.

[iii] “Tribute of Love: the Reese Memorial Window in St. Paul’s Church,” Albany Times Union 11 Nov 1899. See also an almost identical article “In Memory of Dr. Reese” in the Albany Evening Journal 11 Nov 1899, 10.

[iv] “Tribute of Love”. See also the Tiffany Census http://www.cambridge2000.com/tiffany/html/site/3.2.2.html last accessed 02 Jun 2018.

[v] Files of the New York State Office of General Services related to demolition for the South Mall, held by the New York State Archives, box 16209-91, folder “Demolition — St. Paul’s Church.”

Bill White, Chorister

Recollections of St. Paul’s Boy Choir, circa 1943

St. Paul’s archives recently received a donation from long-time parishioner Bill White: a portrait of Bill robed as a St. Paul’s chorister about 1943. Bill vividly remembers his service in the choir of men and boys under organist and choirmaster Raymond Sherwood Halse. The fifteen boys rehearsed three times each week: twice by themselves, and once with the men of the choir.

Bill White as a St. Paul’s chorister, about 1943

But the choir was not only work. Bill also remembers that each Sunday Mr. Halse rated each boys’ performance. An A+ rating earned the boy a trip to Rheingold’s Pharmacy at 264 Lark (the corner of Lark and Hudson streets) for an ice cream soda. In the summer, Bill remembers that the boys had a vacation, with no rehearsals required, either at the YMCA camp on Cossayuna Lake near Salem, New York, or on Burden Lake in Rensselaer County.

These rewards were not new to the choir. The tradition of summer vacations at Lake Cossayuna went back until at least 1922, and were carried forward by Bill’s choirmaster, Raymond J. Halse, who had himself sung in St. Paul’s choir as a boy.

And a bit about Bill White’s Choirmaster…

When Raymond Halse was first listed in the choir roster in 1909, the choirmaster was Robert H. Moore, who had founded the twentieth century boy’s choir at St. Paul’s in May 1906, four months after Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks became rector.[i]

Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

Halse initially sang for Robert H. Moore as a soprano, then as an alto beginning in 1913, the year he was alto soloist.[ii] Moore resigned in March or April 1915[iii], and later that year, T.F.H. Candlyn arrived to begin his long and successful tenure at St. Paul’s.

T. Frederick H. Candlyn at St. Paul’s organ.

Ray Halse continued as an alto through Candlyn’s first year.[iv] But his connection with St. Paul’s and Candlyn did not end in 1916. Halse began to study organ with Candlyn[v], and also arranged service music performed by the choir.[vi] As a student at Albany High School, Halse also studied with George Edgar Oliver, St. Paul’s organist from 1887 until 1901.[vii] And Halse was also a student of Frank Sills Rodgers, organist at St. Peter’s Church, and served as Rodgers’s assistant, substituting for him during the summer.[viii]

George Edgar Oliver

Following his graduation from Albany High School in 1917, as a result of this excellent experience and training, Halse won jobs at Fourth Reformed Church (1918-1921) and Third Reformed Church (1921-1943).[ix]

In addition to his duties as organist and choirmaster, Halse had a day job, working as office manager at a pharmaceutical company. And he had interests in popular music as well. During the First World War, he arranged the song “We’ll Make the Germans All Sing Yankee Doodle Doo,” with lyrics by fellow Albany High graduate, David M. Kinnear. Halse was also a member of (and frequent accompanist for) the Mendelssohn Society.[x]

“We’ll Make the Germans All Sing Yankee Doodle Doo,” arranged by Raymond S. Halse

Candlyn left St. Paul’s in 1943 move to St. Thomas Church in Manhattan, and Halse was quickly hired to replace his mentor, beginning on October 1 of that year. So, Halse was quite new as organist and choirmaster when Bill White sang for him. During 1947, in addition to his other church duties, Halse directed “St. Paul’s School of Music,” offering lessons in piano, organ and voice at the parish hall address on Jay Street.[xi] Halse was to remain at St. Paul’s until his resignation in 1950, when he returned the Third Reformed Church.

[i] By autumn of the same year, the Albany Evening Journal reported:

The choir of men and boys and St. Paul’s church, under the direction of Robert H. Moore, is receiving many flattering comments upon the splendid work being done. The boys were organized in May, with the intention of displacing the ladies then connected with the choir, and since September have been singing all the services. There has been no change in the high class of music formerly used in St. Paul’s, the difficult anthems and morning and evening services being rendered with fine volume and tone. The choir meets for rehearsal four times each week, three being for boys only and one for men and boys combined. [“Music Notes,” Albany Evening Journal, no date available, but likely Nov 1906.]

[ii] St. Paul’s Year Books for 1909 – 1916.

[iii] Moore, explaining his resignation, said “that his action is entirely voluntary, and gives as his reason that the music committee wished to try a system of choir management which did not meet with his approval.” [“R.H. Moore, Organist at St. Paul’s 12 Years, Resigns,” Albany Evening Journal, no date available, but about April 1915.]

[iv] St. Paul’s Year Book for 1915; St. Paul’s Year Book for 1916.

[v] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,” Albany Times Union 26 Sep 1943.

[vi] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies,” Albany Times Union 13 Nov 1969.

[vii] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies”.

[viii] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”.

[ix] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”.

[x] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies”.

[xi] A total of seven classified advertisements in the Albany Times Union and Knickerbocker News during March and August 1947.

The Albany Theatre Becomes the Home of St. Paul’s Church

As we saw in our earlier post, the first period for the Albany Theatre ended with Henry W. Preston’s surrender of the lease to the Albany Theatre Association on April 1, 1839. Fifteen managers in almost as many years had staged the best of drama with some of the finest actors of the time, but none was able to consistently make money for the investors. The Association chose to sell, and found an unusual purchaser. Just as had happened with the Green Street Theatre earlier in the century, the Albany Theatre was sold to a church, St. Paul’s Episcopal.

St. Paul’s, Ferry Street

In February 1839, St. Paul’s was a dozen years old, but like the theater, had never been able to find financial security. Founded in 1827, the congregation had moved two years later into their new building on South Ferry Street. In this period, Albany was growing rapidly as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. Trade on the canal brought in many new residents, and the South End was the area of most rapid growth. St. Paul’s was something of an experiment: the hope was that the new congregation could attract St. Peter’s parishioners who had moved to the South End, but also draw residents of the area who were unchurched. This plan would only work if those attracted were able to support the church by purchasing a pew and paying an additional annual pew rent. At that time, this was the most common way of supporting a church.

Diagram of Ferry Street Church, showing pew appraisals

The new church building was quite expensive, and the vestry went deep into debt, assuming that they would be able to pay the principal and interest as new members purchased pews. But the expected influx of new residents did not occur, and those newcomers who did join were not able to purchase pews. St. Paul’s found itself on the underpopulated edge of the city, with pews not paid for, and unable to pay its creditors. The congregation struggled for several years, but the crisis came in January 1839, when a court ordered them to sell the building in order to pay the creditors.

We do not know if St. Paul’s vestry had another option, but we do wonder why they chose a new site only three short blocks from St. Peter’s Church, the other Episcopal Church in the city of Albany. In the same January 24 vestry meeting at which the decision was made to sell the Ferry Street building, the vestry also agreed to obtain a right of refusal for purchase of the theater. And they took the first steps toward modifying the theater by hiring Henry Rector “to draw plans and estimate expenses of alterations necessary to convert the Theatre into a Church.” A month later, the vestry closed the sale on the theater, and approved plans by Rector to convert the building for use as a church.[i]

And so St. Paul’s moved from one Philip Hooker-designed building (the Ferry Street church) to another (the Albany Theatre). This was doubly appropriate, because Hooker’s parents had been among the earliest communicants of St. Paul’s.[ii]

At the sale of the building, the Albany Theatre Association turned over all the original stock certificates to St. Paul’s. The association also provided the congregation (for reasons that are not clear) with a “Schedule containing a list of Scenery &c in the Theatre belonging to the proprietors.”

Booklet documenting sale of Albany Theatre stock to St. Paul’s Church

With sale of the Ferry Street building in July, St. Paul’s had no place to meet. The congregation of St. Peter’s invited the homeless congregation to join with them during the interim, and the two congregations met together for the next eight months, with the two rectors, William Ingraham Kip and Horatio Potter, sharing clerical responsibilities. This was the second time the congregations had share ministers. The first was 1832, when St. Paul’s rector, William Linn Keese, also served St. Peter’s, when it was between rectors.

Trinity Church (image credit: Albany Group Archive)

But the entire congregation did not leave the South End. In a major split, a number of St. Paul’s families, including those of several vestry members, chose to stay in the South End and continue faithful to the original purpose. They formed a new congregation, to be known as Trinity Church. The new congregation was not strong or wealthy in its early years, but by 1848 they were able to build a handsome building on what is now Trinity Place, where they remained until they closed in about 1980.[iii]

As to the modifications necessary, Dr. Kip remembered later that “there was nothing left of the original edifice, but the four walls and roof.”[iv] The extent of the modifications is confirmed by a 14-page proposal in our archive (probably the Henry Rector plan), with detailed description of the modifications, beginning with the statement:

To accomplish the object intended, it will be necessary first to remove all the floors, partitions, boxes, seats & etc. in the interior of said building; leaving the whole area enclosed by the exterior walls from the cellar to the [word illegible] of the principal tie beams in one unencumbered space and then proceed to the construction of the walls, partitions, floors, galleries, seats, pulpit, chancel, ceilings and rooms for sextons & etc. as shown by the annexed plans.

Given the congregation’s financial condition, there were limits to what could be done. They were not able, for instance, to afford stained glass for the windows, and had to settle for “common ground glass.”[v]

St. Paul’s was, however, able to afford a new organ, replacing the instrument sold with the Ferry Street building. Negotiations began in early 1839, and by May of that year, the New York City musical instrument dealer Firth and Hall had agreed to liberal financing. This instrument, designed and built by Thomas Robjohn, under contract with Firth and Hall, was installed in September 1840.[vi]

The women of the parish also raised money to purchase communion chalices and paten that are still in use at St. Paul’s.[vii]

One of the chalices purchased in 1839

The extensive renovations took longer than expected. The congregation initially expected to be in the new building by November 1839[viii], but the renovations were not completed until February of the next year.

The remodeled building was consecrated by Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk, Bishop of New York. The event had originally been scheduled for February 21, but “in consequence of the state of the roads” the bishop was not able to reach the city, and it was postponed until February 22.

A newspaper account of the consecration describes the renovated building:

We have heard but one opinion of the interior of this spacious edifice. Without pretension to architectural display, the effect is nevertheless admirable – and the arrangement and rich but chaste finish, well adapted to the sacred uses to which the building is now appropriated.[ix]

This account concludes with the reminder that the sale of pews would begin the next day. St. Paul’s continued to fund itself by the sale and rental of pews, and would for the next 80 years. It was not until 1927 that St. Paul’s did away with pew rents, despite a growing consensus in the denomination that pledged contributions were a much better option for supporting a congregation.

Pew Deed to William M. Gregory, dated 1 Jun 1854

While the choice of a theater so close to St. Peter’s seems odd, the vestry’s selection was a happy one, because the congregation flourished on South Pearl Street. Despite the closeness to St. Peter’s, the building’s location was an advantage. In the 1830’s, Pearl Street was one of the most prestigious residential areas of the city, and many neighbors became members of the new congregation. Barent P. Staats, a member of the 1827 vestry, described the situation in 1839 forcefully: “it [the church] was discovered shortly after the present [i.e., present rector, William Ingraham Kip] came to be hopelessly wrecked and it was absolutely necessary to take a new position & in reality to begin a new enterprise.”[x] Indeed it was a new enterprise. Rather than attempting to attract newcomers, as did those who broke off to form Trinity Church, St. Paul’s was now situated to attract Albany’s better class. As J. Livingston Reese, St. Paul’s rector 25 years later wrote: “It is most probable that this change of location saved the parish from ultimate extinguishment, and brought it where it could reach a larger and more influential part of the population.”[xi]

1858 receipt from the Albany Insurance Company on St. Paul’s South Pearl Street building

A later rector said:

I do not think it too much to say, that it was while St. Paul’s congregation worshipped in the edifice on South Pearl street, that it attained its greatest influence and distinction. This was practically during the long and brilliant rectorship of the Rev. Dr. William Ingraham Kip, who became rector in 1827 [actually 1837] and remained at the head of the parish until 1853.[xii]

Wm. Ingraham Kip at St. Paul’s altar (from an 1847 portrait by William Tolman Carlton)

Kip left St. Paul’s in 1853 to become missionary bishop of California. He was succeeded by two very strong leaders: Thomas A. Starkey (later Bishop of Newark, New Jersey) and William Rudder (subsequently long-term rector of St. Stephen’s, Philadelphia). Kip and Rudder were particularly known for their dynamic preaching, which attracted many new members.[xiii] Starkey was known for his pastoral skills, and for his interest in social outreach, including the creation of St. Paul’s Church Home for Women.

Thomas A. Starkey

During these years, the new Robjohn organ was presided over by a series of remarkable musicians: William L. Reston[xiv], Oliver J. Shaw[xv], John Underner[xvi], and William M. Daniell[xvii].

In a letter to the editor of the Albany Evening Journal, an Albanian signing himself “A Listener” provided this review of one of St. Paul’s services in its first year on Pearl Street:

I last evening had the pleasure of attending services in St. Paul’s Church, and I confess myself highly pleased with the whole service. Mr. Kip gave us a very highly finished sermon, at the same time calculated to carry conviction to the conscience of every individual. His was was “the second coming of our Lord to judge the world,” and the solemnity of the scene was heightened by the impressive manner of the speaker.

The organ (which by the way is one of the finest I ever listened to), was handled in an admirable manner by Mr. Shaw, a gentleman who stands deservedly high as an organist. The rich full chords, the perfect harmony, the ease and grace of the movement, spoke the master of the instrument. On the whole, the prospects of the church are flattering as could be wished, and the congregation are highly favored with the privilege of such religious instruction.[xviii]

This series culminated with George William Warren[xix], St. Paul’s most illustrious organist and choirmaster of the nineteenth century.

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

We have very few descriptions of the building’s interior in this period. One is most unflattering:

To the Wardens & Vestry of St. Paul’s
Church, Albany —
Gentlemen, —

When I purchased the pew in your Church, I was assured that a window would be opened at the north end of it. At present on a cloudy day or when an assemblage of darkly dressed persons are in front of us, you might as well attempt to read in a coal-hole. The pew will no longer answer us and I therefore return your deed on which I have paid my first instalment. You will probably be of my opinion that some portion of it may be & ought to be refunded to me.

Remaining Gentlemen

Your obt. Servant

Charles Smyth[xx]
Albany 8th January
1842

We also have a brief description from one of the choirboys in George William Warren’s short-lived boy choir. Writing more than fifty years later, Charles M. Nickerson remembered that the boys sat in the organ loft, with the organ to their right and the quartet choir on the other side.

When the sermon began, it was our wont to draw the curtain that hung over the front of the organ gallery and then slip out one by one by the door behind the organ into the Sunday School room, there to regale ourselves on candy and peanuts and enjoy general conversation until a signal from the choirmaster [George William Warren] called us back for the offertory hymn. This was in the old St. Paul’s the one time theatre on South Pearl St. The Sunday School room in the rear of the organ loft had no doubt served as the lobby or bar of the theatre.[xxi]

George William Warren

The “organ loft and and north room” are again mentioned in vestry minutes in 1858, when major renovations were made “fitting up and arranging the organ loft and north room with carpets, gas, painting, gilding and decorating for the convenience of the musical director and the choir” as part of the May 1857 negotiations to rehire George William Warren for his final three years at St. Paul’s. These expenses contributed to the church’s budget shortfall, requiring the next year a plea from the vestry for pew-owners to increase their pew rental.

By 1860, the advantages of the Pearl Street location had faded. The neighborhood had changed from largely residential to commercial. The vestry determined to look elsewhere in the city and sold the Pearl Street building.

William Rudder, rector at that time later remembered:

The old church had served its purpose, and its day of fullest usefulness was gone. The part of the city in which it was situated had completely changed its character within a few years. The church had become hemmed in by places of business, and by other surroundings of a very undesirable character; and the congregation was drifting away, and more and more each year, to the more desirable western portions of the city. Under these circumstances the vestry determined to build a new church edifice to meet the new conditions of the case, and one more worthy of the position and ability of the parish.[xxii]

William Rudder

In October 1862 the building was sold for $14,000 to Hugh J. Hastings, who a yer later leased it to theater architect John M. Trimble.[xxiii] In our next segment, we will follow the building’s history as Trimble makes the church once more a theater: the Academy of Music.

[i] Joel Munsell, The Annals of Albany, Series 2, Volume 3 (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1871), 338-339.

[ii] Samuel Hooker (1746-1832) and Rachel Hinds Hooker became communicants of St. Paul’s in July and August 1830 respectively. The couple moved to Utica, New York in 1832.

[iii] Joel Munsell, The Annals of Albany, Series 2, Volume 3 (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1871), 337-394.

[iv] John Edward Rawlinson, “William Ingraham Kip: Tradition, Conflict and Transition” (Ph.D. dissertation, Graduate Theological Union, 1982), 18, quoting a 9 Apr 1852 letter from Kip to Thomas N. Stanford, partner in the publishing firm of Stanford & Swords.

[v] Rawlinson, 18.

[vi] Albany Argus 4 Sep 1840. Correspondence and the bill of sale are held in the archives of St. Paul’s Church.

[vii] Rawlinson, 18, quoting a 29 Oct 1839 letter from Kip to Mr. Sherman.

[viii] Parochial report for St. Paul’s, Albany in Journal of the Proceedings of the Fifty-fifth Convention of the Diocese of New York: Held in St. Paul’s Chapel in the City of New-York on Thursday, October 3d and Friday, Oct. 4th, A.D. 1839 (New York: Printed for the Convention), 1839, 67. A vestryman, Simeon DeWitt Bloodgood, had also hoped that the congregation would be in the new building by fall (Bloodgood’s 30 Mar 1839 letter to Harmanus Bleecker, transcribed in Harriet Langdon Pruyn Rice, Harmanus Bleecker: An Albany Dutchman 1779-1849 (Albany: William Boyd, 1924), 187-188).

[ix] Albany Argus, 25 Feb 1840.

[x] St. Paul’s vestry minutes, volume 2, 77.

[xi] “Historical Sketch of St. Paul’s Parish: From a Sermon of the Rector,” in The Semi-centennial Services of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, N.Y. 1877 (Albany: The Argus Company, 1877), 13.

[xii] William Prall, “The Past, Present and Future: A Sermon Preached January 26th, 1902 in Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Parish of St. Paul’s, Albany, N.Y.,” 4.

[xiii] Brooks, “Sermon delivered by the Reverend Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks on Sunday morning, November 17th, 1907, in commemoration of the Eightieth Anniversary of the Founding of St. Paul’s Parish in the City of Albany,” printed in St. Paul’s Year Book for 1907, pages 7-8.

[xiv] St. Paul’s organist 1839-1840. Born about 1811 in England. Organist at St. John’s Church, Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire. Teacher at the Albany Female Academy.

[xv] St. Paul’s organist intermittently between 1840 and 1847. Born about 1817 in Providence, Rhode Island, son of noted composer Oliver Shaw. Active there and in Bangor Maine. Music teacher, performer and composer of popular music in Albany 1841-1852 or later. Moved Utica where he was again active as performer and teacher until his death in 1861

[xvi] St. Paul’s organist 1846-1847. Born 1829 in Albany, member of a prestigious musical family. Composer, accompanist to Jenny Lind on her United States tour. Died 1904.

[xvii] St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster 1847-1848. Born 1811 in England, educated at the Royal College of Music, accomplished horn player as well as organist. Died 24 Aug 1892 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

[xviii] Albany Evening Journal, 21 Dec 1840. City directories from 1858 – 1860 show a number of wholesale and retail groceries in the block. One neighbor “of a very undesirable character” was the Empire House on the corner on South Pearl and Beaver, with 42 guest rooms that seem to have been particularly favored by actors, and a “lager beer saloon” on the first floor.

[xix] St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster 1848-1856 and 1857-1860.

[xx] Charles Smyth (1783-1844) was a St. Paul’s vestryman for a single year (1835), possibly serving out another’s unexpired term. He had earlier served for ten years on St. Peter’s vestry. Smyth was in business in Albany with James Byrne, doing business as Byrne & Smyth, “vendue and commission business” as early as 1803. Later he was in partnership with James Wood (as Wood & Smyth), dissolved 1814. In 1818 (seven years before completion of the Erie Canal), he was assuring transportation of goods to the upper Great Lakes (Detroit and Sandusky) “by the most faithful and experienced teamsters” for no more than $4.50 per hundred-weight. Later he was involved in shipping, both in steam-boats on the Hudson River, and on the Erie Canal.

[xxi] Charles M. Nickerson, “St. Paul’s Choir of Fifty Years Ago” pages 25-26 of St. Paul’s Year Book for 1907. Is Nickerson perhaps referring to the second floor saloon, or the third floor area for refreshments mentioned in Hooker’s description of the theater?

[xxii] “Sermon of the Rev. William Rudder, D.D.,” in The Semi-centennial Services of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, N.Y. 1877 (Albany: The Argus Company, 1877), 35-36.

[xxiii] “An Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express 13 Oct 1863. “Fire This Morning,” Albany Evening Journal 29 Jan 1868.  H.P. Phelps (in The Players of a Century. Albany: Joseph McDonough, 1880, pages 329-330) reports that Hastings sold the building to Trimble for $5,000 cash and a mortgage of $10,000. This cannot be correct. When the building was destroyed in 1868, Hastings was still the owner, with Trimble’s widow holding a ten year lease, with a right to purchase in five years.

The Windows of St. Paul’s: The Baptism of our Lord

Last Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord. St. Paul’s has had two windows depicting the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, and I’d like to tell you about both of them.

We saw the first depiction in an earlier post, because it is a section of the window donated by Donald Shore Candlyn. This window was originally installed in the Memorial Chapel on Lancaster Street, and moved to the chapel in the Hackett Boulevard building in 1966. Like all the chapel windows, it was designed and built by the Wilbur H. Burnham Studios of Boston. This section is titled “The Baptism of Christ,” and a pamphlet on the windows by William S. McEwan refers to the account in Mark 1:9-11.

“The Baptism of Christ.” in St. Paul’s Chapel

The other window was originally installed in the nave of the Lancaster Street church. It was donated by “a large number of persons who received the Rite of Holy Baptism in St. Paul’s Parish,” and dedicated on Palm Sunday 1914. This donation was probably one response to the 1906 appeal of our rector, Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks to the congregation “to repair and beautify their church by memorial gifts.” Titled “The Baptism of Christ,” it was designed by Frederick Stymetz Lamb, and built by the Studios of J. and R. Lamb, New York City.

 

“Baptism of Chris”

 

 

Detail, “Baptism of Christ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This window, along with nine other windows from the Lancaster Street nave, was brought to the Hackett Boulevard church in 1966, and installed in the narthex.  In the photograph below, you can see “Baptism of Christ” in the lower right corner.

Early photograph of the Hackett Boulevard narthex, with stained glass windows.

These windows remained in the Hackett Boulevard narthex until about 2005, when the deteriorating condition of the window supports forced our vestry to sell the windows and replace them with new glass. All ten windows are now in the collection of Lawrence R. Gelman and beginning in 2018 will be displayed in his Stained Glass Museum in San Juan, Texas.