The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 117 - 121

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can be accepted as a fact that the promoters of it were several members of the German Young Men's Association, whose names we find among the founders of the first foster home of German songs. On April 8th of the year 1844 several lovers of music assembled at the home of Henry Weiser, 384 Main Street, and decided to organize a singing society under the name of the German Singing Society of Buffalo. The founders of this society were: George Dickman, Karl Esslinger, J.S. Van Arx, Anton Drescher, Jacob Emig, William Fenstermacher, Johann Christian German, Christian Haak, Peter Klein, Johann P. Klein, Martin Sickle, J.N. Seidensticker, George Sandrock, Henry Weiser, Georg Zahm, F. August, Dr. J. Hauenstein [1], Dr. Wieland. The following officers were elected: G. Zahm, President; M. Zahm, Secretary; K. Esslinger, Treasurer. The rehearsals took place at the residence of the director, Chr. Haak, at the corner of Oak and Genesee Streets. On account of the removal of Mr. Weiser from Main Street [2], the society found it necessary to leave its birthplace, and in May of the year 1845 moved into rooms in the "Baker Block" at the northeast corner of Main and Huron Streets. The society only once came into public notice, the occasion being memorial exercises held on July 3rd, 1845 in honor of the memory of President Andrew Jackson, who had died at his country seat

Caption under picture at center reads The Pratt Monument. The Myer Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery.


[1] On June 29, 1901 the German newspaper Buffalo Volksfreund mentioned Hauenstein's early involvement in the German Singing Society of Buffalo. See http://www.archivaria.com/Volksfreund/BVF6.29.1901.html
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[2]Translator's note: The German term used is "Wohnungswechsel", which means change of residence. Mr. Weiser was not removed from the society. Return to text

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"Hermitage" in Tennessee on June 8th. That the "Weltbürger", the only German newspaper in Buffalo at the time, makes no mention of the society after this event, would indicate that the society probably disbanded. About two years passed and a new German Singing Society was called into life. This infant society had its birth in the assembly room of the German Young Men's Association in "Kremlin's Block" on April 10th, 1848, and was christened the "German Singing Society of Buffalo" but at its next meeting the name was changed to the "Buffalo Liedertafel". That was on May 9th, 1848. This day therefore must be regarded as the real birthday of the oldest singing society of Buffalo, which still exists to the present day. The first officers of the Liedertafel were: H. Weiser, President; Fr. Albrecht, Secretary; Christ. Huis, Treasurer; Alois Wunderlin, Librarian. J. Dossert was engaged as singing teacher at a month salary of $2.00. In July, the society took up its abode at "Weimer's Hall" at the corner of Michigan and Batavia Streets (now called Broadway). According to a resolution, all members who belonged either to the Volunter Fire Department or any Military Organization were excused from attendance at rehearsals, which were held every Tuesday and Friday.

The young society held its first concert in "Greiner's Hall," corner Jefferson and Genesee Streets, on January 25th, 1849. The "Weltbürger" makes the following report:
"Concert and Ball of the German Liedertafel had a numerous audience and fully satisfied everybody present. The concert was excellent, the performance exceeded all expectations, in fact a distinguished judge of music, only recently arrived from Germany, could scarcely believe that this was the first concert by the Liedertafel. He assured us that the performance was fully equal to that of many another older society which he had heard in Germany. Concerning the ball, all those that were present will agree with us when we assert that it was the most beautiful and pleasant affair of the kind ever held in Buffalo. Music, arrangements, hall and service left nothing to be desired, and did all honor to the Arrangements Committee and the host, Mr. Greiner."
The ball netted the sum of $26.17, of which $5.00 were awarded to the director Mr. Dossert as compensation for his services in connection with the concert. In the Summer of 1849 a society of German mechanics had organized as the "German American Working Men's Union," which also held its meeting in Weimer's Hall. The joint use of these assembly rooms was had as a consequence of mutual understanding, and eventually a bond of friendship sprung up between both societies. This event was celebrated on the evening of October 19th by a joint parade with John Bergmüller's band, by speeches and songs, all concluded with a dance in the societies' rooms. How long this bond of friendship existed cannot now

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be determined, the first records of the minutes of the Liedertafel, which are still well preserved, contain the copy of a letter from the German Workingmen's Union, in which they express thanks for the assistance of the Liedertafel at an entertainment of the Workingmen's Union, held in June 1850. The letter is signed by Gottfried Berger, Karl Schirm, and William Seigheimer. J. Dossert was succeeded by Fr. Hoddick, Sr. as director, and the latter in turn by Carl Adam, in 1852, under whose excellent leadership for sixteen years the Liedertafel reached its highest development, and won a reputation as one of the best singing societies in the country.

In the Winter of 1853, the Liedertafel gave a concert before an audience almost exclusively American. The concert was given in Goodell Hall, just back of the Female Academy, on Delaware Avenue. The programme included the "Miller Songs" by Zoellner. In order to give the Americans a better understanding of this number, Mr. Adam explained the connection between the single songs, as well as it was possible with his still imperfect mastery of the English language.

During the same year, three smaller singing societies had been formed by members from the Workingmen's Union, the Turn Verein,

Caption under picture at center reads Chapel and Vault at Forest Lawn Cemetery

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and the Singing Society, Harmonie, and these joined with the Liedertafel as a "Saenger Bund" [a Singer's League], each separate organization maintaining its independence. The Assembly-room was in the Hauenstein Building.

Simultaneously there also originated the "Philharmonic Society", which on December 5th, 1853, arranged a series of subscription concerts. Albert Poppenberg was the director of this society, to which also belonged the brothers, Robert and Gustav, Otto Besser, Otto Schuggens and Joseph Hepelius, the latter a very capable singing and music teacher. The concerts of the society received the general approbation of both Germans and Americans. At the close of the last concert of the season, according to the report of the press, Mr. Albert Poppenberg was overwhelmed with such a storm of applause, that he lost his composure and was unable to express his thanks.

On February 10th, 1854, the Saenger Bund, composed of 70 singers under the directorship of Carl Adam, and the Philharmonic society, jointly arranged a concert, which was crowned with great success. In 1855 the mixed chorus of the Liedertafel was organized. This consisted originally of 18 ladies and 31 gentlemen.

During the winter of 1855 the Liedertafel, with soloists taken from the society, gave in unity with Poppenberg's Orchestra Romberg's composition of Schiller's "Glocke", and in the course of the following years: "Bergmanns Gruss" by Anacker, "The Seasons" by Haydn, "The Gypsies" by Becker, "Freischuetz", the operetta "Incognito", and Mozart's "Requiem" were sung.

Saengerfests [Song Festivals]

Five German singing societies of Cincinnati, Louisville, and Madison celebrated in Cincinnati, from June 1st to June 4th, 1849, the first German Seangerfest that was ever held in America. On this occasion the German Saenger Bund of North America was founded on June 2nd; this organization arranged a Saengerfest every year, until the Civil War. At the eleventh of these Saengerfests, which was held in Cleveland, O., in 1859, the two singing societies then in existence in Buffalo, the Liedertafel and the Saengerbund, took part for the first time. At the prize singing the Liedertafel won the first prize, a silver cup. This was a great achievement for the Buffalo singers, as it placed them on an equal footing with the western societies, and was a success to which they could point with pride.

Buffalo was chosen as the spot for the next Saengerfest. With lively interest the preparations for the same were begun, in which our American fellow-citizens did not fail to give active support. The officers

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for the Festival were: Julius Movius, president; Louis Schultz, vice-president; H. Doerffel, secretary; L. Gillig, treasurer. Heinrich Weiser was chosen festival president. The greatest difficulty, that of securing a hall large enough for the principal concert, was overcome by the kind and much appreciated offer of a high official of the N.Y. Central R.R. Company, who had become greatly interested in the Saengerfest. He placed the large depot on Exchange Street at the disposal of the singers for one day. The entrance of the hall was closed by a canvass partition, and the trains on that day were dispatched outside the depot. The stage for the singers and the seats for the audience had to be put in place on the morning before the commencement of the concert and taken away at night again, in order not to impede the railroad traffic on the following day.

The Saengerfest began with a reception concert in St. James Hall on July 23rd, 1860. At the reception concert, which according to the unanimous verdict of the press, passed off very successfully, the first act of Weber's "Euryanthe" and

Caption under picture at center reads The Buffalo Library


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Revised April 3, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks