The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 122 - 126


Becker's "Gypsies" (Zigeuner) were sung under the direction of Carl Adam.

Those from other cities taking part in the Saengerfest were as follows: Arion, Liederkranz and Teutonia from New York; Maennerchor from Philadelphia, the latter founded in 1835, and being the oldest singing society in the country; Orpheus from Boston; a Canadian singing society, and several from Ohio, Pennsylvania and western New York, altogether twenty-five societies numbering 450 singers.

At the principal concert the large body of the depot was filled to the last seat. Eleven societies from other cities took part in the prize-singing on the following day in St. James Hall. The Arion from New York came forth from the contest crowned with victory.

Buffalo's first Saengerfest closed on July 26th with a brilliant street parade in the morning, a picnic in Granger's Grove in the afternoon, and a ball in the evening. The "New York Staats-Zeitung", whose publisher, O. Ottendorfer, had been present at the Saengerfest, pronounced it "the pearl of song festivals."

One year after the founding of the German Saengerbund of North America there was organized in Philadelphia in June 1850 the "Eastern Saenger Bund of German Singing Societies" of Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. In July, 1865, at the ninth Saengefest of the Eastern Saenger Bund, which was held in New York, the Liedertafel was successful in carrying off a prize, a Graushaar piano, the prize-song being "Saenger Gruss" (Singer's Greeting) by Fischer.

In 1868 the Liedertafel was incorporated as a body. In the same year it took part in the Saengerfest held in Chicago. Occurrences at this Saengerfest prompted Mr. Adam to resign the office, which he had filled so successfully for a period of more than sixteen years. Mr. Adam believed his society slighted at the prize-singing contest. He was followed in office by W. Groscurth, and the latter in turn by Signor F. Nuno for a short space of time. In 1870 Joseph Mischka assumed the directorship, which he held with an interruption of two years, during which time F. Erfling and then C.F. Mueller directed, for more than twenty years, with a wonderful energy and success. Under his leadership the society reached the height of success. During the first years of his directorship, at the 12th Eastern Saengerfest which took place at New York from June 24th to June 28th, 1871, the Liedertafel gained a vocal victory over eight fellow singing societies by the perfect rendering of the song "Das macht das dunkelgruene Laub." The prize consisted of a cabinet for books and music.

After this Saengerfest the Eastern Saengerbund was dissolved because of the withdrawal of the most prominent societies of Philadelphia


and New York, in consequence of the rejection of a motion made at the delegates-meeting to gauge the number of delegates according to the number of active members of each society. At the Eastern Saengerfest held in Philadelphia in 1882 the society was re-organized after a space of eleven years.

The Saengerfest held in Chicago from June 29th to July 3rd, 1881, at which the Liedertafel and the Buffalo Saengerbund took part, and at which Buffalo was chosen for the next Saengerfest of 1883, was the grandest in regard to artistic worth which had ever been held in the East or West. It bore the character of a grand musical festival. The festival director was Hans Balatka. He strove to give the Saengerfest the more artistic coloring of a musical festival. But this artistic rendering, as we have said, was better adapted to a musical festival and could not at once satisfy the demands of joyous sociability of the Saengerfests, with their merry-makings and folk-songs. The artistic aspirations of the folk-song societies had been placed too high, and both study and cost to reach that height too great. It was realized that it would be a wise thing to go back to less artistic executions and resign the rendition of higher music to speedily arranged musical festivals. The

Caption under picture at center reads Park Bridge across Delaware Avenue. There's a close-up of this picture at higher resolution at


Buffalo League of Singing Societies was asked to pay more attention to the cultivation of men's chorus at the next Saengerfest.

From the 25th to the 50th Anniversary

On May 9th, 1873 the Liedertafel celebrated its 25th Anniversary in a threefold manner; on the first night with a great public concert in St. Jame Hall, on the second night with a banquet in the society's rooms in the Kremlin block, and on the third night with a commers. [1] Between the first and second parts of the concert, Mrs. Wilhelm, on behalf of the ladies of the society, presented the President, Mr. Julius Rieffenstahl, with a beautiful silk flag for the society; on the same occasion the director, Mr. Mischka, was presented with a gold and ivory inlaid baton. At this time the society had a membership of 41 male and 24 female singers, 342 passive, 12 life, and 7 extraordinary members.

As in former years, the Liedertafel had taken part in small Saengerfests at Cleveland in 1863, at Erie, Pa., in 1866, at Dunkirk in 1868, and at Rochester in 1869, and had undertaken pilgrimages in Detroit in 1863, and to Hamilton, Ont. in 1870, it still showed undiminished fondness for travel, and in the course of time arranged the following trips: To Jamestown on August 23rd, 1875, with the Union Cornet Band; to Toronto on August 17, 1876, with the Germania Band; to Titusville on August 12th, 1880, and to Cleveland, on July 24th, 1882.

The society took part in the Saengerfest at Brooklyn in July, 1885, and in that at Baltimore in July, 1888. At the former Saengerfest it won the second place prize of the second class, a silver wreath, although according to the unanimous verdict of the press, the society really deserved the first prize. [2]

The ladies section of the mixed chorus of the Liedertafel, organized in March, 1880, as "The ladies chorus of the Liedertafel", with Mrs. R. Seelbach as President, Miss Carrie Dietz as Vice-President, and Miss Julia Hoddick as Secretary.

In its infancy the Liedertafel and the Liederkranz of New York had formed a strong mutual attachment. At each Saengerfest in the metropolis on the Hudson, the Buffalo society was the guest of the New Yorkers; and the Liederkranz twice came to Buffalo to visit the Liedertafel, the first time in 1856, the second time in July, 1885, when Julius Hoffmann, a former president of the Liedertafel was president of the Liederkranz. On the occasion of the second visit, a Summernight's Festival was arranged in honor of the guests, in the garden back of the Old Music Hall. The garden was illuminated by thousands

[1] A Translator's note on culture: A "Commers" was an open reception, to which guests from neighboring cities were often invited. These guests usually came as a group, assembled outside the door of the reception hall with their various club banners, received a formal introduction from a doorman upon their entry, marched down a center aisle and found a long table waiting for them, complete with holders for their standards. As the group entered they were greeted with applause - German applause consisted of foot-stomping and knuckle-rapping on the table. The less genteel pounded their fists on the table. Ladies often just hit their knuckles against their palm. Lots of speeches, beer and singing usually accompanied the festivities. This custom may actually date back to the Teutonic tribal days, when one clan welcomed an ally into its village.
The Buffalo Volksfreund reported on one such reception in an article titled "The Power of Song" on June 25, 1901. The celebration was for the opening of the 30th Saengerfest as part of the Pan-Am celebration. Supposedly the applause shook the rafters of the 65th Regimental Arsenal located at the corner of Broadway and Michigan. Return to text

[1]The German text reads "At the first meeting the society won the second prize in the second class, a silver wreath, although according to the unanimous claim of the Brooklyn press the society deserved the first prize. Return to text


of brilliantly colored lanterns. With the cooperation of the Saengerbund and the Orpheus, the entertaining and visiting societies gave a concert. It was the most beautiful Summernight's Festival ever held in Buffalo.

On August 26th, 1886, the piano manufacturer, William Steinway, a life-long friend of the Liedertafel, in passing through Buffalo, on his way to New York from the Saengerfest at Milwaukee, paid a visit to the society, which event was celebrated with a commers.

At the concert in honor of the 39th anniversary, on May 9th, 1887, William J. Morgan, at that time vice-president of the Liedertafel, presented the faithful and untiring director, Joseph Mischka, with a costly gold watch, as an acknowledgement of his labors in behalf of the society.

Mr. F. Hoddick, Sr., the second director of the society, was a welcome guest at the annual commers of the Liedertafel held on January 31st, 1889. Once more the esteemed old gentleman raised the baton directing the song: "The Hunter's Departure", which the society had learned under his tuition forty years before.

At the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of the composer Mozart, on December 6th, 1891, Mozart's "Requiem" was given at Music Hall by the Liedertafel and the Buffalo Orchestra, under the direction of John Lund. The proceeds of the concert were intended for the purchase of a bust of Mozart to be placed in the park. The bust was modeled by the sculptor Olin Warner. The formal unveiling of the monument, and its presentation to the Park Commissioners, took place on May 9th, 1894. It was a beautiful Spring day, and a large number of spectators had gathered to witness the impressive ceremonies. Judge R.C. Titus made the presentation speech.

During the Summer of 1894 Joseph Mischka, having been appointed to the position of Director of Music of the Public Schools, resigned his office as director of the Liedertafel, which he had filled so honorably for so many years. L.A. Coerne became his successor until the fall of 1897. The present director of the society is Jos. K. Hartfuer.

On October 26th, 1885, the Liedertafel concluded to buy old Trinity Church, on the south-east corner of Washington and Mohawk Streets, and to fit it up to meet the purposes of the society.

On December 1st the same year the society, at that time having a membership of 750, gave its first concert at its new home. The building was sold again in the Spring of 1893, and the society moved into quarters in the Hersee block, on the south-east corner of Main and Chippewa streets. In May, 1897, the society again removed to the south-east corner of Main and Virginia Streets.


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of their birthday, on May 9th, 1898, the Liedertafel together with the friendly co-operation of

Caption under picture at lower right reads Mozart Monument

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Revised april 3, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks