The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 162 - 166


At the Saengerfest of the "North-American Saengerbund", held in 1859 in Cleveland, the "Saengerbund" as well as the "Liedertafel" took part, and were successful in having Buffalo chosen as the next Saengerfest, the twelfth of the league, to be held in 1860. The successful outcome of that Saengerfest has found detailed mention in the history of the Liedertafel found in these pages.

Despite the fact, that at the breaking out of the Civil War, many members of the society joined the Volunteer Regiments organized here, it gained other new members, and in the winter of 1862, under the leadership of its untiring director, for the first time gave a public performance of an opera, singing "Der Waffenschmied".[1] Besides cantatas and operettas, this was followed in 1868 by "Czar and Zimmermann", 1869 by "Der Hauesliche Krieg", 1871 by "Das Nachtlager von Granada", 1873 by a reproduction of "Der Waffenschmied", 1875-76 by "Alessandro Stradella", 1876 by "Der Freischuetz", 1878 by "Die Summe von Portici", and in 1879 by "Der Waffenschmied".

During these years the operatic performances of the "Saengerbund" without doubt satisfied the musical needs of the artistic element of the inhabitants of Buffalo, as the city was very seldom visited by traveling opera troupes, scarcely ever by German companies. The Italian Opera brought prominent soloists, but seldom good choruses and ensemble. The companies often reached Buffalo, only at the end of the season, and in part with decreased numbers, if not worn out soloists.

The operas of the "Saengerbund" were either sung in the Academy of Music, some years ago destroyed by fire, or in St. James Hall, which site is now occupied by the east wing of the Iroquois Hotel, and with the talent at home in the society and several soloists engaged for the principal roles were produced with careful attention to every detail. They earned the undivided praise of both the German and American press, and proved their drawing powers by sold-out houses. Without a doubt this operatic period forms the most brilliant period in the history of the society. After the first performance of the "Waffenschmied" a mixed

Caption under picture at center reads Friedrich Federlein, 30 years Director, "Buffalo Saengerbund"

[1] Translator's Note: The full title of the opera according to the German text was "Der Waffendschmied zu Worms", the Weapons Maker of Worms. Return to text


chorus was formed. In January, 1869, when the Turn Verein through financial reverses was in danger of losing its hall the "Saengerbund", what at that time had a membership of 371, planned the purchase of Turn Hall, and with the view of owning property the society was incorporated on May 6th, 1869. The purchasing plan was, however, dropped, but the society remained in its old home in Turn Hall, until their removal to the newly built Music Hall in the Spring of 1887.

At the sojourn of Franz Abt in Buffalo during the Spring of 1872, as a guest of the "Saengerbund", a concert in his honor was arranged together with the "Liedertafel" and the "Orpheus".

In 1878 the "Saengerbund" celebrated its 25th anniversary with entertainments covering three evenings. On the first evening a concert and ball took place, for the second evening a banquet was arranged, followed on the third evening with a commers, to which the members of the other singing societies were invited. On this occasion the first song rehearsed by the "Liederkraenzchen" was sung by four charter members of the society, viz: Gottlieb Gentzsch, George Hirsch, Aug. Holzhausen, and C. Wm Braun.

In the preparations for the 23rd Saengerfest of the "North American Saengerbund", which took place in Buffalo in the Summer of 1883, as well as in the festival itself, the "Saengerbund" took a prominent part. One of the oldest members, Louis Allgewaehr, was chosen president of the Board of Directors of the Bund, and its honored director, Frederick Federlein, was one of the three Festival Directors. The society was also represented very strongly and actively in the Festival Committee, and it is therefore of interest to go more into the details of this Saengerfest.

23rd Saengerfest of the North-American Saengerbund

In the general assembly of the North-American Saengerbund held at Chicago on July 2nd, 1881, Buffalo was chosen as the next place of meeting. At the beginning of September of the same year both of the local societies belonging to the Bund, the "Liedertafel" and the "Saengerbund", sent out circulars to all singing societies in Buffalo, inviting them to send delegates to the meetings held in regard to the coming Saengerfest. Nine singing societies accepted the invitation, viz: "Liedertafel", "Saengerbund", "Harugari Maennerchor", "Harmonie",

Caption under picture at right center reads The William Penn - 1826


"Helvetia", "East Buffalo Maennerchor", "Arion", "Germania Maennerchor", and "Teutonia Maennerchor". Their delegates organized as the "General Committee" of the North-American Saengerbund in a meeting held on September 30th, 1881. In July, 1882, the "Orpheus" joined the Bund.

The following officers were chosen: Pres., Louis Allgewaehr; 1st Vice-Pres., Bernhard Gentsch; 2nd Vice-Pres., Andreas Brunn; Rec. Secretary, John Wampfler; Corr. Secretary, Michael Mueller; Fin. Secretary, Ernst Besser; Treasure, George Neu; Finance Committee: August Fuchs, chairman; Otto Kiekebusch, John Neimeier, Samuel Weil, Wm. Filsinger. Music Committee: C. Aug. Goehle, chairman; Ernst Besser, C. Wm. Braun, John Wampfler, Andreas Brunn, F.C.M. Lautz, Rudolph Seelbach, Karl W. Geyer. Festival Committee: President, Ph. Becker; Vice-Presidents: Richard Flach and J. Adam Lautz; Treasurer, Aug. Fuchs. Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means was John Greiner. Chairman of the Floor Committee was Albert Ziegele, Sr.

The question of directorship, which at first gave rise to feelings of jealousy, was happily resolved by the appointment of three directors: Carl Adam, at that time director of the "Orpheus", for the opening concert; Frederick Federlein, of the "Saengerbund", for the next concert, and Joseph Mischka, of the "Liedertafel", for the last one.

How the hall for the Saengerfest was procured is fully described in another part of this history. [1]

The following selections were chosen for the combined choruses of the societies belonging to the Bund: "Frithjof's Sage", by Max Bruch; "Krieger Scene" (vor der Schlacht), by C.L. Fischer; "Normanen Zug", by M. Bruch; "Die Macht des Gesanges", by Jos. Brambach; "Six Old Netherland Volksongs", by Edw. Kremser; "Beim Liebchen zu Haus", by Heinrich Pfeil, and "Die Lorelei", by Silcher.

The singers taking part in the festival, including the Buffalo members, numbered over two thousand voices. Unfortunately the stage of the new Music Hall was capable of holding only half of that number,

Caption under picture at center reads Steamboat Michigan - 1832.

[1] See History of the German Young Men's Association. Return to text


about 1100, but in spite of this drawback the chorus, which was composed of only the most capable and best of the singers, created a powerful impression.

Monday, July 16th, the first offical day of the festival, was devoted to the reception of the visiting singers. Sunday night several societies, viz: from Columbus, Allegany, and Philadelphia, arrived and were welcomed in the heartiest manner. Most of the societies were met with music at the depots, and marches through the streets, which were gaily decorated with flags and bunting, and under the large triumphal arch, erected at Main and Genesee Streets, whose pleasing outlines elicited general admiration, to the festival hall. The beautiful building made a very favorable impression on the visitors.

In the lower rooms of the hall a good lunch and cool beer refreshed the tired travelers, and speeches of welcome and replies were made after which all sought their quarters.

In the evening at the reception concert, arranged by the Buffalo societies, the large hall was filled to its utmost capacity. The first number of the concert, Weber's "Oberon Overture", was rendered faultlessly by the festival orchestra under the direction of Dr. Leopold Damrosch. The male portion of the Buffalo festival chorus sang Mendelssohn's "Festgesang an die Kuenstler" very effectively under the leadership of Mr. Carl Adam.

The governor of the State of New York at that time, and former mayor of Buffalo, Grover Cleveland, made the opening speech. His address, in which in the most tactful manner he meted out great praise to the Germans, and gave the Americans the good advice to learn from the Germans, how to combine business with pleasure in the most agreeable manner, was greeted with well deserved and hearty applause. The festival president, Philip Becker, followed with a German address, giving a short sketch of the history of the "North American Saengerbund", pointed out the significance of the festival, and ended by warmly welcoming the visiting societies. J.B. Manning, the mayor of

Caption under picture at center right reads The Thomas Jefferson - 1834.


the city, made a short speech relating to the influence of music on this life, which was also well received.

The white and blue silk flag, which had been presented to the Bund by the ladies of Columbus, O., in 1865, and under which the Bund had celebrated its festivals for over twenty years, was greeted on its appearance with tumultuous applause. Franz Amberg, the president of the Bund at its former Saengerfest in Chicago, made the presentation speech, which earned much applause; as well as the reply of the local president of the Bund, Louis Allgewaehr, who took charge of the banner, and promised to guard it faithfully and well until the next Saengerfest.

The rendering of "Fruehling und Herbst", from Joseph Haydn's "Seasons", was the closing number of the reception concert. The effect of the chorus, which numbered over 600 voices, was overwhelmingly grand, and without doubt this chorus was the most brilliant number on the programme of the evening. Several of the choruses had to be repeated in response to stormy applause. The soloists of the evening were Mrs. Wells B. Tanner, Mr. Christian Fritsch, and Max Heinrich; and they all acquitted themselves very creditably.

It was generally conceded that the reception concert was a splendid one, and was a guarantee for the success of the whole festival. After the concert a jolly time was spent at the different headquarters and society rooms, especially lively hours were passed at the club rooms of the "Orpheus" and "Liedertafel", who held open house in honor of the visiting singers in the most hospitable manner until the early hours of the morning. The charming little folk song by the poet composer Heinrich Pfeil, "Beim Liebchen zu Haus", which was sung by the combined choruses at the second principal concert, found favor alike with singers and audience, and did most to keep fresh the memory of the 23rd Saengerfest. The "Buffalo Saengerbund" arranged a large commers on the evening after the closing concert at the arsenal on Broadway, to which all the societies belonging to the Bund were invited. On Thursday, the fourth day of the festival, the singers paraded to Rumsey's Park, south of Delaware Park, which had been prepared as a picnic ground. A summernight's festival on the grounds back of Music Hall, which were brilliantly illuminated, an excursion to Niagara Falls on the following day brought to a close the second Saengerfest of the "North American Saengerbund" in Buffalo.

Change of Directorship

In September, 1886, Frederick Federlein, under whom the "Saengerbund" had won so many triumphs, was retired as honorary director.

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Revised April 10, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks