The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 172 - 176


and supported by able soloists, gave a concert in Goodell Hall on Delaware Avenue.

Although the "Orpheus" had joined the Bund later than the other local singing societies, it worked with great zeal for the success of the 23rd Seangerfest of the North-American Saengerbund, held in Buffalo and much credit is due it and its capable director for the splendid outcome of the same.

In November of 1883 the "Orpheus" moved into its quarters in the New Music Hall. But this change of dwelling proved disasterous; for in the complete destruction of the building by fire, on March 25, 1885, the society lost its entire property, all its music, piano, furniture, pictures, and old records. To the latter the loss of its old records is to be ascribed the fact, that all events worthy of notice in the history of the society could not be ascertained up to that period for use in this work. It was possible to gather the foregoing notes only from the reminiscences of old society members; chiefly from those of the veteran singer, Andreas Brunn.

The last concert of the following season, in April, 1885, had to be held in the Academy of Music, as no other large hall was available.

After the fire the society again took shelter under the roof of its first home, Baecher's Hall.

In 1884 the "Orpheus" attended the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the "Beethoven Maennerchor" of New York, as a guest of the New Yorkers, and at the principal concert sang "Studenten Nachtgesang", by Fischer, as an individual selection.

In September, 1885, Johannes Gelbke relinquished the baton, which was again wielded by Carl Adam with his accustomed master hand, but with the privilege of retiring as soon as the society had succeeded in securing the services of another capable director.

In 1886 the "Orpheus" departed for the Saengerfest of the North-American Saengerbund in Milwaukee, where it earned well deserved applause by its rendering of Schuberts's beautiful composition "Ruhe". After the completion of the new Music Hall the "Orpheus" again took

Caption under picture at center reads John Lund, Director "Buffalo Orpheus".


up its abode there on October 1, 1887, and celebrated its housewarming simultaneously with its anniversary on October 6th.

With this day a new era began in the life of the society, Carl Adam surrendering his baton to the new director, John Lund. At this celebration the "Orpheus" sang a song under the direction of its old leader, who was thereupon presented with a costly gold watch and chain, accompanied by a heartfelt address.

Thereupon Mr. Adam consigned the baton to the new leader, Mr. Lund, who directed a song, written expressly for the occasion in honor of the retiring director, and which had been set to music by Mr. Lund himself. A change of directorship brought about so harmoniously will scarcely find a parallel.

Under the leadership of John Lund the society developed a zeal and activity, which in combination with the capability of its director soon bore the best results. Mr. Lund abstained from the teaching of cantatas and larger musical compositions. His concert programmes, besides the usual orchestra selections and renderings of excellent soloists, were composed of songs only for the men's choruses, but with these he scored the highest successes with his audiences. In the first concerts under his direction the ladies' chorus took part. But after mature deliberation Mr. Lund decided to do away with the ladies' chorus. The execution of this decision at first created much discussion, but finally harmony was restored, and especially as it was proven that the male chorus, constantly growing in efficiency, easily replaced the mixed and ladies' choruses. Each new concert added to the laurels of the society.

What the "Orpheus" under John Lund was capable of, was shown at the Saengerfest of the North-Eastern Saengerbund at Baltimore in 1888. It won the first prize of the second group, a silver lyre, the "Zoellner Maennerchor" of New York secured the second, and the "Phoenix" of Newark the third. The prize song was "Waldmorgen" by Koellner. The successful singers were greeted upon their return by the local singers in the most enthusiastic manner.

In further honorable acknowledgement of its success in Baltimore the society received an invitation from the New York "Arion" to participate in the Musical Festival, arranged by them to take place on October 5, 6, and 7, 1889. The "Orpheus" delighted the New Yorkers on this occasion by their excellent rendering of the song "Nachtzauber", by Storch.[1] "The New York Figaro", the musical critic of the metropolis, wrote at the time as follows:[2]
"Those were distinguished, capable performances, which were also heartily applauded by the audience. If it had been a prize singing contest, we would have awarded the Buffalonians the first prize, the Philadelphians the second, and the third to Brooklyn."

Caption under picture at left center reads The Propeller Vandalia, 1842, First Propeller on the Lakes

[1] The German text attributes the song "Nachtzauber" to Storck. Return to text

[2] The German text reads "The New York Figaro, the German music newspaper of the metropolis, wrote as follows..." Return to text


Jointly with the "Saengerbund" the "Orpheus" attended the Peninsular Saengerfest, held at Hamilton, Ont., on August 18, 19, 20, and 21, 1891, at which John Lund acted as director. In one of the concerts the "Germanenzug" composed by John Lund, was sung by the combined choruses. A Hamilton paper reported as follows concerning an individual solo selection of the "Orpheus".
"The society under the direction of Mr. Lund sang 'Abschiedslied', by Sturm, and 'Spinnlied', by Juengst; the stormy applause which rewarded the efforts of the society was the best proof of their perfect execution."

At the Saengerfest of the North-American Saengerbund, held at Cleveland in 1893, the "Orpheus" gained new laurels by an individual selection. The composition chosen was Nessler's "Abschied hat der Tag genommen."The never ending applause calling for an encore, "Dixie Land" was sung by the society;

Map at center reads A New Map of the City of Buffalo, 1849. An enlargement at higher resolution can be found at


which also scored unbounded success. In the meantime, while the active members were celebrating triumphs in Cleveland, the passive members remaining at home were visited by the "New York Liederkranz", who were returning from a concert tour in the West under the leadership of their director, Heinrich Zoellner. The passive members of the "Orpheus" arranged a carriage drive in honor of their guests, a commers [1] also taking place in the evening. In the same year the society decided to establish themselves in their own home. A piece of property was bought on Main Street, near Tupper Street, which, however, remained burdened with heavy mortgage. Owing to the following year of general business depression the society was not only unable to meet the further payments on the principal, but also could not pay the interest on the mortgage. The consequence was that the agreement of sale was cancelled under very unfavorable condition to the society.

At the Saengerfest of the North Eastern Seangerbund, held at New York in June, 1894, the "Orpheus" again came away victorious. It had daringly undertaken to enter in the rank of first group of the prize singing contest. The prize song selected was the difficult composition, "Das Grab in Busento". The "Orpheus" won the third prize, an artistic silver laurel wreath. Upon their return a flattering reception was given the victorious singers, concluding with a large commers.

On October 6th, 7th, and 8th, the "Buffalo Orpheus" celebrated their 25th anniversary. On the first evening of the festival a grand concert took place, followed by the brilliant ball. The second evening was given over to a gigantic commers to which the "Orpheus" had invited the following societies: The "Saengerbund", "Liedertafel", "Junger Maennerchor", "Harmonie", "Harugari Frohsinn", "Teutonia Maennerchor" and "Helvetia".

On this occasion many costly gifts were presented to the society. A large clock by the "New York Arion", a silver punch bowl and cups by the "New York Beethoven Maennerchor", an artistic director's music stand by the "Philadelphia Junger Maennerchor".[2] Other local societies presented floral offerings. Director Lund gave the society an oil portrait of himself, and the active members presented a group picture of themselves, both framed in heavy gilt frames.

On the last day of the celebration the "Orpheus" arranged an excursion to Niagara Falls together with their out-of-town guests.

At the Saengerfest of the North Eastern Saengerbund, held at Philadelphia in 1897, the "Orpheus" participated in the prize singing for societies of the first group. According to the criticism of the Philadelphia press of the singing of the Buffalo society, the "Orpheus" could

The term "Commers" is defined in a footnote on page 124 of this text. Return to text

The German text adds "The Buffalo Young Men's Choir presented a silver loving-cup." Return to text


certainly expect to be awarded the first prize, but the judges gave the society the third prize. The disappointment of the members of the "Orpheus" over this decision was so great that they left the hall without acceptance of the prize, which consisted of a silver cup, and which was later on sent to the society.

At the Jubilee Saengerfest of the North American Saengerbund, held in Cincinnati in 1899, the "Orpheus" gave fresh proof of its splendid capabilities. The society aroused a perfect storm of applause by its rendering of the composition "Waldstimmen" by Kempner. The Musical Courier of New York wrote as follows regarding this piece of work:
"Among the societies who were heard individually, the first place belongs undisputedly to the Buffalo "Orpheus", under the direction of Mr. John Lund. Every member of this society is a singer with a well trained voice. The joint impression of such a material of voices is in the highest degree artistic and satisfactory."

Presidents of the "Orpheus" since its founding were the following: 1869, Joseph Haberstro, Andreas Brunn; 1870 and '71, William Lautz; 1872, Dr. Wm. Meisberger, C.F. Hager; 1873 and '74, Charles Krull; 1875, William Lautz; 1876, Fred. Held; 1877 and '78 Jacob Davis; 1879, Andreas Brunn; 1880, '81 and '82, J. Adam Lautz; 1883, Hermann Grau; 1884, Michael J. Stark, Eugene Bertrand; 1885, '86 and '87, Charles F. Bishop; 1888 and '89, J. Adam Lautz; 1890, '91 and 92, Adolf Fink; 1893, J. Adam Lautz; 1894, Andreas Brunn, Jubilee year honorary president, Wm. Lautz; 1895, Adolf Fink; 1896 and '97, Chas. A. Wenborne; 1898 and '99, Charles H. Schwenk.

German Festivities

The celebration in honor of distinguished men of Germany, arranged in the old country, have always met with ready emulation on the part of the Germans in America. On November 10, 1859, the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Friedrich von Schiller, the favorite poet of the German youth, was celebrated in all parts of Germany, so it was

Caption under picture at center reads Walden House, Northeast corner Main and Eagle Streets, 1840

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Revised April 16, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks