Magazine article The Tracker

Look How Far We've Come

Magazine article The Tracker

Look How Far We've Come

Article excerpt

THE OHS PRESS PRESENTS

THE GREAT AMERICAN AUTHOR, WILLA CATHER (1876-1947), was born in Virginia but from the age often lived in the high plains of Nebraska. A year after graduation from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she was hired in 1896 as telegraph editor and drama critic of the Pittsburgh Daily Leader. She continued to write for her old school newspaper, the Nebraska State Journal, and in January 17, 1897 (page 13) the following article was published - an unexpected confluence of author Willa Cather, concert organist Frederic Archer, and Pittsburgh's Carnegie Music Hall.

PITTSBURGH ORGAN WOES

Mr. Archer is, of course, the leading musician of Pittsburgh. As an organist, he is without a peer in America, and as a conductor and composer is almost equally noted. For over a year, he has been giving free organ recitals at the Carnegie Music Hall on Friday afternoons and Saturday evenings. On Saturday night, the hall is always crowded, but this is too busy a place to get a large audience on Friday afternoon. The public petitioned the board of trustees to allow Mr. Archer to give his recitals on Sunday afternoons instead of Friday. It was done, and since then hundreds of people have been turned away at the door every Sunday afternoon, and the crowd begins pouring into the hall an hour before the first number is played. The audience is made up almost entirely of musical people. There is a large German element here, the so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch," who are not nearly as black as they are painted, and who for the most part represent about all the culture there is in Pittsburgh. Most of these people are engaged in humble occupations, but if it were not for them bookstores and concert halls would be wholly superfluous things in Pittsburgh. Sunday is the only day of leisure they have, and they go in crowds wherever there is good music to be heard. The Carnegie is full of them every Sunday afternoon, and their proud enjoyment of the music is something refreshing to see.

Now the Presbyterian church of Pittsburgh objects to enjoyment of all kinds, particularly aesthetic enjoyment. It was slow to become aroused to the awful iniquity of playing Mozart and Wagner and Beethoven on Sunday, but when it is aroused it is an awful force. It is now holding mass meetings in Pittsburgh and mass meetings in Allegheny and petitioning the board of trustees and denouncing Archer, the flesh and the devil. At one of these meetings Rev. Harvey Henderson, one of the leading divines, said: "First, it is well settled among Anglo-Saxon nations that neither amusements nor labor would be carried on the Sabbath. …

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