EYEWITNESS: 1863 CULTURE STILL FINDS ITS WAY TO PITTSBURGH DURING WAR Series: EYEWITNESS

By Barcousky, Len | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 3, 2013 | Go to article overview

EYEWITNESS: 1863 CULTURE STILL FINDS ITS WAY TO PITTSBURGH DURING WAR Series: EYEWITNESS


Barcousky, Len, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Train service that linked Pittsburgh's "manufactories" to customers around the country also gave residents a chance to enjoy some of the nation's leading artistic talents.

During one week in 1863 the city played host to philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, composer-pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk and opera singer Carlotta Patti.

Gottschalk was New Orleans-born but a Union supporter during the Civil War. He took full advantage of 19th century modern transportation -- trains and steamboats -- to tour extensively. An advertisement in the Pittsburgh Gazette for his concert on Feb. 2, 1863, promised that "he will perform some of his latest compositions, which have caused so great a sensation in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and all the Western cities." Many of his works made use of Creole and African-American folk melodies he heard when he was a boy growing up in the South.

Gottschalk and Patti gave performances on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 in the city's Concert Hall on Wood Street. The second concert featured what the Gazette described as the premiere of a Gottschalk composition called "Papillon," or "Butterfly." The work was "composed expressly for Miss Patti ... and [was] to be sung for the first time."

"The wonderful performances of Mr. Gottschalk need no commendation from us, and we will not attempt either eulogy or criticism," an anonymous reporter wrote on Feb. 2. "Miss Patti was received with the warmest applause, and was encored throughout the programme," the story said.

The visiting artists were joined on stage by a local pianist identified only by his first initial and last name. "Mr. V. De Ham ... was warmly applauded and highly spoken of by his numerous friends in the audience."

Emerson's lectures on Feb. …

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