The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
A Tempting Offer

NO OTHER city of men seems to have been so much the butt of captious girdings and carpings as the city of Chicago. A literature of small wits long ago fixed for it a place of contempt as of one given to large vaunting but small achievement in all ways better than the dollar hunt. Because there was much packing house there could be little civilization, concluded the scornful East, being strong on logic. Yet the truth is that in enthusiasm for the gentle and refining arts, in idealism, in all that is meant by that easy phrase, public spirit, in a perfectly sincere devotion to good causes, Chicago far outshines New York or Philadelphia or any other Eastern city, and in all America is unequaled save by other communities in the West. If such a statement be challenged, one need no more than refer to the manner in which Chicago from 1897 to 1927 sedulously and tastefully adorned itself, and then to its sterling record of devotion to music.

It had always been reasonably musical, Chicago; it had been one of the first cities in America to guess what Thomas was aiming at and to give him effective support. If the Chicago Fire had precipitated his first ruin, the rehabilitated Chicago came now to his help in his time of greatest difficulty, as it was destined to do again in his long and troubled career.

Old Chicagoans will not need to be reminded of this Exposition Building that stood so long on the lake front, starting at Adams Street and ending at Madison, huge, not ungraceful, and strong in historical reminiscences. Chicago erected it, outdoing itself, as a kind of challenge to the world after the fire.

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