Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bach in the little town of Bethlehem, PA


The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston perform Haydn's The Seasons at the BBC Proms on Monday (July 23), and their conductor Sir Roger Norrington gives an interesting interview in today's Guardian.

The Handel and Haydn Society is a chorus and period instrument orchestra dating from 1815. They pioneered American performances of the Handel oratorios, and in the 1870s also presented Bach's oratorios in almost complete versions for the first time in America.

But the first American performances of Bach's St John and St Matthew Passions, and the B minor Mass didn't take place in Boston, or even New York. These masterpieces were first heard in the U.S. of A in 1888, 1892 and 1900 respectively under the conductor John Frederick Wolle (seen at the organ in my photo). Wolle had studied Bach's music in Munich with Joseph Rheinberger, and the American premieres of all three works were given by his Bach Choir in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, of all places.

Now check out another great organ console photo.
Image credit WLVT.org.
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1 comment:

Pliable said...

Before anyone writes in; yes, this limey knows Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a city, not a town.

But why spoil a nice headline?