excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 139-141 (403 words)

excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 139-141 (403 words)

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Recollections of an old musician

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The desire to hear Jenny Lind led almost to a riot at her final concert in Boston.


The concert was given in the early summer season, warm weather prevailing. Thousands of persons had perched upon the roofs of adjoining buildings and coal-sheds, and the streets round the depot were densely packed. The only means of reaching the concert room were the two corkscrew stairways at the front corners of the building. The reserved seat ticket- holders were allowed to go up into the hall first. Then at a given signal the dollar standees were admitted. There was one grand rush and the unreserved space was filled in the twinkling of an eye. People packed themselves very close, and yet there was continually a cry of “ Move up in front! ” with an awful pressure from behind by those who were trying to get in somehow, having paid for the expected privilege.

The time came to begin the concert. The orchestra played the overture, of which probably not a note was heard. Then came Signor Belletti. His song was simply pantomime and “dumb show.” Next came Jenny Lind. It was not her turn to sing, according to the programme, but Benedict brought her on to the stage, thinking her appearance would still the storm. It had a partial effect. She sang “ On Mighty Pens,” from the Creation. Towards the end of the piece, the people who were penned in the passageway between the offices, began to suffer from heat and lack of air. They smashed the glass partitions, had climbed in and opened the windows. The fracas and noise of breaking glass was frightful. A large number of ladies fainted; they were brought into the orchestra anteroom, and very soon overflowed into Jenny Lind’s room, so great was the confusion.

An effort was made to go on with the programme, but, to the best of my recollection, there was not another note heard after Jenny Lind’s song. People began to get out as best they could. It was a slow process. I know that we of the orchestra and the singers got out by corkscrew stairs at the stage end, the steps of which were all covered with mortar, laths, and pieces of joist. Providentially, the door at the foot of the stairs was unlocked, and we reached the street safely, with our instruments.

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excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 139-141 (403 words)


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