@ElizaBTweetin: July 12, 1872: Hot & Humid!
Posted on July 12, 2013
In case you haven’t noticed, our weather during the last few weeks has been the same as it was 141 years ago, in 1872: HOT and HUMID! We’ve been lazy, enjoying vacation and trying to be where there is air conditioning, but Eliza Wheaton wasn’t so fortunate. Late June through early July was a busy time for her, with the Seminary term ending and a senior tea party to organize, public examinations and graduation exercises to attend, visits from alumnae, Trustees and their families to arrange, hiring men to cut hay (of course the mower broke!) and trips to Boston and Providence. All without air conditioning—enough said.
On June 29, Eliza took Mrs. Beane and her niece Mary Chapin to Boston for the World’s Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival. Arranged by Patrick S. Gilmore (of Music Man fame) to celebrate the end of the Franco-Prussian War, the festival lasted eighteen days. The Festival had opened on June 17, and was so widely publicized that Eliza probably didn’t want to miss it.
An enormous coliseum (larger than a football field), seating 60,000 spectators and 22,000 musicians, was constructed in Boston’s Back Bay (near present Copley Square), which was still being filled and developed in 1872. Imagine being packed into this building on a sultry day—would you be able to concentrate on the music? You'd want to loosen your corset!
The Festival attracted 20,000 singers and 2,000 musicians, including Johann Strauss, Jr., London’s Grenadier Guards Band, the United States Marine Band, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, Austrian soprano Minna Peschka-Leutner, the Grenadier Regiment of the German Military Music Corps of the Berlin Garde, and Emperor William’s Imperial Cornet Quartet. The programs featured music of different nationalities on various days; for instance, June 20 was “French Day”. The afternoon program for June 29th included a hymn by Lowell Mason, several works by Mendelssohn, and various overtures. “The Anvil Chorus” from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, featured 100 members of the Boston Fire Department resplendent in red shirts and white suspenders, hammering on 100 anvils while cannons fired outside the coliseum and all of Boston’s church bells rang!