Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Evening with Isadora Duncan: Danced by Lois Ann Flood

The Art, Music and Recreation Center of the San Francisco Public Library is pleased to present this program on
Thursday, May 24th from 6-7:30.


Isadora Duncan was the most famous dancer-choreographer performing in the early 20th century. She mesmerized her audiences by combining natural, free movement with ballet. Isadora was an icon of the art and culture of her times—she personified the period’s fascination with all things Greek, was a symbol of women’s emancipation, and influenced fashion and dance throughout the world. This performance will give insight into what all the fuss was about. 

Lois Ann Flood is the founder of Diablo Dance Theater. She has been performing the exquisite dances of Isadora Duncan for over 20 years. Her interpretations are recognized for their dynamic and expressive qualities.  She will be accompanied by narrator Karen Elise, who will talk about Isadora’s life and times.

Books in our collection that might be of interest:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Beethoven Statue in Golden Gate Park

A little more than a year after the unveiling of the Giuseppe Verdi statue in Golden Gate Park, the German-American community gathered to unveil a statue of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven Monument in Golden Gate Park, 1951 (source: San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

While the Verdi statue was the fruit of many years of dedicated fund-raising within San Francisco's Italian-American community, the Beethoven statue was a gift from outside of the Bay Area.  A Survey of Art Work in the City and County of San Francisco notes that the statue was acquired on August 6, 1915 and was a gift of the Beethoven Maennerchor of New York.
"Dedicated to the City of San Francisco by the Beethoven Maennerchor of New York, August 6th 1915, under the auspices of the German-American Auxiliary to the Panama Pacific International Exposition"

The Art Commission's guidebook, San Francisco Civic Art Collection, gives the name sculptor's name - Henry Baerer. It further describes the work:
A heroic size head of the great German composer sits on top of a granite column at the base of which is a life-size draped female figure who holds a lyre.
The original sculpture, located in New York's Central Park, was dedicated on July 22, 1884.

A postcard of Beethoven Monument - Central Park - New York (source: Ludwig van Beethoven's website)

Henry Baerer (1837-1908) was a native of Kirchheim, Hesse-Kassel, Germany who came to the United States in 1854.  He created a number of monumental sculptures in the New York City area including another Beethoven Monument in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

While the Verdi celebration was very much a home-grown affair, the dedication of the Beethoven Monument was part of a number of German-American events that attracted national interest.  Members of the German-American Staatsverband came to San Francisco for German Day at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (August 5, 1915) and the Beethoven Festival of Music (August 6-8, 1915). 
Beethoven Festival of Music (source: San Francisco Programs. Music).

This festival featured the San Francisco Symphony's newly appointed conductor Alfred Hertz. Even though several opera stars were in town for the Beethoven Festival, none of them were on hand for the dedication of the Beethoven Monument (very possibly owing to concert rehearsals). Thus, Beethoven's celebration attracted an audience of 1,000 -- considerably smaller than Verdi's the previous year. 

Originally the dedication of the Monument was to have included the 500 member New York Beethoven Maennerchor.  When the event took place, however, San Francisco had to settle for "representatives" from a number of singing societies. While Mayor James Rolph, Jr. attended the Verdi event, he was represented at the Beethoven dedication by Supervisor J. Emmett Hayden.
"Dedication of the Beethoven Monument given to the City of San Francisco by the Beethoven Maennerchor of the City of New York" (source: San Francisco Programs. Music).

The performers at the dedication of the Beethoven Monument included the Pacific Saengerbund and  two bands - San Francisco's Municipal and the Golden Gate Park Band. In addition to works by Beethoven (The Egmont Overture and the Andante from the 5th Symphony) there was also a Prussian march by Josef Franz Wagner, a choral work by Konradin Kreutzer, and the Star Spangled Banner.

There was an emphasis on the joint German-American nature of the celebration. The Beethoven statue was covered by a drape made up of many German and American flags.  It has to be remembered that all of these events took place during the heightened international tension of the first World War - the Germans attending the Panama Pacific International Exposition had to be reminded not to wear their national flag when entering the French Pavilion of the Exposition.

Related blog entries:

"Beethoven and Verdi in the Park" (May 14, 2012)
"The Verdi Statue in Golden Gate Park" (May 15, 2012)


American Art Annual, volume 8 (MacMillan Co.,1910-1911), p. 397.

“The Beethoven Festival of Music,” Argonaut (July 10, 1915), 27 [available at]

"Beethoven Monument Unveiled as Germans Bare Their Heads: Large Audience Witnesses Formal Ceremonies in Golden Gate Park," San Francisco Chronicle (August 7, 1915), 3. [retrieved from the San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922)‎ database].

"The City in General," Argonaut (August 14, 1915), 11

"German-Americans see San Francisco," Milwaukee Journal (August 7, 1915), 2 [available at Google Newspapers]

Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, 2nd edition (Apollo, 1986).

Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War by Leta E. Miller (University of California Press, 2012).

San Francisco Civic Art Collection: A Guided Tour to Publicly Owned Art of the City and County of San Francisco (The Arts Commission of San Francisco, 1989).

San Francisco Programs. Music (San Francisco Public Library, 1915/16).

Works of Art Belonging to the City of New York, 1905; Tentative List for the Borough of Brooklyn (Art Commission of the City of New York, 1906). [available at Google books].

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Verdi Statue in Golden Gate Park

Bust of Verdi in Golden Gate Park, 1951 (source: San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

The Beethoven and Verdi statues were erected in Golden Gate Park in the years immediately preceding America's participation in the World War in Europe.

 The Verdi statue had been planned ever since the composer's death on January 27, 1901. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle later that year tells of a concert by the Royal Italian Band to raise funds for the artwork ("Verdi Monument Concert," Nov. 9, 1901).

Ettore Patrizi, editor of L'Italia, San Francisco's Italian language newspaper of that time, was the prime force behind the subscription fund that eventually raised $15,000 to commission a statue. He commissioned the work through a contest at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano that chose a design by Orazio Grossoni from a field of five finalists.  Grossoni (1867-1952) was a native of Milan who had won a Silver Medal at the Exposition Universelle de 1900 in Paris.

Sunset Magazine (November 1913) reported:
That the gift might be Italian in every detail it was made in Italy, from the decorative bronze parts to the stone base and pedestal which are of the celebrated red and black granite of Baveno on the Lago Maggiore. The monument is nearly 24 feet high and weighs 52 tons. It was supervised by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Milan.
”Erected by the Italian Colony Through the Initiative of the Daily L’Italia and Donated to the City of San Francisco March MDCDXIV” 

The statue was supposed to be dedicated in 1913 to celebrate the centennial of Verdi's birth.  San Francisco's representative in Congress, Julius Kahn, even interceded to allow the railroads to charge a lower rate to deliver the statue.  Nevertheless, the San Francisco Parks Commission was reluctant to bring statues into the park noting the difficulty of deciding who to "favor" with such an honor.

According to A Survey of Art Work in the City and County of San Francisco the dedication date of this sculpture was March 23, 1914. The survey states that the sculpture was “a gift of the Italian colony, public subscription and by special performances of Verdi operas at the Tivoli.”

Most sources give a number of 20,000 for the dedication's audience size, although the San Francisco Examiner of March 23, 1914 gives a far larger number:
Fifty thousand persons wedged themselves into the sunken garden in front of the park bandstand, but barely half could get with range of the speakers' voices.
Other than the Star Spangled Banner, the musicians presented an all-Verdi program.  A choir of public school children, the United Choral Society of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Park Band participated in the festivities.  Despite suffering from a cold, prima donna Luisa Tetrazzini was the featured performer. During her sojourn in San Francisco, she also participated in the ceremony setting the cornerstone for the following year Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Pacific Coast Musical Review (April 4, 1914)

Verdi and his operas were strongly associated Italian liberty and nationalism.  The back of the base of the statue contains a quatrain written by the arch-nationalist poet Gabriele d'Annunzio:

Egli trasse i suoi cori
dall' imo corco dell' ansante folla
diede una voce alle speranze e ai lutti
pianse ed amo per tutti.

He drew his chorus
From the deepest vortex of striving masses
He voiced the hopes and sorrows of all humanity,
He wept and loved for all.

The La Principessa Errante 365 blog notes that the statue was restored in 2003.  The bust of Verdi at the statue's top was regilded, bringing back its distinctive luster.

Related blog entries:

"Beethoven and Verdi in the Park" (May 14, 2012)
"The Beethoven Statue in Golden Gate Park" (May 17, 2012)


Ettore Patrizi, Ada Negri e la musica by Paola Maurizi (Morlacchi, 2007). [excerpts available online through Google books]

Grossoni, Orazio Costante (Orazio), in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. 63 (K.G. Saur, 2009), 213.

"Honors to Verdi in San Francisco," Sunset vol. 3, no. 5 (November 1913), p. 1004.

Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War by Leta E. Miller (University of California Press, 2012).

Pizzetti, Ildebrando, "Giuseppe Verdi: Man of the The Theatre," Verdi (Istituto di studi verdiani), vol. 1, no. 2 (August 1960), 1013-1038

A Survey of Art Work in the City and County of San Francisco prepared by Martin Snipper for the Art Commission, City and County of San Francisco (1953).

"Tetrazzini greeted by multitudes," Pacific Coast Musical Review (April 4, 1914), p. 6. [available at]

"Verdi gift unveiled amid burst of song," San Francisco Examiner (March 23, 1914), p. 3.

"Verdi Monument Concert: Royal Italian Band Will Play in Mechanics' Pavilion," San Francisco Chronicle (Nov 9, 1901), p. 7 [retrieved from the San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922)‎ database].

"Verdi Statue May Come at Reduced Freight Rates: Interstate Commerce Commission Allows Charges to Be Cut," San Francisco Chronicle (June 7, 1913), 42.

"Verdi statue unveiled in the Park today," San Francisco Examiner (March 22, 1914), 30.

"Would Bar Verdi From the Park: Commissioners Are Opposed to Placing of Statuary on Green Lawns," San Francisco Chronicle (August 15, 1913), 4.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beethoven and Verdi in the Park

One of the titles featured on our department's Summer 2012 reading list is Music and Politics in San Francisco by Leta E. Miller.

The opening pages of this book relate an interesting anecdote about classical music and nationalism in early 20th century San Francisco.  Miller describes the circumstances of the dedication of two "rival" statues of Giuseppe Verdi and Ludwig van Beethoven in Golden Gate Park. 

 She contrasts the "vibrant bronze tribute to Verdi" with the "sober tribute to Beethoven."

The bust of Verdi, covered in gold paint, is radiant and presents a very natural, human and even virile image of the bare-chested composer in his later years.  His visage, while rather noble, looks a little melancholy, even wistful.
 The Beethoven we see is the Beethoven we know, with an intense, rather stern expression.  His overcoat and scarf show him as a man to be taken seriously.

An interesting feature of these two statues is that they are neighbors of sorts.  The Verdi statue was placed first and the Beethoven statue came a year later.  The placement is such that Verdi looks out on Beethoven (with the California Academy of Sciences to the right),
while Beethoven looks away from Verdi (toward the Golden Gate Park band shell and the De Young Museum).
Verdi would only be visible to Beethoven if he made the effort to turn his head to the left.
Of course, in reality the historical Beethoven had no way of "seeing" Verdi - Verdi was a 13 year old in Busseto, Italy at the time of Beethoven's death.  Verdi, of course, knew and appreciated Beethoven's music.  In Verdi: His Music, Life and Times, George Martin notes that Verdi accepted honorary membership of the Musical Society of the Beethoven House in Bonn, Germany and added that Beethoven's was a "great name [whom] we must all prostrate ourselves in reverence!"

Related blog entries:

"The Verdi Statue in Golden Gate Park" (May 15, 2012)
"The Beethoven Statue in Golden Gate Park" (May 17, 2012)


Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War by Leta E. Miller (University of California Press, 2012).

Verdi: His Music, Life and Times (Dodd, Mead, 1963).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bio-bibliographical Index of Musicians in the United States of America Since Colonial Times

The Bio-bibliographical Index of Musicians in the United States of America Since Colonial Times (1942) is another one of the many scholarly projects of the New Deal and the Works Project Administration.  This work was actually created under the auspices of several organizations including the District of Columbia Historical Records Survey, Division of Community Service Programs, Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, the Library of Congress, and the Pan American Union.

Originally published in 1942, the index provides access to information about American musicians from colonial times through the 1930s indexed from 66 sources.  Each entry provides the musician's name, years of birth and death in parentheses, as well as their musical profession.  If a musician was foreign born, their name is preceded by an asterisk and their nationality is provided.  There are abbreviations listed that referred to each source, followed by pages numbers for where information can be found.

Because a large percentage of these musicians indexed here are unknown to us today, this reference work is an excellent source to consult when trying to track down obscure musical figures of the distant past.

This index was the second volume of the Music Series of the Pan American Union, an organization promoting regional cooperation.  All of the introductory material in the book is translated into Spanish and Portuguese.  Our copy is the 2nd edition, published in 1956.  The value of the book is evidenced by its subsequently being reprinted twice in the 1970s.

The Bio-bibliographical Index of Musicians in the United States of America Since Colonial Times has subsequently been scanned by  Both the original 1942 edition and the nearly identical 2nd edition from 1956 are available to be perused online.

Bio-bibliographical Index of Musicians in the United States of America from Colonial Times = Indice Bio-bibliografico de Artistas Musicales de los Estados Unidos de America Desde Tiempos Coloniales = Índice Bio-biliográfico de Musicistas dos Estados Unidos da América desde os Tempos Coloniais (Music Section, Pan American Union, 1956).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Art and Life of Chiura Obata

"The Distant Camp" 1942, Topaz, by Chiura Obata (source: Topaz Museum

Chiura Obata (1885-1975) is a master in the traditional Japanese sumi ink and brush technique, who was born in Japan and came to California in 1903. During World War II, he lived in great hardship behind barbed wire fences at Tanforan in South San Francisco and later at Topaz, Utah.

On Tuesday, May 1, 2012 from 6:00-7:00 PM in the Koret Auditorium, Kimi Kodani Hill, the granddaughter of Chiura Obata and the Obata family historian, will talk about him and his art.

Related reading:

Obata's Yosemite: The Art and Letters of Chiura Obata from his Trip to the High Sierra in 1927, with essays by Janice T. Driesbach and Susan Landauer (Yosemite Association, 1993).

Sumie by Chiura Obata (The Author: 1967)

Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata's Art of the Internment Camps, edited with text by Kimi Kodani Hill (Heyday Books, 2000).