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The Concert Storm


In 1852 the American educator Lowell Mason was traveling through Europe observing and reporting on musical life there. On the third of August he attended a concert of orchestral and choral music in Düsseldorf. He reported that music had to wait for a more powerful force:

The rehearsal being closed, the dinner hour and the hours devoted to smoking, drinking and the like — in the garden — having passed away, the company began to flock in at about four o’clock to attend the concert. At a little before five, when the buillding was filled, one of the most severe showers of rain and hail arose that we ever witnessed. The rain poured down in torrents, the rattling hail beat upon the apparently frail building, in which thousands were assembled, the lightning flashed and blazed in one almost continuous stream of fire, and the deep thunder roared loud and terrific.

To add, if possible, to the sublime chorus of nature, at the moment when the storm was raging most violently, the powerful voices of two thousand men were heard in the loud “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” The rain began to find its way through the roof, umbrellas were spread, cloaks and shawls were wrapped around the elegantly-dressed but trembling ladies, the chill cold quickly succeeded heat, while the rattling of glass broken by hail-stones seemed to indicate the crash of the whole building in one common ruin.

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But all was safe. Quickly the rain ceased, the winds were hushed, and amidst the retiring roll of the more distant thunder, violins, clarinets, and the various orchestral instruments were heard, seeming like the rainbow of promise, to proclaim that Music’s welcome sun should soon shine brightly upon the wailing multitude.

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