North Bergen , New Jersey

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History of our Chorus - Page 1

Seeking a form of German Music more refined than the spontaneous singing often heard in saloons and beer gardens, a group of German-Americans gathered in lower Manhattan and, on November 11, 1847 formed the Rheinischer Sängerbund (RSB). Their aim was to preserve and foster an interest in their rich heritage of German Song. Of the 37 original members, 29 had come from the Rhineland.

In the large community of German-speaking immigrants in New York, the chorus flourished and, by 1857, comprised 100 trained singers. The Vereinslokal (meeting pub) was located first on Houston Street and then, later at other places downtown. Having become accomplished, he RSB was awarded the coveted laurel wreath at the Baltimore Sängerfest. Not only good singers but good citizens as well, 12 from the Rheinscher joined the Union forces during the Civil War and of those, 6 made the supreme sacrifice. Deeply honored, the Rheinischer was privileged to sing at the funeral service of President Lincoln.

By 1866, the Vereinslokal had relocated several times to various places in lower Manhattan. The 20th anniversary in 1867 was celebrated in grand style and before a full house in Walhalla, a downtown establishment owned by the Brothers Seib. The RSB has long been charitably and culturally linked to the old country. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71, the chorus again and again gave benefit concerts for the relief of the widows and orphans of German solders who fell in the war.

The chorus continued to prosper. By 1874 it numbered 150 members. At the singing competition sponsored in 1874 by the Allgemeine Sängerbund N. Y., the RSB won the first prize. In 1876 the Rheinischer Sängerbund, as the premier German--American organization in New York, arranged through the school system for the successful introduction of German language instruction in the city's schools. In 1882 the Scandalia male chorus was merged into the RSB, greatly increasing the membership. At the Centennial celebration in 1889 and again at the 1892 Columbian Exposition the RSB was well represented. The 45th Anniversary festivities in 1892 were held at Renwick Hall on East 86th Street.

The tireless efforts of RSB president Charles Schwab kept the chorus going between 1893-1897. On the 11th of November 1897, the golden anniversary of the RSB was celebrated in the grand ballroom of the Terrace Gardens. The affair had the support of the entire German-American community. For the singing at the concert, the Rheinischer were actively supported by the Arion and New York Quartet Klub male voices. In 1900 a fund raising concert was staged under the auspices of Caecilienverein, the New Yorker Männerchor, and the RSB. The proceeds went to the erection of a memorial to the seaman son of a former president of the RSB. Seaman Fred. C. Holzer had been lost in a maritime disaster.

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