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Karen Ahlquist

(b New York, Jan 26, 1820; d New York, July 21, 1875). American lawyer, musical amateur and diarist , father of George Templeton Strong. He played the piano and the organ as a child and later attended Columbia College; he was admitted to the bar in 1841. In 1869 he founded the New York Church Music Association, which offered public concerts of religious music. He was also an original subscriber of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York (founded 1842), of which he was president from 1870 to 1874.

Strong’s diary, with over four million words, confirms him as one of the most comprehensive and important 19th-century commentators on New York life. Along with accounts of personal, local and world affairs, it contains observations on hundreds of musical performances, including orchestral and choral concerts, opera, solo recitals, services at Trinity Church and chamber music. It also describes Strong’s role as an organizer. A conservative idealist, he fought unsuccessfully to excise the music of such composers as Berlioz, Liszt, Robert Schumann and Wagner from Philharmonic programmes in the name of (as he said) ‘fine and great music’. The diary offers a colourful mode of expression, an insider’s view of the politics and economics of musical institutions, and a detailed account of a city’s musical culture....