- William Osborne
An all-encompassing label that potentially includes ensembles ranging from the originally all-male (Old, as of 1908) Stoughton (Massachusetts) Musical Society (founded in 1786) through Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society (founded in 1815 and originally devoted to the presentation of major works from the pens of its namesakes) to private, independent singing societies (complex social organizations that usually relied on the support of non-singing members for their financial support). German-language ensembles were earliest, dating from a Gesangverein organized in Philadelphia in 1835 and a Deutscher Liederkranz, founded in New York City during early 1847, the first of literally hundreds of such groups that proliferated across the country and gathered in Sängerfests, the first of which involved five Midwestern societies in Cincinnati during 1849. The eldest of the surviving German societies is the Columbus Männerchor, of Columbus, Ohio, founded in October 1848 by a dozen “Forty-Eighters,” political refugees from the upheavals of that year in the German territories. The German societies furnished a model for English-language “American” societies such as New York’s all-male Mendelssohn Glee Club (...