The most significant endeavor of the time was . . . the song festival of the North American Saengerbund, held [in Indianapolis] from September 3-6, 1867, with almost 1000 out-of-town singers attending . . . . The festival was a great triumph in all respects: artistically, socially, as well as financiallyand not only for the organizing Verein but also for the entire city. The profit amounted to nearly $2,400 of which $1,280 were donated to the German-English school and $400 each to the German Relief Society and the "Indianapolis Benevolent Society."
After the enormous efforts in conjunction with organizing the song festival in 1867, the [Maennerchor] underwent a period of exhaustion which is excusable considering the circumstances. Moreover, changing conductors repeatedly must have had a negative influence on the activities of the Verein. . . . In the fall of 1873 Max Leckner took over the musical directorship of the Verein . . . . Under the skilled direction of its conductor, the Maennerchor made considerable progress and organized a series of big concerts at the Academy of Music, often in conjunction with the Philharmonic Society which had been in existence for some years. . . . [In 1878] the Maennerchor rented the building on 337 East Washington Street which had so far served as City Hall. The building committee . . . had the rooms changed to suit their needs, and on March 27 and 28 the new home of the Verein was festively opened. . . .
Max Leckner . . . was followed by Alex[ander] Ernestinoff from St. Louis, and after he resigned in 1882 the Verein was lucky to obtain the services of a musician well known in the city, Carl Barus from Cincinnati, who had already conducted the first song festival in Indianapolis 24 years ago. . . . Under his direction the first May Music Festival took place at Tomlinson Hall. Its great artistic success encouraged the organizers to do a big music festival every year. . . . The concerts, entertainment evenings, and excursions [hosted by the Maennerchor] were very well attended by passive members and friends of the Verein. The Maennerchor also risked organizing big masked balls instead of dull, trite masquerades, but these were quite costly undertakings. . . . After serving as conductor for 14 years, Carl Barus resigned his position. . . . [He] was succeeded after a couple of months by Alexander Ernestinoff as director of the Maennerchor.
In the summer of 1896 the board of directors of the [Socialer Turnverein ] invited the Maennerchor to use the existing and planned space in [The German House, or Das Deutsche Haus, the Turnverein's new headquarters]. The trustees of the Maennerchor, however, could not come to an agreement with the board, and thus the negotiations were dropped.
As a result the Maennerchor signed a ten-year lease with the owner of their hall. Extensive structural changes now began in the hall, and the Verein took it upon itself to furnish the rooms out of its own pocket. . . . The Maennerchor's most outstanding patron was John P. Frenzel, . . . a patron of the arts and a great lover of music. . . . The newly renovated hall opened its doors on Saturday, September 25, 1897 . . . . [When this hall also became too small, a] lot was bought at Michigan and Illinois streets, and the stately edifice [designed by Adolf Scherrer] was completed by 1907.
[Today the Indianapolis Maennerchor remains one of the oldest continuously active singing societies in the United States.]
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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
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