Shaping the Circle





Lyra Casino stock certificate, 1898
Lyra Casino stock certificate #1, 1898
Lyra Casino stock certificate, 1898
Lyra Casino Stock Certificate #2, 1898


[A new Indianapolis singing society called the Harmonie was created in September of 1869 under the direction of Carl Bergstein.] In 1871 the harmonious cooperation of the members was suddenly interrupted because, in rapid succession, first Carl Bergstein and then his successor, C. B. Lizius, took over the direction of the Maennerchor, prompting a considerable number of the best singers to also join the Maennerchor. . . . For a while it seemed as if the society was about to gain new energy, especially through the performance of operettas and shorter comedies under Phil[ip] Michelson's competent direction. Unfortunately, the period of rejuvenation lasted only a short time; the competition from other Vereins proved too hard to overcome, and in 1881 the Harmonie was laid to rest.

On January 19, 1873, [a zither club formed by young German-Americans] organized as the singing society "Lyra," with active and passive members. . . . In 1884 Alex[ander] Ernestinoff was elected conductor. The number of members had meanwhile climbed to 400, and the performance of the "active members" left nothing to be desired. . . . The membership surge during a relatively short period of time was perhaps too sudden to be maintained. Besides, the administrative tasks of the society lay in the hands of younger members who were also active in the choir and the orchestra. The many rehearsals and meetings required too much time after the regular workday. . . . The city of Indianapolis . . . had meanwhile grown into a large city; and as it grew, people seemed to have less and less time. In 1889 the "Lyra" was dissolved. The friends of music and song stayed together for a while longer, but the musical get-togethers became less frequent. The music club turned into the Lyra Bowling Club and finally into the "Lyra Casino."

[German lodges in Indianapolis worked to preserve German language and customs and also occasionally had their own choral groups. In 1872 two such lodges, the Druiden Lodge and the Rothmaenner, consolidated their singing sections to form the Indianapolis Liederkranz.] Under the direction of August Müller, folk song was cultivated by the 45 active members. . . . The most important event in the history of the Liederkranz was the Eighth Song Festival of the Indiana Saengerbund, held under the auspices of the Verein from September 6 through 10, 1883 . . . . After the festival joys had passed away and the singers were reviewing income and expenses, they made an unpleasant discovery: there was a deficit of approximately $1,200! The deficit of the song festival on the one hand and the founding of a mixed choir in 1884—against the wish of many members—on the other hand upset the good relations among the active members of the Liederkranz. Many terminated their membership and joined the Maennerchor. . . . At the end of May 1888, however, . . . the Indianapolis Liederkranz was reorganized . . . and grew into a society of 60 active and 250 passive members by 1908. [The Liederkranz is still in existence in Indianapolis today.]



Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB

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