Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

Search library resources
Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Victor Herbert

Victor Herbert

Victor Herbert

Victor Herbert and the Pittsburgh Orchestra were hired to perform at the Pan-American Exposition for a period towards the end of the Exposition. Herbert had close friends in Buffalo, including conductor John Lund and violinist Henry Toepfer. But he also had concerns about the financial arrangements with the Exposition Company. These concerns are reflected in some brief letters from Victor Herbert to George Henry Wilson, manager of the Pittsburgh Orchestra.1

June 9th, 1900

Dear Mr. Wilson,

Yours of June 7th at hand. As to the Buffalo Expo., 4 or 5 weeks would be very acceptable. It would be best to get September and October time, in one way, on the other hand if the Expo. Is not a great financial success it is much better to get time in the early part of the affair; you're sure of your money then.

I have had experiences of this kind. You will always have to figure in R.R. exp. both ways, no matter what part of the engagement you take.

If you charge them $3000 a week on a minimum 4 weeks engagement, as you suggest, it's about right. ...

The shooting of President McKinley on September 6, 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition heightened Herbert's concerns about financial arrangements with the Exposition Company. He stated the following in a letter written to Wilson September 14th, the day of McKinley's deatth.

The deplorable death of the president will certainly settle that one extra week in Buffalo. Under the circumstances we can't expect to get it. They are certainly getting it "in the neck."

Pittsburgh Orchestra conducted by Victor Herbert

Pittsburgh Orchestra. From: Pittsburgh, Pa. Conductor: Victor Herbert. Source: Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

More information from Music at the Pan-American Exposition

In a September 25th letter to Wilson, Herbert expressed his concerns about being paid for the Exposition engagement.

As to the Buffalo engagement I want to say this: Lund with his orchestra played from 2-4 and 8-10. I hope this will be our time too. Since we can't play in the open air, I don't see how or why they should shift us around much. I will send you the program tomorrow. I've had a terrible cold and was unable to do anything but cough and sneeze. I hope that you will see that we get all the advertising we ought to have before we arrive and when we get there. I know that the Buffalo Expo. People are very hard up, and that several of the organizations had the devil's own time to collect the money due them. They are perfectly honest all right enough, but they don't seem to have it! I hope however they will do some business from now on and that we will have no trouble of that kind.

After Wilson apparently replied that the contract with the Exposition could be broken, Herbert replied in part with the following on October 1st.

What I said about Buffalo was that I knew they had had hard times paying their attractions, but that they didfinally. I don't see how we could ask then now "if the money was all right" at this time. All we can do now is to hope for a better attendance at the fair, and to insist upon prompt payment ... when the time comes.

Victor Herbert's Panamericana


Cover Art for Victor Herbert's Panamericana: Morceau Characteristique. Source: Panamericana : morceau charateristique / by Victor Herbert. New York : M. Witmark & Sons, 1901. Courtesy of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library

Victor Herbert also contributed to the Pan-American Exposition by composing a work, Panamericana: Morceau Characteristique, for the orchestra to perform. The work, dedicated to the President of the Pan-American Exposition, John Milburn, was first played at the Exposition on October 14th in the Temple of Music.

In another letter to Wilson, Herbert stated the following about his piece, Panamericana:

The piece is of the more popular order and will make a hit. The first part is "supposed" to be "Indian" the second part "ragtime" (modern America) and the trio "Cuban" or Spanish character.

The program for the October 17th performances by the Pittsburgh Orchestra conducted by Victor Herbert. The evening concert featured the performance of Panamericana.

Schedule of Victor Herbert's Pittsburgh Orchestra - October 17, 1901. Source: Official Daily Program of the Pan-American Exposition - "University of Buffalo Day" (October 17, 1901). Buffalo, N.Y.: The Exposition Company, 1901. pp. 4-5.


1. All of the quotes are from Edward N. Waters's book, Victor Herbert: A Life in Music, New York: Macmillan, 1955.