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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Henry Toepfer, John Lund, and Victor Herbert

The following account was written by Conrad Toepfer Jr., based on recollections of his grandfather, violinist Henry Toepfer:

As I write this, I sit under a large framed photograph on the wall of my den. Taken in the early 1890's, it shows members of the Saratoga, NY [Grand Union] Hotel summer orchestra sitting on the hotel's steps. Victor Herbert and my grandfather, Henry Toepfer, are seated next to each other in the second row. Their friendship was the basis for the following Pan American Exposition anecdote.

photo of  Buffalo Musicians at Saratoga

Victor Herbert, Henry Toepfer, John Lund, and other Buffalo musicians at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York (early 1900's). Photo credit: unidentified. Source: Photograph kindly provided by Conrad Toepfer Jr.Victor Herbert and Henry Toefer are second and third from the left (respectively) in the middle row of performer.

John Lund directed the orchestra there during the 1890s, beginning in 1892 or 1893. Victor Herbert began conducting the Pittsburgh Orchestra at the hotel in July 1902. Photographer unidentified.

photo of John Lund

John Lund, Conductor. Photo credit: unidentified. Source: Geschichte der Deutschen in Buffalo und Erie County, N.Y. mit biographien und illustrationen hervorragender Deutsch- Amerikaner, welche zur Entwickelung der Stadt Buffalo beigetragen haben. Buffalo, N.Y. : Reinecke & Zesch, 1897 (1898 printing). p. 172.

photo of Henry Toepfer

Henry Toepfer. Photo credit: unidentified. Source: Cropped from the larger group photograph of Victor Herbert, Henry Toepfer, John Lund, and other Buffalo musicians at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York. The photograph was kindly provided by Conrad Toepfer, Jr.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Herbert's father died when Victor was 5 years old. His mother remarried to a German physician and Victor was raised in Germany. Victor was a cellist and my grandfather played violin and viola. The close friendship they formed while attending the Würzburg Musical Conservatory continued during their remaining years in Germany and after they came to the United States.

Herbert soon became one of the world's foremost cellists, composing two cello concertos still in the classical music repertory. After marrying Vienna Opera soprano Therese Forrester, Herbert and his wife decided to come to the United States. She was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera and Herbert was hired as the opera orchestra's principal cellist and assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

My grandfather had secured an appointment to the Buffalo Symphony and Herbert asked him to make the trip to New York with he and his wife. John Lund, then conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, was also conductor of the summer orchestra at the Saratoga Hotel. He engaged my grandfather for those engagements and was seeking a cellist. My grandfather recommended Herbert and the two old friends played together in the Saratoga Hotel orchestra for several summers (conductor Lund is seated in the front of players in the photograph.)

In the mid-1890s, Herbert began writing popular music, eventually becoming best known for his operettas. My grandfather wrote Herbert about the competition for a musical theme for the upcoming Pan American Exposition. Herbert composed a piece, entitled Pan Americana, and sent it to my grandfather for his opinion. Although my grandfather urged that Herbert enter it in the competition, Herbert was not certain it could win and asked for its return.

Before returning it, my grandfather copiedPan Americana and entered it in the competition under Herbert's name. The work won the competition and my grandfather was principal violist in the orchestra for the first performance of Pan Americana in the Temple of Music on October 14, 1901.

—Conrad Toepfer Jr., 2001