When Victor Herbert appeared at Willow Grove in 1909, he was
already a sensation as a conductor and composer. Born in Ireland
in 1895, Herbert came to America in 1886 with the reputation as a
great cellist. He played with the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra, The Metropolitan Opera Company and had conducted the
In 1894 Herbert began composing some of the
most famous and tuneful light operas the country had ever heard:
The Fortune Teller (1898), Babes in Toyland (1903), The Red Mill
(1906), Naughty Marietta (1910) and melodies for the Ziegfeld
Follies of 1919, 1921, and 1924. His cello concerto is still in
the standard repertoire of most orchestras.
From a Willow Grove Park concert program:
"Victor Herbert was born in Dublin, Ireland, February 1st, 1859. Educated in Europe, his musical education covered complete range, but he specialized in the 'cello. Made various concert tours through Europe and solo-'cellist in leading orchestras. Came to New York City in 1886 as solo-'cellist for the Metropolitan Opera House. It is interesting to note that, like all good Irishmen, the first thing that Mr. Herbert did on landing in this country was to take out naturalization papers and become a full fledged American citizen.
Mr. Herbert took his place in the orchestra of the late Anton Seidl, and the latter, taking a great fancy to the genial "Irishman," made him assistant conductor, in which position he remained for several years, afterward joining Theodore Thomas in the same capacity.
Mr. Herbert is eloquent in his praise of Seidl, and to him gives all the credit of his present high rank as a composer. It was Seidl who encouraged him in his compositions, and who played them when they were finished. At the first of the symphony concerts given by Anton Seidl at the old Steinway Hall, Mr. Herbert's Suite for string orchestra was given a prominent place on the program, Mr. Seidl gracefully handing the baton to the composer."
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