New Year’s Eve 1915- Gloucester’s spectacular annual Midsummer’s Night ball at City Hall was in the news

Boston GLOBE

In 1915, the annual New Year’s Eve ball at City hall in Gloucester was hopping. Ball dancing! Magical spectacle and theatre design! Interpretive Dance! Quartet! Vocalists!

Dec. 31, 1915

Commonwealth Club Dance: Gloucester organization presents its “Midsummer’s Night Party” in City Hall

The annual New Year’s eve concert and assembly of the Commonwealth Club of this city, the “Mid-Summer’s Night Party,” was celebrated in City Hall tonight.

These occasions are noted for their unique decorative schemes and that of this evening made a spectacular ball room setting. Pres Lantz designed and superintended the scenic effect.

The entertainment comprised a program by an orchestra, the Campus Quartet of Dartmouth College, __gure and allegorical dances by Miss Melba Procter, cornet solos by Arian Latham and a violin obbligato by A.A. Lucier. Mrs. Charles C. Nelson of this city gave the vocal solo, “Less than Dust” to Miss Procter’s interpretive Persian dance. Richard W. Freeman was the chairman of the entertainment committee.

“Commonwealth Club Dance: Gloucester organization presents its “Midsummer’s Night Party” in City Hall”, Boston Globe, January 1, 1916

AUDIO LISTEN

Failing audio or photographs from the actual event, here are some examples of the program. The music for Less than Dust was composed by Amy Woodforde-Finden (1860-1919) sometime during 1894-1902. Lyrics by Laurence Hope were added later, copyrighted 1906.

Here is a 1924 audio clip of Less than Dust (Far East love lyrics) solo, with baritone Royal Dadmun, in the Library of Congress collection:

Hope, Laurence, Royal Dadmun, Amy Woodforde-Finden, and Rosario Bourdon. Less Than the Dust
. 1924. Audio.

LYRICS

“Less than the Dust”

Less than the dust, beneath thy Chariot wheel,
Less than the rust, that never stained thy Sword,
Less than the trust thou hast in me, O Lord,
⁠Even less than these!

Less than the weed, that grows beside thy door,
Less than the speed of hours spent far from thee,
Less than the need thou hast in life of me.
⁠Even less am I.

Since I, O Lord, am nothing unto thee,
See here thy Sword, I make it keen and bright,
Love’s last reward, Death, comes to me to-night,
⁠Farewell, Zahir-u-din.

Laurence Hope Lyrics Less than Dust 1906 (set to earlier music composed by Amy Woodforde-Finden)

Since I couldn’t find a Less than Dust soprano example, ‘here to help us hear’ a female’s voice as was on the program in Gloucester’s City Hall that New Year’s Eve– apparently a wonderful local singer, Mrs. Charles Nelson- : enjoy audio of a another song from this same Woodforde-Finden cycle, Kashmiri, sung by Maggie Teyte (1888-1976) and recorded in that era.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Loesser’s hit Margaret Whiting 1947; Orioles 1949; Ella 1960; Nancy Wilson 1967; Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt 2011; Idina Menzel 2017

3 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve 1915- Gloucester’s spectacular annual Midsummer’s Night ball at City Hall was in the news

  1. That recording was SO cool! In context of the the article- made me wish I was born 100+ years ago. Classy event- can only imagine the phenomenal formal attire of the evening! Currently watching some train wreck saying the F word on national TV- yikes- Machine Gun Kelly- just yikes….

    Like

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