Texas conductor leads farewell concert in Antwerp
On this day in 1927, Frank Van der Stucken, composer and conductor, gave his farewell symphonic concert in the hall of the Royal Society of Zoology in Antwerp. The child of Belgian immigrants to Castro's Colony, he was born in Fredericksburg, Texas, in 1858. His family returned to Antwerp in 1866. By age sixteen he had completed two major original works. After a visit to Wagner's Bayreuth Festival in 1876, Van der Stucken settled in Leipzig, Germany, for two years of study with Carl Reinecke, Victor Langer, and Edvard Grieg. Grieg was the first of a number of important composers to befriend the young composer and conductor; among the others were Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Emmanuel Chabrier, and Jules Massenet. Van der Stucken returned to America in 1884, where he became director of the New York Arion Society, a male chorus. He also worked with other German male choruses in the Sängerbund movement. In April 1885 in New York City he conducted the first concert in this country devoted exclusively to works by American composers, and in 1889 he conducted the first European concert with an entirely American program at the World Exposition in Paris. In 1895 Van der Stucken moved to Cincinnati to become the first conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 1907. From 1907 until his death in 1929, Van der Stucken lived in Germany and worked throughout Europe, where he was in great demand as a conductor of festivals.