The (formerly) lost concert of Strong Vincent

Local News

This week’s trip along Route 24 takes us back to a special night in Erie 69 years ago.  As David Belmondo reports, the Erie Philharmonic was thrust into the national spotlight with a special concert; a concert that took place in a high school auditorium, but heard around the nation…

It was January 21, 1950.  At the podium was Erie Philharmonic Director Fritz Mahler.  The venue was the auditorium at Strong Vincent High School.  The audience was national.  

‘The Leonora,’ by Beethoven.

This historical program was featured as part of NBC’s ‘Pioneers of Music’ radio program and was recently re-acquired from the Library of Congress, thanks to the hard work of Philharmonic Executive Director Steve Weiser.

Weiser says he came across a program book page that advertised a special Pioneers of Music broadcast, a national broadcast from January of 1950.

“I had hoped that by seeing this piece of paper; I wondered if the recording actually exists…”

Weiser learned that all radio broadcasts from this network were sent to the Library of Congress.  After months of emails and phone calls, Weiser was able to obtain that national broadcast. 

A picture taken that night shows the letters, ‘SV,’ for Strong Vincent, above the curtain.

“We know that the spotlight was turned on Erie. Back in that era, to have Fritz Mahler as a conductor who was first cousin, once removed from Gustav Mahler, that’s like being connected to Beethoven or Brahms.”

A piece of history nearly forgotten, if not for a piece of paper falling out of a program.

“To look at that stage and realize the picture we have of Fritz Mahler conducting the orchestra with the SV over his head is right there…”

It’s history revisited on our trip along Route 24.

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