In the summer of 1872,
The World Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival ran from June 17 through July 4, 1872, housed in a temporary coliseum that was built in what is now
in Boston’s Back Bay. In addition to the 22,000 performers, the
stadium held 60,000 spectators, and it was filled to capacity on many of the 18
days in which the Jubilee ran.
The Jubilee was created by Irish immigrant Patrick S. Gilmore, a talented cornet player, band leader and impresario who had become the best known musician in
America. Gilmore had been Band Master for the Union
Army during the Civil War and is credited with penning the song, When Johnny Comes Marching
Home, a war anthem still played today.
He had staged an earlier National Peace Jubilee in 1869 that featured
10,000 singers and 1,000 musicians.
Among the highlights of the 1872 Jubilee:
• Johann Strauss, the Austrian waltz king, made his American debut at the Jubilee, having met Gilmore in
Vienna the previous summer. Strauss conducted
his famous waltz, the Beautiful Blue Danube, to thunderous applause, and
also composed a Jubilee Waltz especially for the occasion, dedicated to
• The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group of Black college students from
• The unlikely stars of the Jubilee were the 100
The IrishMusic Center at
Learn more about Irish heritage in
by visiting IrishHeritageTrail.com. Or visit IrishBoston.org for year round details on Boston's Irish community.
For more on the history of Boston's Irish community, read Irish Boston: A Colorful Look at Boston's Lively Irish Past, published by Globe Pequot Press.