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
Copley Square 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 Gilmore.
• The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group of Black college students from
• The unlikely stars of the Jubilee were the 100
The Irish Music Archives at
Learn more about Irish heritage in
Boston 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 and about P.S. Gilmore, read Irish Boston: A Colorful Look at Boston's Lively Irish Past, published by Globe Pequot Press.