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Adv. US History
Throughout time music has been a form of communication between people of all ages. Franklin County, PA and Augusta County, VA were no exception. The musical community thrived in these two counties giving a number of public performances. Before the war musical performances were local social gatherings for townspeople. During the war, these events took on a function in addition to entertainment. They became fundraisers to support the soldiers and their families.
Augusta County newspaper reports concerning music were always positive, encouraging the public to attend. Of all the newspaper reports found none of the prewar concerts were identified as fundraisers. On February 17th, 1860, Professor Turner and Mr. Alby, of the Staunton Musical Association, presented "Splendid vocal and instrumental entertainment," during which "the large audience in attendance were highly gratified with the entertainment."1 The popularity of the events is further indicated through the paper’s assurances that the public "will be ever ready to favor the performers with the presence when called upon."1
Other social events in Augusta County that were widely popular were the "fine concerts by Turner's Silver Concert Band."2 The newspaper reports that the popularity of "these concerts have always heretofore drawn crowded houses.2" In the style of other articles, the paper comments that the "merit of the music will ensure to the concert an abundant success"2
Musical performances in Franklin County were much the same. Concerts were frequently given for the benefit of the community. Socialites flocked to events such as the concert dubbed "The Flower Queen."3 The concert was a combination of vocal and musical entertainment in which The Valley Spirit reported that "The audience in attendance was the largest, and most highly respectable, we have ever seen assembled in the Hall."3
With the beginning of the Civil War most entertainment and social gatherings ceased. From 1860-1862 newspaper articles on musical entertainment could not be found. When concerts resumed in Franklin and Augusta, in 1863, they were of a much different nature and had objectives in addition to entertainment.
In Augusta County between 1863 and 1864 several concerts for the benefit of the soldiers and their families were described in newspaper articles. The 5th Virginia Infantry Cornet Band, for example, "performed…for large audiences"4 on March 6th. The total amount made from the fundraiser was six hundred dollars. Another benefit concert was held at Staunton Presbyterian Church to raise money for soldiers and made over four hundred dollars.5 In March of 1863 yet another concert benefiting soldiers was held by the Episcopal Society.6 The papers in Stuanton supported many of the events; they advertised the events beforehand and afterwards wrote articles about them afterwards to encourage participation, as they were "a most worthwhile cause."6
Franklin County’s arts events also turned into fundraisers in 1863 and 1864. In December 1863 the number of benefit concerts increased. The Franklin newspapers report of two concerts held in the county. One "a concert of vocal and instrumental music"7 and the other was a vocal concert given by members of the Chambersburg Female Seminary.7 Both concerts were reported to be successful, and admission was 25 cents a person.7 The high popularity reported by the papers indicates that the concerts still maintained their role as social gathering while staying fundraisers for the war.
June 1869 in Franklin County brought the Ladies’ Fair, which raised over three thousand dollars.8 The Ladies who put on the Fair were part of the Ladies’ Aid Society. A quarter of the Fair’s profits were attributed to Mrs. Halm and her daughter whose musical performances brought in over seven hundred dollars.8
The arts went through a focal shift during the Civil War. The role of the concerts provided by local musicians changed from that of an entertainment and social function to a means of raising funds. The fundraisers, in both the north and south were a significant part of the war effort. Although it is unclear how the money was distributed or by whom, the fundraisers provided needed support for the soldiers and their families.
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Benefit concert, Concert
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