Von Hyden Schnapps

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German vocalist in the performance of Jabez Tarbox's ode-symphony The Plains, a parody of French composer Félicien David’s ode-symphony, Le désert. From a parody music review by George Horatio Derby (under the pseudonym John Phœnix) in the California newspaper The Pioneer, August 1854. It was collected in Derby's Phœnixiana or, Sketches and burlesques, published in 1856.


This glorious composition was produced at the San Diego Odeon, on the 31st of June, ult., for the first time in this or any other country, by a very full orchestra (the performance taking place immediately after supper), and a chorus composed of the entire "Sauer Kraut-Verein," the Wee Gates Association," and choice selections from the " Gyascutus" and " Pike-harmonic" societies. The solos were rendered by Her Tuden Links, the recitations by Herr Von Hyden Schnapps, both performers being assisted by Messrs. John Smith and Joseph Brown, who held their coats, fanned them, and furnished water during the more overpowering passages.

"The Plains" we consider the greatest musical achievement that has been presented to an enraptured public. Like Waterloo among battles ; Napoleon among warriors ; Niagara among falls, and Peck among senators, this magnificent composition stands among Oratorios, Operas, Musical Melodramas and performances of Ethiopian Serenaders, peerless and unrivalled. Il frappe ioute chose parfaitment froid.

"It does not depend for its success" upon its plot, its theme, its school or its master, for it has very little if any of them, but upon its soul-subduing, all-absorbing, high-faluting effect upon the audience, every member of which it causes to experience the most singular and exquisite sensations. Its strains at times remind us of those of the old master of the steamer McKim, who never went to sea without being unpleasantly affected ; a straining after effect he use to term it. Blair in his lecture on beauty, and Mills in his treatise on logic, (p. 31,) have alluded to the feeling which might be produced in the human mind, by something of this transcendentally sublime description, but it has remained for M. Tarbox, in the production of The Plains, to call this feeling forth.

The symphonic opens upon the wide and boundless plains, in longitude 115 W., latitude 35 2V 03" N., and about sixty miles from the west bank of Pitt River. These data are beautifully and clearly expressed by a long (topographically) drawn note from an E flat clarionet. The sandy nature of the soil, sparsely dotted with bunches of cactus and artemisia, the extended view, flat and unbroken to the horizon, save by the rising smoke in the extreme verge, denoting the vicinity of a Pi Utah village, are represented by the bass drum. A few notes on the piccolo, calls the attention to a solitary antelope, picking up mescal beans in the foreground. The sun having an altitude of 36 27 X , blazes down upon the scene in indescribable majesty. "Gradually the sounds roll forth in a song" of rejoicing to the God of Day.

"Of thy intensity

And great immensity

Now then we sing ;

Beholding in gratitude

Thee in this latitude,

Curious thing."

Which swells out into " Hey Jim along, Jim along Josey," then decrescendo, mas o menos, poco pocita, dies away and dries up.

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