These words are painted on the west wall in the Adult Reading Room of the Peace Dale Library.
“The Lorelei” and “The Elijah” are pieces of music by Felix Mendelssohn, performed by the Narragansett Choral Society. Founded in 1889, this group existed at least until 1921 and gave concerts at several local venues, including the Peace Dale Library (known then as the Hazard Memorial).
The Narragansett Times of July 29, 1892, reported that “The Lorelei” (they spelled it “Loreley) was not actually performed in the Hazard Memorial, but at the Casino Theatre (presumably at Narragansett Pier), as the first of a series of festival concerts offered that season by the 100-member Society. The article refers to warm weather and sparse attendance, but says “those who stayed away missed a rich musical treat.”
“The Elijah”, two years later, brought in a full house, as reported in the Narragansett Times of June 22, 1894. The paper quoted a favorable review that had appeared in the Providence Journal which praised “a remarkable performance to be given by the local singers of a small country town.”
The same issue of the Narragansett Times also noted that Caroline Hazard presented medals to the performers (silver for the conductor, accompanist, and soloists; bronze for chorus and orchestra) that she had designed, commissioned, and purchased in Paris. She announced as well that a statue of Mendelssohn would be placed in the hall.
The Library owns about two dozen programs from the Society’s concerts, including one from the Elijah concert, and a record book that contains minutes of meetings. Most of the programs list only featured musicians, but one from 1897 provides a roster of all singers.
We do not know why those two pieces, out of all the music the Society performed, were chosen to be memorialized on the wall, especially since one of them was not performed there. One theory is that the statue of Mendelssohn might have stood in that part of the hall.
February 27, 2014