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DATE OF EVENT: Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1933

DATE PUBLISHED: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1933, in The Kansas City Times

Editor’s note: The Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra, like the Nelson Gallery of Art, was launched in the grim days of the Depression. Conductor Karl Krueger would work without a salary until the musicians were paid and expenses covered. Despite the hard times, the orchestra was a success; it would play for almost 50 years, until 1982. Soon thereafter, the Kansas City Symphony would be founded.


The Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra Amuses Audience of 3,700 in First Program


The Crowd Rises and Applauds When the Conductor is Introduced


At the Intermission, Musicians and Critics Among the Listeners Give Opinions

The Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra came into being last night in the presence of 3,700 persons in Convention hall, an audience patently amazed at the fineness of the performance it had come to see and hear.

It was an audience that combined the music lovers with those who desired to be present and be a part of this important civic undertaking. The enthusiastic response of the large crowd, the intentness with which it received the new orchestra were prophetic of success.

Powell C. Groner, president of the orchestra organization, introduced the orchestra to its first audience. The arena floor was filled, as were both the lower and upper balconies. Mr. Groner spoke briefly, expressing the hopes of the men and women who have aided in founding the orchestra for its success. He was suffering from severe burns incurred when he dropped to sleep a few days ago under a ray lamp.

Mrs. John L. McLaughlin, chairman of the women’s advisory committee, was introduced by Mr. Groner. Mrs. McLaughlin, in a white costume with a large white feather collar, was greeted enthusiastically. She, too, spoke briefly, thanking the audience for its support and expressing her conviction that the night, the premiere of the fine new orchestra, was to be an important one in the history of the city.

She then introduced Karl Krueger, the conductor, who was given an ovation. The crowd stood and applauded him. He bowed several times and turned to the orchestra with his baton in the air. The crowd settled into its seats and a hushed expectancy settled over it.

Then came the first notes of clarinets, like the shaking out of a mantle that spread itself over the audience in enthralling music as section after section of the orchestra took up the great symphony. The crowd became almost unique among Kansas City audiences for its utter stillness and its almost breathless attention. Only occasionally was there movement of an individual shifting his position in a seat. Only in widely scattered spots was seen the movement of programs waved as fans, like tiny butterfly wings on the surface of a lake of faces.

The lake was banked by boxes filled with brightly gowned women whose jewels caught the faint glint of the dimmed lights, and men whose black and white formal attire formed the background for the colorful front rows. Behind the boxes in steep tiers rose the filled seats, and the faces of the occupants reflected dimly the bright light that poured down from flood lamps upon the musicians and their instruments.

The first movement of the symphony ceased and the audience seemed not to realize it. The stillness was unbroken as Mr. Krueger let his baton fall before taking up the second movement. The majesty of it sank deeply into the emotions of the listeners, and at its end there was a spontaneous burst of applause that lasted until Mr. Krueger turned and acknowledged it.

The third and the final movement followed, with the spell unbroken. At the intermission, when Mr. Krueger turned away, he was greeted by an ovation.

He stood on the podium and bowed repeatedly while the applause stormed up to him. He motioned to the orchestra members to stand, then walked along the dais and turned at the corner, bowing again and again. As he left the dais, the applause increased in intensity and he had to walk to the front of the platform on the arena floor to acknowledge it. As he disappeared behind the big curtain the applause died away slowly, as if the crowd regretted that there had to be an intermission.

Then the crowd moved into the corridor, talking excitedly. Its vocabulary contained only superlatives, as it collected into small clusters to smoke cigarettes and discuss the marvel. …