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298 The National Music of America.
posers and of public appreciation, the opera may well be acknowledged the chief and most important of all musical forms.
In this direction New York, even from the early part of the nineteenth century, has been the acknowledged guide of the entire country, her achievements culminating with the highest type of German operatic performance under the leadership of the great Anton Seidl. Nor was the metropolis without its own musical societies in the days of America's infancy, although these came somewhat later than the New England choral and orchestral organisations described in the preceding chapter. As early as 1770, Trinity Church gave partial performances of "The Messiah;" in 1824 there existed a New York Choral Society which gave solid classical programmes, and in 1831 the Sacred Music Society gave the first entire performance of an oratorio, but the public taste for the earnest side of composition was not, at that time, so developed