The Harmonic Society of 1896

I unfortunately can’t find much history on the Harmonic Society of Brooklyn, except that they were organized sometime in the mid 1890’s and were an exceptional choir of around 180 members. They sang in churches, private gatherings, galas, and other social functions around New York, many times to support various charities. They were praised often in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.


My great-great Grandmother, Ella T. Sheaff, or as she’s named in most articles – Mrs. George B. Hawthorne, sang Soprano solos. All my life my mother mentioned a relative who was a quote “Opera Singer who sang in shows.” – That’s such a Brooklyn way of putting it!

Lately I’ve been conducting a lot of family research through and news clippings from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (See my clippings) and it’s been fun to put certain pieces together.


Here’s two beautiful songs Ella sang for the Harmonic Society. It helps me to imagine how she might’ve sounded while singing to the crowd.

Calm as the Night by Carl Bohm (1891)

“Adieu” by Gabriel Fauré

English Lyrics
How quickly all dies, the rose unfolds as the fresh mantle of the meadow.
The long sighs, the lovers: Vanished!
One sees in this rapid world change faster than the waves on the sand; our dreams, faster than the frost on the flowers;
our hearts!
I thought I was true to you, Cruel!
But, alas, the longest loves are the shortest ones!
And I say to you as I leave your charms, without tears; till the moment of my avowal:




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