Ureli Corelli Hill
1802 – 1875
Who was Ureli Corelli Hill?
Ureli Corelli Hill was an American conductor, and the first president and conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society. His grandfather, Frederick Hill, was a fifer in the Revolutionary army. His father, Uri Keeler Hill, was a music teacher and composer. Ureli's only sibling, George Handel "Yankee" Hill, was a writer and actor noted for his depiction of Yankee characters.
Hill served alternately as conductor and violinist with the New York Sacred Music Society between 1828 and 1835. In 1838 he directed the first American performance of Mendelssohn's cantata St. Paul. He studied in Germany for two years with the composer, conductor, and violinist Louis Spohr. After returning to New York, Hill organized the meeting on April 2, 1842, at which the New York Philharmonic Society was founded. At the meeting, Hill was named the first President of the Society.
Hill opened the Society's inaugural concert on December 7, 1842 by conducting Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. As was typical of this era, the concert featured several different conductors and a mixture of opera excerpts, full orchestral works, and chamber music. Later during the same concert, Hill played violin in a performance of a Hummel Piano Quintet. For the Orchestra's third season, Hill invited both Spohr and Felix Mendelssohn to conduct, however neither could accept, sending letters of acknowledgement instead. Both were later made honorary members of the Philharmonic. Hill continued to conduct the Society, in alternation with six others, until 1849.
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