The Symphony Orchestra of San Francisco is one of the ranking musical bodies of the United States. No better symphonic music is played anywhere. The concerts of this orchestra fill the Civic Auditorium to overflowing. Close to fifty per cent of the audiences are people attracted from surrounding cities.
The Chamber Music Society has toured the United States and added to the musical prestige of the city.
The Concerts of the Bohemian Club, the Pacific Musical Society, the San Francisco Musical Society and the Loring Club have definite places in the musical life of the community.
Organ literature attracts many people to the recitals at the Civic Auditorium. The pipe organ here was built for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. It was subsequently rebuilt and presented to the city.
The theatres of San Francisco that were famous in an earlier era are now names packed away in the lavender of remembrance. Today the city has new theatres of imposing appearance and large seating capacity. The old stage personalities, however, troop through the writings of contemporary theatrical critics like deified shades.
The first managers of the old California theatre were Lawrence Barrett and John McCullough. The foremost actors were drawn to the city, including Charles Kean and Edwin Forrest. The Bush street theatre was conducted for fifteen years by M. B. Leavitt. It is difficult to be brief with the list of famous names. David Belasco, born in San Francisco, was stage manager of the Baldwin before he made theatrical history in New York. David Warfield made his first professional appearance at the old Wigwam. William A. Brady began his theatrical career in the city, and so did Al Hayman. Holbrook Blinn was a boy star in amateur theatricals.
At the Alcazar, San Francisco’s stock house, many familiar players made their debuts, including Blanche Bates, Frank Bacon, Frances Starr, Bert Lytell and Evelyn Vaughn.
The Orpheum theatre of San Francisco is the mother house of the vaudeville circuit of that name, which supplies entertainment to cities throughout the United States and has overseas affiliations. The Orpheum developed from a music hall conducted by Gustav Walter and the first building on the present site in O’Farrell street, off Powell, was erected in 1887.
Like a tower of enlightenment the campanile of the University of California, in Berkeley, is seen by visitors to San Francisco whether they come through the Golden Gate from Asia or approach the city by ferry from the terminals of the transcontinental railroads on the East Bay shore. It is likewise visible from the hills of San Francisco.