William Candidus

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William Candidus (b. June 1840 in Philadelphia, d. March 31, 1910 in Frankfort-am Main)(2)(3)(15) was William Steinway's brother-in-law, second husband of Wilhelmina Steinway.(Diary,1865-10-26) Candidus also worked at Steinway & Sons for eight years before becoming a professional singer.(3)

William Candidus was born in 1840 in Philadelphia to a German letter carrier. As a young man he sang baritone with several men's choruses, then joined a military band, playing cornet. (3) During the Civil War he served in the 17th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Candidus claimed that during this time he became a tenor from drinking too much bad Southern whiskey.(15) In 1864, after being honorably discharged from the military, he moved to New York where he began working at Steinway & Sons.(3) There he met Wilhelmina Steinway, whom he married in 1865 after the death of her first husband, Theodore Vogel, a year earlier.(Diary,1865-10-26) William and Wilhelmina had three children: Henry W.T. (1867-1902), Johanna (1868-1929) and Gustav Julius Louis (1874-1907)(8).

Candidus joined both the Liederkranz and the Arion Societies and made his first stage appearance in Der Freischutz at the Academy of Music in 1867.(14)(15) The following year William noted that Candidus sang "finely" at the Arion Concert.(Diary,1868-11-14) The New York Tribune stated that he "made a favorable impression in his solo, "Prayer" from Rienzi, singing with a "well cultivated" voice.(9) Two years later William notes again that Candidus soloed with the Arion Society, writing that he "sang well but weak."(Diary,1870-01-21) The New York Tribune agreed with William stating that Candidus did not meet expectations.(10)

On April 6, 1872, William wrote that "Candidus, wife and the four children depart for Germany by steamer, Deutschland," where Candidus studied music in Berlin for two years before making his debut at the Weimar Ducal Opera in 1874, then engaged as tenor at the Royal Opera House in Berlin. He debuted in Italy in 1879, then at Her Majesty's Theater, London the following year.(14)

After Wilhelmina's death in January 1875, Steinway "learned to his horror that Candidus would inherit the whole of his wife's property"(Diary, 1875-04-09), but after his lawyer, Cotterill, investigated he discovered that "Candidus would retain only 1/3 of the personal property and rents of Real Estate for Life."(Diary, 1875-04-14) Even so, the matter seemed to have caused a rift in their once close relationship. On Christmas Day 1875, William received a cable from Candidus that sent him into a rage as the telegraph should have been sent to the person whom William had entrusted with the information.(Diary, 1875-12-25) On a later occasion William refers to Candidus as being "rather foolish and braggadocio."(Diary, 1876-03-24) Nearly two years later however, Candidus sent Steinway a Renunciation of Administration regarding Wilhelmina's will in favor of Steinway.(Diary, 1877-12-27)

In 1876 William noted that Candidus arrived from Germany via Philadelphia. (Diary, 1876-05-04) During this visit Candidus informed William of details of William's wife's adultery "which horrify me more and more."(Diary, 1876-05-13) Despite the bad news William spent time with Candidus at the Liederkranz, and William related favorable newspaper notices of Candidus' performances.(Diary, 1876-05-15)

In 1880 Candidus became a member of the Frankfurt-am-Main opera company, but visited the U.S. several times to perform throughout the country.(3) In 1882 Candidus sang at the Music Festival in New York under the direction of Theodore Thomas. William noted that Candidus "sang finely," (Diary, 1882-05-02) and that "William Candidus is said to have sung superbly...and encored with Siegmund's Liebeslied."(Diary,1882-05-04) William also mentioned the newspaper reviews: "Papers all enthusiastic about Candidus performance at festival."(Diary, 1882-05-05) Indeed, The New York Tribune critic raved over Candidus' performance, claiming that they had finally found what they had been listening for all those years and rated him higher than Neumann at Bayreuth.(12) Later in the year, William visited Candidus in Frankfurt where he attended the performances of Huguenots in which Candidus performed the role of Raol,(Diary, 1882-08-27) and Das Rheingold in which he was Loge.(Diary, 1882-09-02)

Candidus returned to the United States in 1886 to perform with the American and National Opera Companies. He was the first tenor to sing Lohengrin in English, where his appearance met with much success.(Diary,1886-01-20) The New York Tribune noted that vocally he achieved satisfying results,(11) and The New York Times stated that he sang expressively and vocally left nothing to be desired.(6) William attended several other performances of the company with Candidus performing major roles, including The Magic Flute (Diary,1886-01-27)(1), although according to The New York Times, he was "disagreeably inanimate."(7) As the original Gerald in Lakme,(Diary, 1886-03-01) The American Art Journal critic claimed "he entered more into the spirit of the music."(4) Later that month Candidus appeared along with Emma Juch and Rafael Josseffy for the German Relief Press Club recital,(Diary,1886-03-21) singing Schubert's "Du Bist die Ruh" and a German translation of "Chanson du Printemps" which he sang "particularly well."(5)

The next year Candidus sang in the first performance of Rubenstein's Nero with the National Opera Company, and according to William, both he and Miss Juch performed well, William apparently agreeing with The New York Times that Candidus made his stamp on the character of Nero.(Diary, 1887-03-14)(13) Interestingly, Candidus telegraphed about three months later to tell William that he had sprained his ankle while performing "Nero" in Louisville.(Diary, 1887-06-07) After these final performances with the National Opera Company, Candidus moved permanently to Germany where he died in Frankfurt on March 31, 1910.(2)(15)



1."The American Opera," The New York Tribune, January 28, 1886, p. 4.
2. "Calendar for Year 1910 (United States)" www.timeanddate.com
3. "Candidus, William," International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1985, p. 354.
4. "Delibes' 'Lakme' at the Academy of Music," American Art Journal, March 5, 1886,
p. 340-341.
5. "German Relief Press Club," The New York Times, March 22, 1886, p. 4.
6. "Lohengrin," The New York Times, January 21, 1886, p. 5.
7. "Magic Flute," The New York Times, January 28, 1886, p. 5.
8. Maniha, Ken and Richard Riley, Descendants of Henry Engelhard Steinway, pp. 8-9.
9. "Music: The Arions' Concert Musical Notes," The New York Tribune, November 16,
1868, p. 5.
10. "Music: Der Freyschutz by the Arion Society," The New York Tribune, January 22,
1870, p. 7.
11. "Music: The Drama," The New York Tribune, January 21, 1886, p. 4.
12.. "The Music Festival," The New York Tribune, May 5, 1882, p. 5.
13. "Rubenstein's 'Nero'," The New York Tribune, March 15, 1887, p. 4.
14. "Singers in the Festival," The New York Times, April 26, 1882, p. 2.
15. "William Candidus," The New York Tribune, April 5, 1910, p. 7.