Person:Ureli Hill (1)

Ureli Corelli Hill
d.2 Sep 1875 Paterson, NJ
m. Abt 1801
  1. Ureli Corelli Hill1802 - 1875
  2. George Handel Hill1809 - 1849
  3. Brother HillAbt 1810 -
m. 2 Jan 1849
  1. Ida HillBet 1850 & 1852 - Bef 1900
  2. Algernon Hill1852 - Bet 1900 & 1910
  3. George Edward Hill1861 - Aft 1910
Facts and Events
Name Ureli Corelli Hill
Alt Name U.C. Hill
Gender Male
Birth[1] 1802 Hartford, CT
Census? 1840 6th ward, New York City, NY, p. 78 (probably him)
Occupation? Bet 1842 and 1847 New York City, New York, United StatesConductor and Founder, New York Philharmonic
Marriage 2 Jan 1849 Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., OHto Lucinda Grace Phillips
Unknown 3726
Lucinda Grace Phillips
Census[3] 1860 Passaic, Acquackanok, NJ
Residence? 1875 Paterson, Passaic, New Jersey, United States
Death[2] 2 Sep 1875 Paterson, NJ
Cause of Death[2] 1875 Paterson, Passaic, New Jersey, United StatesSuicide by morphine overdose
Reference Number? Q774049?


Early Life

Ureli Corelli Hill was "desended from the Pilgrim Fathers with a drop of Danish blood..." He was named after his father, Uri, and his dad's best friend, Eli. He was placed under the guardianship of his grandfather [which one?]. He first composed music at the age of nine (piano); then moved on to violin; at age 12, he started making money playing at concerts. At nineteen, he was in the theater. (#3)

In 1811 his parents separated and he went with his father. (#10) [Contradicts #3 above.]

Born in Boston (or Connecticut) in 1802Citation needed, U.C. Hill (as he always referred to himself) was at least a third-generation American, despite his European-sounding name. His father, Uri K. Hill, apparently venerated European composers, having named another son George Handel Hill. (#5) George Handell Hill, known as "Yankeey" Hill, was his brother. Citation needed

His father was a music teacher and composer and probably U.C.'s first violin teacher--a New York newspaper ad in 1810 billed Uri (the father) as the "first performer on violin in America.” (#5)

Middle Years

U.C. Hill first appeared on the New York musical scene as a violinist in one of the Philharmonic's predecessor organizations--an orchestra, also called the Philharmonic, that existed between 1824 and 1827--and as conductor of the Sacred Music Society (1823-1849) which gave the New York premiere of Messiah under Hill's direction in 1831. Hill was also well known as a concert organizer, teacher, and chamber player. (#5, #10)

18 Nov 1831, performed GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL's "Messiah" at Saint Paul’s Chapel (NYC?) includes the fact that "Parts of the oratorio were sung at the New York City Tavern on January 16, 1770, though New York -- and America -- got its first complete performance only on November 18, 1831 at Saint Paul's Chapel, Ureli Corelli Hill (later the founder of the New York Philharmonic) conducting the Sacred Music Society. The orchestra consists of two oboes, bassoon, two trumpets, timpani, harpsichord, organ (played by Charles Rus), and strings." (#4)

In early life he played the violin in different bands in New York. Having been engaged as leader of the Sacred music society, he brought out Handel's "Messiah" in St. Paul's chapel, 18 November, 1831. This was the first performance of an entire oratorio in New York. The "Messiah" was repeated on 31 January and 2 February, 1832. With the same society he brought out Neukomm's "David" and Mendelssohn's "St. Paul." (#9)

1834 (2 June) Ureli C. Hill applied for passport -granted in NY [citation needed]

1835: composed "How slowly in the hour-glass run," a song published in "The American Harmonicon" (#10)

1835 & 1836: His diary reveals that on June 10, 1835, he and his wife Lucinda [except he did not marry Lucinda until 1849... unless there was an earlier wife by the same name...] embarked on a "long contemplated and greatly wished for voyage across the Atlantic to Europe." In Europe he:

  • studied with composer Ludwig Spohr in Kassel and Maurice Hauptmann at the Academy of Liepsig (#3). "[I] Took 46 lessons of Spohr during 9 months at $1 per lesson, and 52 from [Moritz] Hauptmann... [Spohr] told me my left hand was excellent and very just in the intonation. My bow hand was good but my bow required more judicious distribution and it required a little more of a good school. I told him I was aware of it and had come all the way from America for this purpose... Spohr look'd upon it as a very novel thing that a person should come from America, such a great distance, to him.” (#5)
  • recorded his impressions of musical life in England, Germany, and France, including: "The majesty, vigor, genius, originality and the lyric effects of the Sinfonie of Beethoven on the 2nd day was indescribably fine. It surpassed everything I heard by far. To perform this production it occupied nearly an hour... It will be 100 years before the like can possibly be hoped to be heard in the United States."
  • participated in the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Düsseldorf under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn, “whom he finds to be "a very affable man, about 40 years old, speaking perfect English..." (#5)

Hill returned to New York in the spring of 1837 and took up his regular duties of playing, conducting, and agitating for a better musical life inthe city. (#5)

April 1841 - Called together the working portion of the profession and formed the Philharmonic Society. UCH drew up the constitution and the by-laws. In May 1841, the Philharmonic Society was organized. In the fall of 1841 their first concert was given. [Contradicts later article, #1, which says first concert was in 1842.] (#3) The orchestra's mandated size was 53 members, fines from 50 cents to $5 were to be assessed for non-attendance at rehearsals and concerts, and a regular rehearsal schedule was posted in advance. (#5)

7 Dec 1842 - First concert of the philharmonic; played Weber's "Oberon," Beethoven's Symphony #5 in C Minor, Kalliwoda's Overture in D, Hummel's Quintet in D Minor and Operatic Vocal selections sung by Madame Otto and C.E. Horn. Subscribers paid $10 for 3 tickets to each of three concerts.” (#2)

1843: editor of "The New York Sacred Music Society's Collection of Church Music (NY, Albany, 1843) (#10)

1846: Hill maintained a relationship with both Spohr and Mendelssohn, and returned to Europe at least once. Attempting to replicate his 1836 Düsseldorf experience in New York, he arranged for the Philharmonic to present Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in its American premiere. It took place May 20, 1846 under the baton of George Loder Jr., a member of the Philharmonic's bass section and one of its occasional conductors during this period. The choral parts had been translated into English and copyrighted by Hill and the Philharmonic. Tickets cost an astronomical $2 apiece, and the proceeds were to be used to build a first-rate concert hall in the city. (The planned hall never materialized.) (#5)

Look for music reviews from this time period (1842-1847], especially those written by critic Henry Cood Watson, who was apparently, particularly critical of Ureli Corelli Hill.

In 1847 he moved to Cincinnati but after three years in Ohio river cities returned to the New York area as a violinist in the Philharmonic until 1873. (#10)

Later Years, Death and Legacy

1855: published "The Kentucky Characteristic grand March" for piano (NY, 1855) (#10)

The 1846 performance was one of Hill's greatest musical successes. Soon afterward he moved to Cincinnati, and was later involved with the Boston Jubilee concerts--massive choral-orchestral events in 1869 and 1872 that drew thousands of performers. He returned to New York hoping to make his fortune through an instrument of his own invention, a new kind of piano in which tuning forks were used in place of strings. Unfortunately for Hill, the Steinways were then perfecting their own pianos, and his new venture brought him only financial disaster. By 1873, the 71-year-old Hill was no longer capable of playing with the Philharmonic or finding students, and his professional and financial decline led to feelings of despair. In 1875 he committed suicide at his home in Paterson, New Jersey. (#5)

"Hill played violin with the orchestra until he was over 70, then fell into poverty and depression. In 1875, living in Paterson, N.J., he wrote a farewell note to his second wife: 'Why should or how can a man exist and be powerless to earn means for his family?' Then he gave his daughter a last music lesson and swallowed a lethal dose of morphine." (#8)

Indisputably Hill's greatest legacy, the Philharmonic’s first 75 years were as a cooperative or "communistic" musical society, formed by a committee of musicians, who selected the repertoire, hired the soloists and conductor, placed the advertisements, and managed the books. They were paid a guaranteed salary, and at the end of every season also shared in any proceeds from ticket sales.

Census Records

1840 US Census - NY, Ward 6, New York City U C Hill - M; 2-20/30 [George, bro.?], 1-30/40 = Ureli? ; F: 1-20/30 ?, 1-30/40  ?

1850 US Census - 6th ward, Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH; # 304 Isaac Philips, 41, Engl Lucy (Phillips) Hill, 18, Engl Morely (Ureli) Hill, 45, Conn Sydney Philips, 16, Eng Emely Philips, 15, Eng Amanda Philips, 8, NY Amy Philips, 6, NY Jane P. Reynolds, 48, PA

1860 US Census - Acquacknek, Passaic, New Jersey: Ureli Hill, 52, Professor of Music, b. Connecticut Lucy, 29, b. England Ida, 10, b. Ohio Aljernon, 7, b. New Jersey (Living with them are May Williams, 55, female, b. NJ, and George Williams, 30, lawyer, b. NJ]

1870 US Census - Passiac, Peterson Ward 4, NJ, # 488 Ulric C. Hill 62 music tacher Lucy G Hill, 39 Eng ( Isaac Philips dau.) Ida G. Hill, 20 OH Algernon Hill, 17 NJ George E. Hill, 8


1. Henry Shalet, New Philharmonic (in possession of Judith Dick Plumley)

2. Newspaper article dated 8/2/1972 (in possession of Judith Dick Plumley)

3. Newspaper article in the 1840s (in possession of Judith Dick Plumley)


5. Barbara Haws, “An American Abroad: a long-sought collection illuminates the New York Philharmonic’s cultural roots,” SYMPHONY Magazine (American Symphony Orchestra League) (, Nov/Dec 2002. Describes and quotes extensively the 175-page diary (”spidery handwriting”) of UC Hill.



8. "New York Phil Secures Astounding Hill Archive" in NAXOS.COM (July 2002) (

9. (Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 & edited Stanley L. Klos, 1999)

10. New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. by Stanley Sadie, 1878

11. G.H. Hill, "Scenes from the Life of an Actor" (NY, 1853), 14f, 49.

12. Obituaries, Newark Daily Advertiser and NYT (4 Sep 1875);

13. R.O. Mason: Sketches and Impressions (NY, 1887), 166, 170ff.

14. F.H. Martens, "Hill, Ureli Corelli," DAB.

15. H. Shanet: Philharmonic: A Historyof New York's Orchestra (Garden City, NY 1975).

16. American National Biography. 24 volumes. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. (AmNatBi)

17. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Sixth edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, . (BakBD 6)

18. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Seventh edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Schirmer Books,1984. (BakBD 7)

19. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Eighth edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992. (BakBD 8)

20. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Ninth edition. Edited by Laura Kuhn. New York: Schirmer Books, 2001. (BakBD 9)

21. Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 1: January, 1946-July, 1949. New York: H.W. Wilson Co.,1949. (BioIn 1)

22. Dictionary of American Biography. Volumes 1-20. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928-1936. (DcAmB)

23. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Volume 22. New York: James T. White & Co., 1932. Use the Index to locate biographies. (NatCAB 22)

24. The New American Dictionary of Music. By Philip D. Morehead with Anne MacNeil. New York: Dutton, 1991. (NewAmDM)

25. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Four volumes. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Press, 1986. (NewGrDA)

26. The Penguin Dictionary of Musical Performers. A biographical guide to significant interpreters of classical music - singers, solo instrumentalists,conductors, orchestras and string quartets - ranging from the seventeenth century to the present day. By Arthur Jacobs. London: Viking, 1990.(PenDiMP)

27. Who Was Who in America. A component volume of Who's Who in American History. Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Revised Edition. Chicago: Marquis Who'sWho, 1967. (WhAm HS)

28. Biographical Dictionary of American Music. By Charles Eugene Claghorn. West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing Co., 1973. (BiDAmM)

29. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20 volumes. Edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1980. (NewGrDM)

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Ureli Corelli Hill.

  1. Hill Jr., George P.. (Email correspondence).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Internet Classical Music Almanac
  3. 1860 U.S. Census
    New Jersey: Passaic, Acquackanok, page 1011?, image 51 or 82 (

    Ureli Hill, 52, Professor of Music, born Connecticut
    Lucy, 29, born England
    Ida, 10, born Ohio
    Aljernon (M), 7, born NJ

  4.   Ureli Corelli Hill, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.