Although this article talks about the work of a "Professor Reuss", the inventor it apparently was actually referring to was named Philipp Reis. The Reis telephone actually turned out to be too crude for commercial use -- it could transmit musical tones fairly well, but not speech. Ironically, the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition mentioned in this review would be where Alexander Graham Bell famously presented his improved version of the telephone, which could transmit speech more clearly.
New York Times, March 22, 1876, page 8:
Prof. Reuss, a distinguished German performer on telegraphic instruments, has recently made an invention which cannot fail to prove of great interest to musicians, and, indeed, to the general public. The telephone--for that is the name of the new instrument--is intended to convey sounds from one place to another over the ordinary telegraph-wires, and it can be used to transmit either the uproar of a Wagnerian orchestra or the gentle cooing of a female lecturer. In appearance, the telephone somewhat resembles a Morse instrument; but in addition to the usual quantity of magnets and polished brass, it is provided with an ear-trumpet and a curious collection of miscellaneous machinery of small size, but of presumably enormous horse-power. When Mme. TITIENS is singing, or Mr. THOMAS' orchestra is playing, or a champion orator is apostrophizing the American eagle, a telephone, placed in the building where such sounds are in process of production, will convey them over the telegraph-wires to the remotest corners of the earth. By means of this remarkable instrument, a man can have the Italian opera, the Federal Congress, and his favorite preacher laid on his own house. Before many years we shall probably read in the advertisements of house agents descriptions of houses to let in which hot and cold water and Baptist preachers are laid on in every room; of others fitted throughout with gas and congressional orators; and still others in which the front parlor is telephonically connected with the Academy of Music, and the back parlor contains a series of instruments by means of which fifty eminent preachers, of different denominations, can be kept constantly on draught.
The universal use of the telephone will, of course, be viewed with disapprobation by the sound-producing part of the community, just as the introduction of labor-saving machines was met by the hostility of the laboring classes. No man who can sit in his own study with his telephone by his side, and thus listen to the performance of an opera at the Academy, will care to go to Fourteenth street and to spend the evening in a hot anti crowded building. In like manner, many persons will prefer to hear lectures and sermons in the comfort and privacy of their own rooms, rather than to go to the church or the lecture-room. The rural visitor who spends a Sunday in town, and reads a printed notice in the office of his hotel to the effect that "TALMAGE'S sermons, drawn from the wood, can be had at 11 o'clock in the telephonic room," will, of course, give up his original intention of risking a journey to Brooklyn, and will listen to the trembling telephone as its sympathetic brass vibrates to the tones of the resonant Brooklyn orator. Thus the telephone, by bringing music and ministers into every home, will empty the concert-halls and the churches, and the time may come when a future Von Büllow playing a solitary piano in his private room, and a future Talmage preaching in his private gymnasium, may be heard in every well-furnished house on the American continent.
It is an unpleasant task to point out a possibly sinister purpose on the part of an inventor of conceded genius and ostensibly benevolent intentions. Nevertheless, a patriotic regard for the success of our approaching Centennial celebration renders it necessary to warn the managers of the Philadelphia Exhibition that the telephone may really be a device of the enemies of the Republic. WAGNER is to write an overture for the exhibition, and it is assumed that thousands of people will go to Philadelphia to hear it. Somebody is to make an oration, and somebody else is to deliver a poem after the roar of the overture has died away, and it is believed, that there are persons who wish to listen to both. Moreover, the Declaration of Independence is to be read in connection with the opening of the Exhibition, and those who have never seen a copy of that document will, of course, be anxious to hear it read. But what if Prof. REUSS, with deliberate malice, and at the instigation of the European despots, should distribute telephones to all the cities of America, and thus enable their citizens to listen to overture, oration, poem, and Declaration, without the trouble and expense of going to Philadelphia? What possible success would in such case attend an exhibition to which nobody but Philadelphians with free passes would come? There is so far nothing to indicate that this is Prof. REUSS' dark design, but as all foreign despots, from the Queen, in the Tower of London, to the Prince of Monaco, in the backroom of his gambling palace, are notoriously and constantly tearing their hair as they hear of BELKNAP and PENDLETON, and note the progress and prosperity of our nation, it is not impossible that they have the infamous scheme of attacking the Centennial Celebration with telephones. However, there is one comfort. If the Wagner overture is written in the author's characteristic style, no telephone made of weaker materials than sixteen-inch steel plates can successfully report it. With the first grand crash of WAGNER'S brass and bass-drums every telephone will fly into pieces and an awful silence will settle over the land, except within a distance of say fifty miles from the center of musical disturbance.