W. F. GATES.
While operatic rivalries may furnish food for public enjoyment, there are other interesting musical conflicts which are not without their ludicrous side. The competition of instrument makers, notably piano manufacturers, has been so warm at various times as to lead to peculiar means for advertising their goods.
When the Mapleson opera company was in New York, in 1878, the Steinway piano firm supplied the artists of the company with pianos for their individual use, free of charge; and in return they received from the singers, flattering testimonials as to the value of the instruments. More than this, the Steinways undertook to do the artists the same kindness throughout their whole trip over the United States.
At Philadelphia each singer found on arrival at his or her hotel, a Stein way instrument in their room. But on their return from dining, instead of Steinway pianos, they found those of Weber, a rival maker, the Steinways having been set out in the halls. But the New York firm was not to be set aside in this way, and they soon had matters reversed and the Weber pianos were the ones to occupy the halls.
Then the Weber men returned to the fray and a pitched battle took place in which the weapons were fists and piano legs. The Steinway employés were ejected bodily from the hotel by the more sturdy representatives of the house of Weber.
That night Weber gave a supper to the opera company, and as the wine passed round there went with it a testimonial as to the high value of the Weber piano, which of course none of the singers could refuse to sign. Not long after they gave a third certificate of the same character to the Haines piano company. Thus the value of an artist’s name attached to any such testimonial may he seen.