—At his benefit a popular singer in an opera house of a Rhenish town, deeply moved, put his hand on his heart and exclaimed: “Never shall I forget what I owe this town and its inhabitants.” And the leading beer-saloon keeper arose and said at the top of his lungs: “I hope not.”
—Adelina Patti confided an amusing trouble to an interviewer. She is pestered with the offer of children. “People,” she says, “seem to have a perfect mania for wishing me to adopt their children. I can assure you I am perpetually being offered babies; hundreds, I should think, in the course of the year. Only on Saturday a fond parent wished to hand over to me his new-born twins.” “A week before,” added her companion, “Mdme. Patti received a letter offering her a girl, and asking that the matter should receive her immediate attention.”
—I think I may justly claim to have sung to audiences representing larger sums of money than any other artist now living. During my first engagement with Mr. Abbey, I sang to $12,350 at one concert in Boston at the Mechanics’ Building. During that same engagement with Abbey, I sang in twenty-two concerts and twelve operas to a total of $226,000. During an engagement with Mapleson in San Francisco, Mme. Etelka Gerster and myself being the prima donnas, we sang to $162,000 at eighteen performances, an average of $9000 to each performance. These figures represent the largest receipts ever drawn into a box-office by the same number of performances, and seem fabulous to those unacquainted with the theatrical business.—Adelina Patti.
—The organist was called before the music committee for a reprimand. “We don’t doubt,” said the spokesman, “that you know your business and can handle an organ; but to tell the truth we think—have thought for some time along back—that your pieces are too much like the opéry (with the accent on the second syllable), and seems to us the house of the Lord ain’t exactly the place for op6ry music.”
“Do you mean that my selections are too operatic?” asked the amazed organist.
“Well, yes, that’s about it. Now, for example, that solo Miss ——- sang last Sunday morning—way up, then way down—that’s the kind of music we object to in the house of the Lord.”
“Last Sunday! Miss ——-’s solo!” answered the organist, thinking back. “But, my dear sirs, that was, ‘I Know that my Redeemer Liveth.’”
“Well, we don’t know anything about that, but what we’d like is some good hymn tunes. A good rousing opening piece like ‘Hold the Fort,’ we don’t object to; but the opéry music, as we said before, we don’t feel satisfied with it.”
—“It is not to any amount of material splendor or prosperity, but only by moral greatness, by ideas, by works of imagination, that a race can conquer the future. ‘Till America has learned to love art, not as an amusement, not as the mere ornament of her cities, not as a superstition of what is comme il faut for a great nation, but for its humanizing and ennobling energy; for its power of making men better by arousing in them a perception of their own instincts for what is beautiful and therefore sacred and religious, and an eternal rebuke of the base and worldly, she will not have succeeded in that high sense which alone makes a nation out of a people and raises it from a dead name to a living power.” We wish these words of Lowell’s in the Century could be emblazoned in letters of fire in our commercial marts, halls of justice and administration, so that they may take root in the hearts of those people, who, as the same writer says, “can talk and feel as if this were the after-dinner time of the world, and mankind were doomed hereafter forever to that kind of contented materialism which comes to good stomachs with the nuts and raisins.” These words are pregnant with meaning and full of force to the many who see music and concomitant arts patronized and worshiped simply as a fad.
The composer of “Faust” gave an apt illustration, the other day, of how discoveries are brought about by the simple logical deductions of the scientific mind. M. Gounod was present at an exhibition of the phonograph in Paris. An idea occurred to him, and after a moment’s thought he informed the audience that if the cylinder, on which a tune had been recorded, were revolved faster or slower, the music would be transposed into a higher or a lower key, as the case might be. The experiment was at once made, and M. Gounod’s conclusions, which were of course based on the laws of musical vibration, were found to be perfectly correct.— The Keyboard.
—Sir Arthur Sullivan, speaking of thoroughness in art, said to an interviewer a few days ago: “I remember once, in my earlier days, I was doing some little stage music for an opera at Covent Garden, and was worried because it took me so long and gave me so much trouble. I could not do it superficially. It was only a little thing, and yet I felt I had to put my whole being into it. I took as much pains with the orchestration as if it had been some great work, a symphony or an oratorio, and the consciousness of this bothered me, and I one day said as much to Beverley—you know, the great scene painter. He was then doing some work for Covent Garden. His reply has stuck to me ever since. ‘That is how it should be. If I had to paint a brick wall I should take as much trouble over it as if it were a miniature of the Queen.’ That is the spirit in which to set about life.”
A writer has arisen who holds that so-called classical music exists upon nothing but the vanity of human nature. He is probably “poking fun,” but there is just enough of truth in some of his remarks to make the hit a nasty one. An example: “No one will admit that he does not desire to enjoy classical music. Everybody desires to. They have heard critics who do not enjoy the classical rot poured upon the world, any more than the commonest laborer, say that beautiful songs are mere ballads and not music. The critics have told them that a series of thumps and wild piano beatings make up classical music, and that if they study a long time, and have any music in them, they will understand and enjoy it.”
Another: “Then when a reputed musician comes, who is well advertised, the social world, filled with vanity and the desire for appearances, rushes forward, fills great music halls, and makes believe that such music is grand and enjoyable. They hear a sweet strain in the great musician’s playing; they begin to think that it is pretty, when all at once it is broken off by a series of wild rot that is no more musical than a cracked doorbell. They credit the latter as being classical, and applaud it because some one else applauds it. They don’t enjoy it.”—London Musical Times.
“English Minstrelsy, a National Monument of English Song,” Vol I, has just been issued in Edinburgh. Its editor is the well-known writer, S. Baring-Gould. It is to be completed in eight volumes, and is to include the favorite songs of all classes of the English people during three centuries, ending with 1840. After an eloquent tribute to the late William Chappelle for his labors in this field, the prospectus, enclosed with the volume, says correctly that “‘Popular Music of Olden Time,’ neither in the first nor in the latest edition, represents the living music of the English people.” As showing the scope of the present work, we may make a further quotation: “As a national monument of English song, it seems only just that the music of all classes should be included, that it should not confine itself to such songs as have been written for the harpsichord and the piano by skilled musicians, but should include also the lark and thrush and blackbird song of the plowman, the thresher, and the milkmaid.” There is an historical sketch of English national song, profusely illustrated, followed by notes to the songs contained in the present volume, which range from traditional ditties to “Simon the Cellarer,” and “The Bay of Biscay.” The voice parts are given in both the staff and the tonic sol-fa notations, thereby much increasing the usefulness of the publication.