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Music Teachers' National Association. Twentieth Annual Meeting

The twentieth annual meeting of the Music Teachers’ National Association, June 23d to 27th, at the Waldorf- Astoria Hotel, New York City, is now a matter of history. It opened under the most favorable conditions. The place of meeting being the same as last year, and the officers being practically the same, were advantages that went far to making the meeting successful. The Association reached its lowest mark when it came to New York last year, the profession having almost lost faith in it. The membership had fallen off until less than 100 were left. But it has now taken on a new lease of life. The first meeting in New York was a revelation, the scale on which it was planned gigantic. Preparations were made for 10,000 delegates, and while the actual number was not over 1200, yet this was encouraging. The mistakes of the first year were not repeated at this meeting. It is, on the whole, the most successful of any in the history of the Association. It was conducted in a manner highly creditable to the musical profession. The program was full of attraction and contained many novel features. At no time did the interest in the proceedings diminish. An air of dignity marked every performance; the essayists were, without exception, selected from the leading members of the profession; the musical performances were of the highest order and were either used as illustrations or novelties of some kind. The future meetings must be along the lines of this one if success is to be attained. There was every evidence of the most careful work on the part of the managers. The burden of responsibility, however, rested almost wholly on the President, Mr. H. W. Greene, who has labored most unselfishly for two years to bring up the Association to such a position that it can command the respect of the very best musicians of the country. The selection of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was a happy idea. The magnificence of the place is indescribable. It is almost beyond the conception of man, and the sumptuous fittings of the hall and the hotel were such as to conduce to an artistically-satisfied mind. The conservatory, at the side of the auditorium, was allotted to exhibits. A number of the leading publishers of music and musical literature had samples of their publications on tables, open to the examination of members and those in attendance at the concerts. This feature of the work of the Convention enabled teachers to see the newest works in literature and to have an opportunity to make a full and easy survey of the various works and aids to teachers and teaching.

Thursday.

The morning meeting was called to order by Alfred T. Schauffler, Assistant Superintendent of the Public Schools of New York. Prayer was offered by Rev. D. Parker Morgan, after which he made an address on the barrenness of men’s minds without musical training and of the important part which music has played in the church service, and the work which music teachers can do for the art and for the public in this direction. He was followed by Randolph Guggenheimer, President of the Municipal Council of New York City, who delivered an address of welcome on behalf of the Mayor and City of Greater New York. Mr. Guggenheimer, in closing, paid a tribute to the memory of Anton Seidl.

This year the delegate system was initiated, and it may be said that it has helped in formulating plans for the general work of the Association, in affording opportunity to discuss plans and bring them to a focus before they are presented for the consideration of the general Convention, thus effecting a great saving of time. The delegates represented leading colleges of the various sections of the country, conservatories and schools of music, and musical journals, as well as the various State music teachers’ associations. In a certain sense it might be likened to an enlarged executive committee.

The afternoon session consisted of a varied program, the chief feature being the lecture on “The Orchestra,” by Mr. W. J. Henderson, of the New York “Times,” with illustrations by the American Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Henderson gave an analysis of the modern orchestra, and then took up more minutely the various instruments, describing their characteristic tone qualities, the instruments being exhibited, played first alone and then some orchestral selection being given to illustrate the usages of composers. Mr. Henderson’s talk was listened to with the closest attention, and was rendered still more enjoyable by a number of humorous comments by the lecturer. Several other papers followed the lecture by Mr. Henderson. Mrs. Annie C. Muirhead, of London, England, described her “concerts for children,” which have met with success both abroad and in this country. Her object in these concerts is largely the stimulation of good taste and the inculcation of a liking for good music in children.

A fine talk, somewhat approaching the esthetic in nature, was by Prof. McCracken, of New York City, who spoke on “Rhythm, the Link between Music and Literature.” He gave emphasis to the statement that the importance of rhythm can not be overestimated, citing as one example the dancing dervish, who is kept to his weird dance through the persistent repetition of one theme. He quoted the American poet, Sidney Lanier, in support of an argument that rhythm is inherent in prose as well as in poetry, and claimed that it is the vitality of the rhythmic factor in a composition that gives it power to stand the test of time. In closing he gave composers the following pertinent suggestion, “Look to your rhythm.”

The evening was enlivened by a reception in the Colonial Room of the hotel, given by the organization of the New York City teachers. The social feature played a very important part at all times in the Convention and the local musicians spared no pains to promote  goodfellowship among the delegates and members.

The concert which followed was a very delightful one, the leading feature the cycle “In a Persian Garden,” by Liza Lehmann. The composition is a worthy setting of a number of stanzas of the “Rubáiyát” of Omar Khayyám, and the rich, sensuous color of the language, the Oriental imagery, the bacchanalian, the passionate, the melancholy qualities of the text were all pictured in the musical setting. The rendering was delightful and artistic in a high degree. It was a splendid stroke of enterprise on the part of the Program Committee to give the members of the Association an opportunity to hear this work, which is a distinctly valuable contribution to vocal literature.

Friday.

The morning session was devoted to papers and discussions on topics connected with vocal study. Mr. F. W. Wodell, of Boston, was the first speaker, taking the subject “Some Aspects of Vocal Teaching in America.” Mr. Wodell, in opening, mentioned the fact that a great improvement is noticeable in the class of men and women who enter the profession of music-teaching, and spoke at some length upon the splendid work which the various musical journals are doing. The interest displayed in singing has awakened, even in the general public, a great desire to know the facts connected with vocal culture; the spread of music teaching in the public schools and the establishment of public classes in sight-singing have also contributed to increase public interest in singing and in the work of singers and teachers. He was followed by Mr. Meyer-Teeg, of Washington, Miss Mary Shedd, of Chicago, Mme. Valda and Dr. Frank E. Miller, of New York, the latter taking up questions connected with vocal physiology.

A symposium on sight-singing followed, in charge of Mr. Frank Damrosch, the speakers being W. A.  Hodgden, of St. Louis, Miss Mary Burt, of New York, Miss Eva Deming, of Philadelphia, Mr. John Tagg, of Newark, and Miss Fletcher, of Boston. The afternoon concert presented a new feature, the numbers being works by American song-writers, the accompaniments played by the composers. Those represented were Arthur Foote, C. B. Hawley, Ferdinand Dunkley, Henry Holden Huss, W. W. Gilchrist, Clayton Johns, and Homer N. Bartlett.

Avery interesting symposium on “Church Music” was another feature of the afternoon session, the speakers being Cecil Poole, Thomas Whitney Stubbs, Walter Henry Hall, and George Edward Stubbs. A large number of organists and choir directors were present, and an animated discussion followed pro and con on the subject of boy choirs.

The evening concert was devoted to orchestral works, numbers by Horatio W. Parker, Homer N. Bartlett, and Bruno Oscar Klein being given, Mr. William H. Sherwood playing the Raff piano concerto in C-minor. Mr. Sherwood was in fine mood and played magnificently, and received unstinted applause from the audience.

Saturday.

The morning session was devoted to a consideration of the question of the relative merits of conservatory and private teaching, the former being upheld by Richard Zeckwer, of Philadelphia, and Charles H. Morse, of Brooklyn, the latter by Miss Amy Fay, of New York. A meeting of women interested in musical work was conducted by Miss M. Fay-Peirce. A paper on “Musical Literature” was read by Mr. Frank H. Marling, of New York, who urged the members to aid in the work of placing good literature in the hands of pupils.

A most enjoyable lecture recital by Mr. H. E. Krehbiel, of the New York ” Tribune,” on ” Folk-song in America,” with illustrations by Mrs. Krehbiel, closed the morning session. Mr. Krehbiel contended that we have a “folk-song” as well as other nations. The lecture was as instructive as it was delightful and interesting to the large audience present.

During the early afternoon Mrs. A. K. Virgil gave an exposition of the Virgil methods of teaching, a miscellaneous concert following, with Mr. William H. Sherwood in a piano recital closing the afternoon session. The Association meetings would certainly be incomplete if Mr. Sherwood did not play.

The evening concert was given by the German  Liederkranz,Miss Shannah Cummings, and Bruno Oscar Klein, the latter contributing a new quintet in manuscript for soprano voice, piano, violin, ‘cello, and horn.

Sunday.

Special musical services were arranged in a number of churches, and the members of the Convention made their own choice, all the churches with strong choirs being visited—boy choirs the favorites.

Monday.

The last day’s session was an important one for the future of the Association. While the whole session had been thoroughly enjoyable and had developed an increasing interest in the welfare of the Association, some embarrassing difficulties of a financial nature from the previous year had to be met and overcome. The Executive Committee meeting was called for this purpose. At the general Association meeting which followed, the recommendations of the delegate council were adopted and new officers elected for the ensuing year. Cincinnati, O., was selected as the place of meeting, and the following officers chosen: Honorary President, Horatio W. Parker, Professor of Music at Yale University; President, A. J. Gantvoort, Cincinnati, O.; First Vice-President, Carl G. Schmidt, Morristown, N. J.; Secretary, George C. Gow, Professor of Music, Vassar College; Treasurer, Frederic A. Fowler, New Haven, Conn.; Program Committee, Franz van der Stucken, Cincinnati, Chairman, W. E. Mulligan, New York, Miss M. Fay-Peirce, New York, and B. W. Foley, Cincinnati; Executive Committee, E. W. Glover, Cincinnati, Walter Henry Hall, New York, Miss Bertha Baur, Louis Ehrgott, Cincinnati.

Following this, an appeal was made for financial assistance to meet some pressing claims, and $250 was raised. Mme. A. Pupin opened the regular program with a demonstration of the advantages and possibilities of the Janko keyboard as applied to the piano.

A very interesting symposium on harmony was the special morning program, the speakers being Ferdinand Dunkley, of Albany, N. Y., Silas G. Pratt, of New York, and Dr. H. A. Clarke, Professor of Music in the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia. Dr. Clarke gave an exposition of his system of teaching harmony as he has carried it on for a number of years in his university teaching. He drew a very sharp distinction between a theory of harmony and a system of teaching. The latter is based on the practice of the great masters of music, and was arrived at empirically, and is not derived by induction or deduction from scientific facts and principles. Prof. Gow, of Vassar College, who was to have followed with a talk on “Methods of Teaching Theory,” gave up his allotted time on account of the pressing nature of the business meeting over which he presided.

The afternoon session consisted of a varied concert, and the Convention closed in the evening with the oratorio “St. Paul,” by Mendelssohn, sung by the Oratorio Society of Brooklyn, Mr. Walter Henry Hall, conductor. At the close of the concert President Greene made the welcome announcement that all the year’s expenses had been provided for and the deficit of last year reduced.

The Association, in going to Cincinnati, will do so with good prospects for another successful meeting. The new president, Mr. Gantvoort, made an address before the Association in which he announced that the citizens of Cincinnati had placed a large hall and orchestra at the services of the Association free of expense, and promises of financial aid made the outlook promising. The various musical interests of the city are represented in the board of officers, and a hearty coöperation is looked for on the part of the various schools of music, the Cincinnati Chorus, and the German singing societies.

In looking over the work of the year just closed it is apparent that hard work and untiring devotion on the part of the officers of the Association were the factors that contributed to the splendid success of this year’s meeting. What the members heard and saw was not done in a day, but was the result of forethought and careful planning carried out with watchful persistence. To the president, Mr. Greene, and Mr. Carl Schmidt, chairman of the Executive Committee, must be awarded unstinted commendation, for the success that was apparent to all was largely the result of their labors. The palm of success was fairly earned and well deserved.

The Association, in going to a new city, enters another field. The associations in neighboring States should take up the matter and seek to send a large representation to the Cincinnati meeting. The Association needs every teacher’s interest in the work, and not only interest, but the unmistakable interest that is demonstrated by attendance. No teacher, however humble his sphere may seem, should feel that there is no place for him in a National Association. It is only by uniting all classes, grades, and interests, that the Association will be national in the fullest, truest sense of the word.

 

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