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Ludwig Schytte.

ludwig-schytte.jpgI was born April 28, 1848, in Aarbus, Jütland, Denmark, the youngest of thirteen children. My father, who was a minister, played with considerable skill a number of instruments—violin, viola, ‘cello, guitar, flute, and piano; my mother had an excellent voice, and all of my brothers and sisters were musical; so that in my childhood I heard a great deal of music. But what interested me most was chamber-music, Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s “tone-poems,” several of which one of my sisters played very well.

My father composed very diligently, and not without talent; I can recall to-day some of his piano-compositions which could be heard with pleasure. Nevertheless, I did not study music; my father was much too nervous to instruct me, and none of my brothers or sisters had time to give to me. Still, I studied counterpoint in an unconscious, as well as practical, way. When my mother and I were alone she always sang, and it gave me great satisfaction to make up another part to accompany her.

My parents were poor, and when I was about sixteen years old, and had passed my school examinations with great success, I entered the employ of an apothecary as a student. At this time my love for music grew so strongly, and since a local musical authority expressed in the warmest words his astonishment that I, without knowing the notes, and without any instruction, only “by ear,” could play correctly the whole C-minor (sic) Scherzo (opus 31) of Chopin, I concluded to say adieu to pills and salves, and went, with the sum of $250, which I had saved from my salary, to Copenhagen to study music.

I was at that time a little over twenty-two years old, and everyone said of me that I was too old and would accomplish nothing. Gade found me without talent, and would not take me in the conservatory as a pupil. (Some years later he offered me a position as professor in the same conservatory, where, on account of lack of talent, I could not find acceptance.)

It went very hard with me for some time. Finally, one day, when my need was the greatest, I called at the studio of the distinguished Edmund Neupert and asked for permission to play for him. I played the first thing that came in my mind—some of my own compositions and improvisations. (Up to that time I had never considered the possibility that my own work might have value in the eyes of others.) As I stopped playing Neupert asked me—as it seemed to me very earnestly: “What was that you played?” For a moment I felt anxious for fear I had been bold in playing my own composition; nevertheless I had to “out with it.” Neupert looked at me wonderingly, and then, in a most friendly way, clapped me on the shoulder and said: “Truly you have talent; what else we want we can seek for.” I was overjoyed!

From that time on things went better with me. Sophie Menter, with whom I became acquainted shortly after, played my compositions; Neupert instructed me, and secured pupils and a publisher for me; in short, was like a kind Providence to me! Gade gave me instruction until, in 1883, I went to Weimar to Liszt, from whom I had a most gracious reception. Liszt arranged that my concerto, opus 28, should be played for the first time at a music festival in Carlsruhe, and showed himself an interested patron up to the time of his death.

In 1886 I accepted a position in Vienna as Professor, which I resigned several years later to go to Berlin. I now give only private instruction, and a large number of celebrated pianists have studied with me. My compositions include a great number of large and small piano-works and songs. Many of my teaching-pieces have received great recognition. A comic opera is now awaiting performance, and my dramatic scena, “Hero,” which was brought out with great success in the Royal Theater at Copenhagen, by the famous Marguerethe Petersen, has also had enthusiastic reception in the Hof-Theater in Darmstadt, in Vienna, Basle, Budapest, in Hamburg, and here in Berlin.

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You are reading Ludwig Schytte. from the March, 1901 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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