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Woman's Work In Music

Edited by FANNY MORRIS SMITH.

LET EVERYTHING BE DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER.

In opening the club year let the usefulness of parliamentary law take its full importance in the eyes of every club-member. Orderly proceedings, well-kept minutes, well-enforced by-laws, and officers cordially supported are at the very heart of successful club-life. It is anarchy to plot the murder of the executive officers of the great governments. It is also anarchy to subvert, smilingly, the successful administration of the club officers elected at the last annual meeting.

Whatever may have been the personal disappointments of the past club-season, this is the time to live past them. Disappointments can only endure while we harbor them. Put them away, and they cease to have meaning. Life, even club-life, is a Sibyl’s book that must be unwound coil by coil. The key to success in it, as in everything else, is to rise above personal into public aims. There can be no failure for the club-member whose sole objects are the benefit of the club and increased self-culture. There can be no disorder where parliamentary law is carefully observed. There is no room for untoward exhibitions of personal feeling when the elegance and beauty of club-administration is something of value in the eyes of its members.

The United States Senate is the most dignified deliberative body in the world; it remains such because it possesses a standard which is valuable in the eyes of its members and of the country at large. Every club should emulate its methods. The business meetings of a club are as thoroughly artistic functions as any other part of the club-life. Every motion and every debate has within it the possibility of high qualities of thought, oratory, and polished manner. Clubs should prepare themselves for this part of their life, and study to raise it to the highest beauty and efficiency.

On taking part in club-debate the pitch of the voice counts for a great deal; and the tone-quality greatly assists in making effective the ideas advanced. In seeking to make yourself heard, take plenty of breath, and keep the pitch down. There is nothing more unpleasant than a rapid exordium delivered in a mounting key. Speak more slowly and in a lower pitch as you feel your excitement increase. If you suspect that tears are lying close to the surface, ask your neighbor to speak. Don’t get worked up into harangues. Be restrained, and retire cheerfully. He that fights and runs away lives to fight another day. Don’t spring surprises on your friends at public meeting. Tell them betimes, and do everything quietly, gently, and conclusively. Club-life does not admit of taking back one’s positions. Words have worth there.

 

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THE BEST PROMISE OF THE COMING CONCERT-SEASON.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to victory.” This is particularly true of self-culture, opportunities for which offer themselves in tides which advance and recede. Sometimes we have “a great pianists’ year” in the United States. Then is the opportunity to hear piano-music. Another season will be a violin year, or a vocalists’ year. Those that shape their studies to their opportunities profit greatly; but those that, for example, concentrate their minds on piano-concerts when the violin-tide is at the full lose on both sides.

This is to be a violin-season; Kubelik, the Bohemian violinist, heads the list. Then follow Gregorowitsch, Fritz Kreisler, and William Worth Bailey, with a possibility of others still.

With regard to Kubelik, I may quote Mr. Carl Strakosch and Mrs. Kellogg-Strakosch, who heard him during the past season, to the effect that he has an astonishing popular charm, and belongs to the tribe of wizards of which Paganini, Liszt, and Paderewski are familiar examples.

Where there is money in the pocket for but few concerts one may advance farther in the just appreciation of violin-playing by hearing all these artists, and if possible by adding Jean Gerardy and the Kneisel Quartet than by spreading the sum at hap-hazard over a variety of inferior music.

The wise club will prepare its members to take advantage of all the criticism, biography, and concert music bearing on violin-playing, of which the season gives so rich a promise.

 

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THE VALUE OF AN OBJECTIVE POINT.

Much time is lost by musical societies by not clearly defining the object of the season’s study. Music has a hundred sides, all worth recognition, but no club can attack every musical problem at once.

Suppose the object of the club for the season be familiarization with the current concert repertoire; then the more music that can be played and heard, the better. Suppose it be acquaintance with the old classic school, or the study of the folk-song. Here, too, the object justifies a sketchy or even inadequate presentation. The music itself repays the study.

But, once tolerably familiar with the masterpieces of music, the club outgrows the heterogeneous program, and needs a clearer purpose.

It would be entirely possible for a group of pianists whose dissimilar technic is a source of continual private annoyance to each of them to spend a delightful season in working out the various possibilities of each other’s technic and comparing the results in interpretation. In towns where technic is the first and main consideration it is worth while to put it forward as the main thought, and so work through and past it.

It would be much better for musical clubs associated for study to specify the particular feature of the season’s work. Instead of saying we will study German music, or Italian music, it is better to pick out some feature of this music.

“German music” is vague, but “the greatest melodies of Germany” is precise. Suppose you put your minds on classic music. Why not study the sonata in the hands of each of its masters; or work up each of the smaller romantic forms by collecting the best specimens from each nationality. A club could, while following a historical program, make a special point of the development of phrasing; or of passage playing; or even of the use of the authentic cadence, with its connected progressions.

Nothing is more uninspiring than listening to well- known concert music played by amateur clubs of small culture, but, if the mind can be centered in the music, and reach beyond the player, such occasions may be very profitable indeed. The more minute the study of Beethoven, Chopin, or Bach, the greater the delight they yield. If a group of pianists would agree to work out the phrasing of every piece on the club program with a lead pencil, before the meeting, and then compare notes and tell the reason for the diverging readings, that club would be well on the road to exact musical culture. Such lectures as those given by Mr. Damrosch or Messrs. Krehbiel, Henderson, et alii, can only be heard now and then in large cities. But the topics which they open to their audiences can be dug out by clubs on their own responsibility. The only point is to isolate the question to be answered by the season’s work, and then to wrest the answer from every possible source.

 

FORMING THE WINTER’S CLUB.

The time to assemble the musical club for the winter has arrived, and, since personality usually plays more part in the social organization than art, the question of whom to ask and whom to refrain from asking becomes important. There are many considerations which govern the successful selection of a club, and the inner reason for the existence of the club itself is the controlling element. Suppose three men find it convenient to go out on the frontier after gold. This organizes a club, the cohesive element of which is an overmastering greed for wealth. It is certain that these men will put up with disagreeables in one another during a closest possible association of months’ duration, which would separate them absolutely in conditions of civilization. Their common longing, for the moment, dwarfs all weaker emotions.

It is exactly the same with musical clubs. If the desire for music is very strong and the means of satisfying this desire center mainly in the club, then alliances may be tried that would not hold at all otherwise. If you are shut in to a heterogeneous society or no music, go ahead, secure that labor makes comrades, and your club-members will do each other good. But if there is a liberty of choice, settle the question of membership by asking yourself the question:

Will the desire for music repay the annoyance of dissimilar breeding?

In a large city it is possible to collect a perfectly harmonious musical society on lines of mutual culture and social habits; but in the smaller section, where the question of warring individualities becomes more perplexing, ask yourself: Which will do me the most good, a companionship on lines exactly parallel with my own specialty, or one on convergent, but not identical lines?

You answer immediately that the line of which does not repeat my art, but complements it. It follows that the best club for the advancement of self-culture may be one based not on music exclusively, but on music and its kindred arts—a club in which the arts of music, color-form, and even dancing come together to supplement each other in the study of the history and philosophy of art.

Suppose my “kindred-art club” could contain a pianist, a portrait painter, a student of decorative art, an engraver, a woman who loved embroidery, a printer, a vocal quartet, a dancing teacher, a furniture- maker, a teacher of literature, and a jeweler, and suppose the club-life were to cover twelve meetings, and that each member agreed to bring to the others all of his own profession that bore on their united topic.

Suppose the winter was spent on the renaissance. The quartet would sing the music; the engraver would produce his tools and pictures and tell his story; the jeweler would get at the wonderful processes of Italian goldsmiths’ work; the girl that did Kensington stitch would awake to see that her art led up to painting; the printer would wax eloquent on the story of Aldus; the dancing teacher would illustrate the ancient Branle and Gavotte; the pianist would produce transcriptions of the old melodies; the portrait painter would collaborate with the architect, and the furniture-maker with the decorator, and before the winter was half over the mighty creative spirit of the renaissance would brood over that company and they would be artists indeed. They would enjoy, not envy, each other’s work, and each help the other.

Suppose the majority of the club were musicians, and Chopin were the topic:

The pianists would play his pieces. The vocalists would sing his songs. The portrait painter would bring an account of Ary Sheffer and Delacroix, and the contemporary art movement in France. The teacher of literature would rummage the forms of French poetry to find where Chopin found his counterpart, and the ideas that Chopin imbibed would be cleared up. The furniture-maker would tell how the French Revolution was a revolt in art as well as in government, and trace the degeneracy that led to the upheaved Paris of Chopin’s day in the forms of rococo and baroque under Louis XV. The china painter could produce pictures of the work of the Gobelins. The dancing teacher the history of the great contemporary ballets and their dancers, and the philosopher (most societies boast a philosopher) could show how the great excitement and inflammation of men’s minds in the epoch which produced at once a Liszt and a Lacordaire, a Sand and a Chopin, a Millet and a de Musset worked up the characteristic creativeness that these opposing spirits represent. There is no form of art or applied art that does not bear the marks of the French Revolution, and which could not bring its past to a realization of the forces that then flamed into activity.

Or suppose Bach be the theme; would not the village dressmaker be glad to realize that the costumes of his day had a meaning closely allied to the sentiments the music of the Father of Music expressed? That the furniture and the manners, and the pictures, and the habitual temper and every-day thoughts of the time in some way influenced her own handicraft?

Everything that men make is developed from something gone before, recast by their own thought and temper. Each thing we make is a bud or a leaf, or a print on the great tree of human life; and the life-sap of our day has flowed through and developed them all. Therefore every art explains every contemporary art; and the allied art club would, by mutual helpfulness, open the door to fine scholarship better than any other. It would make room for busy gentlemen, too; the most interesting of all companions, because they are thinking and testing everything as they go.

If the “kindred-art club” is not practical, and the music-club, pure and simple, promises to be the most useful, then choose none but congenial spirits, limit the number rigorously, work out all the programs beforehand, and always have some refreshments. There is nothing that makes a club thrive like a modest “spread,” if it be only crackers and jam.

Remember that, as soon as a musical club on a grand scale contains everybody, it contains nobody; that people are only happy when they have responsibility, artistic when they are conscious of giving pleasure, and receptive when they are free from personal anxieties and ambitions. Four girls playing Beethoven symphonies for the pleasure of the music are nearer Beethoven than forty pianists hearing a sister-professional (whose class is growing too fast) go through a Beethoven sonata in fine shape. Keep the club away from a large professional membership if it is to be purely musical; seek all the professional members you can if it is to be a “kindred arts.”

 

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TWO GOOD CLUBS REPORT THEMSELVES TO THE ETUDE.

The season just closed has been one of exceptionally good administrations and delightful activity among the members of the Mozart Club of Dayton, the “Gem City” of Ohio. Numbering some seven hundred active and associate members, it has drawn within itself the cream of our lady musicians, while our representative citizens join us as appreciative listeners and financial aids.

The last public concert of May 2d was given with Madame Schumann-Heink as soloist in a song-recital, being accompanied by Mrs. Ethel Martin Funkhouser, a member of the club, who displayed so much artistic ability in supporting the singer as to receive a flattering offer to accompany her on a musical tour next season. The closing concert was a great triumph for Madame Schumann-Heink, who received an ovation,

and for the Mozart Club, both in an artistic and financial way. The closing recital of the club was held May 16th at the suburban home of its president, Mrs. Katherine Houk Talbott, herself a singer of fine reputation.—G. L. M.

 

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I have a class in piano here in Phoenix, Arizona, and have been profiting very much by the excellent articles in The Etude. During the season of 1899-1900 we organized a club for the purpose of general improvement along musical lines, taking much that there was no time for during the regular lessons.

We have taken as our line of work the history of music, studied biographically. We commenced with Bach, after a glance at the progress of the art up to his time. We have studied Bach, Handel, C. P. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, and Mendelssohn.

We adopted the name St. Cecilia Club, and one lesson was devoted to the patron saint, and another, as a diversion, to Paderewski.

We are a very busy set, so only meet once a month, with every fourth month devoted to business: election of officers, etc. At each meeting I give a lecture on the life and works of the composer of the evening, and then we have several pieces by the composer and selections from one of his operas. Besides this, part of the evening is devoted to music by the class, who thus have a regular opportunity to play before others.— Miss J. H. Weld.

 

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HOW THE CHILDREN WERE INTERESTED.

Surely, but hardly slowly, the power to make or mar musical conditions is drifting into  the hands of women, and many women are to be thanked for success and musical atmosphere in their respective cities. For an original woman there are many avenues open whereby she can be useful to the art and to those working in the field. Club-work is not all that there is, and yet few think of how much one individual can accomplish, in her own home.

A charming entertainment was given by a woman who is determined that her children shall live music as an enjoyment; the details of this entertainment may be worth consideration.

Invitations were issued to the little companions of her family stating:

“You are cordially invited to meet Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven on Friday at two.”

At two promptly everyone fortunate enough to be bidden was present and filled to the brim with curiosity as to who they were, and those who knew who they were were wandering how they were going to meet them. This was quickly solved by the aid of a magic lantern, and a young lady who told the stories in a delightful and interesting manner. Nor was this all; a tiny program was arranged including numbers which had been mentioned in the talk, and it is needless to say that the children were enchanted. We need more action on these lines. They are good ones. —Emilie Frances Bauer.

 

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WOMAN’S CLUBS AS BENEFICIAL FACTORS IN HOME-LIFE.

“Are Woman’s Clubs Beneficial Factors in Home-life?” was the subject of a discussion at the fourth biennial of the Iowa Federation of Woman’s Clubs, and Mrs. Julia Clark Hallam, of Sioux City, in a paper on the subject, presented the following arguments: “First, the direct practical and scientific knowledge which study in the clubs brings to women in the following lines: (a) the chemistry of cookery; (b) home-sanitation; (c) child-culture. Second, through the knowledge of the facts of history, art, literature, and travel, which comes with the club-study, the atmosphere and the outlook of the home is broadened and uplifted. Third, by this broader outlook the perspective of life is changed. Some things in the home become more important; many things become less important. Fourth, through bringing the individual woman into touch with other women upon a basis not personal she

becomes a more reasonable being, and thus better fitted to regulate her home. Fifth, some clubs are devoted exclusively to the bringing together of parents and teachers, which results in the harmonious adjustment of these two influences in the formation of the child’s character. Sixth, through the philanthropic, humanitarian, ethical, and political phases of woman’s clubs there have been laid upon women a knowledge of and a responsibility for conditions outside of her home.”

 

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CONCERT-PLAYERS IN SOCIAL LIFE.

The announcement of the marriage of Miss Lotta Mills to Mr. Williston Bough came as a surprise to the profession. Miss Mills has been one of the most successful of the group of rising pianists that this country has lately given to the world. Her career and her influence have been valuable to music, and we are better off because she spent the few years of her professional life upon American concert-platforms.

Why, you ask, is American music better because a young girl made a successful débût, played in remarkably choice concerts for a few years; and then passed into the happier estate of married life?

Because Miss Mills worked out her problems well. She has added one more to the list of American women of good birth and education who have studied abroad intelligently and faithfully, brought to their musical success fine minds, nice discrimination, a high class of imagination, and refined taste; who have lived in private life free from publicity as any other well-bred young woman, and having uniformly interested and charmed their hearers, have ultimately passed into that larger work for music which a woman with an American husband and home behind her alone can accomplish.

Every such career opens the way for other young girls of unusual musical talent to repeat its successes.

Such playing as that of Lotta Mills or Katharine Heyman, to quote two artists whose musical biography has been known to the writer from its beginning, is likely to come more and more into demand. The great virtuoso, usually the child of poverty; trained day by day to piano-practice to the exclusion of all else; illiterate; often ill mannered; undisciplined, and without cultured imagination, is being pushed off from the stage by our American pianists. He plays to apathetic audiences, and ultimately to empty benches and wonders why no one listens, unconscious that at each musical center some young artist without his fame, but full of fresh, delicate feeling, has taught his public to demand something better than he has to give.

Slowly, but surely, advances the era of an American concert-stage guided by well-matured American taste in the interpretation of the greatest and best music.

The more young women we can educate, instruct in music, and support through a career of concert-work which ultimately blends with social life as is the case with Mrs. Bough, or works steadily toward a long and mature career of concert-playing, as is the case with Miss Heyman (who will make a long tour with Madame Nordica this season), the better for all of us, for each of these artists, and all others like them, have solved “the woman question” in working out her own destiny.

 

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