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Questions and Answers

Mrs. J. S. P.—Of living German composers, the most eminent beyond a doubt is Richard Strauss, born at Munich, June 11th, 1864. He began composing when only six, having already begun piano playing at the age of four. He continued composition throughout his school life. Up to the age of twenty he had completed a number of pieces in the large forms, all showing the influence of classical models. Then he was much influenced by Brahms. About this time he became interested in the music of Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner, which led to the adoption of a more modern style, several symphonic poems being due to this new impulse. Later came his great works, “Till Eulenspiegels’ Merry Pranks,” “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” “Don Quixote,” “A Hero’s Life” and finally the “Domestic” Symphony. Strauss has composed three operas, Guntram, Feuersnoth and Salome. In addition are many songs, choral works, a burlesque for pianoforte and orchestra.

After Strauss, one of the best known of German composers, is Gustav Mahler, a great conductor, born at Kalischt, Bohemia, July 7th, 1860. He studied at the Vienna University, and also with Bruckner at the Conservatory there. He has written two operas and six symphonies, the latter of colossal proportions and for complicated orchestral combinations. His music is apt to be turgid and bombastic, but admirably written with view to orchestral effect.

Felix Weingartner, who is one of the greatest of living conductors with ambitions in the direction of composition, was born June 3d, 1863, at Zara, in Dalmatia. He studied at Graz and at the Leipzig Conservatory. In 1882 he met Liszt and shortly followed him to Weimar. Weingartner has written three operas, “Sakuntala,” “Malawaika” and Genesius,” and also a trilogy of one act music dramas after Æschylus, “Agamemnon,” “The Death Offering” and “The Errynies.” He has also produced songs, piano music, three string quartets and a sextet, two symphonies and two symphonic poems, “King Lear” and “The Elyrian Fields,” after a celebrated picture by the German painter, Arnold Bocklin. At present Weingartner has retired from conducting to devote himself entirely to composition.

Among other living German composers are: Carl Reinecke, born 1824, studied at Cologne, Breslau and Leipzig, composed two masses, three symphonies, five overtures, the opera “King Manfred,” four concertos, cantatas, much piano music including that for children; Max Bruch, born 1838, studied at Bonn and at Frankfort, also under Hiller and Reinecke, composed the opera “Lorelei,” a cantata Frithjof, three symphonies, an oratorio “Moses,” the cantatas “Odysseus,” “Arminias,” “Damajanti,” “Achilles” and other vocal works, but best known for the G minor and other violin concertos; Friedrich Gernsheim, born 1839, studied at Mainz, Frankfort and Leipzig under Moscheles, Richter and others, has taught in various positions, composed four symphonies, works for chorus and orchestra, and a concerto for violin and orchestra; J. L. Nicodé, born 1853, studied with Kullak and Kiel at Berlin, professor of piano playing at the Royal Dresden Conservatory, composed symphonic poems “Carnival Pictures” and “Maria Stuart,” orchestral scherzo “The Chase after Happiness,” two ‘cello sonatas, piano solos and songs, also symphonic variations Op. 27; Georg Schumann, born 1866, studied at Dresden and Leipzig, composed symphonies, symphonic variations on a chorale, an overture “The Dawn of Love,” “variations and fugue on a gay theme” works for chorus and orchestra, etc.; Engelbert Humperdinck, born 1854, devoted his early career to architecture, taught at Barcelona, and Frankfort, critic in the latter city, chiefly known as the composer of “Hansel and Gretel,” though also composer of “Pilgrimage to Kevlaar” for voices and orchestra, a “Moorish Rhapsody,” and many other operas, of which the latest are “The Unwilling Marriage,” “The Miracle of Cologne.”

Of the younger German composers the most talented are Siegmund von Hausegger, born 1872, studied with Degeler and his father at Graz; an eminent conductor now at the Museum in Frankfort, he has composed chamber music, two early operas, “Helfried” and “Zinrober,” but best known by his symphonic poems, “Dionysian Fantasy,” “Barbarossa” and “Wieland the Smith;” Max Reger, born at Brand, Bavaria, 1873, studied with his father, A. Lindner and Hugo Riemann, at present Professor of Harmony, Counterpoint and Organ, at the Royal Academy of Music, Munich, and conductor of the Porges’ Singing Society, a voluminous composer of piano pieces both for two and four hands, more than 200 songs, sonatas for violin alone, for violin and piano, ‘cello and piano, clarinet and piano, a trio for violin, viola and ‘cello, a serenade for flute, violin and viola, a string quartet, sonatas for organ, two fantasies and fugues for organ, 52 choral preludes for organ, fantasies on chorales, variations and fugue for two pianos, church cantas, choruses for men’s voices, and a sinfonietta for orchestra. Reger’s style is very complex and has given rise to much discussion. Ernest Boehe, born Munich, Dec. 27th, 1880, studied harmony and counterpoint with Dr. Rudolf Louis, left the Gymnasium (corresponding almost to the average American college) to be a musician, studied under Ludwig Thuille at the Hochschule in Munich; chief works are songs, Four Episodes for Orchestra, “From the Voyages of Ulysses.”

Among German opera composers are Carl Goldmark, born in Hungary, 1830; studied at the Vienna Conservatory, but also much by himself; has composed overtures, “Sakuntala,” “Penthesilea,” “In Spring,” “Prometheus Bound” and “Sappho,” but especially the operas “The Queen of Sheba,” “Merlin,” “Heimchen am Herd,” “The, Prisoner of War,” “Goetz von Berlichingen” and “Der Fremdling,” August Buxgert studied at Cologne, Paris and Berlin, has occupied himself with operas taken from the Homeric poems; “Achilles,” “Clytemnestra,” taken from the Iliad, and “Circe,” “Nausicaa,” “Ulysses’ Return” and “Ulysses’ Death,” from the Odyssey. Eugen D’Albert, born 1864, studied in London under Pauer, Stainer, Prout and Sullivan and also under Richter and Liszt; a successful pianist, he has not only composed 2 concertos for piano, overtures, a ‘cello concerto, a string quartet and light operas, “The Ruby,” “Ghismonda,” “Jesuit,” “Die Abreise,” “Cain,” “The Improvisator,” “Tiefland” and Flauto Solo.” Mention might also be made of Siegfried Wagner, born at Triebschen, near Lucerne, in 1869; studied with Kniese and Humperdinck, has composed the operas “Die Bärenhäuter,” “Herzog Wildfand,” “Der Kobold” and “Bande Lustig.” His work shows talent, but no traces of his father’s genius. He is said, however, to be an able conductor.

Of Belgian composers the best known is sar Franck, born at Liege in 1822; studied at the Liege Conservatory and also at the Paris Conservatory. As he passed all his life in Paris, and became a naturalized Frenchman in 1873, and was the leader of a group of young composers who now constitute the most distinctly French composers in French, he cannot be said to have influenced Belgian music greatly. César Franck’s masterpiece is considered to be the oratorio, “The Beatitudes;” he also wrote two others, “Ruth” and “The Redemption;” among his instrumental works are a symphony in D minor, a symphony with choruses, “Psyche, the symphonic poems “La Chasseur Mandit” and “Les Eolides,” two pieces for piano and orchestra, “Les Djinns”’ and “Variations Symphoniques,” a magnificent quintet for piano and string, a string quartet, a sonata for piano and violin, a prelude, choral and fugue and a prelude, aria and finale for piano, organ pieces, a short mass, songs, etc. The most celebrated of Belgian composers in the past was Peter Benoit, born in Harlebeke in 1834, died 1901; he studied at the Brussels Conservatory, composed an opera, “The Village in the Mountains;” a cantata, “The Murder of Abel,” with which he won a government prize; a solemn mass; an opera, “The Erl King;” a sacred “Quadrilogy;” a choral symphony, “The Reapers;” a piano concerto; another opera, “Isa,” and incidental music to the dramas “Charlotte Corday,” “Willem de Zwijger” and “Het Melief ;” also the cantatas “War,” “Lucifer,” “De Schelde,” “De Rhyn,” a Reubens Cantata and “Prometheus.” Paul Gilson is an eminent living Belgian composer, born at Brussels, 1865, a graduate of the Brussels Conservatory; he has composed orchestral works, a dramatic overture, a festival overture, 2 fantasies, melodies of Ireland and Canada, the symphonic sketches “La Mer,” “The Bucolics” after Virgil, etc.; choral works, Inaugural Cantata; oratorios, “Moses,” “Francesca da Rimini;” several operas and incidental music for dramas. Guillaume Lekeu, a young Belgian of great promise, was born at Verniers, 1870, died in 1894; a pupil of César Franck, he had already achieved distinction when overwork caused him to fall a prey to typhoid fever. Among his works are a cantata, “Andromeda,” two symphonic studies for orchestra, a poem for violin and orchestra, various chamber works, including a sonata for piano and violin, and an unfinished piano quartet. Edgar Tinel, born 1854, studied at Brussels; his best-known works the dramatic oratorio “Franciscus” and “Saint Godelive,” orchestral pieces, songs and church music. Jan Blockx, born at Antwerp, 1851, studied at Antwerp, Brussels and Leipzig. Among his works are the cantata “Ons Vaterland,” an orchestral Tryptique, a ballet, “Milenka,” a one-act opera, “Iels Vergeten;” a four-act opera-comique, “Maître Martin ;” the later operas, “Thyl Uylenspiegel,” “Die Capel” and “La Fiancée de la Mer.” In 1901, Blockx succeeded to Benoit’s place at the Antwerp Conservatory.

In Denmark, the most gifted composer in the past was Niels Gade, born 1817 at Copenhagen, died 1890; studied in his native town under various teachers, later at Leipzig; his works include the cantatas “Comala,” “Spring Fantasy,” “The Erl King’s Daughter,” “Zion,” “The Crusaders,” eight symphonies, five overtures, two concertos for violin and orchestra, chamber music, including two sonatas for violin and piano, piano music, songs, etc. Johann P. E. Hartmann, born at Copenhagen in 1805, died 1900, has written the operas “The Raven,” “The Corsairs,” “Little Christe,” incidental music, a symphony, piano pieces and songs. His son, Emil Hartmann, born 1836, died 1898, studied with his father and with Niels Gade; has composed operas, a ballet, symphonies, concertos for violin and ‘cello, a serenade for piano, clarinet and violoncello, and an orchestral suite founded on folk tunes. One of the best of living Danish composers is August Enna, born 1860, chiefly self-taught, a capellmeister at a small theatre for some time; composed two early operas, “Areta” and “Aglaia” an orchestral suite, a symphony in C minor. Later operas by Enna are “The Witch,” “Cleopatra,” “Ancassin and Nicolette” and “Laenia.” Enna has also written operas founded on folk-tales, “The Little Match Girl,” “Die Erbsenprizessin,” “Die Schäferin und der Schornsteinfeger,” “Ib und die kleine Christine,” “Die Geschichte einer Mutter” and “Die Nachtigall.” Other Danish composers are Otto Malling, known for piano pieces; Victor Bendix (formerly a pupil of Gade), has written three symphonies; Joachim Anderson, a composer for flute; Ottrup, a writer of organ works and songs; Emil Hornemann, composer of overtures; August Winding, director of the Copenhagen Conservatory, has written sonatas and a violin concerto; Ludwig Schytté, who lives in Berlin, a pupil of Neupert and Gade, is known for piano music, a piano concerto, collaborated with Rosenthal in a series of finger-exercises. See also Mr. Arthur Elson’s article on page 671 of this issue.

W. S.—It is decidedly better to accustom a young pupil from the start to read both clefs, at the same time also use duets in which both hands are written in the treble clef.

A. M.—It is difficult to give advice as to the make-up of a program without knowing the material. Try to get in as much contrast between the several numbers as possible. It is a good plan to begin with something of a classical nature and to save the most modern and brilliant piece for the last.

L. B.—By all means, teach your pupils to use the pedal from the start. The pedal is certainly not used in finger-exercises, but no matter how simple a piece, there is usually some place in which the pedal may be used to advantage.

E. J. W.—1. Harold Bauer has not, to my knowledge, studied at any conservatory. He has had advice from Paderewski, but he is chiefly self-taught. I think he would have had the force and perseverance to have become what he is at any conservatory.

2. All “artists,” who are renowned for their touch, play chords with a musical tone. To make a list of them would be an impossibility. To play chords musically, the wrist should be yielding, and the muscles of arm and shoulder should be entirely relaxed. Quick series of chords must be played chiefly from the elbow; others, in which more space occurs, may be played with the weight of the shoulders. All good teachers should give chord- playing close attention. Any well-equipped conservatory teacher will do so; it is an essential point in the pupil’s technical equipment. Any further questions will be gladly answered.

Consuelo.—1. I should suggest that these groups of figures are merely the fingering for possible exercises. The lines may signify repetition. Have you no other data to give?

2. 3/4, 4/4, 6/8 are merely time-signatures; the relative value of the notes in which the music is written constitutes rhythm. It is not incorrect to speak of “three-four time.” I should not naturally connect time with “tempo ;” the latter term is difficult to translate satisfactorily; it is easier to use it directly.

3.  The methods of notation in use consider ease of reading and accuracy of expression. In the example, 4/4 time, one quarter note followed by two quarter rests and then a quarter note, the quarter rests are correct because they do not obscure the rhythm. In 4/4 the accents come upon the first and third beats; the use of a half rest would obscure the construction of the rhythm. The example, a dotted eighth followed by three eighth rests in 6/8 time, is not used simply on account of confusion. Accents here are on the first and fourth beats, but the rhythm, quarter note followed by an eighth, is very common; it is easier for engraver and reader to express the rest values, a quarter and an eighth, than by three eighths, although in a piece in 6/8 time, where eighth notes predominate, I think that they might exceptionally write the example as you give it.

4. A “Writing Book for Music Pupils,” by Charles W. Landon. published by Theodore Presser, should supply the practice in writing music you wish for your pupils.

5. The signs for the F, C and G clefs are the outcome of the mediæval ways of writing the letters on what was the predecessor of the staff. It is difficult to fix the date at which clef signs were first used; probably it was towards the close of the tenth century. There was more change in the staff than in the clef. There were originally ten clefs, but the invention of leger lines rendered them unnecessary. Practice in reading from the clefs you mention would conduce to facility in sight-reading. I do not see how it would improve one’s faculty for transposing.

6. “The Pedals of the Piano,” by Hans Schmitt, published by Theodore Presser, should be an excellent book for your purpose. Arthur Whiting has published Part I of a treatise on the use of the pedals with examples.

7. I should suggest Thomas Tapper’s “First Studies in Music Biography,” published by Theodore Presser, as an excellent book for your purpose.

8. I cannot at present discover the author of the so-called Beethoven’s “Farewell to the Piano,” which is wrongly attributed to the master.

G. B.—1. It is evident that Dr. Mason intends the fingering given for the triad arpeggii in C major to apply to all keys, even those beginning on black notes. In the latter case it may at first seem hard, but patience and sufficient slow practice should conquer the difficulty in the end. If I have not caught the point of your question, write again.

2. “Poet-musician” is an imaginative term used to designate composers whose individuality seems especially to belong to the realm of poetry. Chopin, Schumann and Schubert, whose music is largely the result of their daydreams, merit this term especially.

3. When the hammers of your piano become so hard that the tone is dry, they can be “pricked” with a needle so that this is temporarily remedied. It must be done by an experienced “regulator.”

Shepard.—See Mr. Corey’s article in the Teacher’s Round Table for advice on a course of study.

A. L.—You are mistaken as to the key in which the sonata by Haydn, to which you refer, is written. It is not E major, but C sharp minor. The trio is in C sharp major. G sharp major is not used as a key, unless by chance, as a modulation from some nearly related key.

 

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