It is rumored that there is a possibility of the Chicago opera visiting Europe.
Two marches for orchestra by Adolph M. Foerster, the well-known Pittsburg composer, were recently performed in Cincinnati.
Dr. Walter Damrosch has composed a comic opera during the past summer months. It is entitled The Dove of Peace, and the libretto is by Wallace Irwin.
Thuille’s opera, Lobetanz, is to have its first American production at the Metropolitan this season. Hertz will direct the music at this performance.
The Westbrook (Maine) Festival Chorus of six hundred mixed voices is to take part in the Maine Musical Festival in Portland.
The grand opera Paoletta, which was produced for the first time at the Ohio Valley Exposition last year, is to have a New York production. The music of this opera is by Pietro Floridia.
Mr. Irvin J. Morgan. who has been for several years musical director and organist of Trinity Church, Pittsburg, has been appointed musical director at John Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia.
Madame Maud Powell is to give only one concert in New York this season. Her undisputed title to the first place among women violinists cannot fail to be a continued source of gratification to American audiences.
Victor Hollaender, Berlin’s most popular light opera composer, is now in New York, and it is reported that he will take up his residence permanently in this country.
The demands of the New York musicians’ union for increased pay is so objectionable to the theater managers that in three New York theaters the orchestra has been abolished, and more are likely to do the same.
Alvah Glover Salmon, the well-known pianist, will give a number of lecture-recitals upon Slavonic music during the coming season. He has been engaged as one of the lecturers for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The “Commonwealth Symphony Orchestra” has been established in New York for the purpose of giving wage-earners an opportunity to hear symphony music. The movement is the outcome of a series of concerts given during the summer months in Madison Square Garden.
A new mass by Dr. H. J. Stewart, entitled St. Anthony of Padua, has been sung recently at the dedication of a new Catholic church which has been erected at Lake Tahoe, Cal. Dr. Stewart’s Mass No. 1 in D minor has been given in a prominent San Francisco church with orchestral accompaniment.
It is said that a young lady in Cleveland has been cured, by means of an operation on the brain, of a mad desire to play ragtime at all hours. “This,” says a Western paper, “is the first intimation that the brain has anything to do with ragtime.”
Toscanini will maintain his position at the Metropolitan opera. He was offered an engagement as conductor of the opera in Buenos Ayres, but the engagement was for the entire year, and he refused. He has, however, accepted an engagement for three summer months, for which he will be paid $54,000.
James Bryce, the British ambassador, whose book, The American Commonwealth, shows such profound understanding of American conditions, has sounded a note of warning with regard to the extravagant attention given to utilitarianism at many of the foremost universities. The most obvious cure for excessive pragmatism is more music.
Early in October the first National Convention of the American Guild of Violinists took place in Chicago. The programs given at the concerts included some very interesting chamber music. We trust that the outcome of this institution will be a marked improvement in the violin playing of this country.
The appointment of Henry K. Hadley to the conductorship of the San Francisco Orchestra has left the directors of the Seattle Orchestra in a difficult position. Owing to the impossibility of finding a suitable successor to Mr. Hadley at such short notice, they have decided to give no symphony concerts during the season 1911-12, but to direct all their energies toward making arrangements for the following season.
Mr. Thomas Beecham, the English conductor, impresario and composer, recently arrived in New York, where he hopes to produce some Mozart operas, and also the operas of Strauss. He also contemplates giving some orchestral concerts. It is said that he is writing an English opera upon the
subject of “Kit” Marlowe, the Elizabethan dramatist. The libretto, however, is being prepared by an Italian!
Leoncavallo has completed a new opera entitled La Foresta Marmora (The Forest Murmurs). This opera is to be produced in New York this winter together with a one-act opera of his entitled La Reine des Roses. Whether either of these works will prove as popular as Pagliacci is a matter which only time can decide. So far only one other of his works has been heard out of Italy with any continuity, and that is his Roland of Berlin, which has been heard quite often in the German capital.
William Shakespeare, the distinguished London teacher of singing, is again visiting his friends and former pupils in America. He intends spending a few months in Los Angeles. Since his last visit Mr. Shakespeare has sustained the loss of his wife. She was a native of Germany, and an accomplished singer, pianist and linguist. Mr. Shakespeare is himself no mean linguist, as he speaks several of the continental languages fluently.
The soloists for the Philadelphia Orchestra during the coming season include Alma Glück, Kathleen Parlow, de Pachmann, Thaddeus Rich (the concertmeister) and Mme. Gerville-Reache. The remarkable development of this orchestra under the conductorship of Carl Pohlig is a matter upon which Philadelphians are wont to pride themselves. The coming season it is expected will be better than ever. A novel feature will be the production of choral works in connection with the regular symphony concerts.
It is planned to erect a Sherwood Memorial Hall at Chautauqua, N. Y. A meeting was held on the site of his studio and an association formed for the purpose. The officers were elected, and no doubt the plan will soon be carried through. Chautauqua visitors greatly missed the familiar form of the famous American pianist, and his thousands of admirers all over the country will doubtless be glad to know that steps are being taken to keep alive the memory of the dead pianist.
Dr. Wüllner, the tremendously successful German lieder singer, who is said to have a poor voice but magnificent dramatic talent, has rather startled his admirers by electing to appear this year in vaudeville in America. Nevertheless, Dr. Wüllner is by no means the first great artist to take this step, nor is he the only one at the present time. Leoncavallo, the composer of I Pagliacci, has been earning, it is said, a salary of $7,500 a week conducting a condensed version of this opera at the London Hippodrome since the beginning of September.
Do we want opera in English? Otto Kahn, an important moneyed director in the Metropolitan Opera Company, thinks we ought to congratulate ourselves that we have not got it. London and New York, he declares, are the only opera centres which can afford to maintain three or four troupes of artists capable of singing the operas as they were originally composed. There may be something in this argument. Our literary friends often remind us that great poems suffer in translation. The German version of Shakespeare’s plays naturally cannot be so beautiful as the English ones any more than an English translation of the Iliad of Homer can equal the Greek original. However, there are very few opera librettos whose linguistic subtleties are worthy of preservation, and it would be a great comfort on going to the opera to know what it was all about.
A recital given at the Home for Retired Music Teachers, at 236 South Third street, Philadelphia, Pa., on the evening of September 29th, proved a great success. The program was given for the most part by the ladies residing in the home. One of the requirements for entrance is that the applicant shall have taught for twenty-five years as a sole means of livelihood. No one who heard the performances of the following ladies—Mrs. Phelps, Mrs. Ledyard, Miss Jordan, Miss Lennon, Mrs. Wheeler and Miss Lane—could have doubted that they had spent their full term in acquiring their musical knowledge. Many aspects of the performances would have been creditable for ladies of twenty-five or forty. The guests noticed above all things the care with which the management of the home has avoided the institutional atmosphere. This is a home in every sense of the word, where the residents have comforts and conveniences which might otherwise be denied them. The fact that no one is admitted who has not earned the right to admission by faithful service in an educational pursuit removes the feeling of dependency so evident in some institutions. Hitherto the building of the home has been located in the heart of the old residential section of Philadelphia. The home, however, will soon be removed to one of the most select parts of Germantown, one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful suburbs. There, amid a veritable park, in a building admirably adapted to the purpose, the home will be located. The only requirements for admission are a fee of $200, twenty-five years of continuous service in the art of teaching music and an age limit of over sixty-five. This insures continuous support for life. The management, however, reserves the right of dismissal at any time if the person proves objectionable to the household generally. In such a case the admission fee, minus $3 per week board for the time spent in the home, is refunded. No one has been dismissed, and such a measure would be necessary only in very extreme cases. In fact, a beautiful spirit of friendliness prevails, and each resident does her best to assist in making the home a real home.
Research workers have recently discovered that the Spanish national hymn was composed by Frederick the Great.
Oscar Hammerstein’s new London opera house is now nearly completed. One incident in the scheme of decoration for the exterior is a model of the enterprising impresario’s own head.
It is announced that among the works left by the late Johan Svendsen is a complete music drama, written to a libretto by Hermann Bang. This work, it is reported, will be given in Copenhagen.
It seems a far cry to 1913, yet already we hear rumors of preparations being made in Germany for celebrations of the Wagner centenary, and in Italy for the Verdi centenary.
Musical Paris has of late been mainly concerning itself with commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Ambroise Thomas. One of the chief events at the opera in this connection is a performance of his Hamlet, with Mary Garden in the cast.
A memorial concert has been given in Berlin out of respect for Gustav Mahler, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic. At this concert the C minor symphony of Mahler’s was performed, and also his Das Klagender Lied.
Oscar H. Fried, a Berlin composer, is writing an opera which is to be called Christopher Columbus. This opera, however, is not to be the great American opera, as the action takes place in mid-ocean. Is it possible that Germany’s activity in naval matters is to lead to a modern “salt water school” of opera?
The “high cost of living” problem is making itself felt in Paris. Seats at the Opera Comique have gone up 10 per cent. except to subscribers, who won’t be asked to pay
more until next season. However, what with local food riots, and aviation meets, and the Moroccan troubles, Parisians are getting full value in excitement for their increased outlay in life.
Mascagni’s Isabeau is achieving a great success in South America. The premier of this opera was originally intended to take place in the United States, but Mascagni and his managers failed to come to an understanding. The work is to be given in Rome next January, and subsequently in London, Prague, Dresden, etc.
The following interesting sentence occurred in a recent novel by an English author of repute: “Hugo knew at once that she had been well taught … there were tones and fractions of tones, alluring gradations, due possibly to some remarkable conformation of the vocal chords, which brought tears to the eyes.” A peeled onion has the same effect, and what, oh what, is a fraction of a tone like?
An amusing story of Saint-Saëns, the veteran French composer, is going the rounds of Paris. A well-known hostess succeeded in persuading him to attend a dinner party she was giving in his honor on condition that he was permitted to return home at ten o’clock. On the evening in question she sent her son in her automobile to fetch him. Saint-Saëns was sitting at the piano in negligee, having entirely forgotten the engagement, but at once went upstairs to dress. Just as he was about to enter the auto, however, he exclaimed, “Sapristi! I have forgotten my toothbrush!” lie went back for it, returned and was soon whisked away to the home of his hostess. The son informed his mother of the toothbrush episode, and all through the evening they were both expecting him every moment to produce his toothbrush, or at least to make some excuse so that he could get away for the purpose of using it. Nothing happened, however. On the way home the son’s curiosity was so great that he could not refrain from asking the old man why he was obliged to bring his toothbrush with him. “Ah, my young friend,” replied Saint-Saëns, smiling, “that is very simple. The lock of my front door is very stiff, and it hurts my fingers to turn the key, so I pass the handle of my toothbrush through the head of the key and turn it in that way.”
An English musical writer by the name of Dr. E. Markham Lee has written a review of Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West in one of the minor English musical journals. Dr. Lee says, among other inane things, “This is the first of the Puccini operas which has had its ‘première’ in America.” (Pray tell us, Dr. Lee, what opera in the general operatic repertoire has had its “premiere” in England.) Our learned critic continues: “New Yorkers were mightily disappointed at not getting something which gave them a plentiful supply of coon songs and cake walks.” This of the audience which for years has supported the finest opera company in the world (according to many of the greatest critics of our times, including Busoni, Mahler, Mottl, Caruso, Schumann-Heink and Puccini himself—a company that aroused operatic Paris to the greatest heights of enthusiasm). This of the audience that for decades has heard the modern operatic works, in some cases years before they were produced in London. What American editor would print a statement representing that “Covent Garden audiences were too hungry for coster songs to appreciate a modern grand opera?” For the most part English criticism of American musical affairs has been extremely fair, even when it has been deservedly adverse. If Dr. Lee is trying to make himself ridiculous to the better educated and more traveled English musicians he could not have made a better start. What he has put into print under his name and the degree of so distinguished an institution as Cambridge is not only an exhibition of provincialism, but an absolute misstatement which even his obvious and strained efforts to be facetious cannot conceal. No, Dr. Lee, there are no wigwams on Broadway, and cowboys are not chasing buffaloes through Central Park.
Guilmant’s successor at the Paris Conservatoire has not been selected as yet. The choice will probably rest between Queef, Dalier, Vierne, Gigout or Bonnet—all of them leading contemporary French organists.
Dr. Hadow, a well-known English musical authority, is said to be responsible for the statement that every character in the Shakespeare plays, with the single exception of Hotspur, is made to sing. This doubtless refers to the principal characters.
A Bungert Society has recently been founded in Roumania for the purpose of creating a larger interest in Bungert’s works. Some may think that societies of this kind should be unnecessary, and that the composer’s own worth should be so pronounced that his works will require no promotion. August Bungert is known in America principally by his songs, one of which, Bettler Liebe, has become very popular. Bungert is now sixty-five years old, and, although a German, he has lived in Italy since 1882.
The Sociedad Beethoven of Santiago de Cuba is, judging from the many programs received, extremely active. Recently a concert was given commemorating the ninety-sixth birthday of Stephen Heller.
The choir of a church in England has threatened to go out on strike if the vicar persists in joining in the music. It seems that the vicar is possessed of a particularly strident voice which disturbs the other singers. Somebody suggested that the choir was made for the church, not the church for the choir. “The church is not a concert room, and it is better to have cacophonous music from a warm heart than the liveliest melodies from an icy cold one.” Personally, we like beautiful music to be well sung, but nevertheless we hope that in spite of choir the vicar will continue to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”—so long as it really is joyful.
George Bernard Shaw has been expressing his views on the subject of opera in English. As usual, his views are worth quoting. He declares that “So far as the public is concerned there is no resistance to the idea of having opera sung in English. Most people in London—and probably also in America— would be glad to understand opera. The resistance comes from the singers, who dislike the trouble of studying opera in a language to which they are unaccustomed. For it does take trouble. It is not easy to sing English. If they were told that they would not be engaged unless they did speak English, things would be different.”