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Extracts From The European Diary Of The Late Eugene Thayer, Mus. Doc. (Concluded.)

Memories of Moscheles. "January 13, 1886. I arrived in Leipzig this afternoon, and at five o'clock I went to see Moscheles who kept me until late, playing much to me. Although he is now seventy-one years old, he looks no older than forty or fifty, and he plays just as freshly as if he were twenty-five. It is really wonderful for a man so old! Did I not enjoy being with this artist who was for years the intimate companion of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin? This is a day worth remembering.
"From January 14th to the 21st I spent much time with Moscheles, and I do not know but I had better call myself a pupil of his. For he said that as I had not time to remain in Leipzig for study, he would play his thirty-six studies to me, and explain each one (each having a special purpose) to me, by which I think I have now all the technical part theoretically in full, and perhaps the future will allow me to develop it.
"Moscheles also played much else to me, particularly his concertos, and at last we played much Bach together.
"On January 18th I played the following program at the Thomas Kirche in Leipzig, at which church Bach was formerly cantor. Only the preacher and many of his pupils were there, he having a school of nearly seven hundred. (I enjoy playing to children.)
Great Prelude in B Minor - Bach.
Passacaglia - Bach.
Sonata in E-flat, No. 1 - Bach.
(a) "Ich ruf' zu dir" - Bach.
(b) Pastorale - Bach.
Toccata in F - Bach.
"My time from January 23d to February 1st was chiefly spent in Switzerland. I am enchanted with the wondrous beauty of its scenery, and here too is a republic. This little "yeast of freedom" will in time leaven the whole loaf of Europe.
"Berlin, February 12, 1866. I went with Wieprecht and took dinner with Ole Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist. Here is another man with the right kind of a soul for me!
"February 13. I was with Ole Bull twelve hours to-day. When he is dead they will see what a greathearted artist, scholar, and patriot he is. We understand each other.
"His improvisations, in three or four parts, perfectly legato, too, are not only marvelous technically, but are some of the greatest inspirations I have ever had; and this by the hour together, and always new! When he is dead they will not know what he improvised. 'Anyone can do possible things,' he says; 'be an artist, and do the impossible things.'
"The next day we went together to see dear old Wieprecht. On February 15th Ole Bull left very early for St. Petersburg.
"We said good-bye the night before, and what a heartfelt parting, both longing and hoping to meet again."
Copy of autograph letter of Ole Bull to Dr. Thayer: —
"Poughkeepsie, Oct. 24, 1868.
"Dear Friend:
"Every day since our last meeting in Worcester has had so much business in it as to delay my writing a few lines to you. First, the expression of the most affectionate greetings and cordial delight. Secondly, the inclosed remittance you will kindly accept.
"The piano is strung, and although not exactly as I wished to have it, will do I hope for a first experiment. It will be ready to be tested in a month, and in the meantime I am going to construct another to be ready about the same time.
"Which of these will prove to be the best experience only can tell. Now the power of resistance is about eighty thousand pounds, but I principally expect to reduce the weight and augment oscillation, especially as regards the crescendo power with the third pedal. If a failure, it will remain silent here; if not, I trust you will try and examine it and then give me your instructive opinion as to how to improve the faultative (sic) power as yet hidden in this principle. Some of the piano-makers who have seen it claim for it about six times the power of an ordinary grand. But I don't care for this, if only the quality and portamento is increased so as to multiply modulation.
"Please remember me to your parents, with the hope of seeing them in January in as excellent health and spirits as when we last visited them. And accept the best wishes for yourself and family from
"Ole Bull."
(The late Dr. Thayer had the honor of accompanying Ole Bull on the organ in several concerts given in Boston Music Hall in 1868 and 1869.
Among other interesting relics of a musical nature now in the possession of Dr. Thayer's family is a photograph of Ole Bull, on which he wrote, "To my esteemed friend, Eugene Thayer, Berlin, February, 1866." Another souvenir is a Norwegian cigar which Ole Bull personally presented to Dr. Thayer.)
"February 27, 1866. I reached England to-day after a tremendous passage on the North Sea. I at once went to Westminster Abbey to see Thurle (the organist) who was most kind to me. He showed me all through the church and Parliament Houses, etc. I stopped at the Langham Hotel.
"February 28. I played at the Abbey. There were several hundred there, all the choir and many musicians who kindly listened until the last note. This is the best 'ecclesiastical' organ I have ever seen.
"March 1. I visited old Mr. Hill, the organ-builder, and many others.
"March 2. I played the big organ in St. Paul's. Except that the soft registers are not quite so good as those of the Boston Music Hall organ, this is the most effective organ I ever saw. There were several hundred there, including Mr. Goss, the organist.
We gave the following program: —
Improvisation - Mr. Goss.
Mendelssohn Music - Mr. Goss.
Fugue in G Minor (Bach). - E. T.
Improvisation - E. T.
Fugue from Organ Sonata II (Thayer) - E. T.
Chromatic Fantasie (Thiele-Thayer) - E. T.
"March 6. I arrived in Leeds about eleven o'clock last evening, and this morning I went to see Dr. Spark, organist of the town hall. He received me very cordially, and the next day he played an hour to me on the great organ and then I played for awhile."
Copy of autograph letter of Dr. Spark to Dr. Thayer: —
"Springfield Villa, Leeds, March 8, 1866. "My Dear Sir:
"I have been writing away at 'The Lake,' and whilst a page is drying I just drop a line to say that I shall labor hard to get the piece finished in time for the early morning post and feel sure you will get it before you start for America on Saturday.
"If I cannot entirely finish the little work it shall be so left that you will find no difficulty in putting on the final stroke when you get home.
"If you get it all right before you start, just write so on an envelope, so that I may have the satisfaction of knowing that this little labor of love has not been in vain.
"Trusting you will find Mr. Best and hear the Liverpool organ, and with sincere wishes for a pleasant voyage home, believe me,
"Very truly yours,
"William Spark."
(This composition is now published by Ditson in Book III of the "Organ School," by Eugene Thayer The original manuscript is in the possession of his family.)
"March 9, 1866. I went to Liverpool and found Mr. Best, who invited me to take dinner with him. We sat down at 4 p.m. and finished our dinner at 2.30 a.m. He gave me a great many of his compositions and arrangements. The next day we went to St. George's Hall early. He played for some time, then I played until the very last minute before leaving for the boat, which in twelve days brought me home safely.
"For two days there was a tremendous storm. Two of us had congestion of the lungs; the other man died, but I reached home safely.
"God be praised!
"Eugene Thayer, Mus. Doc."
(Copied by Louise F. Thayer.)

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You are reading Extracts From The European Diary Of The Late Eugene Thayer, Mus. Doc. (Concluded.) from the March, 1904 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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