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Editorials

Open House

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep “Open House” on New Year’s day and meet every one of the friends who, by their enthusiasm and loyalty, have contributed such great success to our work. We would like to meet every one of you and shake you by the hand, and thank you for your liberal support through the years. As this is impossible we are making the most of it by writing this hand-shaking editorial. Gracious! we have just been making a little estimate of how long it would take us to greet and shake hands with each Etude reader, if all passed through our Etude headquarters here in a procession eight hours each day. It would take over four hundred days and then there wouldn’t be any Etude. Ha! Ha! Nevertheless, we still wish that we could say to you all personally,

Happy New Year.

 


The Moszkowski Tribute

“I cannot tell you how much your altruism touches me.” Thus writes M. Philipp in a letter acknowledging the receipt of a draft remitting various contributions which have been received at this office in behalf of his friend, the afflicted Maurice Moszkowski, in Paris.

As the letters have been coming in we have felt a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the magnificent bond that exists between The Etude and its readers. Americans are famous for their generosity, but there have been so many appeals during the last seven years that each new one seems like an added straw to the burden.

However, there was a particular appeal about the case of Moszkowski. Here was a very great genius stricken down by fate and made penniless by the war. Surely the musical people, big and small, would not stand by and permit at this day a repe­tition of the tragedies of Mozart and Schubert, when out of their opulence they might help. The appeal will never come again, and it may not be needed, very long as Moszkowski is reported to be beyond medical skill.

Rudolf Ganz, Director of the St. Louis Orchestra, was fortunate in securing the subscriptions of many at the outstart, but M. Moszkowski’s protracted illness required expen­sive medical attendance and nursing, which made it necessary to make additional appeals. We shall furnish Mr. Ganz with a complete account of moneys directly forwarded to Moszkow­ski by The Etude, in order that there may be a definite state­ment in his hands when required. Meanwhile make checks paya­ble to The Etude, marked distinctly “For the Moszkowski Fund.”

We were fortunate in securing a number of cards which we printed with a small portrait of Moszkowski, and which were signed by the great composer when his strength permitted. We have a few of these left, and, as long as they last will send one to each person sending one dollar, or more, to the Moszkow­ski tribute fund. If the number of tributes is greater than the number of cards received, the editor personally agrees to secure the autograph of some other distinguished musician, (pianist, composer, conductor, singer or violinist) in recognition of this gift from some Etude reader, for him to keep as a me­mento. The selection of the artist to sign the card remains with us.

Just play over the Serenata, the Spanish Dances, the Grand Valse, the Moment Musicals, Etincelles or any one of the great numbers of Moszkowski’s masterpieces—think what he has given to the Art for all time, then give what you can and God bless you.

 

The Opera Season

The opera season is now in full swing. The trouble with opera in America is that it does not swing far enough. Let us say that the great opera houses of New York and Chicago hold five thousand auditors at each performance. This ad­mitted, it must be clear that only about 60,000 people a week can see these performances, with every seat sold, or about one-half of one per cent of our great population. That is the rea­son why The Etude has taken such an interest in the work of Fortune Gallo and his San Carlo Opera company, and other traveling companies which play for protracted seasons in our cities. In this way a great deal of excellent opera gets around our vast country. More than this, seats for your family do not cost the price of a new suit of clothes.

Yet, were it not for the talking machine, only a very small fraction of the music of opera would ever be heard. In a repre­sentative book on opera there are one hundred and ninety works described as those commanding present day interest. An opera company attempting to keep in repertoire forty operas in one season is undertaking a very great task. Most of the smaller companies are limited to about a score at the most.

Why don’t we have a revival of interest in pianoforte ar­rangements of the operas? Twenty-five years ago the musical education was not considered complete unless the pupil knew two or three operas. Then came a fad for discarding every­thing except music specifically written for the piano. What a pity! Some of the old operatic arrangements preserved many delightful melodies which the present generation might learn with profit. What difference does it make if they were origi­nally written for the voice or for the orchestra?

In Europe the demand for simplified piano arrangements of operatic melodies still exists, and is cultivated in some coun­tries. It seems to us that the advent of the talking machine and the opportunity to study these melodies, as the singers sing them, should make the playing of them on the pianoforte even more interesting than ever. The editor has “a lot of fun” in playing piano scores of operas old and new.

 

Music and the Call of the Wild

Undoubtedly the greatest inspiration of the masters has been love and nature. Love is a matter of the individual. Na­ture is open to everybody. Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann, MacDowell, all fell strongly under this appeal. However, nature alone does not make for music without the genius to sense the greatness of the everlasting hills and the mighty waters. If it did Switzerland would be the foremost of musi­cal lands. However, the sensitive composer feels the absence of beautiful natural inspiration at all times. Schumann, when he went to Leipzig, which was somewhat unfortunate in its natural surroundings, did not hesitate to put this into words:

“I arrived here last Thursday quite well if in melancholy mood, and, with the feeling of my academic dignity and citizen­ship, entered for the first time the great, widespread city, into stirring life and the world at large. And now, having been here for some days, I feel quite well if not quite happy, and long with all my heart to be back in the greater peace of home, where I was born, and spent happy days with nature. Nature, where shall I find her here? Everything disfigured by art—not a valley, not a hill, not a wood where I can abandon myself to my thoughts—no place where I can be alone except my bolted room, with everlasting noise and racket below. This is what makes me dissatisfied.”

 

The Musician’s Breeding

“Why are musicians so terribly ill bred?”

This was the expression of a lady who prided herself upon being in what is indefinitely described as “Society” in one of the large eastern cities. She had just witnessed a dance player at a wedding putting away food with less grace and more speed than an automatic stoker. If the lady had thought for a mo­ment she would have realized that this particular musician was very probably the son of a European peasant, who, doubtless, ate with far less regard for the conventions of table etiquette.

The truth is that musicians of all classes are very likely to be better bred than corresponding workers of different grades of social evolution in corresponding classes. Musicians have re­fined tendencies and they have in their circles somewhat better opportunities for observing what good breeding means. Indeed, as they ascend the scale they realize more and more that the men and women at the top cannot remain there in communica­tion with educated men and women of good manners unless they are well bred.

What is meant by being well bred? Lord Chesterfield gives a good definition in his two hundredth letter to his son. “Good breeding is the result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them.”

Really, good breeding is nothing more than a sincere desire to behave in a manner that will not be offensive to any other well bred man. It is based upon consideration for his sensibilities. It is ill bred to eat with one’s knife not merely because it is in the mores not to do so, but because it is uncom­fortable to see one of one’s fellow beings trying to commit hari kari on his countenance. It is ill bred to leave one’s spoon in one’s cup because no one at the table likes to witness his companion putting an eye in jeopardy. It is ill bred to inter­rupt or distract the attention when others are talking, because thereby agreeable conversation is abolished.

We have been thinking over the musicians we know in dif­ferent stations in life. We believe that on the whole they are most excellent examples of gentility in the highest sense.

 

Worn out Musical Brains

Donizetti, Schumann, Wolf, MacDowell, Smetana, all passed into the great beyond with their minds veiled from the world in which they had played such important roles. What­ever may have been the verdict of the pathologist it is not im­probable that the immense load of brain activity which they forced themselves to carry had much to do with their tragic ends.

The music life is like a mighty current. Its enthusiasts find themselves carried down the stream of their artistic en­thusiasm by a force so great that only the most powerful can survive. If the composer is satisfied to wade in calmer waters he knows that his artistic results will be proportionate. It is the mighty struggle, the terrific fight of man with the psychic and cosmic forces of the age in which he is working that pro­duces the great master. Many of our composers have been un­willing or unable to fight the great fight, to make the soul sacri­fices which will raise them from the ordinary to the sublime. Others have paid the price but lacking the Urgewalt, the original strength, have failed. It is a great existence if you triumph, but a pitiful tragedy if you fail. A few reach the heights before the mind gives out as did Wolf, MacDowell and Schumann. Others survive to old age. Others are cast up on the rocks of misfortune, battered, bleeding and ex­hausted before the game is half way over. The joy is in the fighting, in the struggle.

Yet, the man who is battering his way in the whirlpool and finds the signs of exhaustion coming upon him is mad unless he stops to rest his mind and gather new strength for the greater struggle to come.

 

Vanishing Musical Motifs

What a pity that with the conveniences of modern urban life we should sacrifice the color and music that made our cities of yesterday so distinctive and so interesting. The child of to­morrow will open his eyes with wonder when you tell him of the street cries of all manner of venders. Little is left now but the discordant yawp of the news-boy, the nasal whine of a few old ragmen and the song of the scissors grinder. In days gone by these very cries furnished the composer with motifs of great interest; they formed a literature in itself. Charpentier in Louise has attempted to revive the spirit of Paris by introducing them. In Old England, Orlando Gibbons and others turned them into what were known as “Fancies” which were very popu­lar in their day.

Sir Frederick Bridge in an address before the Musical As­sociation of London, gives a partial catalogue of some of the old cries. It is most interesting.

“There were thirteen different cries for fish, eighteen for fruit, eleven for vegetables, thirteen for articles of clothing, fourteen for household articles, fourteen for different kinds of food, nine tradesmen’s cries, and six for liquors and herbs. In addition to these there were nineteen tradesmen’s songs, begging songs for prisoners and Bedlam, and five watchmen’s songs.”

 


A fair idea of the musical interest in America one hundred years ago may be made when we learn that in 1829 it is estimated that pianos valued at $750,000 were manufactured here in that year.



 

What Vaudeville has Done for Music

Few musicians credit the importance of good music in vaudeville. A third of a century ago vaudeville was known as Variety. It not only lacked respectability in most cases, but harbored coarseness and vulgarity. Horrible caricatures of Irish, German, Jewish, Dutch and other alien arrivals upon our shores, objectionable songs, questionable jokes, tawdry acro­bats, breakdown dances and a whole atmosphere of crudeness, rowdyism and often broad indecency made up the program. The reformer came in the person of B. F. Keith, who with his lieutenant E. F. Albee (now the general manager) con­tributed a very new and enormously successful form of enter­tainment in which millions of respectable people have, with their families, participated with real delight.

Formerly the Variety show was so odious that it was pat­ronized almost exclusively by those who cared little for their standing in the community. Now the Keith interests celebrate their anniversary week in Washington by having three Presi­dents, past and present, Taft, Wilson and Harding as their guests at the theatre.

As a part of the new vaudeville scheme it has been one of the great mediums for bringing fine music to the average citi­zen. Many of the famous singers and players from Calve and Bispham to Carrie Jacobs Bond and Henri Scott have been heard twice a day by thousands who might never have heard them otherwise. Bessie Abbott, Rosa Ponselle and Orville Harold, all Metropolitan stars, were actually products of vaudeville. Mr. Harry T. Jordan, manager of the big “million dollar” Keith theatre in Philadelphia once told the writer, “We do not put on important musical acts for missionary reasons, we do it because the public really wants to hear the best music by the best artists, and it pays us to have the best.” It is not surprising, therefore, upon the occasion of the thirty-third anniversary of the Keith enterprises, that a coterie of musicians including Gatti-Casazza, Galli Curci, Walter Damrosch, John Philip Sousa, and many other notables sent congratulatory tele­grams. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have thus been spent for bringing good music to the general public. The Etude gladly adds its congratulations. The more demand there is for good music in vaudeville, the more the managers will respond.

 

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