Page images


[ocr errors]

rian towns, to-wit, Nurembourg, and Munich, and perhaps also in the Tyrol, must have formerly attained to considerable development.

The second requisite, is the avoidance of all gen eralization-i. e., nothing should be advanced with regard to which the slightest doubt exists; and, in whereby persons are placed in a position to make case of uncertainty, the source should be mentioned, further enquiries into the matter, and are not induced to grant it a greater amount of credence than it really deserves. It is best to mention each label, or each date, in connection with the instrument from which it is quoted, and to give the external peculiarities, referring only to the instrument on which they are apparent, and not-as a well-known writer on musical subjects, who in this province must be read with caution, has often done; namely, constructed whole periods from one date or other, and observed in single instruments the particular tendencies evinced by a master during a whole life, or a succession of different periods.

An excellent preparation for a reliable history of the Italian violin manufacture would be found in a statistic of those of its productions which have been left to us-such as has already been commenced by M. Jules Gallay, of Paris. But, in such a case, the masters must be clearly denoted, and the external peculiarities of the instruments described in an unmistakeable manner.

After this digression, let us return to the historical sketch of our subject.

very expressive theme, and developed with ice, the Duiffoprugcars and Linarollos carrying on masterly continuity. Here the episodical mat- the trade throughout generations; and the period ter is everywhere of proportionate interest. during which the Amati labored in this field extendThe third movement, un poco allegretto e grazio-ed over a century and a half. Feside these, flourso (A flat), is built upon a quaint theme in five-ished the families of the Guarneri and Ruger, folbar measure, which might well pass for a lowed by the Guadagnini and Berganzi, each of national melody. This has a second part (in Brescia, we meet with the families of Maggini and which probably existed throughout a century. In B), which serves as alternativo, or "trio." The Zanetto; in Milan, of the Grancini, and Testore; in whole without being very original, or in other Venice, of the Novellos, Tononi, and Gofriller: respects remarkable, is extremely pretty, and, while, in Naples, the Gagliani have continued to together with the andante which precedes it, exist from the 17th century to the present day-latforms an agreeable resting place between the terly, however, only as string manufacturers. first and last sections of the work. The finale, Upon the tickets which they were in the habit of believed to have been written years later than affixing to their productions, it was not uncommon the other portions of the symphony, is unques- for them to give their genealogy; thus-N. N., the tionably the most striking of the four move- son (grandson, or nephew,) of N. N. In this manments into which it is divided. The exact ner, Nicholas Amati, for instance, carries his gene meaning of the long introduction, in the minor alogy back to his grandfather. Often the native key, with its pizzicato passages for stringed in-town was named; and it was customary to mention struments, we are not as yet able to estimate at be referred to Cremona, and to Nicholas Amati, or the master, or the school-more especially if it could its value: but from the very commencement of the allegro, in the major, with its broad and Straduarius. Sometimes the names of firms, such as Antonius and Hieronymus Amati ; Fratelli Granample theme, first given out by the stringed cini, are met with. Through such remarks, and the instruments, attention is arrested, and interest mention of name, place, and date, these tickets begoes on increasing, step by step, to the end. came a most important-nay, in most cases, the onThe second theme is happily contrasted with ly source for obtaining the history of this interest the first; and the various episodical phrases are ing branch of art; but, unfortunately, their use is t. The movement is long, but its in- rendered difficult by the fact that trickery has of. terest never for an instant flags. It may le ten been resorted to, whereby genuine instruments urged, that we are too often led in the course of fron which the proper ticket's have been removed, It was but natural that the violin manufacture. this finale to expect climaxes never actually at- are provided with false ones, while spurious speci- which had acquired such importance in Italy, should tained; but we seldom miss finding recompense mens are furnished with genuine tickets. Experi- exert an influence upon other countries. Whether ence and caution are therefore necessary to avoid Jacob Stainer (born 1621, died 1683), the celebrated in something new; and when we reach the much desired peroration it answers all expecta- libraries of musical societies, should regard it as a The directors, etc., of museums, and of the master of Absarn, near Innsbruck, served his apprentions by its splendor. The coda, where the duty to assist the investigation, by securing, at evticeship at Cremona, as was formerly asserted, must, after the thorough researches of his latest biographtime is increased to "più allegro," is glorious, ery opportunity, exact copies of genuine labels. ers, remain undecided. He was unable to withdraw and brings to a triumphant end a great, though A more certain source would be opened up in the himself from the influence of the Amati, as his— unequal, work. We have reminiscences here registers of births, marriages, and deaths. At pre- truly but seldom genuine-works (imitations, bear and there, it is true, of the theme upon which sent, this source has only been made use of with re- ing the name of his firm, particularly from the old the finale of Beethoven's Choral Symphony is gard to the Amati, Straduari, and Guarneri, through Mettenwalder manufactory, are circulated by hunconstructed, and of much of the contrapuntal the unwearying efforts of J. B. Vuillaume, who hasdreds), show. He went to greater extremes in the working out of the last movement in Mozart's regarded it as a pious duty towards his illustrious curve of the breasts than was justified by the modso styled "Jupiter;" but the entire structure models; and by S. Ruf, who is to be accredited with el of Nicholas Amati, whereby his instruments acis not the less substantial and consistent. If similar researches respecting Stainer. quired a peculiar from the Italian-widely differenthusiasts for Brahms would not persist in In the case then of these masters, connoisseurs are ing quality of tone, more resembling that of a flute "Here is a finale to be placed side by ments dating from a time when the makers were no longer likely to be deceived by labels of instru- than of strings-which, however, was not wanting saying " side with the finale of Beethoven's C minor, either dead or not yet born, or were still boys at tion, although at the present day it finds no favor in beauty, and formerly enjoyed general appreciaand that of Mozart's Jupiter," the work of school. Such anachronisms occurred repeatedly in with artists. But in his works may be traced an Brahms might fairly claim the highest consid- the announcements for the Vienna Exhibition. Ev-independency of procedure. He understood how to eration on its own account, as something large- en Spohr dated the demise of Straduarius at about render the effect of these coarser curves milder by ly conceived and effectively accomplished. We forty years later than the actual time; consequent- a suitable thinnesss of the parts; and, further, to have hinted that the performance was excel- ly, as, according to Vuillaume's researches, his birth give the violin model a certain original individuallent; and the applause which Mr. Manns had took place in the year 1644, he must have attained ity, by the perfect accordance of all its parts. But to acknowledge at its conclusion showed plain, to the age of nearly one hundred and forty years! for all that, his imitators—and among the Germans ly how the audience were of the same opinion. It were to be wished that such "historical disinfec- he had many-seized now upon this, now upon that That the symphony in C minor will hold a per- tion" could be extended to the remaining represen- detail, partly following up new ideas; and so led manent place in the Crystal Palace programmes- tatives of the Italian violin manufacture; the histo- the violin manufacture in Germany into bye-paths. cannot admit of a doubt. The bright and sym-ry of this department would then soon secure a metrically built overture to Cherubini's Faniska strong foundation. Again, in the family of Guada gnini, the existence of a certain Joannes Baptista opened the concert, which was brought to an end by the pretty ballet airs from M. Gounod's stated to have lived in the eightieth year of the last was considered as proved beyond doubt; he was Reine de Sala. The vocalists were Miss Emily century; but the fact was overlooked, that, a hun: Thornton (her first appearance), who, in songs dred years earlier, a Joannes Baptista Guadagnini by Mozart and Benedict, made a favorable im- worked independently; and that consequently there pression, and Mr. Edward Lloyd, who gave must have been at least two masters bearing that Mozart's "Dalla sua pace" and Mr. Sullivan's The active life of Alexander Mezzadrie, of ballad, "Sometimes," in his most finished style. Ferrara, was fixed between the years 1690 and 1710; A young pianist, Miss Dora Schirmacher, but genuine instruments of his make, with genuine played Mendelssohn's second concerto (D) with labels dating from the year 1616, are still in existso much spirit and intelligence that she may be said to have made her position at once. Miss Schirmacher has an elastic touch, a legitimate tone, and great fluency of execution. If she continues to study with earnestness she has every chance of winning a prominent position in her art. The audience recalled her with enthusiasm.

[merged small][ocr errors]


ence. Errors of this, and similar kinds—of which
many instances might be mentioned, pass from one
criticism has not yet been brought to bear upon the
work to another, because the searching light of

recommend themselves. The first of these consists
To root them out, there are two methods which
in the examination of church-registers, and of such
trade-registers as are still in existence. This is a
task for clergymen, communal officers, keepers of
archives, and local historians.

On the preparation for the Vienna Exhibition, I
had, already, this and similar objects in view. The
Italian Government was to have been petitioned to
national duty of Italy to throw more light upon a
give the impulse-for it must be regarded as the
branch of art in which it attained to the highest
rank. To the Germans may be recommended a sim-
ilar procedure, with regard to the names of native
artists, who, as we shall see hereafter, introduced
the violin manufacture into Italy. Particularly
should their attention be turned to the history of
German lute manufacture, which, in several Bava.


After Stainer's time, we find-if the labels do not deceive us-Germans established in Cremona; for From

instance, the two Pfretzshners, and Fricker.
the inscriptions upon violins, we also learn that the
Germans at Cremona produced formal tests of mas-
tership. David Techier, in Rome, Hans Mann, in
Naples, and the three Gofriller (Gottfried!), in
Venice, were Germans.
family of Ruger was of German descent is question-
able, seeing that the name Ruger is there likewise


Whether the illustrious

On the other hand, Italian violin makers settled in foreign countries. With the Albini, they pushed Others settled in London, Paris, Lyons, and Barceforward their outposts towards Bozen and Gratz. lona. Even in Constantinople, there lived, at the who, however, was sufficiently acute to take into end of the 17th century, an Italian violin-maker, consideration the Oriental taste, when decorating

his instruments.

As everything in this life, so the classical period of violin manufacture came to a close. Enigmati cal, like its beginning, but still more sudden, was Its decline. Neither for the one nor the other have we sufficient grounds for explanation. Without observing a corresponding progress in the art of violin playing, we find the masters from whom the epoch of violin manufacture dates, progressing to ever greater perfection. After the Duiffoprugcars, Amati, Straduari, and Guarneri, came slowly limping Baltazarini, Corelli, Tartini, and Viotri; and from the moment when violin virtuosity reached its zenith, hardly a trace is left of Italian violin manufacture. It would seem that the power of its rep

resentatives ceased immediately on the attainment of the long sought for ideal. After Straduari and Guarneri, it still continued for a time to assert itself under several of their pupils, and contemporaries; but, in the ands of the immediate successors of these latter, its degeneration became more and more apparent; and, before long, the manufacture had entirely vanished. Peculiarly enough, a foreigner -the Frenchman, Michel Decouet, concluded the period which had been commenced by Germans. The hypothesis, that the violin manufacture in Italy was founded by Germans, I have already advanced in an article in the Vienna Presse, of the 27th October, 1872, (reprinted in the Gazetta di Venezia, on the 11th April, 1873). Since that time, no facts have reached me which militate against it; but, rather, such as strengthen it. The following are, in brief, the grounds upon which it is based.

The new volume which has just been finished in the history of the Gewandhaus will surely compare favorably with any of its predecessors, both as to quality and quantity; every, even the highest, expectation has been realized. An idea of the activity of the Gewandhaus will be conveyed by the following: The programmes of the season embraced 22 symphonies, 21 overtures, 19 concertos, and 12 arias with orchestral accompaniment, 6 choral compositions, 23 songs and 19 instrumental


At all

sic in order to gauge, in any exact measure, the truth of their musical expression. This fact could not but influence Schumann, who found in it precisely that which was congenial to his intellectual mood. Although fond of composing descriptive music and of allowing himself to be guided by the influence of external things, he was, perhaps more than any other, a subjective musician. events, he appears at his best when, having withdrawn, so to speak, within himself, he communes Of symphonies were performed 7, all but the first and with his own thoughts. With a characteristic such second, of Beethoven; the four of Schumann, both of as this, it is no wonder Schumann fastened upon the Schubert's, two each of Haydn and Mozart. Brahms, poetry of Goethe, which afforded him such matter Raff. Goldmark, Götze and Jadassohn were each repre- for musical meditation. No wonder, either, that sented by a new symphony. The composers represent- he commented upon it in the language of his art ed, alphabetically arranged. were: Auer, Bach, Beetho- with reference to nothing but absolute faithfulness ven, Brahms, Brassin, Bruch, Cherubini, Chopin, David, of expression, as that was by him understood. Davidoff, Ernst, Franız, Gade, Gluck, Götze. Grieg, HanHerein we have a clue to much in the Faust music del, Haydn. Hoffmann, Hinrichs, Jadassohn, Lalo, Liszt, which could never have been written with the simLöwe, Marschner, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Pop-ple object of pleasing the public ear. Number after per, Raff, Reinecke, Reissiger, Rheinberger, Richter, number, like the allied text, requires to be read Rossini Rubinstein, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Schumann, again and again, and looked at from divers points Speydel, Spohr, Tartini, Tschaykowski, Vieuxtemps, of view, before its meaning and appositeness become Volkmann. Weber, Wieniawski and Wagner. The solo- evident, and, as the public generally are not disists were the violini ts: Joachim, Auer, DeAhna, Saras-posed to take so much trouble, it will be some time Lefore Schumann's work is received into favor. The musician, of course, finds much in it, as in everything from the same pen, worthy admiration, an! there are portions so beautiful even to the casual listener, that he can hardly refuse to hear the whole again and again. If, therefore, exuberant enthusi asm was not aroused on Thursday night, the Phil. harmonic directors need not despair of adding the Faust music to their permanent repertory. It will bear hearing-and, mayhap, find an increasing number of hearers-time after time. The performance, conducted by Mr. W. G. Cusins, scarcely did justice to its subject, but sufficed to convey a generClara Schumann is far beyond all praise. To hear her becomes more familiar, its interpretation will doubtal idea of the composer's intention. As the theme interpret her husband's dreamy music is to be thrilled and touched to the core. Her playing has that wonder-commended, were Mesdames Osgood. Mary Davies, less improve. The soloists, who may generally be fully sympathetic power which will hold her audience Duval, Irene Ware, Bolingbroke, Steel, and Reispellbound from the moment she begins until she ceases mar; Messrs. Guy, Wadmore, and Pope. playing.

ate. Sauret and Schradieck.

Pianists-Clara Schumann, Door, Reinecke, Nissen-
Lie, Brassen, Emery and Schirmacher.

Peschka-Leutner, Schi

A mustering of instruments at the chateau of Count Lobkowitz, Eisenberg, brought to light sev eral old lutes. Two of these, of fine worknianship, have the inscription-" Laux Maler," (Lucas Maler, the " Amati of lutes," in 1415, at Bologna); a third, to all appearance of similar date, the name of "Marx Unverdorben a Venetia." The establishment in Italy of these undoubted German lute-makers, shows that at this period the profession was either not native, or did not occupy a like high position with that in Germany, where, in the 15th century, Jo hann Ott, and Hans Frei-the father-in-law of Al-mon-Regan. Hill, Henschel and Bulss. brecht Dürer-and the family, Gerle, all of Nurembourg, had attained to celebrity as lute-makers. With late-making, the manufacture of bow instruments has much in common. The most celebrated Italian violin-makers—for instance, Gaspar da Salo, and Stradivarius-did not disdain to manufacture lutes; while, before them, in addition to lutes, Dardelli and the Linarollos made violas; and Duiffo prugcar, violas and violins. Indeed, there was an instrument which served to link together the two species, viz., the bow-lyre (lire d'arco). In Germany, as long as the lute remained in use, we have evidence that its manufacture was always associated with that of violins, constituting a single profession; as, even at the present day, occasional trade nomenclature shows. In France, there is no other name for the violin-maker than "luthier," which word evidently bears reference to the lute, (luthe), period, Is it then unlikely that these old German lute makers, Lucas Maler, of Bologna, and Marx Unverdor. ben, of Venice, together with the later Magno Steg her, of Venice (a German. Tyrolese-the name oc

Violoncellists-Schröder and Klengel.

On two occasions was the Gewandhaus all aglow with enthusiasm: when Clara Schumann, the wife of the great Robert Schumann, like one inspired, played her husband's A Minor Concerto, and when Johannes Brahms (the same of whom Schumann so prophetically and beautifully speaks in his "Musik and Musiker" introduced in person his new symphony in C minor.

Brahms, with his grand work, took the audience by storm and enthroned himself victoriously for all times (?) to come. His great success is all the more remarkable, the Gewandhaus being, as many of your readers may know, decidedly conservative in its tendency.

Two other notable events were the appearances of Jo

achim. the king of violinists. and Reinecke, who, as a

Other important features in this concert were Sterndale Bennett's charming overture, Pa ·isina ; Beethoven's "Choral Fantasia," played, as to the pianoforte solo, by Miss Agnes Zimmermann in her usual correct and musicianly style; and the everwelcome overture to Der Freischütz. Mrs. Osgood sang the Death song from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde in such a manner as to win hearty commendShe is an artist capable of interpreting Wagner aright, and this may have had something to do with an encore that could hardly have arisen from admiration of a scena which, however faithfully it may express the emotion of the words in the con

curs in other German districts, with the orthograpy. pianist, has perhaps but one (?) superior in Rubinstein, |ation even from those who least like the music.

Stöger), one of whose lutes, apparently of the time of Duiffoprugcar, I met with at the Monastery of the Augustines, Neustift, near Brixen-also manufactured violins ?

Certainly not a very hazardous conclusion. But

while as a Mozart player he has no equal.

I do not wish to conclude without having made special mention of Capellmeister Reinecke and his able concertmeister. Röntgen, two noble artists, who, the former since 1861, the latter since David's death, stand at the

even if we argue solely with regard to the produc. / head of the orchestra. The laurel wreath which crowned sciousness of the composer, is certainly not beau

tion of violins, we shall be equally successful in finding a German origin.

The, as yet, oldest known violin and viola makers, are Kerlino, Dardelli, and Duiffoprugcar. To these may now be added the hitherto unknown master, Johannes Andreas, of Verona, a viola of whose make

bearing the date 1511, I found in the Archducal Museum, Modena, at Vienna. Although a splendid specimen, its form is too grotesque to admit of the maker whose family name still remains unknown -being ranked, by reason of this single instrument, with the professional string instrument makers. Among the above named, only Dardelli may be considered an Italian. He is believed to have lived in Mantua, about the year 1500, and to have manufac tured, in addition to lutes, violas of the old description. We find no mention of him whatever as a maker of the violin proper; and, as a monk-he is called Padre Dardelli-he appears to have followed the art more as an amateur. The two others, Kerlino and Duiffoprugcar, are of German nationality.

[To be Continued.]

The Gewandhaus Concerts at Leipzig. [Correspondence of the Philada. Evening Bulletin.] LEIPZIG, March 26th, 1877.-The musical season may now be considered about closed. The last of the twentyone Gewandhaus concerts was given last Thursday evening, and as the hall, so rich and almost sacred with its memories of Mendelssohn and Schumann, was slowly being vacated, while the last chord of the wonderful seventh symphony in A, of Beethoven, was still lingering in the souls of the listeners, an attentive observer might have read gratitude and pleasure in the faces of every

one of them.

the conductor's stand last Thursday honored the receiv-tiful.
er not less than the giver.

Music in London.

PHILHARMONIC CONCERTS. Good service was done at the concert given on Thursday night by the production-first time in England-of the third part of Schumann's music to Goethe's Faust. The accomplishment of this work, Professor Macfarren tells us, seems to have been an object of Schumann's ambition for many years. It is difficult, however, to reconcile ardor in the task with the fitful manner of its discharge and the long time that intervened between the beginning and end of the labor. Schumann's original idea was obviously limited to setting only the last scene of the second part of the tragedy, and this he began to carry out in 1844, finishing in 1848, between which time and 1853, when the overture was written, he added music to the various scenes that make up Parts 1 and 2. When com pleted, the whole was produced at Dresden, and, according to Professor Macfarren, "acknowledged as a masterpiece by the musical world of Germany, many persons declaring that they, for the first time, understood the Faust of Goethe through the music of Schumann." The verdict so promptly given may be in all respects true, but the time is certainly not ripe for the popularity of the work. Two reasons are assignable for this:-first, as regards the portion heard on Thursday night, the mystical nature of the poetic theme, which presents little of the clearness and definiteness that make up the grand essential of verse intended for musical illustration. Dramatic power being absent, moreover, the interest of the words lies almost entirely in the profundity of their meaning-a profundity so great that there is need to consider them apart from mu

-London Musical World, March 31.

D. T.

JOACHIM'S ELEGIAC OVERTURE. Writing on the Crystal Palace concert of March 17th, the Sunday Times thus refers to Herr Joachim's new overture:

"The most important amongst these works was the overture which Herr Joachim wrote for his Cambridge Exercise' on the occasion of receiving his diploma. It is dedicated to the memory of the patriotic poet, Herr Heinrich von Kleist, whose unhappy career and self-sought death are familiar events in the annals of German history; but it is not to be considered in any way as a piece of programme music. Indeed, as the writer in the Cambridge programmes appositely states- The title of the composition sets forth, in some sort, its purpose; but in some sort only, for the overture aims not to depict the circumstances of the poet's life in whose honor it is written, not even to picture, through the most free mediums of expression, his character as an artist, a patriot, and a sufferer; it is designed as an utterance of the composer's sympathy with a man whose genius and whose fate won his love and his reverence.' It is difficult to gauge such a work as this by ordinary art forms, inasmuch as the incidents which instigated its production might well lead an author into involuntary departure from canonical rule, for the better representation of his ideas. Herr Joachim (whose name we would prefix with his new titular denomination of Dr.,' if we thought any more dignity would accrue to it) is too firm an upholder of legitimacy in art, however, to be betrayed into any semblance of error and exaggeration; his overture may, therefore, be taken as a model of form and at the same time a master

piece of true emotional expression. The beauty of
the ideas, no less than their complete earnestness
and remarkable continuity, entitle the work to rank
with chefs-d'œuvre written on a similar plan. There
is infinite technical skill displayed in the evolution
and working out of the component parts; but Herr
Joachim is no pedant, and never wilfully indulges
in intricate combinations merely to show that he
has all the resources a musician can need at com-
mand. Grace, subtlety, and a certain idyllic charm
not easily expressed in words, are to be found in
this Elegiac' overture, but the tenderness and sym-
pathetic quality of certain passages are lit up by
Occasional flashes of passionate energy and true
martial fire. Notwithstanding the gloomy subject
on which the overture is founded, it is neither som-
bre in character nor heavy in treatment, but per-
vaded by a certain sweetness of sentiment irresisti
bly touching and infinitely attractive. There is no
necessity to say that the orchestra is handled with
the facility of a musician conversant with all its ca-
pabilities-Herr Joachim's character as an instru-
mental writer being already established on too firm
a footing. Cambridge ought to feel prond of hav-
ing caused the production of Herr Joachim's over-
ture; it is true that Alma Mater paid for it with a
degree, but the price was none too high."

[ocr errors]

major (No. 2) cannot be imagined. It was the per-
fection of skill and taste. Other concerted pieces in
the programme were Beethoven's magnificent Quar-
tet in E flat (Op. 74), played by MM. Joachiin, Ries.
Zerbini, and Piatti; and Nos. 5, 6, and 7 of Brahms'
Hungarian Dances, as arranged by Joachim for vi-
olin and pianoforte. In the hands of the arranger,
with Miss Krebs at the pianoforte, these pretty tri-
fles were safe; and with them the Popular Concert
season came to a delightful end. The vocalists
were Malle. Redeker, Friedländer, and Sophie Löwe,
all of whom gave satisfaction, the first two being
specially successful in Rubinstein's lovely duet,
"Der Engel."
Sir Julius Benedict conducted.

stage appointments. That is a terrible form of ad-
mission, according to our iden; for if that be really
the character of Wagner's music he cannot rank ev-
kind will be inferior enough, and will never need
en as a third-rate composer. The best in such a
industry will suffice.
or ask the assistance of genius, where talents and

Looking at "Die Walküre" itself more simply we must say that, while it shows its composer's theory in what we regard as its naked baldness and vileness, it also shows the author's great intellectual power, his learning, culture, force of character, and immense grasp of mind. The orchestral effects are just wonderful, and the variety of beautiful forms, the intricate harmonic combinations effected for the instruments, and the tremendous fulness of the orchestral climaxes, are beyond description, and sometimes almost beyond praise. The highest dra matic power can never be reached, we conceive, with such barrenness of vocal combination, but it is marvellous how so much can be attained with the

appliances that are used. The love scene between Siegmund and Sieglinde abounds especially in thrilling passages, and the music in which the lover speaks of spring and its suggestions is exquisitely idyllic and romantic too,—a combination not easily effected. Of course, there are many grand passages suitable for broad, sustained declamation, and of these the most remarkable is Brünnhilde's appeal to it is a fascinating fragment of a great imaginative Wotan after she has been left alone to face his wrath. The story is grim and bloody enough, but eloquent directness and power. The whole opera poem, and the libretto, as usual. is written with music, viz., that which accompanies Wolan's invo concludes with its most brilliant and captivating ing sense of weariness with the discussion and to a also, we shall not attempt to analyze in detail. That doubt of its immediate usefulness. The work itself cation of Loge “the fire god," and which was made familiar to us at Mr. Thomas's concerts two seasons task has already been performed with quite suffi- . The "Ride of the Walkvries" also has a wild, cient minuteness by our own correspondents at fantastic power, which it is not easy to gainsay or Bayreuth and by those of other newspapers; and reList. has been carefully acrutinized, both from the litera"Die Walküre," as well as the rest of the trilogy, and the musical points of view.

Die Walkuere in Boston. [From the Daily Advertiser, April 17.] Boston has had its first hearing of Wagner's "Die Walküre." If a verdict had been asked of the weary throng as it was leaving the theatre at half-past eleven o'clock last night, Richard Wagner, and his trilogy and his theories would have fallen under one sweeping condemnation. This morning, we are aware, things will be different; the Wagnerites will have girded up their loins anew and found their tongues once more; the half converted will have THE POPULAR CONCERTS. The nineteenth season forgotten their fatigue and distress, and again be of these concerts ended on Monday, with the usual admiration; in a word, everything and everybody almost persuaded to swell the fashionable chorus of "Director's Benefit," which, we are happy to say, was a bumper, the hall being crowded in every will be ready for a fierce renewal of the endless part. Thus does Mr. S. Arthur Chappell go on warfare of words concerning the great German and reaping the deserved reward of enterprise and per-cused just at present, confessing to an overwhelm his music. But for ourselves we must beg to be exseverance as well as of faithfulness to a lofty ideal. Let no one remark here that all these qualities are easy of exercise when the tide of success runs strong. The proposition is, in the abstract, perfectly true; but there was a time when the Popular Concerts were almost aground in low water-when classical chamber music was not "popular," and when its presentation year after year demanded important sacrifices, together with no common faith in eventual good fortune. It is for gallantly sticking to his ship under such circumstances that present success takes the form of a special act of justice, and becomes a source of unalloyed gratification to all who desire the progress of music. Moreover, the lesson it conveys is worth having at a time when so many enterprises are begun only to be abandoned after a feeble struggle. By perseverance," said Dr. Johnson, "the quarry becomes a pyramid," and we all grant the truth of his remark. Nevertheless, it is well to have the pyramid, and the hole out of which it arose, often before one's eyes.


The programme, as customary on these occasions, was of extra length, the artists were numerous, and the works performed of recognized attraction. Indeed, the character of the representations made it resemble the "artists' concert," which, in Germany, so agreeably winds up musical festivals, each leading performer having the choice of a solo for the exhibition of his own special powers. Thus, Mime. Schumann was heard in the "Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes," entitled "Carnaval," written in 1834 by her famous husband. Strictly speaking, we should say that the distinguished lady played only a selection from these fanciful effusions, the ability with which she interpreted those chosen making us the more regret that any were passed over. all their beauty was set forth will be assumed; but That not often, perhaps, has Mdme. Schumann thrown so much vigor or rhythmic power into the "March of the Davidsbündler against the Philistines." She was twice called back to receive enthusiastic applause. Miss Marie Krebs contributed a novelty at these concerts in the shape of three studies from the set of twelve, known as Chopin's Op. 25. Such charming examples of the Polish musician's fancy required no more than the help of Mdlle. Krebs's nimble fingers and sparkling style to be at once taken on the list of favorites by all, if any, who had not before made their acquaintance. artist, like her more experienced countrywoman, The young earned the thanks of her audience, warmly expressed. Dr. Joachim's solo was the prelude and fugue by Bach in G minor, which on former occasions had served him as cheval de bataille. How he played it we need not tell, since the labor would be as superfluous as a description of the manner in which his performance was received. Worthy of association with the Hungarian master's effort was that of Signor Piatti in Nos. 1, 2, and 4 of Schumann's "Stücke im Volkston," for violoncello and pianoforte (Mdme. Schumann). Anything more exquisite than this artist's singing of the melody in F

We shall offer this morning only a few general
comments upon the work, with a statement of two
by single scenes.
or three of the more vivid impressions produced
Our readers will scarcely need


The performance was open to a good deal of severe criticism; but in view of the appalling diffi culties of the work we cannot find it in our heart to be minutely severe. Madame Pappenheim's Brünnhilde was fine in action and magnificent in song, wanting only the highest imaginative grace on the histrionic side to be entirely satisfying. The artiste also looked the character grandly, and the pleasure of beholding her in her shield and helinet Madame Pauline Canissa as Sieglind and of Mr. was one of the chief delights of the evening. Of Bischoff as Siegmund about the same things are to zealous that it was a great pity they had neither be said; that they were exceedingly earnest and so voice nor presence to fill their parts properly. Mr. dignified and intense; but he had not the requisite Blum gave a careful and on the whole a strong performance of Hunding. Mr. Preusser as Wotan was which the character demanded. The eight ladies who appeared as Valkyries sang their difficult muforce of voice or action, or the majesty of presence, great deal of such singing from all the principals sic roughly and inharmoniously, and there was a except Madame Pappenheim throughout the evening. Not a great deal was attempted in the way of The optical effects were well enough, and the ap scenery, and for this we beg to express our thanks. proach of the daughters of Wotan on the clouds was certainly not ridiculous, but the introduction

of Brünnhilde's steed was foolish and tame in the


and its fellows are the last and most complete utto be reminded, we suppose, that "Die Walküre terances of their author's theory of composition. The imperfections, vocal, scenic and orchestral, in pleasure of the listener much below what he would last night's performances of course reduced the have received from a Bayreuth interpretation. But will suffice to give any listener who has been blest in spite of all faults, the representation of last night with a particle of analytic power some idea of the scope and purpose of Wagner's latest style of music, and some notion, if he will but deal honestly with himself, of his own relation to and enjoyment of such music. After listening to "Die Walküre," whether for him recitative has worthily superseded one certainly ought to begin to make up his mind all other forms of musical expression, and whether symmetrical melody or tune is merely a useless and tra or the voices in an opera are to do the chief vacuous invention of the past: wether the orches work of accompanying; whether the charm of vo cal harmony ought to be utterly denied,-giving wild, Larbaric choral screams of Brünnhilde and himself the benefit of an exception in favor of the dialogue, where each voice in turn and alone winds her sisters, and almost a whole work made up of through intricate mazes of recitative; whether-to condense our last clause-the world of beauty, sub-ments was opened last night with the long-promised Mr. Fryer's second series of Wagner entertainlimity and power, the possibility of effective climax and the capacity of intense expression given to vo"Die Walküre," which was witnessed by a faircal concerted music is to be discarded in opera as a sized house, not as large as one would have expect merely worthless thing. We ask the can lid read tainly cannot be denied that the event was imported from the importance of the event. For it cerer to consider these matters once more-these and ant, whatever value one may set upon the theories in the lurid light shed by this work, and to make the hundred other thoughts which they suggest which the opera involves. There is no possible longevity of the new style of operatic composition. matured, stiffened and dogmatized. We confess to answer as to the worth and beauty and probable shown himself in "full blow," with his sentiments reason for denying that in this work Wagner has whom we must hold responsible for a recent leader a confused feeling. One may easily understand that The accomplished musical critic of the Tribune, turning away from the opera with a saddened and waives for the sake of argument all other modes of confused, undefined sensations; as to the sad feeling, in that paper on the subject of Wagner's music, the first hearing of such a work necessarily leaves defending that music, and-moved by the flagrant it was perhaps the result of the aforesaid indistinctfaults in the performances which were the occasion of the essay and which he felt would cloud the composer's fame with his auditors in New York-sug gests that Wagner may be the inventor and chief producer of a kind of music which is only capable of producing great effects when it is illustrated by or itself illustrates magnificent scenery and perfect


[From the Globe, April 17.]

towards extremes may do things which, even if But Wagner did not appear to us in his most they are startling, are commendable for their enviable light. A man who is only verging originality or freshness; but when a man has drift. ed into irredeemable radicalism, without hope of On promise or reclaim, that man rather disgusts

[From the Evening Gazette, April 21.]


ner has carried his extreme theories of art. Here
With the

sober-minded men, as a specimen of what one's en- er, who is an addition to the list of good, but not of thusiasm may do when uncurbed. Herr Wagner brilliant singers. Had she a voice somewhat strong is radical beyond hope of recall; but he seems like er, or the same voice under a trifle better control, one who fritters away splendid opportunities in or- she could sing more firmly; but aside from the der to show to what extent his vagaries may reach. quality in which it lacked, the voice was agreeable, If this seems uncharitable, it has its root in the per- and was used with fluency. Mme. Canissa is rathformance of "Die Walküre" last night. Notwith- er a stiff actress, but her honest endeavors make up standing our inability to form a judgment on the for what would otherwise be less excusable. Of the first hearing, we may at least record our impres- men, it is needless to say anything individually. sions, and they were not pleasant. The work, as a They all sang carefully, faithfully, and with intenwhole, seemed like a very desert-like expanse in sity, though they did fail somewhat in accuracy. the realm of music, with only an occasional oasis. Their acting was fair, Of the Walkyres the less With a splendid, almost incomparable mastery of said is perhaps easiest. They sang some very try. instrumentation, Wagner has for the most part giving music, and sang some music very tryingly. en over the score to the production of weird and They sang other music better, but as a whole they discordant effects, or, if not discordant, at least in only half performed an almost thankless task. The tellectually unmelodious. The most pleasing parts orchestra, enthusiastically led by Mr. Neuendorff, are the recurring themes which are made to signify did some capital work-and sonie that was rough impersonations of the different characters; yet and coarse. The stage setting was good, and the these seem hardly as marked or as effective as in clouds, fire, etc., well managed. The effect might "Lohengrin," for instance. In the vocal parts there have been heightened by lowering the light in the are little phrases now and then of rare loveliness, auditorium. but there is so much that is hard, dry and uncom promising that one is liable to forget the pleasing passages. The great difficulty of expressing godlike feelings in human phraseology may account for it in some measure, and the vaulting ambition of the composer may explain the rest, especially the outrageously high notes which grace, or disgrace, some of the solo parts. The combined effect of instrumentation and vocal parts is to make one wish that the tone painting and the rich "form" of the author might have been used largely, and not dis carded so recklessly. Yet we quite agree with those who found much in the opera to enjoy, and can easily unite in lauding the grandiose, if deafening, results of some phrases, and the fierce, life-like energy that found vent oftentimes in the most "real" sort of music. This ought to atone for any thing which we have said in a seemingly detractive spirit; and we will frankly confess that with a more perfect and a larger orchestra, and with all the accessories provided at Bayreuth, we can imagine that the work would have sounded more like the music that "the future," which has become the pres ent, should at least defer to if not accept. The plan of the work is too long to be given in detail, but in few words it may thus be stated. Siegmund and Sieglinde are twin children of Wotan by an earthly mother. They are separated in their youth and meet at the opening of the opera, where Siegmund has come to the cottage of Hunding, the husband of Sieglinde. The two men are found to be enemies, but Hunding promises his guest a peace ful night, challenging him to mortal combat at dawn. During the night the brother and sister discover their relationship by the ability of Siegmund to pull from an ash tree supporting the roof a sword imbedded to the hilt, some years before, by Wotan, then unknown to the mortals before whom he did the deed. Wotan proposes to defend Siegmund in the fight, and summons Brünnhilde for the purpose, but desists through the demand of his wife, Fricka, who looks with dislike upon the separation of Sieglinde from her husband. Brünnhilde finds sufficient cause, in admiration for Siegmund, whom she in vain warns of the result of the battle and summons to Walhalla to protect him. But Wotan appears against her and Siegmund is slain; while Hunding is frightened to death at seeing Wotan after the battle. Brünnhilde is alarmed at having defied her father, and he condemns her to sleep till awakened by a man whom, as her husband, she should serve. He accedes to her request, however, and surrounds her with a circle of fire, that he who approaches her should be a hero worthy of


To speak of the singing as a whole we should say much that is pleasant. We will say at once that we can readily allow a place to the shortcomings, in view of the extremely high range of much of the music. As when here before, we noticed among the singers that tendency to explosiveness and that frequency of false intonation which is not pleasant, and which seriously blemishes the work of artists. Mme. Pappenheim retained the impression she al ready had made, that of a singer whose mind and soul are both in her work, and who strives zealous. ly to give an intelligent impersonation. If her stage presence has not that vitality and sprightliness which one could wish, it certainly has much in every way to commend, and positively nothing to offend. In her difficult work she sustained her part exceedingly well, and, taking into account the amount of singing she has done for the last few weeks, she keeps her voice remarkably clear, strong, pure and sympathetic. Mme. Canissa is a new com

performances of the opera-much better. In fact, er operas of the week! We have assisted at better this representation was, on the whole, a very weak one, but it was impossible to place the composer entirely under a cloud. His effulgence would break through the heaviest gloom by which he could be surrounded. Here we had perfection of form, instead of the suggestion of an indistinct outline. Here, too, we had melody, or perhaps it would be better to say tune, since Wagner claims that his endless recitatives are also melody. Here was no lack of dramatic effect, either; nothing that made one passion and expression to his music-had not colfeel that the composer had not given the proper ored it appropriately, even though he did resort to simple means. Scenery, costumes, mechanical e. fects, were not necessary to make his meaning plainer. Were this opera played in a barn, with the barn-door mounted on trestles for a stage, and a sheet hung up for a scene, it would afford intelligent and intelligible enjoyment, interpreted by conscientious artists, even if not of the best quality. That is because it is music, symmetrical, inspired, melodious. How would Wagner's "Die Walkuere" stand the same test? It would prove insufferable. That is because it is unsymmetrical, uninspired, unmelodious. It may be claimed that Wagner having written his music with a view to scenic effect, with a view to appeal to the eye as well as to the ear, we have no right to put it to a trial he never contem plated. To some extent such a claim would be just, in which the music is to be judged by itself. Wagbut we must then class Wagner's operas as scenic dramas, with descriptive music, and not as operas ner may have created a new species of musical entertainment, which may possibly bear the test of time, but he has not caused one bar of "Fidelio " to appear weak, antiquated or ineffective; he has not aroused one wish to hear how he would treat the same subject.

There was not a very large audience, at which we were somewhat surprised, for we believed that curiosity, at least, would have attracted a crowded house. Those who stayed away, however, have no nothing except learning the extent to which Wag reason to reproach themselves, for they missed he has ridden his hobby-horse to death. exception of a love duet in the first act, which is an exquisite conception exquisitely carried out, the opthe artists did but scant justice to the composer, era is rampant jargon. It is barely possible that and that the orchestra was not all that it should have been; but, surely, the performance was careful It has been urged that Beethoven was as much and conscientious enough to permit whatever was abused for his departure from old forms in “Fidelio" striking in the work to be seen, if through a glass as Wagner has been for his heresies in "Die Wal darkly. With the exception we have named, we discovered nothing but a vague attempt to repre- that day comes Beethoven will have been forgotten; kuere," and that the day may come when Wagner will be received as Beethoven has been. When sent by music that which cannot be so represented. the chief merit of music will become monotony, and It was insufferably tiresome and yawn-provoking music from the soul will have given way to music Doubtless many will find manifold intellectual beauties in it, but to us the whole seemed like a horrid from the head-dry, mechanical, mathematical mu night-mare, giving rise to painful suspense, provok- sic, about as attractive to any but scientists as a ing to the patience, unlovely, unmeaning. Of catalogue of fossil remains found in a chalk bed. course, it goes without saying that there were num. berless superb orchestral and harmonic effects, but these alone do not constitute music. It may be said that a single hearing is not sufficient for the proper understanding and appreciation of such a composition; but while there is so much noble music already in existence that will better repay study, we are not prepared to devote ourselves to finding out the minute meanings of music which, even when heard at its best and thoroughly understood, cannot give satisfaction proportionate to the labor necessary to a comprehension of its composer's vagaries of thought and of execution. Therefore, not understanding this music, and finding it impossible to understand it, we shall refrain from criticizing it, beyond placing upon record that, with the exception of the solitary duet in the first act, it struck us as hideous, brutal, uninteresting and extravagant. We have never been so thoroughly bored, so completely dispirited, so exasperated by waiting for that which never came, as we were in listening to this opera. It may possibly be fine music; great music; noble music, worthy to take the place hith erto usurped by such old fashioned and wrong principled works as "Don Giovanni" and Fidelio;" but, to our ears, it did not seem music at all, but an incomprehensible gibberish, a mad jangling of tones, a pompous burlesque upon all that is grand and pure in true art. One need not go so far as " Die Walküre" to find the supernatural fitly painted in the orchestra. The "Incantation Scene" in Freyschütz" far surpasses the much-lauded of the Walkyres." All that Wagner has dons is to carry Weber's wild and weird ideas one step further, and in doing so he has not improved upon his model, but has become extravagantly grotesque. We might have been more deeply impressed had the scenic display been upon a grander scale; but we set little value upon that music which needs either such adjuncts or a running commentary descriptive of the composer's meaning.


[ocr errors]


66 Ride

We were not perplexed on Thursday night to understand Beethoven's "Fidelio.' What a blissful relief it was, after the bombast, the noise, the feverish unquiet, the struggling for bizarre original ity, the sentimentalism, that distinguished the earli

Of the performances of "Die Walkuere" and of "Fidelio we may speak in the same terms of general praise we bestowed upon this company on its former visit here, reserving now as then our warmest commendation for the orchestra and its able and energetic leader, Mr. Neuendorff. This gentleman vouchsafed us one of the most vigorous, most cleancut and most inspiring renderings of the "Leonora❞ overture, No. 3, we have ever heard. Madame Pappenheim enacted Leonora with fine dramatic power, but the strain to which her voice had been put by the Wagner music she had been singing showed but too plainly, especially in the middle register. She sang, however, with rare intelligence, and acted with a strength and an intensity that alin her vocal efforts. She achieved a great triumph most atoned for the painful labor that was apparent in the Prison scene, and was deservedly applauded to the echo. Madame Canissa sang the music of Marcellina understandingly, and acted with spirit and force. Mr. Preusser interpreted Don Pizarro with the vigor and the intelligence he has shown in all of these performances. As Rocco, Mr. Franosch showed a perfect comprehension of the spirit of the part, and a full knowledge of its music; but he sang shockingly out of tune, and nearly ruined the concerted numbers in which he was interested. Mr. Fritsch manifested a keen sympathy with the music of Florestan, which he sang sweetly and with fervent conscientiousness. His acting was not so good, though it was lacking nothing in earnestness. Mr. William Formes gave a dignified presentation of Don Fernando, and sang exceedingly well. The choral work was all excellently done, the "Prisoner's Chorus" receiving a remarkably fine interpre


(From the Sunday Courier.)

However, much praise is due to Mr. Fryer and Mr. Neuendorff for their zeal, and devotion to their task, it cannot but be overbalanced by the blame due to them for undertaking such a task, one so far beyond their powers. As Carlyle says: "To be weak is not so shameful: but to be weaker than our task!" It was by no means absolutely necessary

Dwight's Journal of Music.

BOSTON, APRIL 28, 1877.

that the Walküre should be given at all. If Wag. The listener's imagination, assisted by his knowl
ner's Ring des Nibelungen has lasting merit in it, edge of what artistic ends the work strives to ac
there is no need of being in a hurry about perform-complish, would have aided him in forming an ade-
ing it; but if it is to be performed at all, either in quate appreciation of its merits, and have led him
whole or in part, we do absolutely owe it to Herr to a correct comprehension of it. But the work was
Wagner that the performance should give at least wholly new, even the style of the work was new
an approximately adequate idea of the work. To and unaccustomed, so that the audience could only
say that Mr. Fryer's troupe did this would be the judge from what they actually heard and saw. Let
sheerest flattery. Even accounting such things as me say again that much praise is due to all con-
mise-en-scene and mere scenic get-up as unimport. cerned for their efforts towards realizing the ideal
ant accessories (which they are not), the perform- they strove after; they are only to be blamed for
ances were inadequate. No thinking person can attempting what there was no reasonable hope of
wonder at the well-nigh distracted state of mind in their being able to accomplish.
which most of the audience came away from the
WILLIAM F. Apthorp.
Walküre. Just imagine the idea of Shakspeare's
Hamlet that a man would form if he made his first
Acquaintance with it through the medium of a per-
formance by Mr. Frver's troupe! The parallel is
not a forced one. With the exception of Madame
Pappenheim, Mr. Fryer's artists are exactly as ca-
pable of acting Hamlet satisfactorily as they are of
giving the Walküre. The misconceptions of what German Opera.-Wagner.-Beethoven.
is required of performers by Wagner, that are cur
Manager Fryer's first week of Wagner Opera
rent among us, are positively astounding. To be
lieve many of our critics, it would seem as if the or- (" Fliegender Holländer," "Tannhäuser" and "Lo-
chestra were the central point, the be-all and end- hengrin ") was so successful that he was induced to
all of Wagner opera. On the contrary, the singing. return to the Boston Theatre last week and give ns
the actors themselves are the central point of inter-
a specimen of the Wagnerian “Music Drama" prop-
est. It is the greatest mistake to imagine that the
long pauses in the dramatic action, that cast such a er-the "latest form of infidelity" in Music. (Herr
damper upon the performances of last week, were Tappert may put that in his Wagner Lexicon if he
intended by Wagner merely for the sake of giving pleases.) This was the second of the four dramas
prominence to certain bits of fine orchestral writing.
Wagner would have no pauses in the dramatic ac- which, with the prelude, "Rheingold," compose the
tion at all. If the actors have nothing to sing, they Niebelung Trilogy that made all the world famil-
must still continue to act, the orchestra accompany-iar with the name of Bayreuth. It was Die Wal-
ing their action the while; their pantomime must
küre," and it was presented twice (on Monday and
be of the most vividly expressive kind, so expres
sive that the orchestra shall seem only the indispen- Wednesday evenings),—also the first act alone on
sable accompaniment to it, and not anything to Friday night, when the greatest audience of the sea
claim particular attention for itself. With Wagner
son were disappointed in the promise of Fidelio.
nothing ever happens in the orchestra unless it is
The announcement of Beethoven's masterpiece did
justified and conditioned by something happening
simultaneously on the stage. Now what are we to not improve the chances of the Walküre. Set
think of a performance in which the actors, when down at first for Friday, it was found to be so much
not actually singing are for the most part looking in the hearts and the desire of Boston music lovers,
point blank at the conductor and palpably counting that many reserved themselves for that, compara-
their bars? It is no slur upon Mr. Fryer's singers
to say that they were for the most part utterly in- tively indifferent to more of Wagner, and such was
competent. They are singers, not actors. Mr. Ed. the demand for seats, that it was concluded to an-
win Booth would be no more out of place if he at- ticipate and give Fidelio also on Thursday to ac
tempted the part of Pollione in Norma than Mr.
comodate the "overflow." There was also a single
Bischoff was in attempting the part of Siegmund.
Even if Mr. Fryer's singers had been capable of do- performance (on Tuesday evening) of Lohengrin,
ing justice to the mere music of their parts (which decidedly the most popular, so far, of the Wagner
they were not), only one, almost secondary, element works.
in the performances would have been what it should
have been. No, without going further into detail,
the performances of the Walküre were most regret-
able. Instead of showing us Wagner as he is, they
have done more than the most mistaken treatises,

the most absurd criticisms-than mere silence even,

could have done towards muddling and perverting our notions of the great poet-composer. Wagner writes music upon a dramatic, not a musical basis. But in the performance of the Walküre, in which there was neither musical form, nor dramatic basis, what else could be described save utter chaos? I am induced to speak thus strongly, simply from my intense admiration of the Walküre, as a work. It was more than thoughtless and rash, it was lament ably wanting in all due reverence, almost æsthetically criminal, to have attempted performing so great a work as the Walküre, in so new and unaccustomed a style, and hence so liable to be misunderstood, with means so necessarily inadequate. It was paying no honor to Wagner, doing him no service, only adding confusion to our already confused and distorted notions of his art-theories and his genius. Of course there were excellencies in the performance; the orchestra played unusually well, Madame Pappenheim shone so royally above her companions that she can only be spoken of with admiration, and there was also much to commend in M. Preusser's Wotan, and Mr. Blum's Hunding. But taking the performances as a whole especially as attempts to realize Wagner's ideal of the Musical Drama, the safest path lies in the direction of sorrowful silence-because the real gist of the work, the prominence of the dramatic element, and the cooperation of the music with the acting-in which cooperation the music, both vocal and instrumental, should always play the secondary, accompanying part was lost. If our public had been familiar with the Walküre, and even been familiar with the class of musical drama of which the Walküre is one of the finest examples, it would have been different.



[ocr errors]

The fact of a dull and disappointed audience was as we have stated.-with the exception of a very few admirers (whose admiration possibly may be accounted for without accepting Wagner's theories or his transcendent genius as a musical creator), a few more who were curiously interested, and a few who stand systematically committed to the innovation on the score of "progress," bound to accept it now with reverence and trust and great joy in fu turo. These last, very naturally, charge the failure mainly to shortcomings in the performance,-and partly to the ignorance or the insensibility of an unregenerate public. (It was not insensible to the beauty, the transcendent genius, the consummate Art, the profound humanity and pathos, the power which we all feel to be divine, in Beethoven's Fidelio!). Undoubtedly the performance was immeasurably below the Bayreuth standard. The outward accessories, the scenery and stage effects, on which so much of the charm depended there, were wanting here. Nor, with the single exception of Mme. PAPPENHEIM, had we any very superior singers or actThe orchestra alone, under the sure and vigorous lead of Herr NEUENDORFF, was excellent; but not placed out of sight, down in that "mystical abyss" where the harsh, coarse noise of brass could be subdued and blended to the mysterious imaginative swell and die away of the Bayreuthian Œolian harp.-As on their former visit, singers, orchestra and all are to be credited with earnest, conscientious effort, and with the German heartiness" with which they threw themselves into an ungracious task beyond their means. Mme. Pappenheim, as singer and as actress, steadily grew in favor; she has the large expressive voice, the commanding presence, the effective musical declamation, and the endurance, for the exacting part of Brunnhilde; she could plead for Siegmund with a fervor and an eloquence that might have satisfied the poet-composer himself. Mme. CANISSA acts well, as of old, and sang all faithfully, distinctly, and with certainty, to say the least, Herr BISCHOFF, the tenor, sang the music of Siegmund-the one part blessed with any finite melody-with sentiment and pathos, but lacked ease and self-possesion as an actor, and the imposing The Walküre, reported so successful in New York, stature for the heroic Volsung, in both of which reattracted but small audiences here, on the first spects he might well have been replaced by Herr night especially. And never have we sat in an in- BLUM, the baritone, who looked and declaimed so telligent assembly which appeared more puzzled, grandly in the stern character of Hunding. Herr bored, and wearied out by the great length (four PREUSSER sang the part of Wotan quite effectively, hours), as well as by the strangeness, heaviness and while in figure and appearance there was little sugdullness alike of the dramatic characters and plot, gestive of the All Father except the traditional the music, and much of the performance, in spite of blinder over one eye. The eight Walkyrie maidmuch that was adequate and brilliant. Indeed the middle act cost such a depressing exercise of pa-ering after battle on the rocks, shouting and screamens (of all ages), in their famous "Ride" and gath tience, that many could hold out no longer and went home, thereby losing what is undoubtedly the best part of the work, the scene between Wotan and Brünnhilde, where the god surrounds his favorite but disobedient Walkürie daughter ("Wunschmädchen," "Schildmädchen," or what not) with fire; this, could one come in to it afresh, would probably reveal some noble recitative (not so utterly unlike that of older masters), and certainly declaimed with noble dignity and passion by Frau PAPPENHEIM, whose whole impersonation of Brünnhilde was of commanding power and beauty. Many also found delight in the moonlight love-song and dialogue between Siegmund and Sieglinde in the first act, which has something like a melody; to our feeling it gives a suggestion of great beauty, but not quite the satisfactory assurance; the studied accom. paniment, with its peculiar rhythm (triplets mutually adhesive, syncopated) was to us cloying and unclear and morbid; so that when its characteristic phrase or motive kept returning afterwards in one or another instrument, we grew sick of its sweetness. But we anticipate.

ing their “ho-jo-to-hos,” on intervals purposely dis cordant (of the major triad, with the octave, and sharp fifth !) made all we had ever kown of discord musical and sweet by contrast, keeping up the shrill witches' sabbath for some ten minutes with an intensity, which seemed to indicate that the point was to reach the last extremity of remoteness from all

human musical relatedness of tones, that thereby we might conceive what wild, wonderful, poetic creatures in the mind of Wagner these Walkyries were. Yes, "wild" is the word with the admirers: and surely we have no disposition to gainsay its fitness.

But after making all allowance for the imperfect reproduction on our stage, it is in Wagner's own production that we find the secret of its failure to interest our audience. It does not require a perfect performance to reveal the genius, the beauty of a great work of musical or musico dramatic Art. Fi delio was but indifferently well-some would say very badly-performed, and yet the audience were delighted and inspired by it. It is easy to name several reasons, found in the work itself, to show why it never could interest an audience very deeply, except when given under very exceptional cir

« PreviousContinue »