[Vol. XLI, no. 1051]
Dwight’s Musical Journal
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1881.
This is the last appearance of the Journal of Music which has so long borne our name. For needed rest, as well as to gain time for the solution of certain practical problems (out of which however, nothing has yet come), this post mortem number (so to speak, considering how many obituary eulogies and lessons it has called forth) has been delayed beyond our original intention. In the last number (July 16) we frankly gave the reasons for the discontinuance: namely, ‘that the paper does not pay, ‘but actually entails a loss upon it editor, and that said editor, conscious of his own shortcomings, is heartily weary of the struggle to keep the thing alive within such economical limits as render it impossible to make such a journal as he has desired.
The truth is, we have for some time been convinced that there is not in this country now, and never has been, any adequate demand or support for a musical journal of the highest tone and character. The last experiment of any praise, the Musical Review, established in New York less than three years ago, was unable to complete its second year. The musical papers that live and flourish financially are those that serve the interests of music trade and manufacture, and which abound in endless columns of insignificant three- line items of intelligence or news; the slang term “newsy” is a description which they covet. A journal which devotes itself to art for art’s sake, and strives to serve the ends of real culture, however earnestly and ably, gets praise and compliment, but not support.
Besides, such is the spirit of competition, that the moment a paper seems to be beginning to succeed, instead of concentrating forces upon it to build it up to self-sustaining strength, others, roused by its example, start some new and rival enterprise, dividing the support which might have gone to one really good, important journal, or to two or three good ones. When we began in 1852, there were barely three or four musical journals in this country. Now they count by the hundred, almost every important music-dealer publishing his own organ.
Again, when we began, musical literature of any consequence, in the English language, was extremely meagre. We had to translate largely from the German and the French, to furnish valuable matter for our readers. All this is changed. Musical writers, criticisms, biographies, histories, analyses of great musical works, abound. Especially has the attention paid to music in the daily and weekly press increased of late, while in their quality the newspaper criticisms show a very marked improvement. Musical journals as such, therefore, such as may have been indispensable to culture and the public taste some years ago, now naturally seem almost superfluous. So long as the average music-loving, or music-curious, citizen can read the notice of the last night’s concert, fresh and early, as he takes his buckwheats, smoking hot, over his breakfast-table, he is not apt to trouble himself to look into a specialist paper once or twice a month to keep him up to the true pitch of opinion. Of course it is useless for a slow, fortnightly journal, limited to eight pages, to compete with the daily newspaper in its speciality of news.
Then, too, there is no putting out of sight the fact, that the great themes for discussion, criticism, literary exposition and description, which inspired us in this journal’s prime, the master- works and character and meaning of the immortal ones like Bach and Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and the rest, although they cannot be exhausted, yet inevitably lose the charm of novelty. We have said our say about them all so often, and so fully, have preached so many sermons on these glorious texts, that it is hard to find anything new to say. What more can one write, for instance, about the five and sixtieth Christmas performance of the Messiah?—except to compare the singers, or to criticise the execution, and those are matters of but momentary consequence. In a few years it will be the same with the Passion Music of Bach. The thoughts we then insisted on from inmost conviction, with a zeal for inciting others to seek, and helping others to appreciate the divine power and beauty and great meaning of those inspired art creations, are now become the common property of all the world. Of course we never owned them, but we felt them and endeavored, somewhat successfully within a narrow, slowly widening circle to make others feel their truth. All true thought, truly stated, inevitably crumbles in the course of time into the smallest current coin. Lacking the genius to make the old seem new, we candidly confess that what now challenges the world as new in music fails to stir us to the same depths of soul and feeling that the old masters did and doubtless always will. Startling as the new composers are, and novel, curious, brilliant, beautiful at times, they do not inspire us as we have been inspired before, and do not bring us nearer heaven (in fact “the other place” is where some of them seem most at home!) We feel no inward call to the proclaiming of the new gospel. We have tried to do justice to these works as they have claimed our notice, and have omitted no intelligence of them which came within the limits of our columns, but we lack motive for entering their doubtful service; we are not ordained their prophet. If these had been enthroned the Dii majores of the musical Olympus, and there had been no greater gods: if the contributions of the past thirty years to musical production were the whole of music, we never should have dreamed of establishing a musical journal, nor would Music have been able to seduce us from other paths, in which, by persevering, we night possibly have done more good. It may be all a prejudice; perhaps we are one- sided; perhaps too steady contemplation of the glory of the great age has seared our eyeballs for the modern splendors; but we prefer to leave these and their advocacy to “whom it may concern.” Doubtless here is one secret of much of the indifference to this journal: the “disciples of the newness” feel that it has not been in sympathy with what they would call the new musical spirit of the times, and innocent inquirers take the cue from them. But we revenge ourselves with pointing to the unmistakable fact, that in the concert-giving experience of to-day, at least in Boston, the prurient appetite for novelty (new fashions) seems to have reached its first stage of satiety, and that programmes must in the main be classical to secure good audiences in the long run. If we in any humble way have helped to bring about this good result, we may at least feel that our labor has not been entirely thrown away.
But whatever may have been the causes of our failure to make this journal what it should be, we are disposed to find them mostly in the editor himself. We cannot endorse the too kind suggestion of the sympathizing writer in the Springfield Republican, that Boston, or that the musical public anywhere, has been “ungrateful” to us. Surely we can complain of no “ingratitude” on the part of the press; its treatment has been almost uniformly generous and appreciative; witness the “obituaries” we have copied, not omitting frank and honest strictures on our course. We have long realized that we were not made for the competitive, sharp enterprise of modern journalism. That turn of mind which looks at the ideal rather than the practicable, and the native indolence of temperament which sometimes goes with it, have made our movements slow. Hurry who will, we rather wait and take our chance. The work which could not be done at leisure, and in disregard of all immediate effect, we have been too apt to feel was hardly worth the doing. To be first in the field with an announcement, or a criticism, or an idea, was no part of our ambition; how can one recognize competitors, or enter into competition, and at the same time keep his eye upon the truth? If one have anything worth saying, will it not be as good to-morrow as to-day? A poor qualification for the journalistic scramble of this year 1881! Indeed we cannot scramble. And, far from making any boast of it, we must accuse ourself of great omissions and procrastinations not in accordance with the modern idea of an editor, even in the quiet field of Art. Yet somehow we feel that we have performed a considerable amount of labor, such as it was, in our day.
One of our frank contemporaries, whom we copy elsewhere, says that this has never been a “peoples’” paper. Yes, you have us there. To be a tribune of the people, in your sense, we never felt to be our mission. Non omnia possumus omnes. We do not believe in writing down to people. We have been perhaps too sensitively unwilling to insult the popular intelligence by thinking anything too good — any thought, or view of Art, or any music — for the average listener or reader. “State the best that there is in you and the great world will come round to you;” that, in effect, is the Emersonian maxim which has saved many an ingenuous young mind from renouncing its birthright. The few, the most appreciative (and they are not always the most technically prepared ones) must be reached first; what these see, feel and approve, will surely make its way to wider and wider acceptance. This at least has been the lesson of our life. Now if you begin with trying to ingratiate the general mass, “the people,” you are in danger either of talking baby talk to them, or of turning your art journal into a musical primer and A B C book, or of chopping everything up into that poor mincemeat (too often dogs’ meat) of small paragraphs and items, which so abound in many musical papers, and which catch the idle eye, but do not inform the mind; or of running into petty personalities, which may “spice” a paper, while they sink its dignity; or finally, you fall into the temptation of always striving after and proclaiming the exceptional, when wholesome daily bread is the thing most wanted. On this point we make our own confession without shame. In the lower stages of culture, the people, especially we Americans, are easily stirred up to “seek a sign,” to be on the qui vive for every so-called “big thing.” World’s fairs are on the brain, and threaten us so frequently that the exceptional spreads over all, and there is no room, time or thought left for the common. It tends to be all mountain with no valleys; all excitement, no repose; all exception and no rule. In music, too, we have our monster festivals and Peace Jubilees, each seeking to surpass the other by its unprecedented scale of magnitude, as if the measure of value were mere size. We have borne our share of satire and rebuke in times past for our cold response to such appeals. We think the world shows signs of coming round to our unpopular way of thinking. And we congratulate our Boston, at least, that she has outgrown such childish ambitions, and has settled down upon regular triennial oratorio festivals (like those of Birmingham and the Rhine cities), within the limits of artistic taste and common-sense.
It only remains for us to return our heartfelt thanks to our faithful and able contributors and correspondents, with all of whom it has been a labor of love, a service of sincere devotion to the good cause in music, to help us make the Journal useful and attractive. Some of these have stood by us from the first and proved themselves true friends. The same may be said of many of our subscribers. On their account especially it makes us sad to feel that the little bark, which they have helped so long to keep afloat, cheering our loneliness in the long work, must now go down before reaching the end of its thirtieth annual voyage. They have not the comfort, which we shall have, of a great sense of rest and freedom when the burden is rolled off from our shoulders.
But we do not despair of musical journalism. If it is impracticable within the narrow limits of a little one-man organ like our own, without capital, without the means of enlargement, and unwilling to avail itself of questionable and distasteful ways for gaining circulation, it is still possible that some day somebody will furnish the means for building up a journal upon a much broader foundation, with capital, with room for greater variety of matter in its columns, with means of commanding first-class paid contributors, and with not merely one to do all the editorial work, but with a corps of editors, each responsible in his department, and representing, it may be, various sides in some of the great questions, as of old and new school. Such a journal would absorb any rivals worth absorbing; it would have news enough, well-sifted news, in spite of the newspapers, while it could afford to treat at length, without fear or favor, questions of principle and taste in Art. All this combined under one experienced, catholic and comprehensive head, who need not feel always bound to write himself on every topic, would be a musical journal worth the while. It is essentially the plan suggested by our unknown warm sympathizer in the Springfield Republican. We doubt not it will come. Some music-loving millionaire, not content with guarantying orchestras and building splendid music-halls, will some day feel the need of a great, many-sided, high-toned musical journal. We may live to see it after the springs of active energy are dried up in ourselves. But Art is long, though life is short. And so we humbly take our leave.
John S. DWIGHT.
MUSIC IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
What follows was intended for the concluding portion of a chapter of Musical History prepped for the “Memorial History of Boston.” That chapter has grown to such unexpected length that much of it will have to be omitted for the present, leaving us free to give this portion in this final number of our Journal. It must be understood that this is history, and not criticism. We do not enter into any discussion of the mooted questions about Tonic Sol-Fa, “absolute pitch,” or the “movable Do.” We only aim to show what has been done, and show the promise of the future.
Let us step down for a moment from the heights and the high schools of art, from symphony and oratorio, and from the university, and watch beginnings in the very nursery. Let us look into the public schools, where singing has been taught on a progressive system, from the youngest primaries upward, both by rote and note, for at least forty years. This movement started rather vaguely to be sure, contenting itself at first with demonstrating that all children, with a very few exceptions, only enough to “prove the rule,” can be taught to sing. It was the assertion of a faith, rejected by our Puritan forefathers, in the musical nature of man. It has grown up into something which can properly be called a Boston institution; and if its principle is sound, the germ of a musical future is contained in it.
It dates back to the early days of the old Academy of Music, (1833—41), and to the impression made upon the mind of Mr. Wm. C. Woodbridge, by what he heard and saw in the schools of Germany and Holland, where vocal music was taught as one of the elements of common education. After his return to Boston he stated his experience and his conviction before a meeting of the friends of education. This was in 1830. In January, 1832, on the recommendation of a report made by the Chairman of the Primary School Committee, Mr. George H. Snelling, it was voted that the experiment should be tried in one school of each primary district. In 1836, in response to a memorial from the Academy, time School Committee voted to have music taught in four of the grammar schools, under the direction of the Academy. That meant practically under the direction of Dr. Lowell Mason, and according to the Pestalozzian, or inductive, method, first applied to music by Nägeli of Zurich, and embodied in Mason’s Academy Manual. For some time the brave resolution was not seconded by prompt and adequate municipal appropriations. But meanwhile Dr. Mason devoted himself with such zeal and tact, gratuitously, to testing the plan in a single school, and with such success, that it was voted to employ a salaried teacher of singing, for not more than two hours each week, in each of the grammar schools. This the Academy’s Report for 1839 declared to be “the Magna Charta of musical education in this country.”
So the work went on, under the personal instruction of Messrs. Mason, Webb, and others, steadily and slowly gaining ground, despite the intermittent faith and sympathy of new School Committees. In 1846, ten of the schools were assigned to Dr. Mason, and ten to Mr. B. F. Baker, as head music teacher.
In 1848, two half-hour lessons were required each week for every pupil; and in some schools the regular female teachers and ushers were so- far initiated into the method as to enable them to carry on the lessons between the visits of the musical instructors. Pianos also were provided. Vain efforts had been made for years to revive the attention paid to music in the primary schools, beginning at the root of the matter; for in the earliest years, almost in infancy, the ear should be made familiar with musical tones and acquire some practice both in singing and in reading them from notes, as a foundation for all further progress. Let the little child learn properly to sing even the simplest melody; let him identify each tone which he delights to hear and make with corresponding characters upon the staff, and with those syllables, numbers, letters which conventionally denote the relations of the tones to one another and to a common key-tone; let him feel every day the rhythmical delight of singing with his fellows in good time and tune; let him be led unconsciously to know concord from discord, to feel the beauty of a perfect chord, and to some slight extent to sing in parts with other voices, — and his interest in music is secured for life; he will grow up sensitive, attentive to the music made about him, even if he should not become much of a singer himself. This is the time for loosening the soil, so that any latent germs of native talent may find an outlet to the light. The older schools were taught at disadvantage until this preparatory period was provided for.
It was not until the first musical school festival held in time Music Hall at the close of the school year in 1858, that the true value of such an element in early education vividly impressed most of the believers in our public schools as the palladium of our free institutions. The lovely spectacle, together with the inspiring thrill of the united fresh and silvery voices of twelve hundred children, in cheerful songs, or in sustained tones of solemn chorals, brought the truth of the matter home to all present. Those annual festivals, due in a great measure to the forethought, zeal and organizing faculty of one member of the School Committee, Dr. J. B. Upham, grew more and more impressive year by year, and told of steady progress, so that it became an easier matter to secure the sanction of the whole committee and of Boston for complete and systematic measures. From that year (1858) a standing subcommittee on music, of five members, became a part of the annual distribution of functions in the school committee. Dr. Upham was the chairman of the five. It was ordered that two hours weekly’ should be given in each grammar school to singing, practice of notation, scales and reading simple music, under the teachers of the several districts, Messrs. Butler, Bruce and Drake. In the primaries there was to be singing at the opening and close of each school session, with what more might be thought expedient. Mr. Zerrahn was employed in the Girls’ High and Normal Schools, partly to the end of qualifying the pupils to teach music as well as the other usual branches.
We need not follow the wavering policy of successive school committees regarding both the musical instruction and the annual Festivals; these inspiring exhibitions have been greatly missed for seven or eight years past. More than once the work of years was undone by some uneasy change of measures, and hope deferred, though not discouraged.
At last, in 1864, a most important step was taken: the problem of musical instruction in the primary schools was met in earnest. A man appeared with the peculiar gift for such a task, possessed with the genius of love and patience for it, full of enthusiasm and unbounded devotion, full of invention, and with a remarkable tact for the adaptation of means to ends,—Mr. Luther W. Mason, whose labors in the schools of Cincinnati had attracted much attention. He managed soon to interest the smallest children. The casual visitor would find them singing naturally and sweetly, — nearly all of them — first simple tunes by ear or imitation, and gradually by note. He prepared useful charts, in large characters, containing the essential progressive exercises. He also had translated and printed in convenient little books the successive parts of “Hobmann’s Practical Course,” containing a progressive series of songs, duets, etc., as well as exercises, suited to the different ages of the children. A professor of gymnastics and of elocution was employed, so that the right posture of the body and the right way of breathing were made auxiliary to the production of a full, true, sustained tone. In one year Mr. Mason had established his system in 185 of the 250 primary schools. It was not long before they began to sing in parts of simple harmony, and to take delight in holding out the tones of a full chord. Essentially the same method was adopted and developed further in the grammar schools by Mr. Sharland, Mr. Holt, and others, who have shown astonishing results in the ease and certainty with which pupils read at sight, name the tones which the teacher or visitor bums to them or strikes on the piano, and even analyze a chord when struck. In the Girls’ High and Normal Schools, Mr. Eichberg, who for some years has held the position of superintendent of musical instruction in all the public schools of Boston, has carried the development still farther, so that it is really an artistic pleasure to hear his classes of young ladies, many of them destined to become teachers in their turn, sing from the choice collection of pieces in three and four part harmony which he has prepared for their use.
In 1868 Mr. Eichberg was commissioned to visit time schools abroad, and made an elaborate report upon the music teaching he had witnessed in Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Dresden, Frankfort, and Bavaria, to which was appended a very full list of suitable works for such instruction.
In 1870 a complete progressive course was mapped out, from the lowest primary to time highest grammar class. But the good work done in the Girls’ High Schools was not, and is not yet, extended into time English High and Latin Schools for boys. In the Vienna Exposition of 1873 the educational system of the Boston public schools was fully represented under the direction of Mr. John D. Philbrick, superintendent of Public Schools. Its his report he says: “The system of musical instruction in our schools, as represented by the last report of the Chairman of the Committee op Music, Dr. J. Baxter Upham, the programme for musical instruction in the different grades of schools, the musical text-books by Messrs. Eichberg, Sharland, Holt, and Mason, and especially the four series of musical charts by Luther W. Mason, was unanimously and emphatically declared by the able committee of experts on this subject to be the best in existence. The charts, which are the fruit of many years of labor and experiments by Mr. Mason, were regarded as vastly superior to everything else of the kind known to exist, and accordingly their author was honored by the award of a Medal of Merit.” At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia (1876) these music charts and method were much admired by foreign visitors, especially by the Japanese Commissioners, whose glowing report to the educational authorities of their own government led to an invitation to Mr. Mason to introduce his system personally in the government schools of Japan. For several years, with every convenience placed at his disposal, lie has been teaching the young Japanese in Tokio to sing and read music according to our system, adding three notes to their imperfect scale, and with a success most gratifying to the Empress and the Japanese, but greatly to the loss of the primary schools of Boston, which now rely for musical instruction on the regular school teachers. We read, however, in the school report for 1872 that in the 335 primary schools there was rarely found a teacher not competent to teach elementary music.
Doubtless much remains yet to be done. Only ideally can the system be called complete. As practically embodied it is like those ancient maps, in which great regions, unexplored, are only vaguely outlined. Questions have arisen, and wavering policy has been pursued. Fits of municipal economy have interfered, if not destructively, at least obstructively. Indeed the whole method is in controversy still. Some would abolish staff notation, and have children taught upon the “Tonic Sol-Fa” plan; and there is outcry against what is called the “movable Do,” in practice in our schools from the beginning. With all these questions this history has no concern. Suffice it to say, that the teachers work in essential unity of principle and method, while each is free to test and follow out his own suggestions. What is certain is, that the lessons are progressive, while the teaching is objective. The child is led to recognize and feel the tones as mental objects (so Mr. Holt expresses it); while whatever of technical theory, or musical grammar, or arbitrary conventional signs and devices may be involved in the process, he gets it all unconsciously, as one learns to know the streets, with the shop signs, by often passing through and by them. He is not dumbfounded with theory, and with dry memorizing, before he has begun to know music, which would be like the old absurdity of acquiring English grammar, most abstract of studies, at the unmetaphysical age of early childhood.
Music in the schools has gone so far that it cannot go hack. Generations are growing up sensitive to musical tunes, knowing concord from discord, attentive to music when they hear it, interested in it, able to sing somewhat with pleasure to themselves and others, and to read simple music. What a contrast to the dearth of opportunity in those old Puritanic days when a child, had he the genius of a Beethoven in him, found not the slightest sympathy to call it out! Look on that picture, and on this. There pleasantness was sin, and the undying musical nature of man (as real as the religious, the intellectual, the social nature) was only part of the original depravity. Here you have stepped into a public school, say in one of the poorer quarters of the city, during the lesson by Mr. Holt, or Mr. Sharland, and you hear the singing and catch the quick, intelligent replies of class after class of girls of eight, nine, ten years old, whose pale complexions tell of homes of poverty in crowded lanes; this is the bright hour of their week; the hour of higher life and consciousness, of innocent delight and sense of a new power and freedom. And they gain more and more of this inspiring and uplifting resource as they pass through the older grammar and the High School classes, until they are prepared to be absorbed into the vocal clubs, and renovate the oratorio chorus with fresh voices and more skill in music than their fathers had. Surely we have made progress; and so long as we are faithful to our public schools, music, and music’s benign influence, will not die out among us.
BOSTON MUSIC HALL
Mr. Henry Lee Higginson, not content with giving us a fine orchestra and a series of twenty symphony concerts at cheap prices for the coming year, has further added to the public obligation by purchasing a controlling interest in our noble Music Hall. This ensures a new administration of the Hall and its restoration to the artistic uses for which it was originally intended. The following, from the Gazette, is right in sentiment, and will be read with interest.
We are only sorry that what is gained by the new entrance from Hamilton Place is to be offset to some extent by the closing up of the present covered passage-way through what was Bumstead Place, that right of way having been sold out to advantage, we are told. On the other hand we are assured that the new entrance will be much wider than the present one, and will afford more safety to a crowd in any panic that might be apprehended. Now could the narrow eastern corridor be widened, or at least gain a passage into Bromfield Street, the means of exit would be perfect!
But the greatest improvement still demanded in the Music Hall would be the reconstruction of the stage in permanent chorus seats rising amphitheatrically about the organ, whereby the Handel and Haydn and other choral bodies might rehearse in the same seats in which they were to sing before the public. This would require, of course, the bringing of the stage a little further forward and to a lower point in front, for it is still too high for that part of the audience who sit well forward on the floor. When not occupied by chorus, those seats would be excellent for audience in many kinds of concerts, especially to listen to and watch the fingers of a Rubinstein or a Joseffy. But now for the Gazette.
This noble building has long been a source of satisfaction and of pride to the musical public of our city. Its ample size and fine proportions, its convenient entrances, its seclusion from noise and from the garish light of day, its even temperature, perfect ventilation, its picturesque light, and above all its perfect adaptation for the proper effects of music, render it one of the first halls in the world. The orator standing in his place at one of the foci of the ellipse is heard by a full house in his natural voice without effort. The softest of the prima donna’s pianissimos or the lightest touch of the pianist is audible everywhere. The organ, too, has served important purposes. It has been a model for organ-builders, a perennial delight for audiences, and, what is more, it has furnished so-called jokers of other less fortunate cities with an unfailing topic for ridicule. When an editor has been hard up for a paragraph be has been able to tickle himself and those of his own calibre amazingly by some crack upon our “big organ.”
The conception of the Music Hall and its organ dates from a certain dinner of the Harvard Musical Association. The original subscribers had more thought of the public benefit than their own profit. They wanted a temple of musical art. Year by year it has been adorned, and it has now the noblest statue and some of the finest busts in America. It is also full of associations that touch the hearts of all cultivated people. The annual oratorios, the symphony concerts, the splendid civic balls, and the long series of vocal and instrumental performances by great singers and players, will be forever associated in the minds of the present generation with the Music Hall.
But high ideals and pure art are not often remunerative. Music, like poetry and virtue, must be its own exceeding great reward. When we plant our money for dividends we don’t project music halls; we would rather discover a new “Calumet and Hecla.” For many years the ball was not a source of profit. And to this fact was due a change in its management that let in the malodorous shows of unhappy dogs and cats, and the brutal set-tos of wrestlers and boxers. People who remember the high and pure idea for which the beautiful hall was created were sad at the thought that Beethoven and Bach, Handel and Mozart should look down upon scenes fitter for the blood-thirsty public of ancient Rome than for refined audiences in a cultivated city. The charm of the place was gone.
Then the proposed extension of Hamilton Place threatened to destroy the hall, and the controlling interest was in hands that could not hold it and were ready to give it up. The hall was supposed to be doomed.
The whole situation was changed when Mr. Henry L. Higginson, after establishing a series of orchestral concerts on a scale of unprecedented liberality, crowned his beneficent undertaking by purchasing a majority of the shares of the Music Hall corporation. Mr. Higginson has made no announcement of his plans, but it is well understood that the ball will be used only for purposes consistent with the idea of a temple of the fine arts. There will be no more heterogeneous shows, nor walking matches.
The interior of the building is now undergoing a rejuvenation, under the direction of Mr. George Snell, the accomplished architect who planned it. New colors and gilding, new upholstery and other adornments will make it more beautiful than ever. Other changes are also anticipated, such as re-formation of the lobbies and a new entrance from Hamilton Place.
THE MUSICAL OUTLOOK
There can be no fear lest Boston will not have enough, especially of orchestral music in the season of 1881—2. There would rather seem to be a danger of too much of a good thing, of “running it into the ground.” But we shall see and learn. What with the Higginson-Henschel twenty concerts and twenty public rehearsals, and with the other orchestral societies, the vocal clubs, the oratorios, and miscellaneous and virtuoso concerts of all kinds, there are already looming above the horizon more than one hundred concerts such as commonly tempt large audiences. Let the Transcript count them up for us: —
From present appearances there will be more musical entertainments of a high order during the coming season in Boston than ever before. Those by the clubs and societies will number as follows:
Apollo Club …………………………………………………………………………… 6 concerts.
Boylston Club ………………………………………………………………………… 5 “
Handel and Haydn Society ………………………………………………………. 4 “
Harvard Musical Association ……………………………………………………. 5 “
Philharmonic Society ……………………………………………………………… 8 “
*Cecilia …………………………………………………………………………………. 4 “
*Euterpe ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5 “
*Arlington Club …………………………………………………………………….. 4 “
*probably. 41 “
Then there will be the series of twenty concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (as the band to be directed by Mr. Henschel will be known), possible concerts by the old Philharmonic orchestra, under Mr. Listemauus direction, and eight by the New England Conservatory orchestra, a new scheme under the direction of Mr. Zerrahn. All of these concerts will be given by resident musicians, players or singers from other cities only appearing as soloists or assistants. But this is not all. Four concerts of a mixed sort, with famous soloists, will be included in the lecture courses; two performances of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet will be given under Mr. Thomas’s direction; two concerts are announced by Manricio Dengremont, one by Mme. Gerster, and last, not least in importance, five by Mme. Adelina Patti. With these we have a grand total of nearly a hundred musical entertainments of a high class, and that without enumerating the twenty public rehearsals of Mr. Henschel’s orchestra, and the eight public rehearsals of the Philharmonic Society’s orchestra. There are few cities in the world, and none in America, which can make a better showing in number, quality and variety of concerts offered for the delectation of amateurs and connoisseurs of the tuneful art. The concerts of the Arlington and Cecilia Clubs will be given in Tremont Temple, the Euterpe will probably occupy the Melodeon, the Harvards will use the Boston Museum, and the other societies and organizations will appear in Music Hall. Mr. Zerrahn will remain in his post of director of the concerts by the Handel and Haydn Society and the Harvard Musical Association; Mr. Lang will continue to direct the entertainments of the Apollo and Cecilia Clubs, and Mr. Osgood and Mr. W. J. Winch will retain their positions as directors of the Boylston and Arlington Clubs, respectively. The Philharmonic society’s concerts will be under the direction of Mr. Louis Mass. The schemes of the opera managers are not yet divulged. It is given out that Mr. Mapleson will come to the Boston Theatre with a stronger company than he has yet brought here, and that Mr. Strakosch will bring a troupe to the Globe Theatre, with Mme. Gerster as its prima donna. No less than six English opera or operetta troupes will add still further variety to the attractions of the season, and some important novelties will be brought out by them, Lortzing’s Czar and Carpenter and Varney’s Musketeers being in the list of promises.
— THE WORCESTER MUSICAL FESTIVAL. The great annual event of its kind in this region maintains this fall the customary high and abundant provision for the musical appetite: it will last five days, September 26—30, and comprise, besides three important choral works entire, a large variety of music, vocal, orchestral and organ. Verdi’s Manzoni Requiem will be given the third evening, the Creation the following afternoon, and to conclude Friday evening Elijah entire, for the first time in Worcester; the chorus, “The Fire Descends from Heaven,” heretofore omitted because of its extreme difficulty, being already rehearsed. A new thing in this festival will be a noon “organ lecture concert,” by Frederick Archer, the English organist, composer and lecturer; but Mr. Archer should beware of Jerome Hopkins, who has a lien on that title for his own entertainment, The artists already engaged include Clara Louise Kellogg, who sings there for the first time in America after a European absence of two years; Annie Louise Cary, M. W. Whitney, Tom Karl, Emily Winant, — her first singing in Worcester, — Franz Remmertz, Charles H. Adams; also Mrs. Emma R. Dexter, Miss Hattie Louise Simms, Miss Alice Ward, Mrs. Grace Hilts Gleason of Chicago and Mrs. H. F. Knowles, sopranos; and the Schubert company from the Boston Apollo Club. The violinist Therese Liebe and her brother Theodore, said to be a fine violoncellist, who will make a concert tour of the country the coming season, appear first together at this festival, hastening their departure from Europe a month. The promise of the foregoing facts is very generous and assures an excellent festival. There are some who will regret the repetition of Verdi’s noisy requiem, but the chorus cannot possibly afford to dismiss it with one rendering after the severe discipline of its study; It would be a quite insufficient recompense.
—The Handel and Haydn Society will begin, as usual, their concerts on Christmas night with a performance of the Messiah; on Good Friday Bach’s “Passion Music, according to St. Matthew” will be sung, and on Easter Sunday the oratorio of the Creation. Previous to these last two a concert will be given on Feb. 5, and Handel’s Utrecht “Jubilate” and Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise” are to be sung. Mr. Carl Zerrahn will lead the chorus and orchestra, and Miss Annie Louise Cary and Mr. Myron W. Whitney will be two of the principal soloists.
—James Edward Ditson, youngest son of Oliver Ditson, the well-known music publisher of Boston, and a member of the firm of which his father is the head, died at Upper Saint Regis Lake, Adirondack Mountains, Sunday, Aug. 7, aged 28 years. He was a young man of genial character, and was universally beloved. The parents have the sympathy of a very wide circle of friends in this trying bereavement.
—We are sorry to learn that Mr. Edward B. Perry, the pianist, is disabled for all concert work during the coming winter by a lame wrist. Meanwhile he has accepted a position as piano instructor at Oberlin College, in Ohio.
—We have only room to call attention to Madame Seller’s Flourishing School of Vocal Art in Philadelphia. Its annual reports of ‘cork and progress have been interesting, and this year more than ever.
—You can detect a false note in the playing of the music of Mozart as readily as a finger print on burnished silver; but in one of the “romantic” symphonies of the “intense” school, a madman might be fiddling away meanwhile, and nobody would suspect that it was not “consummate.”—Chas. Dudley Warner.
—Mr. Thomas was to end his Chicago engagement on Aug. 22. During the following week he gave concerts in Milwaukee, and a week later he will be in Cincinnati fur a series of concerts. He has received from Galveston, Tex., an offer for a week of concerts-in that city. Mr. Thomas will return to New York on Sept. 5.
CHICAGO, July 27. In closing my correspondence with Dwight’s Journal of Music, I may be pardoned for expressing a few words of sincere regret. Every indication that points to a retrograde movement in the progress of the art of music cannot but be regarded sorrow with sorrow by every honest musician or true lover of music. The cause of music in this country suffers from a number of serious hindrances. One of these drawbacks is poor and incompetent criticism from the writers on musical matters in many of our daily papers. As we read the vast amount of illogical criticism that the daily press offers to its readers, every musician realizes that the writers of the articles knew little or nothing about the subject. They either depend upon some hand-book on music for their information, or else I deal with the subject in meaningless terms, that will not stand the test of reason. Any reporter may write upon this subject, and his musical qualifications seem to be of very little account, as long as he can fill up a certain space under the bead of Amusements. I know of many cases where the so-called musical critic has mistaken even the work he was hearing, and perchance learnedly commented upon the masterly performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser overture, when the popular one to Rossini’s William Tell was played. This kind of musical criticism is what the daily press calls a proper acknowledgment of the art interests of a country. What we need is good, honest utterances in behalf of art, from a mind that has both ability and knowledge. A writer must possess a positive and extended knowledge of his subject, to be entitled to any respect. Such criticism as the progress of art demands seems hardly possible from the daily press, and it is only in a good musical journal that we may expect the best opinions on art matters. It is then a matter of great regret that Dwight’s Journal is forced to stop its usefulness, simply because of a want of support. It is true that the Journal was a small paper, and yet its quality, was worthy of appreciation, and its honest utterances entitled to full respect. The only thing in regard to music that receives its full compensation is the trade in instruments and publications. Large fortunes have been made in these industries. What have these people, that have become rich out of musical merchandise, done for the art that has given them their Have they ever started a good music school, or supported a representative musical journal? We have a number of papers that live as advertising mediums, it is true, but their influence is of that character that belongs mostly to trade. This class of journal is generally published in the interests of some house. Why should not the trade interests give a little of their wealth to the support of a worthy art journal? Any benefit to the progress of art is a help to even the trade. When we observe the positive advancement that Boston is making in regard to concerts, schools, and the orchestral work, it seems astonishing that it can be so unmindful of the Journal of Music, Is not an organ that may give its entire activity to the education of the people in music worthy of support? If the cultivated people of Boston will not support a journal that is representative of their class, is it not an indication that their accomplishments are more assumed than real? But in the mean time we must wait for a better public and a more hopeful condition of our social life, before what is best in music can have a hearty support in this country.
In this city we are having a delightful season of summer night concerts, by Mr. Theodore Thomas and his orchestra. This series of entertainments was a part of a plan that the late Mr. George B. Carpenter had arranged for our musical enjoyment. Mr. Milward Adams, the young gentleman who has followed in the steps of Mr. Carpenter, by his business tact and good management has been able to carry on the enterprise. It takes very much skill and a clear judgment to bring such successful returns for even well-considered plans. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Adams for this season of rich entertainment, and we can hot wish him a great success in all his future work. The great festival which comes next spring will have to depend for its financial success largely upon the management that this gentleman will give it. He will have the influence of every musical person in the city, however, and time culmination of our hopes, a festival, seems near at hand. But to return to Mr. Thomas, —the programmes for these concerts have been as a whole very pleasing. We have had composers’ evenings, and symphony performances, and also programmes made up of lighter things. The Mendelssohn night gave us the Italian Midsummer-Night’s Dream music, overture Calm Sea and Happy Voyage, the fairy overture, Melusina, Scherzo from the Reformation Symphony, and two smaller pieces. The Beethoven night programme was made op of the Pastoral Symphony, the overture to Coriolanus, Septet Op. 20, and the ballet music to Prometheus. The symphony programmes gave us the Schumann, in fl-minor, and Brahms’s No.2, in fl-major. Every evening the programme is made interesting, while new and old works are very artistically arranged so as to give pleasure. It is a pleasing sight to see the large audiences that gather, evening after evening, to listen to these concerts. The place has been as well arranged as possible for the music. The garden that has been made, of plants, flowers and evergreens, has turned the Exposition Building into a vast conservatory, in which a pretty fountain plays, and charming music maybe heard, and it almost makes the stay-at-home people of our city think that Chicago is indeed a pleasant summer home. The orchestra that Mr. Thomas has formed is made up of some fifty men, many of whom are our home players; yet there have been additions from New York and Cincinnati, which have given a new and better formation to the band. It pleases me to say that this orchestra is doing some very good work. It has not time finish of Mr. Thomas’s old band, nor are the brass instruments quite what they ought to be; but the educational influences that are at work with the men will do much to mould them into a better form. It is a wise thing to develop a good orchestra in the West, for as we attempt the performance of a large number of great works in the course of a season, a fine band is a necessity. In the closing concerts of this season of six weeks, I shall endeavor to make some mention of the improvement that will doubtless be made in the playing of this band, while under the able direction of Mr. Thomas C. H. BRITTAN.
BALTIMORE, JULY 27.—Mr. John S. Dwight:—Dear Sir, — Allow me to express my sincere regret at the notice in your last issue that the publication of the Journal is to be discontinued. For the past three years I have had the pleasure of writing an occasional notice for your paper, and I can scarcely express bow unhappy it makes me feel to know that I have written my last letter to Dwight’s Journal. I did fancy that at least one musical publication with the best and highest interests of the art in view would be able to hold its own in this country. It seems not.
To all earnest friends of musical progress there remains but the hope that at some future day the better class of the American people will open their eyes, their ears and their hearts and begin to understand that there are a few objects in this world worth living for besides the accumulation of dollars and cents.
With sentiments of the highest regard and appreciation, I am, dear sir,
Yours very truly,
CHAS. A. FISHER.
LONDON. Colonel J. H. Mapleson has written an open latter in which he formally withdraws from the Loudon operatic field. Ever since the year 1874, competition has been carried on, except in a few years when Messrs. Gye and Mapleson combined forces, between the Italian operatic impresarios at Covent Garden and Drury Lane or Her Majesty’s. Mr. Mapleson became almost hopelessly involved, and the elder Gye’s backers sank a fortune in the larger house. Of late years, under the management of the brothers Gye, Covent Garden has increased its reputation, but without reaping a financial reward. Time conclusion was reached that London cannot support two Italian houses during the season, and a syndicate was formed recently for converting Covent Garden into a limited liability company, with Gye as manager at a salary. The company then endeavored to secure Her Majesty’s, and this they attempted to do by seeking to gain possession of the premises through the lessor by means of an action of ejectment. Finding himself involved in costly legal proceedings, Mr. Mapleson determined to accept the offers made him by the syndicate, and an arrangement has now been made by which he sells out his entire interest in Her Majesty’s, with the object of devoting his attention entirely, in future, to the United Slates. Mr. Mapleson receives £80,000, and when his liabilities are deducted from this he will be left with more than sufficient capital to enable him to open an energetic campaign next season in America. Mr. Mapleson has secured certain concessions from the new company, among others the call on Covent Garden for all new operas, artists, scenery and costumes which he may require. In fact, Covent Garden will be henceforth the recruiting-house for his American season. — Figaro.
FRANKFORT-ON-THE-MAINE. — The prize offered by the Corporation for the best opera is awarded to Kütchen von Heilbronn music by Carl Rheinthaler, libretto by Heinrich Bulthaupt. The successful work will be produced early next season at the New Stadt- theater.
BERLIN. Von Buelow recently played a gigantic programme at Berlin. It consisted wholly of Liszt’s compositions. Sonata (dedicated to Schumann), four selections from the “Années de Pelerinage,” the legend, “St. Francois de Paule Marchant Sur Les Flots,” four Etudes, Ballade (No. 2), a Polonaise Mazurka, Valse Impromptu and Scherzo, and March in D-minor. It is said that Buelow fairly surpassed himself.