September 18, 1920
Page 1

Artists Are Divided in Their Opinions as to the Advisability of Again Using Original Text of German Lieder—Quote European Precedent in Defense of Alien Language ·

WILL the German language be heard on our concert stage during the coming season? This much mooted question of singing songs in a tongue which popular opinion seems to have placed in the category of things “verboten,” bids fair to present itself again for solution soon after the beginning of the season. It will be interesting to observe just what the attitude of the public and critics will be.
Many artists have not yet returned to the city, so MUSICAL AMERICA was not able to discover what their opinions on the subject would. be, but of those with whom it did get in communication, perhaps the most sanguine in her expression was Eva Gauthier, the Canadian soprano, who has gained considerable reputation as a singer of unusual, and especially of modern songs.
Miss Gauthier’s Aeolian Hall recital· is scheduled for soon after the new year in which she will sing a group of songs by the modern German composer Schönberg. She has just returned from a several months’ stay abroad where German songs are regular features on London and Paris programs, and finds it difficult to understand why the German lieder, sung in the original, should not be heard again in America.
“In Paris,” said Miss Gauthier, “one of the most enjoyable programs I heard was given by Marie Olénine d’Alheim, who included on her program Schumann’s ‘Frauenliebe und Leben’ and five Wagner songs, all sung in German, and there was not a single show of hostility or displeasure. On the other hand, the artist was heartily applauded and made a decidedly favorable impression upon the audience.
“I did not go to Berlin, but friends who had just returned from there told of an artist who was to sing a group of Debussy songs which were announced to be sung in German. It was found that suitable translations had not been made, whereupon the singer announced that she would either omit the songs or sing them in the French, which she was requested to do. I see no reason why we should neglect masterpieces which can be given adequately only in the original language. I decided not to sing the Schönberg songs last year because it did not seem wise to sing them in German at that time, but I do not think there will be any serious objection ·this season, and I intend to place them upon my program.”
A singer new to New York, who will sing in Aeolian Hall early in October, is Marguerite Morgan, who it was learned, would include German lieder on her program, singing songs by Strauss and Weingartner. Miss Morgan was born in Kingston, New Mexico, and is the daughter of an American military officer, so it is not likely that any aspersions will be cast upon her because of her decision to sing in German.
One New York manager stated that one of his artists who is now abroad, would sing the German lieder in the original language, but would give no further information for the present.Harry Culbertson said that while he had received only tentative programs from artists under his management, he believed that Frances Ingram was planning to sing songs in German.
The “ban” seems to be less on the German songs and music than on the use of the German language, for there seems to be a decided trend toward singing them in English translations. Several mentioned the fact that the German language had not yet been returned to the stage of the Metropolitan, leading one to believe that its policy has been accepted as the criterion for the concert hall as well.
One singer who was particularly successful in the singing of German lieder a few years since, is Reinald Werrenrath, and while he will include German songs in his program this year, Mr. Werrenrath declared that he would not sing them in the German language.
Mr. Werrenrath was asked if he thought the time is not propitious for the use of the German language. “I don’t like the flavor of it,” he replied.
“Do you think the critics and the public would be averse to hearing the German language?” he was asked.
“I’m not interested in finding out what the public thinks,” he replied. “I shall not use it just now.”
Geraldine Farrar, who will make an extended concert tour next season, plans to include a group of the standard German lieder in her programs, but will sing them in English translations, according to information given out by her secretary.
Florence Hinkle will also sing German songs in English. Of the managerial firms Charles L. Wagner was inclined to believe that neither Mary Garden nor Mme. Alda will sing in German. Otokar Bartik, manager for Ema Destinn, said that Mme. Destinn had not yet returned to America, but he felt certain that her programs would not include any German songs, at least none to be sung in the German language.


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