November 11, 1916
Page 28

Opposed to the Boycotting in Germany of the Works of·composers of Hostile Countries—Activities in Germany of an American Composer and an American Conductor—Light Opera in Ascendancy in Berlin
European Bureau of Musical America. 30, Neue Winterfeldtstrasse, Berlin, Sept. 17, 1916.

FOR months past, Richard Strauss, to escape from the worry and excitement attending the war, has been living a life of retirement at his cozy country seat at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps. Here, in the peaceful solitude of nature, the composer seeks his inspiration. But there is no spot quite remote enough to ensure against the interest of newspaperdom, and so Strauss has been interviewed by Alfred Holzbock, a correspondent of the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger.
In this interview Strauss declares that at present it behooves the artist to suppress his feelings—to consider carefully everything he says.
“It is sad,” says Strauss, “that our art should have been dragged into politics by the hostile demonstrations of individual foreign artists.”
And then again. “I am, decidedly, opposed to any movement on the part of German concert and theatrical management sending to boycott on principle the works of living composers of hostile countries. It only seems just that we should outlaw the creations of such composers as have presumed to slander German ‘Kultur’; but the works of those foreigners who did not permit themselves to be driven into such undignified demonstrations we could, in my estimation, safely continue to consider. Why should we imitate the bad examples of hostile foreigners? . . . If anything is to be boycotted, let it be inferiority. . . . even if such inferiority happens to be a domestic product!
“It is generally believed that the opulently subsidized court and municipal operas of the larger cities should make the experiment of bringing out the works of beginners. But that is a big mistake. For these theaters in their artistic exploitations are utterly dependent on box-office receipts—on the participation of the general public.
“The real planting ground for striving talent always has been and will be, the medium-sized or smaller German court theater. For these have their regular subscribers on fixed days and are not dependent, as the former, on casual theater-goers, so that they are in a far better position to experiment. They need not, like the larger, more elaborate court and municipal opera houses, consider box-office receipts pre-eminently, and consequently can afford to be rather more enterprising. And we find that many a successful German opera owes the beginning of its triumph to such a planting ground.”
Revision of “Ariadne”
In a few weeks Strauss will appear with a complete revision of his “Ariadne auf Naxes.” Concerning this revision, Strauss expressed himself as follows:
“The Molière comedy which heretofore prefaced the opera proper, has been entirely eliminated; and the erstwhile interlude in dialogue form, which represented the transition from the comedy to the opera, I have set to music and elaborated considerably. This interlude, which Hugo von Hofmannsthal has also subjected to a literary revision, is intended to represent the tragedy and tragi-comedy of the youthful composer dependent on a Maecenas, singers and lackeys, similar to the youthful Mozart in the beginning of his glorious career. And so the young composer has become the leading figure, vocally as well as dramatically, for the creation of which my friend and colleague, Leo Blech, is to be essentially credited. It was acting upon his advice that I composed the female voice for this youth. The role of the ballet-master has also been re-arranged and elaborated and is written for a tenor. Furthermore, I have tried a new experiment, transforming the secco-recitatives into smaller musical numbers. The finale has also been altered, the humorous, satirical epilogue being eliminated so that the opera is concluded with the duet between Ariadne and Bachus.”
The young American composer, Ivan Shed Langstroth is spending the present season at Hellerau near Dresden, diligently writing for the coming musical greatness of the U. S. A. One of his most distinguished patrons is the Princess Albrecht of Saxony, who arranged to give Langstroth’s String Quartet a hearing with the Havemann Quartet at her home near Dresden.
Wallingford Riegger’s Concert
At the last Blüthner concert under the American conductor, Wallingford Riegger, the two interesting features were an orchestration by Riegger of the Prelude, No. 22, and Fugue, No. 5, from Bach’s “Wohltemperiertes Clavier” Vol. 1, and the work of the evening’s soloist, Miss Sonnenberg-Delesday, a young South African contralto.
The orchestration of Bach was only conditionally satisfying, inasmuch as Riegger’s arrangement evinced a considerable amount of good taste without entirely meeting the demands—if they can be met at all orchestrally—of Bach’s incomparable pianoforte selections. Miss Sonnenberg, in Gluck’s aria from “Orpheus,” used her voluptuous contralto to good effect, while in the succeeding Penelope aria from the “Odysseus” of Bruch this effect was somewhat impaired by the limitations of her serviceable register, i.e. , her upper and lower tones—especially the lower ones—which lacked resonance and carrying power. Nor might it be amiss if the singer devoted a little more attention to her German. Her enunciation 4; good, but her manner of expression decidedly foreign.
Weingartner’s one-act opera, “Cain and Abel,” produced for the first time at the Deutsches Theater in Prague, met with a demonstrative reception. The composer, who was present, received many curtain calls.
For the present light opera seems to be in the ascendant here. At the Theater des Westens, Guilbert’s “Fahrt ins Glück” is nightly drawing big houses, notwithstanding the somewhat exorbitant prices of admission. With the exception of the leading comedian, Berlin’s ever popular Guido Tielscher, the leading rôles are none too well done. Still the operetta promises to attain its 100th performance, to the delight of the management and authors.
Less successful appears to be the light opera which has just been put on at the Comic Opera, viz., “Die Schoene Cubanerin.” The work is so devoid of all substance, of all stage significance, that the yawning emptiness of the theater, since the premiere last week, is not at all surprising.
Most Successful Light Opera
So it was left to the Metropole Theater—that most reliable home of successful operetta in Berlin—to carry off the palm of the season thus far. Here that incomparable operetta diva, Fritzi Massary, has taken the public by storm in “The Czardas Princess,” by the Hungarian, Emmerich Kalmann. But aside from the drawing power of the leading artist, it is not surprising that such a light opera, with its abundance of droll humor and wit, should attract such large audiences—especially in view of the elaborate cast. The tenor, Albert Kutzner, Hermann Vallentine, Molly Wessley and the mercurial May Werner contend for the honors.
As another feature of the new season in Berlin may be mentioned the effective revision of Goethe’s “Egmont” at the Royal Theater, in which the Beethoven score is ably conducted by Edmund von Strauss.
The German Theatrical Directory in its latest edition for the season of 1916-17, has brought out as a topical innovation the Germanization of all those stage expressions which hitherto were accepted as traditionally French. Souffleur, requisiteur and regisseur are henceforth to be designated as “Einhelfer,” “Geraeteverwalter” and “Spielleiter” respectively.
Marie Wieck, the venerable and talented sister-in-law of Robert Schumann, who is eighty-five years of age and almost blind, has fallen seriously ill. Marie Wieck was born at Leipsic in 1832.
Arthur Van Eweyk, the Dutch-American bass-baritone, has just returned to Berlin from his summer’s vacation spent at the Castle of Camenz as the guest of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, and has resumed his pedagogical activity in Berlin, as well as at the conservatories in Jena and Erfurt.
Concert Statistics
In conclusion, a short compilation of statistics concerning the increase of German concert activity during recent years in Berlin, Munich and Vienna:
The number of concerts given in Berlin during the season 1910-11 amounted to 1096; 1911-12, 1214; 1912-13, 1210; 1913-14, 1262.
In Vienna the number of concerts during the season 1910-11 amounted to 439; 1911-12, 431; 1912-13, 435; 1913-14, 603.
In Munich the number of concerts during the season 1910-11 amounted to 374; 1911-12, 347; 1912-13, 430; 1913-14, 418.
In Berlin the total of concerts during the first war season diminished from 1262 to 665; in Vienna from 603 to 354, and in Munich from 418 to 197. In Berlin the greatest diminution has been noticeable in chamber music concerts. —O. P. JACOB.


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