June 19, 1915
Page 11

Edward Elgar Completing New Orchestral Work, “Polonia,” for Polish Concert in London Next Month—Siegfried Wagner Introduces Prelude to His War-Born “Angel of Peace”—English Composer of Pavlowa’s New Opera-Ballet “Discourses Gently” on Critics and British .Music—Russian Violinist, Released from Internment in Austria by American Influence, Plays Again in England—New Beecham-Ronald “Proms” at London’s Albert Hall Debar All German Music—Leipsic Places Tablet on House Where Gustav Mahler Wrote His First Symphony—Unionism Stands Between Needy Orchestra Players and Employment at London Opera House

AN outstanding feature of the program arranged for the special Polish concert to be given in London early in July, for which elaborate plans are being made, will be a new orchestral work entitled “Polonia,” by Sir Edward Elgar. Though based more or less upon the two national hymns of Poland, this novelty, which is engrossing most of the English composer’s time and energy at present, is said to be an entirely original work otherwise. It is dedicated to Ignace Paderewski. Apparently Sir Edward’s civilian duties as a Special Constable have not yet made very serious inroads upon his time.
Expressing the hope that in “Polonia” Elgar will produce a work “as gigantically successful as ‘Carillon’ has proved,” Robin H. Legge, the Daily Telegraph’s critic, refers to him as “one of the very few artists who have been able to imbue their art with their emotional feelings created by the war.”
Expressing the hope that in “Polonia” Elgar will produce a work “as gigantically successful as ‘Carillon’ has proved,” Robin H. Legge, the Daily Telegraph’s critic, refers to him as “one of the very few artists who have been able to imbue their art with their emotional feelings created by the war.”
The Polish composers to be drawn upon for the rest of the program include Paderewski and Sigismund Stojowski, of New York, Noskowski and Mlynarski, Karlowicz and Zarzycki, Moniuszky and Wieniawski. Thomas Beecham is to be the conductor.
* * * SIEGFRIED WAGNER calls his latest work for the opera stage, “The Angel of Peace.” The prolific son of music’s Greater Richard introduced the prelude to his war-born novelty at a charity concert he conducted the other evening in Baden-Baden, the audience according it a very friendly reception. Five other compositions of his also figured on the program. “The Angel of Peace” must be its composer’s tenth or eleventh opera—it is difficult to keep the record up to date, so closely has each one followed on its predecessor’s heels and so evanescent has been the fame of all. One of the first musical fruits of the war, this one may perhaps succeed in lifting the hoodoo that has balked the Young Siegfried at every step of his way as a creative artist heretofore.
* * * NEXT October the competition for the Mendelssohn Prizes will be held in Berlin. These prizes, drawn from the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Fund for Musicians, consist of two sums of $375 each, which are awarded to a composer and a concert performer. There are no restrictions for the candidates as to age, sex, religion or nationality. The sole requirement insisted upon is that they must have been pupils of one of the State-subventioned schools of music in Germany.
* * * WHEN a composer has a positive genius for antagonizing the public in his own country it is interesting to observe how he comforts himself when he displays his musical wares in a foreign land. Hence the announcement that Joseph Holbrooke is to conduct the performances of the new opera ballet he has written for• Anna Pavlowa, “The Enchanted Garden,” in New York next Autumn, will cause speculation as to what attitude he will choose to assume towards his American critics and audiences generally.
Every season for the past fourteen years this English composer has arranged a series of concerts of homegrown compositions in London, but his efforts to gain general recognition have met with a discouragingly small measure of success. It was characteristic of him to add to the announcement of one of his London concerts last month, “Mr. Holbrooke will discourse gently on one or two musical legends.” The concert was but poorly attended and of those who did come many left after he had delivered himself of his few “gentle” words.
His words, as a matter of fact, were far from gentle, according to the Musical Standard, for speaking is not his forte, as music, as he says, is his “job.” He administered a hearty drubbing to the music critics, whom he called “swanks,” and made the assertion that it was a waste of time to him to give these concerts and make these speeches. He blamed the critics for insisting that the public does not want to hear British music and contended that the public does not get a chance—it does not make the programs and it goes to concerts to hear music. He also expressed himself strongly against having German music heard in English concert rooms and berated Sir Charles Villiers Stanford for thrusting Brahms down the throats of his pupils whether they want it or not—“so much so that it comes out at their finger-tips.”
* * * BACK in England after his long internment in Austria, Dr. Adolf Brodsky, the Russian principal of the Royal College of Music in Manchester, found a large audience to welcome him when he gave a concert in aid of the college students’ Sustentation Fund. His chief numbers were a miniature suite for violin by a Russian noble who had shared his temporary exile, and Elgar’s violin concerto, played, according to report, “with much of the artist’s old power and charm.”
It was mainly through the efforts of prominent American musical friends who learned to value Dr. Brodsky at his true worth during his residence in New York that his release from an Austrian detention camp was effected.
* * * IN the absence of its regular “grand season” at Covent Garden, London is having not only a Russian and French opera season at the London Opera House, but also a series of nightly Promenade Concerts. “Proms” are a favorite institution with the London public, but heretofore they have been held late in the Summer and through the Autumn, at Queen’s Hall, under Sir Henry Wood’s direction, whereas the present series, projected in part as a stop-gap for the lean musical season, is being held at Albert Hall, with two prominent conductors, Thomas Beecham and Landon Ronald, sharing the artistic responsibility.
The scale of admission adopted places these concerts within the reach of everybody, whether on a diet of war economy or not. Of the reserved seats there are 900 at 75 cents and 2,000 at 35 cents. In addition, there is room in the spacious auditorium for 2,000 persons at 25 cents and 3,000 more at 12 cents.
One feature of the scheme has received severe criticism and that is the exclusion of all German composers from the programs. Only the works of British, French and Russian composers are to be performed, the main purpose being to give British composers an opportunity. The Daily Chronicle warns the “joint directors” that “the result of any ‘prohibition’ policy may be that at the end of the war we shall have a revulsion of feeling in favor of German music and get too much of it.”
The Musical News finds no fault with the ruling as applied to modern German music, but characterizes the exclusion of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and the other earlier men as “a puerility for which sensible people can have but one sentiment” and remarks that “if the promoters find they have to use paper liberally they will have only themselves to thank.
As far as the British composers themselves are concerned, and the present active propaganda in their behalf extending to a ban on foreign music, Truth is decidedly outspoken. “By all means let us encourage our native composers as far as we can,” says this long-established London periodical. “But the thing can only be done on one understanding, and this is, that they are able to deliver the goods; and this, I am afraid, is where the difficulty arises. It is no good expecting the British public to prefer native music to foreign on patriotic grounds only; British music must hold its own on its merits if it is to do this at all, and this is where the rub comes. It is unpleasant to have to point out such things, but, unfortunately, British music in the past has been synonymous for the most part with dullness and mediocrity, and this alone is the reason for the ‘neglect’ of which so much has been said.”
* * * LEIPSIC has set a good example to her sister cities identified in any way with Gustav Mahler’s work by losing little time in making fitting commemoration of its relations with the Austrian composer whose career came to a premature end. It seems that the house in which Mahler wrote his first symphony in the old Saxon city on the Pless, was in the Gustav Adolf-Strasse at number 12. Accordingly, a marble memorial tablet setting forth the fact that Mahler wrote the first of his symphonies there, in 1887, has just been placed on this house.
* * * AT a time when hundreds of orchestra players in England are out of employment it seems particularly deplorable that the rigors of unionism should have been permitted to prevent Vladimir Rosing and his financial backer, Lord Howard de Walden, from employing English instrumentalists for the orchestra for the season of Russian and French opera recently inaugurated at the London Opera House. When an interviewer broached the subject to one of the officials of the company before the opening of the season he received this explanation:
“We had made arrangements to employ quite a number of English musicians, and they themselves were very willing to accept our terms—$20 a week for the rank and file, and $40 for principals, with usual rehearsal terms, known as ‘one rehearsal for each performance.’ But on a question of some extra payment for rehearsals which struck the management as being somewhat unreasonable for the times, the union fell out with us, and served their members with notices to withdraw. Thus, being driven from our original intentions, we have been compelled to engage French and Russian instrumentalists.”
* * * BUT for the war two operas by Ethel Smyth, the English composer, would now be in the repertoires of two of Germany’s opera houses. It is only in Germany, in fact, that this composer has ever heard her works produced. But in her own country she is more generally known as a suffragist of Mrs. Pankhurst’s party than as a composer.
Dr. Smyth has lately made formal protest against being referred to in the English press as “our leading woman composer,” which phrase, she contends, will be found meaningless on analysis. Complaining that she was not consulted as to which of her compositions should be chosen for the Festival of British Composers, she has sent a complete list of her works, with details as to length, and so forth, to the directors of musical societies throughout England, with an appeal to them to help her to a place in the musical sun in her own country such as she has won on the Continent, where her two first operas, “The Forest” and “The Wreckers,” have had an encouraging number of performances. “The Forest” was once produced at the Metropolitan by Heinrich Conried.
Her latest work, “The Boatswain’s Mate,” was scheduled for a première at the Frankfort-on-Main Municipal Opera this season, and to the announcement this commentary was added: “It is so intensely and characteristically English, both as to subject and music, that those who don’t know England will think they do when they hear it.” Dr. Smyth is apparently expecting the deferred première to take place in the Autumn or early in 1916, though the scene in all probability will be London and not Frankfort.
Another British woman composer who has had a hearing in Germany gave a concert that featured her own compositions in London the other day. This was Adela Madison, the Irish composer of “The Talisman,” produced a year or so ago in one of the German opera houses. Her songs interested her London audience without creating any very profound impression.
* * * JUST as Dr. Hans Richter returned shortly after the outbreak of the war the honorary degrees conferred upon him by English universities in recognition of his services to art during his long years of residence in England, so Otto Lohse, whose localized affections have been divided between Brussels and Leipsic of late years, has felt it incumbent upon him to discard the orders wherewith he has been officially decorated in Belgium. Lohse has been not only the Belgian capital’s favorite German conductor, but its favorite conductor regardless of nationality. He is not altogether a stranger to this country, as he once came over for a brief professional visit here. A son of his, Gustav Lohse, is now on the opera stage.
* * * FOR the purpose of assisting British musicians whose professional engagements have been radically curtailed and who, in many cases, have been placed in the most straitened pecuniary circumstances as a result of the abnormal times of war, a new organization to be known as the British Empire League of Minstrelsy is now in process of formation in England. The veteran baritone, Sir Charles Santley, who was not to be deterred by his four-score years from emerging from his retirement three or four months ago to sing in aid of his colleagues who have felt the “war pinch,” is to be an Honorary Grand Director of Minstrelsy in connection with the new society.
* * * ONE of the last public appearances Wilhelm Bachaus made before being drafted into the German army and assigned to garrison duty was at a concert given in aid of the war funds at the Court Theater in Darmstadt. At this concert the Anglo-German pianist, who has lost the first part of his compound nationality in the process of de-hyphenation, played a composition by the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, a series of pieces grouped under the title “Yonder” and individually described as “Homesickness,” “Children’s Chatter,” “Longing,” “Spring Mists,” “Morning Air” and “Hope.”
* * * FOR years the Czar of all the Russias has been writing both the words and music of songs and publishing them under the name “Olaf.”' As far as that is concerned, he is keenly interested in creative work in all the arts —J.L.H.


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