July 17, 1915
Page 12

Lilli Lehmann to Coach Singers in Mozart Traditions at the Salzburg Mozarteum Every Summer—Charpentier Conducts His “Louise” for the First Time at Louise Edvina’s Request—Two New German Operas with Italian Subjects to Be Produced in Germany Next Season—Elgar’s New “Polonia” for Poland the Result of Inspiration of Many Years Ago—Munich Opera Patron Remembers Orchestra and Choristers in His Will—Patti Donates Her “Carmen” Slippers to Relief Sale in London—Portugal’s Only Distinguished Pianist Succeeds Stavenhagen in Geneva

LILLI LEHMANN, that empress of lyric art, does not yet consider her labors of love on behalf of Mozart completed. Not content with seeing her dreamed-of shrine for her special idol embodied in the recently inaugurated Mozarteum in Salzburg as the result of her summer Mozart festivals in the beautiful White town in the Salzkammergut and the general propaganda she has carried on, she now announces that from next year on she will devote two months every summer to coaching gifted singers in the art and traditions of Mozart singing at the Mozarteum.
Here is an extraordinary opportunity for which there will inevitably be every year a great many more candidates than can possibly be accepted. Mozart lovers and the opera world generally will hope that from such a “master school” there may again come singers who understand and can illustrate a Mozart legato and the Mozart recitative.
* * * FOR the first time, strange as it may appear, Gustave Charpentier conducted a performance of his “Louise” at the Opéra Comique in Paris just a few days ago. The performance was a special one given in aid of the war victims, and the Louise of the occasion,. Louise Edvina, personally requested the composer to lend the special interest that his presence at the conductor’s desk could inspire.
Paris is not in the mood these days for going to the theater very much, but it crowded the Opéra Comique—where Edvina served most of her “apprenticeship”—for this performance of “Louise” for three reasons, according to the London Observer: First, because of the special object of the performance; secondly, because Edvina sang, and thir dly, because Charpentier was conducting it for the first time.
* * * FIRST of the autumn premières of new German operas will be that of “Mona Lisa,” completed by Max von Schillings in time for production at the beginning of the season just closed, but held over for the hoped-for less troublous times. With the public mind now more or less adjusted to the prospect of having a long-drawn-out struggle, the opera houses in Germany are showing symptoms of elaborating, in moderate measure, upon their conservative repertoires of the first year of the war.
The “Mona Lisa” première will take place at the Stuttgart Court Opera, of which von Schillings is the musical director, on Sept. 26. Productions will follow at the Vienna Court Opera on Oct. 4 and the Berlin Royal Opera on Oct. 15. Richard Strauss, who has shown a friendly interest in the composer since his first work, “Der Pfeifertag,” was produced in Berlin eleven or twelve years ago, will direct the Berlin performances. Considering the Italian atmosphere of the subject, it will be interesting to see whether the present tension of feeling between Germany and Italy will prejudice the success of the new work in its German composer’s country.
Prima donnas who essay the leading rôle are going to be hard put to it to impersonate the lady with the enigmatical smile immortalized by Leonardo da Vinci. That unique painter, poet, mathematician and inventor of the Italian Renaissance is naturally one of the leading characters in the opera.
Another new work woven around the life of a historical Italian personality by a German composer which will be heard next season in Germany is Hans Pfitzner’s “Palestrina.” During his year’s leave of absence from the Strassburg Municipal Opera Pfitzner has completed the score. With the great Italian composer of church music as the hero of the opera, the Council of Trent provides the background of the action.
“Mona Lisa” and “Palestrina”! From the very nature of their subjects and of their respective composers, two outstanding personalities among Germany’s creative artists of to-day, these two works should make a strikingly interesting pair of novelties to make notable the opera year of 1915-16.
* * * CELEBRITIES of the musical and dramatic worlds donated a unique collection of personal souvenirs for the sale held in London last week in aid of the Three Arts Employment Rooms. Perhaps the most interesting gifts received by Clara Butt from her fellow musicians for the sale were Adelina Patti’s contributions. One was a pair of tiny slippers reposing in a fascinating old wooden box, which bears the name “Adelina” on the silk lining and a picture of the singer’s home on the lid. They are the slippers that were worn by Patti every time she appeared in “Carmen.” There is also a white fan, dated 1859, which she used in “La Traviata.”
* * * SIR EDWARD ELGAR’S new symphonic work, “Polonia,” composed expressly for Ignace Paderewski’s Polish Relief Fund Concert at Queen’s Hall, London, on Tuesday of last week, comes as a kind of natural war sequel to the same composer’s “Carillon,” written for King Albert’s Book last Christmas. But the inception of this new Symphonic Prelude, as it is officially described, really dates back many years before the outbreak of the present great struggle.
For, while the immediate impetus was supplied by Emil Mlynarski, the Polish conductor of the Scottish Orchestra of Glasgow, who, in view of the assistance rendered to the Belgian relief fund by the “Carillon,” suggested two months ago that a Polish work should be written for a concert specially devoted to Polish music, it was at his old home in Herefordshire that Sir Edward received the original inspiration for it.
Almost immediately opposite the Elgar house there stood the ancient home of the Bodenhams, the then heir to which married in 1850 a noble Polish lady, and from their descendant, Count Lubienski-Bodenham, the Squire of Rotherwas, Sir Edward learned much of Polish history, thought and feeling during his residence in the adjoining parish. As he himself says: “Mere book work was never so happily supplemented.”
It was thus that the composer was first seriously attracted to Poland. When Mlynarski approached him on the subject of the work that has now taken shape as “Polonia” this experience recurred to him. “That some sort of symphonic prelude might be a practical and perhaps even a useful tribute to my friend Paderewski for his concerts in connection with the Polish victims relief fund, was the final inducement to attempt to weave into a concise movement some national tunes.”
As to “Polonia” itself, it commences, according to Robin H. Legge, in A Minor, with some original introductory matter, but the material mostly used consists of three national airs, “Z Dymem Pozarrów," in a slow tempo; “Jeszcze Polska nie zginela” [“Poland is not lost yet”], and a third. Sir Edward says that he selected these three tunes from many suggested to him by Mlynarski as being the most suitable for a work designed to appeal to national feeling. They are well contrasted, especially rhythmically. After the statement of the themes there occurs a most impressive episode, subdued in tone and color, in which the composer quotes a theme from Paderewski’s Polish Fantasia, and a few bars from a familiar nocturne by Chopin, thus linking the two greatest of Polish musicians.
A public already deeply impressed by “Carillon” awaited “Polonia” with the keenest interest. The report of its reception is yet to come, but the Daily Telegraph’s critic declares that “if Elgar can produce two master works as the direct result of war he will have achieved that which never before has been accomplished in music’s history!”
* * * IN Germany a patron of music or any other of the arts is called a Kunstfreund (literally, friend of art). A wealthy Kunstfreund living in Munich, named Bürckl, who died not long ago, made a bequest that indicated an uncommonly thoughtful appreciation of the essentials in performances that afford enjoyment.
By his will Herr Bürckl left £8250 for the members of the orchestra at the Munich Court Opera and also a substantial sum for the men and women of the chorus. His reason for so doing, as he expressly emphasized, was that he wished to show his gratitude to both the orchestra and the chorus for all the pleasure he had derived from their share in the performances he had attended at the Court Opera.
* * * SO seldom do vocal students interest themselves seriously in any branch of music outside of their own immediate field that when a young singer does come along who is really an accomplished musician one instinctively reads in the unusual equipment an augury of ultimate success. Marcella Sembrich with her unique position in the world of singing artists based on her threefold artistic equipment as singer, pianist and violinist will ever remain a pattern and an example for the younger generations of aspiring song-birdlings.
How many young singers can play any instrument well enough to make a dignified concert success with it? Yet this ability is accredited to a new soprano named Marguerite Nielka, who has been making her London debut in a dual capacity. It is, of course, as a singer that she aspires to winning success, and in this rôle she appeared at the farewell concert Henri Verbrugghen gave with the London Symphony Orchestra before leaving to become director of the new Conservatory of Music at Sydney, Australia, when she sang a Mozart air and songs by César Franck and Bachelet. But just a few days before she had proved herself an accomplished violinist at another concert by playing the violin part of César Franck’s Sonata for violin and piano. In fact, her special hobby while she was in Paris studying with Jean de Reszke was to play chamber music with Terrhave and Salmon.
With five languages and eight or nine important rôles to start with at her finger tips, she would have made her debut in opera this year but for the war. Her attention has been diverted for months past to Red Cross work instead.
* * * AMERICANS who have been in the habit of visiting Ostend will remember Leon Rinskopf as an integral part of the famous Belgian resort in the summer months, for up to the outbreak of the war he had been the conductor-in-chief of the Kursaal Concerts for twenty-five years. News of his death has just reached London, where he conducted a concert in aid of his fellow countrymen just two or three months ago.
The card announcing his death is thus literally translated by its London recipient: “In the absence of the family, who are held up in Belgium by the German occupation, a group of devoted friends assisted, with grief, at the final moments and at the funeral of M. Rinskopf, who died at Deauville-sur-Mer in the fifty-third year of his age. The body has been provisionally deposited in the cemetery at Deauville, but will be exhumed when circumstances permit of its transference to the family vault of the Rinskopfs at Ghent.”
Ostend was famous for its summer concerts. No other European resort has ever been able to boast such a brilliant series studded with stars of the lyric world as Rinskopf •arranged at the Kursaal every summer. Almost every celebrated singer, from Caruso down, has sung there at one time or another for the summer visitors. But quite apart from these activities Rinskopf was one of the most conspicuous figures in Belgium’s music world.
* * * SOME of the musicians at the front are evidently determined to improve the waiting hours in the trenches by adding to their musical resources. A music dealer in London has received from one of the London Scottish regiments in Flanders an order for some miniature orchestral scores, accompanied by a remittance of a five-franc note. As it could not be to follow the music at a concert within sound of the guns that he wanted the scores the soldier must have sent for them for a subject of study in his leisure moments. Scores studied amid such conditions must necessarily leave an indelible impression on the mind.
A story told by a writer in The Nation is worth repeating. Under the heading “From the Front” it runs thus:
“Scene: Improvised sing-song, to which a number of German prisoners were admitted as a special favor. Officer running it returns after a brief absence to find the sergeant left in control of the program announcing the following ‘item’: ‘Our friends Fritz and ‘Ans will now oblige with the “Ymn of ‘Ate.”
And not to be outdone by the more legitimate news vehicles, Punch contributes this dispatch “from the front”:
“All battalions were recently warned to keep a careful watch for any contrivances which the Germans might use with the object of producing poisonous gases. Shortly afterward a certain regiment on taking over some trenches found an old bagpipe left in the lines. At once the Berlin’s professional ranks, but because of his country’s official sympathy with the Allies he found it the better part of discretion to leave Germany in the early stages of the war.
One of the foremost of Spanish pianists, Maria Cervantes, died suddenly last month. She had been a pupil of the late Raoul Pugno in Paris, but made extended tours through the various European countries and was recognized as one of the most gifted of the younger women artists.
* * * THE Beecham-Ronald Promenade Concerts have come to an end in London. The audiences would have looked large in a hall of moderate dimensions, but they were lost in the spacious auditorium of Albert Hall. A feature of one of the last concerts of the series was the first performance of the Overture to Dr. Ethel Smyth’s as yet unproduced opera, “The Boatswain’s Mate,” which would have been given in at least two German cities last winter if the war had not “changed all that.” —J. L. H.


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