July 25, 1914
Page 11

Munich Names a Street in Honor of Richard Strauss−First Details of Wagner Royalties Yet Made Public Show That Bayreuth Heirs Received $1,500,000 During First Thirty Years−More German Hospitality for English Militant Suffragette Composer’s Operas−Italian Composers Officially Recognize Possibilities of Cinematograph as New Field for Them−English Critic Discusses Modem Composers in Light of “Supreme Greatness” Tes−Vienna Plans Another Week of Music

HONORS continue to be heaped upon Richard Strauss. The most recent since the placing of a tablet on his natal house in Munich and the founding of a Richard Strauss Museum in Frankfort-on-Main and the conferring upon him of the honorary degree of doctor of music by the University of Oxford, is one of the courtesies rarely extended to the living. The municipality of Munich has decided that it should have a street named in honor of its most illustrious musical son, and in consequence one of the principal thoroughfares of the Bavarian capital is shortly to be re-named the Richard Strauss Strasse.
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THE first details yet made public regarding the royalties received by the heirs of Richard Wagner are to be found in a recent issue of the Tagliche Rundschau. A Munich writer named Jurinek divides the time from 1883 to 1914 into twelve parts according to the succession new high-water marks reached.
Such new records were registered by the year 1886, when the royalties paid in amounted to $22,654; the year 1887, with a total of $23,734; the year 1890, with $29,276; the year 1892, with $35,312; the year 1895, with $39,409; the year 1896 with $43,657; the year 1901, with $54,792; the year 1904, with $65,645; the year 1905, with $75,395; the year 1906, with $80,883; the year 1912, with $84,000, and the year 1913, with $93,986. In other words, by the end of thirty years the sum representing the first high-water mark has quadrupled itself, and it is easy to reckon that the total amount of royalties the Bayreuth house of Wagner received in the thirty years reached a round $1,500,000 at least.
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GERMANY has been practically the only land of opportunity that Ethel Smyth has found for her operas as yet, though it is true that her first work, “Der Wald,” was given a hearing at the Metropolitan during the Conried regime. The Berlin Royal Opera was the first institution to produce “Der Wald” and the Leipsic Municipal Theater was the scene of the premiere of the English woman-composer’s second opera, “Strandrecho,” or, as it is called in English, “The Wreckers,” which had aroused Arthur Nikisch’s interest when the conductor saw the manuscript.
Now Munich is going to give “The Wreckers” a trial, Baron Franckenstein, the Intendant-General, having accepted it, and there it will be heard at the Court Theater in February.
But Dr. Smyth has not permitted the ardors of the militant suffrage campaigns with which she has been identified during the past two or three years to hamper her creative activity, in proof of which a new work, this time an opéra comique, is announced from her pen. It is entitled “The Boatsman’s Mate” and is based on one of W. W. Jacob’s characteristic stories. Its first stage performance will be given, it is expected, at Frankfort-on-Main, but it may be sung without scenery or costumes at the Norwich Festival before that.
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FOR the purpose of popularizing good music in connection with cinematograph pictures a new company has been formed in Milan by Renzo Sonzogno, of the well known Italian publishing house. The undertaking, which has been named the Renzo Sonzogno Musical Films, has already secured the co-operation of such prominent Italian composers as Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Franchetti and Bossi.
Signor Sonzogno, according to a London authority, is of the opinion that good music properly adapted for the cinematograph can be the means of educating people up to the level of classic opera. He also thinks that there is a bright future for composers who can write operettas that will lend themselves to film production.
Already Isidore de Lara, the composer of “Messaline,” has made use of the cinematograph in a “poetic and musical fantasy,” a work “after a new manner,” that has been brought out in Paris. A correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph thus describes Mr. de Lara’s latest work:
“He tells the story of Don Juan in poetry, prose and music with the help of the cinematograph. On a terrace in a park three ladies have dressed up in Louis XV gowns. Their husbands and a butterfly bachelor hover round them. The husbands go off hunting, the bachelor goes off to catch butterflies and the three ladies tell each other ghost stories. Each met the evening before, in the park, a stranger who spoke such wonderful words that without knowing why they fell into his arms. While the ladies tell their adventures or their dreams, the cinematograph shows us the three pairs of lovers in the park behind. A Byronic stranger in a black cloak appears and sings.” The music begins only now. He sings a long, picturesque and dramatic monologue. The three husbands run on, rapier in hand. Have all three wives been dreaming of this one man? And they ask him who he is and whoever he may be to stand and defend himself. He replies in a song of much dramatic power that he is Don Juan. He is the immortal Don Juan and the genius of the species. The husbands lunge at him and he disappears; while the ladies, who have crept on in the background, burst out laughing.
Only Don Juan sings throughout the playlet, for he alone is immortal. The others, mere ordinary people, talk sometimes in verse and sometimes in prose.”
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NOVEMBER 1 is the date set for the first performance anywhere of “Mona Lisa,” the new opera recently completed by Max Schillings, who has two produced operas to his credit thus far−“Der Pfeiffertag” and “Moloch.” Mona Lisa will make her debut as a heroine of the lyric stage at the Stuttgart Court Opera, of which the composer is musical director. The principal male rôle will be created by John Forsell, the Swedish baritone, who now has a large following in Germany.
A few days after the Stuttgart première Director Hans Gregor will extend the hospitality of the Vienna Court Opera to “Mona Lisa,” and there Frau Jeritza will impersonate the lady with the cryptic smile. The Hamburg Municipal Opera likewise has accepted the novelty.
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SIXTEEN performances of “music, dance and mystic drama” are to be given at the old English abbey town of Glastonbury during the month of August in connection with Rutland Boughton’s Holiday School of Music. This institution marks the first step towards the achievement of the English Bayreuth projected by Mr. Boughton and Reginald Buckley for the production of Arthurian music dramas and other native works, which eventually would give it rank as a national headquarters for music drama, where Wagner’s works, too, would be given.
Chief interest in next month’s performances will center, the London Daily Telegraph thinks, in the production of the new music drama, “The Immortal Hour,” and in the application to Wagner of the idea of “Dancing Scenery.” The closing scene of “Die Walkűre” is to be sung by Perceval Allen and Frederic Austin, while Margaret Morris’s dancers perform the functions of Loge’s servants in the fire music. This takes place during the last week, when there will be performances every day to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the Playhouse.
The chief events will take place in the historic grounds, where stand the ruins of the Abbot’s Kitchen, or, in the event of bad weather, in the Crispin Hall. The productions will generally be in the hands of Margaret Morris, who is known in this country, and Mr. Boughton but a pageant play dealing with the legend of St. Bride will be produced by Alice Buckton, the author of “Eager Heart.”
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WHAT is “supreme greatness”? asks Gerald Cumberland, the English critic, who thereupon proceeds to explain in Musical Opinion, that, as it appears to him, it is the power to create emotional thought that has not only a direct relationship to ordinary, external life, but which reveals or partly discloses some of the fundamental truths of our spiritual existence.
“A composer like Chopin, for example never dives very deeply into our souls: He can stir us emotionally, he can arouse our sense of wonder, he can charm and beguile us and make life seem more enchanting than ever it was before but he can never make us catch a sudden self-revealing glimpse of our own souls. It is the power to do this, I claim, that constitutes artistic greatness. The clever perceptive man with a big and comprehensive brain can paint the external world; but it is only the man with a great soul who can indicate the inner workings of a man’s spiritual nature, who can grasp at, and almost embody, infinity, and who can think and feel profoundly about human destiny.
It seems to Mr. Cumberland that the greatest creators in art have always been impersonal in their work. Shakespeare, for instance, did not primarily put himself into his plays: he embodied in his writings the multitudinous soul of humanity. The instinct that drove him to write was not the instinct of self-expression, for “that is the object of the lesser type of genius, “but, rather, the instinct to express the whole range of human feeling and endeavor, and it is breadth of sympathy and depth of understanding that distinguish the great man and make him different from the smaller genius.
“This breadth of sympathy and depth of understanding are the supreme qualities of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Wagner, Brahms and Mozart; but I doubt if they will be found in any other composer though I am tempted to include the name of Schumann. They certainly will not be found in the work of any living musician.
“Let us examine the productions of a few of the most distinguished of modern composers−Strauss, Reger, Debussy, Bantock, Holbrooke, Elgar, Sibelius, Ravel, Stravinsky and the rest. In most of these men we see nothing but a single personality. Ravel is simply himself, he does not understand anyone else: he is merely an exquisitely refined temperament wholly engaged in self-expression. Stravinsky and Sibelius are of the same type. The imagination of the former is outré, extravagant and fantastic; that of the latter is romantic and picturesque, but obsessed by visions of white lakes and dark pine forests. The one expresses his own agile brain, the other expresses his own agile brain, the other expresses the Maeterlinckian romanticism of his own country’s scenery. Both are individual and curious and highly interesting, but neither is great.
“Elgar’s genius is held in check by a disagreeable refinement that is almost ‘gentlemanly.’ His ‘Falstaff’ is a strange exhibition of an artist doing his utmost to reform and dehumanize a man who was so full of exuberant life that many of his acts were essentially vulgar. The great artist is never afraid of abundant life, of democratic feeling, of coarseness, of vulgarity. It is only the small man, the ‘light weight,’ who turns away in disgust from sweating crowds and taprooms and ‘low’ music halls. The man who has the ‘stuff’ of greatness in him instinctively embraces the whole of life; he may not express the whole of life in his art, but he at least understands it.
“It is an easy task to construct the personality of Elgar from his compositions; indeed, a man of keen perceptions could write his biography from his scores. It is the same with Chopin and Mendelssohn, those white-fingered pseudo-aristocrats whose brains were bigger than their sou1s. Who, after a few weeks' study of Debussy does not feel certain that this man will hate Wagner, that he will like greenhouses full of pale flowers, that he will resent war an all the brutality of athleticism?
“But when we come to the work of Richard Strauss, Max Reger, Granville Bantock and Joseph Holbrooke we are faced by a rather different and a somewhat perplexing problem. In all these men I recognize a richness of nature, an adventurousness of spirit and an imaginative glow that are allied to, if they do not actually constitute greatness.
“It may be objected that no man can write work that is greater than himself. That, I believe, is true; for, in spite of lapses of conduct, a man may spiritually be great. But is it not possible for a man to cultivate greatness, to make himself generous and large in ideas in spite of the meanness of his nature, to be courageous in. spite of his cowardice? Greatness is not always a matter of inheritance, it can be brought into being by a continuous effort of will.”
Festival engagements fairly jostle one another for Gervaise Elwes, the English tenor who is to make a second visit to New York next December to sing in the New York Oratorio Society’s performance of Elgar’s “Dream of Gerontius.” During the coming season Mr. Elwes is to sing at the Worcester (England) Festival in “Elijah” and a new work by Walford Davies, at the Norwich Festival in “Parsifal.”' “Elijah.'' the St. Matthew Passion Music'' and Granville Bantock’s “Omar Khayam” and at the Sheffield Festival in “Elijah” and “Parsifal”' again and, as well, in Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis.”
VIENNA’S next Week of Music, to be held in May, 1915, will be given over mainly to the works of the younger Viennese composers, such as Bittner, Schrecker, Prohaska, and so forth. The Court Opera, which will also bring out works by Vienna composers, will usher in the musical festivities of the week with a performance of Gluck's “lphigenie in Aulia” and close it with Johann Strauss's “Die Fledermaus” and Car1 Goldmark's “The Cricket on the Hearth.” The Johann Strauss Monument in the Municipal Park will be unveiled during the week. —J.L.H.


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