August 11, 1917
Page 1

Future of Orchestras and Choruses Will Be Determined By Efforts of Conscription—Passage of Alien Bill May Mean Total Disruption of Many Musical Organizations—Operatic Society of Philadelphia Crippled By Nation’s Call for Soldiers

A UNIQUE situation confronts music in this country because of the draft. While reports pour in telling of the threatened disruption of musical organizations, preparations are being made in a number of cities for an unusually active musical season. The situation hinges on the progress of conscription. lf the artists, American and alien, are available, the musical season will doubtless be remarkably prosperous.
If the pending Chamberlain Bill is passed and artists of all nationalities are called to the front, and musicians up to a more advanced age are summoned, then the situation will become complex.
Philadelphia and Los Angeles report the loss of many musicians. Teachers and choral -societies- are especially affected.
The New York situation is as yet uncertain because of the slo~ progress of drafting.
Richard Keys Biggs, organist, of Brooklyn, has enlisted in the First Base Hospital of the Naval Reserve.
Cripples Philadelphia Opera
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 6.—Wassili Leps, conductor of the Philadelphia Operatic Society, has lost about thirty men from his large chorus of that society and with the selective draft expects to lose another thirty. As the chorus numbers about eighty women and seventy men, this will of course cripple the work—to such an extent that operas may have to be chosen which require women’s voices only.
Ralph Kinder, one of the most prominent organists and composers and director of the Norristown Choral, believes that there is no way of definitely telling how the draft will affect music. “From present appearances,” added Mr. Kinder, “I am inclined to take an optimistic view of conditions. For the first time in my experience, teaching continued until a week ago, and from these indications I see no reason why a satisfactory teaching season should not be before us.
“I think that the general anxiety caused by the ·draft and the existing conditions will affect the musical atmosphere to a degree, but I ·also believe that music, like religion, is essential to the welfare of the people and that a season is ahead of us that will bring gratitude and satisfaction to all.”
Arthur· Judson, manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra, does not contemplate any serious consequences upon that organization.
“There were fifteen men subject to conscription in the orchestra,” declared Mr. Judson, “and of course all of their numbers were drawn in the various hundreds of the draft. We cannot, of course, prophesy in advance whether any of them will be taken or not, but it looks to us at the present moment as if not more than one or two at the most will be refused exemption. As far as matters stand now, the coming season of the Orchestra Association will not be affected in the slightest.
“The advance subscription to the concerts is greater than any year heretofore, and the prospects for other musical entertainments are excellent. We have no means of checking up at the present time the effect of the conscription upon the chorus. We cannot arrive at any decision on that until the chorus is assembled in the early fall and we find out the actual condition of things. We do not anticipate that we will have any trouble on this score.
“It seems to me,” continued Mr. Judson, “that in this period of strain which the country is going through, and which is bound to increase as the war goes on, especially if it be a long war, the public will turn more and more to those things which will offer relief. It may be that the theaters for the first six months or year will get a great patronage from the public, and I believe that eventually the public will turn to serious forms of music for relief from the strain of the war. All organizations may pass through very troublous times, but I do not believe that those organizations which are founded upon public need and are not purely luxuries will have any great difficulty in weathering this storm.”
W. Palmer Hoxie, vocal authority and author on musical subjects, said in summarizing the present condition:
“I do not believe that schools, colleges, conservatories and teachers should suffer from this changing order of things. The study of music should act as an offset to the depressing nature of war news and inspire many who have been contented to regard music as a luxury to be enjoyed, to take an active interest in some branch of our musical work.”
May Hurt Choral Work
Anne McDonough, director of the Choral Union and Public Sight Singing Classes, expresses her belief that the war draft will have a decided effect upon the male choirs of the choral societies.
“Just at the close of our season,” continued Miss. McDonough, “sixteen of the members of the Choral Union had volunteered and I have no doubt that many more have since enlisted. In the course of my community music work at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Y. M. C. A. during the month of July I found many members of various choral organizations in Philadelphia as well as from other cities among the sailors and marines. Our chorus work must go on, nevertheless, and we hope to revive in the older men, who are doing home service, an interest in choral music. The community sings now being conducted in the public parks are an important step in this direction and with the organization of the Community Chorus in the autumn will greatly strengthen the interest in all choral singing.”
Frank Gittelson, violinist, is training himself as a wireless operator.
Registration must have had some comic sides that did not get into print. When Hans Kindler, the ‘cellist, whose income probably mounts into five figures, mentioned his profession to the registration officers and told them he played the ‘cello, they asked him to spell it. They could understand playing the ‘cello for fun, but not as a means of living.
Los Angeles Clubs Lose Many
Los ANGELES, Aug. 1.—About 5000 men are to be taken by conscription from Los Angeles and the musicians are furnishing a large proportion.
The body that is hit hardest is the Orpheus Club, a chorus of seventy young men. Out of this chorus about fifty were registered, and of these it is probable that perhaps half may be called by the draft. This chorus is the hardest hit, as all the other musical bodies in the city are of an average older age. The choirs will also suffer.
The Ellis Club of 100 men will suffer less in proportion than the Orpheus, as its members are generally older.
Two leading young organists have enlisted in the Naval Base Hospital Corps—Clyde Collison and Newell Parker—the hitter organist of the First M. E. Church, where Carl Bronson has a chorus choir which registered fourteen and will lose six or seven.
The young violinists are well represented in the list of draft numbers, including Emil Seidel and Rudolph Kopp of the Brahms Quintet, Jaime Overton and John Koslowski, but Kopp is an Austrian, and Overton is married, which may release them.·Will Garroway, a prominent pianist, has enlisted as a musician and will change his technique from piano to bugle.
George Schoenfeld, pianist and harpsichordist; son of Henry Schoenfeld, director, drew a low number.
Edwin Schallert, music critic of the Times for several years, enlisted before the numbers were drawn and is expecting to go into service soon.
The Musicians’ Protective Union reports that several of its members are among ‘those called, including John Mulieri, Jack Spencer and Emil Meine; brother of Bernard Meine, director of the Mason Opera House orchestra.
The director of Trinity Auditorium choir, Thomas Taylor Drill, reports that five of his boys have been called and two of them have left for service by enlistment. The other large choirs will have about the same number of losses.
So far the Symphony Orchestra does not report any heavy draft on its forces, other than those mentioned above who are members.
Affects San Jose Teachers
SAN JOSE, CAL., Aug. 1.—From the present outlook it appears as if the private music teachers would be the ones who will feel the effect of the draft most keenly, as many of their students have been drafted. One teacher interviewed expects to lose one-third of his students. To what degree the conservatories will be affected cannot be determined until the opening of the new term.
Of the musicians called to the colors the most prominent is Raymond Masher, of the music department of the State Normal College. Victor Doux Ehle, head of Ehle’s School of Music, was drafted, but is practically certain of exemption on account of a dependent wife and child. Raymond Bemis, violin instructor at the Ehle School, has joined the navy musicians.


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