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^-^ ^/il- PREFACE 

When mymaiden novel, called Immaturity, was printed fifty years 
after it was written, I prefacedit with some account of the un- 
happy-go-Iucky way in which I was brought up, ending with 
the nine years of shabby genteel destitution during which my 
attempts to gain a footing in literature were a complete and appar- 
ently hopeless failure. , 

I was rescued from diis condition by William Archer, who 
transferred some of his book reviewing work to me, and pushed 
me into a post as picture critic which had been pushed on him, 
and for which he considered himself unqualified, as in fact he was, 
So, as reviewer for the old Pall Mall Gazette and picture critic for 
Edmund Yates's then fashionable weekly, The World, I carried 
on imtil I found an opening which I can explain only by describ- 
ing the musical side of my childhood, to which I made only a 
passii^ allusion in my Immaturity pte;&ce, but which was of 
cardinal importance in my education. 

In 1888, 1 being then 32 and aheady a noted critic and political 
agitator, the Star newspaper was founded under the editorship 
of the late T. P. 0'G>imor (nicknamed Tay Pay by Yates), who 
had for his very much more competoit assistant the late H. W. 
Massingham. Tay Pay survived until 1936; but his mind never 
advanced beyond the year i86f, thou^ his Fenian sympathies 
and his hearty detestation of the English nation disguised that 
defect from him. Massin^am induced him to invite me to join 
die political staff of his paper; but as I had already, fourteen 
years before Lenin, read Karl Marx, and was preaching Socialism 
at every street comer or other available forum in London and the 
provinces, the effect of my articles on Tay Pay may be imagined. 
He refused to print them, and told me that, man alive, it would be 
five hundred years before such stuff would become practical 
political journalism. He was too goodnatured to sack me; and I 
did not want to throw away my job; so I got him out of his 
difficulty by asking him to let me have two columtis a week for a 


feuilleton on music He was glad to get rid of my politics on these 
terms; but he stipulated that — musical criticism being known to 
him only as unreadable and unintelligible jargon — ^I should, for 
God's sake, not write about Bach in B Minor. I was quite alive to 
that danger: in fact I had made my proposal because I believed I 
could make musical criticism readable even by the deaf. Besides, 
my terms were moderate: two guineas a week. 

I was strong on the need for signed criticism written in the 
first person instead of the journalistic "we"; but as I then had no 
name worth signing, and G. B. S. meant nothing to the public, I 
had to invent a fantastic personality with something like a foreign 
title, I thought of Count di Luna (a character in Verdi's Trova- 
tore), but finally changed it for Como di Bassettp, as it sounded 
like a foreign title, and nobody knew what a como di bassetto was. 

As a matter of &ct the como di bassetto is not a foreigner with 
a title but a musical instrument called in English the basset hom. 
It is a wretched instrument, now completely snuffed out for 
general use by the bass clarionet. It would be forgotten and un- 
played if it were not that Mozart has scored for it in his Requiem, 
evidendy because its peculiar watery melancholy, and the total 
absence of any richness or passion in its totie, is just die thing for 
a funeral. Mendelssohn wrote some chamber music for it, presum- 
ably to oblige somebody who played it; and it is kept alive by 
these works and by our Mr Whall. If I had ever heard a note of 
it in 188S I should not have selected it for a character which I 
intended to be sparlding. The devil himself could not make a 
basset hom sparkle. 

For two years I sparkled every week in The Star under this 
ridiculous name, and in a manner so absolutely unlike the con- 
ventional musical criticism of the time that all the journalists 
believed that the affair was a huge joke, the point of which was 
that I knew nothing whatever about music. How it had come 
about that I was one of the few critics of that time who really 
knew their business I can explain only by picking up the thread 
of autobiography which I dropped in my scrappy prefix to Im- 
maturity. For the sake of those who have not read the Immaturity 


preface, or have forgotten it, I shall have to repeat here some of 
my Other's history, but only so &r as is necessary to explain the 
situation of my mother. 

Technically speaking I should say she was the worst mother 
concdvable, always, however, within the limits of the feet that 
she was incapable of unkindness to any child, animal, or flower, 
or indeed to any person or thing whatsoever. But if such a 
thing as a maternity welfere centre had been established or even 
imagined in Ireland in her time, and she had, been induced to visit 
it, every precept of it would have been laughably strange to 
her. Though ^e had been severely educated up to the highest 
standard for Irish "carriage ladies" of her time, she was much 
more like a Trobriand islander as described by Mr Malinowski 
than like a modem Cambridge lady graduate in respect of accept- 
ing all the habits, good or bad, of the Irish society in which she 
was brought up as part of an uncontrollable order of nature. She 
went her own way with so complete a disregard and even im- 
consdousness of convendon and scandal and prejudice that it was 
impossible to doubt her good faith and innocence; but it never 
occurred to her that other people, especially children, needed 
guidance or training, or that it mattered in the least what they ate 
and drank or what they did as long as they were not actively mis- 
chievous. She accepted me as a natural and customary pheno- 
menon, and took it for granted that I should go on occurring in 
that way. lii short, living to her was not an art: it was something 
that happened. But there were tmlund parts of it that could be 
avoided; and among these were the constraints and tyrannies, the 
scoldings and browbeatings and punishments she had suffered in 
her childhood as the method of her education. In her righteous 
reacdon against it she reached a negative attitude in which, 
having no substitute to propose, she carried domestic anarchy as 
fer as in die nature of things it can be carried. 

She had been tyrannously taught French enoi^ to redte one 
or two of Lafontaine's lables; to play the piano the wrong way; to 
harmonize by rule from Leber's Thoroughbass; to sit up straight 
and speak and dress and behave like a lady, and an Irish lady at 


that. She knew nothing of the value of money nor of housekeep- 
ing nor of hygiene nor of anything that could be left to servants 
or governesses or parents or solicitors or apothecaries or any 
other member of the retinue, indoor and outdoor, of a country 
house. She had great expectations &om a humpbacked litde aunt, 
a fairylike creature with a will of iron, who had brought up her 
motherless niece with a firm determination to make her a paragon 
of good breeding, to achieve a distinguished marriage for her, 
and to leave her all her money as a dowry. 

Manufacturing destinies for other people is a dangerous game. 
Its results are usually as unexpected as those of a first-rate Euro- 
pean war. When my mother came to marriageable age her long 
widowed father married again, llie brother of his late wife, to 
whom he was considerably in debt, disapproved so stroi^y that 
on learning the date of the approaching ceremony from my 
mother he had the bridegroom arrested on his way to church. My 
grandfather naturally resented this manoeuvre, and in his wrath 
could not be persuaded that his daughter was not my grand- 
uncle's accomplice in it. Visits to relatives in Dublin provided a 
temporary refuge for her; and the af^iir would have blown over 
but for the intervention of my father. 

My father was a very ineligible suitor for a paragon with great 
expectations. His family pretensions were enormous; but they 
were founded on many generations of younger sons, and were 
purely psychological. He had managed to acquire a gentlemanly 
post In the law courts. This post had been aboli^ed and its 
holder pensioned. By selling the pension he was enabled to start 
in business as a wholesaler in the com trade (retail trade was 
beneath his family dignity) of which he knew nothing. He accen- 
tuated this deficiency by becoming the partner of a Mr CUbbom, 
who had served an apprenticeship to the cloth trade. Their com- 
bined ignorances kept the business going, mainly by its own 
inertia, until they and it died. Many years after this event I paid a 
visit of curiosity to Jervis St. Dublin; and there, on one of the 
pillars of a small portico, I found the ancient inscription "Clib- 
bom & Shaw" still decipherable, as it were on the tombs of the 


Pharaohs. I cannot believe that this business yielded my father at 
any time more than three or four hundred a year; and it got less 
as time went on, as that particular kind of business was dying a 
slow death throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

My father was in principle an ardent teetotaller. Nobody ever 
felt the disgrace and misery and endless mischief of drunkenness 
as he did: he impressed it so deeply on me in my earliest years 
that I have been a teetotaller ever since. Unfortunately his con- 
viction in this matter was founded on personal experience. He was 
the victim of a drink neurosis which cropped up in his family 
from time to time: a miserable affliction, quite unconvivial, and 
accompanied by torments of remorse and shame. 

My father was past forty, and no doubt had sanguine illusions 
as to the future of his newly acquired business when he fell in 
love with my mother and was emboldened by her expectations 
and his business hopes to propose to her just at the moment when 
marriage seemed her only way of escape from an angry father and 
a Stepmother. Immediately all her relatives, who had tolerated 
this middle-aged gendeman as a perfectly safe acquaintance with 
an agreeable vein of humor, denounced him as a notorious 
dnmkard. My mother, suspicious of this sudden change of front, 
put the question directly to my htthei. His eloquence and sincerity 
convinced her that he was, as he claimed to be, and as he was in 
principle, a bigoted teetotaller. She married him; and her dis- 
appointed and infuriated aunt disinherited her, not foreseeing that 
the consequences of the marriage would include so remarkable a 
phenomenon as myself. 

When my mother was disillusioned, and found out what living 
on a few hundreds a year with three children meant, even in a 
country where a general servant could be obtained for eight 
pounds a year, her condition must have been about as unhappy 
and her prospects as apparently hopeless as her aunt could have 
desired even in her most vindictive moments. 

But there was one trump in her hand. She was fond of music, 

and had a mezzo-soprano voice of remarkable purity of tone. In 

the next street to ours, Harrington Street, where the houses were 



bigger and more feshionable than in our little by-street, there was 
a teacher of singii^ lamed by an accident in childhood which had 
left one of his 1^ shorter than the other, but a man of mesmeric 
vitality and force. He was a bachelor living with his brother, 
whom he supported and adored, and a terrible old woman who 
was his servant of all work. His name was George John Vandaleur 
Lee, known in Dublin as Mr G. J. Lee. Singing lessons were 
cheap in Dublin; and my mother went to Lee to learn how to 
sing properly. He trained her voice to such purpose that she 
became indispensable to him as an amateur prima donna. For he 
was a most magnetic conductor and an inde^tigable organizer of 
concerts, and later on of operas, with such amateur talent, vocal 
and orchestral, as he could discover and train in Dublin, which, 
as far as public professional music was concerned, was, outside 
the churdies, practically a vacuum. 

Lee soon found his way into our house, first by giving my 
mother lessons there, and then by using our drawing-room for re- 
hearsals. I can only guess that the inadequacies of old Ellen in the 
Harrington Street house, and perhaps the incompadbilities of the 
brother, outweighed the comparative smallness of our house in 
Synge Street My mother soon became not only prima donna and 
chorus leader but general musical ^ctotum in the whirlpool of 
Lee's activity. Her grounding in Logier's Thoroughbass enabled 
her to take boundless liberties with composers. When authentic 
band parts were missing she thought nothing of making up an 
orchestral accompaniment of her own from the pianoforte score. 
Lee, as far as I know, had never seen a full orchestral score in his 
life: he conducted from a first violin part or from the vocal score, 
and had not, I think, any decided notion of orchestration as an 
idiosyncratic and characteristic part of a composer's work. He had 
no scholarship according to modem ideas; but he could do what 
Wagner said is the whole duty of a conductor: he could give 
the right time to the band; and he could pull it out of its amateur 
difficulties in emergencies by sheer mesmerism. Though he could 
not, or at any rate within my hearing never did sing a note, his 
taste in silking was classically perfect. In his search for the secret 


oibel canto he had gone to all the teachers -within his reach. They 
told hira that there was a voice in the head, a voice in the throat, 
and a voice in the chest He dissected birds, and, with the conniv- 
ance of medical friends, human subjects, in his search for these 
three oi^ans. He then told the teachers authoritarively that the 
three voices were fabulous, and that the voice was produced by a 
single instrument called the larynx. They replied that musical 
art had nothing to do with anatomy, and that for a musician to 
practise dissection was unheard-of and disgusting. But as, tested 
by results, their efforts to teach their pupils to screech like loco- 
motive whistles not only outraged his ear but wrecked the voitts 
and often the health of their victims, their practice was as un- 
acceptable to him as their theory. 

Thus Lee became the enemy of every teacher of singing in 
Dublin; and they reciprocated heartily. In this negative attitude ' 
he was left until, at the opera, he heard an Italian baritone named 
Badeali, who at the age of 80, when he first discovered these 
islands, had a perfectly preserved voice, and, to Lee's taste, a per- 
fectiy produced one. Lee, thanks to his dissections, listened with 
a clear knowledge of what a larynx is really like. The other vocal 
organs and their action were obvious and conscious. Guided by 
this knowledge, and by his fine ear, his fastidious taste, and his 
instinct, he found out what Badeali was doing when he was sing- 
ing. Tlie other teachers were interested in Badeali only because 
one ofhis accomplishments was to drink a glass of wine and sing 
a sustained note at the same time. Finally Lee equipped himself 
with a teaching method which became a rel^on for him: the only 
religion, I may add, he ever professed. And my mother, as his 
pupil, learnt and embraced this musical faith, and rejected all other 
creeds as uninteresting superstitions. And it did not fail her; for 
she lived to be Badeali's age and kept her voice without a scrape 
on it until the end. 

I have to dwell on The Method, as we called it in the &mi[y, 
because my mother's association with Lee, and the minage i trots 
in which it resulted, would be unpleasantly misunderstood with- 
out this clue to it. For after the death of Lee's brother, which 


the background firom the hall door. Lee bought this cottage and 
presented it to my mother, though she never had any legal claim 
toit and did not benefit byits sale later on. Itwas notconveniently 
situated for rehearsals or lessons; but there were musical neighbors 
who allowed me to some extent to run in and out of their houses 
when there was music going on. 

The minage i crois, alternating between Hatch St. and Dalkey, 
worked in its ramshackle way quite smoothly until I was fifteen 
or thereabouts, when Lee went to London and our family broke 
up into fragments that never got pie<£d together again. 

In telling the story so far, I have had to reconstruct the part of 
it which occurred before I came into it and began, as my nurse 
put it, to take notice. I can remember the ante-Lee period in 
Synge St. when my father, as sole chief of the household, read 
family prayers and formally admitted that we had done those 
things which we ought not to have done and left undone those 
things which we ought to have done, which was certainly true 
as far as I was personally concerned. He added that there was 
no health in usj and this also was true enough about myself; 
for Dr Newland, our apothecary, was in almost continual attend- 
ance to administer cathartics; and when I had a sore throat I used 
to hold out for sixpence before submitting to a mustard plaster 
round my neck. We children (I had two sisters older than myself 
and no brothers) were abandoned entirely to the servants, who, 
with the exception of Nurse Williams, who was a good and honest 
woman, were utterly unfit to be trusted with the charge of three 
cats, much less three children. I had my meals in the kitchen, 


mostly of stewed beef, which I loathed, badly cooked potatoes, 
sound or diseased as the case might be, and much too much tea 
out of brown delft teapots left to "draw" on the hob until it was 
pure tannin. Sugar I stole. I was never hungry, because my father, 
often insuiHdently fed in his childhood, had such a horror of child 
hunger that he insisted on unlimited bread and butter being 
always within our reach. When I was troublesome a servant 
thumped me on the head until one day, gready daring, I rebelled, 
and, on finding her collapse abjectly, became thenceforth uncon- 
trollable. I ha^ the servants and liked my mother because, on the 
one or two rare and delightful occasions when she buttered my 
bread for me, she buttered it thickly instead of merely wiping a 
knife on it. Her almost complete neglect of me had the advantage 
that I could idolize her to the utmost pitch of my imagination and 
had no sordid or disillusioning contacts with her. It was a privi- 
lege to be taken for a walk or a visit with her, or on an excursion. 

My ordinary exercise whilst I was sdll too young to be allowed 
out by myself was to be taken out by a servant, who was supposed 
to air me on the banks of the cuial or round the fashionable 
squares where the atmosphere was esteemed salubrious and the 
surroundings gendemanly. Actually she took me into the slums 
to visit her private friends, ^o dwelt in squalid tenements. 
Wh^i she met a generous male acquaintance who insisted on 
treating her she took me into the public house bars, where I was 
regaled with lemonade and gingerbeer; but I did not enjoy these 
treats, because my father's eloquence on the evil of drink had 
given me an impression that a public house was a wicked place 
into which I should not have been taken. Thus were laid the 
foimdations of my lifelong hatred of poverty, and the devodon 
of all my public life to the task of exterminadng the poor and 
rendering their resurrection for ever impossible. 

Note, by the way, that I should have been much more decently 
brought up if my parents had been too poor to afford servants. 

As to early education I can remember our daily governess. 

Miss Hill, a needy lady who seemed to me much older than she 

can really have been. She puzzled me with her attempts to teach 



me to read; for I can remember no time at which a page of print 
was not intelligible to me, and can only suppose that I was bom 
literate. She tried to give me and my two sisters a taste for poetry 
by reciting "Stop; for thy tread is on an empire's dust" at us, and 
only succeeded, poor lady, in awakening our sense of derisive 
humor. She punished me by little strokes with her fingers that 
would not have discomposed a fly, and even persuaded me that I 
ought to cry and feel disgraced on such occasions. She gave us 
judgment books and taught us to feel jubilant when after her 
departure we could rush to the kitchen crying "No marks today" 
and to hang back ashamed when this claim could not be sub- 
stantiated. She taught me to add, subtract, and multiply, but could 
not teach me division, because she kept saying two into four, 
three into six, and so forth without ever explainii^ what the word 
"into" meant in this connection. This was explained to me on my 
first day at school; and I solemnly declare that it was the only 
thing I ever learnt at school. However, I must not complain; for 
my immurement in that damnable boy prison effected its real pur- 
pose of prevendng my being a nuisance to my mother at home 
for at least half the day. 

The only other teaching I had was from my clerical Uncle 
William George (sumamed Carroll) who, being married to one 
of my many maternal aunts (my father had no end of brothers 
and sisters), had two boys of his own to educate, and took me on 
with them for awhile in the early mornings to such purpose that 
when his lessons were ended by my being sent to school, I knew 
more Latin grammar than any other boy in the First Latin Junior, 
to which I was rel^ated. After a few years in that establishment 
I had forgotten most of it, and, as aforesaid, learnt nothing; for 
there was only the thinnest pretence of teaching anything but 
Latin and Greek, if asking a boy once a day in an overcrowded 
class the Ladn for a man or a horse or what nol^ can be called 
teaching him Ladn. I was tar too busy educating myself out of 
school by reading every book I could lay hands on, and clamber- 
ing all over Killiney hill looking at the endless pictures namre 
painted for me, meanwhile keeping my mind busy by telling 


myself all sorts of stories, to puzzle about my vocabulary lesson, 
as the punishments were as 6jtile as the teaching. At the end of 
my schooling I knew nothing of what the school professed to 
teach; but I was a highly educated boy all the same. I could sing 
and whistle from end to end leading works by Handel, Haydn, 
Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. I was 
saturated with English literature, from Shakespear and fiunyan 
to Byron and Dickens. And I was so susceptible to natural beauty 
that, having had some glimpse of the Dalkey scenery on an ex- 
cursion, I stiil remember the moment when my mother told me 
that we were going to live there as the happiest of my life. 

And all this I owed to the meteoric impact of Lee, with his 
music, his method, his impemous enterprise and his magnetism, 
upon the little Shaw household where a thoroughly di^;usted and 
disillusioned woman was suffering from a hopelessly disappoint- 
ing husband and three uninteresting children grown too old to 
be petted like the animals and birds she was so fond of, to say 
nothing of the humiliating inadequacy of my Other's income. 
We never felt any ailection for Lee; for he was too excessively 
unlike us, too completely a phenomenon, to rouse any primitive 
human feeling in us. When my mother introduced him to me, he 
played with me for the first and last time; but as his notion of play 
was to decorate my fece with motistadies and whiskers in burnt 
cork in spite of die most furious resistance I could put up, our 
encounter was not a success; and the defensive attitude in which it 
left me lasted, though williout llie least bitterness, until the decay 
of his energies and the growth of mine put us on more than equal 
terms. He never read anydiing except TyndaU on Sound, which 
he kept in his bedroom for years. He complained that an edition 
of Shakespear which I lent him was incomplete because it did not 
contain The School for Scandal, which for some reason he wanted 
to read; and when I talked of Carlyle he understood me to mean 
the Viceroy of that name who had graciously attended his con- 
certs in the Antient Concert Rooms. Althou^ he supplanted my 
ia&er as the dominant factor in the household, and appropriated 
all the activity and interest of my mother, he was so completely 


absorbed in his musical afEtirs that there was no friction and 
hardly any intimate personal contacts between the two men: cer- 
tainly no unpleasantness. At first his ideas astonished us. He said 
that people should sleep with their ^rindows open. The daring of 
this appealed to me; and I have done so ever since. He ate brown 
bread instead of white: a starding eccentricity. He had no ^th in 
doctors, and when my mother had a serious illness took her case 
in hand unhesitatingly and at the end of a week or so gave my 
trembling &ther leave to call in a leading Dublin doctor, who 
simply said "My work is done" and took his hat. As to the apothe- 
cary and his squills, he could not exist in Lee's atmosphere; and 
I was never attended by a doctor again undl I caught die smallpox 
in the epidemic of 1881. He took no interest in pictures or in any 
art but his own; and even in music his interest was limited to 
vocal music: I did not know that such things as siring quartets or 
symphonies existed undt I began, at sixteen, to invesdgate music 
for myself. Beethoven's sonatas and the classical operadc over- 
tures were all I knew of what Wagner called absolute music I 
should be tempted to say that none of us knew of the existence of 
Bach were it not that my mother sang My Heart Ever Faithful, 
the banjo like obbUgato of which amused me very irreverendy. 
Lee was like alt ardsts whose knowledge is solely a workii^ 
knowledge: there were holes in his cultiu^ which I had to fill up 
for myself. Fortunately his richer pupils somedmes presented him 
with expensive illustrated books. He never opened them; but I did. 
He was so desdmte of any literary bent that when he published a 
book endtled The Voice, it was written for him by a scamp of a 
derelict doctor whom he entertained for that purpose, just as in 
later years his prospectuses and press ardcles were writKn by me. 
He never visited the Dublin National Gallery, one of the fmest 
collections of its size in Europe, with the usual full set of casts 
from what was called the antique, meaning ancient Greek sculp- 
ture. It was by prowling in this gallery that I learnt to recognize 
the work of the old masters at sight. I learnt French history from 
the novels of Dumas pire, and English history from Shakcspear 
and Walter Scott Good boys were meanwhile learning lessons 


out of schoolbooks and receiving marks at examinations: a pro- 
cess which left them pious barbarians whilst I was acquiring an 
equipment which enabled me not only to pose as Como di Bas- 
setto when the chance arrived, but to add the criticism of pictures 
to the various strings I had to my bow as a feuilletonist. 

Meanwhile nobody ever dreamt of teaching me anything. At 
fifteen, when the &mily broke up, I could neither play nor read 
a note of music Whether you choose to put it that I was con- 
demned to be a critic or saved from being an executant, the fact 
remains that when the house became musicless, I was forced to 
teach myself how to play written music on the piano trom a book 
with a diagram of the k^board in it or else be starved of music. 

Not that I wanted to be a professional musician. My ambition 
was to be a great painter like Michael Angelo (one of my heroes); 
but my attempts to obtain instruction in his an at the School of 
Design presided over by the South Kensington Department of 
Science and Art only prevented me from learning anything except 
how to earn five shilling grants for the masters (payment by 
results) by filling up ridiculous examinadon papers in practical 
geometry and what they called freehand drawing. 

With competent instruction I daresay I could have become a 
painrer and draughtsman of sorts; but the Sdiool of Design 
convinced me that I was a hopeless failure in that direction on no 
better ground than that I found I could not draw like Michael 
Angelo or paint like Titian at the first attempt without knowing 
how. But teaching, of art and everything else, was and still is so 
little understood by our professional instructors (mostly them- 
selves failures) that only the readymade geniuses make good; 
and even they are as often as not the worse for their academic 

As an alternative to being a Michael Angelo I had dreams of 
being a Badeali. (Nore, by the way, that of literature I had no 
dreams at all, any more than a duck has of swimming.) What that 
led to was not fully explained undl Matthias Alexander, in search, 
like Lee, of a sound vocal method, invented his technique of self- 

17 B 



I had sung like a bird all through my childhood; but when my 
voice broke I at once fell into the error unmasked by Alexander 
of trying to gain ray end before I had studied the means. In my 
attempts to reproduce the frenzies of the Count di Luna, the 
sardonic accents of Gounod's Mephistopheles, die noble charm 
of Don Giovanni, and the supernatural menace of the Com- 
mendatore, not to mention all the women's parts and the tenor 
parts as well (for all parts, high or low, male or female, had to be 
sut^ or shrieked or whistled or growled somehow) I thought of 
nothing but the dramatic characters; and in attacking them I set 
my jaws and my glottis as if I had to crack walnuts with them. I 
might have ruined my voice if I had not imitated good singers 
instead of bad ones; but even so the results were wretched. When 
I rejoined my mother in London and she found diat I had taught 
myself to play accompaniments and to amuse myself widi operas 
and oratorios as other youths read novels and smoke dgarets, 
she warned me that my voice would be spoiled if I went on like 
diat. Thereupon I insisted on being shewn the proper way to sing. 
The instructive result was that when, following my modier's 
directions, I left my jaw completely loose, and my tongue flat 
instead of convulsively rolling it up; when I operated my dia- 
phragm so as to breathe instead of "blowing"; when I tried to 
round up my pharynx and soft palate and foimd it like trying to 
wag my ears, I found that for the first time in my life I could not 
produce an audible note. It seemed that I had no voice. But I 
believed in Lee's plan and knew that my own was wrong. I in*- 
sisted on being tai^ht how to use my voice as if I had one; and 
in the end the unused and involuntary pharyngeal muscles be- 
came acdve and voluntary, and I developed an uninteresting 
baritonevoice of no exceptional range which I haveever since used 
for my private satisfaction and exercise without damaging either 
it or myself in the process. 

Here I must digress for a moment to point a moral. Years after 
I learnt how to sing without spoiling my voice and wreckii^ my 
general health, a musician-reciter (Matthias Alexander aforesaid) 
found himself disabled by the complaint known as clergyman's 



sore throat. Having the true scientific spirit and industry, he set 
himself to discover what it was that he was really doing to disable 
himself in this fashion by his efforts to produce the opposite re- 
sult In the end he found this out, and a great deal more as well. 
He established not only the beginnings of a for reaching science 
of the apparendy involuntary movements we call reflexes, but a 
technique of correction and selfcontrol which forms a substantial 
addition to our very slender resources in personal education. 

Meanwhile a Russian doctor named Pavlov devoted himself to 
the investigation of the same subject by practising die horrible 
voodoo into which professional medical research had lapsed in 
the nineteenth century. For quarter of a century he tormented 
and mutilated dogs most abominably, and finally wrote a pon- 
derous treatise on reflexes in which he claimed to have established 
on a scientific basis the fact diat a dog's mouth will water at the 
sound of a dinner bell when it is trained to associate that sound 
with a meal, and that dogs, if tormented, thwarted, bafBed, and 
incommoded continuously, will sufier nervous breakdown and be 
miseiably ruined for the rest of th«r lives. He was also able to 
describe what happens to a dog when half its brains are cut out. 

What his book and its shamefully respectful recepdon by pro- 
fessional biologists does demonstrate is that the opening of the 
scientific professions to persons qualified for them neither by 
general capacity nor philosophic moral training plunges profes- 
sional Science, as it has so often plunged professional Religion 
and Jurisprudence, into an abyss of stupidity and cruelty from 
whidi nothing but the outraged humanity of the laity can rescue iL 

In the department of biology especially, the professors, mostly 
brought up as Fundamentalists, are informed that the book of 
Genesis is not a scientific document, and that the tribal idol whom 
Noah conciliated by the smell of roast meat is not God and never 
had any objective existence. They absurdly infer that the pursuit 
of scientific knowledge: diat is, of all knowledge, is exempt from 
moral obUgadons, and consequendy that they are privileged as 
scientists to commit the most revolting cruelties when they are 
engaged in research. 




Thdr next step in this crazy logic is that no research is scien- 
tific unless it involves such cruelties. With all the infinite possi- 
bilities of legitimate and kindly research open to anyisne with 
enough industry and ingenuity to discover innocent methods of 
exploration, they set up a boycott of brains and a ritual of 
sacrifice of dogs and guinea pigs which impresses the superstitious 
public as all such rituals do. Thereby they learn many things that 
no decent personought to know; for it must not be fbrgot^n that 
human advancement consists not only of adding to the store of 
human knowledge and experience but eliminating much that is 
burdensome and brutish. Our forefathers had the knowledge and 
experience gained by seeing heretics burnt at the stake and harlots 
whipped through the streets at the cart's tail. Mankind is better 
without such knowledge and experience. 

If Pavlov had been a poacher he would have been imprisoned 
for his cruelty and despised for his moral imbecility. But as 
Director of die Physiological Department of the Institute of 
Experimental Medicine at St Petersburg, and Professor of the 
Medical Academy, he was virtually forced to mutilate and tor- 
ment dogs instead of discovering the methods by which humane 
unofficial investigators were meanwhile finding out all that he 
was looking for. 

The reaction against this voodoo is gathering momentum; but 
sdll our rich philanthropic industrialists lavish millions on the 
endowment of research without taking the most obvious pre- 
cautions against malversation of their gifts for the benefit of dog 
stealers, guinea pig breeders, laboratory builders and plumbers, 
and a roudne of cruel folly and scoundrelism that perverts and 
wastes all the sciendfic enthusiasm tbat might otherwise have by 
this dme reduced our death and disease rates to their natural 
minimum. I am sorry to have to describeso many highly respected 
gentlemen quiK deliberately as fools and scoundrels; but the only 
definidon of scoundrelism known to me is anarchism in morals; 
and I caimot admit that the hackneyed pleas of the dynamiter 
and the assassin in polidcs become valid in the laboratory and the 
hospital, or diat the man who thinks they do is made any less a 



fool by catling him a professor of physiology. 

And all this because in i860 the men who thought they wanted 
to substitute scientific knowledge for superstition really wanted 
only to abolish God and many thdr deceased wives' sisters 1 

I should add that there is no reason to suppose that Pavlov was 
by nature a bad man. He bore a strong eitemal resemblance to 
myself, and was wellmeaning, in^Iligent, and devoted to science. 
It was his academic environment that corrupted, stultified, and 
sterilized him. If only he had been taught to sing by my mother 
no dog need ever have collapsed in terror at his approach; and he 
might have shared the laurels of Alexander. 

And now I must return to my story. Lee's end was more tragic 
than Pavlov's. I do not know at what moment he began to de- 
teriorate. He was a sober and moderate liver in all respects;and he 
was never ill until he treated himself to a tour in Italy and caught 
malaria there. He fought through it without a doctor on cold water, 
and returned apparently well; but whenever he worked too hard it 
came back and prostrated him for a day or two. Finally his ambi- 
tion undid him. Dublin in those days seemed a hopeless place for 
an artist; for no success counted except a London success. The 
summit of a provincial conductor's destiny was to preside at a 
local musical festival modelled on the Three Choirs or Handel 
Festivals. Lee declared that he would organize and conduct a 
Dublin Festival with his own chorus and with all the famous 
leading singers from the Italian opera in London. This he did in 
cotmection with an Exhibition in Dublin. My mother, of course, 
led the chorus. At a rehearsal the contralto, Madame de Meric 
Lablache, took exception to something and refused to sing. Lee 
shrugged his shoulders and asked my mother to carry on, which 
she did to such purpose that Madame Labhiche took care not to 
give her another such chance. 

At the Festivals Lee reached the Dublin limit of eminence. 
Nothing remained but London. He was assured that London 
meant a very modest be^nning all over again, and perhaps some- 
thing of an established position after fifteen years or so. Lee said 
that he would take a house in Park Lane, then the most exclusive 


and expensive thoroughfare in the west end, sacred to peers and 
millionaires, and — stupendous on the scale of Irish finance — 
make his pupils pay hbn a guinea a lesson. And this he actually 
did with a success that held out quite brilliandy for several seasons 
and then destroyed him. For whereas he had succeeded in Dublin 
by the sheer superiority of his method and talent and characRr, 
training his pupils honestly for a couple of years to sing beauti- 
fully and classically, he found that the London ladies who took 
him up so gushingly would have none of his beauty and classicism, 
and would listen to nothing less than a promise to make them 
sing "like Patti" in twelve lessons. It was that or starve. 

He submitted perforce; but he was no longer the same man, the 
man to whom all circumstances seemed to give way, and who 
made his own musical world and reigned in it. He had even to 
change his name and his aspect G. J. Lee, widi the black whiskers 
and the clean shaven resolute lip and chin, became Vandaleur 
Lee, whiskerless, but with a waxed and pointed moustache and 
an obsequious attitude. It suddenly became evident that he was 
an elderly man, and, to those who had known him in Dublin, a 
humbug. Performances of Marchetti's Ruy Bias with ray sister as 
the Queen of Spain, and later on of Sullivan's Patience and scraps 
of Faust and II Trovatore were achieved; but musical society in 
London at hst got tired of the damaged Svengaii who could 
manu&cmre Pattis for twelve guineas; and the guineas ceased to 
come in. Still, as there were no night clubs in those days, it was 
possible 10 let a house in Park Lane for the night to groups of 
merrymakers; and Lee was holding out there without pupils when 
he asked me to draft a circular for him announcii^ that he could 
cure clergyman's sore throat. He was still at Park Lane when he 
dropped dead in the act of undressing himself, dying as he had 
lived, without a doctor. The postmortem and inquest revealed the 
fact that his brain was diseased and had been so for a long time. 
I was glad to learn that his decay was pathological as well as 
ecological, and that die old efficient and honest Lee had been real 
after all. But I took to heart the lesson in the value of London 
^hionable successes. To this day I look to the provincial and the 


amateur for honesty and genuine fecundity in art. 

Meano^iile, what had happened to the nUtuzge i trois? and how 
did I turn up in Park Lane playing accompaniments and getting 
glimpses of that artstmck side of fashionable society which takes 
refuge in music from the routine of politics and sport which 
occupies the main Philistine body? 

Well, when Lee got his foot in at a country house in Shrop- 
shire whither he had been invited to conduct some private per- 
formances, he sold the Dalkey cottage and concluded his tenancy 
of Hatch Street. This left us in a house which we could afford less 
than ever; for my father's moribund business was by now con- 
siderably deader than it had been at the date of my birth. My 
younger sister was dying of consumption caught from reckless 
contacts at a time when neither consumption nor pneumonia 
Were regarded as catching. All that could be done was to recom- 
mend a chaise of climate. My elder sister had a beautiful voice. 
In the last of Lee's Dublin adventures in amateur opera she had 
appeared as Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambula, on which occa- 
sion the tenor lost his place and his head, and Lucy obltgingty 
sang most of his part as well as her own. Unfortunately her 
musical endowment was so complete that it cost her no effort to 
sing or play anything she had once heard, or to read any music 
at sight. She simply could not associate the idea of real work widi 
music; and as in any case she had never received any sort of try- 
ing, her very ^dlity prevented her from becoming a serious 
artist, though, as she could sing difficult music without brealdt^ 
her voice, she got through a considerable share of public singing 
in her time. 

Now neither my mother nor any of us knew how much more 
is needed for an opera singer dian a voice and natural musician- 
ship. It seemed to us that as, after a rehearsal or two, she could 
walk on to the stage, wave her arms about in the absurd manner 
then in vogue in opera, and sing not only her own part but every- 
body else's as well, she was quite qualified to take the place of 
Christine Nilsson or Adehna Paid if only she could get a proper 
introduction. And clearly Lee, now in the first flush of his success 


in Park Lane, would easily be able to secure this for her. 

There was another resource. My now elderly mother believed 
that she could renounce her amateur status and make a living in 
London by teaching singing. Had she not the infallible Method to 
impart? So she realized a little of the scrap of settled property of 
which her long deceased aunt had not been able to deprive her; 
sold the Hatch Street iuniimre; settled my father and myself in 
comfortable lodgings at 61 Harcourt St; and took my sisteis to 
the Isle of Wight, where the younger one died. She then took a 
semi-detached villa in a cul-tk-sac off the Fulham Road,' and 
waited there for Lucy's plans and her own to materialize. 

The result was almost a worse disillusion than her marriage. 
That had been cured by Lee's music; besides, my father had at 
last realized his dream of being a practising teetotaller, and was 
now as inoifensive an old gentleman as any elderly wife could 
desire. It was characteristic of the Shavian drink neurosis to 
vanish suddenly in tliis way. But that Lee should be unfeithful! 
un&ithful to The Method I that he, the one genuine teacher among 
so many quacks, should now stoop to outquack them all and 
become a moustachioed charlatan with all the virtue gone out of 
him: this was the end of all things; and she never forgave iL She 
was not unkind: she tolerated Lee the charlatan as she had toler- 
affid Shaw the dipsomaniac because, as I guess, her early mother- 
less privation of affection and her many disappointments in other 
people had thrown her back on her own considerable internal 
resources and developed her self-sufficiency and power of solitude 
to an extent which kept her up under circumstances that would 
have crushed or embittered any woman who was the least bit of 
a dinger. She dropped Lee very gently; at first he came and went 
at Victoria Grove, Fulham Road; and she went and came at 13 
Park Lane, helping with the music there at his At Homes, and 
even singing the part of Donna Anna for him (elderly prima 
doimas were then tolerated as matters of course) at an amateur 
performance of Don Giovanni, But my sister, who had quarrelled 
with him as a diild when he tried to give her piano lessons, and 
had never liked him, could not bear him at all in his new phases 


and, when she found that he could not really advance her pro- 
spects of becoming a prima donna, broke with him completely 
and nude it difEcult for him to continue his visits. When he died 
we had not seen him for some years; and my mother did not dis- 
play the slightest emotion at the news. He had been dead for her 
ever since he had ceased to be an honest teacher of singing and a 
mesmeric conductor. 

Her plans for herself came almost to nothing for several years. 
She found that Englishwomen do not wish to be made to sing 
beautifully and classically: they want to sii^ erodcally; and this 
my mother thought not only horrible but unladylike. Her love 
songs were those of Vit^nia Gabriel and Arthur Sullivan, all 
about bereaved lovers and ending with a hope for reunion in the 
n«ct world. She could sing with perfect purity of tone and touch- 
ing expression 

Oh, Ruby, my darling, the small white hand 
Which gathered the harebell was never my own. 

But if you had been able to anddpate the grand march of human 
progress and poetic f^ii^ by iifty years, and asked her to sing 

You made me love you. 
I didnt want to do it. 
I didnt want to do it, 

she would have asked a policeman to remove you to a third-class 

Besides, though my mother was not consciously a snob, the 
divinity which hedged an Irish lady of her period was not accept- 
able to the British suburban parents, all snobs, who were within 
her reach. They liked to be treated with deference; and it never 
occurred to my mother that such people could entertain a pre- 
tension so monstrous in her case. Her practice with private pupils 
was negligible until she was asked to become musical instructress 
at the North London College. Her success was immediate; for not 
only did her classes leave the other schools nowhere musically, 
but the divinity aforesaid exactly suited her new role as school- 


mistress. Other schools soon sought her services; and she re- 
mained in request until she insisted on retiring on the ground that 
her age made her public appearances ridiculous. By that time all 
the old money troubles were over and forgotten, as my financial 
position enabled me to make her perfectly comfortable in that 

And now, what about myself, the incipient Como di Bassetto? 

Well, when my mother sold the Hatch Street fiimiture, it never 
occurred to her to sell our piano, though I could not play it, nor 
could my father. We did not realize, nor did she, that she was 
never coming back, and that, except for a few days when my 
father, taking a little holiday for the first time in his life within 
my experience, came to see us in London, she would never meet 
him again. Family revolutions would seldom be feced if they did 
not present themselves at first as temporary makeshifts. Accord- 
ingly, having Uved since my childhood in a house full of music, 
I suddenly found myself in a house where there was no music, 
and could be none unless I made it myself. I have recorded else- 
where how, having purchased one of Weale's Handbooks which 
contained a diagram of the keyboard and ^ explanation of musi- 
cal notation, I began my self-tuition, not with Czemy's five-finger 
exercises, but with the overture to Don Giovanni, thinking 
rightly that I had better start with something I knew well enough 
to hear whether my fingers were on the right notes or not. 
There were plenty of vocal scores of operas and oratorios in our 
lodging; and although I never acquired any technical skill as a 
pianist, and cannot to this day play a scale with any certainty of 
not foozling it, I acquired what I wanted; the power to take a 
vocal score and leam its contents as if I had heard it rehearsed by 
my mother and her colleagues. I could manage arrangements of 
orchestral music much better than piano music proper. At last 
I could play the old rum-tum accompaniments of those days well 
enough (knowing how they should be played) to be more agree- 
able to singers than many really competent piatiists. I bought 
more scores, among them one of Lohengrin, through which I 
made the revolutionary discovery of Wagner. I bou^t ai 



ments of Beethoven's symphonies, and discovered the musical 
r^ons that lie outside opera and oratorio. Later on, I was forced 
to learn to play the classical symphonies and overtures in strict 
time by hammering the bass in piano duets with my sister in 
London. I played Bach's Inventions and his Art of Fugue. I 
studied academic textbooks, and acRially worked out exetcbes 
in harmony and counterpoint under supervision by an organist 
fiiend named Crament, avoiding consecutive fifths and octaves, 
and havii^ not the faintest notion of what the result would sound 
like. I read pseudo-scientiiic treatises about the roots of chords 
which candidates for the degree of Mus.Doc. at the universities 
had to swallow, and learnt that Stainer's conimonsense views 
would get you plucked at Oxford, and Ouseley's pedantries at 
Cambridge. I read Mozart's Succinct Thoroughbass (a scrap 
of paper with some helpful dps on it which he scrawled for his 
pupil Sussmaier); and this, many years later, Edward Elgar told 
me was the only document in existence of the smallest use to a 
student composer. It was, I grieve to say, of no use to me; but 
then I was not a young composer. It ended in my knowing much 
more about music than any of the great composers, an easy 
achievement for any critic, however barren. For awhile I 
must have become a litde pedantic; for I remember being 
shocked, on looking up Lee's old vocal score of Don Giovanni, 
to find that he had cut out all the repetitions which Mozart had 
perpetrated as a matter of sonata form. I now see that Lee was a 
century before his time in this reform, and hope some day to hear 
a performance of Mozart's Idomeneo in which nothing is suqg 
twice over. 

' When I look back on all the banging, whistling, roarii^, and 
growling inflicted on nervous neighbors during this process of 
education, I am consumed with useless remorse. But what else 
could I have done? Today there is the wireless, which enables me 
to hear from all over Europe more good music in a week than I 
could then hear in ten years, if at all. When, after my five years 
office slavery, I joined my mother in London and lived with her 
for twenty years until my marriage, I used to drive her nearly 


crazy by my favorite selections from Wagner's Ring, which to 
her was "all recitative", and horribly discordant at that. She never 
complained at the time, but confessed it af«r we separated, and 
said that she had sometimes gone away to cry. If I had com- 
mitted a murder I do not think it would trouble my conscience 
very much; but this I cannot bear to think of. If I had to live my 
life over <^in I should devote it to the establishment of some 
arrangement of headphones and microphones or the like whereby 
the noises made by musical maniacs should be audible to them- 
selves only. In Germany it is against the law to play the piano 
with the window open. But of what use is that to the people in 
the house? It should be made felony to play a musical instru- 
ment in any other than a completely soundproof room. The 
same should apply to loud speakers on pain of confiscation. 

Readers with a taste for autobiography must now take my 
Immaturity preface and dovetail it into this sketch to complete 
the picture. My business here is to account for my proposal to 
Tay Pay and my creation of Bassetto. From my earliest recorded 
sign of an interest in music when as a small child I encored my 
mother's singing of the page's song from the first act of Les 
Huguenots (note that I shared Herbert Spencer's liking for 
Meyerbeer) music has been an indispensable part of my life. 
Harley Granville-Barker was not far out when, at a rehearsal of 
one of my plays, he cried out "Ladies and gentlemen: will you 
please remember that this is Italian opera." 

I reprint Bassetto's stuiT shamefacedly after long hesitation 
Hith a reluctance which has been overcome only by my wife, who 
has found some amusement in reading it through, a drudgery 
which I could not bring myself to undertake. I know it was great 
fim when it was fresh, and that many people have a curious 
antiquarian taste (I have it myself) for old chronicles of dead 
musicians and actors. I must warn them, however, not to expect 
to find here the work of the finished critic who wrote my volumes 
entitled Music in London, 1890-94, and Our Theatres in the 
Nineties. I knew all that was necessary about music; but in criti- 
cism I was only a beginner. It is easy enough from the first to 


distinguish between what is pleasant or unpleasant, accurate or 
inaccurate in a performance; but when great artists have to be 
dealt with, only keenly analytical observation and comparison of 
them with artists who, however agreeable, are not great, can 
enable a cridc to distinguish between what everybody can do and 
what only a very few can do, and to get his valuations right ac- 
cordingly. All artsmen know what it is to be enthusiasdcally 
praised for something so easy that they are half ashamed of it, 
and to receive not a word of encouragement for their finest 

I cannot deny that Bassetto was occasionally vulgar; but 
that does not matter if he makes you laugh. Vulgarity is a 
necessary part of a complete author's equipment; and the clown 
is sometimes the best part of the drcus. The Star, then a hapenny 
newspaper, was not caKring for a ^tidious audience: it was 
addressed to the bicycle clubs and the polytechnics, not to 
the Royal Society of Literature or the Musical Association. I pur- 
posely vulgarized musical criddsm, which was then refined and 
academic to the point of being unreadable and often nonsensical. 
Editors, beii^ mostly ignorant of music, would submit to any- 
thing from iheir musical critics, not pretending to understand iL 
If I occasionally carried to the verge of ribaldry my reaction 
against the pretentious twaddle and sometimes spiteful cliquish- 
ness they tolerated in their ignorance, think of me as heading one 
of the pioneer columns of what was then called The New Jour- 
nalism; and you will wonder at my politeness. 

You may be puzzled, too, to find that the very music I was 
brought up on: the pre- Wagner school of formal melody in 
separate numbers which seemed laid out to catch the encores 
■ that were then fashionable, was treated by me with contemptuous 
levity as something to be swept into the dustbin as soon as pos- 
sible. The explanation is that these works were standing in the 
way of Wagner, who was then the furiously abused coming man 
in London. Only his early works were known or tolerated. Half 
a dozen bars of Tristan or The Mastersingers made professional 
is put their fingers in their ears. The Ride of the Valkyries 


was played at the Promenade Concerts, and always encored, but 
only as an insanely rampagious curiosity. The Daily Telegraph 
steadily preached Wagner down as a discordant notoriety- 
hunting diarlatan in six silk dressing-gowns, who could not 
wriw a bar of melody, and made an abominable noise with the 
orchestra. In pantomime harlequinades the clown produced a 
trombone, played a bit of the pilgrims' march from TannhSuser 
fordssimo as well as he could, and said "The music of the future!" 
The ware of religion were not more bloodthirsty than the discus- 
sions of the Wagnerites and the Anti-Wagnerites. I was, of 
course, a violent Wagnerite; and I had the advantage of knowit^ 
the music to which Wagner grew up, whereas many of the most 
fanatical Wagnerites (Ashton Ellis, who translated the Master's 
prose works, was a conspicuous example) knew no other music 
than Wagner's, and believed that the music of Donizetd and 
Meyerbeer had no dramatic quality whatever. "A few arpeggios" 
was the description Ellis gave me of his notion of Les Huguenots. 
Nowadays the reaction is all the other way. Our young lions 
have no use for Wagner the Liberator. His harmonies, which 
once seemed monstrous cacophonies, are the commonplaces of 
the variety theatres. Audacious young critics disparage his 
grandeurs as tawdry. When the wireless strikes up the Tann- 
hauser overture I hasten to switch it off, though I can always 
listen with pleasure to Rossini's overture to William Tell, hack- 
neyed to death in Bassetto's time. The funeral march from Die 
GotterdSmmening hardly keeps my attention, thou^ Handel's 
march from Saul is greater than ever. Though I used to scarify 
the fools who said diat Wagner's music was formless, I should 
not now diink the worse of Wagner if, like Bach and Mozart, he 
had combined the most poignant dramatic expression with the 
most elaborate decorative design. It was necessary for him to 
smash the superetition that this was obligatory; to free dramatic 
melody from &e tyraimy of arabesques; and to give the orchestra 
symphonic work instead of rosalias and rum-turn; but now that 
this and all the other musical supetstidons are in the dustbin, and 
the post- Wagnerian harmonic and contrapuntal anarchy is so 
■ 30 


complete diat it is easier technically to compose another Paisi^ 
than another Badi's Mass in B Minor or Don Giovanni I am no 
longer a combatant anarchist in music, not to mention that I have 
learnt that a successful revolution's first task is to shoot all re- 
volutionists. This means that I am no loiter Como di Bassetto. 
He was pre- and pro- Wagner; unfamiUar with Biahms; and un- 
aware that a young musician named Elgar was chuckling over 
his irreverent boutades. As to Cyril Scott, Bax, Ireland, Goossens, 
Bliss, Walton, Schonberg,Hindemith,oreven Richard Strauss and 
Sibelius, their idioms would have been quite outside Bassetto's 
conception of music, though today they seem natural enough. 
Therefore I very greatly doubt whether poor old Bassetto is 
worth reading now. Sdll, you are not compelled to read him. 
Having read the preface you can shut the book and give it to 
your worst enemy as a birthday present. 


Sunday^ 2nd June 193J. 




14 May 1888 
The number of empty seats at the perfoimance of Bach's Mass in 
B minor at St James's Hall on Saturday afternoon did little credit 
to the artistic culture of which the West-end is supposed to be 
die universal centre. This Mass towers among the masteipieces 
of musical art like Everest among the mountains; but we still 
prefer Elijah. The performance suflered from the want of ener^ 
and impetus which is one of the hampering tradidons of Herr 
Goldschmidt's conductir^, and which Mr Villiers Stanford, as 
a younger hand, and an Irishman, ought to have proved the 
very man to correct But under him, as under Herr Goldschmidt, 
the wonderful Kyrie dn^ed tediously aloi^ without fire or 
emphasis, and without a touch of expression in the recurring 
cadence, which is so moving a point in the score. The later 
choruses were more effective, though there was a want of power 
in certain passages which demand a crushing sonority from the 
mass of voices and instruments. This was notably the case in the 
Cum Sancto Spiritu. In the Et Resurrexit Mr Stanford made the 
astonishing mistake of retarding the great passage for the basses, 
Et iterum venturus. But, in spite of these shortcomings, the 
stupendous march of Bach's polyphony, and the intense and 
touching expression of his harmonies produced their inevitable 
ef^t. The restored trumpet part, first played for us at the Albert 
Hall by Herr Kosteck at the bi-centenary performance in 1885, 
was played on Mr Mahillon's two-valved trumpet by Mr Morrow, 
who vanquished nearly all the impossibilides undl just at the end, 
T^en his Hp tired, and the nores above the high A became un- 
certain. At the &mous Sanctus Mr Stanford made an attempt, 
successful unfortunately, to manufacture a tradition similar to 
that by which English audiences stand during the Hallelujah 
Chorus in the Messiah. When such an act of hom^e is the 
spontaneous impulse of the people it is worthy of jealous con- 
servation. But when a conductor deliberately attempts to produce 
33 c 



an imitation of the Hallelujah custom by making his solo singers 
stand up and then turning 10 the audience and beckonii^ to them 
to rise, which they of course do under the impression that it is 
an established practice, he is really guilty of a sort of forgery. 
Probably, however, people will not be so easily persuaded to 
stand up when they come to know how long the Sanctus is. 

It should be mentioned that diere were plenty of shilling seats: 
a great improvement on the high pri(£s of the early days of the 
Bach Choir, 

14 May 1888 
The late conflict between the Bishop of London and the Rev. 
Stewart Headlam as to the godliness of dandi^ ended practically 
in the excommunication of the dancers and the inhibidon of the 
popular clergyman, whose version of the Thirty-nine Articles 
includes Land Nationalisation, Free Speech, Commimion for 
Stage Players, and a Democratic Constitution for the Church. Mr 
Headlam's teaching nevertheless seems to have travelled further 
than die Bishop's, for we hear from Georgia of a troop of factory 
hands removing the benches from their church on a Friday 
evenii^, and having a hearty dance. At a church in North Caro- 
lina, 3 brass band was allowed to perform some stirring rhythm- 
ical hymn-tunes for the edification of a n^ro congregation. 
These pious colored persons, we are told, 'began to grow a little 
nervous and resdess about the feet, and in a short time the whole 
crowd was indulging in a regular old break down.' This is shock- 
ing, no doubt, to our insular conception of a church as a place 
where we must on no account enjoy ourselves, and where ladies 
are trained in the English art of sitting in rows for hours, dumb, 
expressionless, and with the elbows uncomfortably turned in. 
But since people must enjoy themselves sometimes, why not in 
their own churches as well as in places where drinking bars, 
gambling tables, and other temptations to enjoy themselves un- 
healthily and indecently are deliberately put in their way? 'Danc- 
ing is an art,' says Mr Headlam. 'All art is praise,' says Mr 
Ruskin. Praise is surely not out of place in a church. We sing 


there: why should we not dance? 

The Puritans, from whom we inherit our prejudice against 
such a proposal, objected to dancing and singing in all places and 
at all seasons. Merry England never shared that objecdon: we admit 
it in church only because we can afford to dance elsewhere. But 
howaboutthe people who haveno5uchopportumties:no drawing- 
rooms, no money, no self-control in the presence of temptation 
and licence? We do not want to see Westminster Abbey turned 
into a baUroom; but if some enterprising clergyman with a cure 
of souls in the slums were to hoist a board over his church door 
with the inscription, 'Here men and women after working hours 
may dance widiout getting drunk on Fridays; hear good music 
on Saturdays; pray on Sundays; discuss public a^rs without 
molestation from the police on Mondays; have the builditig for 
any honest purpose they please — theatricals, if desired — on 
Tuesdays; bring the children for games, amusing drill, and 
romps on Wednesdays; and volunteer for a thorough scmbbii^ 
down of the place on Thursdays' — well, it would be all very 
shocking, no doubt; but after all, it would not interfere with the 
Bishop of London's salary. 

3 July 1888 
Herb Richter has added to his Nibelung's Ring selections for 
concert use the great scene of the forging of the sword in the 
forest stithy, from the iirst act of Siegfried. It is one of the most 
effective he has made, and proves again that Wagner can work on 
the imagination with voice and orchestra in ways beyond the arts 
of the actor and stage manager. Mr Edward Lloyd, pretending to 
fotge a sword on the stage, with one eye on the conductor, would 
be ridiculous; but last night in St James's Hall the leviathan breath 
of the bellows with its great train of sparks, the roar of the flame, 
the fierce hiss of the led-hot steel plunged into the water, die 
rin^i^ of the hammers, the crooning of the old dwarf in the 
comer, and the exultant shouting of Si^ried at his work, cul- 
minating in a yell of excitement from the orchestra as the finished 


sword smites the anvil in two, made a tremendous effect, and 
gained an ovation for Mr Lloyd and the conductor. 

There was no other novelty except a Bach concerto, one of 
those incomparable works which tax every quality of a Brst-raK 
player, and which, to tell the truth, speedily found out some of 
the weak places in the wind band. The concert ended with Beet- 
hoven's symphony in A, the final movement of whidi went off 
with astonishing dash and vigor. The n&it concert will be the 
last, and will be devoted to Beethoven's Mass in D. 

^July 1888 
To old opera-goers a performance of Verdi's Ballo in Maschera 
brings reminiscences of b}^one days and forgotten singers: of 
Titiens in the trio in the cave scene and Giuglini in the quintet. 
Fortunately for you, dear reader, it produces no such effect on 
me; for I never heard the opera on the stage before, and never 
heard Giuglini, though I knew most of the music in my cradle or 
thereabouts. As to the young opera-goers, one can really only 
wonder what they think about it. Its interminable string of cava- 
tinas, its absurd lyOffenbachian finale to the first act, its inexhaust- 
ible vein of melodramatic anguish, its entire impossibility from 
any rational point of view from beginning to end, must all help 
to puzzle those who were never broken in to that strange survival 
of Richardson's sho^, the so-called acting of genuinely Italian 
opera. These are untimely reflections, perhaps; but they rise tm- 
bidden at a performance of Un Ballo. The work, nevertheless, 
contains one capital si^ne: that in which Samuel and Tom (who 
are called Armando and Angri in the bills in these squeamish 
days) meet Renato iimocendy escortii^ his own wife, veiled, 
from an assignation with his dearest friend, and force her to 
unveiL Verdi has done nothing better dian the combination of 
the raillery of the two rascals, the himiiliation of the woman, 
and the distress of the husband. But at Covent Garden they do 
not seem to think that there is much in this. Samuel and Tom 
were solemn as sextons; and M. Lassalle merely stretched forth 


his sword to the stalls, as if he were about to perform the familiar 
feat of cutting an apple in two on Signor Mandnetli's head. He 
sang the part very well from a French point of view, which the 
audience, it was most encoura^i^ to observe, flady declined to 
accept. Mdlle. Rolla does not understand the English people. She 
may sing consistendy sharp here with impunity. Though the 
assembled Britons will not like it, they will pretend to, thinking 
that she knows besL But to begin a note in tune, and then force 
it up quarter of a tone is neither popular nor humane. It is 
better, on the whole, to sing in tune all through, as Mdlle. Rolla 
decided to do towards the end of the performance. Her acting 
consisted of the singular plunge, gasp, and stagger peculiar to 
the Verdi heroine, whose reason is permanendy unsettled by 
grief. Miss Amoldson added Oscar to the list of her successes. 
Jean de Reszke was Riccardo. Some of the tediousness of the 
opera was due to the senseless conventionality of the representa- 
tion and to the slow tempi adopted by Signer Mancinetii; but 
Mr Harris will do well to face the fact that, until fortune sends 
him an extraordinarily sensational dramatic soprano, he will do 
well to leave such old-^shioned affidrs as Un Ballo on the shelf. 

16 July 1 888 
AlDA filled the house at Covent Garden on Saturday quite as 
effectually as II Trovatore emptied it earlier in the week. Not that 
Alda, comparatively fresh and varied in interest as it is, is at 
bottom at all a more rational entertainment than II Trovatore, 
but simply because Alda is now put on to give the best artists in 
the company a chance, whereas II Trovatore is put on only to 
give than a rest. The perfonnance of the first two acts was im- 
satisfactory. Madame Nordica, brown enough as to &ce and arms, 
was colorless as to voice. Signor Mandnelli conducted the coun 
and temple scenes barbarically, evidentiy believing that die 
ancient Egyptians were a tribe of savages, instead of, as ^ as one 
can ascertain, considerably more advanced than the society now 
nighdy contemplating in "indispensable evening dress" the back 


of Signor Mandnelli's head. Not until the scene of the triumphal 
return of Radames from the war did the gallery begin to pluck up 
and applaud. Fortunately, an incident which occurred at the 
beginiiing of the fourth act confirmed the good humor thus set 
in, Ramphis, Amneris, and their escort were seen approaching 
the temple in a state barge. On its tall prow, which rose some five 
feet out of the water, stood an Egyptian oarsman, urging the 
craft along the moonlit bosom of the Nile. Now this was all very 
well whilst the royal party were on board to balance him: but 
w4ien they stepped ashore on to the stage, the barge went head 
over heels; die native went heels over head; and Signor 
Navarrini's impressive exhortation to VUni d^Iside al tempio was 
received with shrieks of laughter. Whether the operatic gods 
were appeased by the sacrifice of the luckless boatman (who never 
reappeared from beneath the wave), or whether his fate made his 
surviving colleagues more serious, is a matter for speculation; 
but ^e fact is beyond question that the representation gready 
improved from that moment. Madame Nordica's voice, no longer 
colorless, b^;an to rii^ with awakened feeling. Her admirable 
method, to which she is, unfortunately, not invariably faithful, 
was exemplified in the ease, skill, and perfect intonation with 
which the higher notes were produced. It is an inexpressible 
reUef to the jaded opera-goer to hear notes above the treble stave 
taken otherwise than with the neck-or-nothing scream of the 
ordinary prima dorma ma ultima cantatrice. M. Jean de Reszke 
also rose to the occasion, and so astonished the house by a 
magnificent deHvery of lo son disonorato/ Per te tratia la paxria! 
. . . SacerJote, io resto a te, that the curtain descended to an 
explosion of applause. It is true that M. de Reszke utterly missed 
the simple dignity of his part of the duet with Amneris in the first 
scene of the last act; but tiiat did not obscure his great success: the 
audience, delighted with him, accepting his version with en- 
thusiasm. Signor d'Andrade, in coffee color and tiger skins, 
ranted as Amonasro in a marmer against which common sense 
ought to have guarded him. Why the Ethiopian captive king 
should be conceived on the Italian stage, not even as an antique 



Cetewayo, but as a frenzied Hottentot, is hard to understand. 
Verdi certainly had no such intention, as the character of the 
music proves. Madame Scalchi played Amneris with passion and 
a certain tragic grace that might make her an actress, if it were 
possible for anyone to become an actress in such an atmosphere 
of incongruity and nonsense as that which an operadc artist is 
condemned to breathe. 

20 Septemier 1888 
James Henry Mafleson, alias Enrico Mariani, commonly and 
unaccountably spoken of as Colonel Mapleson, one time pro- 
iessional viola player, later operatic vocalist, and finally for 
twentyseven years London impresario at Drury Lane and Her 
Majesty's Theatre, has written The Mapleson Memoirs. They 
are very amusing, especially to readers who, like the Colonel 
himself, have no suspicion that his record covers a period 
of hopeless decay. The financial record is depressing enough; 
but that is nothing new in the history of Italian Opera in 
England, since all the impresarios, from Handel to Laporte and 
Lumiey, lost money, and lived, as far as one can make out, chiefly 
on the splendor of the scale on which they got into debt. Never- 
theless they kept the institution afoot in the good old style, with 
absurd high-lalutin* prospectuses, expensive ballets, rapacious 
star singers and star dancers, and unscrupulous performances in 
which die last thing thought of was the fulfilment of the com- 
poser's intentions. What was wanted, after Lumley's retirement, 
was a manager with sufficient artistic sensibility to perceive that 
these abuses, which Wagner and Berlioz had quite sufficiently 
exposed, must be done away with if the opera house was to hold 
its own against the ordinary theatre. Unfortunately, Colonel 
Mapleson's most indulgent friends can hardly claim for him any 
such musical and dramatic conscience. The period between the 
disappearance of Mario and the advent of Jean de Reszke is 
hardly to be recalled without a shudder, in spite of Christine 
Nilsson, and such iine artists as De Murska, Trebelli, Sandey, and 


Agnesi. Costa maintained rigid discipline in the orchestra; and 
Tidens's geniality, her grand air, the remains of her great voice, 
and even her immense corpulence covered for a time her essential 
obsoltecence as an artist; but the prevailing want of life, purpose, 
sincerity, and concerted artistic effort would have destroyed a 
drcus, much less the Opera; and the enterprise went from bad to 
worse, until it finally collapsed from utter rotteimess. 

Colonel Mapleson's negative contributions to this result may 
have been considerable. His positive contribution was the selec- 
tion of such a line of tenors, all straight from La Scala, and all 
guaranteed beforehand to replace and eclipse Mario and Giuglini, 
as we may fervendy hope never to hear again. Colonel Mapleson 
hopes to take the field again next season; and no one can help 
wishing that his perseverance may be rewarded with success. But 
if he proceeds on his old plan, or want of plan, he will only add 
another failure to his list. If he has leamt at last that the lyric stage 
cannot li^ a centiuy behind the ordinary theatre; that the days of 
scratch performances are over; that Donizetd is dead; that Wagner 
is the most popular composer of the day; that the Costa concep- 
tion of orchestral conducting has been succeeded by the Richter 
conception; and that people will not pay to see heroes and gende- 
men impersonated by tenors who are not distinguishable in 
manners, appearance, voice, or talent from the average vendor of 
penny ices, then, and not otherwise, he may succeed. It is only 
&ir to add, by the way, that Colonel Mapleson is by no means the 
only impresario who has hitherto &iled to take this lesson to 

26 November 1888 
A NEW quintet by Dvorak brought a laige audience to St James's 
Hall on Saturday afternoon. The success of a popular concert is 
always a question of luck; for if the leader of the quartet be out 
of sorts, or the pianist indisposed, the affeir is a grief and a dis- 
appointment to all except those devotees whose enthusiasm for 
great compositions and great artists is a manufactured literary 
produce capable of standing any quantity of wear and tear. No- 


body will ever know how much Messrs Chappell owe to their 
having made St James's Hall a fool's paradise, and how much to 
genuine musical taste and culture. On Saturday, happily, all went 
well. By the time the trio of the openii^ quartet (Mozart's in B 
flat: the first of the Haydn set) was reached, it was apparent that 
Madame Neruda was in the vein, and was about to display all her 
superb quaUties: her Are and precision, her perfect artistic rela- 
tion to her fellow artists, her unerring intonation and unflagging 
and unforced expression. Her playing was especially admirable in 
the Mozartian slow movement, which is, as great artists know, 
one of the most delicate and searching tests a player can undeigo. 
After it the quintet was a trifle; and it goes widiout saying that 
she carried Dvorak through brilliandy, making his work seem as 
delightful as her playing of the first violin part, which it by no 
means is. With worse executants it would have been found too 
Aill of odds and ends from the common stock of musical phrases, 
with the usual Dvorakian dressing of Bohemian rhythms and 
intervals, which give the analytical programmist an opportunity 
of writing about "national traits," and save the composer the 
trouble of developing his individual traits. The quintet is chiefly 
remarkable for the advance it marks in the composer's construc- 
tive ability, both as regards polyphony and the sonata form. The 
first movement is well balanced and shapely; and in the andante 
Dvorak hassuccessfiiUy contrived a form of his own. If the quintet 
were as fresh as it is well put together it would be a valuable 
addition to our store of chamber music As it is, it will not be so 
popular without Madame Neruda's help as it proved on Saturday. 

Of Miss Bertha Moore's singing it is only necessary to say that 
she selected Sullivan's Orpheus, as all ladies do who can take a 
high B flat pianissimo, and Grieg's setting of Solveig's song 
from Ibsen's great poetic drama Peer Gynt. 

Sir Charles Hall^ played Beethoven's sonata in D major, No. 3 
of Op, 10. Sir Charles is not a sensational player; but nobody who 
has heard him play the largo of this sonata has ever accepted the 
notion that his playing is "icy and mechanical." Is there any 
audience in the world that would come to hear Rubinstein play a 


Beethoven sonata for the twentieth time? Yet Hall^ (to drop the 
prefix which he shares with the ex-Chief Commissioner of Police) 
is always sure of his audience, 00 matter how often he has re- 
peated the sonata he chooses. The secret is that he gives you as 
little as possible of HallJ and as much as possible of Beedioven, 
of whom people do not easily tire. When Beethoven is made a 
mere cheval de bataille for a Rubinstein, the interest is more 
volatile. The "classical" players have the best of it in the long tun. 

3 DecemhtT 1888 
Mr Manns might have arranged his programme at the Crystal 
Palace on Saturday afternoon more considerately. Schumann's 
concerto in A minor is a beautiful work; and the Rhenish sym- 
phony is not to be despised. But to play them one after the other, 
with only one incongruous interruption in the shape of Rossini's 
Bel raggio bet^-een, is, to say the least, not a tactful proceeding. 
Why an inoffensive Saturday audience, all devoted to Mr Manns, 
should be compelled to wallow for an hour and a half in the noisy 
monotony and opacity of Schumann's instrumentation, is not to 
be guessed on any benevolent theory of concert administration. 
However, what is done is done. In the present instance it is not 
even necessary to describe how it was done, further than to say 
that the pianist was Madame Essipoff. That lady's terrible pre- 
cision and un&iling nerve; her cold contempt for difficulties; 
her miraculous speed, free from any appearance of haste; her 
grace and finesse, without a touch of anything as weak as tender- 
ness: all these are subjects for awe rather than for criddsm. Whoi 
she played Chopin's waltz in A flat, it did not sound like Chopin: 
the ear could not follow the lighming play of her right hand. Yet 
she was not, like Rubinstein at that speed, excited and furious 
over it: she was cold as ice: one felt like Tartini on the celebrated 
occasion when he got the suggestion for his Trillo del Diavolo. 
Additional impressiveness was given to the performance by the 
fact that Madame Essipoff has no platform mannerisms or affecta- 
tions. When the applause reached the point at which an encore 


was inevitable, she walked to the pianoforte without wasting a 
second; shot at the audience, without a note of prelude, an exer- 
cise about 40 seconds long, and of satanic difficulty; and vanished 
as calmly as she had appeared. Truly an astonishing — almost a 
feariul player. Mademoiselle Badia's songs would have done 
excellently at a concert in Paris in the year 1850; but after Schu- 
mann liiey were anachronisms. 

12 December 1888 
London has now had two opportunities of tasting Mr Hubert 
Parry's Judith, the oratorio which he composed for this year's 
Birmingham festival. It was performed on tile 6th of this month 
at St James's Hall, and again on Saturday last at the Crystal 
Palace, with Dr Mackenzie in the seat of Mr Manns (gone to 
Scotland), and the Palace choir replaced by that of Novello's 
oratorio concerts. The truth about the oratorio is one of those 
matters whidi a critic is sorely tempted to mince. Mr Pany is a 
gentleman of culture and independent means, pursuing his be- 
loved an with a devotion and disinterestedness which is not 
possible to musicians who have to live by their profession. He is 
guildess of potboilers and catchpennies, and both in his composi- 
dons and in his excellent literary essays on music he has proved 
the constant elevadon of his musical ideal. Never was there a 
musician easier and pleasanter to praise, painfiiller and more un- 
gracious to disparage. But — ! yes, there is a serious but in the 
case on the present occasion; and its significance Is that when a 
man takes it upon himself to write an oratorio — perhaps the most 
gratuitous exploit open to a nineteenth century Englishman — ^he 
must take the consequences. 

Judith, then, consists of a sort of musical fabric that any 
gendeman of Mr Parry's general culture, with a turn for music 
and the requisite technical training, can turn out to any extent 
needfiil for the purposes of a Festival Committee. There is not a 
rhythm in it, not a progression, not a modulation that brings a 
breath of freshness with iL The pretentious choruses are made up 
of phrases mechanically repeated on ascending degrees of the 


scale, or of hackneyed scraps of fiigato and pedal point. The un- 
pretendous choruses, smooth and sometunes pretty hymnings 
about nothing in particular, would pass muster in a mild cantata: 
in an oratorio they are flavorless. It is impossible to work up any 
interest in emasculated Handel and watered Mendelssohn, even 
with all the modem adulterations. The instrumentation is con- 
ventional to the sleepiest degree: tromboned solemnities, senti- 
mentalities for solo horn with tremolo accompaniment, nervous 
excitement fiddled in exceUis, drum points as invented by Beet- 
hoven, and the rest of the worn-out novelties of modem scoring. 

Of the music assigned to the principal singers, that of Judith is 
die hardest to judge, as Miss Anna Williams labored through its 
difiiculties without eloquence or appropriate expression, and 
hardly ever got quite safely and reassuringly into tune. Mdme. 
Patey as Meshullemeth discoursed in lugubrious dramatic recita- 
tive about desolate courts and pro&ned altars. She was repaid for 
her thankless exertions by one popular number in the form of a 
ballad which consisted of the first line of The Minstrel Boy, 
followed by the second line of Tom Bowling, connected by an 
"augmentation" of a passage &om the finale of the second act of 
Lucrezta Borgia, with an ingenious blend of The Girl I Left 
Behind Me and We be Three Poor Mariners. It will be under- 
stood, of course, that the intervals— except in the Lucrezia 
Borgia case — ^are altered, and that the source of Mr Parry's un- 
conscious inspiration is betrayed by the accent and measure 
only. Manasseh, a paltry creature who sings Sunday music for 
the drawing-room whilst his two sons are cremated alive before 
his eyes, was impersonated by Mr Barton McGuckin, who roused 
a bored audience by his delivery of a Handelian song, which 
has the fault of not being by Handel, but is otherwise an agree- 
able composition, and a great relief to the music which precedes 
it. Indeed matters generally grow livelier towards the end. 

The Israelites become comparatively bright and vigorous when 
Judith cuts Holofemes' head off. The ballad is gratefiilly remem- 
bered; the enchanting singing of Manasseh's son is dwelt upon; 
the Handelian soi^ is quoted as a fine thing; and so Judith passes 


muster for the time. 

One of the painful features of oratorio performances in this 
country is the indifTerence of most English singers to the artistic 
treatment of their own language. Hardly any of them shew the 
results of such training as that by which Italian singers used to be 
kept at do, re, mi, fa until they acquired a certain virtuosity in 
the sounding of the vowel and the articulation of the consonant. 
On Saturday afternoon it was not pleasant to hear Mr Barton 
McGuckin siting line after line as if he were vocalizing for the 
sake of practice on the very disagreeable vowel "aw." By a singer 
who knows this department of his business, such a word, for 
example, as "command" is a prized opportunity. Mr Barton 
McGuckin pronounced it "co-monnd" and spoiled it. It is some- 
what unlucky that artists who are aware of the full importance of 
pronunciation, and whose cultivated sense of hearing keeps them 
acutely conscious of distinctions to which the ordinary silver 
seems deaf, are also for the most part persons with a strong 
mannerism, which makes it unsafe to recommend them as models 
for imitation. Advise a student to pronounce as Mr Irving does, 
as Mr Sims Reeves does, as Mrs Weldon does, or as Madame 
Antoinette Sterling does, and the chances are that that student 
will simply graft on to his own cockney diphthongs and muddled 
consonants, an absurd burlesque of Mr Irving's resonant nose, 
of Mr Sims Reeves' lackadaisical way of letting the unaccented 
syllables die away, of Mrs Weldon's inflexible delivery and shut 
teeth, or of Madame Sterling's peculiar cadence and Scottish- 
American accent. 

The importance of this question of English as she is sung is 
emphasized just now by the advertisement which announces Mr 
Leslie's very laudable and fer-sighted plan of making the new 
Lyric Theatre an English opera house. English opera suggests at 
once the Carl Rosa style of entertainment. Now, with all due 
honor to Mr Carl Rosa's enterprise and perseverana, the per- 
formances of his company have never, even at their best, achieved 
a satisfactory degree of distinction and refinement. But what is 
peculiar to its representation is the slovenliness in uttering the 


national language. In an institution which ought to be a school of 
pure English this is disgraceful, the more so as the defect ts, of 
course, not really the result of social and educational disadvan- 
tages, but only of indifference caused by colloquial habit, and by 
want of artistic sensibility and vigilance. 

The Gilbert-Sullivan form of opera caused a remarkable im- 
provement in this respect by making the success of llie whole 
enterprise depend on the pointed and intelligible delivery of the 
words. It is an encouraging sign, too, that in the success of 
Dorothy a very important share has been borne by Mr Hayden 
Coffin, an American, who is a much more accomplished master of 
his language than many older and more famous baritones of 
English birth. If Mr Leslie is well advised he will test the artists 
whom he engines for his new theatre no less carefully as speakers 
than as singers. 

The odier day a small but select audience assembled in one of 
Messrs Broadwood's rooms to hear Miss Florence May play a 
pianoforte concerto by Brahms. An orchestra being out of the 
question, Mr Otto Goldschmidt and Mr Kemp played an arrange- 
ment of the band parts on two pianofortes. Brahms's music is at 
bottom only a prodigiously elaborated compound of incoherent 
reminiscences, and it is quite possible for a young lady with one 
of those wonderful "techniques," which are freely manufactured 
at Leipzig and other places, to simple with his music for an hour 
at a stretch withodt giving such an insight to her higher powers 
as half a dozen bars of a sonata by Mozart. All that can be said 
confidendy of Miss May is that her technique is undeniable. The 
ensemble of the three Broadwood giands was not so dreadtiil as 
might have been expected, and the pretty finale pleased every- 

(The above hasty (not to say silfy) description of Brahms's 
music will, I hope, be a warning to critics who know too much. 
In every composer's work there are passages that are part of the 
common stock of music of the time; and when a new genius arises, 
and his idiom is still unfamiliar and therefore even disagreeable, tt 
is easy for a critic who knows chat stock to recognise its contri- 


iutions to the new work and fail to take in th 
put upon it. Beethoven denounced Weber's Euryantke o 
a string of diminished sevenths. I had not yet got hold of the 
idiosyncratic Brahms. I apologise. fi9^6J.J 

12 December 1888 
Mr August Manns evidently made up his mind last week that 
nobody should reproach him again with want of variety in the 
Saturday programme. Mozart, Schubert, Berlioz, Mr Hamish 
MacCunn, and Sir Arthur Sullivan were represented by some of 
their most characteristic work. The concert began with the over- 
ture to the Yeomen of the Guard, by way of signalizing the re- 
placement in Gilbert-Sullivan opera of potpourri prelude by 
orthodox overture. Then the orchestra got to serious business in 
the G minor symphony. The performance of the first and last 
movements only showed that Mozart can utterly bafHe a band 
for which Beethoven, Berlioz, and Wagner have no terrors. It is 
useless to try to make the G minor symphony "go" by driving a 
too heavy body of strings through it with all die splendor and 
impetuosity of an Edinburgh express. That has been tried over 
and over again in London, with the result that Mozart's reputa- 
tion positively declined steadily imtil Hans Richter conducted the 
E flat symphony here. Wagner has told us how, when he first 
began to frequent concerts, he was astonished to find that con- 
ductors always contrived to make Mozart's music sound vapid. 
Vapid is hardly the word for any performance conducted by Mr 
Manns; but on Saturday, except in the slow movement and 
minuet, his energy was unavailing. It was magnificent; but it was 
not Mozart. When M. Marsick began Wieniawski's concerto in 
D, it at first seemed that a disappointment was in store. Wieniaw- 
ski's work, which is much more truly violin music than the 
Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos, requires above all a 
violinist who can play with perfect spontaneity, and even with 
abandonment. M. Marsick was constrained and mechanical, and 
his instrument, not at all in the vein, whined comfortlessly. Not 


until the movement was half over did his spirits improve. In the 
andante he completely recovered himself, and the final allegro was 
a triumph for him. A handsome recall at the end put him on the 
best of tenns with the audience, who subsequently applauded 
him enthusiastically for a very pretty Dans Slavacque, which he 
played exquisitely. The vocal pieces were sung by Miss Antoinette 
Trebelli, who imitates, with the facility of a child, what she has 
heard other people doing around her all her life; but who (£r- 
tainly displays as yet no individuality, style, purpose, or even 
earnest respect for her work. For the sake of the disdnguished 
ardst whose name she bears. Miss Trebelli has been allowed a 
very fevorable start But she will lose that start if she allows her- 
self to be spoilt by the foolish people who recalled her for an 
immature trifling with Non mi £t, an aria which only very 
intelligent, refined, and sympathetic singers should attempt. Miss 
Trebelli not only attempted it without these qualifications, but 
actually tampered with the concluding bars by way of improve- 
ment upon Mozart. Mr Hamish MacCunn's happy thought of 
setting Lord Ullin's Daughter in the freest and easiest way for 
diorus and orchestra was as successful as ever, Pearsall would 
have laughed at the cheapness of the success; but Pearsall 
would have been wrong; die tuuveti with which Mr MacCunn 
has gone to work in the simplest fashion is his great merit. 
The concert ended with Berlioz's first overture, Les Francs 
Juges, one of the most striking examples of his curious gift of 
brains and brimstone, A few old-fa^oned bars of Rossinian 
tum-tum in it sounded oddly beside the poignantly expressive 
section in C minor, the effect of which will not readily be for- 
gotten by those who heard it for the first time. 

12 December i388 
The Wagner Society has just completed the opening volume of 
its journal The Meister by the issue of the fourth quarterly part 
at the modest price of a shilling. At first sight The Meister sug~ 
gests a quarto edition of The Hobby Horse; but closer inspection 


reveals a cover from the slapdash drawing of which the Century 
Guild would recoil, and a printed page which certainly cannot 
be compared to the "solid set" letterpress which enabled the 
Hobby Horse, at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, to hold its own 
beside the most beautiful of old Italian books. It is the content 
rather than the form that makes The Meister respectable. Mr 
Charles Dowdeswell's Schopenhauer articles are admirably done; 
and the translation of Art and Revolution is one that no Socialist 
should be without. The editorial tone, however, is not Wagnerian: 
there is an evident indisposition to provoke hostility. This, with 
respect be it spoken, was not an indisposition to which the 
Meister himself was at all subject. There is one editorial foomote 
in the volume which he would have regarded as recreant. To be 
quite satisfactory, The Meister wants three things: a title-p^e 
by Mr Selwyn Imi^e or Mr Walter Crane; a printer who ap- 
preciates the Hobby Horse, and is not above taking a hint from 
it; and a fighting editor. 

Messrs Rud, Ibach, and Co. are exhibiting, at 113 Oxford 
Street, Beckmann's picture of Wagner in the music room at his 
Bayreuth home, Wahnfried. Cosima is seen in profile, seated on 
the composer's right; and Liszt sits with his back to the window 
and the score of Parsifal on his knees. The picture is already 
known by the photogravure reproduction which has found its 
way into one or two shop windows. Mr Ibach was a personal 
friend of Wagner's; and the picture is to be seen free of charge 
at his pianoforte rooms until its voyage to America, which is 
close at hand. 

"^January 1889 
On New Year's night at the Albert Hall, Messiah is the afiair 
of the shilling gallery, and not of the seven-and-sixpenny stalls. 
Up there you find every chair occupied, and people standi:^ 
two or three deep behind the chairs. These sitters and standeis 
are the gallery vanguard, consisting oi prima Jonna worshippers 
who are bent on obtaining a bird's-eye view of Madame Albani 


for their money. At the back are those who are content to hear 
Handel's music. They sit on the floor against the wall, with their 
legs convei^ing straight towards the centre of the dome, and ter- 
minating in an inner circumference of boot soles in various stages 
of wear and tear. Between the drcle of boots and the circle of 
sightseers moves a ceaseless procession of promenaders to whom 
the performance is as the sounding brass and tinkling cymbals of 
a military band on a pier. The police take this view, and deal with 
the gallery as with a thoroughfare included in the Trafalgar 
Square proclamation, calling out "Pass along, pass along," and 
even going the length of a decisive shove when the promenade 
is at all narrowed by too many unreasonable persons Stopping to 
listen to the music The crowd is a motley one, including many 
mechanics, who have bought Novello's vocal score of the oratorio 
and are following it diligently; professional men who cannot 
ailbrd that luxury and are fain to peep enviously over the 
mechanics' shoulders; musicians in the Bohemian phase of 
artistic life; masses of "shilling people" of the ordinary type; the 
inevitable man with the opera-glass and campstool; and one en- 
thusiast with a blanket on his shoulder, who has apparently been 
ordered by the police to take up his bed and walk. 

To those who heard the Albert Hall Choral Society for the 
first time on Monday evening, the performance cannot have been 
a very lively one. llie "cuts" (i.e. numbers omitted) were many 
and audacious. They actually included For He shall purify, one 
of the iinest and most popular of Handel's choruses. And with 
His stripes, Their Sound has gone out, The Trumpet shall sound, 
and others were also ruthlessly excised. The choruses retained for 
the occasion were sung in the old prosaic jog-trot. Unto Us a 
Child is Bom was sung correctly, and with admirable purity 
of tone; but in spirit and feeling it might have been the con- 
gratulations offered to a respectable suburban family on the 
latest addition to the nursery: one whose name could not by any 
stretch of imagination be called Wonderful! Counsellorl The 
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Through that fierce and 
sardonic tumult of mockery, He tmsted in God that He would 


deliver Him, die choir picked its way with a gingerly decorum 
that suggested a hampering sense of the danger of prosecution 
for blasphemy. And, later on, in the most famous of all famous 
choruses, there was not one real, rapturous, transporting Halle- 
lujah. The truth is that Mr Bamby has done with diose thousand 
choristers everything that a conductor can do — except kindle 
their imagination. That reception places Messiah beyond their 
reach. Until he can make them rejoice and exult like all the 
hosts of heaven, and scorn and deride like all the fanatics in 
Jewry, young London will grow up ignorant of the wonderful 
qualities which underlie the mere brute amplitude of one of the 
greatest treasures in their musical heritage. How fast those 
qualities are being foi^otten — how little they are missed, is 
shewn by the conventional praise which each performance like 
that of Monday elicits from their appointed assayers in the press. 
But if the foregoing must be said in justice to Handel and 
music, a word must also be said in justice to Mr Bamby. Only 
those whose memories of the choir go back at least a dozen years 
can appreciate the wonders he has done with it. In its raw state, 
its aptitudes for everything except the production of pure vocal 
tone were manifold and extraordinary. It could hiss, it could 
growl, it could choke, buzz, gasp, seethe, and whisde until the 
Albert Hall was like the King's Cross Metropolitan station, with 
four trains in, all letting off steam, and an artillery waggon coming 
full gallop up the Gray's Inn Road, whilst somewhere at the heart 
of the hurly-burly All We like Sheep were being imperfectiy kept 
from going too much astray by Dr S tainer thundering at the oi^^n. 
Then the orchestra, the indolent, callous, slovenly orchestra, 
that thought the accompaniments to the old Messiah the cheapest 
of easy jobs, that was killing Covent Garden by its slovenliness, 
killing the Philharmonic by its perfunctoriness, under the anxious 
and estimable Mr Cusins, respecting nobody but Mr August 
Manns,and fearing nobody but Sir Michael Costa! Mr Weist Hill, 
too, got some notable work out of them, but he did not shake 
their conviction that they could not be done without, and in that 
conviction they hardened themselves until Richter came and beat 


them easily with what they considered a scratdi band of rank out- 
siders. Those were terrible days for Mr Bamby; but his present 
achievement gathers lustre from their darkness and confiision. 
The choir now sings, and abstains from unlovely noises. The 
tone might be more voluminous considering die muldtude of 
singeis; but it couid hardly be purer and clearer. And the or- 
chestra, thoroughly refonned, respects itself and its conductor. 
Mr Smith's conquest of the House of Commons is a joke in com- 
parison. Mr Bamby has made a noble position as an immense, in- 
defatigable worker and a consummate musician. Now is the time 
for him to consider whether he has not also a poet somewhere 
in him. If he were forthcoming, what a conductor Mr Bamby 
would be! 

There is not much to be said about the four prindpal singets 
of Monday. Their work required a very beautiful and eloquent 
delivery of some of the most touching and impressive passages 
in our language. It also required complete fot^etfiilness of the 
vanides of vocal display. On both points Madame Patey got the 
better of Madame Albani; but neither lady succeeded in perfectly 
reahzing her true artistic relation to the oratorio. Madame Albani 
altered the ending of her songs for the worse in the bad old 
fashion which is now, happily for London, vanishing to the pro- 
vinces. This time no old gentleman got up to exclaim, "Woman, 
for this be all thy sins forgiven thee" at the end of He shall feed 
his Flockj for the singer of that exquisite strain was too bent on 
finishing "effectively" to finish well. However, the two voices 
were grand voices, and so could not wholly miss the mark at any 
time. Mr C. Banks was the tenor. The English tradition as to the 
tenor music of The Messiah is distinctly a maudlin tradition, and 
it is much to Mr Banks's credit that he was not umnanly in his 
pathos. For the rest, his performance lacked distinction. By the 
bye, he — or Mr Bamby — took Every Valley so fast that it was 
spoiled. The audience was mudi pleased by Mr Watidn Mills's 
delivery of Why do die Nations, and was a little astonished at his 
omitting The Trumpet shall Soimd. 



23 January 1889 
MADAhfB Patti kissed hands last night, in her artless way, to a 
prodigious audience come to bid her farewell before her trip to 
South America. The unnecessary unpleasantness of the most use- 
ful of Mr Louis Stevenson's novels makes it impossible to say 
that there is in Madame Patd an Adelina Jekyll and an Adelina 
Hyde; but there are certainly two very different sides to her public 
character. There is Patd the great singer: Patd of the beautiful 
eloquent voice, so perfectly produced and controlled that its most 
delicate pianissimo reaches the remotest listener in the Albert 
Hall: Patd of the unerring ear, with her magical roultuk soaring 
to heavenly aldtudes: Patd of die pure, strong tone that made 
God save the Queen sound fresh and noble at Covent Garden: 
Patd of the hushed, tender notes that reconcile rows of club- 
loving cynics to Home, sweet Home. This was the feraous 
artist who last night sang Bel raggio and Gomin* thro' the Rye 
incomparably. With Verdure Glad would also have been perfect 
but that the intonadon of the orchestra got wrong and spoiled 
it. But there is another Patd: a Patd who cleverly sang and 
sang again some pretty nonsense from Delibes' Lakm^. Great 
was the applause, even after it had been repeated; and then 
the comedy began. Mr Ganz, whilst the house was shouting 
and clapping uproariously, deliberately took up his bdton and 
started Moszkowski's Serenata in D, The audience took its cue 
at once, and would not have Moszkowski. After a prolonged 
struggle, Mr Ganz gave up in despair; and out tripped the £va, 
bowing her acknowledgments in the character of a petted 
and delighted child. When she vanished there was more cheer- 
ing than ever. Mr Ganz threatened the serenata again; but in 
vain. He appealed to the sentinels of the greenroom; and 
these shook their heads, amidst roars of protest from Ae audi- 
ence, and at last, with elaborate gesture, conveyed in dumb 
show that they dare not, could not, would not, must not, 
venture to approach Patti again. Mr Ganz, with well-acted desola- 
tion, went on with the serenata, not one note of whidi was heard. 


Again he appealed to the sentinels; and this time they waved their 
hands expansively in the direction of South America, to indicate 
that the prima donna was already on her way thither. On this the 
audience showed such sudden and unexpected signs of giving in 
that the diva tripped out again, bowit^, wafting kisses, and suc- 
cessfully courting fresh thunders of applause. Will not some 
sincere friend of Madame Patti's teli her frankly that she is grow- 
ing too big a girl for this sort of thing, which imposes on nobody 
— not even on the infatuated gentlemen who write colunms about 
her fans and jewels. No: the queens of song should leave the 
coquetry of the footlights to the soubrettes. How much more 
dignified was Madame Neruda's reception of the magnificent ova- 
tion which followed her playing of Bazzini's Ronde des Lutins ! 
It is unnecessary to say more of the rest of the programme than 
that E che! fra vol la tema brought back pleasantiy the days when 
Mr Santley trod the stage, and that Wallace's ridiculous Let me 
like a Soldier Fall was treated as it deserves, even though it was 
Mr Edward Lloyd's breast that "expanded to the ball." Miss 
Gomez made a very favorable impression by her singing of Sir 
Arthur Sullivan's Sleep, my love, sleep. Madame Patti, it may be 
added, looks very well and strong, and her voice is as good as 

23 January 1889 
The unexpeaed death of Dr Hueffer is a loss to the best in- 
terests of music in London. Fortunately, his warfere was accom- 
plished before he fell. The critics who formerly opposed him on 
the ground that Wagner's music had no form and no melody, that 
it was noisy and wrong, and never ought to have been written, 
and could never be popular, came at last to be only too grateful 
to Hueffer for his willingness to forget their folly. He was a 
thorough and industrious worker in many departments, and much 
better equipped for his work both by his capacity and acquire- 
ments than many of his colleagues who were by no means so 

Personally he was an amiable man, shy and even timid; but he 


did not look so, and he often pTodu<%d die most erroneous im- 
pressions on those who were only sllghdy acquainted with him. 
His long golden-red beard, shining forehead, and accentuated 
nostrils made him a remarkable figure at musical performances. 
Formerly he was careless of his dress and appearance; but of late 
years he became rather the reverse. His work as a cridc was not 
confined to music: the present writer last met him at the press 
view of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the New Gallery, and 
at his own request introduced him to Mr Walter Crane, certainty 
without the slightest presentiment that the meedng was final. 

25 January 1889 
Every reader of this column is, I presume, a lover of music, 
aware, as such, that noise is not music, and shrinkii^ from the 
muldplicadon of drums and cymbals as from an outrage on all 
true and delicate art. This cultivated state of mind comes of read- 
ing high-toned criricism. I cannot say that I have attained it my- 
self — unless noise is defined as mere empty toneless clatter. But 
if it means magnitude of sound, then I may as well confess at once 
that I hardly ever get noise enough to satisfy me. I despise an 
orchestra if its fortissimo does not leave me as if an avalanche had 
come thundering and roaring upon me, sweeping me away like 
a feather with its mere wind. Until every man has gone to the 
bottomless depths of sonority potential in his instrument — until 
the basses are lifting the groimd like an earthquake — undl the 
trebles are whisding like a storm through the giant teeth of the 
Alps — until the middle parts can drown with their impetuous 
charge the rush of an express train through a tunnel — until even 
Philharmonic fogeydom believes and trembles, my craving for 
immense sound is unsatisfied. 

I enjoy the Richter orchestra because its fordssimo is unap- 
proached by that of any other band in London. After its gor- 
geous tone paintings the performances of the Philharmonic seem 
but pretty water-color sketches. On Monday nights this season 
I have been so much occupied with the opera — ^which requires 


a good deal of parental looking afttr — diat I have missed the 
whole Richter series so fer with the exception of the Wagner 
Society concert this week. Now, I am not going to waste time in 
describing how stupendously they played the Rienzi overture 
and the KaisermarscJi, or how the orchestra made itself a Cyclo- 
pean bellows in the forest smithy of Mime, and wafted the air of 
the mediaeval burgher town about the meditadons of Hans Sachs. 
No; my business is perpetually to find fault until the limit of 
attainable perfection is reached. A moment ago I disparaged the 
Philharmonic orchestra. Now let me say diat, though it could not 
have played the Rien^ overture so as to give me concussion of 
the brain (which is the right way), yet it would certainly have 
accompanied Mr Edward Lloyd in the first part of Lohengrin's 
farewell speech with much more refinement than the Richterians. 
The wood wind lacked delicacy of touch; and the Grail music was 
— of all things — mundane. 

Mr Edward Lloyd delivers his words better than many English 
singers; but he was not half so intelli^le as Mr Max Hdnrich, an 
admirable baritone singer, whom I had not heard before (prob- 
ably he has not been singing here for more than a couple of years). 
Mr Lloyd does Siegfried very well, just as Mrs Kendal would do 
Schiller's Joan of Arc very well if she were put at it Still, his 
lai^h, though a very well-bred laugh, is hardly the exultant shout 
of a young giant over his anvil. Mr William NichoU should try to 
get Mime's music safely on his ear. He sings it as if hewere reading 
it at sight, and felt hopelessly bothered by the harmony. In short, 
he sings it out of tune. The performance of the wonderfid Parsifal 
music was a Utde labored and uneasy: its divine atmosphere was 
much clouded and troubled by its technical unfamiliarity; but on 
the whole it was meritoriously done. The set of sonorous 
cylinders seem to me to give satisfactory bell effects; but surely 
the fifth in the peal is atrociously flat. Can it not be replaced next 
time by a fresh cylinder? 

On Tuesday I was again in St James's Hall at the concert of the 

Chevalier Emil Bach. I applaud the Chevalier for engaging the 

Philharmonic orchestra and Mr Cusins; I deplore his ambition to 










I regret to have to announce that The British Bandsman, an ex- 
cellent paper devoted to the interests of the brass banditti, has 
had the mad presumption to "strongly suspea that I am deiident 
in luiowledge of wind instruments." This is true; but I am not 
going to be K>ld so by any British bandsman alive. How am I 
to make myself respected as a critic if the public for a moment 
suspects that there is anything I don't know? Besides, the B.B. 
is really too hard on me. The euphonium is not to me "an instru- 
ment unknown." I learnt to be gentle and modest, not at my 
mother's knee, but by listening to the diffident mooings of British 
bandsmen trying to play Oh, happy days I on the euphonium, in 
selections from L'Etoile du Nord. As to the ophicleide being ob- 
solete, I did not say it was not. The "chromatic bullock" was bom 
obsolete; but it is no more obsolete today than it ever was. It 
seems only die other day that Mr Hughes was playing, Oh, rud- 
dier than the cherry 1 on it at Covent Garden. 

However, I am not punctilious on the subject of the ophicleide. 
When its parr is played on a tuba in the Midsummer Night's 
Dream overture, I never dream of objecting to the substitutiotL 
But when The British Bandsman goes on to speak of the trumpet 
in the same strain, then I put down my foot. I am aware that there 
is a delusion rife among bandsmen that the great composers 
have written trumpet parts out of mere amateurish ignorance 
of the comet. I am also rather disposed to laugh occasionally 
when Mr Morrow or Mr M'Grath, in a sudden fit of classic 
reverence, solemnly produce the slide trumpet of commerce — 
a surpassingly obdurate and disagreeable instrument — and blare 
away with it through Mendelssohn's violin concerto. These 
trumpets, if it were worth anyone's while to leam to play them, 
would doubtless give the peculiar close, ringing, penetrating 
sound that the comet so completely misses; but then they would 
probably (ail in the soft comet effects in which Wagner's and 
Gounod's scores abound. What we really want is a revival of 
the old Handel and Bach trumpet, which Kosleck, of Berlin, 
handled so brilhandy at the Albert Hall a few years ago, and 
which Mr Morrow (I think it was Mr Morrow) tried last year for 


the Bach Choir. I do not suggest that it should oust the comet 
from the orchestra, but only from those trumpet parts in which 
the comet is out of place. 

(/( was after this thai the cornet vanished from our symphony 
orchestras. I do not know what conductor kicked it out; so I may 
as well claim the credit for the above protest. The slide trumpet, 
being riow played by trumpeters, and not Sy comettists forced to 
take a very occasional turn at an wifamiliar instrument, is no 
hnger obdurate or £sagreecd>U; though I still deny that it is a 
true trumpet. We need a great artist reformer, a musical William 
Morris, to recover fir us the character and variety of our wind 
insnm,ms. 1956.) 

2^ January iSS^ 
The Saturday Popular concerts are almost too popular to be com- 
fortable. Standing room is exhausted before three o'clock. This 
on the last occasion was not due to Haydn's quartet in C, with 
the variations on the Austrian hymn. It was not wholly due even 
to Mr Sandey with The Erl King, and To Anthea. It was very 
largely caused by the announcement of Beethoven's septet. The 
way in which people flock to St James's Hall when a few wind 
instruments are added to the fiddles is only one out of many 
symptoms of the thirst for orehestral music which remains un- 
satisfied in London, Private enterprise is a curious thing. When 
an eminent French engineer suggests an impossible canal through 
Central America millions are forthcoming instantly. Yet London 
clamors in vain for a West-end concert-room capable of accom- 
modating on every Saturday afternoon enough people at a shilling 
a head to support an orchestra 200 strong. It not only clamors, but 
gives repeated proofs of the sincerity of its demand and the readi- 
ness of its shillings. But no; Panama will be dug through, the 
Channel Tunnel finished, and the North-west Passage carpeted 
before we escape from St James's Hall, where either the orchestra 
is too small, as with Mr Henschel, or the prices too high, as with 
Herr Richter. Will not some American millionaire take the matter 
in hand; build the hall; and give the baton to Mr Theodore 



and crannies in the audience were stuffed with batlad-concert ei- 
thusiasts who had come solely to hear Mr Santley. When Madame 
Haas began to play Beethoven's Op. 1 10 they held out for a while 
in silent misery. Then they began to cough. Now Madame Haas 
was beginning an exquisite work, most beautifully — most poeti- 
cally — and was indeed so rapt in it that it is quite possible riiat 
the Sfjell may have been too delicately woven to reach her more 
distant hearers. It may be, too, that even the regular frequenters 
of the concerts are accustomed to have Beethoven's later works 
soundly thumped into them; and Madame Haas is certainly no 
thumpist. But when every possible excuse is made for the people 
who coughed, it remains a matter for regret that the attendants 
did not remove them to Piccadilly, and treat their ailmoit there 
by gendy passing a warm steam-roller over their chests. It is to 
be hoped that they did not succeed in shaking Madame Haas's 
faith in her artistic instinct; for it guided her unerringly throu^ 
the first movement of the sonata. As to the other movements, 
my impotent exasperation at the idiots on whom such playing 
seemed lost deprived me of al! power of forming a trustworthy 
judgment. Beethoven in his third manner, and Madame Haas in 
her smoke-colored silk domino, were got rid of in due course, 
to be replaced by the idolized baritone. 

Mr Santley was a little nervous, and both in The Erl King and 
To Anthea he forced the pace at the end, and tried to "rush" the 
effecL It is a pity that he should lack the calm confidence which 
so many of his rivals derive from their complete innocence of the 
art of singing. His voice is as fresh and his method as unfailing 
as ever. He had to repeat To Anthea to console his more obstre- 
perous admirers for their sufferings at the hands of Madame Haas. 

Madame lima de Murska is dead; and an ungrateful world is 
describing her obituarily as a person remarkable for a compass 
that extended to F in alL Reader, believe it not. What lack has 
there ever been of F's in ait? Is not that note attainable by Etelka 
Gerster, Miss van Zandt, our sister's schoolfellow Miss Smith, 
and many others? Yet they are not de Murskas. It is true that the 
F's in those famous fioritiu^ of the Queen of Night used, when 


De Murska sang the part, to chime with a delicate ring and inimit- 
able precision of touch which made GU angui d'mfemo her 
especial property, and gave her a monopoly of the part of AstrifEa- 
mante. But she was no less unapproachable as Elvira, in Don 
Giovanni, a creation to which only a great ardst can do justice, 
and which is usually thrown over to a second-rate "dramatic so- 
ptano." The highest note in it is a fifth below the vaunted F, so 
that "exceptional range" has certainly nothing to do with success 
in it. Yet who but de Murska was ever rapturously encored for 
Mi tra£ queW alma ingrata, which the general public so often 
finds "classical," by which it means rather dull and too long? 
Even Christine Nilsson was nothing to her in this crucial part. 

In Italian opera proper she was also unique. Out of a confused 
memory of dozens of Lucias one remembers only de Murska's. 
This, remember, was the de Murska of twenty years ago, even 
then a ^bulously old woman and a monstrously made-up woman, 
the middle of whose voice was not unjustly compared to an old 
tin ketde. Her make-up had the curious etlect of making her seem 
very young and pretty at close quarters and very artiJidal and 
vague in facial oudine at a distance. Probably she was by no 
means the Ninon de I'Enclos that gossip made her out to be. Her 
eccentric ways of travelling, her menagerie of pets, and such 
whims as her objection to be watched upon the stage by people 
in the wings, started a vein of small talk about her, which all 
somehow tended to die exaggeration of her age. 

Grove's dictionary gives the date of her birth in Croatia as 
1843. A usually well-informed critic suggests 1835 as nearer the 
trudi. The first date is certainly wrong: it is impossible to believe 
that the consummate artist of 1 870 was only twenty-seven. It is to 
be hoped that the story of her daughter's suicide is as untrue as 
most of the odd stories diat attached themselves to her during her 
lifetime. In her great days here, she was a small, slight, fragile 
woman, with a refinement of manner and delicacy of taste that 
made itself felt in everything she did on the stage, and that led 
to all the de Murska legends beginning with the statement that 
she was "a lady of position." However that may have been, she 


was unquestionably a woman of exceptional intelligence and pe- 
culiar artistic gifts; and her skill at vocal pyrotechnics was only 
a small part of die powers which give her a claim to a place among 
the greatest operatic artists of her day. 

21 February 1889 
On Monday the editor of The Star summoned me to a private 
conference. "TTie foct is, my dear Como," he said, throwing 
himself back in his chair and arranging his moustache with the 
diamond which sparkles at the end of his pen-handle, "I dent 
believe that music in London is confined to St James's Hall, 
Covent Garden, and the Albert Hall. People must sing and play 
elsewhere. Whenever I go down to speak at the big Town Halls 
at Shoreditch, Hackney, Stratford, Holbom, Kensington, Batter- 
sea, and deuce knows where, I always see bills at the door annoim- 
dng oratorios, oi^an recitals, concerts by local Philharmonic and 
Orpheus societies, and all sorts of musical games. Why not 
criticise these instead of saying the same thing over and over 
again about Henschel and Richter and Norman Neruda and the 
rest?" I replied, as best I could, that my experience as a musical 
critic had left me entirely imacquainted with these oudandish 
localities and their barbarous minstrelsy; that I regarded London 
as bounded on the extreme north-east by Stonecutter Street, on 
the extreme south-west by Kensington Gore, on the south by 
the Thames, and on the north by die Strand and Regent-street. 
He assured me that the places he had mentioned actually existed; 
but that, as I was evidendy hurt by the suggestion that I should 
condescend to visit them, he would hand the ticket he had just 
received for a Pur<^ll-Handel performance at Bow, to Musigena. 
"What !" I exclaimed, "Purcell ! the greatest of English composers, 
left to Musigena! to a man whose abnormal gifts in every odier 
direction haveblinded him to hisutterignoranceof music!" "Well, 
the fact is" said the editor "Musigena told me only half an hour 
ago that he was at a loss to imagine how a writer so profound and 
accomplished as di Bassetto could be in music a mere superficial 
amateur." I waited to hear no more. Snatching the tickets from 


the editor's desk, I hastily ran home to get my revolver as a pre- 
caution during my hazardous voyage to the east end. Then I 
dashed away to Broad-street, and asked the booking-clerk 
whether he knew of a place called Bow. He was evidently a man 
of extraordinary nerve, for he handed me a ticket without any 
sign of surprise, as if a voyage to Bow were the most common- 
place event possible. A litde later the train was rushii^ through 
the strangest places: Shoreditch, of which I had read in his- 
torical novels; Old Ford, which I had supposed to be a 
character in one of Shakespeare's plays; Homerton, which is 
somehow associated in my mind with pigeons; and Haggerston, 
a name perfectly new to me. When I got into the concert-room I 
was perfectly dazzled by the appearance of the orchestra. Nearly 
all the desks for the second violins were occupied by ladies: 
beautiful young ladies. Personal beauty is not the strong point of 
West-end orchestras, and I thought the change an immense im- 
provement until the performance began, when the fair fiddlers 
rambled from bar to bar with a certain sweet indecision that had 
a charm of its own, but was not exactly what Purcell and Handel 
meant. When I say that the performance began, I do not imply 
that it began punctually. The musicians began to drop in at 
about ten minutes past eight, and the audience were inclined to 
remonstrate; but an occasional apology from the conductor, 
Mr F. A. W. Docker, kept them in good humor. 

Dido and Eneas is 200 years old, and not a bit the worse for 
wear. I daresay many of the Bowegians thought that the un- 
intentional quainmesses of the amateurs in the orchestra were 
Purcellian antiquities. If so, they were never more mistaken in 
their lives. Henry Purcell was a great composer: a very great 
composer indeed; and even this litde boarding-school opera is 
full of his spirit, his freshness, his dramatic expression, and his 
unapproached art of setting English speech to music The Handel 
Society did not do him full justice; the work, in fact, is by no 
means easy; but the choir made up bravely for the distracting 
dances of the string quartet. Eneas should not have called Dido 
Deedo, any more than Juliet should call Romeo Ro-mq^-oh, 


LO>fDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 
or Othello call his wife Days-dxy-mona. If Purcell chose to 
pronounce Dido English fashion, it is not for a Bow-Bromley 
tenor to presume to correct him. Belinda, too, was careless in the 
matter of time. She not only arrived after her part had been half 
finished by volunteers from the choir, but in Oft She Visits she 
lost her place somewhat conspicuously. An umiamed singer took 
Come away, fellow sailors, come away: that salt sea air that 
makes you wonder how anyone has ever had the fece to com- 
pose another sailor's song after it. I quote the concluding lines, 
and wish I could quote the incomparably jolly and humorous 
setting: — 

Take a bowsy short leave of your nymphs on the shore; 
And silence their mourning 
With vows of returning. 

Though never intending to visit them more. 

Sailors (greatly ticHeJ). Though never — ! 

Other Sailors (ready to hurst with laughter). Though 
never — ! 

All (uproariously). Inte-en-ding to vi-isit them more. 

I am sorry to have to add that the Handel choir, feeling that 
they were nothing if not solemn, contrived to subdue this rousing 
strain to the decorum of a Sunday school hymn; and it missed fire 
accordingly. Of Alexander's Feast I need only say that I enjoyed 
it thoroughly, even though I was sttdng on a cane-bottomed 
chair (Thackeray overrated this description of furniture) without 
adequate room for my knees. The band, reinforced by wind and 
organ, got through with a healthy roughness that refreshed 
me; and the choruses were capital. Mr Bantock Pierpoint, the 
hass, covered himself with merited glory, and Mr Jolm Probert 
would have been satisfactory had he been more consistendy 
careful of his intonation. Miss Fresselle acquitted herself &irly; 
but her singing is like that of the society generally: it lacks 
point and color. Mr Docker must cure his singers of the 
notion diat choral singing is merely a habit caught in church, 
and that it is profane and indecorous to sing Handel's music 
1S5 E 


as if it meant anything. That, however, is the worst I have 
to say of them. I am, on the whole, surprised and delighted with 
the East end, and shall soon venture there without my revolver. 
At the end of the concert, a gentleman, to my entire stupefaction, 
came forward and moved a vote of thanks to the perfonners. It 
was passed by acclamation, but without musical honors. 

P.S. The Handel Society appeals urgendy for tenors, a second 
bassoon, and horns. Surely every reader of The Star can at least 
play the second bassoon. Apply to Mr P. L. G. Webb, 3 Chandos 
Street, Cavendish Square, W. 

13 FehnmTy 1889 
One of the reflections su^ested by the musical events of the last 

seven days is a comparison of Mr Hamish MacCunn's luck with 
Wagner's. It is exactly six years since Wagner died at Venice, 
aged 70. Mr Hamish MacCunn was bom yesterday — or there- 
abouts. Yet whereas Mr MacCunn's Last Minstrel was performed 
at the Crystal Palace last Saturday, even the overture to Wagner's 
Die Feen was not heard in London until Tuesday last, when Mr 
Henschel kindly gave it a turn at the London Symphony Concert. 
This Die Feen (The Fairies) was written in 1833 for the Wurz- 
bui^ Theatre, where Wagner was chorus master at ten florins a 
month, which was probably considered a handsome thing for a 
young man of twenty. It must by no means be supposed that 
at that age he was a crude amateur. He was certainly a crude 
Wagner; but if his object had been to turn out a business-like 
opera overture, he could evidently have managed as well as Sir 
Arthur Sullivan or Mr Ebenezer Prout; for the shortcomings of 
Die Feen are not those of mere illiteracy in music. And there is 
something of the enchantment of twenty about it. At that age 
fairyland is not forgotten. The impulse to hear "the horns of elf- 
land" is genuine and spontaneous. At twenty-six fairyland is 
gone: one is stronger, more dexterous, much more bumpdous, 
but not yet much deeper: sometimes not so deep. Accordingly, 
it was not surprising to find a charm in this "Vorspiel" that is 


wanting in the empty and violently splendid overture to Rienzi. 
It is more Wagnerian, for one thing. For another, it has youthful 
grace and fancy as well as earnestness. At the end, after a little 
juvenile tearing and raging, it weakens off into an echo of Weber's 
jubilant mood, and the coda is spoilt by the boyish repetition of 
a piece of enei^etic commonplace. But the earlier part is well 
worth the trouble Mr Henschei took with it. The only later work 
foreshadowed in it is the Faust overture of 1 840. 

I was astonished, and indeed somewhat hurt, at Mr Henschel's 
apparent oversight of my proposal that there should be two 
concerts instead of one. However, he doubtless had my com- 
ments in his mind when conducting the Magic Flute overture; 
for though he did not allow the band to try how fast they could 
rattle the notes off, as the fashion used to be with Mozart's orches- 
tral works, neither was he able to sound the depths of this great 
composition, nor is he likely to until he can afford to make a 
thorough study of it, and devote several rehearsals to its prepara- 
tion. The Haydn symphony (B flat. No, 12), a masterpiece in 
every sense, went delightfully; and Liszt's Hungarian rhapsody 
in D, after the usual preliminary bunkum from the horns and 
bassoons, sparkled, tinkled, warbled, soared, swooped and raced 
along so that it was almost impossible to resist the itching to get 
up and dance. Mr Johann Kruse's performance of Beethoven's 
violin concerto was not particularly bad except in the opening 
strokes of the first cadenza, and not particularly good except in 
a few of the simpler passages. This was the last of the subscription 
performances. An extra concert, at which we shall have the Leeds 
choir and the Ninth Symphony, will finish the season next Wed- 
nesday afternoon. 

Whatever faults the St James's Hall audience may have, suscep- 
tibility to panic is not one of them. Although the cooking arrange- 
ments coimected with the restaurant occasionally scorch the 
concert-room and produce the most terrifying odors of shrivel- 
ling paint and reddening iron, nobody budges. On Tuesday 
night I sat trembling, convinced that the whole building was in 
flames, until a lady gently slipped out and came back with an 


e from the attendants that there was no danger, a smell 
of fire being one of the well-known attractions of the hall. Then 
my past life ceased to run panoramically before my mind's eye; 
and I settled down to listen to the music But I lespectfully sub- 
mit that everybody is not gifted with my iron nerve, and that in 
a very heavy crush the consequences of an inopportune scorch 
might be disastrous. 

The Popular Concert last Saturday afternoon would hardly 
have provoked me to comment if there had been nothing else to 
remark than Dr Mackenzie's set of six pieces for the violin, even 
though three of them were played for the first time by Madame 
N^ruda. They are sentimentally pretty, especially where the pro- 
gramist tells us that in the Benedictus "rapture succeeds to 
awe"; but there is nothing to prevent Dr Mackenzie carrying out 
his expressed intention of composing some more. If Madame 
N^ruda would like to contract for such pieces by the dozen, I 
do not see why the accomplished president of Tenterden Street 
should make any difficulty. Neither do I mean to say much about 
Miss Zimmerman's playing of the Waldstein sonata. Everybody 
acknowledges that the first movement of the Waldstein is a colos- 
sal piece of pianoforte music. I confess I have never been able to 
see it It certainly was not colossal as Miss Zimmerman scampered 
through it, and for the life of me I do not know what else she 
could have done with a long, scrappy movement which is neither 
bravura nor tone poem, thoi^ it asserts itself occasionally in 
both directions. The allegretto, which is the really popular and 
interesting part of the sonata, was admirably played, the exposi- 
tion of the ^eme being particularly happy. Miss Zimmerman got 
a double recall. 

But what I really bring this concert in for is to ask why Mendels- 
sohn's quartet in E flat major is to be thrust into our ears at the 
point of the analytical programme, as one of "the happiest pro- 
ductions of the composer's genius." Also why Mendelssohn is 
described as " a master yielding to none in the highest quahfica- 
tions that warrant the name." The man who would say these 
things nowadays would say anything. Long ago, when the 


Mendelssohn power was at its height they were excusable; but 
programs dating from that period are out of date by this time. 
We now see plainly enough that Mendelssohn, though he ex- 
pressed himself in music with touching tenderness and refine- 
ment, and sometimes with a nobility and pure fire that makes us 
forget all his kid glove gentihty, his conventional sentimentality, 
and his despicable oratorio mongering, was not in the foremost 
rank of great composers. He was more intelligent than Schumann, 
as Tennyson is more intelligent than Browning: he is, indeed, 
the great composer of the century for all those to whom Tennyson 
is the great poet of the century. He was more vigorous, more 
inventive, more inspired than Spohr, and a much abler and better 
educated man than Schubert. But compare him with Bach, 
Handel, Haydn> Mozart> Beethoven, or Wagnerj and then settle, 
if you can, what ought to be done to the fanatic who proclaims 
him "a master yielding to," etc, etc., etc. 

These remarks will doubtless have the effect of instantaneously 
inducing Messrs Chappell to discard their stereotyped program 
of the E fiat quartet. To replace it they should select some person 
who is not only void of superstition as to Mendelssohn, but also 
as to the sacredness of sonata form. If the first movement of 
this quartet was not "a model of construction," it would perhaps 
be a genuine piece of music instead of the mere dimimy that 
it is. Surely the musical critics ought to leave to their inferiors, 
the literary reviewers, the folly of supposit^ that "forms" are 
anything more than the shells of works of art. Though Bach's 
natural shell was the fugue, and Beethoven's the sonata, can any- 
body but an academy professor be infatuated enough to suppose 
that musical composition consists in the imitation of these 
shells: a sort of exerdse that is as trivial as it is tediousi* The 
fugue form is as dead as the sonata form; and the sonata form is 
as dead as Beethoven himself. Their deadliness kills Mendels- 
sohn's St Paul and the "regular" movements in his symphonies 
and chamber music Fortunately, the people are sound on ibis 
question. They are not indifferent to die merits of the first and 
second subjects in a formal sonata; but to the twaddling "pass- 


ages" connecting them, to the superfluous repeat, the idiotic 
"working out," and the tiresome recapitulation they are either 
deaf or wish they were, I once asked an eneigetic and liberal- 
minded yoimg conductor what he thought of Liszt's music He 
replied with tlie inelegant but expressive monosyllable, "Rol" 
I was much less scandalized than I should have been had he 
applied that term to Mendelssohn's music; and yet I have no 
hesitation in saying that we have in Liszt's Preludes a far better 
example of appropriate form than any of the "regularly con- 
structed" works of Mendelssohn. 

1 March 1889 
There are twenty-four concerts this week. Consequently I give 
myself a holiday; for if anyone asks me what I thought of this or 
that performance, I reply "How can I possibly be in twenty-four 
places at the same time? The particular concert you are curious 
about is one of those which I was unable to attend." And, indeed, 
only a few out of the two dozen require any more special notice 
than an ordinary day's business at a West-end shop. Musigena 
has told you all about Otto Hegner, and has undertaken to look 
after the two performances of the Ninth Symphony by Mr Hen- 
schel on Wednesday and Mr Manns on Saturday. The Hackney 
choir gave St Paul on Monday; but as they did not invite me to be 
present — instinctively divining, perhaps, that I detest St Paul, and 
might pitch into them for its contrapuntrodty — I did not go. As 
to Mr Grieg, at the Popular Concerts, I tried to get in on Satur- 
day, but found the room filled with young ladies, who, loving his 
sweet stuff, were eager to see and adore the confectioner. So on 
Monday I forbore St James's Hall altogether, lest my occupying 
a seat should be the means of turning away even one enthusiastic 
worshipper. Mr Isidore de Lara is to be at the Steinway Hall this 
afternoon, and were I a dark-eyed Oriental beauty from Maida 
Vale or Sutherland Gardens doubtless I should go; but being 
what I am, I refrain. Not that Mr de Lara cannot sing very well 
from my point of view when he likes; but I am always mortally 


afraid of his beginning to sing well from the dark-eyed point o£ 
view, which infuriates me. I have already taken and described 
my Farewell of Madame Patti at the Albert Hall; and although 
she is kind enough to repeat the ceremony, I shall not repeat the 
description. For the other concerts, they are not yet; and sufficient 
unto the day, etc 

Still, one must go somewhither, after all. That was my feeling, 
last Tuesday, when, turning over my invitadons, I found a card 
addressed to me, not in my ancestral tide of Di Bassetto, but in 
the assumed name under which I conceal my idendty in the 
vulgar business of life. It invited me to repair to a High School 
for Girls in a healthy south-western suburb, there to celebrate 
the annual prize-giving with girlish song and redtadon. Here was 
exacdy the thing for a critic "Now is the time," I exclaimed to 
my astonished colleagues, "to escape from the stale iterations of 
how Mr Sandey sang The Erl King, and Mr Sims Reeves Tom 
Bowling; of how the same old orchestra played Beethoven in 
C minor or accompanied Mr Henschel in Pogner's Johannistag 
song or Wotan's &rewell and fire charm. Our business is to look 
with prophetic eye past these exhausted contemporary subjects 
into die next generation — to find out how much beauty and 
artistic feeling is growing up for the time when we shall be 
obsolete fogies, mumbling anecdotes at the funerals of our 
fevorites. Will it be credited that the sanity of my project and 
the good taste of my remarks were called in question, and diat 
I was absolutely the only eminent critic who went to the school! 

I found the school on the margin of a common, with which I 
have one ineffaceable association. It is not my custom to confine 
my critical opinions to the columns of the Press. In my pubUc 
place I am ever ready to address my fellow-dtizens orally until 
the police interfere. Now it happens that once, on a fine Sunday 
afternoon, I addressed a crowd on this very common for an hour, 
at the expiry of which a friend took round a hat, and actually 
collected i6s. 9d. The opulence and liberality of the inhabitants 
were thus very forcibly impressed on me; and when, last Tuesday, 
I made my way through a long corridor into the crowded school- 


room, my first thought as I surveyed the row of parents, was 
whether any of them had been among the contributors to that 
memorable hatful of coin. My second was whether the principal 
of the school would have been pleased to see me had she known 
about the 16s. ^d. 

When the sensation caused by my entrance had subsided some- 
what, we setded down to a performance which consisted of music 
and recitation by the rising generation, and speechification by the 
risen one. The rising generation had the best of it. Whenever the 
girls did anything, we were all delighted: whenever an adult 
began, we were bored to the very vei^e of possible endurance. 
The deplorable member of Parliament who gave away the prizes 
may be eloquent in the House of Commons; but before that 
eager, keen, bright, frank, unbedevilied, unsophisticated audience 
he quailed, he maundered, he stumbled, wanted to go on and 
couldnt, wanted to stop and didnt, and finally collapsed in the 
assuring us emotionally that he felt proud of himself, which 
struck me as being the most uncalled-for remark I ever heard, 
even from an M.P. The chairman was seif-possessed, not to say 
hardened. He quoted statistics about Latin, arithmetic, and-other 
sordid absurdities, specially extollii^ the aptitude of the female 
mind since 1868 for botany. I incited a little girl near me to call 
out "Time" and "Question," but she shook her head shyly and 
said "Miss — would be angry"; so he had his say out. Let him 
deliver that speech next Sunday on the common, and he will not 
collect i6s. jd. He will be stoned. 

But the rest of the program was worth a dozen ordinary 
concerts. It is but a few months since I heard Schubert's setting 
of The Lord is my Shepherd, simg by the Crystal Palace Choir 
to Mr Manns' appropriate and beautiful orchestral transcript of 
the accompaniment; but here a class of girls almost obliterated 
that memory by singing the opening strain with a purity of torie 
that was quite angeUc. If they could only have kept their attention 
concentrated long enough, it might have been equally deUght- 
fiil all through. But girlhood is discursive; and those who were 


not immediately under the awftil eye of the lady who conducted, 
wandered considerably from Schubert's inspiration after a while, 
although they stuck to his notes most commendably. Yet for all 
that I can safely say that if there is a linle choir like that in every 
high school the future is guaranteed. We were much entertained 
by a composition of Jensen's, full of octaves and chords, which 
was assaulted and vanquished after an energetic bout of fisdcuffs 
by an infant pianist who will not be able to reach the pedals for 
years to come. 

Then there was the inevitable scene from Athalie, rather 
anglidzed as to the vowels and "t's" and "r's," but intelligendy 
and intelligibly done. Josabeth had the mamtten of the French 
stage in a degree that would have enraptured A. B. Walkley. 
Joas was so spirited and artless that one forgave Racine the 
atrocious priggishness of the character; and Athalie did very 
well indeed. The recitations reached a climax in The Power 
of Life, a verse dialogue in which the lead was cleverly taken 
by a sharp and almost bumptious child, who brought out her 
mother in a wonderfiil way. I am almost tempted to mention 
the name of the young lady who spoke the mother's lines, so 
admirably was it done. It was more in the manner of Miss 
Beatrice Lamb than that of any other public performer I can 
recall. There were many other numbers in the program, but 
let it sufHce to add that when God save the Queen was sung, 
the substitution of two quavers for the triplet at the begin- 
ning of the last line so completely spoiled it that I instandy 
suspected the headmistress of being a Fenian. She was a slender, 
elegant lady, who somehow reminded me of Mrs Kendal in 
Coralie; and there was certainly nothing revolutionary in her 
aspect. But, unless my suspicion is well founded, she had better 
restore that triplet. 

On the whole, as I hurried back by the common, with a fine 
driving snow dispelling all chance of an impromptu repetition of 
the sixteen-and-ninepenny experiment, I was able to rejoice in the 
thought that we may look forward to the persistence of the 
i improvement which has taken place within the last 


fifteen years in the average taste, geneial culture, and artistic 
capacity of our singers, players, and the audiences of appreciative 
amateurs, upon which everything really depends in the long run. 
And of you, wise and discriminating reader, I ask whether my 
account of the high school does not interest you more than the 
highlysdentificaccoimtofDr Mackenzie's Dream of jubal, which 
I have left myself no room for, but which may descend on you at 
any time when I happen to be short of humanly readable copy? 

8 March 1889 
Before I hurry away to St James's Hall to hear the Bach Choir 
and Joachim, I must snatch a moment to reply to the numerous 
correspondents who have been struck by my recent remarks as 
to the salutaiy effects of wind-instrument playii^. It is impossible 
to answer all their questions in detail, but a few general observa- 
tions will cover most of the cases. 

First, then, as to the constandy recurring question whether the 
practice of musical instruments is likely to atmoy the neighbors. 
There can be no doubt whatever that it is; and when the man next 
door sends in to complain there is no use in quarrelling over the 
point. Admit prompdy and frankly that the noise is horrible, 
promise to cease pracrising after half-past twelve at night, except 
when you have visitors; and confess that if he in self-defen(» takes 
up another instrument you will be bound to suffer in mm for the 
sake of his health and culture as he is now suffering for yours. 
This is far more sensible and social than to pla(» the bell of your 
instrument against the partition wall and blow strident fanfares 
in defiance of his nerves, as I foolishly did when a complaint of 
the kind was made to me. But I was litde more than a boy at the 
time, and I have never since thought of it without remorse. 

As to my correspondent who inquires whether there is such a 
thing as "a dumb French horn," analogous to the "dumb piano" 
used for teaching children to finger the keyboard, I am happy to 
be able to assure him that no such contrivance is needed, as the 
ordinary French horn remaitis dimnb in the hands of a beginner 


for a considerable period. Nor can anyone, when it does be^n to 
speak, precisely foresee what it will say. Even an experienced 
player can only surmise what will happen when he starts. I have 
seen an eminent conductor beat his way helplessly through the 
first page of the Freischutz overture without eliciting anything 
from the four expert comists in the orchestra but inebriated 

The amateur will find, contrary to all his preconceptions, that 
the lai^;er the instrument the easier it is to play. It is a mistake to 
suppose that he has to fill the instrument with expired air: he has 
only to throw into vibration the column of air already contained 
in iL In the German bands, which were dispersed by the Franco- 
Prussian war, mothers of households used to observe with in- 
dignation &om the windows that these apparently lazy and brutal 
foreigners always placed the burden of the largest instrument on 
the smallest boy. As a matter of fact, however, the small boy had 
the easiest job; and I recommend amateurs to confine themselves 
to the tuba or bombardon, the chest encircling helicon, the ophi- 
deide, or at most the euphonium. The euphonium is an extra- 
ordinarily sentimental instrument, and can impart a tender melan- 
choly to the most ferocious themes. The accents of the Count 
di Luna, rag^g to inflict milk curoci spasind on Manrico, in the 
last act of Trovatore, are blood-curdhng. Transcribed for the 
euphonium in a mihtary band selection they remind you of The 
Maiden's Prayer. 

Of course, you will not take my advice. You are bent on learn- 
ing the flute or the comet. As to the flute I do not greatly care: 
you will get tired of it long before you can play Ah, non giunge, 
even without variations. But the comet is a most fearful instru- 
ment, and one with which self-satisfaction is attainable on easy 
terms. The vulgarity of the comet is incurable. At its best — play- 
ing pianissimo in heavenly sweet chords scored by Gounod, or 
making the sword motive heard, in the first act of Die Walkflre — 
it is only pretty. But in trumpet parts it is simply perdurable. Yet 
there is no getting rid of it. 

Two comet performances have left an abiding memory with 


me.OnewasM.L^vy'svariaoon on Yankee Doodle, taken ^raifw- 
simo, with each note repeated three times by "triple tonguing." 
This was in the open air, at the inauguration of Bufelo Billj 
and it was preceded by a spirited attempt on the part of Mdme. 
Nordica to sing The Star Spangled Banner to an entirely inde- 
pendent accompaniment by the band of Grenadier Guards. The 
other was The Pilgrim of Love, played by an itinerant artist out- 
side a public-house in Clipstone Street, Portland Place. The man 
played with great taste and pathos; but, to my surprise, he had no 
knowledge of musical etiquette, for when, on his holding his hat 
to me for a donadon, I explained that I was a member of the press, 
he sdll seemed to expect me to pay for my entertainment: a 
shocking instance of popular ignorance. 

I dwell on the comet a little, because in my youth I was pre- 
sented by a relative with absolutely the very worst and oldest 
comet then in existence. It was of an obsolete rectat^lar model, 
and sounded in B flat with the A crook on. Its tone was unique; 
my master — an excellent player, of London extraction— once 
described it as "somethink 'elUsh"; and he did it no more than 
justice. I never come across Scott's line, "Oh, for a blast of that 
dread horn," without thinking of it After devastating the welkin 
with this remarkable instrument for some months, I was told that 
it would spoil my voice (perhaps in revenge for having had its 
own spoiled); and though I had not then, nor ever have had, any 
voice worth taking care of, I there and then presented the comet 
as a curiosity to my instructor, and abandoned it for aye. It turned 
his brain eventually; for he afterwards spread a report that/ was 

I believe that a taste for brass instmments is hereditary. My 
father destroyed his domestic peace by immoderate indulgence in 
the trombone; my uncle played the ophicleide — very nicely, I 
must admit — for years, and then perished by his own hand. Some 
day I shall buy a trombone myself. At the Inventions Exhibition 
Messrs Rudall and Carte displayed a double-slide trombone, 
which I felt insanely tempted to purchase. Of the merits of this 
instnunent I was, and am, wholly ignorant, except that I inferred 


that its "shifts" were only half as long as on the ordinary trom- 
bone; and I ascertained that its price was 13 guineas. If ever 
I have so vast a sum at my command I shall probably buy that 
trombone, and ask Herr Richter to engage me for the next con- 
cert at which the Walkurenritt or Les Francs Juges is in the pro- 

By the bye, I do not agree with Musigena that Mr Manns 
keeps his brass too quiet at the Crystal Palace. I admire two things 
at Sydenham: the brass and Mr Manns himself. The strings are 
often snappish and mechanical, the wood wind stolid; but the 
brass is generally noble. I have never heard the statue music in 
Don Giovanni more finely played than at Mr Manns's centenary 
redtal of that masterpiece; and this is as much as to say that Mr 
Manns feels for the trombone like Mozart and myself. But I cer- 
tainly believe that the time is approaching when it will be ad- 
mitted that the doubling, trebling, and quadrupling of the string 
which has taken place in the modem orchestra requires a pro- 
portional multiplication of the wind instruments to balance than. . 
In spite of the splendors of the Boehm flute, it is often lost in 
passages where the old flute used to tell when violins were less 
numerous. For ensemble playing there ought to be at least six 
bassoons instead of two. And though I never want Mr Manns's 
trombones to play four times as loud — the trombone being a 
tender plant that must not be forced — ^I sometimes want twelve 
trombones instead of three. This would satisfy Musigena, though 
it would run into money. 

But I must not leave my inquirit^ amateurs without a word for 
those who most deserve my sympathy. They are people who 
desire to enjoy music sodally: to play together, to explore the 
riches of concerted chamber music for mere love of it, and with- 
out any desire to expand their limgs or display their individual 
virtuosity. Yet they are too old to ieam to fiddle, or, having leamt, 
cannot do it well enough to produce tolerable concord. Their 
difficulty is, fortunately, quite easy to solve. The instrument for 
them is the concertina: not the Teutonic instrument of the mid- 
night Mohock, but the English concertina of Wheatstone. I pre- 


sume Wheatstone and Co. are still flourishing in Conduit Street, 
although Mr Richard Blagrove and his quartet party have not 
been much in evidence lately. You can play any instrument's part 
on a concertina of suitable compass, the B Bat clarinet being most 
exacdy matched by it in point of tone. The intonation does not 
depend on you any more than that of a pianoforte. A good con- 
certina is everlasting: it can be repaired as often as a violin. It 
costs from iiS guineas for a treble to 14 for a contrabass. 

16 March 1889 
I AM sorry to say that a postcard has been forwarded to me in- 
scribed as follows: — " 'My uncle played the ophiddde for yeais, 
and then perished by his own hand.' — Como di Bassetto, in Star. 

"Bassetto, so expert you are 

With anecdote and wrinkle, 
To keep the readers of The Star 

For ever on the twinkle; 
Of playing ophideides, in soodi. 

You make us feel quite funky; 
But, tell us — was it gospel truth, 

That death of poor old Nunky? 

"With this ancestral tale of woe 

Youve set us all a-sighing, 
Until we deeply crave to know 

The manner of his dying. 
Did he fall slain by field or lake, 

By poison, or stiletto, 
Or did his nephew's stories take 

His breath away, Bassetto.^ S. 

Nature must be dead in the man who can thus trifle with a family 
feeling. I regret now that I mentioned the matter. My statement 
was true; but I decline, for two reasons, to satisfy the morbid 
curiosity of S. (Henry Salt). The reasons are: (i) the evidence 


at a coroner's inquest does not come under the head of musical 
memoranda; and (2) the details are so grotesquely extraordi- 
nary — so absolutely without precedent in the records of self- 
destrucdon — that, often as I have told the story, it has never once 
been believed. 

Another correspondent, writing in vivid prose, describes me 
as "an ignorant ass" for having spoken of "four comets" in the 
overture to Der Freischutz. I own the soft impeachment gener- 
ally, but demur to the particular instance of it. Sir Isaac Newton 
confessed himself an ignorant man; and though I know every- 
tbii^ that he knew, and a good deal more besides, yet relatively — 
relatively, mind — I am almost as ignorant as he. The term "ass" 
I take to be a compliment Modesty, hard work, contentment 
with plain fere, development of ear, underestimation by the 
public: all these are the lot of the ass and of the last of the Bas- 
settos. But I think the superior information and sagacity of my 
censor might have enabled him to detect an obvious misprint. 
"Four expert comets" {viJe last week's column) is nonsense, and 
would be so even if the instmments referred to — homs, of course 
— ^were really comets. What I wrote was "Four expert comists." 
My correspondent is an idiot. 

Hitherto I have not been a great admirer of Edvard Grieg. He 
is a "national" composer; and I am not to be imposed on by that 
sort of thii^. I do not cry out "How Norwegian!" whenever I 
hear an augmented triad; nor "How Bohemian!" when I hear a 
tune proceeding by intervals of augmented seconds; nor "How 
Irish!" when Mi Villiers Stanford plays certain tricks on sub- 
dominant harmonies; nor "How Scotch!" when somebody goes 
to the piano and drones away on E flat and B flat with his left 
hand, meanwhile jigging at random on the other black keys with 
his right. All good "folk music" is as international as the story of 
Jack the Giant Killer, or the Ninth Symphony. Grieg is very fond 
of the augmented triad; but his music does not remind me of 
Norway, perhaps because I have never been there. And his sweet 
but very cosmopolitan modulations, and his inability to get be- 
yond a very pretty snatch of melody, do not go very far with me; 



harmonic motive, is deeply pathetic. On Thursday it moved an 
audience which knew nothii^ of Peer Gynt. For the rest, the 
dawn music is charming, and so is Anitra's dance, which begins 
like the waltz in Berlioz's Fantastic Symphony. The Dovregubben 
orgy is a riotous piece of weird fun. AH four numbers are simply 
frank repetitions, in various keys and with difierent instrumenta- 
tion, of some short phrase, trivial certainly, but graceful and 
^cifiilly expressive. But they pleased the Philharmonic audience 
more and more as they went on; and finally Grieg, after two 
recalls, had to repeat the Dovregubben piece. 

On next Wednesday afternoon Grieg will have a concert all 
to himself. He will play his Holbei^ suite (Holberg was the 
Moliire of the North); Madame will sing five of his songs, besides 
playing duets with him; and Johannes Wolff will play a violin 
sonata of his. Mr Wolff is a Dutchman, like Mr Henry Seiffert, 
who played the other day at the Ice Carnival, which I did not 
attend, as my skates are out of order. The violin is capricious in 
its choice of nations. Formerly all fiddlers were Italian. Then the 
French had a turn, and then the Hungarians, Sarasate being a 
brilliant exception to all rules. But no one ever dreamt of a modem 
Dutch musician imtil the year of the Inventions Exhibition, when 
a Mr de Lange and his brother, conductor and organist respect- 
ively, gave two concerts of the music of the great old Nether- 
landish school of Sweelinck, Okeghem, Orlandus Lassus, and the 
rest of them, the execution of which, by eight singers from 
Amsterdam, made an extraordinary impression on the few 
musicians who happened to be pre^bnt After that, when at a con- 
cert at Steinway Hall I heard Mr Seiffert play a couple of pieces 
by Max Bruch and Wieniawski, with remarkably powerful tone 
and starding execution, I was not surprised to hear that he was 
a Dutchman. Subsequently, at the same hall, I heard Mr WoUF, 
who struck me, before he began to play, as the most goodnatured- 
lookii^ violinist I ever saw: a man whom no one would have 
the heart to criticize adversely. I do not remember what he was 
set down to play: it may have been the Kreutzer Sonata for all 
I know; but, in answer to an encore, he gave us the oddest tune I 

81 F 


ever heard in a concert room. He must have picked it up from 
some very old itinerant fiddler in the street. It was only about 
forty bars, played with immense humor and perfecdy appropriate 
expression. I have not forgotten it yet. Advance, Holland ! 

23 March 1889 
A. B. Walkley has had the unspeakable audadty to advise "the 
frolic Bassetto" to go to Richard III at the Globe Theatre. This is 
a gibe at my earnestness, which perhaps makes my column appear 
heavy to those who are accustomed to the trivialities of dramatic 
criticism. But I believe I have the support of those who are weary 
of levity, of egotism, of senseless facetio'usness, of self-advertise- 
ment, and, I will add, of ignorance and presumption. If, as Walk- 
ley implies, I have no sense of humor — ^and I do not deny it 
nor r^ret it — at least my readers are protected against misplaced 
jests and fleers at men who feel their responsibility and do not 
trifle with their mission. 

As a matter of fact, I did go to the Globe, not because Walk- 
ley wished me to hear "Mr Edward German's fine music, with 
its ieitmotivs after Wagner's plan" (ha! ha! ha!), but because a 
musician only has the right to criticize works like Shakespear's 
earlier histories and tragedies. The two Richards, Kii^ John, and 
the last act of Romeo and Juliet, depend wholly on the beauty 
of their music. There is no deep significance, no great subtlety 
and variety in their numbers; but for splendor of sound, magic 
of romantic illusion, majesty of emphasis, ardor, elation, rever- 
beration of haimting echoes, and every poetic quality that can 
waken the heart-stir and the imaginative fire of early manhood, 
they stand above all recorded music. These things cannot be spec- 
tated (Walkley signs himself Spectator): they must be heard. 
It is not enough to see Richard HI: you should be able to 
whistle it. 

However, to the music! Mr Mansfield's execution of his open- 
ing scena was, I must say, deeply disappointing. When I heard 
his rendering of the mighiy line — 


In the deep bosom of the ocean buried, 

which almost rivals "the multitudinous seas incarnadine" I per- 
ceived that Richard was not going to be a musical success. And 
when in that deliberate staccato — 

I am determine to be a villain, 

he actually missed half a bar by saying in modem prose feshion, 
"I am determin'd to be a villain," I gave him up as earless- Only 
in such lines as — 

Framed in the prodigality of nature, 

which simply cannot be put out of joint, was his delivery admir- 
able. And yet his very worst achievement was — 

Bound with triimiphant garlands will I come, 
And lead your daughter to a conqueror's bed. 

Spectator, with reckless fnvolity, has left his readers to infer 
that the magnificent duet with Miss Mary Rorke in which these 
lines occur, with the famous section begiiuiing, 

Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers, 

A pair of bleeding hearts, 

is by Gibber. "Ecce iteruml this scene is Gibber again" says 
Spectator. And this, mind, not that he does not know as well as 
I do that the lines are Shakespear's, but simply because, as Gibber 
was a sort of dramatic critic (he was an actor who wrote 
an apology, by no means uncalled for, for his own existence, 
though in justice I must add that it is still the best book on 
the Ei^lish theatre in exisffin<%, just as Boswell's Journey to 
the Hebrides is still the best guidebook). Spectator wishes 
to prove him superior to Shakespear! 

To return to Mr Mansfield. It is a positive sin for a man with 
such a voice to give the words without the setting, like a Covent 
Garden libretto. Several times he made fine music for a moment, 
only to shew in the next hne that he had made it haphazard. His 
actii^ version of the play, though it is an enormous improvement 




and he exclaims — 

A thousand hearts are great within my bosom. 

And now, as to Mr Edward German's music, "with its leitmotivs 
after Wagner's plan." Here is the principal theme of the over- 
ture: — 

And whenever Richard enters you hear the bassoons going: Pum- 
pmn-pum, pum, pum, Paw! It is a leitmotiv certainly; but this 
very primitive employment of it is not "after Wagner's plan." 
Hang it all, gentlemen critics of the drama, have you never been 
to the opera? Surely you have heard at least Der Freischiitz or 
Robert le Diable, or even Saianella, with their one or two com- 
paratively undeveloped, unaltered, and uncombined leitmotivs 
labelling stage figures rather than representing ideas. Yet you can 
hardly have supposed that these were "after Wagner's plan." 

What Mr Edward German has done is this: Having had about 
twenty-two players at his disposal, he has wisely written for the 
old Haydn-Mozart symphony orchestra: two flutes, two oboes, 
two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, drums, and strings: no 
trumpets or trombones. He has also necessarily economized in 
the strings by doing without 'cellos. For these hardly Wagnerian 
forces he has written an overture and a series of intermezzos, all 
pretty and well put together, but none presenting a single point 
of novelty. The style is the style of — say Max Bruch: that is, 
everj^ody's style: Gounod's, Bizet's, Mendelssohn's, Verdi's, 
all styles except Wagner's. 

The first entr'acte begins with a prolonged bassoon note and 
a slow triplet, which makes you rub your eyes and ask whether 
the curtain is not about to rise on the tower scene from II Trova- 
tore. The prelude to the last act is a reminiscence, and a very vivid 
one too, of the prelude and gipsy dance at the beginning of the 
tavern scene in Cannen. In short, Mr German knows his business, 
andha3comeoffwithcredit;but his music is not specially drama- 
tic in character, and would suit The Lady of Lyons just as well 


as Richard m. By the bye, why has he not taken the pastoral 
opportunity offered by the scene in which Richmond and his 
army scent the morning air on Bosworth Field? He should have 
divided the honors of this most effective bit of scene painting 
with Mr Telbin. 

I have been asked to say something about Tamberlik; but I 
imagine he must have flourished a Utde before my time. At any 
rate, I only heard him once, about twelve years ago, and then he 
was not a good singer, nor did he convince me that he was even 
the remains of one. The opera was Rossini's Otello, which proved 
worth half-a-dozen Semiramides. At the end of the duet with 
lago, Tamberlik rushed at the foodights and delivered an eldritch 
squeal, which was all that was left of the femous ut dtise de pm- 
trine. I had almost as Uef have been played upon by a fire-eng^e. 
He had a superb figure, and certain traditional phrasings which 
the old-fashioned training used to knock into singers, usually 
knocking the voice out of them at the same time. No doubt when 
he was young, with a fresh larynx, and able as well as willing to 
shout, he found no difficulty in carrying off some of the very 
doubtful honors of middle Victorian Italian opera. But if ever he 
was a fine artist, then I do not know what a fine artist is — ^which, 
as you jusdy observe, kindly reader, ts a perfecdy admissible 

30 March 1889 
I GRIEVE to say diat a member of the Globe orchestra has written 
a long letter to the editor most unbecomingly alluding to me as 
"the captious frolic," and seeking to prove that I am no musician. 
As well try to prove the earth flat. With all the gendeman's in- 
genuity and exceptional opportunities of knowing Mr German's 
score, he has succeeded in convicting me of only fifteen mis- 
takes in an entire column of The Star; a result which speaks for 

On one or two points I have a remark to offer — I trust re- 
spectfully, and with good temper. If the music prinKr of The 


Star subjects my quavers to a course of Darwinian evolution 
from which they issue without tails, and so, to quote my critic, 
"gets the value of four crotchets in a bar of three-four time," is 
that my fault? Further, when I am told that "the two trumpets 
and trombone were there right enough," the implication is that 
I regarded their apparent absence as a culpable omission. So far 
was this from my tfioughts that I am now disposed to reproach 
Mr German with wasting three players on instruments wlilch 
made no effect. For they were lost to hearing as completely as 
to sight, except in a few warlike passages, which I innocently 
accounted for by concluding that the four stage trumpeters had 
been for the moment pressed into the orchestra, and of course 
pressed carefully out of sight, as their costumes would have been 
anachronic off the stage. 

If there were really "about thirty" players instead of twenty- 
two, where were they? The editor's correspondent, a man of 
humor as well as of music, suggests that "my eye was off color"; 
but my eye, during the overture, counted twenty-two. This, as- 
suming that "off color" means temporary incapacity for duty, 
makes exacdy eleven men seen double. But, as a matter effect, my 
eye retained its normal ultramarine; and I believe I counted accur- 
ately. True, there may have been not only the trumpets and the 
solitary trombone "right enough" under the stage, but also a bass 
clarinet in the scene dock, an English horn in the flies, third and 
fourth horns in the box ofHce, and a harp on the roof. I can answer 
only for what I saw and heard; and I can assure Mr Gennan that 
the Bayreuth device of an invisible orchestra is also inaudible on 
the floor of the Globe, whatever may be the case upstairs. Be- 
sides, I confess I do not feel quite easy concerning the estimate 
of "about thirty," made by one who is in a position to be exact 
It suggests more than twenty-nine and less than thirty: possibly 
twenty-nine and a boy. 

My critic, who signs himself The Amused One, becomes al- 
most sarcastic over my suggestion that the scene of the dawn on 
Bosworth Field is a fit opportunity for a pastoral symphony. 
"Fancy a Pastorale where Bassetto wants it: Le. in the Bos- 


■worthFieldscene,whichisfiillof mail-dad warriors!" Well, my 
friend, why not? Does not the mail-clad Ratcliff tell us that the 
early village cock hath thrice done salutation to the mom? Am I 
to be told that the early village cock is not pastoral? And again: 
"Mr German has grasped the pastoral oppormnity and written a 
beautiful Pastorale as a prelude to the Road to Chertsey scene: 
a fitting place for if, I say." Will it be believed that this more fit- 
ting place than Bosworth Field is a road full of corpses and 
mourners? Surely a field is more pastoral than a road! 

However, these matters are but trifles, like my amused corre- 
spondent's mistaking the prelude to the first act for the Pastorale 
before the second, and, consequently, correcting me where I was, 
as usual, perfectly right. The true force of his letter is in the feel- 
ing it expresses that I have been unjust to Mr Edward German. 
Nodoubtlhave: whoamlthatlshouldbe just?ButifIhad said 
that Mr Edward German had written an original and adequate 
overmre and entr'actes to Shakspear's Richard m, I should have 
set his music on a level with Beethoven's Egmont, and himself 
above Verdi, Gounod, DvoHk, Grieg, and Brahms; for I do not 
believe that one of these composers could tackle Richard III suc- 
cessfully. Some of the dramatic critics have lightheartedly gone 
this length. If I followed that example, Mr Edward German would 
probably be the first to protest that I was making him ridiculous. 
So I shall confine myself to suggesting that the overmre and one 
or two of the preludes might very well be subjected to expert 
criticism at one of our orchestral concerts this season. Many less 
meritorious compositions by Moszkowski and otheis have been 
admitted there. 

{Sir Edward German's overture, re-scored for fuU orchestra, 
has survived as a concert overture, and is familiar to wireless 
listeners. It is a muck more serious composition than my readers 
could have gathered from my remarks 4y years ago; hut its 
excellence has nothing to do with Richard III: it stands l^ itself 
as a composition in overture form. 1936.) 

At the last Philharmonic Concert, by the bye, I paid a shilling 
for my program. The editor informs me that, with . the law of 


libel in its present unsatisfectory condition, I must not call this a 
fraud, a cheat, a swindle, an imposition, an exorbitance, or even 
an overcharge. Therefore, I have resolved to sulk and call it no- 
thing. Formerly the Philharmonic programs were sixpenny 
yellow-covered quartos, written by Macferren. The Crystal Palace 
Saturday programs are still sixpence. But the Richter pro- 
grams are a shilling; and shilling books are creeping in at Special 
oratorio performances even at the Crystal Palace. 

Doubdess, these prices pay. It is more lucrative to sell 200 
programs at a shilling than 2000 at a permy, the maximum of 
profit coinciding with the minimum of utility. In the same way, 
it paid Messrs Chappell the other day, at Grieg's recital, to turn 
away the shilling frequenters of the orchestra — their most faithful 
patrons — by charging three shillings instead of one; and to allow 
more than half, but not quite two-thirds, of the seats to remain 
empty. Though that cannot be helped at present, there is a way 

of smashing the program fr 1 mean of bringing down the 

prices of programs, as follows. 

Let some publisher employ a competent person — myself, for 
instance — to write analytical programs of all the standard sym- 
phonies, overtures, Wagner selections, and the like, keeping the 
collection up to date by pimcmal piracies from German pro- 
grams; and, in the case of works produced in England, paying 
the composer a reasonable sum for the necessary particulars. 
Translations of soi^, and opera libretti, combining sane if un- 
singable English versions, with a few remarks descriptive of the 
chief points of the opera, might also come into the scheme. Then 
put these on the market at |d. apiece, or 2d. the half-dozen. 
Packets containing the pieces of any concert could be made up 
from the advertisements. There is no reason to fear that concert 
givers would at once dish the outside competitor by lowering 
their prices; for the outside competitor, supplying all audiences, 
could sell with profit at a price that would not cover the cost of 
production to separate concert givers, each having only his own 
particular audience to fl that is, to deal with. 

Besides, analytical programs are wanted elsewhere than at 



rococo air which warns artists with an alert sense of modernity to 
avoid iJiem. Untamed young prima donnas from America occa- 
( sionally insist on them in spite of advice; but the result is now 
generally disappointing. At Covent Garden last year it was more 
than once rather worse than disappointing, except to those who, 
like myself, regard the ovation machinery as an impertinence, a 
nuisance, and a sham. Madame Sherrington's basket of florist's 
gcx)ds, and the claque which the management had judiciously 
provided for the reception of Lucifer, were fortunately swept 
into insignificance by a hearty spontaneous reception which she 
acknowledged with all her old grace. And, save once, when she 
pulled down the pitch during an unaccompanied chorus, and so 
made the entry of the organ an appalling catastrophe, there was 
no fallii^-otf to complain of. 

When I say ihat there was no falling-ofF discernible in Madame 
Lemmens-Sherrington, I wish I could say the same for Musi-- 
gena, who sat next me. He fell off repeatedly; and w\iea I 
awakened him he yawned as I have never seen even a musica! 
critic yawn before. I am bound to admit that there was nothing 
whatever in M. Beno!t's music to keep him awake; but I think 
he went too far when, on my venturing a criticism as we left the 
building, he cut me short with: "How Aoyou know.* You were 
asleep all the time." 

If cridcism is to have any effect on concerts, it must clearly be 
published before they come off. On this principle it behoves me 
at once to say a word about the Richter Concerts, which will 
take place every Monday, except Whit Monday, from 6 May to 
8 July inclusive. First, then, I want to knowwhether the orchestra 
is going to be any better than it was last year. Because last year, 
as Dr Hans Richter knows quite as well as I do, it was not up 
to the mark. I remember one scramble through the Walkurenritt 
which would have disgraced a second-rate military band; and the 
general want of refinement in detail, especially in the wind, was 
apparent in nearly all the Beethoven symphony performances. 
Nobody was more delighted than Bassetto by the breadth and 
force which Richter taught our orchestras after a period of 


st^nadon that cannot be recalled without a shiver. Nobody 
thrilled with more savage and vengeful glee when the old, heart- 
less, brainless, purposeless, vapid, conceited, jack-in-office, kid- 
glove, St James's-street, finicking Philharmonic fastidiousness 
was blown into space by him. But, contemptible and inadequate 
as this genteel fastidiousness was in the mass, it had its good 
points in detail; and Sir Arthur Sullivan's delicate taste, indivi- 
duality, and abhorrence of exa^eration and slovenliness raised it 
to a point at which, if it still did nothing, it at least did it with 
exquisite refinement. 

The possibility of such refinement being thus demonstrated, 
and being in no way essentially bound up with the nothingness, 
why should we tolerate any degeneracy in this respect from the 
Richter orchestra? For it is degeneracy. Some seasons ago they 
played Schubert's Unfinished Symphony with unsurpassable 
delicacy, the wood wind attaining apiano which I can only com- 
pare to the rustling of leaves in the gentlest of breezes. At that 
time, too, they could play a Liszt rhapsody with precision, a 
habit of which they have since broken themselves. There is a 
book — I forget the author's name, but it is the Posthumous 
Papers of some club or other — in which a man says to his son, 
"Vidth and visdom go together, Sammy." I rather doubt the 
statement; for I have noticed that as Hans Richter grows wider 
season after season he is more inclined to let things take their 
chance, and to depend on snatching an occasional magniBcent 
success from the inspiration of the moment. 

A word or two about the season's program. I am not sorry to 
see the Seventh Sjmiphony, which Richter hasdonetodeathin past 
seasons, replaced by the joyous Eighth, in which I hope we shall 
hear the beautiful trio taken slowly, on Wagner's lines, and not 
raced to destruction on Mendelssohn's. Talkii^ of Mendelssohn, 
one of the happiest additions to the list is the poetic Athalie 
overture. The maestoso which closes that work is a masterpiece of 
harmonic structure: one of the grandest pages Mendelssohn ever 
peimed. Liszt's Mazeppa is suffidendy novel, though it has been 
played here more than once. When I first heard it at the Crystal 


Palace I tried vainly to recollect what the rushing, swishii^ 
triplets which represent the galloping of the horse were lite. At 
last a rustic-looking young lady behind me said very audibly, 
"Oh, isnt it like frying rashers?" And so it was, exactly. 

Richter's atfecdon for Weber's vulgar Euryanthe overture is 
one of the things I do not understand. Nor, considering that 
perhaps his greatest triumph here as a conductor has been his 
resuscitation of the great symphony in E flat, can I imagine why 
he is so chary of the works of Mozart. However, he promises the 
symphony in D. There are lots of Mozart symphonies in D; but 
this is Kochel No. 504, a mark of identification which — Kochel 
not being at hand as I write — conveys no impression whatever 
to my mind, though doubtless it does to yours. A less hackneyed 
example of Cherubini than the Anacreon overture might have 
been found without much trouble; and Glinka's Komarinskaja 
Trill be the better for a rest after this season. 

(*' Weber's vulgar Euryanthe overture" rather staggers me nowa- 
days. But in Euryanthe fFeier's music is thickening into Wagner's, 
and losing the unique charm and perfume ofDer Freischut^, Oberon, 
and the Concertstiick for piano and orchestra. Knowing as we do 
now what Wagnerism was going to mean to music, the lass to 
Weberism does not affect us as a vulgarisation; but then/ — well, 
there the word is; and I really meant it. 1936.J 

The Wagner selections are to be increased by the duet with 
Venus in the first act of Tannhauser. The vein in which this scene, 
and much of Tristan und Isolde, is written is restless, passionate, 
harsh, and intolerable to those who agree with the composer who 
displayed his tact by saying to Berlioz, "I like music that puts me 
to sleep." A nobler addition to the repertory is the scene from 
Die Walkiire, in which the Valkyrie warns Siegmund that he is 
fated presently to die and accompany her to Valhalla, which, on 
carefully examining her as to how he will be situated there, he 
flady declines to do. The music is perfecdy simple and indescrib- 
ably impressive. 

Theexraision of themusical arrangements at die Shakespearean 

theatres is bearing fruit I hear remarks on the appearance of die 



Fljing Dutchman overture in the bill at the Lyceum. Bythe way, 
I was at the Lyceum on Tuesday, and found Mr Irving playing 
very finely indeed, and quite irreproachable in my department. 
He and I are the only two men — not professional phonetic 
experts — in England who can distinguish a vowel from a diph- 
thong. What a Lady Macbeth Miss Terry is ! I would trust my life 
in her hands. It was a luxury to hear her speak of "the owl, die 
&tal bellman which ^ves die stem'st goodnight." I had not 
heard "goodn^t" said in that exact tone since I saw her in the 
balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. 

13 April 1889 
A GENTLEMAN recendy condoled with me on die immense 
number of concerts a critic has to attend. He then asked me 
somewhat abruptly when I had last been at one. His intention 
being plainly to suggest that I am in the habit of neglecting my 
duties, I explained to him that the ear of a critic is a far more 
delicate organ than the larynx of a singer, and to keep it fresh 
and sensitive it must be used sparingly. But the fact is that I have 
so much to say about music that I fotget about the concerts. For 
example, I made a special excursion last month to a concert in a 
place called Bermondsey, at the invitation of the Popular Musical 
Union, and then clean forgot to write a word about it. 

The Popular Musical Union was formed in 1882 for the 
musical training and recreation of the "industrial classes." By 
subscribing a guinea you become an "honorary member" (I 
always thought that the point in honorary membership was that 
you paid nothing) and have a concert all to yourself at Grosvenor 
House once a year. You are patronized by the Lord Mayor, 
presided over by the Duke of Westminster, and vice-presided 
over and coundlled by nearly five dozen illustrious persons, 
including Sir Charles Russell, Sir Frederick Leighton, handfiils 
of earls, a dean, a county councillor, an oculist, an amateur 
actress, three bishops, half-a-dozen members of Parliament, et 
hoc germs omne. 


b, 000^(^10 


The Union opens singing or other musical classes wherever 
"a sufficient number of ladies and gendemen" signify to the 
hon. sec. (Mrs Ernest Hart) their intention of joining. And here 
I would dubiously ask whether ladies and gendemen belong 
to the industrial classes? Surely the quintessence of gentility is 
doing nothing, and making the industrial classes keep you. I 
submit that the Popular Musical Union should resolutely refuse 
to train and recreate ladies and gendemen who can presumably 
very well afford to recreate and train themselves. 

The Union has given two imposing concerts lately. At the last 
one Gounod's Redemption was performed in the People's Palace. 
I did not go, because I catmot stand listening to a band and 
chorus practising the chromatic scale in slow time for nearly 
three hours even when it is harmonized by Gounod. Progression 
by semitones is too gradual for my ardent nature. I understand 
that various members of the industrial classes of Mile End pre- 
tended to enjoy it, which shews how the hyprocrisy of culture, 
like other cast-off fashions, 6nd$ its last asylum among the poor. 
Now, in my opinion, the East-enders ought to be ashamed to 
have anything to do with the affectations of their parasites in the 
West if the East listens patiendy for a while, and never con- 
descends to pretend to like what bores it, it will save itself from 
much tedium and consequent prejudice against pseudo-sacred 
music. Roughly, the novices of the East End may take it that the 
only Scriptural oratorios worth listening to are those of Bach, 
Handel, and Haydn. After Mozart struck the modem secular 
humanitarian note in The Magic Flute, and Beethoven took it up 
in his setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy, oratorio degenera^ into 
mere sentiment and claptrap. With the exception of a few can- 
tatas by Mendelssohn, all the Biblical music of this century might 
be burnt without leaving the world any the poorer. If the Musical 
Union is wise, it will train its audiences to nineteenth century 
vocal music by means of opera recitals. 

Here I am, as usual, wasting all my space on the concert I was 

not at. The one at Bermondsey was in the Town Hall of that 

r^on. The vocalists annoimced in small print were Mdlle de 



to begin with. Then 1 was not foimally received, as 1 should have 
been, by the Mayor and Corporation of Bermondsey. Further, in 
spite of my card of invitation, I was only admitted to a seat 
worthy of my dignity on payment of sixpence extra. But I 
never spare money in the service of the public Bang went that 
coin without a murmur &om me. 

The generosity with which "the industrial classes" applaud 
you if they think you have "done your bit" heartily, even 
if you have not done it particularly well, was not abused on 
this occasion, as it too often is at concerts for the people. The 
Welsh tenor was excellent, and kept his temper in spite of 
grievous maltreatment from the accompanist in Deeper and 
deeper still. That gentleman when he came to Waft her, angels, 
discovered that the accompaniment of alternate dotted semi- 
quavers and demisemiquavers would make a rattling galop, 
which he forthwith led off with such spirit that he got nearly 
to the end of the page before Mr Dyved Lewis had finished the 
first bar. However, Handel and the Welsh tenor triumphed in 
the end, for the aria was encored. To avoid further Terpsi- 
chorean diiGculties, the successful singer substituted Gounod's 
setting of Victor Hugo's serenade, highly bowdlerized in the 
course of translation so as to spare the blushes of Bermondsey. 

Mr Bertram Latter greatly distinguished himself by singing a 
duet with a baby. His intention was to sing Sullivan's Thou'rt 
Passing Hence as a solo; but the baby joined in at the end of the 
first line and continued sempre crescendo e piu lamentevoh until a 
little before the end, when it collapsed, leaving Mr Latter, like 
Orpheus, master of the situation. Great and deserved was the 
applause elicited by his fortitude and his artistic singing under 
exceptionally trying drcumstances. 

Messrs W. Marshall & Co., of 70 Bemers Street, have sent me 

some music for review. Here, for instance, is a volume of airs 



from Maritana for violin and piano. But of what use is dial to 
me? I cannot play the violin and piano at the same time. Musi- 
gena can play violin parts with exquisite virtuosity through a 
sheet of tissue paper on a comb, his wide-toothed register being 
remarkable for its fulness and capability of dramatic expression; 
but he scorns Maritana. And, indeed, I think Messrs Marshall 
might have sent me the Kreutzer or the Strinasacchi sonata 
instead of Herr Meissler's waltzes arranged for the flute, The 
State Ball Album, The Children's Ball, and M. de Faye's arrange- 
ments of Braga's Serenata, and the like. My good sirs: do you 
think that di Bassetto regards this sort of thii^ as serious music? 

20 j4prii 1889 
I REGARD with immense approval the formation of a Concert 
Guild by ex-scholars and ex-students of the Royal College of 
Music Three of the rules deserve to be quoted, i. Members of 
the Guild are not to employ for professional purposes any title 
or designation of their membership. 2. The services of members 
taking part in the performances shall be gratuitous. 3. Any sur- 
plus arising from the concerts shall go towards the foundation 
of a benevolent fund for the members. The spirit of these rules is 
full of promise. They suggest the question whether political 
economy is included in the curriculum of the Royal College 
of Music Highly interesting examination papers could be set 
by an experienced professor. For instance: — How do you pro- 
pose to reconcile the artistic interests of society with the 
individual pecuniary interest of an exceptionally gifted artist? 
Explain why Madame Patti, instead of assisting at least twice a 
week all through the year in complete artistic performances of 
the best operas before laige audiences, is at present doing mere 
jobbing work in South America. Point out, from the point of 
view of sound national economy, the advantage of a system 
which makes it the interest of the greatest artists to perform as 
seldom as possible, and that, too, only before the fewest and rich- 
est people. Expadate on the nadve vulgarity and insensibility to 



the refining influences of art evinced by those who insist on the 
interest which the public has in getting for their collective 
moneys as many performances out of an artist as may be compat- 
ible with his or her health and reasonable happiness. Enumerate 
die benefits conferred on the French nation by the secession of 
Madame Bernhardt and M. Coquelin from the Com^die Fran- 
(aise on the ground that strolling pays them better. Show how a 
progressive income tax would aHect art Is it or is it not a corrupt 
proceeding for a singer to sing a worthless song for the sake of a 
royalty on every copy sold? To what extent has the spread of 
education reduced the percentage of private pupils who are un- 
aware that they can buy their own music for less than half the 
marked price, or a pianoforte for from 20 to 25 per cent less than 
the figure named in the catalogue? 

I could extend this list of questions considerably if I had 
nothing else to do just now. Sometimes it is not the artist, but the 
manager, who needs a lesson in political economy. The late Patti 
concerts at the Albert Hall were curious examples of managerial 
innocence. At them the singer obtained £700 for each concert. 
The managers of the hall should have demanded £,^oa extra as 
the rent of the hall, to be deducted from Madame Patti's fee. She 
would have objected, of course; but the managers need only have 
invited her to go elsewhere. As there is no other eligible hall in 
London capable of seating a sufficiently large audience to cover 
the ordinary return to the investment and leave £500 for the 
prima donna, Madame Patti could not have gone further with- 
out faring worse. The feet is, there were two monopolies con- 
cerned: Madame Patti's monopoly of herself, and the Albert 
Hall's monopoly of its unique size. Both monopolies have their 
"rents"; and the managers were childlike and bland enough to 
allow her to add £200 of the rent of theirmonopoly to thatof hers. 
Had Bassetto been the manager that would not have occurred. 

We are to have Italian opera at two houses this season: Verdi's 
Otello at the Lyceum, after the departure of Shakespear's Macbeth, 
and the usual series at Covent Garden. I take the opportunity of 
contrasting the modesty of Mr Augustus Harris with the ambition 


of actor-managers like Mr Wilson Barrett, Mr Irving, and Mr 
Mansfield, who produce no plays except those in which they 
themselves figure prominently. Mr Harris has been so self-denying 
in this respect that very few people in London know that he is an 
operatic artist as well as an impresario. The first time I had the 
pleasure of seeing him was in Der Freischiitz, in which he played 
Zamiel, the demon huntsman. The part is not a singing part, so I 
am unable to speak critically of Mr Harris's voice; but his vivid 
and agile pantomime made a deep impression on me, and I felt 
strongly that I had wimessed the performance of an enthusiast: 
so strongly, indeed, that I prophesied that if ever he became bank- 
rupt it would be by trying to revive Italian opera. 

I lost sight of him for some time after this until, happening to 
be present one evening at a performance of Pink Dominoes, I 
recognized in one of the characters the Strange personality of 
Zamiel. The moment I heard that he had entered upon a career as 
manager, I foresaw all the glories of the present r£gime3t Caveat 
Garden. May I now venture to surest that Mr Harris should 
revive Weber's masterpiece, and permit the present generation of 
Londoners to see him in a character which he has made his own? 

If Mr Harris hasa fault as an impresario'tt is his too indiscrimin- 
ate atuchment to the traditions of the operatic stage. Instead of 
making up his mind to a clean sweep of all its barn-storming 
absurdities, he has cultivated them on die largest scale. He should 
go to his singers and say gently "Do not saw the air thus. You 
think yourselves iine fellows when you do it; but the public thinks 
you idiots. The English nation, among whom I am a councillor, 
no longer supposes that attitudinizing is acting. Neither would I 
have you suppose that all amative young men wear dove- 
colored tights, and have pink cheeks with little moustaches. Nor 
is it the case that all men with grown-up daughters have long 
white beards reaching to the waist, or that they walk totteringly 
with staves, raising hands and eyes to heaven whenever they 
offer an observation. The daughters of Albion do not, when in 
distress, leave off wearing bonnets in the open air, assume mourn- 
ing, keep their hands continually on their hearts, and staler and 


flop about like decapitated geese." And so on. Harris's advice to 
the opera singers would become more celebrated than Hamlet's 
to the players. 

27 April 1 889 
Two new operas were produced last Saturday: Doris at die Lyric 
Theatre in London, and Brinio at the Park Theatre in Amster- 
dam. There has been of late a Dutch &shion in art setting in here. 
We all know that the Netherlands formerly produced such pain- 
ters as Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and de Hooghe, and such musicians 
as Sweelinck and Orlandus Lassus. These glories were supposed 
to have departed undl the modem school of Dutch landscape and 
seascape painters arose and brought Holland again to the front as 
a rheumatic mother of great painters. And, we naturally asked, if 
great painters, why not great composers, too? Are there no Dutch- 
men who do in music what James Maris, his brother Matthew, 
Mesdag, Weissenbruch, Neuhuys, Bosboom, and others are doing 
in painting? Somebody suggested Peter Benoit; and it is only 
a few weeks since Mr Bamby went to the trouble of producing 
Lucifer at the Albert Hall. The work, as it turned out, had not an 
original bar in it. However, the announcement of a new opera on 
a national subject at Amsterdam was not to be neglected. I have 
been described as "a shirk" in an envious headline by the sub- 
editor of The Star. But I was at my post in Amsterdam neverthe- 
less; and I think that if the sub-editor had seen me on my way 
thither, when I had been rocked in the cradle oi the deep for an 
hour, he would have blushed for the first time in his life. 

Brinio is a grand opera in four acts by S. van Milligen. The 
book is by Flower of the Snow, a memorable name. The 
characters include William Tell and Ophelia in the relation of 
brother and sister, our old friend Oroveso the Druid from 
Norma, Pollio from the same opera, and an unpopular Roman 
governor, who is addressed throughout by the Ethiopian title of 
Massa, and who may possibly have been suggested by Pontius 
Pilate. The action takes place in Batavia during the ascendency 
of the Romans. Brinio (W. Tell) is a patriotic Batavian with 


two sisters, one of whom is mad and the other sane, although 
I am bound to add that there is but litde to choose between diem 
except that Rheime overdoes the make-up of her eyes and plays 
h3rsterically with straws and poppies. Ada, the uncertified one, is 
beloved by Aquilius, a Roman officer, and by Massa, bodi of 
whom, accordingly, cultivate Brinio's acquaintance. Massa, how- 
ever, is out of the quesdon, for he not only drinks — he emptied 
a large goblet seven times in the course of one act without turn- 
ing a hair — but he seems to have had something to do with 
Rheime's mental affliction. Consequendy Brinio invites Aquilius 
to dinner, and shuts the door in Massa's face. 

In the second act Massa further exhibits his sybarite nature by 
reclining on a couch whilst a bevy of maidens sing a chorus and 
strew flowers on him. Then comes an amazing scene in which 
Vulpes, the confidant of Massa, conducts a sort of conscription 
among the Batavians, much as FalstafF did at Justice Shallow's 
house on his way to Coventry. The rest of the act I totally foiget, 
except that Massa ordered the Roman soldiery to arrest Aquilius, 
whidi they refused to do on any terras. 

The third act takes place at night, in the depths of a primeval 
forest. Ada and Rheime happen to bestrolling there in their ordin- 
ary indoor costume. Rheime sings to a tambourine accompani- 
ment, which indicates that she is distraught. Ada sings then 
without the tambourine; and finally die two repeat their parts 
simultaneously in a manner much afiTected by Sir Arthur Sullivan 
in his operas. Massa then enters, unobserved, with two villains in 
cloaks, to whom he laboriously points out Ada — ^mind! AJa, not 
Rheime, because the villains of course subsequently get hold of 
the wrong woman. Massa and his hateful hirelings then retire in 
order to give a chance to Aquihus, who comes in and has a love 
duet with Ada, Rheime meanwhile sitting on a stump in a dumb 
paroxysm of flower and straw mania. Aquilius and Ada then elope, 
leaving Rheime an easy prey to the two villains, who re-enter and 
approach her by a series of strategic movements from tree to tree, 
as if she were a regiment of sharpshooters. At last they bear her off, 
wrapping her head in a veil, lest they should recognize her and 


spoil the last acL Brinio comes in with Ada and Aquilius: at least, 
I think it happened this way. Anyhow, Oroveso the Druid comes 
in with a host of mistletoe wotshippers, and, after declaiming 
unintelligendy at insufferable length in a colorless bass voice, 
appeals to the heavenly powers, who ring a bell, which causes the 
limelight man to cast a dazzling ray on Brinio, thus uimiistakably 
pointing him out as the savior of his country. 

In the last act, Massa is found with his bevy of maidens, drink- 
ing like a Roman Coupeau, and inviting everybody to hail his 
approaching bride. The bride appears with her head wrapped up; 
but even before she is unveiled, the friskings of the tambourine 
convince Massa, to his entire disgust, that in spite of his plain 
directions the two villains have mistaken the sisters. Vulpes now 
announces the advance of the foe, who come charging cautiously 
over the battlements, preoccupied with the real danger of break- 
ing their necks rather than with the illusory perils of a stage battle. 
Massa, after a tremendous draught of Dutch courage, takes his 
sword, with which, to the utter astonishment of the audience, and 
in flat defiance of poetic justice, he kills Brinio, whereupon most 
of the Mistletonians fall down dead. Suddenly, however, Aquilius 
appears; and the Roman soldiery in turn fall down dead, appar- 
ently of heart disease precipitated by excitement Massa is dis- 
armed and removed in custody; and Ada and Aquilius are happily 
united. Rheime's reason is perhaps restored by the sight of her 
brother's mortal pai^, for the tambourine is heard no more; but 
on this point I caimot in the present stage of my acquaintance 
with sung Dutch, speak with certainty. 

The opera was received with a considerable show of enthu- 
siasm. At the end of the first act Rheime rushed to the conductor's 
desk and shook hands impulsively with Heer van Milligen amid 
cheers. When the forest scene was over the poet and the manager 
came upon the boards. Vast trophies of laurel and national bunting 
were handed up and hung upon the arms of the manager, who 
peered through the greenery Uke Bknam forest coming to Dun- 
sinane, and made a glowing speech about his heart (just like 
Mr Wilson Barrett), about the Amsterdam public, about the 


Netherlands public, about the public of the whole universe, about 
the triumphant establishment of a great national school of opera, 
about the inspiration of della Neve, the genius of van Milligen, 
and heaven knows what not. When he had finished he began 
again, as public speakers will, and repeated his speech at least 
twice. Finally, he handed over the trophies to the blushing van 
Milligen; the applause broke out afresh; the trumpets blared forth 
victorious fanfares; and the audience dispersed in quest of refresh- 

With all due respect for the manager, I am unable to agree with 
him in his estimate of Brinio. Had the poem been as rational as 
even an exceptionally bad Drury Lane melodrama, it m^t have 
passed as an opera libretto with that unfortunately large section 
of the public which does not consider opera-making a serious or 
responsible profession. But it was not so rational, nothing like it. 
The music was vigorous, ambidous, elaborately scored, glib in 
the sentimental parts and strenuous in the martial, but without a 
phrase, progression, or rhythmical figure that could by any streKh 
of international courtesy be described as moderately fresh. As to 
any attempt at that distinctively dramatic power of suidng the 
music to the character as well as to the acdon and emodon, Heer 
van Milligen seems to have exhausted his endowment of it in 
devising the tambourine part to which I hav^ alluded. 

On the whole, though Brinio is not without the sort of plausi- 
bility that has secured for Lucifer a troublesome and expensive 
hearing in London, there is no reason why it too should be brought 
across the North Sea. But the example of the manager who pro- 
duced it might be imitated by our impresarios. Mr Goring Thomas 
can do Heer van Milligen's work, and do it far better. So can 
Mr Villiers Stanford, who is sprighdy enough when he is not 
gratifying his fancy for the pedantries of sonata form. Why 
Mr Augustus Harris does not get a grand opera out of Sir Arthur 
Sullivan, who is never dull, is one of the unaccountable things in 
modem management. Perhaps Mr Harris does not luiderstand 
that he is expected to produce new work. If so, he is mistaken. 
Far too many nights last season were wasted in rattling the drying 


bones of Un Ballo and D Trovatore; whilst works like Goetz's 

Taming of the Shrew and Wagner's Die Walkiire, both of them 
beautiful and popular works, were left on the shelf. If that happens 
again, the readers of The Star shall leam my opinion of suti 
senseless proceedings. 

I May 1889 
The importance which was attached yesterday to the news of 
Mr Carl Rosa's death measures the position he had made for him- 
self in England. His special work was the organization of opera 
in English, as opposed to the fashiotiable opera in Italian. In this 
he was so isx successful that he leaves his company firmly estab- 
lished in London and the provinces, not without a certain artistic 
prestige, though the artisdc side was never the strong side of his 
undertakings. His career as an impresario grew out of his marri- 
age with Madame Parepa, whom he met in the United States in 
1867, in the course of a concert tour, for which the late Mr Bate- 
man had engaged him as violinist. He was then twenty-four years 
of age, and had played in this country at the Crystal Palace. With 
Madame Parepa's talent to support him, he turned conductor and 
manager, in which capacities he proved so competent that, after 
some years' experience in America, he directed his attention to 
England. The death' of Madame Rosa in 1874 upset his calcula- 
tions; but he persevered until his reputation was established in 
the provinces. In the winter of 1875 he tried a season in London. 
Mr Sandey's performance of the part of the water-carrier in 
Cherubini's Deux Joumies immediately gave the enterprise an 
artistic position which it certainly could not have gained by its 
performances of Faust and II Trovatore in English. Next year, at 
the Lyceum, the great success of Wagner's Flying Dutchman, 
with Mr Santley as the Dutchman and Madame Toniani as Senta, 
still further raised the status of the company, emboldening Mr 
Carl Rosa to produce a real English opera, entitled Pauline, of 
which, in consideration for the composer and librettist, no further 
particulars need here be raked up. The next stride was made in 


I S79, ^en there was a season of opera in English at Her Majesty's 
Theatre. Rienzi was produced with ^e late Mr Joseph Maas in the 
title part; and Miss Georgina Bums burst on us as the Messenger 
of Pea(%. Nothing comparable with this achievement has been 
since done here in choral and spectacular opera with theexception, 
perhaps, of the revival of William Tell by Mr Harris last season 
at DruryLane. In 1880 Goetz's Taming of the Shrew, with Miss 
Minnie Hauk as Katherine, was produced at Her Majesty's. This 
also was an excellent performance; and it was the last really great 
work introduced to us by Mr Carl Rosa. The operas by Dr 
Mackenzie, Mr Goring Thomas, and Massenet, which he afffir- 
wards undertook, had their merits; but they were far inferior in 
their artistic importance to the works of Wagner or Goetz. 

Mr Carl Rosa was a capable man of business; ^d as conductor 
and impresario his judgment was to be depended upon to a 
certain point. But it had its limits. His finest arnsts — Mr Santley, 
Miss Minnie Hauk, and Madame Marie Roze, for instance — were 
not discovered by him; and though he brought forward several 
singers with bright, strong voices and plenty of hard work in 
them, yet it is impossible to believe that he enlisted the best talent 
available in his time in yotmg England, in point of grace, reAne- 
ment, and intelligence. His recruits, though robust enough, were 
often rather raw, with Irish, Scotch, Canadian, provincial English 
or Welsh dialects, and no stage training. With him they found 
no tradidons of the Com^die Fran9aise order to improve them. 
To this day the diction and deportment of the Carl Rosa artists 
leave everythii^ to be desired; and it is this deficiency which 
compels the criddsm that their spiritual director was not as 
eminent an ardst as he unquestionably was an eminent organiser 
and man of business. On the purelymusical side he had sufficient 
vigor, individuality, and even enthusiasm; and he certainly knew 
how to get himself respectably served in the matter of stage man- 
agement and decoradon. As impresarios go, all this was no mean 
endowment; and we could have better spared many worse men 
whilst we wait for Providence or Bayreuth to train us a manager 
with the requisite administradve ability — one fiilly sensible of 


the pictorial, the poetic, the dramatic, and the musical sides of 
great operas, and able to co-ordinate them into an Ideal repre- 
sentation towards which it shall be the business of an English 
opera-house constantly to work. 

The name of Rosa was a phonetic version of the German 
"Rose." The deceased impresario's complete title was Carl 
August Nicolas Rose, and he was bom at Hambui^ in 1843. 

I have been amusing myself this week by comparing English 
opera at the West End of the town with English opera at the EasL 
TTie most important result so fer has been the discovery of a 
magnificent theatre in a place called Shoreditch: a palatial opera 
house in which you get an orchestra stall for two shillings, or a 
ruby velvet chair in the front row of the balcony for half-a-cr own. 
More modest arrangements can be made for fourpence; and there 
are no fees, except a penny for a program. Here have we all been 
for years paying half-guineas and half-crowns for admission to 
paltry Strand playhouses, unwitring that there was an East-end 
Covent Garden accessible for fourpence. I had heard of Shore- 
ditch as the home of an industrious population, of persons who 
never will be slaves earning their modest shilling a day by 16 
hours' workj but its celebrity as a theatrical centre was unknown 
to me. 

When Mr Melville, the proprietor and manager of the National 
Standard Theatre, informed me of his intendon to produce 
Madarren's Robin Hood on Monday last, I resolved to be there. 
I do not mind confessing that though, as a professional critic, I 
know everything, yet there are a few matters that I have not yet 
got quite at my fingers' ends. Among them are the works of 
Macfarren, who, like Cherubini, acquired such a reputation as a 
pedant that it was almost fot^otten that he had once been a com- 
poser. And just as people with a dread of Cherubini's pedantry 
are alwaj^ agreeably surprised by the overture to Anacreon, so 
was I years ago pleasantly taken aback by the overture to Chevy 


Chace. Indeed, it was partly on the strength of Chevy Chace that 
I went to hear Robin Hood. 

Robin Hood was written for Her Majesty's Theatre in 1 860. In 
that year English opera sung by Sims Reeves, Santley, and 
Madame Lemmens-Sherrington, and conducted by Hall^, was 
given night about with Italian opera conducted by Arditi and 
sung by Titiens and Giuglini. Such things have been, and may be 
again. As fer as I know, Robin Hood has been shelved ever since; 
so that the performance on Monday was practically a first one to 
most of the audience. 

Twenty-nine years after Robin Hood, and one and a half after 
the death of its composer, we have Mr Alfred Cellier's new Eng- 
lish opera Doris produced at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury 
Avenue, under the disadvantage of the absence from England of 
Como di Bassetto. He, however, frequented the first two acts on 
Tuesday evening last, and proceeded to compare Doris widi 
Robin Hood, with a view to determining how far English opera 
had advanced in the meantime. He regrets to have to announce 
quite decisively that it has not advanced at all. Macfarren put 
forth his musicianship and strained his hncy to trick out a litbretto 
which barely pretended to be serious; and history has repeated 
itself with some minor variations, as, for instance, that Mr Cellier's 
songs are gayer, and his finales and concerted pieces flimsier, than 
Macfarren's. Mr Stephenson, too, lightheartedly drops even the 
pretence of seriousness. Otherwise there is not a pin to choose 
between the opera of i860 and the opera of 1889. In one case the 
trifling is solemn: in the other, it is inane and flippant, that is all. 

Doris is the more aggravating of the two at first, because the 
music seems to interrupt the action until it becomes apparent that 
there is no action to interrupt. When Martin, catching Carey in 
the act of kissing Doris's hand, stops to sing her a song before he 
takes any further steps, you pay no more attention to the story, 
and feel defirauded of what you have paid already. In Robin 
Hood the music generally advances matters: you feel that you are 
getting along, even though you are obviously in a no-thorough- 
fare. And although after a certain age — say ten — it is not easy to 


LO>fDON MUSIC m 1888-89 
laugh very heartily at the Sumpnour, he is a veritable Falstaff 
compared with the buiFoon at the Lyric, who, in spite of such 
pleasantries as changing his breeches and getting too drunk to 
find the keyhole of his door, would be quite intolerable if it were 
not for a certain natural drollery in Mr Arthur Williams which 
enables him to pretend to write a letter as Mr Crummles's comic 
countryman pretended to catch a fly: that is, funnily enough to 
make a cockney laugh. 

Where the East-End audience suffered in comparison with the 
West was not in the quality of the opera, but in the manner of its 
performance. Mr Hawes Craven's Highgate scene at the Lyric is 
iUll of the true Bank Holiday feeling for nature, besides being 
thoroughly carried out in detail so as to make the illusion as easy 
to the spectator as possible. Further, Mr Ivan Caryll has trained 
his orchestra to play with such spirit and daintiness that it ranks 
as quite the best orchestra of its kind in London when the in- 
dividuality of the conductor is placed to its credit. Then all the 
artists are good enough for their work: some of them, indeed, 
much too good. Mr Hayden Coffin's artistic intelligence is so 
completely wasted on his parts that by the time he has played 
three or four more of them — he will then be about fifty, judging 
from the run of Dorothy — his higher faculties will (srtainly have 
decayed from disuse. Meanwhile the West End hears its Doris to 
great advantage. 

Not so the East-End Robin Hood. With the singers at the 
Standard I have no serious fault to find, although I may remark 
that Mr Turner has probably no idea of how unsatisfactory his 
intonation is when he is not bringing down the house with 
stentorian high notes. For the chorus I have nothing but praise: 
the men deserved the thundering encore they got for the un- 
accompanied chorus in the second act. The scenery, though of the 
old-feshioned sort, was sufficiendy plausible. But the orchestra 
should not have been inflicted on Shoreditch, as it certainly durst 
never have been inflicted on Shaftesbury Avenue. And here, 
again, I make magnanimous allowances. The economies in the 
wood wind I pass over; the sufBciency of the brass I acknowledge. 


But imagine die effect, in a theatre of the latgest size, of a string 
bandconsistingoffiveviolins, one tenor, and two'ce!los,noneof 
the playere being, to say the least, Nerudas or Hollmansl When 
the feeble and mistuned scraping got very bad — and once or 
twice it could hardly have been worse — doubtless the packed 
pittites said reverendy "This is classical music. This is above our 
heads, this is." Peiiiaps they even thought that it was quite the 
operatic thing for the conductor to wield his bSton with one hand 
and play the harmonium with the other. If so, they were far too 
kind in their estimate of the management's sense of its artistic 
duty to them. I hate to see the East End imposed upon; and I 
felt strongly inclined to rise between the acts and inform the 
house that more and better strings would have made an enormous 
difference for the better, and ought to have been provided. 

The last time I ventured on a remark about music in the East 
End, I brought upon myself a letter from a correspondent at 
Camberwell which exasperated me beyond measure. He accused 
me of having said that working-men "could not enjoy the high- 
class oratorios of their superiors"; of running down the Peckham 
Choir in order to disparage the Tonic Sol-fa; and of wanting to 
bum "all the cantatas written since Mendelssohn's Ode to Joy." 
These intolerable aspersions are apparently founded on my 
opinion that Gounod's Redemption is, as a whole, such a bore 
that the audience of the People's Palace cannot have been sincere 
in pretending to enjoy it; on a distinct and unqualified compli- 
ment paid by me to the Peckham Tonic Sol-fe Choir; and on my 
disparagement of all scriptural oratorios written since Mozart's 
Magic Flute and Beethoven's settii^ of Schiller's Ode to Joy, 
except certain cantatas by Mendelssohn. It is infuriating to be 
misunderstood in this way, particularly as it is admitted in Uterary 
circles that I write the best English in the world. For the future, 1 
positively decline to answer letters founded on inexcusable mis- 
readings of my column. 

Another correspondent — this time a model one — asks whether 

Miss Grace Pedley really said, as The Star reported, that her 

compass was four octaves. I cannot answer the question, as it was 



not I who interviewed Miss Pedley; but a compass of four octaves 
is not impossible. I believe Mr Comey Grain is gifted to that 
extent. However, people are apt to make statements of very 
doubtful value on this subject. For instance, between my lowest 
growl and my highest squeak there lies a compass of more than 
three octaves; but if I attempted to range far outside an octave 
and a iifth in singing, I should be asked to leave otf. The service 
from which my correspondent quotes the bass must have been 
written either iy a greenhorn or fir a Russian choir. I was not 
aware that the text-books differed as much on the subject as my 
correspondent says; but surely no text-books encourage a student 
to expect bass chorus singers to be equally ready with C's below 
the stave and E naturals above it. The average basso cannot be 
trusted below G or above £ flat. 

7 May 1899 
Mr Hamish MacCunn, at twenty-one years of age, is better 
known than most of the rising young men of forty-iive or so who 
infuse some of the light and promise of early youth into the pro- 
ductive branches of the fine arts in London. The fame of the 
more important of his works will have reached every amateur who 
takes any interest in modem music; and even the main facts of 
the composer's personal history are already known wherever any 
curiosity exists concerning them. It is no news that he was bom 
at Greenock in 1868; that his home was an actively musical one; 
that he was often brought to London, and spent one season, when 
he was eight years old, at Sydenham, where he heard Mr Manns's 
orchestra every day; that he took a scholarship at the Royal 
College of Music when he was fifteen, and worked under Di 
Parry, picking up his orchestral experience as a viola player; that 
his works, whidi came out without die slightest flavor of Dr 
Parry or South Kensington, were first heard in the studio of Mr 
J. Pettie, R. A., the attraction of whose household for Mr MacCunn 
will probably be explained in the course of the year; and that die 
last commission given by the late Mr Carl Rosa was to the com- 

ov Google ^ 

poser of The Lay of the Last Minstrel for an opera on the subject of 
Waverley, to be written by Mr Bennett, the musical critic of the 
Daily Tel^raph. Personally Mr MacCunn is such a very signi- 
ficant-look^ young man that he appears taller than he actually 
is. His hair is dark; he speaks with the accent of a Scottish gentle- 
man; he is by no means unlike the bust of him by Mr D. W. 
Stevenson at the Royal Academy. There are certain youthfiil por- 
traits of Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Weber, a composite of which 
would ^ve some interesting suggestions of Hamish MacCuim. 
His noble forehead, fine, clear eyes, and particularly pleasant and 
open expression, partly account for the reminiscence of Mendels- 
sohn. A glance at our portrait will show that his nose is his own 
and Scotland's, and that in the length of his head and the develop- 
ment at the base of the skull behind (where these men of war 
have their powder magazines) his photograph recalls Mr 
Herkomer's portrait of Wagner. 

First, then, as to Mr MacCunn's view of the musical situa- 
tion in England. He has no doubt that we are entering on a 
period of genuine musical activity. The necessary conditions 
for it are: the men, the money, and the public As to the men, 
what difficulty should there be about that? We have produced 
the greatest of men in the line arts, from Shakespear downwards; 
and there is no magician's circle drawn about music more than 
about any other art. Money we have in plenty. As for the 
public, you want one with enthusiasm, idealism, and — ^pur- 
chasing power. The idealism of the British public is proved, 
not by the fact that a few of them are fond of Bee^oven's 
symphonies, but by the extent to which they suffer them- 
selves to be aristocracy-ridden. Needless to say, Mr MacCunn, 
at twenty-one, and proud of a newly taken place in the Re- 
public of Art, is no worshipper of aristocracy. But he sees that 
others worship it, and he finds comfort in the spectacle; for he 
knows that we do not worship aristocrats wholly because we are 
a nation of snobs; we idealize them first, and only give our 
homage to our ideal. Now, says Mr MacCunn, with a salt touch 
of himior that goes along with the clearest eamesmess in him, 


whilst the Brirish are able to idealize the British aristocracy, 
nobody can say that they have not a tremendous fund of idealiz- 
ing capacity ready for the service of Music as soon as she comes 
to claim it. Questioned as to his favorite composers, Mr MacCunn 
simply protested: "You might as well ask me which I like best, 
my arms or my legs." Yet he has tenderness towards certain 
composers. Weber — the Weber of the Frdschiitz and Oberon 
radier than of Euryanthe — is a special iavorite of his; and he is 
strong in praise of M. Gounod, for the beauty and dramatic force 
of ibe prelude to whose Faust he has no words to express his 
admiration. With reference to the old composers, he said more 
than once, "They carry us very far back; even Gounod takes you 
very far back" — which means that Mr MacCunn is going to take 
us as far forward as he can. Mr MacCunn has made no secret 
of his conviction diat the music of the future will be dramatic 
and descriptive, not "abstract." He has always put programs 
to his works on the simple ground that, as he always meant 
somethii^ when he wrote them, he may as well tell people 
what the meaning is. In this there is a touch of Scotch ration- 
alism which cropped up again when, replying to a question as 
to whether he ever felt impelled to adopt Wagner's practice of 
writing his own words, he said; "I have not the vocabulary. I 
can find music but not words. Besides, if I write the boolt, you 
will be expecting me to paint the scenery too, on the same prin- 
ciple." He added that if a librettist brought inadequate words, the 
composer could always reflise to set them; but on this score he is 
evidently void of anxiety and fraternal jealousy. Indeed, he rather 
insists on die social character of opera production than on the 
composer's individual share in it. His view about sjrmphonies and 
abstract music generally is that we have as much of it as we want, 
and that we cannot advantageously replace the old symphonies 
with new ones. If he were to write a symphony, he says, Beet- 
hoven's in C minor would be better worth listening to; diat 
would be all. As to professors' music generally — "organist's 
music," as Wagner called it — the professor is always ashamed to 
do the very thing he is there to do — namely, to make an eilect — 


and so he does nothing. 

I at last had the hardihood to ask Mr MacCunn for his notions 
of press criticism. 

"I think," said the composer, fixing his eye on me to indicate 
that he feh confident of my approval, "that criticism, above all 
things, should not be flippan^ because if it is, nobody respects 


7 May 1889 
Madame Backer-GrcSndahl last night played Ae E fiat con- 
certo again for the Philharmonic Sodety. She is a famous Nor- 
wegian pianist, great in strength and feeling, now urgii^ the 
pianoforte almost violently to do what a piano cannot do, and 
anon caressing it to exquisite ripples of sound and streams of keen 
plaintive melody. I shall not forget her playing of the second 
subject of the first movemenL Her diminuendo in the long octave 
passage near the endof the Allegro came as an enchanting surprise 
after the curious rough, sli^^sh forte at which she began it. The 
point for pianoforte and drum came out as I never heard it 
come out before; I feel sure that that fine artist, Mr Chaine, must 
adore Madame Grondahl for doing him justice in this passage. 
The circumstances underwhich the concerto was played were un- 
usually sensanonaL During the opening movement subdued rum- 
blings, with which Mr Chaine had nothing to do, were heard from 
time to dme. Just as we had all setded down, intent on the hushed 
melody of the Adagio, the sky suddenly flashed into view through 
the windows; the electric light staggered as if from a mortal shock; 
and the rumbling broke into a crash. Everybody thought of 
the recent eardiquake. A gendeman next me seized his hat and 
jammed it on his head too dghtly for any convulsion of nature 
to dislodge it, which done, he folded his arms, and glared at 
Mr Cowai's back. I refrained with difficulty from crawling under 
die seat As Madame GrSndahl dashed at die finale, a torrent of 
rain dashed at the windows; the lights, which had pardy re- 
covered^ again burnt blue; and the pianist had to compete with 
113 H 


the elements for our attention, and came out of die compeddon 
victorious. Young Mr Frederick Cliffe's symphony in C minor 
also weathered the storm. It has life and youth in it. A few pardon- 
able displays of scholarship disfigure it here and there; and it is 
of course not quite free from reminiscences: a drum point from 
Beethoven, a theme in the trio taken from a beaudfiil melody in 
Liszt's Preludes, and soon. But, on the whole, it is fresh, genuine, 
and interesting. Fraulein Fillunger, who gave us Ocean, thou 
Mighty Monster, is not like the gendeman in Shakespear who 
could sing both high and low. She can sing high, but not low. 
The concert began with Cherubim's barren Anacreon overture, 
and ended with that to Mozart's ZauberflSte, which Mr Cowen 
darted through as I should not have cared to do with so much 
lightning about. 

13 May 1889 
This week seems to be devoted to celebradng die French Re- 
volution of 1789 which produced such an effect on music that 
it has never been the same since. I can bring the connection 
down to this very week; for the first musical product of the 
Revolution was die Eroica Symphony, utterly unlike anything 
that had ever been heard in the world before. That very sym- 
phony, though nobody feels particularly excited about it now, 
was performed at the first Ricbter concert the other day. This 
would be an excellent opportunity to introduce a criticism of 
the concert; but unluckily I was not there — though that, of 
course, need not prevent me from writing a notice of it. I had 
gone down to Surrey to inspect the newest fashions in spring 
green; and when the concert began I was communing perplexedly 
with Nature as to the probability of catching the last train but 
one frtmi Dorking. 

Between ten and eleven, as I sat at Redhill Junction awaiting 
the arrival of the ten minutes to ten train, I meditated on the Re- 
volution music — on its grandioseness, splendioseness, neurose- 
ness,and sensationaloseness; on itseffbrt,its hurry, its excitement, 
its aspiration without purpose, its forced and invariably disap- 


pointing climaxes, its exhaustion and decay, undl in our own day 
everything that was most strenuously characterisdc of it seems 
old-fashioned, plautudinous, puerile, forcible -feeble, anything 
but romantic and ori^nal. Just think of the mental condition of 
the enthusiastic musicians who believed that the operas of Meyer- 
beer were a higher development of those of Mozart, that Berlioz 
was the heir and successor of Beethoven, Schubert an immortal 
tone poet as yet only half come to light, Rossini such another as 
Handel, and W<^era cacophonous idiot I It is not twenty years 
since this was quite an advanced program. 

If, however, we are to have a Revolution, do not let us sing the 
Marseillaise. The inciu^ble vulgarity of that air is a disgrace to 
the red flag. It corresponds so exactly in rhythmic structure with 
the Irish tune called The Red Fox, or, as Moore set i^ Let 
Erin Remember the Days of Old, that the two airs can be har- 
monized, though not in what Cherubini would have considered 
strict two-part counterpoint. But compare the mechanical tramp 
and ignobly self-assertive accent of Rouget de Lisle's composition 
with the sensitiveness of the Irish melody and the passion that is 
in all its moods. My own belief is that the men of ^p^arseilles were 
horribly frightened when they went to the front, as any sensible 
person would be; and Rouget de Lisle's tune enabled them to 
face it out, exactly as "Ta-ran-ta-ra" encouraged the policemen 
in The Pirates of Penzance. 

On Saturday evening, during one of my East End expeditions, 
I discovered the People's Palace, which consists of a board with 
an inscription to the effect that if Ichoose to produce £j 0,000, the 
palace will l>e built for me forthwith. This rather took me 
aback; for I had thought that the palace was an accomplished fact. 
But no: there was a huge concert-room, a reading-room, and 
shanties containing a bath, a gymnasium, and a restaurant; also a 
litde clubhouse, but no palace. In the concert-room some un- 
fortunate artists were bawling ballads in the vain hope of fixing 
die attention of an immense audience. But the thing was impos- 
sible: the place was too big. Hundreds of young people loafed 
and larked, or stared and wandered in and out, at the end of the 



silent^ said he wanted somebody to give a theme for M. Cigout 
to improvize upon. This simply struck us dumb. Then he smiled 
reassuringly, and his eye began to travel slowly along the bench 
where I sat. Ere it reached my vacant chair I was safe on the roof 
of an Aldgate tram. 

17 May 1889 
I i>o not know anything more annoying at a concert than 
a man who beats time. He is a sort of modem prophet with 
a Kentish fire shut up in his bones, so that, like Jeremiah, 
he is weary with forbearing and cannot stay. He generally does 
stay, notwithstanding, right through to the very end. It seems 
unreasonable to hate him so venomously for attempting what the 
big drum and cymbals may be achieving at the same time with 
your entire approval; but, reasonably or not, the thumping of his 
boot distracts and annoys you beyond expression, and you gloat 
vindictively over his defeat when a syncopated passage -throws 
him out. 

Among these death-watches of the concert room there are 
some terribly destructive varieties. I remember a tenor who used 
to mark time by shooting his ears up and down. If you have ever 
seen a circus clown twitch his ear you know how it makes your 
Sesh creep. Imagine the sensation of looking at a man with his 
ears pulsating 116 times per minute in a quick movement &om 
one of Verdi's operas. That man permanently injured my nervous 
sj^tem by rehearsing in my presence (unsuccessfully) the arduous 
part of Ruiz in H Trovatore. But he was eclipsed by a rival who 
marked time with his eyes. You know die (ancy clock in which 
an old man with a pistol looks out of a rustic window, glancing 
from side to side for but^lars as the clock ticks. That was how he 
did it; and never shall I forget die shrinking of my whole nature 
&om his horrible ocular oscillations. Feeling that I should go 
mad if I ever saw such a thing again, I left the country (he was 
not an Englishman), and have never revisited it 

Time, the great healer, eventually effaced his detested image 



I arrived the attendants were stncdy carrying out a regulation 
which I have often insisted on as indispensable 10 the comfort of 
artists and audience, but which I now denounce as intolerable. I 
allude to the practice of closing the doors during each piece. I 
should not have objected had I been on the right side of the 
door; but I came late, and so was on the wrong side during the 
performance of the first movement of Grieg's violin sonata (Op. 
13) by Miss Sasse and Henri Seiifert. I was utterly disgusted 
with the selfishness of the people who, to save themselves a 
momentary discomfort, kept me on the stairs for nearly three 

When I got in I found Miss Sasse playing Grieg in a hopelessly 
un-Grieg-like fashion, and Mr Seiffert, who had apparently lost 
interest in the transaction, absendy playing the violin part. Even 
when he reappeared to give us Wieniawski's Legende, he once or 
twice took down his instrument and looked perplexedly at it as 
one communing with himself thus: "What on earth is this thii^ 
under my chin? Looks like a fiddle. GadI this must be a concert; 
and I expect I've been put up to do something at it. Wonder what 
she's playing! It sounds like Wieniawski. Yes, by Jove! it's the 
Legend. I must wake up; here goes !" And In these brief intervals 
of wakefulness he played very finely, though he seemed to master 
the ptolyphonic dithculties as easily asleep as awake. I am always 
inclined to believe in a violinist who can play WieniawskL 
Beethoven and Mendelssohn were great composers of music for 
the violin; but Wieniawski was a great composer of violin music 
There is all the difference in the world between the two. 

I have no Space to tell of the rest of this typical concert — of 
how Mr Herbert Sims Reeves, whose determination never to 
force his voice has been rewarded by a considerable growth in its 
power and beauty, sang a couple of those Italian songs which are 
the ultimate perfection of utter brainlessness; of how Madame 
Patey, with ruthless aiTectation and exaggeration, used a fine song 
of Handel's merely to give a thundering display of her voice and 
power; of how Miss Pauline Cramer astonished everybody by her 
majestic stature and the brightness and impetuosity which make 


her genuine German sentiment so acceptable; and of how cleverly 
and expressively Miss Rosina Filippi recited Henry the Fifth's 
wooing (Henry V was an insufferable Jii^o snob; but that is not 
Miss Filippi's feult), besides leaving all the other ladies nowhere 
in the point of artistic dressing. I say I have no space to tell of 
these things; nor for Signer di Giambattista's concert in the 
evening, except that I should recommend the application of 
vinegar and brown paper to the pianoforte on which he played, 
especially to the bass. 

The Spanish Students at the CafiS Monaco seem to have made 
a poor job of their academic studies, as most of them carry 
wooden spoons in their hats as trophies of their performances 
under competitive examination. When I entered I was the fortieth 
arrival; and about a hundred more came in before I left; chiefly 
Spaniards, though some English people were there to study the 
thing from an ethnological point of view. In one of the Henry VI 
chronicle plays which Shakespear had a hand in, there is a ghost 
who abruptly closes a conversation by saying "Have done; for 
more I hardly can endure." It was with much the same feeling 
that I withdrew at the end of the first part, leaving the Spanish 
part of the audience to sit out the second, and astonish the natives 
by stamping and shouting after the Iberian manner. The guitar 
and mandoline band, with its mm-tum melodies and simple- 
minded contrasts of forte and piano, is pretty; but I had heard the 
sort of thing before, and a little of it went far with me. Seiior 
Cano played on himself very smartly with a tambourine; Seiiorita 
Reyes sang exactly as an Irish iish-wife cries "Dublin Bay Her- 
rings!" two Andalusians danced as the Carmens of real life dance; 
the guitarist accompanied very quaintly and skilfully; and — and, 
in short, I came away. 

20 May 1889 
To lovers of poetry the pearl fisher is known as one who "held 
his breath, and went all naked to die himgry shark." To the 
patrons of the Opera he is now famlHar as an expensively got-up 


Oriental, with an elaborate ritual conducted in temples not unlike 
Parisian newspaper kiosks, the precincts whereof are laid out, 
regardless of expense, in the manner of a Brussels tea garden. 
The chief ceremony is a ballet; and though Here, if anywhere, we 
might expect to find our pearl fisher in the condition mentioned 
by Keats, such is by no means the case. He— or rather she — is 
clothed and, within operatic limits, in her right mind. As to 
holding his breath, he turns that accomplishment to account for 
the better execution of roulades and fiorituras. He keeps the 
hungry shark in order by the prayers of a virgin priestess, who 
remains veiled and secluded irom all human intercourse on a 
rocky promontory during the oyster season. 

Out of these simple and plausible conditions we get a pretty 
poem. Leila is the priestess. Nadir and Zenith — ^no; I find on 
looking at the libretto that the name is Zurga — fall in love with 
her. Nadir sacrilegiously serenades her on the promontory. She 
responds; and the two, anud a hideous tempest, are seized and 
condemned to the stake. Zuiga effects a diversion, and enables 
them to escape by setting Ceylon on fire: an extreme measure; 
but then, as he doubtless reflects, you cannot have an omelette 
without breaking e^s. The natives then bum him; and really, 
imder the circumstances, it is hard to blame them. That is all. 

Of the choral music, the dance music, die procession music, 
and the melodramatic music, by all of which the dainty litde 
poem of the two friends in love with the veiled priestess has been 
stufifed and padded into a big Covent Garden opera, it is needless 
to speak. It is effective and workmanlike enough; but a dozen 
composers could have done it to order as well as Bizet. The best 
of it is the choral unison in the first act — Colui, che not vogliam, 
per Juce, which has something of the swing and frankness of 
Donizetti's choruses. (These, by the bye, have been discovered 
by the Salvation Anny: I heard one of their bands playing Per 
te immenso giubilo capitally one Sunday morning last year down 
at Merton). The leading motive which runs through the opera 
is very beautifiil, but no more Bizet's than the chorale in Les 
Huguenots is Meyerbeer's; it is simply that wonderful old Dies 


Ine which has fascinated generations of musicians and wor- 
shippers. Bizet is only himself — his immature self — in die love 
music, which has that touch of divine rapture which a youtig 
poet's love music should have, and which has the distinction and 
charm of the Carmen music without the firmness of its style. In 
the first act, the conventional amorous cavatina for the tenor is 
replaced by a duet in which the two rivals recall the romantic 
atmosphere of that evening at the gate of an eastern city when 
they caught their first glimpse of Leila. The duet, and all those 
parts of the opera which are in the same vein, are enchanting. He 
who has no indulgence for their want of solidity is iit for treasons, 
stratagems, and spoils. 

The cast was only four strong. M. Talazac, whose figure 
offered a terrible temptation to the hungry shark, has a pretty 
and &irly steady mezza voce, besides some sweet head notes; but 
the tremolo with which he uses his chest register will prevent 
him from attaining popularity here. M. F. D'Andrade is a useful 
ardst, free from conspicuous faults, and in earnest about his work. 
Miss Ella Russell is an accomplished singer of the Patti school, 
with a fine ear, and a voice of enviable quality, range, and flexi- 
bility. Her shortcomings are lack of distinction and bad pro- 
nunciation. She has not the intense dramatic instinct which has 
enabled some singers to take a foremost place as by natural right 
without the acquired culture and habits of thought which are 
becoming more and more necessary for success on the lyric stage; 
but a lady of Miss Russell's energy and confidence can do much 
for herself in this direction if she shuns the seductive illusion that 
no more remains for her to do. At all events, she should at once 
take a set of lessons in Italian so as to avoid such achievements as 

Bentosto una barbarar gentay 
Accor minacdantay, fiirentay. 

It may be said that this is one of the consequences of operas per- 
formed in a language which is not that of the country, not that of 
the singer, and not that in which the opera was written. 

Signor Mancinelli conducted, as he always does, like a man of 


character and energy, and the orchestra minded their business 
accordingly. With such players as there are at Covent Garden, 
nothing more is needed to secure satis&ctory results in such 
work as the score of the Pearl Fishers. Tonight, Faust, with Miss 
Madntyre and M. Montariol. M. Winogradow, the sole success of 
the ill-fated Russian troupe, will be the Valentine; and Mephis- 
topheles will be played by Signor Castelnjary, who used to make 
the part curiously ^tastic and interesting, not by his wolflike 
silking, but by his peculiar realization of the grotesque aspect of 
the character. 

21 M(v/ 1889 
Last night's performance at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent 
Garden, was rather of die subscription kind: that is Jean de Reszke 
was not the Faust, nor Edouard the Mephistopheles. The success 
of the evening was WinogradoVs Valentine. At first the sav^e 
fervor and rich tone which made such an effect at the Albert Hall . 
were missing, but they speedily returned. Dio Possente aroused a 
cold and lisdess house to an encore, which was declined. His share 
of the sword chorale and duel trio were given magniiicently. The 
Faust, M. Montariol, did not make a favorable impression at 
starting. His declamation in the first act was forced and unsldlfiil. 
Later on it appeared that he was not without his merits. He took 
his high nores, which are slightly veiled, quietly, and was com- 
paratively guiltless of tremolo; so, on the whole, there was much 
to be thankful for. As Miss Macintyre's Margaret unquestionably 
delighted the audience it is nobody's business to demur to her per- 
formancejbut I mustaddthatsheperpetratcdashocking Vandalism 
in ending the final trio on the high B natural. Castelmary is less 
slim and sudden than of yore: he has got an additional chin, too, 
and has become a Mephistopheles of the Rabelaisian variety, 
rather short of wind. He retains his old diabolical enjoyment of 
the part, and annoys the house, as he always did, by his occasional 
abandonment of all ardsdc method and self-control. The soldiers' 
chorus went with thundering vigor. The orchestra left something 


to be desired in point of delicacy and balance; but they will prob- 
ably improve as the season goes on, as they did all last year. 
Excuse these perfunctory notes scrawled between die acts. 

24 JV/oy 1S89 
Now that the season is in fiill swing, I am afraid I shall have to 
drag in the subject of music radier often in this column. I know 
that it is my King Charles's head; and I can assure my readers 
diat I do what I can 10 avoid it. But when there are several con- 
certs every afternoon, and an opera in the evening, I caimot, in 
spite of my diligence in not going to them, quite keep them out 
of my memoranda. Nobody knows better than I do that a musical 
critic ^o is always talking about music is quite as odious as an 
ordinary man who is always talking about himself. I venture to 
hope that I have never been guilty of the latter vice; and I shall 
try to steer dear of the former. Therefore, it is with no desire to 
talk shop that I proceed to confess diat I did not go to the Tonic 
Sol-fa meeting at Exeter Hall on Monday, though The Star was 
duly represented there. 

My chief reason for not going was that one of the items in the 
program was a collection, a form of musical composition to 
which I have an incurable repugnance, except when I am myself 
the performer. A subordinate reason existed in the necessity for 
my being elsewhere: at Covent Garden, in fact. But I wish care- 
fully to disclaim any hostility whatever to the Tonic Sol-fa. I will 
go further, and declare my suspicion (my experience is not suffi- 
ciently wide to justify me in calling it a conviction) that the Tonic 
Sol-faists do undoubtedly teach people to read music That the 
staff notationists, as a rule, don't, I take as granted on all sides. 

An ordinary choir generally contains a few people naturally 
gifted with the power of recollecting the absolute pitch of notes. 
If you met them in the middle of the Sahara and said, "How do 
you do? Will you kindly give me A flat?" they would give it to 
you prompdy. John Hullah seems to have supposed that because 
he could do diis all the world could do it. Teach such people the 


symbols which, in the staiF or any other notation, denote the 
sounds used in music, and they can read whatever you put into 
dieir hands. Almost all the champion sight-reading pupils who 
are brought forward as samples of the efficacy of the staif system, 
the Chev^ system, the Tonic Sol-fa system, or any other system, 
are persons with this sense of absolute pitch, their proficiency 
proving nothing except the mere literary legibility of the notation 
they have before them. They have in their heads not only a iixed 
"Doh," but the other 11 notes in the octave fixed as well, and 
they use the Tonic Sol-fa as a "fixed Doh" system, just as many 
staff-notation readers use the staff as a moveable Doh system, and 
would not be in the least put out if all their parts were written 
in the key of C, like horn parts in an orchestral score. 

The system is undoubtedly the di Bassetto system, as practised 
by me and by the great majority of sight readers throughout the 
world. I should explain that I cannot remember the absolute pitch 
of notes, and that diough I can imitate an interval instantaneously, 
by ear, I cannot calculate it with sufficient presence of mind to 
carry me through a presto con fiuxo movement at sight. For in- 
stance, if you asked me for A fiat in the Sahara, I should borrow 
a tuning fork and listen to its note. Then, if I saw C stamped on 
the handle, I should, after some minutes' careful calculation 
warble the minor sixth above, which would of course be A flat 
(more or less). But my practical choir method renders reference 
to a timing fork unnecessary, and endrely dispenses with mental 
arithmetic. At the first rehearsal I depend mainly on my natural 
power of improvising what is called "a second." By keeping my 
eyes and ears open, I soon identify the few who are really able to 
read at sight. These are generally, of course, absolute pitchers. 
The rest is easy. I simply get beside one of them, and sing what 
he sings until I have picked up my part The merits of this method 
are proved by its almost universal adoption. I have no hesitation 
in saying that for one person who reads music on the Curwen 
system or die Hullah system, there are fifty who read it on mine. 

h confessing to a deficiency in the sense of absolute pitch: a 

deficiency which prevents me from detecting a transposition of 



one of die numbers in an opera, except when (as in the case of 
Dio deWoT, as sung by Castelmary the other night in Faust) 
the wrong key is attained by a flagrantly burglarious transition 
without any alteration of the previous modulating cadence, I 
may as well say that I wish Mr F. Gallon would open a critico- 
metric laboratory to test scientifically the pretensions of those 
who have perfect faith in the infallibility of their ears. I daresay 
that you, exacting reader, would not give twopence for a critic 
who, hearing a note out of tune, could not say whether it was 
sharp or fiat Well, have you seen, in the New Gallery, Mr Phil 
Bume- Jones's portrait of Lord Rayleigh in his laboratory, seeking 
die philosopher's stone with the aid of a retort, a few test tubes, 
and a secondhand ketdedrum? 

Lord Rayleigh once lured some eminent musicians into that 
laboratory, and proceeded with cold-blooded physicist's scepti- 
cism to test their pretensions. He began by putting pairs of notes 
just suffidendy out of unison for the eminent ones to recognize 
that there was a difference in pitch. Then he asked them which 
was the higher of the two. They answered confidendy; and, lo! 
diey were just as often wrong as right. And when he varied die 
quality of the notes, making the lower one shrill and the higher 
one dull and veiled, he had them every time. I do not defend 
Lotd Rayleigh's conduct in playing it thus upon men before 
whom he should have been awestricken, and whose ears were 
diviner instruments than his soulless mechanical reeds. Still, there 
is food for reflection in the matter. 

I could write quite a treatise on the imaginary powers which 
musicians have attributed to themselves in perfect good faith, 
and in the absence of any scientific verification; but it is dme to 
pass on to other matters. I think it must have been on some even- 
ing last week that I found myself celebrating the silver wedding 
of Mr Lansdowne-Cottell, at a recklessly overcrowded concert in 
St James's Hall. Here I paid sixpence — people seem to think I 
am made of sixpences — for a program about eight inches by 
ten, containing a dozen pages of advertisements and two of pro- 
gram. If everybody bought one and got a ticket for nothing, 


the silver wedding cannot have been wholly in vain. However, 
the sensation of that part of the evening which I spent there was a 
performance by Miss Anna Teresa Berger on the comet. I do not 
know why a lady should play the comet: indeed, I do not know 
why anybody should play it; but her right is as valid as a man's. 
Miss Belter's double-tonguing verges on the unattainable; and 
in keenness of blare she rivals Mr Howard Reynolds at his loudest 
Sarasate, whose first concert I missed, played Mendelssohn's 
concerto last Saturday. But I had as lief hear him play Pop goes 
the Weasel as any classic masterpiece; and what is more, I believe 
he would himselfjustassoonplay oneas the other. They say he 
runs through a new composition once with his pianist, and then 
has it by heart for ever afterwards; and I can believe it; for he 
often produces tedious aii^irs that no artist of his reputation 
would find it worth while to learn if it cost any trouble. I have 
never been able to detect any preference on his part for Mendels- 
sohn over Dr Mackenzie, Bernard, Lalo, Max Bruch, or anyone 
else. He never interprets anything: he plays it beautifully, and 
that is all. He is always alert, swift, clear, refined, certain, scrupu- 
lously attentive and quite unaffected. This last adjective will sur- 
prise people who see him as a black-haired romantic young 
Spaniard, full of fesdnating tricks and mannerisms. It will sur- 
prise them still more to hear that the person they so idealize pro- 
duces the whole illusion with his fine eyes alone, being for the 
rest a man of undistinguished stature, with hair very liberally 
sprinkled with grey, and a plain square hce with more than a fair 
forty-one years' allowance of marks from Time's graver. There 
is no trace of affectation about him: the picturesqueness of that 
pluck of the string and stroke of the bow that never fails to bring 
down the house is the natural effect of an action performed with 
perfect accuracy in an extraordinarily short time and strict 

29 May 1889 
Faust, no matter who writes the music to it, will remain the most 
popular opera story of the century until some great musician 


takes Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt as a libretto. Boito's version 
seems almost as popular as Gounod's, though Gounod's is a true 
musical creation, whereas Boito has only adapted the existing re- 
sources of orchestration and harmony very ably to his libretto. 
In short, Gounod has set music to Faust, and Boito has set Faust 
to music 

The house likes Boito's prologue, in spite of the empty stage 
and the two ragged holes in a doth which realize Mr Harris's 
modest conception of hell and heaven. The great rolling crashes 
and echoesof brazen sound in the prelude transport us into illimit- 
able space at once; and the tremendous sonority of the instru- 
mentation at the end, with the defiant devil's whistle recklessly 
mocking each climax of its grandeur, literally makes us all sit up. 
Perhaps I am reading into the score what the composer never in- 
tended: Boito may have meant no more by the piccolo here than 
Beethoven meant by it in the last bars of the Egmont overture. 
If so, that does not invalidate my remark: it only shews howmuch 
the critic can add to the work of the composer. 

There is a great deal in Mefistofele that is mere impressionism; 
and like impressionism in painting it is enchanting when it is 
successful, and nonsensically incoherent when it is the reverse. 
In the unrestrained colloquialism of private conversation I should 
not hesitate to describe a good deal of the Brocken scene and 
some of the rampart scene as ingenious tiddy-fol-lol. The witches' 
revel, with the spiuious ftigato at the end, is stuff for a pantomime, 
not for serious opera. But at innumerable points the music is fiill 
of su^estive strokes and colors in sound, happiest sometimes 
when they are mere inchoate instrumentation. The whole work 
is a curious example of what can be done in opera by an accom- 
plished literary man without original musical gifts, but with ten 
times the taste and culmre of a musician of only ordinary extra- 

There was litde novelty in the representation last night. Miss 
Madntyre doubled Helen and Mai^ret for the first time at 
Covent Garden, and sang the duet in the classical interlude in the 
most exaggerated vein of romanticism. She did not wholly resist 


the temptation to force her chest voice up in the prison scene, 
which is likely to prove a terrible ei^;ine of voice destruction 
among dramatic sopranos in this particular and most fatal way. 
She relied lai^ely for her acdng on the exploitation of what is 
nothing but a bag of tricks; and it is quite true, as a ruthless critic 
tells her this week, that she walks badly and twists her mouth to 
one side. But, with all these drawbacks, her natural talent and re- 
iinement, and the charm of her unspoiled young voice, carried 
her triumphantly through the two parts. Signor Massini cannot 
act; but his throadness and his aptitude for singing flat were 
established beyond question in the first act. He improved greatly 
afterwards, getting quite into tune in the garden scene, and com- 
ing off with some credit in the linal act; but he is, on the whole, 
rather usefiil than distinguished as a prima tenore. Signor Castel- 
mary was announced for Mefisto. He would have been hopelessly 
out of breath after three bars or so had he appeared; so nobody 
was disappointed at his replacement by Signor Novara, who 
played the part with unexpected success, deliveries the text with 
clearness and purpose, and acting without any senseless postur- 
ing and point-making. The part exactly suits his voice. Madame 
Scalchi was good as Mardia — not so good as Pantalis. 

Signor Mandnelli conducted. He again dragged that irresist- 
ible hysterical quartet in the garden scene; and again it missed the 
effect it never ^led to produce when Christine Nilsson was the 
MargareL In the prologue, on die contrary, he took the choruses 
too fast; they were gabbled in a way that su^ested anything but 
the ethereal whisper intended by the composer. The stage man- 
agement and scene-shifting were occasionally needlessly careless 
and destructive of stage illusion. An oath or two from Mr Harris 
will no doubt improve matters in this respecL 

31 May 1889 

It is a sign oflhe shallow musical culture of the classes that they 

come late for Lohengrin merely because it begins at eight instead 

of half-past. A set that will not sacrifice its cheese and ice pudding 

I2J I 


to hear the Lohengrin prelude — the first work of Wagner's that 
really conquered the worid and changed the face of music for us 
— may be a smart set for dancing; it is the reverse at music When 
the £lite of the beau monde did come they found that Mr McGuckin 
had sprained his ankle badly, and had refused all proposals to go 
through his part in a Bath chair. His place was accordingly taken 
by Signer A. d'Andrade, who phrased his narrative in the last 
act very nicely. Miss Nordica turned Elsa of Brabant into Elsa 
of Bond-street, by appearing in a corset. She produces her voice 
so skilfully that its want of color, and her inability to fill up 
with expressive acdon the loi^ periods left by Wagner for that 
purpose, were the more to be regretted. Madame Fiirsch-Madi, 
who has been subject to Italian opera for many years, got severe 
attacks of spasms and st^^rs at the emodonal crises of her part. 
Her music, however, was not ill 5ung.Stgnor F. d'Andrade rather 
distinguished himself as Telramond; but on the whole, the prin- 
cipal singers lacked the weight, breadth of style, richness of voice, 
and sincerity of expression needed for Lohengrin. Signor Man- 
dnelli's Italian temperament came repeatedly into conflict with the 
German temperament of the composer. Where the music should 
have risen to its noblest and broadest sweep he hurried on in the 
impetuous, self-asserdve, emphadc Southern way that is less com- 
patible than any other manner on earth with the grand calm of the 
ideal Germany. He perpetrates, too, that abominable butcherly 
cut in the prelude to the second act, which is an odious inheritance 
from the bad old times. I confess that I cannot speak amiably of 
performances at which I am subjected to wanton outrages of this 
sort. There are reasons for the other cuts: bad reasons, but ones 
which must be let pass under the circumstances. But this parti- 
cular cut is without excuse. Under its exasperating influence X 
proceed to complain that the choristers shouted instead of sing- 
ii^. This is an improvement on the old choristers, who could not 
even shout; but shouting should not be the goal of even an oper- 
atic choir's ambition, and I do not see why, if Mr Mansfield has 
trumpets on the stage in Richard HI, the Royal Italian Opera 
should be unable to get anything better than four vile comets. 


And I wish diose ladies of die chorus whom Mr Harris has pro- 
vided widi train-bearers and splendid dresses, would learn to 
walk in the true grande dame manner, and not make die bridal 
procession ridiculous by their bearing. And I should have liked 
more precision and delicacy from the orchestra. And, generally 
speaking, I do not think they can do Lohei^rin worth a cent at 
Covent-garden; and that is the long and short of it. This is die 
sort of temper you get a cridc into when you carry your eternal 
Cut! Cut! Cut! a bar too far. 

Elsewhere you will find a letter on The Music of the People, by 
Mr Marshall-Hall, a youi^ composer who is much spoken of 
among the young lions of Mr Hamish McCunn's generation. At 
one of Mr Henschel's concerts Mr Sandey sang some portions of 
an opera, the poem and music of which were by Mr Marshall-HalL 
I was not at that concert, so I am quiteout of it as far as Mr Marshall- 
Hall's music is concerned; but I am delighted to find him, as a 
representative of young genius, denoundi^ the stalls, trusting to 
die gallery, waving the democratic Hag, and tearing round genn- 

Young genius has rather a habit, by the way, of writing m my 
editor to denounce me as flippant and unenlightened, and to 
demand that I also shall tear round and proclaim the working man 
as the true knower and seer in Art. If I did, the working man would 
not think any the better of me; for he knows well enough that 
society is not divided into "animated clothes-pegs" on the one 
hand and lovers of Beethoven in ligatured corduroys on the other. 
For Beethoven purposes society is divided into people who can 
afford to keep a piano and go to operas and concerts, and people 
who cannot. Mr Marshall-Hall's idea that the people who cannot 
are nevertheless screwed up to concert pitch by honest, thorough, 
manly toil, shews that, though he be an expert in the music ques- 
tion, in the labor question he is a greenhorn. 

Take a laborer's son; let him do his board-schootii^ mosdy on 

an empty stomach; bring him up in a rookery tenement; take him 



away from school at thirteen; offer him the alternative of starva- 
tion or 12 to 16 hours work a day at jerry building, adulterated 
manu&ctures, coupling railway waggons, collecting tramway 
fares, field labor, or what not, in return for food and lodging whlcb 
no "animated clothes-peg" would offer to his hunter; bully him; 
slave-drive him; teach him by every word and look that he is not 
wanted among respectable people, and that his children are not fit 
to be spoken to by their children. This is a pret^ receipt for 
makii^ an appredator of Beethoven. 

The truth is, that in the innumerable grades of culture and 
comfort between the millionaire on the one hand, and the casual 
laborer on the other, there is a maximimi of relish for art some- 
where. That somewhere is certainly not among the idle ricb, whose 
appetites for enjoyment are not sharpened by work, nor is it 
among those who, worn out by heavy muscular toil, fall asleep if 
they sit quiet and silent for five minutes of an evening. Professional 
and business men of musical tastes who work hard, and whose 
brains are of such a quality that a Beethoven symphony is a recrea- 
tion to them instead of an increased strain on their mental powers, 
are keen patrons of music, though, in outward seeming, they 
beloi^ to the animated clothes-peg section. Middle-class young 
ladies, to whom there is no path to glory except that of the pianist 
or prima donna, frequent St James's Hall with astonishit^ per- 
sistence, and eventually form musical habits which oudast their 
musical hopes. 

Tkt musical public is the shilling public, by which I mean the 
people who can afford to pay not more than a shilling once a week 
or so for a concert without going short of more immediately 
necessary things. Music can be better nourished on shilling, six- 
penny, and threepenny seats than on the St James's Hall scale. The 
laborers are so enormously numerous that the absolute ntunber of 
their exceptional men — ^men who will buy books out of 13s. a 
week in the country and a town, and find time to read them 
while working 12 hours a day — is considerable. The more com- 
fortable members of the artisan class can often afford a shilling 
much better than the poorer middle-class &milies; but it has a 


certain customary and traditional scale of expenditure, in which 
concerts stand at threepence or sixpence, shillings being reserved 
for the gallery of a West-end theatre, and half-crowns for Sunday 
trips to Epping Forest and for extra refreshments. 

After these come the innumerable "poor devils" of the middle 
class, always craving in an unaccountable way for music, and 
crowdii^ the Promenade Concerts on classical nights, the Albert 
Hall gallery, and wherever else decent music is to be heard cheaply. 
To these three classes Mr Marshall-Hall must look for the litde 
that is now possible in the way of a musical public. Even when we 
have supplied all three with as much music as they can stomach, 
the laborer in ligatured corduro}^ will still open his eyes to 
darkness, and the vapid snob grub like a blind puppy in the light. 
What we want is not music for the people, but bread for the people, 
rest for the people, immunity from robbery and scorn for the 
people, hope for them, enjoyment, equal respect and considera- 
tion, life and aspiradon, instead of drudgery and despair. When 
we get that I ima^ne the people will make tolerable music for 
themselves, even if all Beethoven's scores perish in the interim. 

Pending these millennial but perfectly pracdcal measures, I 
must beg my readers not to blame me if the progress of the race 
makes it more and more apparent that the middle-class musical 
cridc is the most ridiculous of human insdtudons. I do not take 
my function seriously, because it is impossible for an intelligent 
man to do so; and I am an eminently intelligent man. I often yield 
to quite romandc impulses. For instance, when Miss Adrienne 
Verity sent me a dcket for her concert at Collard's the other day, 
i went because Adrienne Verity struck me as being a pretty name. 
And I must own that I foimd her a pleasant-faced, well-grown lass, 
with refreshii^ly unceremonious ways and a healthy boisterous- 
ness which would make her the life and soul of a haymakit^. But 
a singer! an artist! not yet The way in which that youi^ lady 
plunged into Saper vorreste, and rampaged through Be wise in 
time, and fired off Cherry Ripe at us, was bewildering. When 
ladies and children came forward with trophies of flowers, and did 
her Horal homage as a Queen of Song, my brain reeled. And now 


I suppose diat Miss Verity, having invited me to hear her sing, 
expects me to give her my opinion. My opinion is that she will 
either study hard with a compeKnt teacher for a couple of years to 
come, learning to sing, to speak, to walk, to bow, and to abjure 
premature concerts and flower oiFerings, or else she will find a 
place in Mr D'Oyly Carte's or Mr Leslie's chorus, and there un- 
skilfully scream het voice away in less than six months. And who- 
ever gives her a more flattering opinion will do her a very cruel 

Of Ae numerous concerts which I unavoidably missed, none 
caused me any particular regret, except the performance by pupils 
of the Royal Normal College for the Blind at the Crystal Palace, 
and a Board School contest at Hampstead, which the head master 
was quite right in bringing under my notice. It was, for example 
much more important than Miss McKenzie's concert at Dudley 
House, which has been much written about, and concerning which 
I have nothing whatever to say except that it went off very success- 
fully; that Mr Giddin^ amused me by his recitation; that the 
Dudley pictures interested me more than the music; and that the 
Dudley livery of black and yellow continually reminded me of the 
contrast between the gildings in Park-lane and the gloom of the 
coal pits wherein that gilding is made. 

I need hardly say that my remarks about the Tonic Sol-Fa have 
brought letters upon me insisting on the attractive simplicity of 
the notation, and even inviting me to learn it myself forthwith. 
This reminds me of asagewhom I consulted in myyouth as to how 
I might achieve the formation of a perfect character. "Young 
man" he said "are you a vegetarian?" I prompdy said "Yes'J 
which took him aback. (I subsequently discovered that he had 
a weakness for oysters.) "Young man" he resumed "have you 
mastered Pitman's shorthand?" I told him I could write it very 
nearly as fast as longhand, but that I could not read it; and he 
admitted that this was about the maximiun of human attainment in 
phon<^raphy. "Young man" he went on "do you understand 

This was a facer, as I knew nodiing about it; but I was deter- 


mined not to be beaten, so I declared that it was my ^votite pur- 
suit, and diat I had been attracted to him by the noble diaracter of 
his bumps. "Young man" he continued "you are indeed high on 
the Mount of Wisdom. There remains but one accomplishment to 
the perfecdon of your character. Are you an adept at the Tonic 
Sol-Fa system?" This was too much. I got up in a rage,and said: 
"Oh, dash the Tonic Sol-Fa system!" Then we came to high 
words; and our relations have been more or less strained ever 
since. I have always resolutely refused to learn the Tonic Sol-Fa, 
as I am determined to prove that it is possible to form a perfect 
characKr without it. 

T June 1889 
I AM indebted to Mr Fisher Unwin for a volume of essays by an 
American critic, Mr Henry T. Fmck, author of Romantic Love 
and Personal Beauty. I am not sure that I should not have pre- 
ferred a copy of Romantic Love and Personal Beauty, as these 
are subjects of enthralling interest to me; but perhaps Mr Unwin 
has not published that work, and so could only send me Chopin, 
and other Musical Essays. It is not for me to criticize Mr Finck 
further than to say that his speciality among musical essayists of 
the lighter sort arises from his unusual grip of the fact diat we, 
having reached the dghteen-eighties, are well out of the eighteen- 
forties. This enables him to tell us a good deal that is interesting 
about the rise of German opera in New York, and to repeat some 
very old stories from a fresh point of view. For instance, he has 
shared the common lot in giving way to the temptation to narrate 
how Porpora kept CafFarelli singing the same sheet of exercises 
for five years (it used to be six), and then said "You have no more 
to learn. You are the greatest singer in the world." But instead 
of glorifying Porpora therefor, and lamenting that we have no 
such teachers as he nowadays (the truth being that we have far 
too many of them), he sensibly cites the anecdote as a proof that 
Porpora was a foolish pedant and Caffarelli a mere vocal acrobat. 
However, my object in mentioning Mr Finck's book was to 


make an excuse for quoting the following sentence from it. 
"The danger is," writes Mr Finck, "that the custom of delaying 
dinner till eight, which is coming into vogue among the English, 
who care neither for music nor the theatre, will be followed in New 
York." Last week I pointed out that Lohei^rin, in spite of out- 
rageous cutting down, lasted until midnight, though it began at 
eight instead of half-past. But the stalls and boxes remained half 
empty until nearly nine o'clock. Mr Mapleson accordingly has 
fixed the hour for beginning at a quarter to nine. The people for 
whose convenience this is done also insist on loi^ waits between 
the acts, in order to get through rounds of visits to one another's 
boxes, conversations in the crushrooms, promenades round the 
corridors, and cigarettes on the balcony over the portico. To 
many of them, in short, the act is the interval, and the interval is 
die act. 

Personally, I am not very grievously affected by these matters. 
Having attained the dignity of an habitual deadhead at the opera, 
I am soothed by the comparative comfort and coolness of a stall; 
and the long intervals enable me to scrawl my notices before I 
leave the theatre. Fifteen minutes after the curtain ^Is I am at 
home; in fifteen more the notice is posted, and I am in bed. But 
if I had paid half a crown toswelterin the gallery; if the long in- 
tervals brought no possibilities of movement or change of air; 
if my last train home were the five minutes to twelve &om King's 
Cross, the twelve from Waterloo, or even the ten past twelve 
from Liverpool Street, then I think I should execrate the habits 
of the people downstairs, and take it rather ill of the management 
to ignore my circumstances in making their arrangements. 

Under present circumstances, however, it is not only impos- 
sible to please everybody: it is actually impossible to please 
anybody. Aristocratic audiences and wage-workers are exactly 
alike in respect of loafing in at a quarter to nine, no matter what 
the appointed hour may be. But then the wage-worker wants to 
get to bed at midnight, whereas the aristocrat, who can afford to 
lie late in the morning, holds that the best of all ways to lengthen 
his days is to steal a few hours from the n^t. The suburban 


middle-class amateur either stays in town on the occasion of his 
visit to the opera and takes his tea at an aerated bread shop, in 
which case half-past seven would not be at all too early for him; 
or else he goes home for his wife and sister-in-law, and cannot get 
back to Covent Garden much before eight. It is to be borne in 
mind throughout all these calculations that the patron of the 
gallery, if he wants a good seat, has to go at least half an hour 
sooner than the man with the numbered stall. And for this class 
the opera must finish at twenty-five minutes past eleven at latest 
Finally, some of the greatest modem operas require not less than 
five hours for their complete representation, to which should be 
added, in common humanity, one interval long enough to admit 
of the whole audience turning out for a walk or a light meal. The 
social conditions for stalls and gallery are, therefore, irreconcil- 
able, and both are in conflict with the artistic conditions. 

What, thet), you ask, can I propose for the better adjustment 
of these ailairsi' Well, if I were a manager, I should do as Mr 
Harris does with the long operas: begin at eight, as being, on 
the whole the best arrangement. But if I were a dictator I should 
settle the matter by enacting a seven hours' working day, taxing 
the incomes of the stall and box-holders twenty shillings in the 
pound, and subsidising a National Opera out of the proceeds of 
the tax, using convict labor for the chorus and minor roles, as 
well as for the scene-shifting. As to the two unfortunate soldiers 
who are now placed for show purposes in the vestibule — and I 
hold that it is an insult and a dishonor to a soldier to make any 
such use of him — I should transfer them to the stalls, where they 
could enjoy the opera and turn their rifles to account by occasion- 
ally picking off the people who dismrb the performance by talk- 
ii^ loudly in their boxes. Even under existing circumstances, it 
is my firm belief that if something is not done to relieve these 
unfortunate grenadiers they will use their bayonets some evening 
out of sheer aggravation. 

It will be observed that I have said nothing specifically about 

the performances at Her Majesty's Theatre. Is any explanation 

necessary? Suppose Mr John Coleman were to take theHaymarket 



Theatre, reconstruct it on the Buckstone model, double and treble 
the ordinary prices, and begin playing a round of Green Bushes, 
The Wreck Ashor^ Black-eyed Susan, and The Duke's Motto, 
with a provincial company, helped out by a few old stageis! 
Would any dramatic critic in London be expected to criticize 
these plays gravely, and describe how they were done? Would 
he not be deemed generous enough if, for the sake of old times, 
he gave his tickets away to people able and willing to fill up 
places that would otherwise be empty, and then write a few lines 
of commonplace, recordii^ the occurrence which he had not 
witnessed? Well, frankly, I regard Mr Mapleson's case as exacdy 
parallel; and I shall do nothing to encourage his delusion diat 
II Barbiere, Luda, and La Sonnambula can do anything for him 
now except ruin him. 

If I had time to go into the £ishionable opera business in com- 
petition with Mr Harris, I should try German opera, with Scidl 
or Hans Richter as conductor. I should then hammer away at the 
Nibelungen tetralogy until all was blue. If Mr Mapleson had the 
gumption to go to Mr Armbruster even now, and tell him to put 
up Siegfried or Tristan, with Miss Pauline Cramer and any cast, 
amateur or professional, that he could scrape togedier to support 
her, the whole Wagner-Richter connecdon would go to Her 
Majesty's, and be followed by hundreds of outsiders from mere 
curiosity. I should, for one. But wild horses shall not drag me to 

Tchaikovsky's symphonic poem Romeo and Juliet at Sara- 
sate's concert on Saturday proved impressive enough to keep 
Mr Cusins's orchestra thoroughly alive and alert. The usual thing 
is for Mr Cusins, lookii^ every inch a fine old English gentleman, 
to make astounding faces at the band, of which they are too well- 
bred to take the slightest notice. He is conscious that they are 
doing nothing right; and they are conscious that they are doing 
nothing wrong; and between the two one learns how it was that 
the Philharmonic so narrowly escaped coming completely to 
grief in Mr Cusins's time, in spite of the rare degree of skill on 
both sides. Sarasate's tone was wiry and his pitch sharp when 



he began; but after a few minutes he left criticism gasping miles 
behind him. 

7>« 1889 
I HAVE been to // Barbiere, La Sannamlm/ay and Lucia; but 
do not quail, reader: I am not going to inflict on you a sii^e 
word of criticism concerning these antiquities. I know your 
opinion; and you know mine. As you say, there are pretty things 
in the dear old Barber. Perhaps you remember Mario in Ecco 
ridentei No? Of course not; you are too young, I ought to have 
seen that. You used to sing Dutique io son? Welt, so used I 
when my voice was more flexible than it is now. Only think of 
that! And then, talking of La Sonnambula, most conciliatory of 
operas, is not D'un peruUro still acceptable even after Wagner; 
and can you have a finer test of true vocal expression in a singer 
than the pathetic Ah non crejea^ and the rapturous Ah turn 
giunge, one after the other? Lucia, as you very pointedly observe, 
is a vulgar beast of an opera; and yet what passion and what 
melody there is in every act of it; and what memories cluster for 
some of us about those melodies! No, with all my experience I 
cannot tell you why Edgardo never comes on the stage without 
throwing his cloak on the floor, much as Mr Pickwick cast his 
spectacles into the middle of the kitchen at Dingley Dell. Sims 
Reeves used to do it on his great entrance before Chi mifiena, 
but whether he was the inventor of this choice effect I know not. 
But enough! these are the reminiscences of old fogies. Suffice it 
to say that Mr Mapleson is hammering away again at Her 
Majesty's with II Barbiere, La Sonnambula, Lucia; Lucia, La 
Sonnambula, II Barbiere; and some of us fogies are going — 
mostly on complimentary tickets. 

For the sake of old times, I will let Mr Mapleson's enterprise 
alone. I know how it must end; how it ended before; how we 
must all, in the highest interests of the Ij^c stage, be content that 
it shall end again. There is something pathetic in Mr Mapleson's 
conviction that at all hazards he must be an impresario. There is 


something cruel in the reply of the world, Je n'en vois pas la 
nicessiti. Yet there is no reason why Mr Harris should have the field 
to himself, though Mr Mapleson, in opposing him with his present 
repertory, is pitting a wooden frigate against a modem Minotaur, 
What about German opera, conducted by Richter, Seidl, or Levy? 
What about opera in English? What about even Italian opera at 
popular prices? Alas! Mr Mapleson will not leam from me what 
he refuses to leam from experience. I can only shake my head over 
the good money he is throwing after bad, and wish him better 
3 than I can honestly pretend to expect for him. 

14 June 1889 
Let me recur for a moment to certain observations recently let fell 
by Spectator in these columns. Spectator, it will be remem- 
bered, went to the Opera, and saw Madame Albani as La Traviata. 
Far from being impressed by his visit to the temple in which all 
the arts meet, he spoke of the whole performance with unquali- 
fied contempt, and positively refused to take our eminent lyric 
tragidierme seriously as an actress. What is more — and I recom- 
mend this point to all who are interested in opera — Spectator 
was right. Whatever may be his failings — however deficient he 
may be in a natural and becoming awe when he alludes to persons 
whose age and attainments should command his respect — there 
is no denying that the sort of thing that Madame Albani and her 
colleagues do at the Opera is beneath the nodce of any intelligent 
student of dramadc art, and that the critics who gravely write 
about it in terms which would be rather overstrained if applied 
to Ristori, Sara Bernhardt, Ellen Terry, Ada Rehan, Janet 
Achurch, or Mrs Kendal, richly deserve to be waved aside as 
foolish amateurs by such competent dramadc critics as Spec- 
tator, Mr WilUam Archer, Mr well, the list is not so long 

as I thought, so I had perhaps better not continue it. 

On Samrday we are to have at Covent Garden Gounod's 
setting of Romeo and Juliet. It is solemnly announced in the 
advertisements that Signor Montariol is in a high state of conde- 


scension towards Tybalt, which "he has kindly consented to play, 
although not a leading part (sic) in order to assist in making a 
perfect ensemble." Really handsome of Signor Montariol, is it 
not? Let us hope that he wili make the ensemble perfect, as he so 
modestly promises. 

14 June 1889 
"Good old Don Giovanni!" said some vulgar and disrespectfiil 
ruffian in the stalls last night. "Good old Axdid!" he continued, 
as the conductor took his seat. "Good old Robert Elsmerel" he 
added presendy, as Mrs Humphry Ward wandered into his 
neighborhood in search of her number. "Good old Lady Colin!" 
he resumed, as the most divinely tall of the art cridcs took her 
place in front of me and extii^ished my view of the stage. Stand- 
ing up, he took out his opera-glass and said "Wheres good old 
Gus?" He then proceeded to musical criticism. "Theres little Van 
Zandt: aint she a joy? Who's the tenor? Lestellier! Aint he a 
terror?" And so on. If this should meet the eye of that man, I ask 
him, as a personal favor to myself, to commit suicide. Nothii^ 
in life can become him like the leavii^ it. 

I cannot say that the performance was an adequate one. A 
musical critic does not write that often in a lifetime about Don 
Giovaimi — unless, indeed, he is given to writing the thing that 
is not, as many excellent cridcs db. M. F. d'Andrade made a 
passable libertine; hut all liberdnes are not Don Giovannis, 
though all Don Giovannis are liberdnes. And on the whole, I 
think Signor d'Andrade might as well sing Fiva la libertaJ and 
Via, huffone! and other numbers as they are written. At any rate, 
Mozart's version is good enough for me. Madame Fursch-Madi, 
in Ot sai chi I'onore, mistook the second section for the first, and 
during one madly anxious moment, Arditi's fringe of hair stood 
straight out on end. But she picked up the thread again; a smile 
manded the back of Ardid's head; and a minute later I had the 
pleasure of making a note to the effect that Madame Fursch-Madi 
had sung the scene very well indeed, and richly deserved her 


double recall. She omitted Non mi £r\ ! I Miss Van Zandt made a 
quaint and pretty Zerlina. Madame Valda should bear in mind 
that the &shion of providing gratuitous B flats in Mozart's 
operas, though it may be coming in in Australia, is going out 
here. For the rest, she was not the noble and pious Elvira of 
Moli^ and Mozart; and she sang widi more spirit and spon- 
taneity than classic grace; but she looked superb. M. Lestellier 
left out DaUa sua pace, and will, I hope, leave out // mio 
tesoro next time, unless he will take the trouble to learn the soi^ 
in the interim. Of the Leporello let it suffice to say that it was 
mainly to his exertions that we owed the turning of the incom- 
parably strange and solemn scene of the invitation to the statue 
into a pro^e and ridiculous burlesque which severely taxed tlie 
patience of the gallery. Masetto was a failure. The Conmiendatore 
disdnguished himself at the climax of the supper scene by a wrong 
note that made our very souls recoil. In short — and here is the 
truth of the matter — the opera had been insuffidendy rehearsed; 
and the last three scenes can scarcely have been rehearsed at alL 
Even the stage business went all astray. Let us assume that Romeo 
and Juliet has absorbed all the energy of the establishment. 

17 June 1889 
It was instructive to compare the effect of the thoroughly pre- 
pared representation of Gounod's Romeo and Juliet on Saturday 
with that of the scratch performance of Don Giovanni two nights 
before. In every sort of merit that an opera can have, Don 
Giovanni is as superior to Romeo as a sonnet by Shakespear to 
a sonnet by Adelaide Proctor; yet on Thursday the house was 
bored and distraught, whereas on Saturday it was alert and 
interested. Everything on the stage had been thought about and 
practised: everybody there was in earnest and anxious. The 
result was that an opera with an established reputation for tedium 
became engrossing where another opera, with an established repu- 
tation for inexhaustible variety and vivadty, had just fallen flat. 
Many persons went about asking why Romeo had never been a 


success before. The question implied too much; for, after all, the 
opera has had its measure of success in the past. Further, it is 
quite true that the work is monotonous in its mood. One greatly 
misses the relief which Mephistopheles gives to Faust. No doubt 
when you first fall under the spell of the heavenly melody, of the 
exquisite orchestral web of sound colors, of the unfailing dignity 
and delicacy of accent and rhythm, you certainly do feel inclined 
to ask whether the people who disparaged the work were deaf. 
Not until you have had your fill of these, and have realized that 
there is nothing more coming, do you begin to look at your 
watch. On Saturday the watch would have come out sooner and 
oftener but for M. Jean de Reszke. He is an ardst who cannot be 
described in a few words. Though a highly intelligent one at his 
best, he has moments of nalvet4 — not to say stupidity — which 
seem to run in his gifted family. Again, though he does every- 
thing with a distinction peculiar to himself, there is an exasper- 
atingly conventional side to his posing and playing across the 
foodights. And though he has the true dramatic instinct, and does 
really throw himself into his part, yet he is not consistently an 
actor: for instance, no human being— except perhaps a sexton — 
ever entered a tomb at midnight in the feshion illustrated by him 
in the fifth act on Saturday nighL I do not believe in ghosts; 
but if I had occasion to visit a mausoleum, even in the daytime, I 
should not come bounding into it. Under such circumstances 
one refrains from gambolling until one's eyes get accustomed to 
the dim light. The charm of De Reszke lies in the beauty of his 
voice, his sensitively good pronunciadon, and the nadve grace 
and refinement of his bearing, all of which make his manliness, his 
energy, and his tire quite irresistible. The charm of the man may 
be separated from the interest in his performance, which is created 
ahnost entirely by his declamation. In the pretty duet, the Madrigal 
which practically begins Romeo's part, he did not make much 
effect; but when he exclaimed, "O douleurl Capulet est son 
pfire; et je I'aime!" the eliect was electric At the end of the bal- 
cony scene his half-whispered "Adieu, jusqu'^ demain — jusqu'Jt 
demain," will surely be remembered by many a woman in the 


audience. His acting in the duel scene, uneven as it was, was 
convincing; and he rose to eloquence in the scene which follows 
the sentence of exile from the Duke: a scene newly written by 
Gounod. Madame Melba may thank her stars that she had so good 
a Romeo to help her out in the last two acts. At one or two points 
in the balcony scene she sang with genuine feeling; and in the 
tragic scenes she was at least serious and anxious to do her besL 
In the first act, however, she was shrill and forward, the waltz 
ariette coming out with great confidence and facility, which I 
think Madame Melba mistook for art Her fresh bright voice and 
generally safe intonation are all in her favor at present. Mdlle. 
Jeanne de Vigne phrased Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle nicely, 
and would have got an encore — which she evidendy wanted badly 
— had she been content with the simple run up to C and down 
again of which Gounod made such a perfect ornament. But she 
would try to improve the final phrase; and as her tasM is not 
quite as fine as Gounod's, the encore was nipped in the bud, 
which I think served her right. Madame Lablache had, of 
course, no trouble with the part of the nurse. Mr Win(^radow, 
as Mercutio, shewed all the symptoms of a short life and a merry 
one as a singer. No man can, without wrecking his voice, sing 
on the plan of delivering every note with the utmost possible 
intensity and vehemence. Unless Mr Winogradow pulls in at 
once, and learns to get at least nine out of ten of his effects 
quiedy, Covent Garden will soon know him no more. M. 
Montariol (Tybalt) was as good as his word, as far as improv- 
ing the ensemble went, though he should have done this without 
saying anything about it. He played his second-rate part like a 
first-rate ardst, just as he has occasionally played first-rate parts 
like a second-rate artist. Also he fenced so perfectly that Romeo 
was able to go for him quite recklessly; and this, of course, is 
the explanation of the nonsense about his condescending to 
play Tybalt. If he had not. Brer Jean would now be awaiting 
his trial for manstau^ter. M. S^guin also helped materially by 
playing Capulet. But the honors among the basses went, of 
course, to Edouard de Reszke, who had a tremendous time of 


it as Friar Laurence. The family na/vei/ already hinted at peeped 
out in such brilliant readings as DUu, qid fis Vhomme h ton 
image, delivered in the stentorian manner of master-builders 
whSn they seek the ear of a bricklayer on a very high scaffold, 
and the magic word femme marked by sudden subsidence to a 
tenderly respectful pianissimo. But the marriage service and the 
potion scene deUghted the audience; and a special cheer was 
always received for Fr&re Edouard when the rest, having passed 
before the curtain, left him — he coming last — for a moment in 
sole possession of the proscenium. 

i^June 1889 
After die success of the Romeo and Juliet experiment, the sub- 
stitution of Scribe's original libretto of Les Huguenots for the 
Italian version, or rather for the mixture of two Italian versions 
which now does duty at Covent Garden, is only a matter of a 
litde rehearsal — chiefly for Madame Scalchi. Last night we had 
Brer Jean as Raoul and Brer Edouard as Marcel, who looked 
remarkably like Sir John Falstaff reformed and teetotalized. Brer 
Jean altered the ending of his first song because it was too high; 
and Brer Edouard presendy altered the ending of his Lutheran 
chorale because it was too low. When Piff PaflF was duly dis- 
posed of, the twain went off for a walk, and — Brer Jean bong 
presendy wanted — kept the stage waiting for some time before 
they returned. On the whole Brer Jean would have been better 
if he had not been obviously afraid of hts part. For some bars 
before the C sharp in the duel septet, which he did not attempt 
to sustain, he suffered from something like stage fright; but 
when it was over he cheered up considerably, though he re- 
mained more or less preoccupied and unhappy all throi^h the 
evening. Yet he sang delightRilly in spite of his mood. Marcel 
is a part that does not suit Brer Edouard. The music is too 
low for him; and the character is one for a clever actor. Now Brer 
Edouard's endowment is mainly vocal: if the De Reszkes had 
been an English country family, he would certainly have gone 
I4J K 


into the Church. Madame Toni Schl9ger, the new prima donna 
from Vienna, began badly by a most discouraging display of 
tremolo, and an even more alarming composure, which did not 
give way in the least when her lover unexpectedly called lier 
names before the whole cast The calm way in which she 
arranged herself on M. Lassalle's arm for a comfortable stage 
iaint as the curtain descended presented a spectacle of matronly 
decorum before which the house quailed. But if Madame Schl^er 
is matronly, she is also extraordinarily comely. Her long dark 
hair is wonderful. Her voice, too, unsteady and uncertain as it 
is, asserts itself every now and then with striking power and 
penetradon. Her acting consists in an exhibition of intense 
sorrowfulness which is oddly impressive. The house, which 
rebelled against her at first, ended by acceptii^ her. Her final 
eflect, when, on seeing Raoul spring throi^h the window, she 
uttered a heartrending cry and fell supine into a wavy river of 
her own hair, won her a demonstrative curtain call. Madame 
Scalchi, as Urbain, made an astonishing deal of as much of her 
part as she could manage, and slipped over the rest very cleverly. 
Miss Russell achieved so many gratuitous vocal feats to pro- 
pitiate us for not singing exacdy what Meyerbeer wrote that I 
have no doubt she will achieve that feat too some day. Mr Harris 
provided her with a beautiful milk-white steed in die third act; 
but it began to waltz the moment she began to sing; and at last 
Brer Edouard had to lift her down and leave the animal free to 
return to its native hippodrome. M. D'Andrade's intonation in 
the part of De Nevers became very faulty after the first two acts. 
M. Lassalle was the San Bris. Signor Mandnelli is at his best 
in interpreting Meyerbeer; but his generalship last night was 
seriously at fault: more than once he got excited, and feiled to 
keep his forces together. I fear I shall shortly have a rather bad 
fit of plain speaking on the subject of the band. There are among 
the first violins some half a dozen or so gentlemen who play with 
a flow of undisciplined animal spirits ^^ch, gratifying as it is 
to everyone who likes to see youi^ people enjoying thonselves, 
has the incidental disadvantage of destroying all the dehcacy, 


dignity, and grace of the orchestra, l^e stage business again 
shewed want of rehearsal and want of thought. In the Pr^ aux 
Clercs scene the moon rose most naturally, tut it shone brightly 
enough to make ridiculous all that part of the dialogue which 
derives its point from Marcel's groping after Valentine's voice 
in the darkness. During vespers the Catholics kept their hats on; 
and several of the Protestants took them off. Have these choristers 
no religious feeling that they cannot grasp so simple a situation.^ 
The substitution in the gipsy ballet of a pas seul for die old 
business with the soldiers is not, in my opinion, an improvement. 
The performan(» began about twelve minutes past eight. At 
the end of the fourth act it only wanted 6ve minutes of twelve. 
The band accordingly cut the entertainment short by going 
home. Signor Mancinelli, after a moment's hesitation, followed 
their example. I left several of the audience waidng for the fifth 
act. I wonder whether they are there stilL 

21 June 1889 
I HOPE the Royal Italian Opera will not grow conceited on die 
strength of my general approval of Romeo and Juliet. Lest it 
should, I hasten to find fault with one or two points in the per- 
formance. The unaccompanied prologue, which was sung as 
Gounod directs, by the principal siiigers, ought to have been an 
invaluable lesson to the chorus in diadncmess of enunciation, 
crispness of attack, beautiful tone formation, pure intonation, and 
fbesse in managing the delicate nuances. As a matter of fact, it 
was unintelli^ble; it buzzed and dragged; the pitch fell diuii^ 
each line so diat the harp made us squirm when it came in; and 
there was much less gradation than a well educated horse shows 
in his paces. I imagine that the chorus were vaguely trying to 
help from the win^. If so, they had much better not have inter- 
fered. Here, then, is one opportunity for that constant improve- 
ment which Mr Harris's artists doubdess thirst for. 

Signor Mandnelli misjudged one or two movements so widely 

that I stroi^ly suspect him of a consdendous attempt to follow 



the composer's metronome marks: the surest way, need I add, 
of violating the composer's intentions. In a theatre of reasonable 
size a very skilful singer, daintily accompanied, could no doubt 
point all the vagaries of Queen Mab as rapidly as poor M. Wino- 
gradow was haled through tiiem on Monday; but, under the 
circumstances, the result was that the song missed fire. The great 
duet in the fourth act was taken so ^t that the molto sostenuto 
indicated by Gounod, which is the characteristic effect of the 
movement was quite lost. And again, the allegretto agitata "D 
faut pardr, h^lasl" was overdone in the same way. What with 
Jean de Reszke's impetuosity, and Signor Mandnelli's tendency 
to rush strong numbers, one sometimes yearns for the advent of 
Rlchter, the unhasting, the unresting. 

I cannot understand why some account of the very interesting 
Doll's House dinner last Sunday at the Novelty Theatre has not 
crept into print. It was distinctly understood that the affair was 
to be kept quiet, and from that I naturally concluded that the 
Press would be full of it on Monday. I hasMn to remedy the tact- 
less discretion of my fellow guests. 

It was an odd a^ir, because, as every discoverable Norwegian 
in London had been recklessly invited, the company was a queer 
mixture of people whom everybody knew and people whom 
nobody knew. Among the latter was a very quiet lady of forty or 
thereabouts, with some indescribable sort of refinement about 
her diat made her seem to have lost her way and found herself 
in a very questionable circle. Nobody was taking any notice of 
her; so I charitably introduced myself (she pretended to know 
who I was) and tried to make her feel more at home. You shall 
hear more of her presently. 

Then we had supper and toasts and so forth. William Archer 
led off the speechmaking by toasting Ibsen, with special insist- 
ence on the great dramas in verse which preceded the Doll's 
House order of play. (How often have I not informed composers 
diat the next great opera will not be a setting of Faust over again, 
but of Peer Gynt?) 

Two famous actresses from Christiania, Fru Gundersen and 


Fr6ken Reimers, represented the Norwegian stage. Miss Reimers 
was asked to redte, but said she could not declaim without 
statuesque drapery. No garment that could by any stretch of 
im^nation be deemed statuesque could be discovered; and we 
should have lost the recitation had not somebody produced a 
couple of yards of common white tape. Miss Reimers at once 
beamed her giadtude; flui^ the tape over her shoulder; and 
shewed us what real stage declamation is like, to the manifest 
depression of the British actors present, who had all picked up their 
profession anyhow. Their discomfiture was compleKd by a young 
Danish actor, whose mainttea and delivery were so perfect that we 
frankly threw in our hands and returned to the savage pursuit 
of British speechmaking. The whole cast of the Doll's House 
were present, except Mr Roya Carleton and the three youngest 
members, who had been put to bed. There was also present a 
Herr Nansen, who was described to me as the brother of the dis- 
coverer of Greenland; but I imagine tiiere is some mistake about 
dxis, for I have been iamiliar with Greenland and its icy moun- 
tains since my childhood. Then there was Mr Herman Vezin, at 
the head of the board. Herr Barth answered for painting, and Dr. 
Hagerup answered for everything else. Mr H. L. Broekstad, who 
has at last succeeded in planting the Norwegian standard firmly 
in London, was immensely in evidence. Mr Charrington, in a 
disconsolate manner, made the best speech of the evening, and 
sat down obviously convinced that he had made the worst. Miss 
Achurch made two speeches in a brief and fearless manner, which 
at once exposed the awkwardness and pusillanimity of the un- 
fortunate persons who were trying to look like the stronger sex. 
"A woman makii^ a speech," said Dr Johnson, "is like a dog 
standii^ on its hind legs. It is not well done; but the wonder is 
that it should be done at all." Now mark my words. The time Is 
approaching when that story will reverse its genders, and be 
attributed to some female sage. What is more, it will not lose its 
point in the process. I foresaw this long ago; and, with a manly 
determination to uphold the superiority of my sex, at once 
adopted the view that public speaking is a despicable art, only fit 


for women. I declare, in sptte of the editor's teeth, that I enjoyed 
Miss Achurch's speeches far more than I have ever enjoyed Mr 
Gladstone's; but let Miss Achurch just try her hand at musical 
cridcism and you will soon acknowledge the unassailable pre- 
eminence of Creation's masterpiece: Man. I am a man myself, 
and ought to know. 

After dinner we all went down to the stage and finished the 
evening in the doll's house, where die snow on the window-sill, 
which I had always supposed to be real (knowing Mr Archer's 
conscientious devotion to naturalism in art) turned out to be a 
wretched cotton-wool imposture which came off on my clothes. 
The first thing everybody did was to go straight to the stove, 
open it, and stare into the interior. Then they tried the famous 
letter-box, and slammed the famous door. Then Mr Vezin plucked 
up a postprandial courage and recited all the most blood-curdling 
poems he could think of. Miss Reimers, who had very nearly 
upset even my gravity at dinner by asking me with perfect sin- 
cerity why the splendid, the intetlectual, the free English people 
had no national theatre, recited Tennyson's Rizpah and the first 
speech from Schiller's Maid of Orleans in Norwegian. Miss 
Achurch, rashly called on for a recitation, and being totally un- 
acquainted with that art, adventured desperately on Kingsley's 
Three Fishers, and first conveyed to us that she did not know her 
business at all, and then, in a curiously original way, and not 
withouca touch of extravagance, left us impressed and astonished. 

When our resources were at last exhausted and liie entertain- 
ment was on the point of petering out, our hosts had to play their 
last card. Could anybody play the Helmer piano and oblige us 
with a tune. There was general shaking of heads until it appeared 
that the quiet lady, neglected and unknown, could play some 
pieces. As she went to the httle piano we prepared ourselves for 
the worst and stopped talking, more or less. To encourage the 
poor lady I went to the piano and sat beside her to tum over for 
her, expecting The Maiden's Prayer or an oldfashioned set of 
variations on The Carnival of Venice. I felt I was being very good 
to her. 




After the first two bars I sat up. At the end of the piecs (one 
of her own composition) I said "Has anyone ever told you that 
you are one of the greatest pianists in Europe?" Evidently a good 
many people had; for without turning a luir she said "It is my 
profession. But this is a bad instrument. Perhaps you will hear 
me at the Philharmonic I am to play Beedioven's E flat concerto 

Her name is Agatha Ursula Backer-Grondahl. She played upon 
Helmer's pianoforte as it was never played upon before, and 
perhaps never wilt be again. A great artist — a serious artist — a 
beauiiftil, incomparable, unique artisti She morally r^enerated us 
all; and we remained at our highest level imdl we were dragged 
down by the shrieks and groans of two Italian waiters who starffid 
quarrelling among the knives in the saloon. Fraternity having 
been re-established by Mr Charrington, Mr Archer was requested 
to improvise a JVor/JatHcle for the entertainment of the company. 
He blushinglydeclined. Later on it was felt that the evening would 
be incomplete williout a song from me; and after some pressii^ I 
reluctantly consented. The guests then left precipitately; and the 
scene, a historic one in the annals of the theatre, closed. 

The Handel orchestra at the Crystal Palace is not the right place 
for work so delicately and finely concentrated as Mendelssohn's 
Athalie. Nor is it, as many people seem to think, a fevorable 
arena for the display of choral excellence. The more fiddlers you 
have in yout orchestra and the more singers you have in any 
section of your chorus, the less likelihood is there of any defects 
being noticed, since at any given moment there will be enough 
performers right to drown a considerable minority who may be 
wrong. The proportion of error can only be guessed at by the 
magnitude of the mere indeterminate noise — the buzz and ratde 
— diat comes along with the definite vocal tone. From diis the 
tonic sol-feists on Saturday were commendably free: the tone 
was clean and the intonation very good indeed: much better, I 



the fire ofthe fiercely impetuous "Behold, Zion, behold." Other- 
wise I have nodiii^ to reproach him with. Tlie orchestral eflects, 
notably those striking fortissimo chords in "The sinner's joys 
decay*!, were feeble and scattered in the vast space. The un- 
published fugue, which was performed for the fkst time at the 
end, is just like any other fugue by a master of Mendelssohn's 
calibre. The subject begins with die usual skip, and the pans 
soleimily trudge along to the pedal, after which climax of insanity 
die welcome end comes with due gravity of cadence. Then 
Madame Antoinette Sterling, loudly applauded, came on the plat- 
form to give away prizes. A huge ribbon, inscribed "Honorable 
mendon" was held up by two respectable citizens. A third ddzoi 
then exhibited a placard bearing the name Bayswater, whereat the 
audience, fligally demoralized, roared with lai^hter. Further 
placardii^ conveyed the gratifying intelligence that Nottin^iam 
had borne off the first prize, which Madame Sterling accordingly 
handed to Mr ]. S. Derbyshire, the Nottingham conductor, amid 
enthusiasm. I then dashed away to catch a low-level train, which 
I just saved by the desperate expedient of doing the last third of 
Ae journey by tobo^;an, a fearful method of progression. I 
owe an apology to Mr T. Newton, who was announced to 
ung a song "in twelve dtstincdy different voices" at half-past 
five. Why are not the musical cridcs invited to hear this gifted 

I uusT apologize to the Shah for my failure to appear at Covent 
Garden on Tuesday. He will cut rather a foolish 6gure in Persia 
when he confesses — if he has the moral coun^ to admit it — 
that he saw the opera without Como di Bassetto; but if Mr Harris 
chooses recklessly to select the night of the Hyndman-Geoige 
dd)ate for the recepdon of Persian majesty, he has himself to 
thank for ray absence. Possibly, however, Mr Harris acted out of 
consideradon for me, 

Of the program I can only faindy convey the truth by say- 


ing that it was the most exaavagantly Bedlamite hotch-potch 
on record, even in the annals of State concerts. It was evidently 
the work of a committee on which conflicting views had to be 
reconciled. Thus, view No. i was that the Shah is a gentleman of 
ordinary and somewhat vulgar European musical taste; therefore 
let him hear the overture to William Tell. View No. 2: The Shah 
is an idiot; therefore ply him with the mad scene &om Luda. 
View No. 3: The Shah's artistic culture is deep, earnest, severe, 
and German; therefore strike up the great Leonora overture by 
Beethoven. View No. 4: It does not matter what the Shah is: we 
are going to let him see what Covent Garden can do; therefore 
let us put on the fourth act of Faust, which is one of our big 
things. View No. 5 : the Shah is a savage and a voluptuary; there- 
fore treat him to the Brockencorroboree from Boito's Meiistofele, 
as the most unseemly thing we can very well do under the circum- 
stances. How beautifully the Pall Mall's own visitor summed it up 
as "a scene of brilliancy, tempered hy la£es." 

In dealing with the performance of Les Huguenots lately, I felt 
stroi^ly tempted to warn Signer Mandnelli that the band parts 
in use at Covent Garden are inaonirate at the most striking point 
in die whole score. In the fourth act, when Raoul, in the transport 
of discovering that Valentine loves him, foi^ets the impending 
massacre and the duty of instantly warning his friends, he is sud- 
denly struck dumb by i^e distant sound of the bell which is the 
signal for the carnage. The bell strikes ilie keynote F, and takes a 
veiled, sinister color from a dull accompanying chord i;^ the 
lowest register of the clarinets. Almost immediately a clear, ter- 
rible C is delivered in unison by the brass; and never, not even 
in Wagner's Flying Dutchman, has the peculiar character of the 
fifth of the scale been more dramatically employed. But what 
happens at Covent Garden? Why, they actually bring out a 
prosaic F with an efTect which is perfectly senseless. 

I therefore appeal to Signor Mandnelli to look at ibe horn, 

trombone, and bassoon parts in the first dozen bars of the maestoso 

movement following the famous eatdattte amoroso, and see whether 

the C's are right in every second bar. Also to exhort the first 



trombone and the third and fourth horns to give the necessary 
prominence to that C, which is above the F of the bell. I further 
appeal to Mr Harris to incur the trouble and expense of placing a 
first-rate drum player behind the scenes, and providing him with 
two clangorous bells, accurately tuned to F and C, so that we may 
hear the scene as Meyerbeer planned it However, I fear my 
appeal will be in vain. If it were a new patent moon, or an 
extra horse, or half-a-dozen new dresses, or any other unmusical 
vanity, there would be a rush to meet my views. But a part in the 
score that nobody bothers about or misses — what stuff! Fulfil- 
ment of die composer's intention is not, like evening dress, 

Call no conductor sensitive in the highest degree to musical 
impressions until you have heard him in Berlioz and Mozan. I 
never unreservedly took off my hat to Richter until I saw him 
conduct Mozart's great symphony in E flat. Now, having heard 
him conduct Berlioz's Faust, I repeat the salutation. I never go to 
hear that work without fearing that, instead of exquisite dureads 
of melody, wonderful in their tenuity and delicacy, and the sur- 
passii^y strange and curious sounds and measures, ghosdy in 
touch and quaint in tread, unearthly, unexpected, unaccountable, 
and full of pictures and stories, I shall hear a medley of thumps 
and bumps and whisdes and commonplaces: one, two, three, 
four: one, two, three, four; and for Heaven's sake dont stop to 
think about what you are doing, gendemen, or we shall never 
keep the thing together. Last night there was no such disappoint- 
ment The Hungarian March I pass over, though I felt towards 
the end that if it were to last another minute I must charge out 
and capmre Trafalgar Square single-handed. But when the scene 
on the banks of the Elbe began — more slowly than any but a 
great conductor would have dared to take it — then I knew diat 
I might dream the scene without fear of awakening adisenchanted 
man. As to the dance of will-o'-the-wisps in the third par^ 


Richter's interpretation of that most supernatural minuet was a 
masterpiece of conductii^. I need say no more. The man who 
succeeds with these numbers does not make the usual ^ure 
with the Easter Hyimi or the Ride to Hell. 

The four principal silvers were, in order of praiseworthiness, 
Mr Max Heinrich, Mr Bantock Pierpont, Miss Mary Davies, and 
Mr Edward Lloyd. I put Mr Lloyd fourth only because, there 
being but three others, I cannot put him fifth or sixth. I do not 
mind his shirking the C sharps and even the B natural in the duet 
with Margaret; but I indignandy demand what he meant by 
wantonly tampering with the Invocation at its finest point, die 
burst into C sharp major, on the words "My soul thrills with 
delight." If Mr Lloyd had suspected what my soul thrilled with 
when he made the most annoyingly vulgar alteration I ever heard 
an artist of his eminence perpetrate, he would, I hope, have re- 
frained. I also object to his ending the beau^fiil episode in F, 
"Oh, will ye come again" on the higher octave of the note 
written by Berlioz. Miss Davies is so hampered by the remains 
of her Academy method that she never seems quite certain of 
what her voice will do; but if she does not sing safely and happily, 
she at least sings with taste and feeling, sometimes very sweedy. 
Mr Pierpoint is always efficient; and Mr Max Heinrich acquitted 
himself like a fine artist, though the person who told him 
to pronounce "linings" as "lennix" is unworthy of his confi- 

The chorus did everything to perfection except sii^ Their 
time, their tone, their enunciation, their observance of light and 
shade, testified to the pains taken with them by the conductor. 
But not even he could get any considerable volume of sound out 
of them. As the roaring drunkards of Auerbach's cellar they were 
polite and subdued; as bragging soldiers they were decent and 
restrained; as convivial students chanting Jam. nox stellata, etc, 
they did not forget that there might be a sick person in the 
neighborhood; and as devils in Pandemonium their voices were 
sweet and low. The decorum of these warblers would have done 
honor to the choir of the Chapel Royal. 




In my youth I used to speculate upon the curious but almost in- 
variable failure of public music schools — Royal Academies, Con- 
servatoires, and the like — to turn out good singers. The case was 
even worse than this: the voices were not only undeveloped, they 
were crippled and sometimes utterly destroyed by the process of 
training to which they were subjected. The moral seemed to be 
that private teachers were the safest; but I soon observed that 
private teachers were fiilly as destructive as public ones. I wonder 
whether this state of things prevails to any extent at present 

The odd thing was that when I read the treatises penned by 
the teachers, or conversed with them, I found that diey were 
eloquent in their denunciation of the very faults which their own 
pupils most flagrandy exemplified. They would insist that the 
vpice should be produced without the slightest effort or constric- 
tion of the throat, and with an expiration so steady, gentle, and 
perfectly controlled that a candle-flame would not flicker before 
the singer's lips. Then they would proudly produce their cham- 
pion pupil, who, after setting every muscle of the neck and jaws 
as if she (it was generally she) wanted to crack a walnut with her 
glotds, would turn on a blast from her lungs sufHcient to whirl a 
windmill, much less flicker a candle. The result generally was that 
the family doctor interfered when the damage to the student's 
health had gone too far; and the medical profession soon adopted 
the nodon that singing is a dangerous exercise, only suitable for 
persons of exceptionally robust lungs and heart. 

I assure you it is not pleasant to live next door to a young lady 
who, from the very common accident of having a loud voice and 
an aptitude for picking up tunes, has resolved to become a prima 
donna, and, with that view, has engaged Signor Fizzelli, or Fizzini, 
or Fizzoni to train her for the ordeal of a first appearance at La 
Scala, Milan, where he broke his voice some years ago on the 
oa:asion of his d^ut as Arturo in Luda di Lammermoor, thanks 
— as he avers — to the intrigues of the jealous nincompoop who, 
though unable to sing Fra poco in the original key, supplanted 


him in his rightful part of Edgardo. Fitz's training system is the 
walnut system, scientifically known as "tension of cords and 
force of blast." 

When Fitz tells his pupil to sing on the vowel a, she either 
rolls her tongue up into a ball at the back of her mouth and brings 
up an awr, or else she bleats out the flattest of ha-a-a-a-k' s. Fitz 
rages at her until she finds some intermediate sound that suits his 
taste. Then, on that sound, and on the walnut system, he makes 
her sing scales in one unvarying slow, deadly grind that would 
wear the soul and health out of a millstone. You — next door — 
hear the process getting more difficult, the effort more exhaustii^ 
the voice more inhuman every day, until at last a morning comes 
when Fitz does not appear, and the doctor's brougham does. In 
the meantime you are desperately tempted to rush out some day 
as Fitz comes down the front garden after applying the torture, 
and remonstrate with him on the chance of his assaulting you, 
and thereby giving you an excuse for killing him in self-defence. 

If you actually did remonstrate, he would not hit you. I never 
knew a hitting voice trainer except one, who declared quite seri- 
ously that the only method to make a man produce the vowel o 
in Nature's way was to get him to hold a full breath for fifteen 
seconds, and then punch him smartly in the thorax. There can 
be no doubt of the eifecliveness and certainty of this plan; but, 
except when the teacher can punch hard enough to incapadute 
die pupil &om hasty reprisals, it should be practised only on 
women and invalids; and even with them it is apt during fiiture 
lessons to engender a certain mistrust of the professor's inten- 
tions which spoils the harmony essential to the relation between 
master and pupil. But Fitz is not that sort of man. You will some- 
rimes find him unexpectedly intelligent and even sensible as a 
talker, though you cairaot safely depend on this. What you am 
depend on is that he will defend his method on the ground that 
it is the true Italian method of Porpora, rediscovered and patented 
by himself; and that every otha- teacher in the universe is a 
notorious humbug and quack, the mainspring of whose activity 
is a despicable jealousy of the same Fitz. 


Let me say, however, that I think Fitz's vogue is waning. His 
Allures have been too flagrant and too fearfiil to pass unnoticed. 
The young English girls, with sweet and promising voices, who 
went to Paris to be "finished" in grim earnest by die final attempt 
to grind them into sav^ely dramatic Viardot Garcias have in- 
variably disappointed the hopes formed of them. The wobbling, 
screaming crew, with three horrible high notes and three Richard- 
son's show gestures, who infested the operadc stage twenty years 
ago^the ignoble Femandos and Manricos, Lucias and Leonoras 
— had to retreat before Wagner, since they could no more sing 
his music than they could sing Handel's. The increase in the 
niunber of people who now keep a pianoforte, and amuse them- 
selves at it with cheap vocal scores of operas, is producing a 
common knowledge of the defects of our standard performers, 
which enables the aide to attack the inaccuracies, the vulgarities, 
the innumerable petty artistic dishonesties of the operatic stage 
with a sense of having the public at his back, which is a new, 
powerfiil, and most noteworthy factor in musical criticism. The 
effect of it on me occasionally moves concert givers and managers 
(otherwise of sound mind) to demand whether it is not obvious 
that I must be in the pay of their enemies or else maliciously 

Just as cheap litemture is restoring Shakespear to the stage and 
banishing gc^ Garrick, and Cibber, so cheap music wilt banish 
cuts, interpolations, alterations, and perversions from the opera 
house. It will not teach the people to sing; but it will teach diem 
to miss the qualitieswhich are never forthcomingwith bad sii^rs 
and to value those which are always forthcoming with good 

And now, what on earth did I be^ all this about? I must 
have intended to lead up to something; and now I have hardly 
any room left for it. Ha! I recollect The performance c^ 
Goetz's Taming of the Shrew, by the students of the Royal Col- 
lege of Music on Wednesday afternoon at the Prince of Wales's 

It smick me that though the students who sang had not 


received any specially valuable positive Instruction in the art of 
producing the voice, they had been abundantly warned against 
Fitz and the walnut system. If a man could become a great tenor 
by dint of doing nothing that could possibly injure his vocal 
cords, then Mr Pringle, who played Hortcnsio, would be the 
Tamagno of the twentieth century; and doubtless Mr Herbert 
Sims Reeves would be the De Reszke. Mr David Evans, as 
Lucentio, certainly knocked up his voice and lost his way in the 
delightful gamut solo, from sheer want of skill; but He did not 
seem to have been deliberately taught to sing badly: he has not 
been taught to sing well: that is all. The opera is such an excess- 
ively troublesome one to commit to memory that only students 
with unlimited opportunities of rehearsal could have aiforded to 
get it up for the sake of one performance as perfecdy as it was got 
up at the Royal College. The rich iinale to the wedding scene, 
a sort of comic version of the great ballroom finale in Don 
Giovanni, was not so steady or crisp as it might have been: 
indeed, at one moment it wavered perilously; but on the whole 
the slips were very few and far between. The solo singing was of 
course jejune, lackii^ variety and sincerity of expression; and 
the acting ran into mock heroics on the serious side, and into 
tomfoolery on the comic; but if experience had not taught me 
the desperate risk of praising young amateurs, I should be 
tempted to compliment Miss Emily Davies on her plucky and 
intelligent effort to play Katherine, and to slap Mr Sandbrook 
on the back for his hard work as Pemichio. The orchestra 
acquitted itself admirably, the violins, played exclusively by 
students, being disdncdy above the professional average. The 
first oboe, one trombone, two of the horns, and the first comet 
were manned by professional players from outside. I am sorry to 
say that the bad custom of bouquet-throwing was permitted; 
and need I add that an Americam prima donna was the offender. 
What do you mean, Madame Nordica, by teaching the young 
idea how to get bouquets shied? One consolation is, that if the 
cridcs caimot control the stats, they can at least admituster the 



P.S. I have just paid my first visit to Otello at the Lyceum. 
The voices can all be beaten at Covent Garden: Tanu^o's 
shrill and nasal, Maurel's woolly and tremulous, Signora 
Cataneo's shattered, wavering, stagy, not to be compared to the 
worst of Mr Harris's prima donnas. On the other hand, Maurel 
acts quite as welt as a good provincial tragedian, mouthing and 
ranting a little, but often producing striking pictorial effects; 
Tamagno is original and real, showing you Othello in vivid 
flashes; and the interpretation of Verdi's score, the artistic homo- 
geneity of performance, the wonderful balance of orchestra, 
chorus, and principals, stamp Facdo as a masterly conductor. 
The work of the orchestra and chorus far surpasses anything yet 
achieved under Signor Mancinelli at Covent Garden. The opera 
is powerful and interesting: immeasurably superior to Aida: 
do not miss it on any account. But if you go to the five-shilling 
pit, as I did, remember that there are four rows of stalls under the 
balcony, and that the pit therefore consists almost entirely of 
that square hole in the wall at the back which is one of Mr 
Irving's most diabolical innovadons. 

"Bassetto" said the editor of The Star "you say that Madame 
Backer-Grdndahl is a great pianoforte player?" "Conunander of 
the Faithfiil" I replied "one of the very greatest in Europe." 
"Then what about an interview" cried my chief. "Commander 
of the Faithful" I said "this lady is so truly fine and noble an 
artist that I am afraid and ashamed to intrude on her in the ribald 
character of a journalist." "Your modesty is well known to me; 
and your feelings do you credit, O Bassetto" he answered; "but if 
you dont go I will send someone else." So I could not choose but 
go; and on Tuesday evening my hansom jolted slowly along the 
Marylebone Road, bound for Madame Grondahl's apartments in 
Blandford Square. You remember when I first found out Madame 
GrondhaL It was at a Philharmonic concert, in Beethoven's great 
concertoinEdat. You know the long passage in octaves beginning 
161 L 


fortissimo, ivith the eSmittuenJo at the end. Well, I never heard 
anything quite so rough and strange as the beginning of those 
octaves under Madame Grondahl's fingers. I did with my ears 
what I do with my eyes when I stare. What followed was no more 
a mere diminuendo of sound than a beautiful sunset is a mere 
diminuendo of light. It was a series of transfigurations — a letting 
loose of voices imprisoned in the passage — a wonderful suilusion 
of its steadily beadng heart — a delicate lifting of it gradually out 
of the region of audible sound. A critic can no more express these 
things in words than he can describe his sensations when an artist 
of genius appears suddenly in front of the crowd of performers 
whose varying skills and tastes it is his ordinary business to sort 
out, patting one on the back and rapping another over the 
knuckles, like a schoolmaster. On such occasions his feeling for 
really great playing, which so seldom gets exercised that he some- 
times doubts whether he possesses it, awakes like the Sleeping 
Beauty; and the cridc knows that he is not wholly a vain thing. 
But what I wanted to find out from Madame Grondahl was 
how London had continued to remain for seventeen years un- 
acquainted with a public player whose posidon is as exceptional, 
and whose talent is as rare and exquisite, as that of Madame 
Schumann. For Madame Grondahl is, in round numbers, forty; 
that is, she is in the fiiU maturity of her genius. And here you 
become curious about her personal appearance: you would like a 
littie description. Well, she is what you would call — observe, 
what you would call — a perfectiy plain woman. Her hair is not 
golden like yours: it is, I think, almost ashen: you would call it 
grey. Her figure and style are — ^well, quiet, slender, nothing in 
particular, nothing superb or Junonian: what can I say? Com- 
plexion? Quite Norwegian: no cream or coral, nothing to be 
afraid of there. Eyes? Well, eyes are a matter of opinion: I should 
rather like you to see them for yourself: they are memorahU. A 
noble brow; but then, as you say, how unbecoming to a woman 
to have a noble brow! Would anybody look at you if you were 
in the same room with her? Ah, there you have me. Frankly, they 
would forget your very existence, even if there were no such thing 


in the world as a piano. For there is a grace beside which your 
beauty is vulgar and your youth inadequate; and that grace is the 
secret of Madame Grondahl's charm. 

At Blandford Square I find the invaluable, the ubiquitous H. L. 
Brcekstad, who explains my errand to our hostess, and at inter- 
vals corrects my propensity to neglect my business and talk 
eloquendy about myself. In excellent. English Madame Grondahl 
tells me how, when she was three or four years old, she used to 
make music for the stones her father told her; how, later on, 
Halfdan Kjerulf gave her lessons and taught her what expression 
in playing meant; how she was struck by hearing the late Edmund 
Neupert play Beethoven; how she was sent to Berlin and studied 
under Kullak for three years, working six and sometimes nine 
hours a day; and how she made her first appearance there 
seventeen years ago. She composes, she says, in the quiet of the 
evening, when the day's work is done: chiefly, indeed, in the 
evenings of December, when the year's work is done. 

"What work?" I ask, astounded. 

"Oh, all the thit^ one has to do" she replies "the house- 
keeping, the children, the playing, the three lessons I give every 
day to pupils." I rise up in wrath to protest against this house, 
these children, these pupils swallowing up the ministrations that 
were meant for mankind; but she adds, with a certain diffidence 
as to her power of expressing so delicate a point in English, that 
it is as wife and mother that she gets the experience that makes 
her an artist. I collapse. Bassetto is silenced. He can only bow to 
the eternal truth, and think how different his column would be 
if all artists were like this one. Here, then, is the reason why she 
never came to England before. She was too busy in her own 

Presently she be^ns to speak with earnest admiration of some 
of her compatriots— of Svensden, for instance, and "Mr Gri^." 
Her respect for Grieg infuriated me; for she is a thousand times 
a finer player than he; and I got quite beside myself at the idea 
of his presuming to Mach her how to play this and that instead 
of going down on his knees and b^ging her to deliver him from 



his occasional vulgarity, and to impart to him some of her Men- 
delssohnic sense of form in composidon. In spite of her perfectly 
becoming consciousness of her gift and her reverence for it 
she is aggravatingly modesL If I could play like her there would 
be simply no standing me. But she seems quite as gratefully sur- 
prised at her instantaneous success in London as she was when, 
on her return to Christiania afffir it, she was presented with a 
Steinway Grand, which stands in the same relation to the iinances 
of Norway as half a dozen men-of-war to the finances of May- 
fair. The presentation had been brewing for a long time, but 
her London triumph precipitated it. 

As it grows dark in the sitting room in Blandford Square I 
prepare to withdraw; and we have some parting words about her 
recital on Saturday afternoon at Prince's Hall, where you can 
hear whether I have at all exaggerated her gifts. She wilt play 
Grieg's violin sonata with Johaimes Wolff, who, it will be 
remembered, played it at St James's Hall with Grieg himself. She 
will not play a Beethoven sonata — thinks it would be too much 
to ask the public to listen to two sonatas. Sancta simpHcitas/ 
too much! However, she will play Chopin, of whom she is a 
famous exponent, and some of her own compositions, of which 
I shall have a word to say some other day. Today week she 
leaves us to rejoin Herr Grondahl in Paris. He has trained a 
choir, and brought it to the Exhibition, his genius lying in the 
conducting direction. I venture to prophesy that she will come 
back, and eventually become as regular a visitor as Joachim 
or Madame Schumann. 

P.S. I asked her about the octave passage in the concerto. 
She replied, "That is the heroic point in the work. Von Bulow 
once drew my special attention to it." 

1 5 /^ 1889 
The spectacle of Mr Augustus Harris making for ri^teousness 
with a whole mob of aristocratic patrons hangii^ on to his coat- 
tails is one which deserves to be hailed with three times three. It 


is difScult to conceive a more desperate undertaking than an 
attempt to make Die Meistersinger a success at Covent Garden. 
As well try to make wild flowers spring from the upholstery by 
dint of enga^ng tremendously expensive gardeners. There are 
many things needed for Die Meistersinger: scenery, dresses, 
persons with voices of a certain strength and compass, a con- 
ductor, a band, etc., etc., etc; but there is one pre-eminent 
condition, without which all the others are in vain, and that one 
is the true Wagner-Nuremberg atmosphere: the poetic essence 
of the medieval life wherein man, instead of serenading, duelling, 
crying "T'amo, t'amo," and finally suiciding (mostly in B flat 
or G), went his mortal round as apprentice, journeyman, and 
master; and habitually demeaned himself by doing useful work. 
Of this atmosphere there is hardly a breath at Covent Garden; 
and that is the first and last word of the higher criticism on 
Saturday's performance. But the practical criticism has to con- 
sider not whether the performance was perfecdy sadsfying, but 
whether it was better worth doing than letting alone; and on 
this point there must be a unanimous verdict in Mr Harris's 

The first step taken was to secure a large sale for the two- 
shilling librettos by substituting a colorless translation of the 
German poem not into English, because the audienra would 
understand that, nor into Polish, French, or Russian, because 
then one or two of the singers could have declaimed it with 
nadve familiarity, but into Italian, the least congenial language 
in Europe for the purpose. How Johannistag sounds as "solenne 
di," and Wahn! Wahn! as "Si, si," may be imagined. In order to 
make quite sure of the librettos going off well, the usual opera 
bills were carefully removed from the stalls, probably not by Mr 
Harris's orders; for it is due to him to say that petty dodges of 
this stamp, characteristic as they are of ^hionable entertain- 
ments in general and of opera house tradition in particular, are 
just those of which he has striven to rid Covent Garden. It is 
greatly to his credit that, in order to do as much of Die Meister- 
singer as possible, he dared on this occasion to begin at half-past 


seven, with the encouraging result that the attendance was more 
punctual than it usually is at eight, or even half-past eight 
Yet, though the curtain did not fall until eighteen minutes past 
twelve on Sunday morning, chunks — absolutely whole chunks- 
had to be cut out of the very vitals of the work to get it over in 
time. Thefirsthalf of Sachs's ^oAra.'H'aAn/Walter'sdenundation 
of the master's pedantry in the second act, a section of the trial 
song, a section of the prize song, Beckmesser's scolding of Sadis 
in the third act, may be taken as samples of the excisions. This 
could have been avoided only by some such heroic measure as 
dispensing with the first act altogether: a fearful expedient; but 
then a single honest murder is better than half a dozen furtive 

So much for what was not done: now tor what was. The 
honors of the evening went to Lassalle, whose singing was 
grand, especially in the third act. If he could only learn the part 
in German, cultivate a cobbler-like deportment about the elbows, 
and cure himself of his stage walk and his one perpetual gesture 
with the r^ht hand, he would have very few dangerous rivals in 
Europe as Hans Sachs. Jean de Reszke, who wandered about the 
stage as if he had given Die Meistersinger up as a hopeless conun- 
drum, but was always anxious to oblige as far as a tenor part or 
a spell of love-making was concerned, sang charmingly in the 
last two scenes. The ever condescending Montariol, as David 
(which he played with much spirit and evident relish), again 
sacrificed his dignity as primo teiwre assotuto on the altar of 
devotion to the management. AbramofF gave due weight to the 
music of Pogner. Madame Albani is always at her sincerest — 
that is, her best — in playing Wagner. In the first scene of the 
third act she got so carried into her part that for the moment she 
quite looked it; and the quintet at the end was one of the happiest 
pass^es of the evening. Mdlle Bauermdster, the invaluable, 
whom I have heard oftener than any other Jiving artist (I ones 
saw her as AstrifEamante), was Magdalen. 

Signor Mancinelli, who was literally draped twice across the 
stage in agonies of dorsaflexion, had evidently taken great pains. 


With fresh impressions of Richter and Faccio rife in the house, 
his limitations inevitably made themselves felt, especially in the 
overture and first act, where the orchestra, being in a continual 
bustle, requires the smoothest and most sympathetic handling to 
prevent it getting on one's nerves. And the waltz and procession 
music in the last scene were much too slow: a grave fault at 
midnight, with watches popping in and out all over the house. 
and the end still distant. TTie staging of this last scene, by the 
way, was excellent. The chorus, if the substitution of women for 
boys must be accepted without a murmur, acquitted themselves 
very well; but the riot in the second act would have been better 
if it had either been sung note for note as written, or, as usual, 
frankly abandoned as impossible and filled up according to the 
vodferative fancy of the choristere. A combination of the two 
plans resulted in a failure, both in accuracy and laisser-aUer. Such 
misplaced nocturnal buffooneries as the emptying of vessels 
from the windows on the crowd, and the subsequent clowning of 
the nothing-if-not-stolid watchman, should be at once stopped. 
M. Isnardon as Beckmesser set a bad example in this way; and 
his chief opportunity of really fimny acting — the exhibition of 
the miseries of acute nervousness before the public in the last 
scene — was entirely missed. 

The audience kept together wonderfully at the end, consider- 
ing the lateness of the hour; and their conduct in suppressing ill- 
timed applause and insisting on silence after the fall of the curtain 
until the very last chord was played, was quite delightful. The 
proceedings ended with a tremendous ovation to Mr Harris, 
who fished out of the wing a stout gentleman generally but 
erroneously supposed to be Wagner. The assembly then broke 
up in high good humor. 

19 July 1889 

I SEE that Lord Dunraven has undertaken to move in the House 

of Lords the rejection of the amendment forbidding children 

under ten years of i^e to be used for the purpose of making 





I must say that I feel somewhat jealous as I read Mr Harris's 
magnificent half column of Meistersinger tesdmonials in the daily 
papers. An acute and critical letter from Mr Kuhe is given in 
extenso. A dispassionate and grave tribute to the "simple per- 
fection" of the performance at Covent Garden, is signed by the 
"representatives of Wagner's works in England," meaning the 
publishers, who will probably gain much more by the popularity 
of the opera than Mr Harris without having incurred his risk. 
The Morning Post is unjustifiably severe: It says that "the whole 
production was worthy of the house and its associations." Con- 
sidering that Mr Harris has succeeded, and deserved to succeed, 
just in so ha as he has turned his back on the associations of the 
house, it was magnanimous of him to insert this. Perhaps he only 
did it as a set-off to the heroic eulogies of The Times critic. But 
what I want to know is why my criticisms and letters are never 
reproduced as advertisements. I protest against this undeserved 
neglect, which I can only ascribe to a gross insensibility to the 
merits of my style and the extent of my influence. 

On Saturday afternoon, at Prince's Hall, Madame Backer- 
Grondahl not only bore out all that I have said in her praise, but 
left me considerably her debtor to boot. I adhere to my opinion 
that she should have played a Beethoven sonata instead of Grieg's 
violin sonata in C minor; but if we had no Beethoven we had 
at least Schumann and Chopin. The day has gone by when it was 
possible for us to get out of our depth in Schumann's pianoforte 
music: an artist like Madame Grondahl gets to the bottom of 
such a composidon as the novelette in F, and leaves us wishing 
that it, and not she, were deeper. But the Traumeswirren satis- 
fied us ineflably. 

There is, however, a special pianistic form of musical genius 
which Schumann had not, but which Chopin had, and which 
Madame Grondahl has. Thus it was Chopin's nocmme in F, 
bracketed with the fantasia in F minor at the end of the prt^;ram, 
that constituted the chief and final test of the occasion. Madame 
Grondahl sustained it triumphantly. She was delicate, splendid, 
everything chat an interpreter of Chopin should be; and she leaves 



Et^land — surety only until next season — with a London reputa- 
tion as a great Beethoven player, a great Schumann player, a great 
Chopin player, and, consequently, a great pianoforte player. 

I must not leave diis subject without a word concerning 
Madame Grondahl's compositions. Those for the pianoforte re- 
minded me strongly of Mendelssohn by their sensitiveness, their 
clear symmetrical form, and their perfect artistic economy. The 
I peculiar Norwegian feeling comes out most in the songs, some 

I half-dozen of which were sung by Miss Louise Philips with a skill 

> « and taste which agreeably surprised me; for, as it happened, I had 

i t not heard her before; and I instinctively prepare for the worst at a 

'■ i ledtal when the sii^;er appears. Johannes Wolff played the Grieg 

sonata with a finish which shewed even more than his usual ad- 
! 1 dress. The genial audadty and technical skill with which he made 

I * the audience wax rapturous over a detestable polonaise by Lauf 

(called Lamb in the program) were immense. 

I heard the Grieg sonata again on Wednesday at a concert 
given by Mdlle de Hoerschelmann somewhere in the wild west 
of theOIdBromptonRoad. I was donated beyond measure by a 
Miss Nellie Levey, a young lady with a guitar, an exquisite ear, a 
quaint vein of humor, and an irresistible smile, who threw such 
subtle appeal into the words "Percke traJirmif perche fiiggirim?" 
that I could hardly refrain irom rising and earnestly protesting 
thatnothingwas further &om my intentions. Ishould like to hear 
that young lady again. 

Mademoiselle de Hoerschelmann — ^who is, I understand, a 
• ' Russian — did not sing nor play. She recited in four languages, 

none of which she pronounced with any special virtuosity. She is, 
however, a very graphic reciter; and her idea of reading a canto 
from the Inferno is the right one in the right place. Recitation, as 
ordinarily practised, is about as entertaining as royalty-song sing- 
ing. If I ever go into the business I shall simply read Homer or 
Dante or the Arabian Nights to the audience for an hour or two 
at a stretch. Mdlle de Hoerschelmann's delivery of the third canto 
would have been a great success had the audience understood 
Italian. As for me, I never have any difHculty in understanding a 


play or poem in a foreign language when I know what it is all 
about beforehand; and I enjoyed Dante much more than I had 
enjoyed Osder Joe earlier in the afternoon, when Mrs Kendal 
favored us with it at the Opera Comique to the utter stupefacdon 
of an audience which had fallen under the strange spell of Ibsen, 
a spell of which Mrs Kendal, who had just dropped in for her 
recitadon, was happily unconscious. 

Note that the Wagner performances at Bayreuth commence on 
Sunday next. It Is well to see Parsi&I twice, with Tristan and the 
Melstersinger in between. Each performance costs a pound for 
admission alone. It is eminendy possible to spend ^^a on the 
trip without exceptional extravc^ance. But I never met anyone 
who complained of not having had value for his money. 

i6july 1889 
TijE season is over. By the end of next week there will be hardly 
four millions of persons left in London, mostly riff-ralf, mere 
working people, for whom nobody thinks of runnii^ an opera 
house or a series of St James's Hall concerts. And what a season 
it has been! Take the opera alone, and consider what wonderfiil 
things have happened. Tamagno was promised, as he has been 
repeatedly promised before; but this time, in defiance of all 
precedent, he has actually come, and his magnificent screaming is 
henceforth among the sante memorie of London amateurs. The 
Covent Garden management promised, above all things, Die 
Meistersinger and Romeo and Juliet; and both have been care- 
fiiUy produced. These things take away the breath of the old 
stager. Once upon a time it seemed a law of Nature that a London 
impresario should begin the season with a column of announce- 
ments of singers whom he had not engaged, of new works which 
he had not the smallest intention of producing, of eminent tenors, 
the undoubted successors of Mario, who were in fact the refuse 
of the Italian stage. Only a few years have elapsed since then; and 
yet even Mr Mapleson, who still believes in the irresistible 
attractiveness of Donizetti (and may therefore be supposed 


capable of believing in anything), does not venture to resuscitate 
the old-Bishioned prospectus. As to Mr Harris, he thinks nothing 
of simply saying what he intends to do, and doing iL 

When Mr Mapleson made his annual effort with Lucda, II 
Barbiere, and La Sonnambula, etc., I flatly reftised to waste my 
own time and The Star's space on an experiment which was of no 
public interest, and which was certain to ^1. In vain the weep- 
ing staff held out stall tickets for Her Majesty's Theatre to me 
with imploring gestures. I folded my arms and said that if the 
name of Lucia di Lammermoor were mentioned in my presence 
again my resignation would follow instantaneously. Tliis threat 
never fails to bring Stonecutter Street to its knees; though, lest 
too frequent repetition should blunt it, I am careful not to employ 
it more than three dmes in any one weeL It was effectual on this 
occasion; and I did not once set foot in Her Majesty's during the 

To Mr Harris I have paid much more attention. He is a nian 
'with a future: there is something to be got by pitching into him. 
To let him alone, or to lavish indiscriminating praise on him 
whilst London is as ill-ptovided in the matter of opera as at 
present, is to trifle with the simation. It must never be foigotten 
that the Royal Italian Opera, ^ firom payii^ its way, depends 
on a subvention as much as any Continental opera house. Un- 
fortunately, this subvenrion is not yet forcibly levied on excess- 
ive West-End incomes by the London County Council, and by 
them entrust to Mr Harris for the purpose of maintaining a 
serious and progressive artistic instimtion for the performance of 
the best dramatic music. Instead, it has to be extracted by him 
from excessively rich people for the purpose of maintaining a 
&shionable post-prandial resort for them during the season. 

The following are the steps by which these mimificent patrons 
make their plutocratic power felt at Covent Garden. They delay 
the rise of die curtain until half-past eight, and then come late. 
They insist on intervals of twenty minutes between the acts for 
what is to them the real business of the evening: visiting and 
chatting. They waste invaluable space with their comfortless dens 


of boxes. The percentage of inconsiderate persons among tbem 
is so high that there are always at least three parties disturbing 
the audience by talking and laughli^ at full pitch during the 
performance. The prices which their riches enable them to bid 
for admission drive ordinary amateurs to swelter among the 
gods, whilst box after box is thrown away on inveterate dead- 
heads whose mission in life is to pester impresarios for free 
admissions. And they impose on the management impertinent 
sumptuary regulations by whidi I, for instance, am compelled to 
attend the opera in the cheapest, ugliest, and least wholesome 
suit of clothes I possess; regulations which are supposed to 
afford me a guarantee of the high personal character and perfect 
propriety in appearance, manners, and conversation of my 
neighbors. The guarantee is worth nothing. I shall not pretend 
that the average opera stallholder is in any of these respects a 
specially offensive person; but I unhesitatingly aifirm that the 
average pittite is at no disadvantage whatever compared to him 
and is, on the whole, better company. The enthusiastic young 
students, male and female, whose last half-crown has been dedi- 
cated to Wagner, and who, flushed with triumph afrer a devoted 
wait at the doors and a long push, a strong push, and a push 
all together on the stairs, await the rising of the cunain with 
delightful eagerness, are, of course, hopelessly lost to the stalls, 
though they are the most amusing and interesting of neighbors. 
As soon as women are educated to understand, as a minority 
already does, that it is grossly rude to keep on one's headgear in 
a theatre, the last rag of excuse for "evening dress indispouable" 
will vanish. 

Yet I would foigive Mr Harris's feshionable patrons their 
class mumbo jumbo if only they would insist also on having the 
best of everything on the stage and in the orchestm — if they 
would rise up against those dreary deadly subscripdon-night 
Traviatas and Trovatores — if they would ask why more fuss 
has been made over the production of one Wagner opera in rich 
London than about the complete cycle of them which was given 
between the middle of May and the middle of Jime in compara- 


dvely needy Berlin — if they would ask why they are expected to 
put up widi clever accompanists and bandmasters whilst great 
conductors like Richter, Levi, and Facdo are extant, and pre- 
sumably open to sufficient offers — if they would ask why the 
eighteenth century fashions in scenic art should be maintained at 
Covent Garden any more than at the Lyceum — if — 

This is getting insufferably long: let me get back to the point. 
Before Mr Harris can procure money to perfect his opera house, 
there must be a pressure and a clamor behind him. Before he can 
etfecmally humble and terrify his artists (an operatic artist is by 
nature the most arrogant worm in existence) he must have more 
criddsms like mine to read to them in the greenroom. Before he 
can appear in the official gold chain and cocked hat of Chief 
Superintendent of Operatic and Dramadc Performances to the 
County Council of London (as Sir Augustus Harris, with a 
salary of ever so much a year) the Opera must be brought into 
much closer relation to the life of the people and the pn^ress of 
dramatic music. As a beginning for next year, I suggest the pro- 
duction of one quite new opera, by a composer under forty; 
freshly studied and carefully rehearsed performances of Don 
Giovanni and Le Nozze di F^aro; and the shelving of the old 
Bellini-Donizetti-Verdi stopgaps to make room for The Tamir^ 
of the Shrew, Tannhauser, Tristan, at least one of the four works 
from the Nibelui^en tetralogy, and an old work of some merit 
called Fidelio, of which Mr Harris may have heard in his youth, 
though of late years it seems to have escaped his memory. Faust^ 
Metistofele, Les Huguenots, and Lohengrin can be exploited as 
usual; but I confess I should not regret seeing Carmen, Les 
P^eurs de Perles, and even Romfo et Juliette handed over to 
the smaller theatres. Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini would also excite 
great interest now that his Faust has become so popular. 

Bless my soul 1 it is later than I thought: I must be off' to 
Bayreuth at once, or I shall be late for Parsifal on Sunday 
afternoon, /tuf wiederschreiten/ 



I August 1889 
Imagikb yourself in a state of high indignation at having paid a 
pound for admission to a theatre, and finding yourself in a dim 
freestone-colored auditorium, reminding you strongly of a lecture 
theatre by the steepness of the bank of seats and the absence of a 
gallery. But vhereas most lecture theatres are fan-shaped or 
circular, with a rostrum at the pivot or centre, this one is wedge- 
shaped, with a shabby striped curtain cutting off the thin end of 
the wedge, the different being that the parallel benches are 
straight instead of curved. Partition walls jut out at right angles 
to the wall of the building at intervals along the side, and break 
off short just in time to avoid getting between the people in the 
end seats and the stage. These walls, which do not quite reach 
the ceiling, are surmounted by branches of lamps in round 
globes, which shed a dun-colored light over the dun-colored 
house. You come prepared by countless photographs and en- 
gravings for the shape of the place; but this prevailing dun 
tone, and the prevailing absence of cushion, curtain, fringe, gild- 
ii^, or any gay theatrical garniture, with the steepness of the 
bank of seats (no pictures give you an adequate idea of this), 
make you inclined to think that the manager might really have 
touched up the place a little for you. But you have nothing else to 
complain of; for your hinged seat, though of uncushioned cane, 
is comfortably wide and broad, and your view of the striped 
curtain perfect The highly esteemed ladies are requested by pub- 
lic notice obl^ingly their hats to remove, and ^ose who have 
innocent little bonnets, which would not obstruct a child's 
view, carefully remove them. The ladies with the Eiffel hats, 
regarding them as objects of public interest not second to any 
workofWagner's,steadfasdydisregard the notice; and Germany, 
with all its martinets, dare not enforce discipline. You open jraur 
libretto, your score, your synopsis o? Uttmodfi, or other idiotic 
device for distracting your attention from the performance; and 
immediately the lights go out and leave you in what for the mo- 
ment seems all but total darkness. There is a clatter of cane seats 


turned do^n; a great rustle, as of wind through a forest, caused 
by tjoo skirts and coat tails coming into contact with the cane; 
followed by an angry hushing and hissing from overstrained 
Wagnerians who resent every noise by adding to it with an irri- 
tability much more trying to healthy nerves than the occasional 
inevitable dropping of a stick or opera-glass. Then the prelude 
is heard; and you at once recognize that you are in the most 
perfect theatre in the world for comfort, effect, and concentra- 
don of attendon. You inwardly exclaim that you are hearing 
the prelude played for the first time as it ought to be played. 
And here, leaving you to enjoy yourself as a member of the 
analytical public, I strike in with the remark that the perfection 
is not in the performance, which does not touch the excellenis 
of one which Richter conducted at the Albert Hall, but in 
the conditions of the performance. And I may say here, once 
for all, that the undiscriminating praise that is lavished on the 
Bayreuth representations is due to the ellect of these conditions 
before the curtain and not behind it. The much boasted staging 
is marred by obsolete contrivances which would astonish us 
at the Lyceum as much as a return to candle-lighting or half 
pries at nine o'clock. Mr Mansfield playing Richard IH in the 
dress of Garrick, or Mr Irving Hamlet in that of Kemble, would 
seem modem and original compared with the unspeakable ball- 
room costume which Madame Matema dons to &scinate Parsifil 
in die second act. The m^c flower garden would be simply 
the most horribly vulgar and foolish transformation scene ever 
allowed to escape from a provincial pantomime, were it not 
recommended to mercy by a certain enormous naiveti and a 
pleasandy childish love of magnified red blossoms and trailing 
creepers. As to the canvas set piece and Gower St sofe visibly 
pulled on to the stage with Madame Matema seductively re- 
posing on it, the steam from a copper under the boards which 
filled the house with a smell of laundry and melted axillary 
gutta-percha linings, the indescribable impossibility of the 
wigs and beards, the characterless historical-school draperies 
of die knights, the obvious wire coimection of the electric 


light which glowed in the ruby bowl of the Holy Grail, and the 
senseless violation of Wagner's directions by allowing Gume- 
manz and ParsiM to walk off the stage whilst the panoramic 
change of scene was taking place in the first act (obviously the 
absence of the two men who are supposed to be traversing 
the landscape reduces the exhibition to the alternative absurdities 
of the trees taking a walk or the auditorium turning round): 
all these &ults shew the danger of allowing to any theatre, 
however imposing its associations, the ruinous privilege of 
exemption from vigilant and implacable criticism. The perform- 
ance of Parsifal on Sunday last suffered additionally from Herr 
Grunii^ executing a hornpipe on the appearance of Klit^or 
with the sacred spear; but this was introduced not as an act of 
whimsical defiance, but under pressure of the desperate necessity 
of disentai^ling Parsifal's ankle from the snapped sirii^ on 
which the spear was presently to have fiown at him. 

Now if you, my Wagnerian friends, wonder how I can scoff 
ibns at so impressive a celebration, I reply that Wagner is dead, 
and that the evil of deliberately making die Bayreuth Festival 
Playhouse a temple of dead traditions, instead of an arena for 
live impulses, has begun already. It is because I, too, am an 
enthusiastic Wagnerite that the Bayreuth management cannot 
deceive me by dressing itself in the skin of the dead lion. The 
life has not quite gone out of the thing yet: there are moments 
when the spirit of the master inspires the puppets, and the whole 
scene glows into real life. From the b^inning of the Good 
Friday music in the last act, after the scene where the woman 
washes Parsifal's feet and dries them y/itb her hair — the moment 
at which Parsifal's true character of Redeemer becomes unmis- 
takeably obvious to the crassest Philistine globe-trotter pre- 
sent — the sacred fire descended, and the close of the repre- 
sentation was deeply impressive. Before that, a point had been 
brought out strongly here and there by individual artists; but 
nothing more. I shall return to the subject and deal more par- 
ticularly with the two casts later on, when I see the work again 
on Thursday. For the present I need only warn readers that my 
177 M 


censure of some of the scenic arrangements must not be allowed 
to obscure the fact that the Grail scene is unsurpassed as a 
stage picture; that the Brst scene, though conventional, is Hnely 
painted; and that the Spanish landscape, from which the magic 
garden suddenly withers (this is a capital effect), and the Good 
Friday landscape in the last act, are &ie pieces of stage scenery. 

2 August i88<» 
I WRITE under difficulties this week. I am not a good sailor. After 
being rocked in the cradle of the deep all night, I am at present 
being rocked in a Dutch railway carriage. I havebeen in it for five 
hours, and I assure you that if an repress were to come in die 
opposite direction on the same line of rails and smash die whole 
affair, Bassetto included, into pulp, I should make no unmanly 
complaints. After all, there is something grand in being able to 
look death in the fece with a smile of welcome; but I should 
enjoy it more if I could look life in the face without feeling so 

It is later in the day; and I think life is, perhaps, worth living 
after all. To drive up the Rhine fi^m Bonn to Coblenz, whilst the 
hours advance from afternoon to n^t, is better than a dozen 
press views of different schools of landscape. Cologne Cadiedral, 
too, has affected me. I am extremely susceptible to stained glass, 
and the old glass there transports me, whilst the new glass makes 
me long to transport it — with bricks. Yes, I confess I am enjoying 
the evening. I wish I were undressed and in bed, with twelve 
hours' sleep before me; I wish that when that terrific shower 
caught me in Cologne my mackintosh had not split up the back 
like a trick coat in a farce, throwing the younger posterity of the 
Three Kings into derisive convulsions. Iwish I knewwhether that 
very genial market woman really gave me, as she implied, an 
enormous bai^in for the sake of my beaux yeux (one and eleven- 
pence for half a pound of grapes and six little hard pears), or 
whether she swindled me; and I wish I could go back by Channel 
Tunnel. But still, for the moment, I do not regret having been 


wrapped up in umbrella cases, are very wideawake indeed: they 
are continually breaking into Lorelei, or some other popular air, 
only to break out of tt in quite British fashion the next moment. 
The men who are stretched on the two broad forms in the middle 
of the room, and on rows of chairs in the background, m^t be 
supposed asleep if a man could really sleep with the back of his 
neck pillowed on the handle of a travelling-bag, and his ocdput 
taking an impression of the catch. The seated slumberers, with 
their anns folded on the table and their faces hidden upon them, 
are probably less miserable, especially those who are not at 
marble tables. I tried this plan for a moment myself; but it was 
a failure: after killing ten minutes by the familiar process of mak- 
ing them appear ten hours, I have taken to writing as the best 
way I know of making time seem too short (ars longa, vita irevU, 
you understand). The fearfiilly weary woman with the fretful 
child has just got up and tried a walk, after addressing to me 
a remark which I do not understand, but which I accept as a 
commission to see that nobody steals her lu^age during her 

Pshaw! describmg a scene like this is like trying to draw one 
of the faces you see in a cloud. Already the noisy youngsters are 
gone, and the horizontal Bgures have transferred themselves, 
during their vertical intervals, to die trains which an official with 
a brutal bell and an undistinguished delivery enters to announce 
from time to time. There are but twelve of us now, including the 
two waiters, myself, and the child, who has, I am happy to say, 
left off worrying its mother to stare at the tremendous spectacle 
of Como di Bassetto writing his sparkling Star column, and look- 


ing more melancholy and jaded overitthanany infant's mind could 
have conceived. But hark! methinks I scent the morning air. 
The shunter's hom — a silly child's affair with a harmonium reed 
in it — takes a bustling tone as if it were paid so much a week 
to call the lark in time. A passing engine shews against the sky 
no longer as a bright gleaming mass of metal against a dead dark- 
ness, but as a black shadow on a dim grey galanty-sheet. And it is 
beginning to strike cold and raw! Ugh! What an idiot I was not 
to go on to Nuremberg; and what stupids they were to give me 
tickets via Bamberg! I feel that I shall slate something presently — 
Parsifal, probably. 

After all, Bamberg has its merits. It was worth coming round 
to see: that affeble young German gentleman at Cook's who sold 
me my tickets evidently knew a thing or two. How Bamberg 
manages to have so many rivers and bridges and yet to be on top 
of a group of hills I donotknow:itisonly another proof of the 
worthlessness of the commonplace that water will find its own 
level. TTie town has such an odd air of being built by persons 
widi artistic instincts, but with the temperament which usually 
earns for its possessor the tide of rum customer, that the climb up 
from the vegetable market, strong in marrows and carrots, imder 
the Bridge House, decorated with frescoes exacdy like the ones 
I used to produce on whitewashed walls with penny paints when 
I was a boy, and up to the Cathedral, freshened me more than 
all the naps I had snatched in the train from Wurzburg: more 
even than the delightfrilly musical German of the two young 
ladies en route for Kissingen, who were my fellow-travellers to 
Schweinfurth. Really a perfect ante-Gothic cathedral of the plain- 
est and most reasonable beauty, looking its best in the morning 


Glancing dirough Baedeker as I bowl along Bayreuthwards 
I perceive that the chief feature of the Wagner district is a great 
luiutic asylum. At Neumarkt an official railway colporteur 
thrusts into my hand a great red placard inscribed with a War- 
nung! (German spelling is worse than indifferent) against pick- 
pockets at Bayreuth. This is a nice outcome of Parsifal. In the 


town an enterprising tradesman offeis "the Parsifal slippers" at 
2in. JO the pair as "the height of novelty." It is a desperately 
stupid litde town, this Bayreuth. I was never in Bath but once; 
and then they were trying to make it exciting by a meeting of the 
British Association which I addressed for a solid hour in spite 
of the secretary's ut^ng me to be brief. Trying to make Bayreuth 
lively by a Wagner Festspiel is much the same thing. 

However, there are hills widi fine woods to wander through, 
and blackberries, raspberries, and other sorts of edible berries, 
about the names of which no two persons agree, to be had for 
the picking. On the top of the hill on which the theatre stands 
is a tower erected to the brave sons of Bayreuth who fell in 
187&-71. Except that the tower is round, and that there is no 
cotu'dy old lady to take toll and sell ginger-beer, you might, by 
a vigorous contraction of the imagination, fancy yourself on 
Leith Hili. The town contains a bust of Mr John Cobden Sander- 
son, with somebody else's name under it; also the most extra- 
vagantly and outrageously absurd fountain and equestrian statue 
in the world (of Margrave Somebody). Jean Paul Richter is much 
commemorated in the neighborhood. I am surprised to find 
how few faces I know here. Charles Dowdeswell, William 
Archer, Antoinette Sterling, Stavenhagen, Richrer, Carl Arm- 
bruster, Pauline Cramer, Rimbault Dibdin, and Benjamin R. 
Tucker of Boston, are all I can identify. It is desperately hard 
work, this daily scrutiny of the details of an elaborate perform- 
ance from four to past ten. Yet there are people who imagine 
I am taking a holiday. 

6 August 1889 
Tristan and Isolda comes off better than Parsifal by just so 
much as the impulse to play it is more genuine and the power 
to understand it more common. To enjoy Parsi&l, either as a 
listener or an executant, one must be either a fanatic or a philo- 
sopher. To enjoy Tristan it is only necessary to have had one 
serious love af&ir; and though the number of persons possessing 


this qualification is popularly exaggerated, yet there are enough 
to keep the work alive and vigorous. In England it is not yet 
familiar: we contentedly lap dose after dose of sudi pap as the 
garden scene in Gounod's Faust, and diink we are draining die 
cup of stage passion to the dregs. The truth is diat all the merely 
romantic love scenes ever turned into music are pallid beside the 
second act of Tristan. It is an ocean of sentiment^ immensely 
German, and yet imiversal in its appeal to human sympad^. 
At eight o'clock yesterday (Monday) I wondered diat people 
fiesh from sudi an experience did not rashly dedare iliat all 
other music is leather and prunella; shrug their shoulders at the 
triviality o(La cidarem; and denounce a proposal to try die effect 
of the fourth act ofl.esHuguenots as a diFectindtement to crime. 

The performance on Monday was an admirable one. After 
the scratch represeniatiotis we are accustomed to in London, at 
whidi half die atKndon of the singers is given to die prompKr, 
half to the conductor, and the rest to the character imperson- 
ated, the Bayreuth plays seem miracles of perfect preparedness. 
Nothing is forgotten; nothing is slurred; nothing on the stage 
contradicts its expression in die orchestra. At Covent Garden, 
where you cannot get an artist even to opoi a letter or make a 
sword thrust within four bars of the chord by whidi the baod 
expresses his surprise or his rage, a tithe of the thought and 
trouble taken here would work wonders. The orchestra, too, by 
certain methods of treating the instruments, produce many 
e0ect8 of which the tradition must be handed down orally; for 
most of them defy such directions as a composer can write into 
his score with any prospect of being righdy underetood. Every- 
diing that can be done by educated men thoroughly in truest is 
done: the shortcomings are those which only individual gifts can 

That shortcomings do exist may be inferred from the fact tha^ 
except at those supreme moments at which the Wagnerian power 
sweeps everything before it, it is possible for an ungrateful 
visitor to feel heavily bored. The reason is diat the singers, in 
spite of their formidable physique, thick powerful voices, and 


intelligent and energetic declamation, are not all interesting. 
They lack subtlety, grace, finesse, magnetism, versatility, delicacy 
of attack, freedom, individuality: in a word, genius. I remember 
how Carl Hill sang the part of Mark when I first heard that second 
act: how we were made to imderstand the simple dignity, the 
quiet feeling, the noble restraint, the subdued but penetrating 
reproach of the old king's address to the hero whom he had loved 
as a son, and in whose arms he surprises his virgin wife. Herr Betz 
gave us hardly any of this. He turned his head away, and lifted 
his hands, and sang most doleiuUy: nobody was sorry when 
he had said his say and was done with it. Only a few months 
ago, at the Portman Rooms, I heard Mr Grove, who makes no 
pretension to the eminence of Herr Betz, sing this scene with 
much truer expressioru But when Hill sang the part Wagner 
was conducdi^; so perhaps the comparison is hardly fair to 
Betz. In the third act again Vogl surpassed Charles 11 in 
point of being an unconscionably long time dying. Wagner's 
heroes have so much to say that if they have not several ways 
of sayii^ it (Vogl has exacdy two — a sentimental way and 
a vehement way) the audience is apt to get into that temper 
which, at English public meetings, finds vent incriesof "'Dmel" 
For the fuller a poem is, the duller is an empty recitation of it. 
The honors of the occasion were carried off by the women. 
The men shewed that they had been heavily drilled and were 
under orders; but Frau Sucher and Fraulein Staudigl played as 
if the initiative were their own. Frau Sucher, indeed, is not a 
good subject for leadii^-strings. Her Isolda is self-assertive and 
even explosive from beginning to end: impetuous in love, 
violent in remorse, strong in despair. Frau Sucher has the singer's 
instinct in a d^ree exceptionally keen for Bayreuth: she, like 
Frau Matema, can fall back sometimes on methods of expression 
solely musical. Fraulein Staudigl's Brangaena was excellent. If I 
were asked to point to the page of music in which the most 
perfect purity of tone would produce the greatest effect I think I 
should select the warning of Brangaena from the tower top to the 
lovers in the garden. I cannot say that Fraulein Staudigl quite 


LONDON MUSrC IN 1888-89 
satisfied me in diis indescribable episode; but I can praise her 
warmly for not having ^len much further short of perfection 
than she actually did. The orchestra, conducted by Felix Motd, 
played with an absolute precision and a touch of austerity 
which reminded me of Costa, who, obsolete as his tastes were, 
and quickly as he has been forgotten, deserves this reminiscence 
for having kept his foot down so long on slovenly and vulgar 
orchestral work. So much so that I sometimes wish he were alive 
again; though there was a time when — musically speaking, you 
undeistand — ^I heartily wished him dead. Curious, that Tristan 
and Isolda in Bayreuth should have set me talking about Costa, 
of all men that ever were! 

Perhaps the reason why these Bayreuth artists interest me so 
much less than they ought to, is that they make no mistakes, and 
I am consequently deprived of an irritant to which I have become 
accustomed in LondotL Whatever it is, I sighed more than once 
for ten minutes of Covent Garden. Not, of course, for the Covent 
Garden orchestra, or the conductor, or the cuts, or the stalls and 
boxes, or the late hours, or the superficialities, or the general 
cloudiness as to the meaning of the stage business, or the point- 
less Italian verse. But I could have borne a stave or two from 
Jean de Reszke and Lassalle with a tranquil mind. It is true that 
Hen- Gudehus understands the part of Walther much better 
than De Reszke; he acts with himior and intelligence, and 
sings by no means without fervor and power. Moreover, he is 
venerable; whereas our Polish fevorite is a mere sprig of forty 
or thereabouts. Again, Reichmann gives a mote characteristic 
portrait of the cobbler master-singer of Nuremberg than Lassalle; 
one, too, much fuller of suggestive detail. And thoi^ his voice 
is much the worse for wear, there is, here and there in his 
compass, still a rich note or two; and he was able to finish the 
part bravely, though the last himdred bars or so evidendy cost 
him a severe efforL But in musical charm neither Gudehus nor 
Retchmaim touched De Reszke and Lassalle, though at every 
other point they far surpassed diem. I wish some man of science 
would provide critics with a psychology capable of explaining 


how the same man may sing through an opera like a genius and 
act through it like a country gentleman; or, conversely, why 
he may interpret the book like a student and philosopher, 
and sing through the score like an improved foghorn. The 
first case prevails in London and makes Covent Garden frivol- 
ous: the other monopolizes Bayreuth and makes the Festival 
Plays heavy. The performance was an arduous one, the third act 
lasting two hours. Richter conducted; and this is as good a place 
as another to say that he is by far the freest, strongest, and most 
gifted conductor of the three, though he left Parsifal to Levi (it 
is an open secret that Wagner at first offered the work to the 
Gentile conductor), and does not always take the trouble to 
secure the feuldess precision attained by Motd in Tristan. I have 
heard nothing played here with such an effect as the prelude to 
the third act; and the judgment, the good husbandry, and — at 
the right moment — the massive force with which Richter got 
the maximum of effect in the scenes of crowd and mmult were 
great feats of generalship. The stage management was above 
praise: how much it did to make the situations intelligible 
could only be adequately felt by those who had seen Die 
Meistersii^er in theatres where nothing but a few of the simpler 
incidents seem to be thoroughly understood by anybody 
concerned. The final scene was one of the most imposing 
I have ever seen on the stage; and here, as in the previous 
acts, the effect produced was not the result of money freely 
lavished, but of care conscientiously taken. The waltz was charm- 
ing because it was a dance and not a ballet (I wish I could 
persuade Stewart Headlam that ballet is the death of dancing). 
Anyhow, the scene at Bayreuth was no more like that at Covent 
Garden than a picture by Teniers is like an aquareUe by Dubufe. 
Of the principal artists, besides those of whom I have already 
spoken, the most distinguished was Friedricks, who played 
Beckmesser like a finished comedian. Frau Staudigl again shewed 
considerable intelligence as an actress in the part of Magdalena; 
and Fraulein Dressler's Eva was a good Eva as Evas go, though 
she crowned Walther at the end with an appallingly Hat imitation 



shake. Hofinuller was compaiadvely bright as David The remark- 
able completeness and depth of the impression produced shewed 
the wisdom of performing great works without mutilation, at 
whatever tax on the time and endurance of the audience. The 
flood of melody throughout riie work astonished the few survivors 
of the sceptics who originated the brilliant theory that Wagner 
devoted his existence to avoiding anything of a musical nature 
in his compositions. 

The place is by this time full of English. I shall retreat to 
Nurembeig after ParsifaL 

This Parsifal is a wonderful experience: not a doubt of it. The 
impression it makes is quite independent of liking the music or 
understanding the poem. Hardly anybody has the slightest idea 
of what it all means; many people are severely fatigued by it; and 
there must be at least some who retain enough of the old habit 
of regarding the theatre as an exception to the doctrine of Omni- 
presence, to feel some qualms concerning the propriety of an 
elaborate make-believe of Holy Communion, culminating in the 
descent of a stuffed dove through a flood of electric radiance. Yet 
Parsifal is the magnet that draws people to Bayreuth and dis- 
turbs their journey thence with sudden flts of desperaK desire to 
go back again. When you leave the theatre after your first Parsifal 
you may not be conscious of havii^ brought away more than a 
phrase or two of leitmotif vcan^eA with your burden of weari- 
ness and disappointment. Yet before long the music begins to 
stir within you and haunt you with a growing urgency that in a 
few days makes another hearing seem a necessity of life. By that 
time, too, you will have been converted to the Church and St<^ 
Guilds' view that the theatre is as holy a place as the church and 
the function of the actor no less sacred than that of the priest. 

The second performance given during my stay at Bayreuth was 

much better than the first. It is sometimes difficult for a cridc to 

feel sure that an improvement of this sort is not inhis own temper 



rather than in what he is listening to; but as I found Klingsor 
decidedly worse than before and was conscious of one or two 
points at which Fraulein Malten as Kundry fell short of Frau 
Matema, the difference must have been objective, since, had it 
been merely subjective, die apparent changes would all have been, 
like my mood, from worse to better. Malten has several advan- 
tages over Matema in playing Kundry. Not only is she passably 
slim, but her long thin lips and iinely-tumed chin, with her wild 
eyes, give her a certain air of beauti Je £abk. Only an air, it is 
true, but enoi^ for a willing audience. Her voice, though a 
little worn, is bright; and her delivery is swift and telling. Alto- 
gether, one may say that her individuality, though it would not 
starde London, is quite magnetic in Bayreuth. Frau Matema, the 
rival Kundry, is not perceptibly lighter than she was when she 
sang at the Albert Hall in 1877. She is comely, but matronly. 
Still, as Kundry is as old as the hills no complaint need 
be made on this score; indeed, die part is one which a very 
young woman would play worse than a mature one, unless 
she were a young woman of extraordinary genius and pre- 
cocity. At moments Matema's singing is grand, and her acting 
powerful: at odier moments she holds up the comer of an absurd 
scarf as if it had descended to her from a provincial Mrs Siddons. 
Fraulein Malten also clings to a scarf rather more than is good for 
the sobriety of spectators with an untimely sense of fun. But no- 
body laughs. It is a point of honor not to laugh in the Wagner 
Theatre, where the chances offered to ribalds are innimietable: 
take as instances die solemn death and fimeral of the stuffed swan; 
the letting out of Parsifal's mcks when his mailed shirt is taken 
off and his white robe pulled down; and the vagaries of the sacred 
spear, which either refuses to fly at Parsifal at all or else wraps its 
fixings round his ankles like an unnaturally thin boa constrictor. 
Nevertheless, nobody behaves otherwise than they would in 
church. The performance is regarded on all hands as a rite. Miss 
Pauline Cramer, if she had no deeper feeling than a desire to 
oblige the management, like Montariol at Covent Garden, would 
hardly have volimteered for the silent part of the youth whose 



is a long time since I dipped into Huxley and Foster; and all that 
comes back to me of their teaching is that they disabused me of 
my original impression that my stomach was a sort of hollow 
kernel, situated exacriy in the centre of my body. On considera- 
tion I recollect that it is shaped like the bellows of a bagpipe, 
and is all to one side; but which side, or how high up or how low 
down, I cannot for the life of me remember. Hence the caution 
with which I offer my opinion. 

Dr Morell Mackenzie returns to his old and apparendy reason- 
able contention that children should be taught to sing early, and 
that the training of the voice need not be discontinued whilst the 
voiceof theboyis breaking into that of a man. He also righteously 
protests against the height of the English pitch; but in doing so 
he makes a slip. "Nearly all singers" he says "are in fevor of 
lowering the pitch. The sole exceptions are, I believe, the con- 
traltos, whom a high pitch does not affect so much as it does 
others. I know of one jusdy celebrated contralto who produces 
an extraordinary effect by her low E. If the pitch were altered 
this vocal feat would no longer be so wonderfiil; and it is natural, 
therefore, that this lady should wish the present state of things to 
continue." Dr Morell Mackenzie, to say the least, has not decom- 
posed much brain tissue over this point Obviously a lowering of 
the pitch, which eases the high B's and C's of the sopranos, 
makes the low E's and F's of the contraltos and bassos more 
difficult. AstrifBamante can only be relieved at the expense of 
Sarastro. If Dr Mackenzie had written that the lady objected 
because the change would render her ^vorite vocal feat impos- 
sible he would have been nearer the mark. 

The Musical Times has had the happy idea of extracting from 
Edward Fitzgetald's letters his notes upon music On the whole, 
Fitz was a sound critic; by which you will please understand not 
that his likings and dislikings in music were the same as yours, 
but that he knew one sort of music from another, and was in- 
capable of speaking of the overtures to Mozart's Zauberflote, 
Beetfioven's Leonora, and Rossini's William Tell as if they were 
merely three pieces cut off the same roll of stuff by three different 


tailors. His walking out of the house after the first act of Les 
Huguenots because it was "noisy and ugly" was rash but per- 
fectly consistent with his remark on the C minor symphony "I 
like Mo2art better: Beethoven is gloomy." The two critidsms 
bring to light the whole secret of the extraordinaiy sensation 
made by such men as Byron, Beethoven, and Meyerbeer in the 
first half of the century. Beethoven was the first to write gloomy 
music for its own sake. Meyerbeer was the first opera composer 
who had the courage to write persistendy lugubrious music for 
its own sake. This was quite a different thing from writing a 
funeral march because Saul was dead, tromboning a terrible 
invocation to the divinit^ du Styx because a heroine had to 
descend into the shades, or in any of the old tragic ways purifying 
the soul with pity or terror. Mozart's Don Giovanni was the first 
Byronic hero in music; but the shadows cast by him were so full 
of strange reflections and beautiful colors that such lovers of 
beauty as Fitz were not alarmed. But when Beethoven came, the 
shadows were black and gigantic; the forms were rough and 
bold; the Mozartian enchantment was gone. Instead of it there 
came a sense of deep import in the music — of, as Fitzgerald says, 
"a Holy of Holies fer withdrawn; conceived in the depth of a 
mind, and only to be received into the depth of ours afrer much 
attention." The translator of Omar Khayyim did not like the 
black shadows; and though he recognized that Beethoven had "a 
depth not to be reached all at ont^" and was "original, majesti<^ 
and profound," yet he liked the no less deep and more luminous 
Mozart better. As to Meyerbeer, who had the lugubriosity of the 
new school without its profundity, Fiiz simply walked out of the 
house at the end of the first act, and thereby missed the discovery 
that the arch tnfler could rise magnificendy to the occasion when 
his librettist oflkred it to him. 

His worst shot at the music of later days is his description of 
Carmen as "an opera on the Wagner plan," a description which 
shews that his notion of "the Wagner plan" was entirely super- 
ficial. But his dismissal of Bizet's opera as containing "excellent 
instrumentation, but not one new or melodious idea through xht 


LONDON MUSrC IN 1888-89 
irfiole," though it seems absurdly severe, is the natural deliver- 
ance of a man who speaks from that zone of Parnassus in which 
Handel has his place. Fitz appears to have lived on Handel; and 
Cannen is the very smallest of small beer to a palate accustomed 
to even Ads and Galatea, much more Samson, Messiah, Israel 
in Egypt, or Jephtha. But it would never do for Press critics to 
contemn in this &shion every ferce for not being a tragedy. By 
the way, Fitz saw Cannen at Her Majesty's in 1880; and of the 
singers he says that "only one of them could sing at all; and she 
sang very well indeed iTrebelli her name." This shews that he 
knew good singing &om bad, in spite of his fc^eyish habit of 
comparii^ every sii^;er with Pasta. From the purely musical 
point of view, Trebelli was certainly the best of all the Carmens. 
Tomorrow the Promenade Concerts at Covent Garden begin. 
Arditt is to conduct Glancing at the iirst program: Emani 
invohmi, II segreto, Un £ se ben^ and SO on, I feel that Ardid 
will be in his element. But ^lat about the classical nights, on 
which the prestige of these concerts always dependsi" I do not 
mean to imply that Ardid cannot conduct a symphony: he can 
conduct anything, and come off without defea^ thanks to his 
address, his experience, and his musical instinct But symphony 
is not his department He knows the Leonora overture, wl^ch he 
has so often conducted at the opera; and I give him credit for the 
deepest respect for Mozart's Jupiter symphony, to which he is by 
this time pretty well accustomed. But Beethoven's symphonies 
are not his aflair. I remember once seeii^ him conduct die slow 
movement of the Ninth symphony. He smiled; he beat away 
genially; he checked the entries of die instruments vigilandy; 
occasionally he ecstatically rose and sank in his characteristic 
manner like an animated concerdna set on end; but a skilled 
reader of faces could see that he was profoundly puzzled, and 
could not for the life of him catch the swing of the movement 
This was not to be wondered at, since 'he had begun the first 
section by briskly beadng four in a bar, whereas e^ht in a bar, 
at a modeiaK pace, would just about have got him right The 
second section, in three-four time, a ravishing strain which 



soapy, if I may be pennitted to use such an expression. Signer 
Foil followed widi I Fear no Foe; and I had just made a note that 
his voice was entirely gone, when, in singing The MiUwheel for 
an encore (everybody was encored), it came back again and 
relieved him of the arduous task of interpreting the 
ballad by fecial expression alone. Eloquence of feature 
is one of Signor Foil's stroi^ points. In the waltz from Die 
Meistersinger I heard no glodcenspiel. However, as I was not 
just then very iavorably situated it is barely possible that it may 
have been tinkling beyond my hearing. Nildta — the young lady 
spurns a prefix — gave us Ernani involami, which she sang well. 
Yet if good teachii^ were common, and an artistic atmosphere 
prevalent in British homes, every third girl in England would be 
able to do nearly as much. Ntkita has been well taught: she does 
not scream her hi^ notes nor make shots at them; and she can 
imitate feeling sympathetically. She is too young, I hope, for her 
expression to be more than imitation. I was astonished to hear so 
sensible an artist as Mr John Radcliffe play a ridiculously old- 
&shioned set of variations for the flute on Irish airs. Surely he 
does not seriously believe that any human being nowadays cares 
for such nonsense as the flrst variation on The Minstrel Boy. 
The composer named in the bill was Sauvelet. I wonder is this 
a flautist named Sauvelet whom I heard more than 20 years ago 
on a concert tour with Madame de Meric Lablache and a tenor, 
then comparatively unknown, named Edward Lloyd. The last 
thing I heard was the quartet from Rigoletto, the success of 
which proved the wisdom of my advice the other day to the 
managers to make a feature of concerted music. I came away 
as the orchestra, abetted by the Coldstream Guards, began a 
tremendous assault and battery on Carmen. Arditi was in high 
feather, and shewed his histrionic ability by the cleverness with 
which he put on that touch of the ringmaster which has been 
expected from conductors at promenade concerts since Jullien's 
time. He was expansive, paternal, enthusiastic, and liberal with 
die most extravagantly superfluous leads to his veterans, most of 
whom could have done their work equally well in the dark. 
193 N 




16 August 1889 
This dead season, at least, enables the unfortunate Londoner to 
hear orchestral music every night for a shillii^ and brings into 
use two-thirds of our stodt of opera houses. We have three of 
them: Covent Garden, Her Majesty's, and Drury Lane. The 
space occupied by them is of enormous value; and I presume 
somdiody pays the rent of that space to the ground landlord. 
Yet the theatrical work done by the three could be done equally 
well at any one of than. When melodrama is raging at Drury 
Lane, Covent Garden is idle. When Mr Harris goes to Covent 
Garden for the opera season, Drury Lane closes. Her Majesty's 
remains closed all the time, except when somebody is seized with 
an insane impulse to lose a few thousand pounds by providing the 
deadheads of London with a fortnight or so of bad opera. Will 
some actuarial or mathematical reader kindly add up the square 
feet of space occupied by the three big houses, and divide liie 
result by the total number of performances given in them during 
the year? If the result does not prove that we are bx more ex- 
travagant in the matter of space dian they are at Bayreuth, I wilt 
eat the paper or even the slate on which the calculation is made. 
Be it remembered, too, that the extravagance in space is nothing 
as compared to the extravagance in value; for the site of Her 
Majesty^s alone must be worth half a dozen streets in Bayreuth. 
Yet when we complain of the inferiority of our theatres, we are 
always told that the necessi^ for economy of space makes a 
reasonable model impossible. 

The calculation might be carried on tt) include all the promin- 
ent places of entertainment in London: the Albert Hall, the 
Globe, Olympic, Opera Comique, Shaftesbury, Novelty, and St 
James's theatres would of course be in the list Here again it 
would certainly be found diat a mudi smaller number of houses, 
and consequendy of square feet of valuable space, would suffice 
for the work actually done. This is sheer waste of money pro- 
duced by competition. Now, every intelligent man of business 
hates competitive waste. He longs to abolish the superfluous 




Talking of the children under ten, I see that my friend Archer, 
in this week's World, returns to the Protection of Children Act 
by printing a dialogue which took place at Bayreuth between 
himself and some inconceivable idiot who defended die Act on 
the ground that Miss Mabel Love was a victim of mental over- 
pressure, and generally served himself up on toast for immediate 
consumption by the eminent critic, who is unfortunately in favor 
of in&nt exploitation. Archer, in iact, has become a sort of 
theatrical Dr Bamardo, eager to snatch children from the gutter 
and raise them to the culture and affluence of tinsel dryland. The 
choi(», he says, is "between the sty and the stage." The homes of 
the children are such that the stage pittance "converts misery into 
comparadve comforL" Withdraw it, and "Back and side go bare, 
go tare: Foot and hand go cold." Archer thinks that the demand 
for theatre diildren is so immense, and so small the supply of 
comparadvely respectable children whose parents are quite willing 
to make a few extra shillings by them, that managers have to 
undertake the education of "sty children!" 

But, even if it were so, what would be the effect on the earn- 
ings of the family? Archer is confident that the employer would 
not cut down the father's wage; and he is r^t: the employer 
might, on the contrary, have to raise the proffered wage in order 
to tempt the &ther to work at all. If I lived in misery in a sty, 
with my children naked as to their back, thdr sides, and thdr 
feet — that is, dressed in aprons alone — I should have formed a 
habit of living on, say, from nothing a week to ei^t or nine 
shillii^, accordii^ to luck. And I should earn those shillings by 
brutalizing drudgery. Now, if some liberal-minded householder, 
overlookii^ the probability of my panner in the sty being by 
force of circumstances an imcleanly and dishonest person, were 
to offer her half-a-crown a week for charing, I would certainly 
not thereupon offer to accept a lower wage from my employer: 
rather would I take out the half-crown in six or seven hours' relief 
from my detested toil. And if by any extraordinary accident I had 
a pretty or shapely child, and that diat child put on its apron and 
called on Mrs John Wood to explain that it was in want of an 


, and that that lady benevolently clothed it, fuie- 
tooth-combed it, introduced it to Miss Morleena Kenwigs and 
the rest, and gave it five shillings a week, I should prompriy 
retire from active industry altogether, feeling that I was improv- 
ing myself by withdrawing from degrading and ruinous toil, and 
at the same time elevating my child in the manner so eloquently 
set forth by William Archer. 

Archer would of course still be able to say quite logically 
that this was at least better than the former conditions, in whidi 
the child never escaped from the sty. The manager, he would 
aigue, will take care that the child is well and happy. Is he not 
"directly interested in keeping his little troop physically fit?" 
Must they not "be bright, alert, and well disposed if they are to 
do their work properly and please the public?" Just like the child 
acrobat of the drcus, with his well brushed hair, his physically fit 
muscles, his rosy complexion, and his cultivated mind 1 Just like 
the charming barmaid, who must be bright, alert, and well dis- 
posed for fourteen hours a day, if she wishes to keep her place! 
How much better than being on the streets! The beauty of this 
sort of logic is that if the system went on unchecked to the point 
of makii^ children bear the whole burden of breadwinning in the 
proletarian community. Archer would always be forced to cry 
"Go on" and to oppose those who cried "Stop." You first put 
your children between the devil and the deep sea; and then, on 
philanthropic grounds, you push them l» the devil to save them 
from drownii^. 

Briefly put, Archer's aigument in favor of in&nt exploita- 
tion is that it is a remedy for poverty. Briefly put, the reply is that 
it isnt Slighdy amplified, the reply goes on to say that even if it 
were a remedy it would be a surpassingly dastardly one. Specially 
applied to the mistaken assumption that the theatre children are 
"sty" children, the reply is that the income of a sty never rises, 
because the head of it never works one hour more than absolute 
necessity compels him to. Specially applied to the correct assump- 
tion that the children are of the Kenwigs class, the reply is that 
the asserdon that their board school education and drill and their 


LONDON MUSrC IN 1888-89 
home life are less healthy for them than theatrical training and 
n^t work, is an interested one, the commonsense objections to 
which have been evaded by the "sty" theory. Comprehensively 
applied to the contention that the managers' interests are identical 
with those of the children, the reply casts off its logical form and 
expresses itself through a symbol formed by applying the thumb 
to the tip of the nose and throwing the extended fingers into 
graceful action. 

19 August 1889 
I WAS gready grieved on Saturday at Her Majes^s to see that 
out of the 100 orchestral players announced, only 71S — even in- 
cluding 2p Scots Guards — were in their places. The other 24 are, 
I fear, seriously ill, or ih^ would hardly have failed Mr Leslie on 
so important an occasion. I trust we ^all see the poor fellows 
back at their posts before the season is over. 

The house looked better than I expected; for, if the truth must 
out, I was at the private view on Thursday, and the reason I 
said nothit^ about it here was that the "Old London" decoration 
seemed to me to destroy the gaiety of the house and to turn an 
imposing interior into a ghastly, zinC'-colored travesty of an 
open-air scene. However, on Saturday, with the finishing 
toudies added, with the floor and the muddy sandbanks under 
die ordiestra hidden by a crowd of promenaders too closely 
packed to promenade, and with powerfid lights everywhere, 
matters were greatly improved; and I am now prepared to admit 
that the decorations serve their turn well enoi^h. Signor Bevi- 
gnani looked much pleased with himself, and got on fairly well 
until he attempted the shepherds' dance, the storm, and the 
thanksgiving finale from the Pastoral Symphony (compendiously 
described in the program as "scherzo"), when, I am sorry to say, 
he covered himself, and the orchestra, with humiliation. The 
band, instead of holding the harmonies, attacked them anyhow, 
and let the tone tail oiFat once; and Signor Bevignani, under the 
erroneous impression that this sort of kid-glove trifling with 



spondents, and on the general resources of my intellect. In busy 
times I often wonder whether the gendemen who take the trouble 
to write to me about musical affeirs ever have their breath taken 
away by the calmness with which their information is, without 
the slightest acknowledgment, appropriated and retailed in this 
■ column as an original product of the vast factory in which my 
brain machinery works up the raw material of my experience. 
Let me explain to them, however, that when their information 
arrives, I sometimes know already, and sometimes know better. 
One epistolarian who went to the "classical night" at Covent 
Garden on Wednesday, found that the audience liked Herr 
Friedheim's pianizing better than Mozart's G minor symphony. 
Indignant thereat, he waited in the hope that the thunders of The 
Star would avenge Mozart. But he was disappointed; for I did 
not go to that concert. Why? Because I foresaw that the sym- 
phony would, in the words of my correspondent, be "hardly 
cheered at all." A Mozart symphony at a promenade concert 
never is cheered except by a few mistaken devotees, who are 
jealous for the supremacy of the classical masterpieces. But your 
even Christian wisely declines to cheer, voting the thing as vapid 
as ilat soda water. Give him, he says, something rousing, some- 
thing warm and alive, something with substance and entrails in 
it: a rattling selection from Doris, or a solo by Mr Howard 
Reynolds that makes his diaphragm vibrate. And he is quite 
right His is honest love of music sincerely seeking a genuine 
gratification. As such it is far more respectable and hopefiil than 
the "culture" that pretends to relish the insipid classic it thinks it 
ought to like, and with which it is inwardly utterly disappointed. 
So then, cries Culture, the low nature of the creature is con- 
fessed at last. Como di Bassetto is a Philistine: he thinks classical 
music insipid, and prefers comet solos! Good Mr Culture, be 
honest. It is you and such as you with your hypocrisies and 
affectations that keep sham classical performances in countenance. 
Do you suppose that when the orchestral parts of a Mozart 
symphony are placed before a body of players who can fiddle off 
the notes without hesitating, there is nothing more to be done 



dsi carefully writes a stage direction which clearly suggests a 
very happy effect, and the attempt to carry it out on the stage 
utterly iidis to realize that effect, am I to be told that the failure 
is exactly what the composer meant, because he, too, had to put 
up with it? 

Wagner was in a dilemma at Bayreuth. Early in his career he 
had been disheartened by the inanity of the conventional per- 
formances of Mozart's instrumental works; and he had been 
hugely delighted with the way in which the orchestra of the 
Paris Conservatoire executed Beethoven's last and greatest 
symphony. In Mozart's case nothing had come down concerning 
^e composer's own manner of conducting except a tradition that 
he was extraordinarily exacting in point of expression, and that 
the orchestras of his time found it hard to play some of his 
allegros fast enough to please him. Furthermore, his scores ran- 
tain very scanty indications of how they are to be dealt with. In 
Paris, on the other hand, the Conservatoire orchestra kept alive 
an exhaustive treatment of the Ninth Symphony, formed, in the 
first instance, by three seasons' dogged rehearsal under Habeneck. 
Warned by these striking instances, negative and positive, of the 
value of tradition, he naturally set great store by the establish- 
ment of an exceptionally authoritative one for his own works. 
He not only filled his scores with marks of expression, but con- 
trived at last to build a special theatre for typical performances 
of his lyric dramas. At that theatre accordingly the artists are in 
possession of a mass of authentic tradition, the value of which is 
considerable in the prevalent scarciiy of original interpretative 
talent. But the difHculty is that the tradition includes all the 
shortcomings as well as the excellencies of the representations 
personally superintended by W^ner. Every practical artist 
knows that such shortcomings are, under existing circumstances, 
inevitable, even when cash does not run short, as it did at the 
first Bayreuth Festival in 1876. It is therefore perfectly legitimate 
to appeal to the directions in Wagner's score as against the 
Bayreuth traditional practice, and perfectly unreasonable to call 
my omniscience in question for doing so. 



Reverting for a moment to the question of cornet perform- 
ances, I wish the musical ambition which that instrument un- 
deniably inspires in the breast of amateurs were better guided 
than at present. I am not now speaking of the drawing-room 
amateur, who ought promptly to be converted into a lethal 
chamber amateur, but to the members of the brass bands of 
the volunteer corps, Salvation Army, the police force, and the 
musicians who play in the clubs of working men, or accompany 
them in demonstrations. There is no ardstic limit to the ambition 
of a wind band: it may discourse as fine music as any orchestra, 
and in as worthy a manner. I do not see why we should not in 
time have in each of our parks 3 wind band at least a hundred 
and twenty strong, pla3ring transcriptions of the works of the 
greatest masters, and educating the people out of their present 
meek submission to trashy quicksteps and music-hall tunes. 

I imagine that the difficulty of getdng good bandmasters is a 
more formidable obstacle to improvement than the costliness of 
good instruments; for I notice that even in pretentious volunffier 
bands the men do ndt seem to have been shewn how to make die 
most of such instruments as they have. The notes produced by 
the pistons are often horribly out of mne, because the tuning 
slid^ have not been adjusted, the guilty performer not knowing 
t^ie use of them. In processioning and demonstrating bands, 
execrable villains with brass instruments are allowed to "vamp": 
diat is, improvise iheir parts by feeling for a few of the simplest 
diatonic harmonies, and grunting them out on the off-chance of 
their fitting in. During a march in the key of G they play F 
natural and C in alternate bars, occasionally hastily trying B flat 
when seized with a momentary mi^ving that all is not well. I 
have not space to enlarge on the subject this week; but I think 
I shall return to it some of these days; for the brass band is really 
the music of the masses. I remember once making an impassioned 
speech from the balustrade of Trafelgar Square with a band 
playing the Marseillaise in four different keys close behind me. 
That is the sort of thing that makes a critic thoroi^hly in earnest 
about his work. 




24 August 1889 
The managers at Her Majesty's kindly sent me a ticket for 
Thursday night to hear a young lady of nine play the violin. I 
prefer not to be an accomplice in the exploitation of young ladies 
of nine, so I did not go until the following night, when classical 
doings were afoot Signor Bevignani's orchestra has settled 
down into the most charming drawing-room orchestra conceiv- 
able at a promenade concert. It has no force; but it is polite 
and delicate, and can put in the touches for wood wind and 
homs into a Mendelssohn symphony or a Mozart accompani- 
ment with the gentlest of breaths. It was, of course, not within 
ten tons of the weight of the Zauberflote overture; but not at 
Bayreuth itself was the Meistersinger prize song more sweedy 
accompanied. M. de Pachmann also played very prettily. The 
whole atmosphere was pre- Wagner, reminding one of Mendel- 
ssohn and Spohr and the Prince Consort. Also, perhaps, of 
Poole and Lincoln and Bennett I was glad, for the honor of a 
once femous name, when Miss Marie Tietjens, whom I had not 
heard before, sang Vedrcd carina quite unexceptionally, with a 
voicesdil fragile,andhardlyquite formed yet in themiddie,butof 
remarkably pure and pleasant tone and perfect intonation. To Mr 
Holman Black, who attempted the serenade from Don Giovanni, 
and came off rather nervously, I will just say that he has learnt 
the song from an edition in which the words are wrongly set, a 
very easy thing to do; for none of the English editions, as far as 
I know, except Novello's, contain the restorations of Mozart's 
phrasing to be found in Breitkopf and Hartel's great edition. The 
lines "Tu che il ^(ucchero parte in mej:[o core," are now really 
out of the question as Mr Black sings them. He will find, too, 
that the eifect of the last bar of the song is not in the B, C, D 
which he makes so much of, but in the lower D. Fashionable 
baritones can make nothing of the song, because theysacritice the 
middle of their voice to the top. When a composer uses the con- 
trast between the upper and lower D — one of the most effective 
of vocal contrasts with a completely cultivated bass voice — they 



artistic self-respea by condescending to take him in is incalcul- 
able. Just consider for a moment how insanely impossible it is 
that a wreath as big as a cart-iviieel could be the spontaneous 
offering of an admiring stranger. 

If these peisuasions do not avail, sterner methods must be 
taken. The public can protect themselves by oi^;anization. There 
is — or was — an insdmdon called the Playgoers' Club. Some day 
I shall get up an afiiliated Society of Hissers and Mooters, whose 
mission it will be to attend "first appearances" in force, and hiss 
all bogus demonstradons until the sight of a basket of flowers 
becomes more dreadful to a debutanK than any fear of a cold 
reception could possibly be. However,! shall not leave my Society 
plunged for ever in the barbarism from which hissing and hootii^ 
survive. It is a savage thing to assail a possibly nervous artist with 
fierce sibilladons and booings. At a well-conducted public meet- 
ing a gentle, but very expressive murmur of "Ohl ohl" is quite 
sufficient to bring to his senses a speaker who says or does any- 
thing unbecomit^. My club shall be trained to "Ohl Ohl" like 
cooing doves at a first offence. Only persistent wrong-doing will 
be dealt with by hissing, or, in the last extremity, by brickbats. 

But to return to Mrs Shaw. I cannot say that her performance 
astonished me. Indeed, when I had conquered my first impulse 
to laugh at the oddity of this novel prima donna gravely whistling 
Ardid's n Bado to the orchestral accompaniment, I began to 
entertain serious thoughts of going into die business myself. I 
am by no means an exceptionally gifted whistier; but at the very 
first trial I found that I could get within a sixteenth of a semitone 
of B natural, which is apparendy Mrs Shaw's highest note. 
As to // Bac'io, with its pretty but easy and trumpery bravura, 
who could not whistle that? Now if Mrs Shaw had whisded the 
waltz from Gounod's Romeo, or the Shadow Song from Dinorah, 
there would have been something in the feat The audience 
seemed hugely amused and delighted; but unless Mrs Shaw can 
gready surpass her performance of Saturday, any demand her 
success may create for lady whistlers is sure to bring forward a 
dozen equally brilliant performers. 



LO>fDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 
scoring of the last verse wants grandeur of tread: it does not 
march; and much of the effect is lost in consequence. Madame 
Belle Cole — well, I hardly like to say why Madame Belle Cole's 
voice is less free and resonant than it was. But how is the import- 
ance of physical training for singers to be duly insisted on if 
critics shrink from personalities? The training of a champion 
wrestler, who is nothing if not eighteen stone, is one thing; the 
training of a vocalist is another; but both have, within certain 
limits, power to choose their own weight. For instance, no human 
beii^ need we^h more than fourteen stone at most unless he or 
she pleases. I remember Tietjens as Fidelio and as Margaret; and 
I cannot help askii^ myself whether mischief such as she did to 
the poetry of the lyric drama by for years associating its heroines 
with monstrous obesity is never to be rebuked or even nodced 
by a suffering public Loth as I am to condenm a lady to drink 
nothing for two months except six gallons of boiling water per 
diem, yet there are circumstances which justify this extremity. I 
venture desperately to blurt out to Madame Belle Cole that if she 
continues to grow as she has grown since the middle of the 
season, she will, in a few years, be quite fat. And fat spoils 
artists. Look at Hans Richter, the greatest orchestral conductor 
we know. When he first came here with Wagner, twelve years or 
so ago, he was only half as wide as he is now, but he was twice as 
effective. Everybody whispers that there is a falling off of late 
years. Alas! there is, on the contrary, a putting on, and that is 
the secret of the growing impatience and incompleteness of his 
achievements. Macadam designed a little ring, through which 
he declared that a stone must be small enough to pass before it 
was fit for paving. The entrance to our concert platforms should 
be guarded by a hoop of standard diameter — say six feet to begin 
with — through which all the artists should be compelled to paSs 
successively before taking part in the performance. 

A new-comer at this Wednesday concert was the pianist, 
Madame Roger-Miclos, who played Beethoven's comparatively 
youthful C minor concerto: a curious selection for such an 
occasion. She is a swift, accurate, steely fingered player, who can 



the exponents of musical opinion irom one end of Europe to die 
other. It is not for Madame Wagner to say where or by whom any 
of Wagner's works shall be performed, except that she may 
reasonably insist on having, besides her royalties, some guarantee 
that the performances will be of sufficient merit to maintain the 
commercial prestige of the copyright. The rest is between us and 
our artistic consciences. 

The whole tendency to make Bayreudi an occidental Mecca 
ought to be resisted tooth and nail in England. The Ei^;lish people 
have litde enough part in fashionable opera in London, with its 
guinea stalls; but Covent Garden is a people's palace compared 
widi Bayreuth, to wimess a single performance at which costs a 
Londoner at least five days' absence and £,\i out of pocket. Such 
luxuries concern the ordinary Englishman about as much as the 
Criterion five-shiUii^ dinner concerns the docker on strike. 
Madame Wagner ou^t to disestablish Bayreuth, and uige all 
the Wagner societies to get Parsifal performed in their own 

I see by a stray par^raph that Blondin has an orchestrion, or 
high-class automatic barrel organ, to which he loves to listen 
whilst it grinds out hundreds of operatic selections. Once upon 
a time I looked on these machines with a placid contempt whidi, 
like that of a Low Church divine for the theatre, excluded even 
the curiosity necessary to stimuhte me to take steps to hear one 
play. At last I happened to dine with a man who, after dinner, 
asked me would I like some musia I secredy mistrusted his in- 
tentions (the most unlikely sort of men will sometimes pull out 
a comet or concertina, or call upon you for the accompaniment 
to When other lips), but, of course, I politely said Yes, as he ex- 
pected me to. "Will you have Dinorah, or nadonal airs.-"' said he. 
I hastily declared for Dinorah. Then he took what looked like a 
thick roll of wail paper into the next room. Presendy Dinorah 
started, and he came back with an air of modest eladon. The 
machine really performed very handsomely. It phrased with 
almost affected elegance, and made pauses and ritardandos and 
accelerandos in the most natural manner. The tone was sweet and 



and of Balfe thus let loose, he retired widi the greatest gravity, 
followed by the deafened tenor, who kept his countenance admir- 
ably, and looked quite pleased and amiable. 

Besides Mr Reynolds, no less than three virtuosi performed. , 
There was Mrs Shaw, who again gave us II Bado, with fuller tone 
than on the iirst occasion. Mrs Shaw's main secret is that she 
whistles in tune. It is true that there are not many public per- 
formers who habitually sing and play falsely enough to justify 
one in saying that they are out of tune; but bellween that and beii^ 
in tune lies generally the whole difference between a very ordinary 
singer and a very successful one. I remember once going to a 
music hall to see a very clever juggler. Before the juggler came 
a gendeman who sang a song which made brutal fun of a par- 
ticularly painiul divorce case then proceeding. But he sai^ in 
tune, and with a quick sense of the lilt and swing of tfie refrain. 
After the ju^ler came a lady who ridiculed the higher educa- 
tion of women by presenting herself in a chintz sunhonnet and 
spectacles and singing an inane composition entided Dr Mary 
Walker. She, too, could sing in tune in a high ringing voice, with 
engaging impetuosity of rhythmic movement. Her name, if my 
memory serves me aright, was Bellwood, and the gentleman was 
bight Macdermott. They were the only two artists whose songs 
did not bore ray neighbors, by whom, strange to say, their suc- 
cess seemed to be attributed to their vulgarity. This was obvi- 
ously a mistake: they had no monopoly of vulgarity. They had 
a monopoly of singing musically (comparatively speaking), and 
that was the true secret of their success. 

M. Tivadar Nachez, the violinist at Her Majesty's, has gained 
his success in quite the opposite way to Miss Bellwood. He plays 
some easy affair like Raff's cavadna with the air of a man who 
is making a masterly conquest of untold difficulties, the members 
of the orchestra, who know better, looking on the while with 
mingled feelings. An encore follows, and he thereupon plays a 
bravura piece as fest as he can bow it. He has, of course, very 
litde time to spend in aiming at the exact pitch of the notes; but 
he seems well satisfied w^ien he gets within half a semitone of the 



opera in three acts, by B. C. Stephenson and Alfred Cellier, 
entided Dorothy, which has been played to crowded houses at 
the Lyric Theatre, London, 950 and (sdll playing) in the pro- 
vinces 788 times." This playbill, I should add, was thoughtfully 
decorated with a view of the theatre showing all the exits, for use 
in the event of the performance proving unbearable. From it 
we further learnt that we should be regaled by an augmented and 
[ \ powerful orchestra; that the company was "Leslie's No. i"; that 

; I C, J. Francis believes he is now the only hatter in die county of 

I ' Kentwho exists on the profits arising solelyfrom the sale of hats 

1 j and caps; and so on. Need I add that Archer and I sat bursting 

' I with expectation until the overture began. 

I cannot truthfully say that the augmented and powerfU 
orchestra proved quite so augmented or so powerful as the 
composer could have wished; but let that pass: I disdain the 
cheap sport of breaking a daddy-long-legs on a wheel (butterfly 
is out of the question, it was such a dingy band). My object is 
rather to call attention to the condition to which 788 nights of 
Dorothying have reduced the unfortunate wanderers known as 
"Leslie's No. i." I submit to Mr Leslie that in his own interest he 
should take better care of No. i . Here are several young persons 
doomed to spend the flower of their yeais in mechanically repeat- 
ing the silliest libretto in modem theatrical lirerature, set to music 
which, pretty as it is, must pall somewhat on the seven hundred 
'' and eighty-eighth performance. 

■ 1 As might have been ecpected, a setded weariness of life, an 

■ : utter perfiinctoriness, an unfathomable inanity pervaded the very 

souls of "No. I." The tenor, originally, I have no doubt, a fine 
[ young man, but now cherubically adipose, was evidently count- 

ing die days until death should release him from the part of 
Wilder. He had a pleasant speaking voice; and his affebility and 
forbearance were highly creditable to him under the circum- 
stances; but Nature rebelled in him against the loathed strains of 
a seven hundred-times repeated rfile. He omitted the song in the 
first act, and sang Thou^ Bom a Man of High D^;ree as if with 
the last rally of an energy decayed and a willing spirit crushed. 


L0>fDON MUSIC IN 188&-89 
The G at the end was a vocal earthquake. And yet methou^t 
he was not displeased when the inhabitants of Greenwich, coming 
fresh to the slaughter, encored him. 

The baritone had been affected the other way: he was thin and 
worn; and his clothes had lost their lustre. He sang Queen of My 
Heart twice in a hardened manner, as one who was prepared to 
singit a thousand times in a thousand quarter hours for a sufficient 
wager. The comic part, being simply that of a circus clown trans- 
ferred to the lyric stage, is better suited for infinite repetition; 
and the gendeman who undertook it addressed a comic lady 
called Prisdlla as Sarsaparilla during his interludes between the 
haute-^cole acts of the prima donna and tenor, with a delight in 
therarearomaof the joke, and in the roars of lau^ter it elicited, 
which will probably never pall. But anything that he himself 
escaped in the way of tedium was added tenfold to his unlucky 
colleagues, who sat out his buffooneries with an expression of 
deadly malignity. I trust the gendeman may die in his bed; but 
he would be unwise to build too much on doing so. There is a 
point at which tedium becomes homicidal mania. 

The ladies fared best. The female of the human species has not 
yet developed a conscience: she will apparently spend her life in 
artistic self-murder by induced Dorothids without a pang of 
remorse, provided she be praised and paid regularly. Dorothy 
herself, a beauteous young lady of distinguished mien, with an 
immense variety of accents ranging from the finest Tunbridge 
Wells English (for genteel comedy) to the broadest Irish (for 
repartee and low comedy), sang without the slightest effort and 
widiout the slightest point, and was all the more desperately 
vapid because she suggested artistic gifts wasting in complacent 
abeyance. Lydia's voice, a hollow and spectral contralto, alone 
betrayed the desolating effect of perpetual Dorothy: her figure 
retains a pleasing plumpness akin to that of the tenor; and her 
spirits were wonderftil, all things considered. The chorus, too, 
seemed happy; but that was obviously because they did not know 
any better. The pack of hounds darted in at the end of the second 
act evidently fidl of the mad hope of finding something new 


going on; and their depres^on, '«4ien they discovered it was 
Dorothy ^;ain, was pitiable. The S.P.Cj^. should interfere. If 
there is no law to protect men and women from Dorothy, there 
is at least one that can be strained to protect dogs. 

I did not wait for the third acL My companion had several 
times all but fallen into the pit &om sleep and heaviness of spirit 
combined; and I felt as if I were playing Geofiiey Wilder for the 
millionth night. As we moped homeward in the moonlight we 
brooded over what we had seen. Even now I cannot think with 
composure of the feet that they are playii^ Dorothy toni^t 
again — will play it tomorrow — next year — next decade — next 
century. I do not know what the average lifetime of a member of 
"No. i" may be; but I do not think it can exceed five years from 
the date of joining; so there is no question here of old men and 
old women playing it with white hair beneath their wigs and 
deep furrows underlying their make-up. Doubdess they do not 
die on the stage: they first become mad and are removed to an 
asylum, where they incessandy sing. One, two three: one, two, 
three: one, two, three: one, two, be wi-eyes in, ti-I'm oh, Ph-ill 
is, mine, etc, until the King of Terrors (who ought to marry 
Dorothy) mercifully seals their tortured eare for ev^. 

I have always denounced die old-fashioned stock company, 
and laughed to scorn the theorists who fancy that they saw in 
them a training school for actors; but I never bargained for such 
a thing as this 789th performantx of Dorothy. No; it is a criminal 
waste of young lives and young talents; and though it may for a 
dme make more money for Mr Leslie, yet in the end it leaves him 
with a worn-out opera and a parcel of untrained novices on his 
hands when he might have a repertory of at least half a dozen 
works and a company of fairly-skilled artists able to play them at 
a day's notice. We exclaim at the dock directors' disregard of 
laborers' bodies; but what shall we say of the managers' dis- 
regard of artists* souls. Ti, rum d ty, rum d ty, rum d ty, rum 
m m: dddy turn dddy turn tiddity, turn! Heavens! what hum U 
Be wi-eyes in — Maledicdonl 




of Penzance. The rebtionship of the carbineers to the policemen 
is too obvious to be worth dwelling on; but there are other ties 
between the two phases of musical &rce. The extremely fiamy 
song in the second act, Nous avons, ce matin, tous deux, is closely 
allied to When I First put this Uniform on in Patience; and tfie 
opening chorus Deux par deux ou l>ien par trots is firet cousin to 
Carefully on Tiptoe Stealing in H.M.S, Pinafore. 

I cannot, however, suppose that Mr Gilbert's objection to the 
use of his libretto was founded on an idiotic desire to appear 
"original." The people who regard the fiincdon of a writer as 
"creative" must surely be the most illiterate of dupes. The pro- 
vince of the ficdonist is a common which no man has a right to 
enclose. I cultivate that common myself; and when someone 
claims to have grown a new plant there, different from all the 
rest, I smile sardonically, knowing that the selfeame plant grows 
in all our plots, and grew there before he was bom. And when he 
discovers in my plot a plant which he has raised in his own or 
seen in his neighbor's, and thereupon cries out "Stop thief! Stop 
plagiarist! Stop picker of other men's brains!" I only smile the 
widelier. What are brains for, if not to be picked by me and the 
rest of the world? In my business I know me and te, but not 
meum and tuum. 

Mr Gilbert's book as played at the Avenue is much nearer in 
spirit to the original than Henry Leigh's. Leigh's lyrics some- 
times flowed more smoothly than Mr Gilbert's; but his libretti 
were silly and raflish: the fun too often degenerated into tedious 
tomfoolery: his feeble and fleshy whimsicalities are inferior in 
grit and sparkle to even the most perfunctory paradoxes of Mr 
Gilbert. His Royal Horse Marines, commanded by Marshal 
Murphi, and his brigands Jacksheppardo, Dickturpino, and 
Clauduvallo, only shew how French wit of no very high order 
can yet be degraded by translation into English fim. The horse- 
collar bar-loafing buffoonery is not in the least like the genuine 
Meilhac and Hal^vy opera Bouffe, in which the characters, pri- 
marily persons of engaging culmre, reasonableness, amiability, 
and address, are made irresistibly ridiculous by an exquisite folly, 



number in the act. At the Avenue it is omitted, die part being 
taken by a gentleman who presumably cannot sing, and who 
seems to have derived his ideas of character acting from the 
antics of Lurcher in Dorothy. Undaunted by Mr Gilbert, he 
"gagged" the line about the sundries in his accounts, and gagged 
it so senselessly that Mr Gilbert would only have pitied him and 
passed on. Under these circtmistances the act was even less worth 
waiting for than the third act of a &rcical performance usually 
is. Years ago, somewhere or other, I saw Mr Edward Royce, 
of Gaiety tame, double a brigand's part with that of Antonio 
very cleverly indeed. I wish be bad been at the Avenue on 

Falsacappa was gigantically impersonal by a Mr Hallen 
Mostyn, who sings so noisily that he cannot hear what key the 
orchestra is playing in, and, so, though his ear is sound enough, 
occasionally sings in a diiferent one. The whole company did 
this at one place (where a cut had been newly restored) for about 
15 bars in the first act Serve them right, say I, for scamping their 
work in die provinces widi their cuts! The vocal forces were 
economized by knocking the parts of Campotasso and the car- 
bineer captain into one; but as a set-off the Princess's part was 
made worthy of a prima donna by the aforesaid transfer of Gloria- 
Cassis's song to her. Fragoletto was originally a woman's part: 
such lines as Nous avons pris ce petit homme: II est tout petit, 
mats en somme, etc, refer to the feminine proportions of the 
hero. However, the opera is all the better for the substitudon 
of Mr Frank Wensley, who lilts Falsacappa/ voici ma prise 
very prettily. Miss Delaporte is, I have no doubt, a capital 
Fiorelia, now that she has had time to recover from the fetigue 
which a litde oppressed her and veiled her voice on the first 
nighL Fiorelia, by the way, should not be announced in the bill 
as the sister of Falsacappa. Young women do not present their 
portraits to their brothers. 



machine thunder is as unimpressive as the noise of the thousand 
footsteps in Oxford St 

4 October 18S9 
It is all but thirteen years since I went to the Lyceum Theatre 
one November evening to hear the Carl Rosa Company perfonn 
for the first time an opera by Mr Fred Cowen entitled Pauline 
(sumamed Deschapelles, of course). I was not liien the lenient, 
almost foolishly goodnatured critic I have since become; and I 
am afraid I rather dropped into Mr Cowen over his opera. At 
that time it was the fashion to say that History repeats itself. At 
present it is the fashion to point out that ttdoes not; but, however 
that may be, the tact remains that on Tuesday I received an 
invitation from Major Cockle to attend the dress rehearsal of his 
new opera The Castle of Como at the Opera Comique the same 
evening at half-past seven. Happening to have engagements of 
an unmusical nature for the first night, I eagerly seized the oppor- 
tunity of escaping it, and so took care to be in the theatre punctu- 
ally at a quarter to eight. 

When I entered, I was much puzzled to find a huge orchestra 
thinly scraping through a minuet, which the composer was con- 
ducting in a state of the wildest excitement, occasionally stopping 
for a frantic altercation with the stage manager, who declared — 
as managers will — that it would be "all right tomorrow," an 
assurance with which the composer-conductor, mindful of the 
great truth that "tomorrow never comes," altogether declined 
to be satisfied. Claude Melnotte and Pauline were dancing the 
minuet conscientiously in a dingy apartment, whilst Monsieur 
Deschapelles slept on a sofa. Presently, to my utter confusion, 
Pauline said she was going to marry her father; and Claude re- 
proached her on the ground of a prior attachment, contracted 
when they were children together. M. Deschapelles then rose, 
and, declaring that he fiad overheard every word of their con- 
versation, said, "You are a noble fellow" to Claude, and mag- 
nanimously withdrew in his fevor and blessed the union of the 


young people. These transactions, conducted in language of 
wasting dreariness, drove me to appeal to my neighbor as to 
whether the opera was over, or whether they were taking the last 
act first. He told me it had not yet begun; that this was only 
a curtain-raiser; and that the exdted conductor was Mr Milton 
Wellings. I gazed with inexpressible awe at the illustrious com- 
poser of Some Day; for I know as well as M. Dumas JiU how 
much merit it takes to make even a small success. And I admire 
a man who is as desperately anxious about a hopelessly dull little 
piece to which he has written a dance tune as Wagner was about 
the i87<5 Nibelungen performance at Bayreudi. Sangfioidcznhe 
acquired: earnestness is the gift of the gods. 

Here let me respectfully offer Mr Milton Wellings and the 
management a piece of advice which they will probably not take. 
Let them cut out the dialogue and the old man, and turn the 
curtain-raiser into a masque consisting either of the minuet alone 
or of a set of dances which Mr Milton Wellings can add. In die 
Jubilee year a masque was performed at Gray's Inn, with a suc- 
cess from which no manager has yet taken a hint The dancers 
were amateurs, but the p^ormancs was interesting and pretty: 
much more so than the pedantries of the modem ballet, which 
presents the art of dancing at the very deepest depths of degrada- 
tion. Pious people who are not ashamed to confess that they have 
never been to a theatre think the ballet indecent Would it were! 
Just as a burglar, having some sort of radonal human purpose in 
him, is a more hopeful subject than an idiot; so indecency is 
better than the blind stupidity which subsdtutes proficiency in 
a set of technical forms and feats for the attainment of beauty and 
significance, which are the true life of all art forms that really are 
alive. The ballet indecent! Why, it is the most formal, the most 
punctilious, ceremonious, professor-ridden, pig-headed solemnity 
tiiat exists. Talk of your fugues, canons, key relationships, single 
and double counterpoint, fifty orthodox resolutions of the chord 
of the minor ninth and the rest of it! What are they to the en- 
trechats, battements, ronds de jofrAes, arabesques, Hivations, that 
are the stock-in-trade of the art of theatrical dancing? The man 


who said that die British bishop is unique had never met a ballet 
master or the president of an academy of music I have often 
wondered that the essential identity of mental attitude presented 
by them has not opened Stewart Headlam's eyes to the fact that 
an ordinary ballet is no more a true dance than an ordinary 
Church of England service is a true act of woiship. 

Fortunately, public opinion is sound upon this matter. At one 
period of my chequered career I made a point of seeing every 
ballet produced at the Alhambra in order to smdy one of the most 
' remarkable artistic instimtions of the time. The virtuosity of the 
principal dancers was the result of a training of a severity and 
duration imknownamong singers since Porpora taught Caf^relli. 
Even the rank and file were skilled to a degree unknown in opera 
choruses, and by no means common in orchestras. The grouping 
and coloring were thought out by real artists. A ballet called 
Yolande, produced about twelve years ago, when Aurelia Pertoldi 
was dancii^ her best, reached a standard of technical perfection 
which would have been received with astonished acclamation in 
any other art Yet nobody of any intelligence cared two straws 
about the Alhambra. The brainless artificiality of the ballets was 
too much for the public People went and stared; but the quality 
of the applause was always poor. I gave tt up at last as a hopeless 
af^ir; and though it was not I who set fire to the old Alhambra, 
I stayed in Leicester Square nearly all night watching it bum 
without a pang of regret Then, in 1S85, came Excelsior at Her 
Majesty's, the delightfiil dance in Mary Anderson's revival of A 
Winter'sTale,aiid the Gray's Inn ma5que,all5uccessfiil in waking 
up the pubhc love of dancing. In Excelsior two dances caught 
the public: one executed by men in heavy boots and spurs; the 
other a simple piece of shawl waving and handkerchief fluttering 
(I could have done it myself) by Miss Kate Vaughan, at whose 
success the unappreciated pirouettists and entrechatists looked 
on as indignandy as an oiganist who can write tonal fi^es looks 
on at the success of Mr Milton Well — . Bless my soul! that 
reminds me: I have forgotten all about The Casde of G>mo. To 




Mr Penley is not credible as a member of Ae police force. How- 
ever, it is traditionally correct to have a very short policeman and 
a very tall soldier. Mr Solomon's tunes are neat, duent, and lively; 
and when he interpolates a stave of The Girl I left behind me the 
dramatic critics recognize it and hail it as a high contrapuntal 
achievement. But when Mr Penley, in the middle of a concerted 
piece, ridiculously warbled a line b> the tune of Come into the 
garden, Maud, the allusion was, I noticed, too subtie: nobody 
laughed. I was sorry to see how new methods of education are 
sweepii^ old jokes into oblivion. The girl in the piece was called 
Penelope solely to give the soldier an opportunity of saying "I 
love Penelope," and so provoking the policeman to retort, in 
the words of Lindley Murray, "Penelope is loved by me." Will 
it be believed that Mr Penley actually says "SAe is loved by me"? 
I should have demanded my money back on the spot had I not 
been ^isdnated by Miss Alma Stanley's perfect intonation, ex- 
cellent delivery of her words when singii^ and the thorough and 
hearty care she took of her part. The ghost business — always a 
weak point in this funny old-fashioned farce — is much too long. 
I have left myself too little space to Sf>eak of my trip to Camber- 
well on Monday to hear the South London Choral Association 
songfiilly illustratii^ a lecture on Mendelssohn by Mr F. G. 
Edwardes, organist of the St John's Wood Presbyterian Church. 
I cannot say that the part-songs had any relevance to the lecture 
beyond the feet that Mendelssohn composed them; and I should 
like to ask Mr Edwardes rather pointedly whether it is not time 
to leave off that Mendelssohn petdi^ which is as essentially 
inappredadve as it is childishly uncritical and unintelligent. 
Surely we have suffered enough of it at the hands of Mr Bennett 
in the Daily Telegraph and Musical Times without having it 
perpetuated by younger men. But my main purpose in mendon- 
ii^ the occasion was to proclaim the excellence of Mr Venable's 
choir. The quality of sound produced was admirable: all tone 
and no noise; and its volume was so well under control that Mr 
Venables showed some disposition to shew it off, like an organist 
with a new swell shutter. I have no doubt, from the way Mr Gate- 




call it disillusioned. 

And now, will Mr Palmer or Dr Morell Mackenzie, or some 
other expert, tell us what has happened, physiologically, to De 
Reszke's voice? The aerial upper register of the baritone is now 
the thick middle register of the tenor; and the change has been 
from less to greater power and vigor, and not i^e converse, as 
the chaise from baritone to tenor seems to have suggested to 
Mr Palmer's critic Was the gain of an extra fourth at the top of 
his compass an incident in his physical growth, like the appear- 
ance of an eye tooth? Did the middle of his tenor voice, which 
was so much lighter and purer when it was the top of his baritone 
voice, change from a short reed or falsetto register to a long reed 
or chest one? Finally, can anyone explain how liie trick is done? 
I am a baritone myself; but my disposidon is so romandc that I 
have kept off the lync stage because nearly all the romandc parts 
are written for tenors. Sdll, if De Reszke and Mario raised them- 
selves from baritones to tenors, why should not I? 

Though I loathe nothing more than the commonplace that llie 
truth always lies between the two extremes (truth beii^ quite the 
most extreme thing I know of), I venture to suggest that the 
balance of advantage lies with singets who can use both rasters 
eflfectively, and who have intelUgent instincts of self-preservadon 
to prevent them from forcing the long reed production above its 
safe limit. Mr Sims Reeves and his son, and Maas in his later days, 
are samples of Mr Palmer's system. So, in speaking, was Charles 
Mathews. They all saved their voices from coarsening, and from 
wear and tear; but they also sacrificed dramadc vigor to coddle 
their falsettos, and were insufferably lackadaisical except where 
the appropriate expression of the music fell within the limits of 
their method. 

I heard Mathews play Used Up when he was so old that his 
throat was externally like wrinkled parchment; and I was struck 
with the perfect l^hmess and preservation of his voice. But in 
the last act, where Sir Charles Coldstream lifts up the cellar tra^ 
and sees the man whom he has, as he thinks, murdered,a vehement 
exclamadon is required; and this Mathews could not manage, just 




a man sings a low note in his natural voice and then another high 
up in imitation of a woman. This high voice is what used to be 
called voce £ testa or head voice, before the names got so appal- 
lingly confused as they are at presenL A more agreeable and 
subde, but still very distinct contrast of registei^ may be heard 
whenever Madame Patey sings Beethoven's Creation's Hymn. 
The laryngoscope has proved that the old tradition of three 
voices, giving the sensation of coming from the chest, the throat, 
and the head respectively, had, in the registering mechanism, a 
foundation of physiological fact; but as to how many registers 
can be made, how many should be made, whether any at all ought 
to be made, whether the old names should be retained, which was 
which, and what practical conclusions the siting master should 
draw: on all these points there exist not only dtflerences of 
opinion, but feuds — deadly, implacable vendettas — ^in which 
each party regards all the others as impostors, quacks, voice 
smashers, ignoramuses, rascals, and liars. 

Somehow, musicians are amazingly ill-condidoned contro- 
versialists. They are almost as bad as scientific men : not quite so 
dogmatic or so insolent perhaps, but sdll equally void of good 
humor and sense of social solidarity with their opponents. Just 
as, in my boyish days, I hardly ever met a schoolmaster who 
seemed to know that he was as much bound to be polite to me 
as long as I behaved myself as to my father as long as he paid 
the bill, I seldom read a musical paper now without wondering 
whether the writers are as unmannerly in private life as they are 
in print. It is my schoolmaster over again. He had a nodon that 
his whole duty was to know, or pretend to know, more about 
Euclid or Vii^l than I; and the result was that his obvious 
limitadon, incompleteness, and lack of social charm made me 
resolve to shun the mathemadcal and classical influences which 
had apparendy made him what he was. And the musical papers 
seem to think that their whole duty is to know more about music 
than anybody else. If some unfortunate amateur calls a tuba a 
bassoon, or a sonata a symphony, they write of and to him as 
Colonel Newcome (a pestilential humbug) spoke of and to the 



LO>fDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 
I repeat, an unmitigated nuisance. It prevents serious 
plays from being acted, and consequently prevents them from 
being written. And according to the uncontradicted statement 
made by Mr George Conquest die other day to the Pall Mall 
Gazette, it has led him to force East End manageis to cook their 
plays to suit his social prejudices and plass interests by inducing 
them to alter plays in which the villain of the piece is represented 
as a gentleman by condition. 

If he prohibited bad plays as well as good ones, and impartially 
reduced stage dialo^e to the inanity of drawing-room conversa- 
tion, there might be some excuse made by shortsighted and 
conventional people for his censorship, on the ground that in 
depriving the thoughtful of their theatre he also deprived the 
vicious of theirs. But he never objects to a thoroughly immoral 
play. Mind: I do not say that I should approve of a censorship if 
it did forbid immoral plays. But since such prohibition is the sole 
ground on which the advocates of "ofpcial lit^nsing" defend it 
and declare its necessity, I hasten to point out once more what 
has been already pointed out again and again; /.e. that you can 
perform any number of farcical comedies which from begiiming 
to end turn upon the stage humors of adultery and prostitution; 
but you cannot perform Shelley's Cend; and if you were to spend 
a considerable capital in preparing one of Ibsen's great works, 
you would do so at the risk of being forbidden to proceed at the 
last moment by the licenser. 

This state of things is not the fault of Mr Pigott: it is inherent 
in the institution of censorship. On thewhole, if Mr Pigott were 
not a little better than his function, he would hardly have been 
tolerated so long. But at best he must either virtually abolish his 
office (except as to salary) by licensing everything indiscrimin- 
ately, which would be neither honest nor, considering the moral 
responsibility improperly put upon him, reasonably possible; or 
else he must, to the best of his judgment, license the plays which 
seem to him tolerable and forbid those which he deems objection- 
able. Certainly, if I were censor, this is what I should do, short of 
abdicating in favor of someone who would be no less a nuisance 



limited to follow even the most incoherent melodrama, and panly 
of people Tv4io like to sit smoking and soaking in lazy contempla- 
tion of something that does not gready matter. What astonishes 
a theatre-goer at a music hall, or an educated woman when she 
realises one of her most cherished dreams by at last persuading 
either her husband or the man-about-towniest of his friends to 
take her to the London Pavilion or the Empire, is the indifference 
of the audience to the performance. Five out of six of the "turns" 
are of the deadliest dulness: ten minutes of it would seal the fate 
of any drama; but the people do not mind: they drink and smoke. 
Under tiiese circumstances the standard of interest, much less of 
art, is low, the strain on the management or the ardsts to keep it 
up being of the sHghtesL It is rising slowly, in spite of the in- 
fluence of that detestable product of civilization, the rich man's 
son, who now represents a distinct class, technically described as 
"masher," and growing with the accumulation of riches in idle 
hands produced by our idiotic industrial system. If left to develop 
freely, our best music halls would in course of time present a 
combination of promenade concert, theatre, and drcus (minus 
the horses); that is, you would have a good band, decent concert 
singers, acrobats, jugglers, ballets, and dramatic sketches, all in 
the same evening. And the refreshment department will probably 
develop also, as 'Arry develops into the noble Juggins, and 
begins to prefer the aerated bread shop to the public-house. 

Of course the theatre monopolists fear that this would ruin 
most of them. But it does not follow; though if it did we should 
allow them to be ruined just as complacendy as we allowed the 
stage coach proprietors to be ruined by the introduction of rail- 
ways. The manager whose patrons prefer a variety entertaiimient 
can give them what they want by tiuning music-hall manager. 
The houses whose patrons prefer the drama have simply to stick 
to the drama, and they will not be ruined. When a theatre has 
been playing down as nearly as possible to the music-hall level, it 
will lose the tail of its audience when the music halls are set free 
from their present mediaeval shackles; but it can, and ought to, 
recruit its thinned benches by playing up to the level of the 


thoi^htflil people who no'w avoid the theatre because the life and 
morals of the stage are a century behind those of the educated 
•world. All these results are at present hindered by absurd mono- 
polies, censorships, and protective regulations which are enough 
to make Adam Smith turn in his grave, so completely do diey 
defeat their professed publi; ends. 

Just consider this one fact A newspaper or book containing 
lewd matter can do a thousand times more harm than any in- 
decent song or dance. Yet there is no censor of the Press. Nothing 
but a sense of public responsibility, and the prospect of being 
called to account before a jiuy, prevents the proprietors of The 
Star from turning it into a broadsheet of obscene anecdotes. 
Yet die editor would never dream of allowing such pleasantries 
into his columns as the official licenser of plays hall-marks for 
public use on the stages of the Avenue, the Criterion, the Gaiety, 
and the Comedy TTieatres. I shall not insult the public intel- 
ligencs by again drawing the moral. 

I Novemher 1889 
This week, dear reader, we shall have some nice little reviews of 
recent musical publications. But do not on that account resolve 
too hastily to skip me: the subject has its lively side, unless you 
happen to be on the premises whilst the reviewer is trying them 
over. Publishing enterprise must have recognition and encourage- 
ment — ^when it deserves them. For I must add that one or two 
eminent firms have seen in the simplicity of my character only 
something to practise upon with lays that they would not impose 
on a City Father after a heavy dinner. 

Here are a couple of samples of the sort of thing sent to me on 
die off — the exceedingly off— chance of my having been bom 
recendy enough to describe them respectively as "a graceful and 
effective drawing room song, compass F to G," and "a dashing 
nautical ballad, with swinging chorus, suitable for a smoking 
concert, and within the resources of a robust baritone." 



Are they all foi^otien? 

Moments that are pasti* 

Have they fled for ever? 

Moments that are pastL 

A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ah ! 

Only come again 

As you came to me that day 
When the sun was on the river 

And the scent was in the hay. 
A-a-a-a-a-a-a-3-a-a-ah ! 

Only come again 

As you came to me that day 
When we sat and talked togedier 

As true lovers only may. 

Here is the other — 

Dead! Menl No! secrets tell 

Mer! Cy! But! scant we shew 
Young or old we seize their gold 

Then up the plank they go 
Jolly good luck to our flag so grim 

Emblem of deeds we do 
Millions of wealth, long life and health 

To the Vam-Pire's crew, 

The last verse explains that "England, hearing rumors of blood- 
shed and marauding, dispatched a cruiser ably armed and manned, 
commanded by a Briton (by danger nothing daunted) to mete 
outvengeance with relentless hand. They fell in with the schooner 
and brought her soon to action. The combat raged with fiiry 
fierce and long. The pirates, taken captive, were hanged beside 
their leader, who never more will sing his gruesome 
Dead men no, etc., etc., etc" 

My readers will hardly believe that such things have been thrust 
upon my notice; but diey have. I do not think I have deserved it. 



At any rate I decline to put myself in danger of hell fire by callii^ 
the people who admire such trash by their proper name. 

Messrs Novello have treated me far more handsomely. And 
yet there is one thing in their contribution which I must declare 
inferior to the Vam-Pire's Crew, because there are unquestion- 
ably idiots in the worid who like the Vampire; but no human 
being ever liked a Church Cantata written to order for one of 
our provincial Festivals, Here it is, in the femiliar Novcllo buff 
and brown cover, price two shillings. The words, I blush to ss^, 
are by a brother critic. LisKnl 

Rest thee, my Saviour, rest Thy head meetly. 

Angels watch over Thee sleeping so sweetly. 
No dream alarm 
With thought of harm 

Till night and its shadows have vanished completely. 
Take it away, Messrs Novello, take it away. Bum the whole 
edition, lest any choral society should waste its time on rhyme- 
jingling that never once rises to the level of blasphemy, and on 
music-mongering that is enough to make every intelligent smdent 
in England forswear counierpoint. I suppose the stewards of the 

Musical Festival thought they were encouraging English 

music by ordering a cantata; and I am bound to assume that my 
colleague of the largest circulation in the world is honestly and 
infatuatedly unconscious of how detestable his verses are from a 
literary point of view, and how their essential triviality must jar 
on all sincere Christians. But there are limits to the allowances I 
am prepared to make. In future it will be necessary to square The 
Star if the truth about these matters is to remain untold any 
loiter. Either I must have my share of the libretto-making or 
I blow the gaff. 

% November 1889 
Here is a gentleman from Somersetshire wishing to know how 
I can "reconcile the statement that working men care not for 


oratorios on account of their sacred or religious diaracter to the 
feet that at the People's Palace Elijah, Messiah, etc, draw 
enormous audiences." Now I tell the gentleman from Somerset- 
shire once for all that it wont do. I never speak of "working men" 
as if they were a omsigmnent of regulation boots, all alike except 
as to assorted sizes. 

There are working men who delight in piety — ^who join the 
Salvation Army, or drag their unfortunate children evening after 
evening to dismal chapels, where their poor litde imaginations 
are filled with eternal torment, vengeance, sin and the deviL 
Others there be who go to secular halls, and revel in demonstra- 
tions that Moses thought the earth flat, and that if any of the four 
evangelists told the truth the other three necessarily told lies. Of 
the two extremes, that of extracting nothing from Hebrew litera- 
ture but discrepancies and absurdities is on the whole more 
religious than extracting nothing but wrath and terror from it. 
Both pracdces, regarded as rites, are essentially savage; but the 
prevalence of one gives a certain humor to the other, and indeed 
grows inevitably out of it. 

The majority of church-going workmen, probably, are 
heathens like the rest of us, going as a matter of habit, just as they 
wear neckdes, because their respectability would be doubted if 
they omitted the observance. Some abstainers who are lazy or 
prrfer their club approve of churchgoing as an insdtution, and 
make their children go. Others, again, go because they like it or 
are used to it, but don't attach sufficient importance to it to insist 
on their femilies coming with them. Hundreds go because they 
have a vague sense of higher duties owed somewhere, and can 
find no other means of payment. And the reasons for abstention 
are quite as various and inconsequent as those for attendance. 

Hence, in speaking of the working men who go to hear 
Berlioz's Faust, but are repelled by Scripmral oratorios, I was 
careful to speak of them as a section only, though I mentioned 
certain reasons for regarding them as a section important to cater 
for: numerous, curious, aspiring, intelligent, and comparatively 
independent in their judgment. It is not necessary for me to repeat 



Therefore, all I can say on the subject of my correspondent's 
wager is that adult male alto and counter tenor singers, thoi^h 
no loi^;er as common as they once were, are still to be heard in 
all directions singing the parts specially written for their kind of 
voice by the cpmposers of the great English school: not the 
second-hand Handels and Mendelssohns of the past century and 
a half, but the writers of the glees, madrigals, and motets and 
services which are the true English musical classics. Nowadays, 
however, since the opera and die concert platform offer golden 
opportunities to a tenor or a baritone, whereas an alto or counter 
tenor is confined to the choir or the glee quartet all his life, a 
promising choir boy gets rid of his treble as soon as Nature per- 
mits him. The effect of this in diminishing the number of adult 
altos must be considerable. 

Thackeraystudentswill remember that when Colonel Newcome 
returned from India, and obliged a convivial circle by singing a 
ballad in a counter-tenor voice with florid ornaments in the taste 
of his own heyday, he was astonished to find everybody laughing 
at him. But I myself have seen a singer — a young man — appear 
before an audience of "the classes" in a blue evening coat with 
brass buttons, and gravely sing a song by Mendelssohn in an alto 
voice. The effect was by no means disagreeable; but it was so 
strange and unexpected that the room positively vibrated with 
suppressed laughter. Hie same thing would happen at one of 
Messrs fioosey's ballad concerts if an alto were engaged; though 
downstairs, at the Christy Minstrels, an alto, black with burnt 
cork, might at the same moment be piping away as a matter of 
course to an audience quite familiar with his voice. Thus to some 
people the man alto is an everyday phenomenon, whilst to others 
he is either a Thackerayan tradition or an extravagant novelty. 
Hence wagers 1 

Before quitting the subject of church music, I may mention 
that an exciting discussion has been raging in the Musical World 
on the proper accentuation of the Nicene Creed. Archbishops 
have joined the fray; and their letters, mosdy in Greek, form a 
pleasing variety to portraits of Madame Patri. This is all to the 



Mehlig had married, and retired — ^in other words, had sacrificed 
her sonata playing for love — I counted it as the first genuine 
artistic act in her career. Accordingly, nothing can be more 
natural than her return to her art after some years in full posses- 
sion of a ripened talent expressing itself freely and sympathetic- 
ally with a warmth and charm that were lackii^ in the old days. 
She was cordially welcomed at the Crystal Palace on Samrday, 
when she sat down to the famous Beedioven concerto in £ flat; 
and she played it for the greater part very prettily. I say for the 
greater part, because the kst movement, the pemliar accentuation 
of whidi requires the finest rhythmical management, baffled her; 
only a few bits of gracefiil passage-playing in it being really worth 
listening to. Madame Nordica, with her capital method, l^t vocal 
touch, and bright tone, all in complete working order, gave us a 
song of Marschner's— one so German as to be nothing if not 
sentimental — with a surprising want of feeling. As to the Mlad by 
Gomez, which was her second contribution, it sounded like the 
very last sweepings of the refiise of die Rossini school. Liszt's Cam- 
panella, a piece of rank drawing-room rubbish, sounded serious 
and original in comparison. I appredate Madame Nordica, I hope; 
but there are two things about her that I caimot get over: the 
transparent superficiality of her artistic feeling; and her bonnets, 
TvWch may be sccellently confected from the botmettist's point 
of view, but which give her an air of no t being at home in the very 
place where an artist should feel and look most at home. They 
make us feel as if we had interrupted her on the point of going 
out for a walk. The orchestra gave an appetising taste of its 
quality in the concerto, the horn parts in particular coming out 
quite beautifully, though I must add that these instruments met 
with reverses later on, in the intermezzo to the Goetz symphony. 
Concerning which noble work by a great composer, I would ask 
Sir George Grove whether he has become at all conscious of the 
obvious absurdity of the patronizing tone which he and Macfarren 
adopted when Goetz's works were first produced here. Sir George 
was not so bad as Macfarren, who could find nothing more 
sensible to say about the joyous Spring overture than that it 



ment. It was a list of the songs which can only be sung subject 
to performing rights held by a certain Mr. Harry Wail, who made 
himself famous in the eighteen-seventies by the persistence with 
which he mulcted in penalties singers of all degrees who had un- 
suspectingly warbled his property. The diiHculty always lay in 
imding out what songs were Mr Wall's and what were not. The 
London Figaro, which pursued him throughout with relendess 
disapproval, noted the songs which he had made the subject of 
legal proceedings, and published a list for the guidance of singers. 
The writing on the wall at Leicester is prol»bly a copy of this 

The list had no direct interest for me at the moment, as I did 
not propose 10 entertain the audience with minstrelsy. But it re- 
minded me that there is at present in the field a formidable and 
more dignified representative of performing rights in the person 
of Mr Alfred Moul, whom bandmasters and arrangers and "selec- 
tion" makers of all sorts, accustomed to free communism in 
musical compositions, are now vigorously denouncing as a black- 
mailer. This means that he has been making people pay for some- 
thing which they have hitherto pirated for nothing. Before I say 
anything as to the merits of such a proceeding 1 may mention 
that the denunciations of Mr Moul specially amused me, because 
he is an old acquaintance of mine; and I derive the usual enter- 
tainment from seeing people whom I privately know in a 
vigorous row of any kind. 

When I first came across Mr Alfred Moul some twenty years 
or so ago, I took him to be a young man of about eighteen, un- 
naturally self-sufficient and finished for his age, and a very clever 
pianist, though not then a professional one. When I last saw him, 
at the "private view" of Her Majesty's Theatre as decorated for 
Mr Leslie's recent promenade concerts, the lapse of two decades 
had made the gravest alterations, not to say ravages, in my own 
aspect; but Moul (I lapse for the moment into the ^miliarity of 
private intercourse) was still eighteen. The effect of this curious 
phenomenon was totally to destroy ray feith in my original 
estimate of his years. He may have been threescore all along: he 



able and extortionate demands, or aggrieved the complainants 
in any other way than in making them pay for what they had been 
accustomed to lay hands upon freely, I should have hmried to 
40 Old Bond Street, and called upon him to explain or amend 
his life before I alluded to the subject in print. But there is 
no case against him. There is a case against the law — 
against its ambiguity in the abstract — against the difficulty of 
ascertaining its bearing on any particular emergency — against 
the uselessness of the Stationers' Hall register — against the im- 
possibility of finding whether die hiw's bite is as bad as its bark 
by any o^er process than the risky one of putting your head into 
its mouth. But these are not the feult of any Agent-General: they 
are the feult of our legal machinery. There is also a case — a very 
strong case — in favor of Communism as against Private Property; 
but the implied suggestion that Communism should be the rule 
as to works of art whilst Private Property remains the rule for 
everything else is unworkable. We cannot reasonably deny to 
the author or composer those rights (or wrongs) against others 
TiWch others have ^inst him. Copyrights and patent rights are 
as a matter of fact the least objectionable forms of private pro- 
perty in permanent sources of wealth and pleasure; because, 
tmlike the analogous property rights in land and capital, they are 
limited in duration, and dieir reversion to the entire community 
is eventually secured. Shorten their duration by all means if ex- 
pedient — I have always urged that copyrights should be shortened 
as they extend internationally — but whilst they last they are the 
means by which the author or composer gets paid for his labor. 
If Mr Moul is a blackmailer for enforcing them, then so is any 
agent who enforces the payment of a patentee's royalty; so 
equally is the concert-giver who enforces payment of a shilling 
at the turnstile; and so doubly is the agent who enforces payment 
of a landlord's rent or a shareholder's dividend. I might as 
well complain of blackmail whenever I pay for admissions to 
musical entertainments, because, forsooth, t am often invited to 
attend such entertainments freely as "a gentleman of the Press." 
Therefoie, I advise conductors who make potpourris and 



day: at any rate, my last state was not worse than ray firsL St 
Paul, you will understand, was done on Saturday afKmoon at 
the Crystal Palace concert; and Judas followed in the evening at 
the People's Palace. Of the first of the two perfomiances, I need 
not renew my weariness by writing much. After all, Mendelssohn 
was Mendelssohn, who, even in his emptiest toun deforce where 
he had no messc^e to deliver and nothing to feel deeply about, 
yet felt deeply about nothing, and wrote beautifully, if not 
pregnantly, because he could not endure to write otherwise. But 
even beauty does not make subjectless music interesting; and I 
had as lief talk Sunday-school for two hours and a half to a 
beautiful woman with no brains as listen to St Paul over again. 
As to the performance, the orchestra was good; the choir was 
odious — simply odious; Mr Lloyd was in his best vein; and Mr 
Brereton, I must charitably hope, in his worst. If Miss Anna 
Williams's intonation were as pure as her voice, what distance 
would I not travel to hear her? I do not mean that she habitually 
sit^ out of tune, but she has to take conscious aim at the pitch, 
and some intervals never get quite on the centre of the bull's eye. 
I see that some critic complains of Miss Marion Mackenzie as not 
up to her usual mark in the contralto music I thought she sang 
But the Lord is Mindful of His Own particularly welL You 
really cannot believe what critics say. 

The exchange value of the difference between the Crystal 
Palace oratorio and that at the People's Palace was exacdy six 
and fivepence, including travelling expenses. It was a great 
occasion at Bow — their first oratorio — and I looked round ex- 
pectantly for a great muster of critics. But I looked in vain. If it 
had been St James's Hall with Joachim playing the Mendelssohn 
concerto, or Mr Edward Lloyd singing, Lend me Your Aid for 
the hundredth time, they would have been thereby dozens. In my 
solitude I was enj oying a sense of superior virtue, when in walked 
Mr Fuller Maitland, of the Times. You might have knocked me 
down with a feather. The performance b^;an with great spirit, the 
strings, in full harmony, giving delusive promise of excellence. 
When the fugue broke them into parts, it became evident that 


though the second violins meant quite as well as their rivals under 
Mr Manns, yet they were not equally able to give edea to their 
intentions. However, theygot throu^with an occasional lift from 
the organ, and one or two pauses for tuning, during whidi each 
fiddler scraped his A string, found that it was about an eighth 
flat; and left it so with apparent sadsiacdon. The choir got on 
capitally, putting to utter ^ame the multitudinous dolts who are 
the hane of Mr Manns's artistic life. Th^ sang with admirable 
spirit and earnestness, and there was not a dull moment to the 
oratorio, which, to be sure, was slightly curtailed. M to the 
principals, the only one who was not equal to the occasion was 
the tenor, who was heavily overweighred by his part, and not in 
the best of voice to attempt it. Miss Maigaret Hoare astonished 
the natives with From Mighty Kings, and a young lady named 
Miss Hoskins, whose fine contralto voice has the firat bloom sdl! 
on it, brought down the house with Father of Heaven: to Thy 
Eternal Throne. I do not think Miss Hoskins quite knew that she 
was singing one of the most beautiful songs ever written, even 
by Handel; but she would at her present st^;e have sung it all 
die worse if she had sung it more consciously. Mr Bertram Latter 
sang the baritone music without a fault: the comparative ineffec- 
tiveness of his songs was the feult of the conductor, who took 
bodi of them too slowly. Arm, arm, ye brave, in particular, 
went at exacdy half the proper speed. On the whole, I enjoyed 
the contort, which is more tlun I can trudifully say of the Syden- 
ham performance. And the crowd which filled the great hall 
seemed to be of my opinion. 

1^ November 18S9 
At the Avenue Theatre, at half-past two every day, an "opera" 
is sung by children. At least,- they are all guaranteed under 
fourteen. But some people are not children at fourteen: they 
are hobbledehoys; zaA there is no charm in hobbledehoy- 
hood. A child should have a child's ways, a child's stature, 
above all a child's voice. The giantess at die Aquarium, for 
instants, is not, artistically considered, a child. And the young 


ladies of the ballet in the lirst act of Belles of the Village are as 
unchildllke as the ballet itself, which is no less inane and artificial 
than genuine children's dances are interesting and pretty. The 
rest is pleasant enough. Nothii^ could be more naive than the 
rusric drama by Hugh Foster, or more innoc^it than the music 
by John Fit^;erald. Master Fred Allwood takes himself with 
commendable seriousness as Will Green, the Jack Tar. His 
dancing of the sailor's hornpipe is b^ond belief: it brought down 
the house. But Master Allwood sings precociously in the voice, 
not of the passing boy, but of the coming man; and I am gready 
afraid that he will some day find that voice considerably the 
worse for his present efibrts. Master Alfred Bovill, as the beadle, 
shewed himself a comedian of genius. He is the first operatic 
vocalist I ever saw leap into popularity by a couac, as the French 
call it. There was one note in his song upon which his voice 
broke every time with irresistibly comic effect; and the audience 
encored him again and again for it, going into convulsions at 
each repetition of the catastrophe. Of what the eifect on a sensi- 
tive child would have been I shudder to think; but Signor Bovill 
had no more delicacy about making comic capital of his pre- 
carious upper notes than Coquelin has in exploiting the curled 
dp of his nose. Master Frank Mettrop, as the.oldest inhabitant, 
also brought off a small part with some comic talent Of the girls, 
only two are really child singers and actresses, namely, Miss 
Bessie Graves, a little artist ready made by nature, who sings very 
sweetly, and Miss Lizzie Primmer, who has doubtless had to 
study rather harder, her fairy godmothers having been stingier 
than Bessie's. Miss Annie Fjeber and Miss Bessie Colman are 
only spoiling their adult voices by using them prematurely; and 
Miss Fieber's coquetries will sit better on her when she is older. 
Miss Lizzie Dungate, a litde more grown than the others, is staid, 
but pleasing. When Master Allwood was resting, flushed with 
triumph, after his miraculous hornpipe, she said, as if it were one 
of her lines (which can hardly have been the case) "You will be 
encored again for that, tomorrow," whereat the house laughed 
indulgently. On the whole, the grown-up people were decidedly 



amused; and as people generally bring their children to the plays, 
and buy them die toys that amuse themselves, I take it tlwt the 
Belles of the Village is likely enough to serve its turn through 
the winter. 

22 November 1889 
Of all the thousands of Star readers who have delighred in 
Mendelssohn and loved him only one has cared enough to hurl 
a postcard at me for what I said about St Paul. Here it is. 

"An ignorant self-conceited ASS is the Star musical 
critic (I) who scribbles on Mendelssohn and the Oratorio of St 
Paul at the Crystal Palace on Saturday!!! 

"He should be put under a glass case and exhibited at Bamum's 
menagerie; for SURELY he has the longest pair of ears m all 

"The animal] 

"Who was his &ther? — and who his mother? The breed should 
be perpetuated as a curiosity!!!" 

My heart warms to this anonymous correspondent. The post- 
card is an outburst of genuine feeling about music, someit^iat 
unsodally expressed, perhaps, but still heartfelt Yet I shall prob- 
ably often again wound that feeling, because, for the musical 
critic in England, Mendelssohn is The Enemy. Until we have got 
hx enough to recoil from Elijah flippandy rattling ofThis atrocious 
"God is angry with the wicked every day" we shall never fathom 
the depths of truly great music. Mendelssohn, who was shocked 
at Auber's writing an opera in which a girt sang Om, c'est de- 
main (meaning "Tomorrow I shall be a bride") at her looking- 
glass before going to bed, was himself ready to serve up the 
diopping to pieces of the prophets of the grove with his richest 
musical spice to suit the compound of sancdmonious cruelty and 
base materialism which his patrons, the British Pharisees, called 
their religion. If my correspondent will compare such work as 
his with Parsi&l, and his career with that of the man who pro- 
duced Parsital, he (or she; for the handwriting is of imcertain 
sex) will understand why Wagner once said, speaking of an 



occasion when Mendelssohn invited him to applaud an orchestral 
fiill gallop through the beautiful slow trio of Beethoven's eighth 
symphony, "I thought I saw before me an abyss of super- 
ficiality." The Philhannonic orchestra scampers through its work 
in the same elegantly superficial manner to this day, thanks to 
Mendelssohn. Probably all my correspondent really means is that 
Mendelssohn composed music of exquisite grace and tenderness. 
I am no more insensible to diat than was Wagner, who used to 
ask his pianist friends to play Mendelssohn's overtures for him. 
But when I am asked to spend an afternoon listenii^ to oratorios 
that must stand or ^1, not by the grace or tenderness of their 
prettiest strains, but by the depth and moral dignity of thdr con- 
cepdon*, then Mendelssohn gets roughly handled; and it serves 
him abundandy righL 

Here is another communication marked "Private," which I 
shall answer publicly, as there may be others interested in my 

"Dear Sir, — ^As I believe your opinion to be one of the best 
in London [this is a man of sense], would you, as a great favor, 
be kind enough to give me information about the following 

"I think of taking singing lessons from Professor of 

, and I wish to know if you consider him competent to 

teach in opera and oratorio — provided that in course of time I 
found I had sufiident voice and ability to lead me to hope that 
by hard study and perseverance I had a chance of rising so 

"I have never had any singing lessons; but my voi(» has been 
tried and found to be rather powerful. — Yours faithfully, 

X Y Z." 

Now observe here how much more vaguely a musical career is 
conceived than one in any other art. Had X Y Z wished to go 
on the stage he would hardly have asked whether Mr Herman 
Vezin is"compettnt to leach drama." Justas diere is no such thitig 


as teaching drama, so there is no such thing as teachii^ opera or 
oratorio. Mr Herman Vezin can, of course, take a novice and 
coach her in the part of JuUet to die point of enabling her M go 
through it with verbal accuracy and with a certain propriety of 
gesture and deportment: even that depending, however, on the 
extent to which the pupil's natural gifts make her capableof under- 
standing the teacher's instructions. Similarly Professor is no 

doubt competent to coach a pupil in the part of Jephtha or Man- 
oah, Faust or Mephistopheles. But if artists could be turned out in 

this fashion, Mr Herman Vezin and Professor could at once 

open shops, and supply Juliets and Gennaros to the managers as 
Mr Clarkson supplies wigs. The truth is that the artist must be 
at once his own master and everybody's pupil. If he cannot learn 
from all that he sees and hears, and then teach himself the practical 
application of what he has learnt, art is not his ai!air, and He had 
better remain an amateur. Mr Joseph Jefferson, as indisputably 
the most finished comedian among English-speaking actors as 
M. Coquelin is among French-speaking ones, years ago repudi- 
ated the notion that any part of an actor's business could be learnt 
oS the stage. And my own art of literary composition, much the 
most difHcuIt in the world, was certainly not taught me by a 
master, nor do I propose to take apprentices. 

I can, however, tell X Y Z some of the things he must leam in 
order to become a fine artist — thii^ which he will never leam by 
shutting himself up twice a week for an hour with the same man 
and the same pianoforte in the same drawing room. First, he must 
leam to sing: that is, to touch or sustain any note within his 
compass with certainty of pitch and beauty of tone, and withal 
with an unembarrassed management of it, so that it may be lightly 
or v^orously touched or sustained, just as he wishes. Second, he 
must leam to pronounce with purity the syllables tlo, re, mi, fa, so 
that his more or less genteel variations on the original cockney 
t^, rqy, flieey, fawr may become utterly repugnant to him, and 
that he may no longer ignorantly laugh at Mr Irving for saying 
simply "gold" instead of the customary "gah-oold.'* He must 
also leam foreign vowels, so as to be able to sing re both as r^ or 


ri, and sustain them without ever closing, English fashion, into 
an ee at the end. All this must be checked by his own ear, not his 
master's. There is no use in getting other people to listen to him: 
he must listen to himself with his whole soul until his ear has 
grown exquisitely sensitive to minute shades of intonation and 
pronunciation — until he cannot go wrot^ without literally huit- 
ii^ himself. 

This cultivation of the ear never stops. The fine artist improves 
until age unmakes more progress in the year than culture can 
make. But how is X Y Z to set about cultivating his ear? Alas! 
how indeed? in this Bridsh world of ugliness and noisel But he 
can, according to his means, keep good music sounding in his 
ears. He can go to concerts — to die Crystal Palace on Saturday 
afternoons, at least sometimes (always is too dear); to the 
Saturday and Monday Pops; to the Philharmonic; to the Richter 
concerts; to die best of the numerous suburban oratorio per- 
formances; to the opera occasionally; and to the theatres. Let him 
make studies of inferior, good, and first-rate ardsts in point of 
intonadon and pronundadon. Any fnend will oblige him with a 
song in die first capacity. Then let him try how much better in 
these points he finds Mr Edward Lloyd, Mr Henschel, or Mr Max 
Hdnrich. Finally, let him try Madame Patd in Within a Mile, or 
Home, Sweet Home. 

A fresh course can be gone through on pronundadon. Look 
through Mr Alexander J. Ellis's Ittde book on Speedi in Song (I 
think Messrs Novello published it some years ago), in order to 
get some idea of what to watch for; and then call in a fiiend again 
— a vulgar friend, if you have one. Study his vowels, and how 
loud he thinks it necessary to speak. Then go to the theatre and 
compare with his the speech of a mediocre actor. Then try an 
actor of the rank of Mr Kendal. Finally, go and hear Mr Irving; 
and also the masterly Coquelin in Les Pr^deuses Hidicules if 
possible; for in that you will hear how beaudflilly in tune he can 
sing. Then be^n over again with the women, thus — i. Vidgar 
lady friend. 2. Actress of good posidon, not specially femous as 
a speaker: say Miss Amy Roselle. 3. An actress who is famous 


for clever but not for beautiful speaking: say, Mrs Kendal. 4, An 
actress who speaks very cleverly and most beautifully — there is 
only one — Miss Ada Rehan. 5. An intentionally musical speaker 
of the highest class: Sarah Bernhardt. A course of violinists cul- 
minating in Sarasate, would also be useful; but once the habit of 
studying has been established there is somethii^ to be picked up 
&om the whisde of every locomodve and the hail of every bus 

Pray note, however, that although Mr Irving and Miss Rehan 
speak so admirably, their personal mannerism is so strong that an 
attempt to imitate ihem would be the surest way to court over- 
whelming ridicule. The problem is to speak as beautifully as 
possible, and not for a moment to speak like this or ^t person 
who speaks beautifully. And further, there must always — 
^t^tl no more space this week. Then it shall be continued in 
our next. I will have my say out if I fill The Star with it imtil 

2 J Noveir^ 1889 
Until Mr Leslie gets rid of the Dorothy tradition at his theatre, 
there will be little to record there except the waste of three ex- 
cellent artists and a tolerable comedian. Mr H. P. Stephens, author 
of The Red Hussar, is a Moli^, a Sheridan, a Congreve, a very 
Shakespear compared to the author of Dorothy and Doris; but 
even he hasdone nothing except put a smart face on the inanities 
of his forerunner. Miss Tempest is still a masquerading heiress; 
Mr Ben Davies still a spendthrift in difficulties; Mr Hayden Coffin 
still one of Mr Davies's acquaintances with a song; and Mr Arthur 
Williams is not regenerated by the change from a comic sherifTs 
ofBcer to a comic corporal. There is the usual second young lady 
(Miss Dysart) to pair off with Mr CofEn; and there is an old lady 
to attempt to repeat the dreary tomfoolery of the Prisdlla scenes 
in Dorothy. Towards this part of the aifeir, however, ihe attitude 
of the audience on Saturday night was distinctly threatening. 
Squire Bantam, though transformed to Colonel Sir Marmaduke 



Mashem, remains essentially an unmitigated bore, Mr Christian, 
who impersonates him, being unable to make bricks without 
straw, as Mr Williams can. Some variety is obtained by sending 
all the characters campa^ing for a while; but the military music 
of die second act, in which this occurs, is the most mechanical 
trash imaginable, with noisy, tiresome orchestration, in which a 
crowd of trivial conceits and contrivances josde one another in 
the most impertinent and irritating fashion. Something of the 
same fault appears in the stage management: the soldiers are too 
often doing poindess scraps of business that were better left out. 
In fact^ there are moments when, what with Mr Solomon fidget- 
ing with die instruments, and Mr Charles Harris fidgeting widi 
die supers, it is hard for a nervous spectator to sit sdll and refrain 
' from objurganon. The first act is by ha the most effective of the 
three: pardy because the audience are unwearied: partly because 
Miss Tempest sings some br^^ if not particularly novel, num- 
bers with that care and feeling for the musical part of her work 
by which she has made her mark from her first appearance on the 
stage. .Mr Davies also has a capital song, A Guinea here, a Guinea 
there, which he sang with his eyes shut, but otherwise admirably. 
The first of Miss Tempest's songs, by the way, has tagged on to 
it a worn-out scrap of conventional ornament, which Mr Solomon 
might as well cut off and throw on the musical dustheap. Mr 
Coffin's voice, as anyone might have foreseen, has been displaced 
and damaged in quality by the unsuitable work it had to do in 
Doris. In the concerted music of the first act, his tone was hard 
and aggressive, and would not blend with the others on any 
terms. His song, My Casde in Spain, in the second act, was not 
much better. I almost began to suspect him of deliberately sacri- 
ficing the beauty of his voice to its power; the surest way of 
losing both in the long run. But in the third act he sang a song 
in his old fashion, and was heardly encored, though it was past 
eleven, and a suburban god very sensibly called out that it was 
too late for encores. The audience throughout received the work 
very handsomely. 

At the Crystal Palace concert in the afternoon Miss Nettie 


Carpenter played Saint-Saftis' violin concerto and a few solos in 
the manner of her master Sarasate, who, had he been present, 
would have had no reasonable fault to find; for she played very 
well indeed, and will take high rank as a player if her style matures 
and her tone amplifies by further experience. The rest of the con- 
cert was hopelessly dismal. The mu^y, muddy weather had got 
into the very souls of the audience and performers alike. Mr 
Maims doggedly went through the program like a brave man 
fighting a broadsword combat :^inst overwhelming odds. The 
Flying Dutchman overture would not come right; and the seventh 
symphony was a mockery. Liszt's Festklange (sounds of re- 
joicing!) completed our discomfiture; and we trudged off sadly 
through the rain, feebly hoping for better luck next dme. I forgot 
to mention that Miss Fillunger sang Schubert's Auflosung nicely; 
but Mendelssohn's Infeiice requires a voice which is as good all 
over as in the upper register, outside which Miss Fillunger seems 
quite lost. 

29 NovemhiT 1889 
One more book. The Story of Music, by W. J. Henderson, 
an American critic It is concisely and intelligendy written; but I 
can find little criticism in it that goes beyond a repetition of 
opinions which have been printed over and over again, and which 
were formed from the point of view common in 1 850 and now 
obsolete. A critic who at this time of day cannot follow Wagner's 
harmony, and tallcs of "&1se relations" in it, is as hopelessly out 
of date as he himself would consider the professors who, on the 
ground that "mi contra fa diabolus est," object to a chord con- 
taining B natural following a chord containing F. When he goes 
on to inform us that Wagner "did not give sufficient attention 
to the powers of the human voice," it is time to shut the book. 
And yet he is by no means an anti-Wagnerite, this Mr Henderson; 
only his modesty — the critic who is modest is lost— is such that 
he feels bound to accept as gospel all the stale rubbish of the 
musical book makers who have been preying on popular ignor- 
es? H 


ance of art since Lord Mount Edgecumbe's time. He even de- 
clares that Donizetti "wrote tunes simply and solely for their own 
sake, caring nothing for dramatic significance." Far be it from me 
to stand between Donizetti and his righteous doom; but ^en- 
ever there was any dramatic s^niiicance to care for he cared for 
it to considerable purpose, although he was not one of those great 
masters who, refUsing to make the best of hopeless old fonns, 
create new ones for themselves. As to Lucia's scena, I have ridi- 
culed its absurd fluK tootling and fioriture often enough; but I 
never objected to it, as Mr Henderson does, on the groimd that it 
is a waltz. Why should it not be? Handel's &mous Lascia ch'io 
pianga is a saraband; but is It any the worse for that^ What are 
all our song forms but evolved dance measures? 
Here is a letter elicit by last week's column: 
Sir, — With reference to your article of today,mayI be allowed 
to point out that M. Coquelin and Mme Bernhardt both pro- 
nounce French as French is spoken by educated Frenchmen, 
tt^eieas Mr Irving and Miss Terry pronounce English as no Eng- 
lishman or Englishwoman has ever, whether educated or not, 
spoken the language since the world began. Also that the glorious 
voice of Madame Patti in Home, Sweet Home is but a melancholy 
study at best of the demand for music in this "musical people," 
and supply in a potentially great ardst. — ^Yours faithfiilly, 

H. AsHWORTH Taylor. 

Hereupon I would observe that Mr Taylor, in so far as his 
statement about educated French people is true, has put the boot 
on the wrong leg. It is not M. Coquelin who speaks like the edu- 
cated Frenchman: it is the educated Frenchman who tries to speak 
like M. Coquelin, because the dicdon of the Com6iie Fran^aise 
is a standard diction in Paris. Here in England we have no standard 
(though Miss Glyn once assured me that Mr Gladstone had taken 
Charles Kean for his model as a speaker). In order to arrive at 
one, whidi course would Mr Taylor prefer? the adoption of aver- 
agie colloquial pronundadon by Mr Irving, or die adoption of 
Mr Irving^s pronunciation by ihe average man? Mmd, I say his 



throwing all sorts of grotesque shadows, in which lurked de- 
pressed policemen. Mr Lang himself lost his way, and was rescued 
by an exploring expedition just in time to save a stage wait. The 
lecture was, of course, only a Daily News article drawn out to 
an hour's duradon. The ladies giggled resolutely all through, 
knowit^ Mr Lang to be a reputed wit of the first water; but there 
was not much taughKr. The fact is that, though it may require a 
surgical operadon to get a joke into the head of a Scotsman (Mr 
Lang is a Scotsman), it requires a sledge-hammer to knock one 
into an English audience. Mr Lang's play was too light for plat- 
form work; and it was only when he expressly announced that he 
was going to be fiinny, and served up burlesque poems with such 
chestnut sauce as calling the aesthetic ones "Grosvenor Gallery 
poetry," that there was anything like a general rise to the occa- 
sion. These good preople have not yet found out that for the last 
two years the Grosvenor Gallery has been as Philistine as Madame 
Tussaud's; and Mr Lang practised on their iimocence without a 

Mr Lang, like all literary men of slim build and languid bear- 
ing, wears an old-feshioned silk-faced frock coat, wrinkling and 
buttoning at angles that would prevent any self-respecting tailor's 
dummy from acknowledging a bow from him in Bond Street. He 
has the figure and air of a young man; but his worn face, with the 
chin, cheekbones, and nose projecting under the drawn skin, al- 
most reminds one of the veteran Professor Owen. His black hair 
is streaked with grey, and the front row of it is silver white. The 
weakest part of the head is outside the eyes, where die temples 
are cut scantily away. Like Sarasate's, his remarkable appearance 
is due to his large, strikit^ eyes. His tot^^e does not betray the 
Caledonian except by a certain prolongation of the "00" in 
"book," and an occasional locution like "pairallel" for "parallel." 
His voice is high pitched and a litde criarde; his delivery is reck- 
lessly colloquial; his best "holt" is on sly gibing; and he punctu- 
ates his speech always in the wrong place, by abrupt pauses after 
every two or three words, the eifect being irresistibly su^estive 
of Matthew Bagnet in Bleak House. "Took me in. With a second- 



trick of fordng the intonation just the fiftieth part of a comma to 
the bad. Let him beware: such habits grow; and there is die spoil- 
ing of a good singer in him. As to Sir Arthur Sullivan's Macbeth 
music, I am e^erly in Bivoi of such performances at standard 
orchestral concerts, as the anddpation of them causes composers 
to take their theatrical commissions for inddental music in a 
much more earnest and lofty spirit, with a view to their subse- 
quent enlaigetnent to the full scale of grand orchestra. By making 
such events customary, we should at least get a good overture 
occasionally. This music of Sir Arthur's, dever, skilful, bril- 
liandy scored, catchingly runs the round of the most paying 
modulations; and there are some ha'porths of true Cdtic melody 
and feeling to boot. Mr Hamish MacCunn's Ship o' the Fiend, 
whidi, as it happened, I had never heard before, did not supplant 
Lord Ullin's Daughter in my affecdons. The ship is cerddnly 
a river steamer in a desperate hurry. I have listened to the sea in 
all weathers for months together; and whenever I heard four in 
a bar going, that was a steamer, reader, usually a screw-steamer. 
Neither oar, wave, nor sailing ship ever made that dread Harwidi- 
Rotterdam Dover-Calais rum-tum accompaniment to the only 
wishes for death that are really sincere. The big drum is fine; but 
methinks I have heard the effect before — in Les Francs Juges, 
was it not? Not, of course, that it is any the worse for that. 

5 Decerr^er 1889 
There must be a sR>p put to lliis sort of thing. Stemdale Bennett, 
when asked to write an opera, is said to have stipulated that diere 
should be no soldiers' chorus in it. On recdving the libretto, the 
first thing he saw was: "Act I: The Pri aux CUrcs, Soldiers 
drinking." He prompriy rolled it up, returned it, and never wrote 
an opera. I warn composers that in future, if the curtain goes up 
on "Act I: Village inn, with s^, benches, and practicabledoorL; 
village lasses and lads discovered sin^ng," I shall presendy be 
discovered making my way home. 

I have already hinted that I do not consider Dorothy one of 


the siimnuts of operatic art; and the last dozen imitations I 
have been invited to witness have left me slightly restive on 
the subject Gretna Green is Dorothy complicated by Erminie. 
It will be recollected that the appalling dulness of the beginning 
of Erminie was dispelled by the introduction of our old friends 
Robert Macaire and Bettrand. The mdancholy of the first act of 
Gretna Green is in like manner relieved by the appearance of 
Lurcher in the character of the Sleeper Awakened, otherwise 
Abou Hassan, otherwise Christopher Sly, and on this occasion 
Robin Bates, a strolling player. But the upshot is tfaat in the 
second act the inevitable three men arrive at the inevitable 
Bramble Hall, in the inevitable disguise, and there dance the 
inevitable minuet, with the inevitable ladies in powder and 
patches. What happens in the third act is as dark a mystery to me 
as are the closing incidents of Dorothy and Doris. Men have died, 
and worms have eaten 'em, but not for lovej and I have gone to 
dieatres and sat out third acts, but not for Dorothy, not for Doris, 
not for Gretna Green. 

There is an important diiference between Dorothies at the 
Lyric and Dorothies at highly experimental mating. At the 
Lyric they are forced into success by persistently concentrating 
upon them the efforts of far better and more popular artists than 
they deserve. At the matinees the little merits diey may possess 
are hidden by defective execution. Mr John Storer, the composer 
of Gretna Green, is a Mus.Doc., and therefore knows his musical 
grammar, and I imagine arranges his score with a view radier to 
die resources of St James's Hall and Crystal Palace than of the 
Comedy Theatre. He rings the changes on the ordinary trade 
patterns in music with some fluency and spirit; but too many 
of the numbers come in just where they interrupt the action 
instead of advancing it; and the finales are without force or 
interest. The representadon was so imperfect that I can hardly 
believe that die preparadon had got as far as a single complete 
rehearsal. A few of the principals knew thdr parts; but the band 
was evidendy playing at sight; and the general business of the 
stage was pushed through at random, not without occasional 


jvGooi^lc I 

proline remonstrances from thewings.Miss Leonora Braham and 
Mr Richard Temple played like experienced hands; and Mr L. 
Cadwalader, late Claude Melnotte in Major Codde's opera, was 
much in earnest over the tenor part. But Mr Cadwalader must do 
what his countryman Mr Barton M'Guddn manfully did before 
him: face the fact that the nose given him by Nature is out of the 
question for any part except that of Jack Sheppard; and that until 
he builds up a new one, PhylUs's exclamation when she catches 
sight of him, "Oh, I hope the Squire [her unknown betrothed] 
may be like html" will make even the most considerate audience 
laugh. And even that will avail him nothing until he learns to 
sing evenly instead of in a squeezed me^ja voce broken by an 
irregular series of shouts on all the ascending intervals. Miss 
Maude Vena is a plump and pleasing person, but no vocalist As 
to Miss Velmi, the heroine, I shall defer criticism until she has 
bad a more favorable opportunity than she had yesterday after- 

6 December 1889 
I REHEUBER once coming to loggerheads with the late Dr Fiands 
Hueffer, about fifteen seconds after the opening of our first con- 
versation, on the subject of musical culture in English socie^. 
Whenever the subject arose between us, I declared that English 
society did not care about music — did not know good music 
from bad. He rephed, with great force, that I knew nothing about 
it; that nobody had ever seen me in really decent society; that I 
moved amidst cranks, Bohemians, unbelievers, agitators, and — 
generally speaking — riff-raff of all sorts; and that I was merely 
theorising emptily about the people whom I called bloated aristo- 
crats. He described, by way of example, an evening at Lord 
Derby's house, where he had greatly enjoyed some excellent 
music; and he asked me whether I knew that such music was, in 
a quiet way, a constant grace of the best sort of English social life. 
I suggested that he should give me an opportunity to judge for 
myself by introducing me to these circles; but this he entirely 


declined to do; having no coniidence whatever in my power of 
behaving myself in a seemly manner for five consecutive minutes. 

On the first occasion it so happened, fortunately for me, that 
a firm of music publishers, having resolved to venture on the 
desperate step of publishing six new pianoforte sonatas, had just 
sent out a circular containing an appeal ad misericordiam that at 
least a few people would, either in public spirit or charity, take 
the unprecedented step of buying these compositions. I prompdy 
hurled this at Huefier's head, and asked whether that looked like 
evidence of a constant and enlightened patronage such as the 
upper classes accord to racing, millinery, confecdonery, and in 
a minor degree to literature and painting (for, hang it all! even 
if the sonatas were not as good as Beethoven's, they were at any 
rate no duller than the average three-volume novel or Academy 
picture). There the subject dropped, my method of controversy 
being at that time crudely unscrupulous and extravagant. Hueffer, 
I fancy, regarded me as an unschooled dangerous character; but 
once, when I was perched on the gunwale of a wagon in Hyde 
Park, filling up some ten minutes of a "demonstration" with the 
insufferable oiatorizing which is the only sort feasible on such 
occasions, I was astonished to see his long golden beard and 
massive brow well to the front among the millions of "friends 
and fellow citizens." He never told me what he thought about the 
contrast between the new musical criticism demonstrating on 
wagons in the sunlight, and the old, groping in perpetual evening 
dress from St James's Hall to Covent Garden Opera House and 

One point I might have put to him, but didn't, is diat when 
you get up a musical entertainment for the exclusive delectation 
of the nobs, you piust either be content with a very scanty audi- 
ence, in which case the nobs will not think it good enough to 
come again, or else pack the room with a contingent of musical 
deadheads, who are not nobs, nor even respectable Philistine 
snobs, but rank outsiders — though you would be surprised at 
the costiy entertaiiunents, operatic and otherwise, that are run 
solely for their sake, and that of ^e jaded pressmen. Last 


Friday, happctiii^ to have an invitation from the Grosvenor 
Club to their "ladies* night" at die Grosvenor Gallery, I thought 
I would go and see whedier things were altering at all. For the 
Grosvenor Qub, you must know, is no vulgar free-and-easy; 
and its concerts, from 9,30 to midnight, are never wholly nobless. 

On entering that Bond Street portal which was brought here 
bodily all the way from Italy, and approaching the stairs which 
I have so often worn with the weary feet of an art critic, I found 
on one side a descending stream of sad and hollow people, and 
on the other an ascending one, flushed and swollen. By this I 
perceived that the refreshments were downstairs; and I hurried 
up with all convenient speed. Here I found a nob or two, a dead- 
head or two, and a vast majority of solid snobs. No celebrities, no 
literary lot, no joumalisdc lot, no artistic lot, no Bohemian lot, 
nothing (to speak of) except plain snoWiery, more or less choice. 
In short, there were — professionally engaged musicians excepted 
— not above twelve people in the room known to me; and I 
should have congratulated Mr Prange on such an entirely satis- 
factory result if I had been quite certain that he would have 
appreciated the full force of this final proof of the respectabiliQ' 
of the gathering, and of the success of his elimination of the great 
army of "private view" people. 

I could not get a program; and when Signor Ducd went to the 
piano, and Mr Radcliffe took his flute, Mr Mann his horn, and the 
fiddleis four their fiddles, I wondered what was coming. It proved 
to be resurrection pie of the dustiest flavor. For a long time I was 
at a loss. I thought vaguely of Clementi, of Dussek, of Field, of 
all the Sir Arthur Sullivans that existed before Mendelssohn's 
time. Not until several elegandy empty movements had worn 
themselves out did I hit on the right man: on Hummel, the 
genteel, the talented, the tastefiilly barren. Here are serenades by 
Mozart, chamber music with wind parts by Schubert, by Weber, 
by Schumann, by Mendelssohn, by Brahms, all ready to Signor 
Ducd's hand; and he goes and digs up Jean Nepomuk Hummell 
One unfortunate gentleman said to me: "These things are very 
nice, of course; but they are very long." Forgetting that I was 


for once among respectable people, I morosely expressed an 
opinion that this particular thing was strongly qualified rubbish. 
"Oh" said he "you are so very critical: I daresay it does not 
come up to your standard. But it was certainly too long for a place 
like this." Thus does music get into disrepute. If my friend had 
heard Beethoven's septet, he would have been delighted. Hearing 
Hummel instead, he concluded that it was in the nature of classical 
music to be dull; and he will probably think so to his dying day. 

However, the choicer spirits sat in the front of the room and 
faithfully listened. The odiers sat at the back and talked. How 
they talked! One young lady, who must, I should think, be the 
champion chatterbox of the universe, so outdid with her tongue 
the most rapid flights of Signer Ducd's fingers diat I stole round 
three times through the east gallery merely to see whether she 
had stopped from exhaustion; but she was as fresh as an aviary 
each time. Another lady, who coaches me in the ways of good 
society, and makes certain prearranged warning signals to me 
when I eat with my knife or help myself to potatoes with my 
fingers, was very severe with me because I took sides widi 
the front of the room and listened to the unimpeachable Jean 
Nepomuk. "You were a feilure there," she said next day. "Every- 
body was noticing your disgraceful behaviour. You will never 
be a gentleman." "What should I have done?" I demanded. "I 
say nothing" she replied, "about your not bringing us down to 
the refreshment room, and your furtively leaving before you had 
seen us off In a cab. But you should at least have come and talked 
to us." "But that would have disturbed the music" I pleaded. 
"Music!" she retorted, with sconi. "The Grosvenor is a private 
club where some rather crack people go: not a concert room. 
People go there to talk. Besides, you scowled." On reflection, I 
daresay I did. I would surest to Mr Prange that in future 
a curtain should shut oS the east gallery from the west, and that 
the fireman should be employed to keep the musical section and 
die loquacious section in diilerent rooms. 

On Wednesday, I at last got to Kensington to hear the Musical 
Guild. By the bye, I recendy stated here that the Guild had un- 


gratefully omitted to invite me to their concerts last season. The 
secretary writes to say that this was a lie. I do not mean that he 
expressed it exacdy in that way: he is far too petite; but there can 
be no doubt that it actually was a lie. The invitation was sent; but 
l^e Stonecutter Street staff, who have an unquenchable thirst for 
classical music, boned the ticket, and it never reached me. When 
I got to the Town Hall on Wednesday, I found that Kensington 
society, which combines the Philistinism of old Bloomsbury widi 
the fiivolity of old Brompton, has left this excellent litde Guild 
in the lurch, A ball at the Kensington Town Hall is always full: 
a chamber music concert, it appears, is empty. I and Mr du 
Maurier and about a hundred other people had the room to our- 
selves. Item the first, a string octet by Mr Holmes, a violinist 
whom I have had the misfortune to have heard hardly at all since 
he used to lead the quartet at the Popuhu: Concerts some twelve 
or thirteen years ago, between the engagements of Madame 
N^ruda, Joachim, or sometimes Herr Strauss. As Mr Holmes is 
a professor, the octet was in regulation form, with four move- 
ments, first and second subjects, development, recapitulation, 
and so on. At firet we were all on the alert \o hear what the eight 
fiddles plashing all together would sound like; but gradually the 
orthodoxy of the octet numbed us, and we sat mutely reminding 
one another of the eve of the battle of Agincoiut. 

The poor condemned Engli^ 
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires, 
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate. 

The worst of it was that Mr Holmes was there, and could see us 
all; so that we had to applaud like mad. And no doubt his music 
would have been enjo^le enough had he kept his ideas off the 
rack of the sonata form, and stopped when he had said his say. 
As it was, the only people who relished it thoroughly were the 
experts on my left who had a copy of the score, and so could feast 
their ^es on the construction of the work. The execution was 
highly creditable: the Kensingtonians are fools to neglect these 


and Miss Ma^ie Moore ^1 do not know wnicli was whictij I 
walked in the teeth of the east wind all the way to the Institute 
over Princes' Hall, in Piccadilly, where the members of the 
Wagner Society were having their conversazione. There I got 
for the first time close enough to Miss Fillunger to perceive that 
the reason her voice is all top and no middle is that her method 
may be summed up in two words: sheer violence. It is a pity; 
for she sings certain songs with much taste and feeling. Isolde's 
Oebestod was a failure; but the fault was pardy that of the accom- 
panist, Mt Max Heinrich sang Anrede, also to a rather trying 
accompaniment, very well; Mr Shakespeare warbled in his 
prettiest toy tenor fashion; and Senor Albeniz, after playing 
Brassin's transcripdons of the rainbow scene from Das Rhdn- 
gold and the fire charm from Die Walkure, had a filial tremend- 
ous wrestle with liie Walkurenritt. Tlie dead silence produced 
by his playing, particularly during the second piece, was the 
highest compliment he could have desired. 

To Herr Rudolph Liebich, who gave a concert at Bamsbury 
Hall on Wednesday, I could only say, "Had I three ears, I'd hear 
thee." But I have only two, and these cannot be in different postal 
districts on the same evening. In short, my apologies: I really 
could not come. In reply to an inquiry why I said nothing about 
the concert given by the HalI6 Manchester orchestra at St James's 
Hall some time ago, I can only say that I never heard a word of it 
until it was over; and then I was not surprised to hear that a 
concert so carefully concealed from me had also apparendy been 
concealed from the general public. At least, this seems the like- 
liest reason for the thin attendance complained of I presume 
that Sir Charles Hallo's concert agent has not yet heard of The 
Star, and is carefully sending two stalls for every concert to all 
the crop of sixpenny weeklies which came out in the seventies 
and died at the half-dozenth number. (You would not credit the 
stupidities of this sort that go on.) Now, I dont want your 
tickets, gendemen agents; but do, in the name of common sense, 
send me your prospectuses. If not, you will have your own 


behind-the-timeness to thank for "a rather thin attendance." 

13 December 1889 
The past week has, I believe, been a busy one for the musical 
critics. It has certainly been a busy one for me, but not musically: 
I have not even been to the Savoy opera. The first night I have to 
spare, I shall — but stop 1 1 have not seen The Dead Heart yet, nor 
La Tosca, nor A Man's Shadow. So let us fix the fourth night I 
have to spare for The Gondoliers. It will probably come about 
Easter, or if not then, towards the end of August. 

Do not be disappointed at this, eager reader. A new Savoy 
opera is an event of no greater artistic significance than — to take 
the most flattering comparison — a new oratorio by Gounod. We 
know the exact limits of Mr Gilbert's and Sir Ardiur Sullivan's 
talents by .this time, as well as we know the width of the Thames 
at Waterloo Bridge; and I am just as likely to find Somerset 
House under water next Easter or autumn, as to find The Gon- 
doliers one hair's-breadth better than The Mikado, or Gounod's 
promised Mass a step in advance of Mors et Vita. The Savoy has 
a certain artistic position, like the German Reed entertainment; 
but it is not a movable position. The Red Hussar might have been 
a new departure at the Lyric; Gretna Green might have been any- 
thing; but I am already as absolutely certain of what The Gon- 
doliers is as I shall be when I have witnessed the performance. 

One result of this is that Ihave no real curiosity on the subject. 
Indeed, I may as well confess ihat I have no real conviction that I 
shall ever fiilfil my promise to go. Would you be surprised to 
leam that I have never seen The Sorcerer, lolanthe, Princess Ida, 
and Ruddigore at all, nor even Patience, except from behind the 
scenes at an amateur performance. I have a sorrowfiilly minute 
acquaintance with the music of them all; but it has been imposed 
upon me by circumstances over which I have no control. And as 
I have seen Trial by Jury only as an afterpiece by a provincial 
company when it first appeared ever so many years ago; as I saw 
The Pirates at the Opera Comique, and H.M.S. Pinafore by the 


been only once inside the Savoy Theatre. On that occasion I was 
haled thilHer forcibly by a iriend who had a spare stall for a 
Mikado mating. The conclusion is irresistible that the attraction 
of Gilbert-Sullivan opera is not sufHcient to overcome my inertia. 
The reason is not far to seek. Mr Gilbert's paradoxical wit, aston- 
ishing to the ordinary Englishman, is nothing to me. Nature has 
cursed me with a iadlity for the same trick; and I could paradox 
Mr Gilbert's head off were I not convinced that such trifling is 
morally unjustifiable. As to Sir Arthur's scores, they form an easy 
introduction to dramatic music and picturesque or topical orches- 
tration for perfect novices; but as I had learned it all from 
M^'erbeer (not to profane the great name of Mozart in such a 
connection), and was pretty well tired of Offenbach before Trial 
by Jury was bom, there was no musical novelty in the affair for 
me. Besides, Sir Arthur's school is an exploded one. Neatly and 
cleverly as he exploits it, he caimot get a progression or a melody 
out of it that is not the worse for wear. It smells mustily of Dr 
Day and his sham science of harmony, beloved of the Royal 
Academy of Music. Give me unaffected melodies consisting 
diiefly of augmented intervals, a natural haimony progressing by 
consecutive fifths and sevenths, plenty of healthy unprepared 
tonic discords and major ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths, with- 
out any pedantic dread of "false relations"; and then I will listen 
with some interest. But no more of Dr Day for me. 

By the way, the question of learning harmony reminds me that 
I never finished the reply I began some weeks ago to the gentle- 
man who asked my advice as to how he should proceed in the 
matter of taking singing lessons. But I do not know that I have 
anything to add, except that if he succeeds in finding in one and 
the same person a master able to teach him to produce his voice 
and pronounce well, besides helping him with really valuable 
artistic advii^ and criticism, I shall be glad to learn that gifted 
one's address. 

Here are a few samples of the teachers who are quite willing to 

undertake the entire instruction of a public singer, from his first 



scale to his first ovation at La Scala, Milan, or at the Handel 
Festival, i. Competent teacher of voice production. Can speak 
English with an Irish accent, and pronounce Italian with the 
same. Pretends to know French and German, but doesnt. Con- 
siders Rossini the most famous and popular of contemporary 
composers; but confesses to have been much struck with 
the modem innovations in Les Huguenots, II Trovatore, and 
Gounod's Faust. Has rediscovered Porpora's method, as taught 
for six years from a single sheet of exercises to Cafiarelli. 
2. Frenchman. Great master of pronunciation, style, deportment, 
and dramatic repression, all, except the pronunciation, of the 
most artiiidal, unnatural, and impossible order. Sublimely ego- 
tistical, overbearing, but timid if resolutely bullied. Has ori^- 
ated all he knows himself. Considers all other teachers quacks. 
Relates all the anecdotes of Delsarte as havi?^ happened to him- 
self. Has smashed his own voice, and is at present busy smashing 
everybody's else. Intends to come out at the Grand Opera in 
Paris some day, and bring the world to his feet, like Farinelli, by 
siting one note — just one — which will be the revelation of a 
new era. Shews you how Talma (whom he never saw) declaimed. 
Also gives imitations of RacheL Regards the French nation as the 
most degraded on the face of the earth. Is under the impression 
(erroneous) that he has composed a great Mass. Teaches Cluck's 
Dhinitds du Styx to lady pupils, and Schubert's Erlkomg to 
gendemen. 3. Englishman. Organist, Mus.Bac. Unaffectedly col- 
loquial delivery. Suburban accent Thinks he ought to know 
something about singing, considering the number of choirboys 
he has trained. Was a choirboy himself. Member of the Church of 
England, except for the eighteen months when he was an Irving- 
ite, having taken an organ of that persuasion. Was at the opera 
once, but is not much of a theatre-goer. Understands fugue and 
canon, and wrote a Nunc dimittis in five real parts for his degree. 
Successfully "analyzed" the last movement of Mozart's Jupiter 
symphony on the same occasion. Favorite classics, Handel and 
Mendelssohn. Favorite modems, Jackson and Goss. Dislikes 
foreigners. Can teach the staff notation, and does not see what 


more a man can do with a pupil who only wants to sing. 
4. Alsatian. Native tongue a patois, which he has forgotten. 
Cannot speak any language, but conununicdtes with his fellow- 
creatures in bad French. Composes fantasias, berceuses, seren- 
ades, etc, with great facility. Can play the guitar, roll twenty-four 
dgarets in a minute, and do Badeaii's trick of singing a note and 
swallowing a glass of wine at the same time. Capital cridc of 
cookery. Can ^ew you ecactly how Malibran sang La Sonnam- 
bula, Schroder Devrient Fidelio, and Cabel Dinorah. Has known 
every musician and celebrity of the century, and can tell you dis- 
creditable things about most of them. Heard Rossini say that the 
overture to Tannhiuser would sound just as well played back- 
wards, and, with all due deference to you, prefers Rossini's 
opinion to yours. Considers that Wagner shewed his evil disposi- 
don by drinking coffee out of a golden cup, wearing velvet 
dressing-gowns, and being ungrattlul to Meyerbeer. Knows 
good singing and music from bad in all the old-fashioned styles, 
and can work introducdons, engagements, and press notices for 
you. 5. German. Enthusiast. Thorough musician. Well read, well 
educated, fiilly up to die modem standard of musical culture- 
Despises the ignorant dolts and dastards who drag music dirough 
the mud in Ei^jland. Tells them so whenever he meets them. 
Finds that everybody quarrels with him, and asks whether it is 
not obvious that this conspiracy against an eminendy reasonable 
and well-disposed man is the work of the Jews, who are the 
curse of modem dvilizadon. Will unmask them some day; and in 
the meantime will let them know what he thinks of them whikt he 
has breath in his body. Has no sense of humor; cannot see from 
anybody's point of view but his own; cannot understand that any 
other person should, except from corrupt motives or mental 
incapacity, have any other point of view; and would infallibly 
ruin himself by mere incompatibility but for the indispensabiiity 
of his professional skill, knowledge, and devotion. 



20 December 1889 
When I went down to the Crystal Palace last Saturday I knew 
that I was not going to have a treaL Mr Manns was over the hilb 
and far away; and Mr Cowen was installed instead with a cantata. 
Still, it might have been worse. It might have been an oratorio. 
So, though straitened, I was not utterly cast down; and I should 
have reached the Palace in a fairly serene temper had not the traia 
which brought me from Charing Cross to Victoria stuck in the 
timnd and lost me the quarter past two express. The next time it 
happens I will have the law of them, if there is law in England. 

Just as a considerate dentist warms his forceps in hot water, 
and hides it behind his back as he approaches you, so Mr Cowen 
disguised his cantata as "an old English idyll." But he could not 
conceal the ominous fact that the libretto is by Mr Joseph Bennett, 
who also supplies an "analysis" of the music, said analysis beii^ 
about as diiHcult as an experienced chranist would find that of a 
cup of tea. If Mr Cowen had only written an analysis of Mr 
Bamett's poem, the two audiors would have been even with one 
another. As it is, Mr Cowen has all the praise; and Mr Bennett has 
to be content with a slice of the pudding. 

Here are some extracts &om the "analysis." Easy rhythmic 
flow and natural harmonies — effective change of key and tempo 
— light and sparkling accompaniment — thoroughly appropriate 
simplicity — the composer reflects the spirit of old English music 
in almost every phrase — simple suggesdveness of the hushed 
accompaniment — animated and vigorously written number — 
frank and straightforward music — very effective return of the 
first part of the chorus — unaffected beauty of the soi^ — un- 
adorned eloquence of which Mr Cowen's music now presents so 
many examples — strong and earnest feeling, etc, etc;, etc Here 
is a final gem. "As for the vocal melody, it is simple and simply 
melodious, bespeaking, moreover, a manly and healthy sentiment 
entirely appropriate to the circumstances under which it is 

The reflections suggested to me by Mr Cowen's simple and 


simply melodious melodies ran upon the irony of the a 
ments of that musical Providence which ordains that blunt £1^- 
lish professors shall be set to write about Judith and Jael and 
Deborah, whilst subtle descendants of the race of these heroines 
are imitating old English ballad music. St John's Eve is just as 
like The Vicar of Bray or Down Among the Dead Men as Mr 
Goschen is like Lord Brassey or Mr W. H. Smith. It is the draw- 
ing room music of Maida Vale in an "old English" fancy costume. 
Mr Bennett has played up to die fancy cosmme, hardily but vatnly, 
by flavoring his verse with such Augustan spices as "gende 
Zephyr," and describing his heroine as "die fair." Which only 
reminded my irreverence of Mis Simkins in the ballad of The 
Resurrection Man. 

TTien came the Resurrection Man, the corpse resolved to raise: 
He broke the cofHn with his axe, and at the fair did gaze. 
Up started Mrs Simkins. Says she, "My gracious Me! 
What are you with that axe about?" "Why, axe about," says he, 
With my fol the diddle, ol the diddle, hi fiddle dee. 

What a capital subject and tide for a cantata, by the way, The 
Resurrecdon Man would make! 

I do not propose to add an analysis of my own to Mr Bennett's. 
I doubt if I was as attendve to the music as I ought to have been. 
The openii^ St John theme set me thinking about a stave of 
David's in Die h^tstersinger. Then Mr Geard began to play it as 
a solo on the second trombone; and it immediately struck me as 
a pity that Mr Manns never gets Mr Geard, with Mr Hadfield and 
fcfr Phasey, to play one of those quaint mediaeval pieces for organ 
and three or four trombones, which are so much more pleasant 
to listen to once in a way than Chembini's overture to Anacreon 
played for the fiftieth time. 

Happening, as I mused thus, to look down at my program, in a 
sudden wave of speculation as to why its price should have been 
doubled in honor of Mr Bennett's verses, my eye caught the 


. 175 



"Arabella Goddard stands in need of help. Her health, failing 
for some time past, is now so impaired that she can no longer 
follow her profession as a teacher; and this appeal is issued by her 
friends and admirers in the confident expectation that it will not 
be vainly put forth." Address, Chappell and Co., jo New Bond 
Street, W. 

The writer of the appeal is wrong in his dates as ^ as Madame 
Goddard's retirement is concerned. She may not have played at 
the Popular Concerts after 1873; but she did not retire then: I 
heard her play Beeihoven's E fiat concerto, and one by Stemdale 
Bennett at the Crystal Palace as lately as 1876, if not 1877; and at 
about the same period she was playing some of her old Thalbei^ 
pieces at Messrs Boosey's ballad concerts. She was an extra- 
ordinary pianist: nothing seemed to give her any trouble. There 
was something almost heartless in the indifference with which she 
played whatever the occasion required: medleys, fentasias, and 
potpourris for "popular" audiences, sonatas for Monday Popular 
ones, concertos for classical ones; as if the execution of the most 
difficult of them were too easy and certain to greatly interest her. 
I have a notion — which may be pure fancy — that she wore wide 
hanging sleeves long after everybody else had given them up, 
and that they gave a certain winged grace to the travelling to and 
fro of her elbows; for she always held her forearm at right angles 
to the keyboard, never perceptibly mming it out. She was more 
like the Lady of Shalott working away at her loom than a musician 
at a pianoforte. I can see her now as she played; but I confess I 
cannot hear her, tiiough I can vouch for the fact of her wonder- 
ful manipulative skill. Professional jealousy ascribed her suc- 
cess to the influence of her husband, who was musical critic to 
The Times; but no influence could have kept her in the front 
rank for nearly a quarter of a cenmry without great ability on her 
part I hope her old admirers will be generous. She must either 
have spent a fortune or lost it. I hope she has spent it and enjoyed 
it; and if she had spent ten, her position as the most famous of 
English pianists entitles her to ask for the means of enjoying 
dignity and comfort in her retirement. 


I do not know what young women are coming to nowadays. 
You should see the artful letters with which they practise on the 
weakest side of my nature when they want to get me to a con- 
rert. I very nearly succumbed to die wiles of two concert giveis 
on Wednesday; but I hardened my heart for three reasons, i. 
They called me a "musical critique" a term which lacerated my 
literary sensibilities. 2. They sent me a half-crown dcket, though 
their program mentioned high places at half a guinea and five 
shillings. They little know how small-minded "critiques'* are, if 
they habitually wound their dignity in this greedy fashion. 3. 1 
was performing myself at Westminster, and could not have come 

27 December 1889 
The only music I have heard this week is waits. To sit up work- 
ing until two or three in the morning, and then, just as I am losing 
myself in my first sleep, to hear Vemte adoremus, more generally 
known as Ow, cam let Huz adore Im, welling forth from a 
comet (English pitch), a saxhorn (Society of Arts pitch, or there- 
abouts), and a trombone (French pitch), is the sort of thing that 
breaks my peace and destroys my good will cowards men. Com- 
ing on top of a very arduous mondi, it reduced me last Saturday 
to a condition of such complete addledness, that it became evident 
that my overwrought brain would work itself soft in another 
fortnight unless an interval of complete mental vacuity could be 

Obviously the thing to do was to escape from the magnetic 
atmosphere of London, and slow down in some empty-headed 
place where I should be thoroughly bored. Somebody suggested 
Broadstairs. I had always supposed Broadstairs to be a show place 
at Wapping; but I found that it was half-way between Margate 
and Ramsgate, in neither of which famous watering-places had I 
ever set foot. So on Christmas Eve I made my way to Holbom 
Viaduct, where I found a crowd which I cannot honestiy describe 
as a nice crowd. A blackguard crowd, in fact: a betting, loafing, 


rowdy crowd, widi a large iniiisioii of iighdng men in iL The 
i^hdng men were much the most respectable of the company. 
They had quite an air of honest industry about them, being men 
without illusions, who will calculate your weight and earn your 
money by the sweat of their brow if the opportuni^ looks good 
enough — who are not courageous but fitfully hopeful, not fearful 
but anxious, fighting bdng to them not a romantic exploit but a 
trade venture. The question was, however, what were they doing 
at Holbom Viaduct? 

Well, I suppose they were waiting to hail the return of the 
heroes from Bruges: of the prudent Smith, who is a ^ly com- 
petent but by no means iiist-rate artist, and of the heroic Slavin, 
who is, it appears, a pianist, the Orpheus of the ring. Also, per- 
haps, of the referee, whose decision proves that he is versed in the 
history of the ring, and knows what has happened to referees in 
the past when they have incautiously declared a winner without 
considering tiiat by doing so they also declared a loser, and there- 
by took money out of the pockets of men with wives and families. 
As I came along in the train I read some indignant articles on the 
unfairness of the Bruges prize fight, evidently written by men 
who do not know diat the proceedings which caused Mr Slavin 
to demand with noble indignation whether the occupants of Mr 
■ Smidi's comer were Englishmen, are in every respect typical 
of the prize ring, and wece as familiar in every detail to our 
grandfathers as Handel's Messiah is to me. Of course the corner^ 
men were English; and I am bound to say that they seem to have 
earned dieir money faithfully, which is more than can be said for 
the mere betting men — real gentlemen, bent on getting money 
anyhow except by workiijg for it. 

I have no illusions about pugilism or its professors. I advo- 
cate the placing of the laborer in such a position that a position 
in tile ring will not be worth his acceptance, instead of, as it now 
is, a glorious and lucrative alternative (for a while) to drudgery 
and contempt. I have not the smallest respect for the people who 
call the prizefighter a brute, without daring to treat him like one, 
but who will treat him much worse than one (than their himter, 


LOPflDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 
for instance) if he remains a laborer for wages. I object to gamblers 
of all sorts, whether they gamble with horses, Haters, grey- 
hounds, stocks and shares, or anything else. I hate foxhunting, 
shooting, fishing, coursing (a most dastardly pursuit); and I 
would, if I had the power, make horse traction in the streets, with 
all its horrors, as illegal as dog traction is. Furthermore, I do not 
eat slaughtered animals; and I regard a man who is imposed on 
by the vulgar utilitarian at^uments in fevor of vivisection as 
a subject for police surveillance. No doubt, all die other journal- 
ists who disapprove of prizefighting are equally consistent. 

However, this has nothing to do with Broadstairs. Let no man 
henceforth ever trifle with Fate so far as actually to seek bore- 
dom. Before I was ten minutes here, I was bored beyond descrip- 
tion. The air of the place is infernal. In it I hurry about like a 
mouse suffocating in oxj^en. The people here call it "ozone" 
and consider it splendid; but there is a visible crust over them, a 
sort of dull terra-cotta sur&ce which they pretend to regard as a 
s^ of robust health. As I consume in the ozone, this terrible lime- 
kiln crust is forming onme too; and theycongratulate me already 
on " looking quite different." As a matter of fact I can do nothing 
but eat: my brain refuses its accustomed work. The place smells as 
if someone had spilt a bottle of iodine overit. The sea is absolutely 
dirtier than the Thames under Blackfriars Bridge; and the cold is 
hideous. I have not come across a graveyard yet; and I have no 
doubt that sepulture is unnecessary, as the houses are perfect 
refrigerating chambers, capable of preserving a corpse to the 
remotest posterity- 

I am staying in Nuckell's Place; and they tell me that Miss 
Nuckell was the original of Betsy Trotwood in David Copper- 
field, and that the strip of green outside is that from which she 
used to chase the donkeys. A house down to the left is called 
Bleak House; and I can only say that if it is any bleaker than my 
bedroom, it must be a nonpareil freezer. But all this Dickens- 
mania is only hallucination induced by the ozone. This morning 
a resident said to me "Do you see that weatherbeaten old salt 
coming along.*" "Yes" I replied; "and if you will excuse my 


anticipating your reply, I may say that I have no doubt that he 
is the original of Captain Cuttle. But, my dear madam, I myself 
am Como di Bassetto; and in future Broadstairs anecdotage will 
begin to revolve round Me." Then, impelled to restless activity 
by the abominable ozone, I rushed off to the left; sped along the 
clifis; passed a lighthouse, which looked as if it had been turned 
into a pillar of salt by the sea air; fell presendy among stony 
ground; passed on into muddy ground; and finally reached Mar- 
gate, a most dismal hole, where the iodine and ozone were 
flavored with lodgii^. 

I made at onc^ for the railway stadon, and demanded the next 
train. "Where to?" said the official. "Anywhere" I replied "pro- 
vided it be far inland." "Train to Ramsgil at two-fifteen" he 
said: "nothing else till six." I could not conceive Ramsgit as being 
so depressing, even on Christmas Day, as Margit; so I got into 
that train; and, lo, die second station we came to was Broadstairs. 
This was the finger of Fate; for the ozone had made me so 
ragingly hur^;ry that I burst from the train and ran all the way to 
Nuckell's Place, where, to my unspeakable horror and loathing, 
they triumphandy brought me up a turkey with sausages. "Surely, 
sir" they said, as if remonstrating with me for some exhibition 
of depravity "surely you eat meat on Christmas Day." "I tell 
you" I screamed "that I never eat meat." "Not even a litde 
gravy, sir? I think it would do you good." I put a fearful con- 
straint on myself, and politely refused. Yet they came up again, 
as fresh as paint, with a discolored mess of suet scorched in flam- 
ing brandy; and when I conveyed to them, as considerately as I 
could, that I thought the distinction between suet and meat, burnt 
brandy and spirits, too fine to be worth insisting on, they evi- 
dently regarded me as hardly reasonable. There can be no doubt 
that the people here are mentally enfeebled. The keen air causes 
such rapid waste of dssue that they dare not add to it by thinking. 
They are always recuperating — that is to say eating — mosdy 

Nevertheless it was with some emodon that I trod sea sand for 

the first time for many years. When I was a boy I learnt to appre- 



date the sight and sound of the sea in a beautiful bay on the Irish 
coast. But ihey have no confounded ozone in Ireland, only ordin- 
ary wholesome sea air. You never see an Irishman swa^ering 
and sniffing about with his chest expanded, mad with excessive 
oxj^en, and assuring everybody that he feels — poor devill — Uke 
a new man. 

By the way, I did not escape the Waits by coming down here. 
I had not walked fifty yards from the railway station when I 
foimd them in full cry in a front garden. However, I am bound to 
confess that the seaside vocal Wait is enormously superior to tbe 
metropolitan instrumental one. They sang very well: were quite 
Waits off my mind, in fact. (This is my first pun: let who can 
beat it.) A couple of boys and the basso were conspicuous in the 
harmony. I suspect they were the church choir tumii^ an honest 

^January 1890 
The other day, mad for want of something to do, I stood on the 
edge of the cliff and took a last look at sea and sky before plun- 
ging head-foremost to the rocks below. The preceding week had 
been a deadly one. I had been to CanKrbury to see what the boy 
in Edwin Drood called the Kinfr'eederl; and my attempt to look 
right down the building frxim end to end had been baffled by a 
modem choir screen compared to which Costa's additional ac- 
companiments to Mozart seemed pardonable and even meri- 
torious. Why cant they let the unfortunate Kinfreederl alone? I 
rushed off angrily into the wilderness, and after wandering for 
eighteen miles or so found myself back here at Broadstairs again. 
I had also gone to Ramsgate to see a melodrama; but I had to 
leave the dieatre at die eleventh murder, feeling that my moral 
sense was being blunted by familiarity with crime. As a last re- 
source, I had been to the North Foreland Lighthouse to seek 
employment there; but the resident illuminating artist, whose in- 
telligent and social c(Hiversadon was an inexpressible relief to me, 
told me that the Trinity House catches its lighthousists young, 


as no man with an adequate knowledge of life would voluntarily 
embrace so monotonous a career. "I have come to such a state of 
mind in a rock house" he said "that I believed at last that we 
two in it were the only people in the world." 

One thing that struck me about the lighthouse was that it had 
a certain character and a certain beauty about i^ just like the old 
Cathedral, except in so &r as it was not like it at all. "nie con- 
structors, I have no doubt^ did their very best to make a good 
lighthouse, because they understood the want of such a thing. 
Now when we start to put up a choir screen — a thing we should 
never dream of doii^ on our own spontaneous initiative — we 
don't understand the want of iL We don't want it, in short. Con- 
sequendy, when the restoradve architect sketches a miserable 
sham mediaeval obstruction, we hand the sketch over to the 
builder as being probably the right thing. Tbs shape is much the 
same; and, af^ all, the fellow is an architect, and ou^t to know. 
The guide who showed me the Cathedral told me, as well as I 
can recollect, that the building was designed by one Thomas 
Ibbekket, who was killed by the Black Prince. So they made him 
a saint, and put his shrine near the tomb of the Prince, upon whom 
the pious pilgrims did poetic justice iby stealing the diamonds out 
of his helmet. Well, if IbbeJdcet's ghost were set to repair the 
North Foreland Lighthouse, how would he regard the job? He 
would say "B/r Lady, here be a bell tower, and eftsoons a gra- 
merdfully ill-favored one. The wight that wrought here did but 
foolishly to seek beauty in curiously &shioned wedges of glass, 
die whiles fotgat he it wholly in the shape of his window; where- 
as every churl knoweth diat die beauty of glass is but in its hue, 
and eke the m^esty of a window in the stone arch that surroundedi 
it. Fain would I build these fools a new tower; but since they will 
neither have me do that nor disuse their silly custom of firing a 
beacon in die loft, I must e'en do what I ^thfully can to bide 
their folly, and shield them from the scof&ig of the passing ship- 
man." With such notions, Thomas, It is safe to say, would make 
a hash of the lighthouse, but by no means such a hash as we have 
made of the choir screen. To touch that for bungling, Thomas 


would have to set to at manu&cturing dioptric lenses as a sham 
nineteentfa century optician. 

However, I am digressing. U'hen I had exhausted the Kin- 
freedeil and the Lighthouse and the melodrama, suidde, as I have 
related, seemed the only thing left. But I was loth to cast myself 
off the cliff; for I had just read Mr Walter Besant's sequel to 
Ibsen's Doll's House in the English Illustrated Magazine, and I 
felt that my suicide would be at once held up as the natural end 
of a reprotate who gready prefers Ibsenism to Walter Besantism. 
Besides, it seemed to be rather Walter's plac^ than mine to com- 
mit suidde after such a performance. Still, I feh so deadly dull 
that I should hardly have survived to tell the tale had not a des- 
perate expedient to wile away the time occurred to me. Why not 
telegraph to London, I thought, for some music to review? Re- 
viewing has one advantage over suidde. In suidde you take it 
out of yourself: in reviewing you take it out of other people. In 
my seaside temper that dedded me. I sent to London at once; 
and the music came duly by parcels post. 

I have tried all the songs over carefully, and am tmder notice 
to leave when my week is up. 

I note that one of these compositions is dedicated by its author 
to his brother Edgar. Absurd as this is, it is at least pecuniarily 
disinterested. The point of this remarklies in the&ct that dedicating 
a soi^ is usually only a polite way of beg^g, as the dedicatee, if a 
private person and not a relative, is expected to buy five pounds' 
worth of copies in return. I take theopportunityof mentioningthis 
custom in the hope that the innocent people who gush dedications 
all over their dde-pages may be made aware of the construction 
which older hands phce on such follies. If people do meaningless 
things, they must not complain at having meanings supplied by 
other hands. 

In coming to the more successful efforts contained in my 
bundle, I feel far from sure that my standard has not been unduly 
lowered by trying over the failures. I know a pianoforte dealer 
who has an aniiil way of selling indifferent pianos, ev?n to ex- 
perts. When you go into his showrooms to choose an instrument, 



he leads you straight to a dashing, rattling, firdrony, "brilliant" 
atrodty, upon which he half murders your ear before you can stop 
him. Then, professing to understand by your protests exactly 
what you really want, he opens just sudi another, only ten per 
cent worse all roimd. By the time he has assaulted you in this 
manner some five or six times, you are ready, by force of con- 
trast, to accept a very middling piano as a quite exquisite instru- 
ment. This old acquaintance of mine has more establishments in 
Europe and America than I care to mention. 

Ha ! the postman. What is this? My ticket for die Press view 
at the Old Masters on Friday! Hoorayt Good-bye, Broadstairs. 

10 January 1890 
Prettv lot of fellows, these dramatic critics. Do you remember 
Cousin Feenix, in Dorabey and Son, who spoke of Shakespear 
as "man not for an age but for all time, with whom your great 
grandfather was probably acquainted"? That is much the manner 
in which the dramatic critics have treated the performance of 
A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Globe. They have sat it out; 
yawned; put in a good word for Mr Benson as an Archbishop's 
nephew and for old William; and then set to work in earnest over 
their beloved penny dreadiul equestrian lions and half-crown 
dreadiul Toscas, and forty thousandth night of Sweet Simpering 
Lavender, and stale dramatic dog biscuit generally. However, it 
is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. When I entered 
the pit at the Globe on Monday evening, just as the overture was 
getting under way, I found only four rows occupied, and so 
had practically a choice of positions and an easy view for my 
hard-earned two shillings. But the stalls were full; and I noticed 
that several of the occupants had brought sacred-looking books, 
and that die men were unusually particular about removing their 
hats when they came in. 

Now, I am loth to spoil such excellent business; but I am bound 

to avow that I found myself next a gendeman who is an old 

acquaintance of the manager's, and he assured me (and I have 



since verified his assurance) that the archiepiscopal connection 
is a pure Invention of the Press, and that Mr F. R. Benson is 
neither an archbishop, nor an archbishop's son, nor an arch- 
bishop's nephew, nor even, so far as can be ascertained, his re- 
motest cousin-gemian. My first impulse on hearing this was, I 
own, to demand my money back. But just then Miss Kate Rorke's 
draperies floated through the arcades; and when she said 

O happy fair! 
Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue's sweet air 
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear 

Lambeth Palace might have been dynamited across into Millbank 
for all I cared. Reader: do you remember Shield's three-part song; 
and have you ever yourself lent a hand with 

O hi hap-pee hap-pee hap-pee hap-pee fai-air 

Your eyes, are lodestars and your tongue, sweet, air. 

Which, I frankly admit, spoils the sense of the verse, but not its 
music. This generation, I sometimes think, has no sense of word 
music. They will go to the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, and admire 
tissues of cottons, wools, and silks; but give them a beautiful 
tissue of words, and they have no more sense of the art of it than 
if it was the Post Office Directory. For instance, William Morris 
has been weaving words into an article on the art and industry 
of the fourteenth century in Time. Now watch the reviews, and 
see whether one of them will draw the slightest distinction be- 
tween the beauty of this article's verbal fabric and the lirerary 
kamptulicon of Mr Blank of die Sterile Club, situate in the r^on 
between Dan and Beersheba. But if William Morris had woven 
a carpet instead, how everybody would have pretended to 
admire it! 

The confounded diing about it is that actors, whose business 
it is to be experts in word music, are nearly as deaf to it as other 
people. At the Globe they walk in thick darkness through Shake- 
spear's measures. They do not seem to know that Puck may have 
thevivadtyof a street Arab, but not his voice; his bite, but never 



his bark; that Theseus should know all Gluck's operas by heart, 
and in their spirit deliver his noble lines; that Oberon must have 
no Piccadilly taint in his dialect to betray him into such utter- 
ances as 

Be it ahnce, aw cat, aw bea-ah 
Pahd, aw boa-ah widi b'istled hai-ah 
In thy eye that shall appea-ah 
When thou wak'st, it is thy dea-ah. 

By this time I should be converted to the device of joining con- 
secutive vowels with r's, if conversion were possible. I know 
that it is easy to say Mariar Ann, and cruelly hard to say Maria 
Ann. But the thing is possible with courage and devotion. When 
Mr Benson schools himself to say 

Not Hermia but Helena I love 
instead of 

Not Hermia but Helenar I love 

I shall be spared a pang when next thereafter I hear him play 
Lysander. Helenar sounds too like cockney for Eleanor. 

On the whole, I fear I must declare sweepingly that Miss Kats 
Rorke is the only member of the company who is guiltless of 
verse murder. She is by no means the gentle Helena of Shake- 
spear. The soul of that damsel was weak; but none of Miss Kate 
Rorke's organs, I take it, is stronger than her soul. Yet by this 
very strength she forces herself on the part; and I accept her widi 
joy and gratitude. Artist in one thing, artist in all things. The 
sense of beauty that guides Miss Rorke through tfie verse, guides 
her movements, her draperies, her eyes, and everything about 
her. She has charms in her fingers and charms in her toes; and 
she shall have music (by Mendelssohn) wherever she goes. 

Miss Maud Milton, who played Hermia, took the part at 
such short notice that she evidently had to leam it during the 
intervals; for in the first act she left out all about the simplicity of 
Venus' doves, and a good deal more beside. Later in the evening 
she was comparatively letter-perfect; and she played with in- 


telUgence and force. But she was melodramatic: the indispensable 
classic grace was wanting: she looked persecuted, and seemed 
to be struggling throi^h the toils of some forger villain towards 
a recondliadon with a long lost husband in the 6fth acL As to 
Bully Bottom, I have no doubt he was more Athenian than 
Shakespear made him; but his stupidity lacked the true uncdon, 
and his voice had not caught the Stratford-on-Avon diapason. 
The rest of the company must excuse me. I never trespass on the 
province of a colleague. The criticism of acting is Arthur 
Walkley's business. 

About the music, however, I may venture on a word. Mendels- 
sohn's score, even when eked out by Cooke's Over hill,over dale, 
and Horn's I Know a Bank, falls short of Mr Benson's require- 
ments. Accordingly, not only are two "songs without words," 
the Spring Song and the so-called Bee's Wedding, pressed into 
the service, but the Fingal's Cave overture has been cheerfully 
anneced for the last entr'acte. I fully expected a selection from 
Elijah to crop up in the course of the fifth act. But how different 
this music is from the oratorio music! how original, how ex- 
quisitely happy, how radiant with pure light, absolutely without 
shadowl Nineteenth-century civilization had a job after its own 
pocket in knocking all that out of Mendelssohn, and setting him 
to work on Stone Him to Death and the like. 

I am glad to be able to say that the nineteenth century has not 
utterly defeated the execution of the music at the Globe. True, 
the orchestra is a litde shorthanded, and now and then rather 
rot^h; but it greatly enhances the pleasure of seeing the play; 
and, under the circumstances, I ask no more except that the 
wedding march should be pulled togedier and smartened up. 
At present it is slovenly. The audience behaved stupidly, talking 
too much during the entr'actes, and encoring "I know a bank" 
a charming piece, but one which does not require to be heard 
twice over, as its melodic ideas are repeated and elaborated as 
as much as they will bear. The silking was very &ir, though 
here again imperfect training in dicdon told on the ei&cL For 
instance. Miss Townsend's voice was pretty when she was singii^ 


oH-fashtoned florid passages without word^; but when she came 
to tell us about hills and dales, the excessive acuteness of her 
vowels made the effect grotesque. I must use a French i to repre- 
sent the effect of the flrst line she sang — 

Oveh heels, oveh tUUi, etc., etc 

But if I harp too niuch on diction, some idiot will begin to 
clamor for the introduction of the FrMich system, by which all 
the actot3, instead of cultivating and developing each his own 
diction, acquire a second-hand article which is much more hateful 
than the honest incompetence of our British buskineers. (This 
phrase is at the service of any dramatic critic who would like to 
write The British Buskineers to the tune of British Grenadiers. 
For example: 

On parle de'Moimet Sullyi on parle de Coquelin, 
De Febvre, Got et Maubant, du sodetaire enfin. 

And so on, ending with the dow, roy, meeh, fawr, saorl, lar, see, 
of the British buskineer). 

The death of Gayarr^ places it beyond my power to make 
amends for the injustice — if it really was an injustice — ^whidi I 
did him the first and last time I heard him sing. The occasion was 
his debut at Covent Garden in 1877 in the character of Raoul 
de Nangis. I was not then accustomed to the now happily ob- 
solescent vocal method called goatbleat; and I thought he had a 
horriblevoice and a horriblewayofusingit, whilst his bearing and 
acting aggravated rather than redeemed his vocal disadvantages. 
Not only thought so, reader, but said soj for in those days Italian 
opera was in the valley of the shadow; and the performances at 
Covent Garden were one long exasperation from the first note to 
the last. Mr Harris had not taken matters in hand then: he was, I 
rather think, playing in Pink Dominoes at the Criterion. Ho-«^t, 
I protested vehemendy against Gayarr^; but although I stand to 
my opinion of the solitary performance I wimessed, I cannot 
doubt riiat in concert rooms,in private, and in theatres too small to 
frighten him into forcing his voice beyond all reason,he must have 


been an artist of considerable charm, as his position was not one 
of those that are to be had for nothing. Cases are byno means un- 
common of practised singers and speakers losing all confidence 
in their old methods in new and alarming conditions as to space. 
When that happens, diey begin to bleat frantically, with the 
effect that Gayarr^ produced on me. Actors and singers who have 
small voices should remember that the problem for them is to 
make themselves heard, and by no means to make themselves 
loud. Loudness is the worst defect of quality that any voice, 
large or small, can have. 

IT January 1890 
The other day, passing Her Majesty's Theatre, I saw by the 
placards that a Christmas pantomimewasgoingon inside. I had not 
been to a pantomime for fourteen years at least. So I went in; and 
now I do not think I shall go to one for fourteen years more. It 
was terribly stupid. The investment it represented may have 
been anything between ten and twenty thousand pounds. Every 
thousand of it produces about a fartbingsworth of enjoyment, 
net I say net, because a balance has to be struck between positive 
and negative results. In estimating that the entertainment exceeds 
the annoyance and tedium by a tenth of a farthing per cent, I am 
making a generous allowance for the inferior tastes of my fellow 
creatures. As far as I am personally concerned, the balance is on 
the other side; for I am sorry I went; and wild horses could not 
drag me thither again. 

What struck me most was the extraordinary profusion of 
artistic talent wasted through mere poverty of purpose. One 
fiftieth part of it placed at the disposal of a man with the right 
sort of head on bis shoulders would have sufliced for a quite satis- 
fectory pantomime. The scene painters, costumiers, property 
makers, armoreis, and musicians are for the most part capable 
artists; a few of the players are actors; and the dancers do not all 
walk like irresolute ostriches. But they might almost as well have 
been walking up and down the Strand with their hands in their 


pockets — or in Mr Leslie's pockets — for all the use that is made 
of their ability in the Haymarket. In the Strand they would bore 
nobody but themselves: in the Haymarket they bored Me — Me, 
that never injured them. 

The whole affair had been, according to the playbill, "invented 
and arranged by Charles Harris." I have no animosity towards 
that gentleman; but I must say I wish he would invent a little 
more and arrange a litde less. Take the procession of beetles, for 
Instance. When I was a small boy there was in die house a book 
on entomology, with colored plates. The beetles depicted in 
them were so goi^eous and fantastic that it was delightfiil to 
turn over ten plates or so. After that they palled, rapid and easy 
as the turning over of a bookleaf is; for the mind thirsted for a 
new idea. Now it was a capital notion of Mr Harris's, that of 
having a processional ballet of beetles. But he has worn the notion 
to death — or, to put it tropically, he turns over too many plates. 
The first five minutes are interesting, the second tedious, ibe 
third wearisome, the fourth exasperating, and the fifth sickening. 
As of old, I craved for a fresh idea, and was given a stale beetle. 
The character of the color scheme never varied, the drill never 
varied, the music never varied; so that at last I felt as if Mr Harris 
were brushing my hair by machinery for half an hour on the 
strength of my having enjoyed it for the first half minute. The 
iairy tale procession and the Shakespearean procession were far 
more successful; for here was a world of ideas annexed as cheaply 
as a slice of Africa by the British Empire. 

Perhaps I may seem a little rough on the pantomime, in view 
of all the praise the papers have lavished on it. But you must 
remember the fourteen years which have elapsed since my last 
experience in this line. I have not been let down gently from 
Christmas to Christmas by a ladder of fourteen steps: I have come 
down the whole distance with a crash. I used to regret that the 
performers were merely ordinary actors and not pantomimists 
as well. Imagine my feelii^ on finding that they are now not 
ordinary actors, but "variety artists" without any dramatic 
training whatever. The reduction of the harlequinade to three or 


four scenes lasting only an hour or so seemed inevitable owing 
to the curious scarcity of the sort of talent required to make it 
really funny. I have never seen a good clown (this is without 
prejudice to Mr Payne, to whose downing I am a stranger); and 
. I have my doubts as to whether the character was not as purely 
idiosyncratic with Grimaldi as Dundreary was with Sothem. 
I remember one brilliant harlequin — ^Mr Edward Royce — who 
donned the spangles one evening in an emei^ency.- Also one 
solitary pantaloon, a member of the Lauri troupe, an imposing 
old gentleman, punctiliously mannered and beautifully dressed, 
whose indignant surprise at the reverses which overtook him 
was irresistibly ludicrous. 

But even in its decay, with stupid and vulgar clownii^ and 
harlequins and columbines who had never seen Dresden China 
or Watteau pictures, the harlequinade still consisted of a strii^ 
of definite incidents, involving distinct parts for an old woman, 
a masher (then known as a swell), a policeman, and a nurserymaid. 
The policeman still plotted, the down counteqjlotted, die panta- 
loon muddled eveiything he attempted, and the hariequin at 
least danced. At Her Majesty's I found to my astonishment that 
all this has dwindled to a single scene, lasting about twenty 
minutes, during which two downs, two pantaloons, two police- 
men, and a crowd, widiout distinct functions, improvise random 
horseplay in the feeblest and most confusing way simultaneously 
in opposite comers of the stage. 

This idea of doubling the clown and pantaloon is about as 
sensible as if Mr Irving were to invite Edwin Booth to come 
back to the Lyceimi and revive Othello with two Othellos and 
two lagos. 

The quesdon now is, shall we leave it there, and shall I never 
see a pantomime againi' Sudi a solution is impossible. When Mr 
Harris and Mr Leslie have gone on for a few years more egging 
each other on to greater expenditure behind the curtain for the 
sake of greater weariness before it; when even the grown-up 
people who have learnt to be thankful for small merdes begin to 
echo the sneers of the cynical little children for whose sake the 


entertainment is professedly got up; when the essential squalor 
of the whole affair becomes so obvious that even the dramatic 
critics will grow tired of writing strings of goodnatured lies about 
it, then some manager will suddenly strike his forehead and say, 
"Suppose I try a real pantomime 1 Suppose I get rid of my foul- , 
mouthed, illiterate, ignorant stage manager, who, though he 
dips thousands deep into my treasury, cannot with all his swear- 
ing get two supers to wallt across the stage in step, much less 
tread the boards hke self-respecting menl Suppose I take the 
matter in hand myself as an artist and a man of culturel" 

Well, suppose he does, how could he set to work? I had better 
give explicit directions, since it appears that nobody else will. 
First, then, Mr Manager, get rid of your "literary adviser," if you 
have such a thing. The theatres which harbor such persons at 
once become conspicuous by their illiteracy. This done, think 
over the whole profession as far as you know it, with a view to 
selecting dancers, acrobats, and comedians who are good panto- 
mimists. At Her Majesty's, for instance, there is a ballet of young 
ladies who are supposed to represent rabbits. You can pick out 
at a glance the girls who ever saw a rabbit and who have the 
Acuity of suggesting the peculiar movement of the creature's 
head and paws. These are the girls to select for the new departure 
in pantomime. Leading artists are to be found everywhere. At 
a drcus in Amsterdam I saw a troupe which made music out of 
kitchen utensils. Their leader was a capital pantomimist: his 
imitation of an orchestral conductor was immense; and his pos- 
turing as the ringmaster on a sham hoise outdid nature itself. 
In Le Voyage en Suisse there was a Frenchman, A^ouste by 
name if I mistake not, who was a most artistic pantomimist. 
When Offenbach's Voyage dcms la Lune was produced at the old 
Alhambra, Madame Rose Bell, a lively French lady, distinguished 
herself therein, not more by die qualities which endeared her 
to the Alhambra audience than by the vivacity and expressiveness 
of her pantomime. Such examples show how a company of 
pantomimists could be selected by a good judge. It must finally 
contain a pair of yoimg and beautifiil dramatic dancers for lover 



and sweetheart (harlequin and columhine), a good comedian for 
the intriguing valet (clown), a good old man for die tyrannical 
father, the rich old suitor (pantaloon), or anything except the 
detestable Ally Sloper of today. Finally, you must get a dramatic 
poet who is a bom story teller and who knows the Arabian 
Nights better than Two Lovely Black Eyes. The poet will tell 
you the rest. 

j^ January 1890 
When I laid down my pen last week I thought I had done with 
pantomimes and Cinderella for ever. But who shall foreknow the 
ways of Destiny? On Saturday I went to Bristol to fulfil a Sunday 
starring engagement of an unmusical nature. In the evening, hav- 
ing nothing better to do, I naturally went to the theatre, where I 
found a packed audience listening to the strains of a comic boy in 
buttons, who was in sole possession of the stage. I gathered from 
his song some more or less valuable observations on human con- 
duct in general; but I did not find out what the main business in 
hand was until the entire family came in, when a glance at the two 
ugly sisters and the one pretty one showed me that I had wan- 
tonly exposed myself to another Cinderella pantomime. However, 
I do not complain. The BristoHans, an exacting people, declared 
that it was not as good as last year's; but I \a.A. not seen last 
year's, and so could only weigh it against the pantomime at Her 
Majesty's, compared to which it was an entertainment for artists 
and philosophers. 

For instance, there was a musical director, Mr G. R. Chapman, 
who knew his business, and subdued his orchestra to the merest 
whisper during the harlequinade and the clog dancing (clog 
dancing is pretty when the dancer does not wear clogs). At Her 
Majesty's, Mr Solomon keeps his band scraping and blowing its 
loudest throughout, until it induces distraction and madness, like 
the steam organ of a merry-go-round. The variety items are 
managed so as not to confiise or imduly interrupt the story, which 
was never quite lost sight of by the actors. These, as actors will in 


pantomimes, occasionally subsdmted playing the fool for comic 
acting, with depressing results; for nothing on earth leads more 
to gloomy meditation than the spectacle of a grown man playing 
the fool. Far be it from me to deny, too, that the fun occasionally 
drooped into stale and vapid vulgarity. But there was nothing 
like the weariness and dreariness of the London pantomime. If I 
were forced to choose which of the two I should sit out again on 
pain of death, I should choose death; but if that alternative were 
cut off I should unhesitadngly choose Bristol, although I cannot 
understand why any conceivable railway journey should at this 
time of day take three mortal hours to accomplish. 

But I have not resumed the subject of pantomime merely to 
heave another brick at the costly follies of our big metropolitan 
playhouses. Nor would I have done so solely in order to uige 
most vehemently upon the Jee family, who made a delightful 
clangor with The Last Rose of Summer on horsehoes and The 
Harmonious Blacksmith on anvils, that the horseshoe which 
sounds the keynote is flat, a defect curable in five minutes by any 
harmonious blacksmith armed with a file. Even the suiddal de- 
termination of all the singing ladies to get chest notes or nothing, 
disastrous as its results must prove to them, would not by itself 
have moved me to remonstrance, hardened as I am to it by this 
time. As to the very pretty dance between Mr Edmund Payne 
and Miss Nellie Murray in the fourth scene, did not the audience 
sufficiently justify it by an encore, as they did also a clog dance 
(clogless, as aforesaid) by a Miss Lyndale, whose rosy and shapely 
limbs were unembarrassed to an extent that would have consider- 
ably embarrassed my grandmother.* Mr John Watson, the scenic 
artist who designed the admirable eflects of light and color in the 
feiry coach scene and the IncroyahU ballet, can probably do with- 
out any congratubtions; and the proprietor-manager with the 
historic name, Mr John Macready Qiute, would, if he is anythii^ 
like a London manager, consider all the praise I might lavish on 
him cancelled by the diabolical hatred and persona] malit^ be- 
trayed by my reflection on that single horseshoe that was out of 
tune. Therefore, I lay no stress on any of these matters, but pro- 


ceed to die one point that seriously requires publicity. 

It was towards the end of last century that this nation, having 
devoted itself body and soul to the making of money and of 
everything that would, under pressure, sweat gold, took to mak- 
ing money out of children. I do not propose to make my readers 
sick by recapitulating the horrible villainies on parish apprentice 
children which led to the ineffectual Morals and Health Act of 
1 802, and which were continued on all sorts of poor children with- 
out much alleviation almost up to the middle of this wickedest of 
all the centuries. Every attempt to put these villainies down was 
met with by declarations that the children liked them, and were 
benefited by them, and that their little earnings helped to brighten 
and beautify the dwellings of their affectionate parents. By slow 
and painful steps Humanity beat back Rascality, Greed, and Hypo- 
crisy until, last year, a point was reached at which the law forbad 
the employment of children under ten. Unhappily an exception 
was made in the case of children employed in theatres, who were 
still left liable by means of a magistrate's special license. This 
breach was made in the Act solely through the ignorance and pre- 
judice of its supporters with respect to theatres, one gendeman 
declaring, in effect, that children on the stage were corrupted by 
association with loose women there, and so forth. The gentleman 
apologized afterwards; but by that time the mischief was done. 
The Puritan assumption that every woman on the stage is neces- 
sarily a coarse and brazen volupmary is as offensive as the counter 
assumption that she is necessarily a fireside angel, supportii^ a 
deserving family out of her modest earnings, and never going out 
without a chaperone. The moment the opposition to the excep- 
tion in favor of theatre proprietors became identified with the 
Puritan crusade against beauty and happiness, it was damned, and 
the children were sacrificed. 

But even those who sacrificed them by accepting the fatal 
amendment never intended that magistrates should do more than, 
after a strict inquiry, cautiously license here and there the appear- 
ance of some indispensable child character in dramas so great that 
they cannot, without public loss, be banished from the stage. I 


invite these innocent compliers to take a turn through the theatres 
and see for themselves how magistrates and petty sessions have 
been wantonly issuing their licenses wholesale. In this Bristol 
pantomime, in which the employment of a child under ten was 
no more indispensable than the appearance of a performing lion, 
there were at least twenty children under ten on the stage. They 
were all the better for die Act, which had secured for them a 
separate room with a fire in it, a restricdon of their time at the 
theatre to two hours, and the vigilance of people of my way of 
thinkii^ before the curtain, backed by the chance of a visit from 
the factory inspector behind iL Consequently they romped 
through and piped out Mr Farmer's Singing Quadrilles much 
more happily and fireely than they would have done in the bad old 
times. Further, there were only twenty of them as against thirty 
before the passing of the Act. But the feet remains that they should 
not have been there at all. 

There is some consolation in the reHecdon that the Bill for the 
further extension of the Factory Acts — a measure to which the 
Liberal party is pledged — ^will contain a clause raising the e^ 
under which children may not be employed from ten to twelve, as 
in Germany and Hungaiy. No doubt an attempt will be made to 
renew the present special license clause. But the way in which it is 
being abused to drive a coach and six through the Act of 1889 
will come up in judgment and secure for the children the protec- 
tion of total and unconditional prohibition. If the comfortable 
middle-class people are so ready to be persuaded that work on the 
stage is a harmless pleasure for children, let them send their own 
young ones gratuitously to enjoy and improve themselves there. 
The Acts prohibit only employment for hire. In the meantime, I 
hope that some member of Parliament will seize the earliest op- 
portunity to get from the Secretary of State a return of all the cases 
in which licenses have been granted. Such a return will open the 
^res of the verdant dupes who thought that the licensing clause 
was passed solely in order to provide Richard III with a litde 
Duke of York, or The Doll's House with three little Helmets. 


. LO>fDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 
Just listen to this: ' ^ Jaratary i 90 

"Star Building, Stonecutter Street, E.C., 
"27th January, 1890. 
"Dear Signor di Bassetto, 

"May I respectfully and deferentially invite your attention to ■ 
the fact that it is about six weeks since we had anything about 
music in your column, and that the Popular Concerts have been 
running for the last fortnight in the vain hope of securing a frac- 
tion of the time that can be spared from the enlightenment of 
humanity at Bristol and elsewhere." 

These people seem to think that I have nothing else to do than 
go to concerts for them. Observe, too, how severe, how classic, 
their taste. No vulgar pantomime music for them. Monday Popu- 
lar Concerts or nothing: that is their ultimatum. 

It is evident that if I am to maintain my independence as a 
critic, this spirit of insubordination at headquarters must be 
checked. But how check it? A vulgar critic would refuse ever 
again to enter St James's Hall — would perhaps threaten to resign. 
Not thus do I enforce my authority. I am no despot: when the 
editorial staif, madly fancying that it knows better than I, revolts 
against me, I immediately let it have its own way, knowing that 
before three columns have elapsed it will implore me to resume 
my sceptre and rescue The Star from the consequences of its pre- 
sumptuous ignorance. The moment I got that letter I went straight 
off to a Monday Pop. The following notice of it will, I trust, be 
found to conform in all respects to the best regulation pattern. 

On Monday, the 27th inst., at St James's Hall, Piccadilly, a 
large audience assembled to enjoy the eleven hundred and fifth of 
Messrs Chappell's Popular Concerts, an excellent institution, now 
in its thirty-second season, which has contributed, more than any 
other cause, perhaps, to the spread and enlightenment of musical 
taste and culture in England. Lady HaI16, better known to our 
readers as Madame Norman Neruda, occupied, not for the first 
time, the responsible post of first violin; and the violoncello was 
in the capable hands of the veteran PiattL It is hardly necessary 


LONDON MUSIC IN 1888-89 - 
to say that such artists as these, assisted by Heir L. Ries (second 
violin) and Heir Strauss (viola), gave a perfectly satisfactory 
rendering of Schumann's quartet in A minor, which, curiously 
enough, is written in the key of F major, and which, as all know, 
is the first of the set of three dedicated by Schumann to his friend 
Mendelssohn. Nor did the share of the programme allotted to the 
once contemned Zwickau composer end here. It is true that Schu- 
mann's Papillons can hardly be viewed as an adequate example of 
his maturest powers; but it furnished Herr Stavenhagen with 
ample opportunities for displaying the combined delicacy and 
strength of his execution, which was duly appreciated, and se- 
cured for him a merited, but— considering the character of these 
concerts — ^inappropriate encore. However, it is vain to expect 
artists to resist these flattering compliments: the initiadve in re- 
form must come from the public The concert concluded with the 
ever fresh and perennially welcome septet of Beethoven, played 
— ^we need not say how well — ^by Madame Neruda and MM. Ries, 
Lazarus, Wotton, Paersch, Reynolds, and Piatti, who, if we ex- 
cept Mr Paersch, a comparatively new comer in the place form- 
erly occupied by Mr Harper, have for so many decades charmed 
us with thdr unapproachable rendition of this delightful work, 
of wtiich the composer in his old age pretended to he ashamed. 
But such are ever the waywardnesses of great geniuses. The vocal- 
ist was that promising young singer. Miss Marguerite Hall, who 
was heard to advantage in songs by Schubert and Brahms, besides 
seizii^ the occasion to introduce an unpretentious but thoroughly 
musicianlysettingofOMyLoveislikea Red Red Rose, by Herr 

There! How do you like it, O men of Stonecutter Street, and 
silly friends all who are wont to say of this column that it is 
"amusing, of course, but not musical criticism"? Now that bitter 
experience has taught you that no want of capacity, but only 
sheer mercy for you, restrains me from earning my income cheaply 
by what you in your abysmal gullibility call "musical criticism," 
perhaps some sense of shame may penetrate your ungrateful hearts. 
Idiots! I could teach a parrot to twaddle like that if I could catch 


a sufEciendy empty-headed one. To speak more gently, it is mere 
beginner's work; and no critic should pretend to undertake afeuil- 
leton until he has far ou^rown it. However, I shall relapse into 
it some day. When I shall have got on terms of private intimacy 
with all the artists and impresarios in London— when my obli- 
gations to them in the way of tickets and scraps of information 
shall have made it impossible for me to say anything that would 
make the morrow's meeting disagreeable — when I begin to do a 
little business In the libretto and analytical program line — 
when, in short, I am thoroughly nobbled and gagged, then I, 
too, shall relapse into the beginner's style; and you, if you are 
wise, will stop reading my column. 

Meanwhile, let me say, since I have had the trouble of going 
to that concert, that the Schumann quartet, though an excellent 
piece of chamber music, cuts but a feeble figure in a lar^e concert 
hall; and that I cannot understand why the septet was played with 
all the old-fashioned repeats. The septet is just fresh enough to 
make it delightful without the repeats, and just old and hack- 
neyed enough to make it wearisome with them, especially after 
half-past ten at night. Madame Neruda, by the way, led off the 
allegro about half a mile sharp, and set my ears and Mr Lazarus's 
on edge to such an extent that when the clarionet took up the 
theme, neither he nor I could tell whether it was in tune or not. 
As to Herr Henschel's futile little setting of "My Love is like," etc, 
I can only hope that its very cool reception will help to bring him 
to his senses when next he gets an attack of providing paltry new 
times for good old words. Brahms' Guten Abend, mein Schat:[, 
I had never heard before. It is a quaintly pleasant little duologue 
in song; and Miss Marguerite Hall hit it off very nicely. 

At the HalM orchestral concert this day week I was inhumanly 
tormented by a quadrille band which the proprietors of St James's 
Hall (who really ought to be examined by two doctors) had 
stationed within earshot of the concert-hall. The heavy tum-tum 
of the basses throbbed obscurely against the rhythms of Spohr 
and Berlioz all the evening, like a toothache through a troubled 
dream; and occasionally, during a pianissimo, or in one of Lady 


Hallo's eloquent pauses, the comet would burst into vulgar 
melody in a remote key, and set us all flinching, squirming, shud- 
dering, and grimacing hideously. Under these circumstances I 
became morose, and could see nothii^ but faults. The Euryanthe 
overture was hurried, and so missed by a hair's breadth the full 
grandeur of its march and passion of its flight. When shall we be 
delivered from this Mendelssohnic oirse of speed for speed's 
sake? The Spohr concerto, in spite of its shapely plausibility, is 
lifeless and artificial; and if Lady HaHi made the best of the solo 
part, the orchestra certainly made the worst of the dull empty 
accompaniments. The intermezzo by Svensden turned out to be 
an inferior imitation of Glinka's Komarinskaja; and there was no 
sense in encoring Grieg's pretty Spring melody, admirably as it 
showed oiF the qualities of the string band. The interest rose con- 
siderably when Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet music, without the 
vocal numbers, came on. The oi^e at Capulet's was very well 
played: the balance of tone between the dance measure and the 
broad jubilant chant of the brass was struck 10 perfection. In 
several passages the ringing brightness of the tone from the wind 
came with exactly the eifect Berlioz, one feels, must have aimed 
at. The mass of violins, all executing a prolonged shake in har- 
monics, fluttered the audience as usual in the Queen Mab scherzoj 
but I cannot say that I see much beneath the hi^arrerie of that 
celebrated movement except a distorted echo of Beethoven's much 
more beautiful Eroica scherzo. 

P.S. I have just been to La Tosca; and the public will un- 
doubtedly expect to know whether I felt like M. Lem^tre, who 
wanted to get upand say"Pascela: c'est Idcie"; or like Mr William 
Archer, who took it it as a pessimist's tonic and felt braced by it. 
I felt nothing but unmitigated disgust. The French well made 
play was never respectable even in its prime; but now, in its 
dotage and delirium tremens, it is a disgrace to the theatre. Sudi 
an old-fashioned, shiftless, clumsily constructed, empty-headed 
turnip ghost of a cheap shocker as this Tosca should never have 
been let pass the stage door of the Garrick. I do not know which 


are the more pitiable, the vapid two acts of obsolete comedy of 
intrigue, or the three acts of sham torture, rape, murder, gallows, 
and military execution, set to dialogue that might have been im- 
provised by strolling players in a booth. Oh, if it had but been 
anoperalltisfortunatefor John Hare that he has only the dram- 
atic critics to deal with. 

7 February 1 890 
One day when I was expatiating to a friend on the importance of 
teaching people to speak well, he asked me dubiously whether I 
did not find that most men became humbugs when they learnt 
elocution. I could not deny iL The elocutionary man is the most 
insutferable of human beings. But I do not want anybody to 
become elocutionary. If your face is not dean, wash it: don't cut 
your head oS. If your diction is slipshod and impure, correct and 
purify it: don't throw it away and make shift for the rest of your 
life with a hideous aiiectation of platformy accent, false emphases, 
unmeaning pauses, aggravating slowness, ill-conditioned gravity, 
and perverse resolution to "get it from the chest" and make it 
sound as if you got it from the cellar. Of course, if you are a 
professional humbug — a bishop or a judge, for instance — then 
the case is ditferent; for the salary makes it seem worth your 
while to dehumanize yoiu^elf and pretend to belong to a different 
species. But under ordinary circumstances you had better simply 
educate your ear until you are fairly skilful at phonetics, and 
leave the rest to your good sense. 

The above remarks express indirecdy but uimiistakably that I 
have just been to a students' concert at the Guildhall School of 
Music. I claim the right to measure the Guildhall School by a 
high standard. Your "Royal" Academies and Colleges do not 
appeal to me: I am a Republican, and cannot understand how any 
person with an adequate sense of humor can consent to have a 
crown stuck on his head at this time of day. But the Guildhall 
School is our civic school; and the time is coming when that terra 
will havfi some real signific^ice in London. Already the young 


savages and Philistines of the commercial classes crowd thither, 
and leave the private teacher lamenting and penniless. Now, the 
6rst thing that the savages and Philistines need to be taught is 
the art of speech. A finely skilled professor of diction would be 
cheap at a thousand a year at the Guildhall School. Fancy my 
feelings when I found that thete is no such functionary in the 

Doubdess this will strike the teaching staff as unfair. But I did 
not fail to perceive that the unfortunate pupils had been drilled 
and drummed into articulating their consonants clearly. When 
they c^ne to an Italian T or D, in forming which the tongue 
makes an air-tight junction with the teeth until the consonant 
explodes, ihey conscientiously tucked up their tongues against 
their palates in true British fashion and brought out their native 
T or D much as a Sheffield hydraulic piston would, with plenty 
of hissing. Such a sound as this, followed by a racy Brixton or 
Bradford diphthong, produces an effect in an Italian song of the 
old school diat would make a vivisector's mouth water. Imagine 
a youi^ lady sent out by her master to sing Handel's Lascia ck'io 
pianga without a word to warn her that the reiterated "e che 
sospire" is not pronounced "Ayee Kayee Soaspearayee." I forbear 
fiu'ther illustration. The subject is too painful. Suffice it to say, 
that if Mr Tito Pagliardini were to hear an air by Stradella or 
Pergolesi uttered by a Guildhall pupil, he would rush from the 
building across the Embankment, and bury the horrid memory in 
the Lethean Thames. 

Yet diction is not one of the lost arts. Coquelin does not speak 
in the Guildhall manner; nor Salvini, nor Joseph Jefferson, nor 
Henry Irving, nor Ada Rehan, nor Antoinette Sterling, nor Mrs 
Weldon,nordozensof otherspeakers and singers. And remember 
that, though the public is not an expert, and cannot place its finger 
on the exact details in which the Guildhall novices differ from 
these finished artists, yet it hears a difference, though it mercilessly 
ascribes it to native vulgarity on the one hand and native distinc- 
tion on the other. But it is absurd to brand young singers as vulgar 
because they, having spent their livesbetween the City and Hollo- 


way, know no other mode of speech than that which is vernacular 
in those re^ons. Half a dozen early lessons in phonetics from 
someone who knew at least a little about them — not necessarily a 
Mus. Bac or Mus. Doc — •wou]d set them in the right way. 

Such teachers are to be found, if the Guildhall authorities care 
to find them. On Saturday last I received an invitation to the 
Albert Hall from a Mr P. J. Kirwan, who is doubdess a well- 
known redter, but of whom I had never heard until that day. I 
found him to be an artistic speaker with a cultivated voice and 
a tact in comedy that enabled him to pass off all his humorous 
selections at about six times their literary value. His delivery of 
Drayton's Agincourt was most musical, though here and there 
the legitimate mark of the school of Mr Irvii^ intensified into 
illegitimate Irvingism. One of Mr Irvii^s objectionable peculiari- 
ties is a trick of spoiling a vowel occurring between m and n, by 
continuing tlie humming sound of these letters dirough it instead 
of letting it flash out clearly between them. Thus his "man" or 
"men" becomes a monstrosity, which Mr Kirwan has picked up. 
Again, Mr Irving's "00" varies from French "eu" to English 
"aw"; and Mr Kirwan, in pronouncing "fiiry" as "iieurie" or 
"fyawry" clearly slips into a mere imitadon. Nor is he wholly 
guiltless of unmeaning pauses. "Along that wild and weather- 
beaten coast" cannot reasonably be read as "Along that wild and 
weatherbeaten. Coast." Similarly, the diflerence between "And 
did the deed for ever to be sung" and "And did the deed for ever 
to be. Sung" is the difference between sense and nonsense. 

Whilst I am in the way of faultfinding, I may as well say that 
I protest altogether against the Reciter's theory that verse should 
be disguised as prose in its oral delivery. All poets read their 
verses sing-song, which is the right way: else why the deuce 
should they be at the trouble of writing in verse at all? Mr Kirwan 
recognizes this to some extent; indeed he treated Agincoiu't 
quite fairly, and Hood's Equestrian Courtship exquisitely, in this 
respect; but when he came to Tennyson and Morris the waves of 
verse were flattened into ripples, and at a few points into dry flat 
tablecloth prose. I hardly blamed him in Enoch Arden, the 


desperate commonplace of which would flatten out anybody or 
anythingj but Atalanta's Race is quite another sort of poetic 
commodity; and it rather got the better of Mr Kirwan. Since it 
was much the most difficult piece in the program, he should have 
placed it earlier in the afternoon. As it was, its difficulties seemed 
to flurry him a litde; and his attempt to make the description of 
the race sensational by hurrying it was the one error of taste he 
committed — by which, of course, I mean the one point at which 
his taste clashed with mine. Anyhow, I heartily wish that Mr 
Wdst HiU would appoint him professor of English diction at the 
Guildhall School. 

Harking back for a moment to that concert, I may say that the 
terrible old voice-grinding which used to constituK the staple 
teaching at academies and conservatoires seems much mitigated 
in these days. The only young vocalist about whom I felt any 
particular anxiety was a lady who sang Gounod's Worker with 
the too familiar Academy pressure kept steadily on the middle of 
die voice. The last note but one was the conventional high note 
to finish with. She made an unskilfiil shot at it, and, being young, 
just saved it. I cannot pretend to think that that young lady is in 
the right path; but I speak with no better warrant than that of a 
mere critic Doubdess her master differs from me with authority. 

Mr Richard Shipman, like Mr Kirwan, recites; and as he does 
his best in a very good-humored way, I have no objection to 
offer, although I, somehow, did not sit out his recital as I sat out 
Mr Kirwan's. I should not mention the matter except to teil Miss 
Marjorie Field Fisher that many yoimg ladies have done very 
well in the world as sitters with less talent and charm than she 
possesses. But here again I must point out that the excessive 
acuteness of her enimciation of vowels turns "rage" into "reeje" 
and "wave" into "weeve": also that"MizzahreeryDommynee"is 
not a fair equivalent for "Miserere Domine." This concert, by the 
way, began by a young gentleman trying a musical joke on the 
audience. He first played Home, Sweet Home. Then, in a series 
of insane variations, he mixed it up with the TatmhSuser march, 
Gounod's marionette march, The Harmonious Blacksmith, and 


the prayer from Moses in %ypt. Not a soul laughed; and a 
man near me voiced the impression of the audience by hoarsely 
whispering, "He ain't got it off right." Britons are gey ill to joke 
with on a pianoforte. 

Madame Sara Palma, from La Scala, Milan, is, as one would 
naturally suppose, 3 young English lady. I did not hear her in 
Signer Mattel's Prima Donna; and even at her concert yesterday 
week I did not hear her attempt anything that she could sing. 
Believe me, oh aspiring and comely young songstresses all: I am 
not hard to please or chary of praise; but what is the use of trying 
CoTo name on me when you cant phrase, and cant shake, and 
dont know when or how to breathe, and have no inner impulse 
to express yourself in that sort of music at all? For the concert 
was a very creditable one of its kind. On thesame evening I went 
to Mr Henry Holiday's studio at Hampstead, to hear the Musical 
Guild at work; and capitally they played a Beethoven trio and a 
Schumann quintet, brilliantly, spiritedly, and yet with an out- 
rageous thoi^htlessness proper to their youth and innocence. 
There was a concert at Prince's Hall on Tuesday night; but I 
would not go because somebody sent me a visiting card instead 
of a ticket; and I positively decline to negotiate 6illeu-doux or 
private documents of any description at concert-room doors. 

8 February 1890 
What shall I do to make Sir Charles Hall^ take steps to 
abate the scandalous nuisance which I vainly pressed upon his 
notice in the ordinary course last Friday week? This time I took 
special care to get out of earshot of the quadrille band which 
plays In the St James's Restaurant, and which can he heard 
at one end of the concert room over an area quite as large as 
that occupied by the orchestra at the other. By looking at the 
agonized faces of die unformnate people in the half-crown seats 
I could see what they were suffering; but I could not hear it — at 
first. But the quadrille band was not to be baffled in that way. It 
bided its time until we came to those eloquent pauses between the 
30J U 


last broken strains of the funeral march in the Eroica symphony 
— pauses during which you can usually hear a pin drop. But last 
night it would have been necessary to let Cleopatra's Needle drop 
to overpower the wild strain of brazen minstrelsy that rushed 
through the room and doubled me up in my place of landed 
safety. It was too much. When, after the march, the applause 
from the front of the room subsided, a voice was heard raised at 
the back in impassioned oratory. The stir and sensadon which 
ensued prevented me from catching his speech in fiill; but the 
concluding sentence was "We all pledge ourselves to complain, 
either in writing or by word of mouth." The half-crowners 
enei^etically cried "Hear, hear"; and the ladies stood up to see 
this gentleman who ventured for the common weal to assume the 
r61e of Masaniello or William Tell at a moment's notice, and 
whom I take this opportunity of publicly thanking for his spirited 
and proper pro test. Then Sir Charles, who betrayed no conscious- 
ness of these strange proceedings, started the scherzo; and the 
insurrecdon quieted down into dumb discontent, which found 
vent afterwards in wild suggestions that it was done on purpose 
out of jealousy of the Manchester band; xbzt 3 rival conductor 
was at the bottom of it; that the police ought to put a stop to it; 
that the papers oi^ht to take it up, etc, etc But die papers- — save 
one — do not seem to care much what happens to the people who 
pay a shilling or half-a-crown, so long as those who pay either 
half-^-guinea or nothing (especially nothii^ go undisturbed. 

14 FeBruaty 1890 
I DEVOTED myself to the encouragement of English music at the 
first Crystal Palace concert of the year on Saturday afternoon by 
patiently listening to a concert overture "to the memory of a 
hero." The particular hero was not named; but there was some 
doubt about the consecutiveness of his memory; for I took him 
to be a musical amateur in whose head the finale of Brahms's violin 
concerto had got mixed with the overture to William Tell, and 
whose reminiscences of Mendelssohn were adulterated with 


incoi^nious scraps of La Favorita. Sir George Grove declares 
that the overture is "apparently written on a program, though a 
program which does not obtrude itself." My opinion of it is also 
written on a program, which I, too, refrain from obtruding. Such 
overtures should be contracted for at so much the dozen. 

I do not quite know why some of the audience raged so 
frandcally at Liszt's variations on Dies Irae. The old hymn makes 
a tremendous theme; and most of the variadons are either pretty 
or &ntasdc enough to make an occasional performance interest- 
ing, though I can by no means endorse Mr Barry's assurance that 
"Liszt has treated his subject in a thoroughly earnest, serious, 
and elevating manner." I grant the earnestness: Liszt was always 
earnest; but I question die seriousness and the elevation. A com- 
poser may treat a subject about which he is desperately in earnest 
in a manner which is neither serious nor elevating, whilst another 
will set some piece of imposing humbug to most majestic music 
It is' only your first-rate composer who is both earnest and elevat- 
ing (seriousness is only a small man's affectation of bigness). 
Nothing was too artificial for Meyerbeer, or too conventional for 
Rossini, who nevertheless gave their music exacdy the sort of 
passion and grandeur which Liszt strove so desperately and ex- 
pensively to force out of an expensive accumulation of the mere 
materials of music Like Berlioz, he was rich in every quality of 
a great composer except musical fertility; and when for a moment 
some stray breath of inspiration relieved him of this poverty, he 
was triumphantiy successful. But men who had hardly any 
quality of a great composer except this one that he lacked may 
dispute precedence with him with almost as much public support 
as the giants, from Bach to Wagner, whose superiority goes 
without saying. You may respect Liszt, vairdy struggling with 
Dante's Divine Comedy, more than Offenbach feady vanquishing 
Meilhac and Hal^vys Grand Duchess; but you can hardly deny 
that the Dante symphony is a failure, and The Grand Duchess 
a success. It does not follow that you would always rather hear 
the success than the failure. The success is simply enjoyable for 
the moment: the dilute is interesting, suggestive, instructive, 


stimulating. Sometimes, when listening to Berlioz's clev«est 
work, its very cleverness forces us to compare its proud poverty 
with the unassuming affluence of La Sonnambula; but we never 
doubt for a moment that the world could have spared Bellini 
much better than Berlioz, or that Offenbach's life, compared to 
Liszt's, was a wasted one. Hence such Lisztian hero-woishippers 
as Herr Stavenha^en and the late Walter Bache are to be en- 
couraged and supported: it is good for the public and the players 
and the conductor to do some hard brain work over a symphonic 
poem instead of accompanying Madame Patd in Ah, lum giunge, 
or fathoming the Sunday-school profundities of die pilgrims' 
march from Mendelssohn's Italian symphony. 

This, by the way, does not apply to the Crystal Palace band, 
which sticks to serious work. They took the Dance of Death in 
dudgeon, methought; and I tell them to Mr Manns's face that their 
playing of the intensely fresh and energetic syncopated passages 
in the first movement of the Fourth Symphony was not worth 
listening to. And diough the slow movement finished admitably, 
yet that trochaic measure in the drum figure which pervades it 
began with the customary slovenliness which marks it as the 
most difficult of all measures to get rightly with an orchestra. It 
seems as simple as skipping; but somehow when it comes to the 
point you have the Euryanthe overture sounding vulgar, and the 
slow movement of Mozart's E fiat symphony (a pure dialogue, 
like the introduction to Weber's Invitation, though wonderfiilly 
more elaborate), made the despair of fine conductors. For the rest, 
the symphony went well; and so did the prelude to Iphigenia in 
Aulis as edited by Wagner, which Mr Manns read with admirable 

The Hall^ concert diis day week brought out Sir Charles's 
deficiencies as a conductor in a striking way. It began with 
Cherubini's overture to Anacreon, an absolutely meaningless 
piece of pure music. I never heard it better played: I doubt if it 
could be better played; and I do not greatly care whether it could 
or not. From that we went on to Grieg's entr'actes and dance 
music for Ibsen's great play Peer Gynt. Grieg has done nothing 


more pathetic and natural than the little prelude to the scene in 
which Peer's mother, lonely on her deathbed, lies waiting and 
longing and listening to the silence before Peer steals down from 
the mountain and beguiles her into believing that the bitter end of 
her earthly journey is a glorious ride through the air to the castle 
east of the sun and west of the moon (at the gate of which God 
Himself ordera St Peter to entertain her with coffee and biscuits, 
which is to her a high and heavenly honor). The way in which 
Sir Charles HalM contrived to make us feel before the end of the 
first bar that all this was a blank to him was quite wonderful. The 
prelude is nothing if not a tone poem; and nothing it was, accord- 
ingly — or less than nothing. I was amazed at the completeness of 
the ^lure. The Eroica symphony is something besides a tone 
poem: much of it is excellent abstract music from the Chenibini- 
Anacreon point of view; and so it went along to the strains of its 
own funeral march, a very handsome corpse. The truth is that no 
man can conduct a Beethoven symphony unless his instincts are 
not only musical, but poetic and dramatic as well. Consequently, 
as Sir Charles is only a musician, the Manchester orchestra has 
yet to experience the delight of really learning a Beethoven 
symphony. Bach's concerto in D minor for two violins was 
refreshing; but Lady Hallo's refinements sort ill with Bach's 
grand style; and I thought Mr ^Uy Hess had much the better 
of it. 

I have in my hands the report of the London branch of the 
Wagner Society, which I peruse with mingled feelings. It is 
satisfactory that the 52 members of 1884 are now 309; but the 
balance-sheet is enough to drive any sensible Englishman mad. 
In German-speaking cities at present Wagner's operas are paying 
enormously. In Dresden, for instance, the announcement of an 
opera by any other composer empties the house. Even the Bay- 
reuth performances were a financial success last year. In this 
miseiable country a man who has seen Die Walkiire on the stage 
is a much greater curiosity than one who has explored the Congo. 
Clearly, dien, the business of an International Wagner Society is 
to transfer money from the prosperous Wagnaism of Germany 




21 February 1890 
I SEE that somebody in die Pall Mall Gazette wants to have Mr 
August Manns knighted. The suggestion will be taken up by the 
comic journals for the sake of saying that "a Manns a man for a' 
that." As for me, who am no punster, I ask why Mr Manns should 
be bothered about it. He knows how we manage these things 
here. We keep a couple of musical knights (in addition to clerical 
oiganist chivalry) in order to make knighthood a little respect- 
able, just as we keep a couple of mounted sentries at Whitehall 
so as to give the War Office a military air. There is no question 
of selecting the man who has done most for music: Costa, who 
had no respect for the past, no help for the present, and no 
aspiradon towards the future — who was equally ready to murder 
anything old with "additional accompaniments" and cuts, or to 
strangle anything new by refusing to have anything to do with it 
— ^who allowed the opera to die in his grasp whilst it was renew- 
ing its youth and strength all over Germany: Costa was made 
Sir Midiael. The gendeman selected by Mr W. S. Gilbert to set 
his burlesques of grand opera to music is Sir Arthur Sullivan, 
thoi^ music in England would not be one inch further behind- 
hand than she is if he had never existed. Charles Hall4, who en- 
dowed England with a second orchestra (Rule, Britannia!), and 
who is therefore the only man whose services are for a moment 
comparable to those of Mr Manns, was given a knighthood when 
he was seventy. No doubt Mr Manns's posidon is such that he can, 
if he chooses, confer (at sixty-five) on a worthless order an honor 
that it cannot confer on him. But if he receives any such offer, I 
hope he will politely pass it over to Mr Bamby or Mr Cusins, 
and go on quietly with his work. I respect him so much that I 
am always half ashamed to call him Mister. If he became Sir 
August I should blush every time I penned that cherished dis- 
tinction of successful brewers and oratorio mongers. 

This reminds me that I have aword to say about the last Crystal. 
Palace concert. Mr Manns was immensely in the vein; and the 
Egmont overture, which at first could only be seen in the move-' 


ment of his baton, at last got into the heads of the band, who 
finished it as keenly and powerfully as they had b^;un it sleepily 
and irrelevandy. There was quite an ovation to die conductor 
after the Scotch symphony, a work which would be great if it 
were not so confoundedly genteel. Miss Fanny Davies was full 
of speed, lilt, life, and energy. She scampered through a fi^e of 
Bach's with a cleverness and jollity that forced us to condone her 
utter irreverence. The concerto by Rosenhain turned out to be a 
pleasant and ingenious piece of "absolute music" in the mid- 
century manner. I had never heard of Rosenhain; and I am sur- 
prised at the disingenuousness of other cridcs in the same pre- 
dicament, who have hastily read him up, and are pretendii^ that 
they knew him from boyhood's hour. 

Upon Miss Amelia Sinico's first appearance I wish to offer a 
few genera] and impersonal observations. If ever you get behind 
the scenes at the opera, or into musical Bohemia, you will here 
and there come across some dark-eyed little imp of eight or ten, 
who can sii^ every opera from cover to cover without missing a 
note or a word; who can improvise cadenzas much more readily 
than you could invent an alias at a police-station; who knows 
n Trovatore from Don Giovanni without in the least knowing 
Verdi from Mozart;who speaks all Western languages andknows 
none; who is equally used to smacks and kisses, indoor errands 
and comfits; and whose mother is a prima donna. However ex- 
pensively you educate your daughter for the operatic stage; how- 
ever many gold medals she may take at the Royal College of 
Music; when she reaches the opera house (if she ever does) she 
will be as rank a greenhorn in the eyes of the dark-eyed imp as a 
senior wrangler who takes to the city is in the eyes of a sharp 
office boy. But just as the office boy finds that the wrangler has a 
mysterious qualificadon for important duties which juvenile 
sharpness aspires to in vain, so the imp, when at eighteen she finds 
that she is only fit to be a prima donna, sometimes finds at thirty 
that she was not fit even for that. The Miss Madntyres and 
Madame Melbas, whom she remembers as perfect Jugginses, 
leave her behind almost without an efTort 



I do not wish to discourage the daughters of artists who have, 
in their time, given me a good deal of pleasure; but when I hear 
Miss Sinico giving her clever imitadon of a prima donna singing 
Omhra leggUra, and Miss Antoinette Trebelli doing the same with 
Non mi dir, I cannot accept either feat as evidence that these 
yoimg ladies have as yet ever begim the serious smdy of their 
profession. At the risk of being impertinent, I venture to warn 
them that only the most exceptional natural capacity can nowa- 
days enable an aspirant to dispense with the general culture and 
education which nobody expected from an opera singer in Lon- 
don twenty years ago. The capacity for sustained attention, the 
air of purpose and self-respect that such education gives, makes 
ibe person who has received it so much more dignified and inter- 
esting that the public are getting more and more intolerant of 
Bohemianism in art. Now I have no right to say that Miss Sinico's 
education has been unsystematic; for I know no more about her 
than any other member of the public What I have a right to say 
is that though her Italian is piquant, like her mother's, it is also a 
litde vulgar, unlike her mother's; and that when she next sings 
Batti batti (which will not be for some years to come, if she is 
wise) she must understand that, at the Crystal Palace at least, the 
day has passed for such vu^arisms as ending an octave above the 
note written by Mozart. I would also whisper to her that she 
should not naively let the public see how fond she is of applause. 
She obviously must be a prima doima or nothing; but it will cost 
her many years* work and experience before she can expect Mr 
Manns's Saturday audiences to receive herwith any feeling except 
one of abnost paternal indulgence. 

Since I do not confine this column exclusively to concerts and 
operas, all sorts of people suggest that I should go to all sorts of 
places and give my opinion thereon. Last week, however, one of 
these si^^estions had a binding effect on my conscience. Amoi^ 
my valued friends is a clergyman — ^I shall not mention his name 
because, having been afflicted all my life with a constitutional 
impiety which has led the clerical profession to adopt a general 
attitude of expecting me to be stricken dead, I am afraid of com- 


LO^^)ON MUSIC in iSS^^ 

promising him. Let us call him the Rev. St*w**t H**dlSi, 
MX.S.B. for Bethnal Green; or perhaps it will be shorter and less 
likely to lead to his identification if I call him simply H. Well, H. 
enthusiastically admires the art of dancing; and he will have it 
that I undervalue it — an assumption as baseless as it is injurious, 
for I was interested in it before he was bom. However, when he 
wrote to me to demand why I never went to a ballet, I could not 
deny that I had of late years neglected the Alhambra and the Em- 
pire. So on Monday, having ascertained that "Spectator" was in- 
dulging his mania for music^ criticism at Marjorie or Les Cloches, 
or some opera or another, I made straight for the Alhambra; saw 
Asmodeus there at nine; waited for M. firuet and Madame Rivi^; 
and got to the Empire afterwards in time to see A Dream of 

I care not a jot about the technology of the art of dandt^. I do 
not know, and, what is more, I positively refuse to know, which 
particular temps is a battement and which a ronde Jejamhe. If I 
were equally ^orant of the technical difierences between a tonal 
fiigue and a quadrille, I should be a better musical critic than I 
am; for I should not so often be led astray irom the essential pur- 
pose of art by mere curiosity as to the mechanical ditHculties 
created by certain forms of it. All that concerns me is how beauti- 
fully or how expressively a dancer can danc^, and how best I can 
stop the silly practice of ending every solo with a teetotum twirl 
like the old concert ending to the overture to Iphigenia in Aulis. 
But if you want a rule of tiiumb to guide you in determining the 
merits of two dancers comparatively, then simply see haw much 
of each dances, and award the palm to the larger quantity. Let rae 
explain. Dandng begins at the feet and progresses upwards. In 
some people it stops at the ankles: they shine only in clog dan- 
dng, hornpipes, and the like. In others it reaches as &r as to the 
hips: these can aspire to kicking through a Gaiety /laj de guatre, 
or spurious can-can. When the magic fluid reaches the shoulders 
and invades the arms as far as the elbows, then the dancer pre- 
tends to leading business. Many a premiire danseuse holds her 
position in spite of a neck and wrists which are, dandngly con- 


sidered, dead as doornails. But the dancer who dances to the tips 
of her fingers and the top of her head: that Is the perfect dancer; 
for dancing being a sort of pulsation of grace in the limbs which 
dance, the perfect dancer is all grace; and if she has, to boot, a 
touch of tragic passion in her, it will find instant and vivid ex- 
pression in her dandng. To such a nonpareil you would unhesi- 
tatingly give, if she asked for it, the head of Adelina Patti or 
Sarasate in a charger. So perhaps it is just as well that she is the 
rarest of rare birds. 

At the Alhambra the best dancer is a man, Vincend, aa intelli- 
gent and cultivated ardst and an admirable pantomimisL I leave 
H. to chronicle the perfection of Ids pirouettes and entrechats, and 
the public to encore his amazing revolution about the centre of 
the stage combined with rotation on his own longitudinal axis, 
like an animated orrery. I should prefer to illustrate his excellence 
in pure dandng by an instantaneous photograph taken at the 
bdght of his bound into the air, with the crutch in his hands, at 
the beginning of his first solo. Nothing could be more graceful 
Yet Vincenti's figure is by no means heroic; and he has a pro- 
digious head. Signor Alberderi, at the Empire, is a prettier man; 
but he is comparatively no dancer at all, but only an acrobat and 
wrestler, who throws Madame Palladino half over his hips and 
holds her there in an attitude (any pugilist will show you the 
trick), as if that were dandng. The opulent Bessooe, "premi&« 
danseuse assoluta" in Asmodeus, is complete from toe to top, 
a superb, passionate dancer, strong, skilful, and abounding in 
sensuous charm. Whether she is as great a Serafina as Fanny 
Ellsler was in The Devil on Two Sticks I know not, since I never 
saw Fanny; but with two such artists as she and Vincenti, and a 
happily arranged ballet by Casati, on an ever popular legend, the 
Alhambra now offers between nine and ten every evenii^ an en- 
tertainment of high artistic rank, to which everybody should go 
and bring their daughters, in spite of the abominable atmosphere 
of tobacco smoke. 

I wanted to hear M. Bruet because I remembered his tiame 

from a remote occasion when I somewhere heard him give an 



amazii^y exact imitation of a violoncellist. He and Madame 
Riviire seem none the worse for wear; and I only wish that all 
oiir would-be serious artists had half the musical talent of these 
two arch mockers. For the rest I cannot deny that the Empire 
ballet fell flat after Asmodeus, neither Signor Albertieri nor 
Madame Palladino being able to sustain the formidable and in- 
evitable comparison with their rivals across the square. The jewel 
casket scene was tawdry: it suilered specially from the vast space 
of naked floor which makes ballet scenery so hard to manage. 
Signorina Cavallazzi, however, did excellendy as the miser; and 
some of the pantomime was good. Possibly had I taken the two 
theatres in reversed order, and seen The Paris Exhibition at 
the Empire, and Our Army and Navy at the Alhambra, my 
impression of the respective merits of the houses might 
have been reversed also. But, as it was, I should like to see 
Asmodeus again; whereas I have had quite enough of A Dream 

Whenlarrivedatmydoor after these dissipationsIfoundFitzroy 
Square, in which I live, deserted. It was a clear, dry cold night; and 
the carriage way romid the circular raiUng presented such a mag- 
niiicent hippodrome that I could not resist trying tx> go just once 
round in Vincenti's fashion. It proved frightfully difficulL After 
my fourteenth fall I was picked up by a polii^man. "What are 
you doing here?" he said, keeping fast hold of me. "Fbin watch- 
it^ you for the last five minutes." I explained, eloquently and 
enthusiastically. He hesitated a moment, and then said, "Would 
you mind holding my helmet while I have a try. It dont look so 
hard." Next moment his nose was buried in the macadam and his 
right knee was out through its torn garment. He got up bruised 
and bleeding, but resolute. "I never was beaten yet" he said; 
"and I wont be beaten now. It was my coat that tripped me." We 
both hung our coats on the railings, and went at it again. If each 
round of the square had been a round in a prize fight, we should 
have been less damaged and disfigured; but we persevered, and 
by four o'dock the policeman had just succeeded in gettit^ round 
twice without a rest or a fall, when an inspector arrived and asked 



him bitterly whether that was his notion of iixed point duty. "I 
allow it aint fixed point" said the constable, emboldened by his 
new accomplishment; "but I'll lay a half sovereign _yoa cant do 
it." The inspector could not resist the temptation to try (I was 
whirling round before his eyes in the most &scinadng manner); 
and he made rapid progress after half an hour or so. We were 
subsequendy joined by an early postman and by a milkman, who 
unfortunately broke his leg and had to be carried to hospital by 
the other three. By that time I was quite exhausted, and could 
barely crawl into bed. It was perhaps a foolish scene; but nobody 
who has witnessed Vincenti's performance will feel surprised at it. 

28 Febmary 1890 
I WAS lucky in looking in to hear Joachim at the Popular Concert 
last Monday. I must first mention, however, that Joachim was 
never to me an Orpheus. Like all the pupils of Mendelssohn he 
has seldom done anything with an allegro except try to make speed 
do duty for meaning. Now that he is on the verge of sixty he 
keeps up the speed at the cost of quality of tone and accuracy of 
pitch; and the results are sometimes, to say the least, incongruous. 
For instance, he played Bach's sonata in C at the Bach Choir Con- 
cert at St James's Hall on Tuesday. The second movement of that 
work is a fugue some three or four hundred bars long. Of course 
you cannot really play a fugue in three continuous parts on the 
violin; but by dint of double stopping and dodging from one part 
to another, you can evoke a hideous ghost of a fugue that will pass 
current if guaranteed by Bach and Joachim. That was what hap- 
pened 'On Tuesday. Joachim scraped away frantically, makit^ a 
sound after which an attempt to grate a nutmeg effectively on a 
boot sole would have been as the strain of an Aeolian harp. The 
notes which were musical enough to have any discernible pitch 
at all were mostly out of tune. It was horrible— damnable! Had 
he been an unknown player, introducing an unknown composer, 
he would not have escaped with his life. Yet we all — ^I no less dian 
the others — were interested and enthusiastic We applauded like 


anything; and he bowed to us with unimpaired gravity. The 
dignified artistic career of Joachim and the grandeur of Bach's 
reputation had so hypnotized us that we took an abominable 
noise for the music of the spheres. 

My luck at the Monday Popular Concert lay in the &a that 
Joachim there played very finely, especially in the Brahms sonata. 
Whilst I am on the subject of fiddling I may as well mention how 
Madame Nenida rose to the occasion at the Crystal Palace on 
Saturday before going off to Australia to pick up gold and silver. 
Madame Neruda is younger than Joachim; but only by about nine 
years: she is fifty, though you would hardly guess it from her 
bearing on the platform. But for some years past her style has 
been contracting a little. Her tone is less distinguished; and her 
old fire and eloquence are abated. In spite of the care with which 
she studies her playing, I find that the amateurs of yesterday are 
disposed to be irreverent when 1 fully express the admiration 
which survives in me from the time when her great talent was at 
the height of its splendor. They will admit that she is an accom- 
plished player, but not an inspired one. That is what I should 
have said myself had I heard her for the first time when she played 
Spohr's Dramatic Concerto at the last Crystal Palace concert or 
the recent HalM concert. But I heard her play it so magnificently 
twelve years or so ago that I will not do her reputation the in- 
justice of pretending that it was no better then than now. Perhaps 
it was to shew us that it was Spohr rather than Norman Neruda 
who has become the worse fsr wear that she chose a sonata by 
Handel the Imperishable for her second piece. At any rate it 
certainly woke up the qualities which made her famous, and 
earned her an ovation in which the rawest recruits joined 

Though each generation produces its quota of great artists, 
yet as the favorites of my youth succumb to inexorable Time, 
I never feel quite sure of their replacement imtil I actually see 
and hear their successors. Years ago I went to an afternoon con- 
cert at which no less than three eminent pianists appeared. I re- 
member two things about it One is, that as I enured, a gendeman 


turned to me trembling with anxiety and asked with the deepest 
earnestness "Has Cambridge won?" The other, that I heard 
Madame Schumann for the first time, and recognized, before she 
had finished the first phrase of Schubert's impromptu in C, what 
a nobly beaudfiil and poetic player she was. An artist of that sort 
is the Holy Grail of the cridc's quest. Now, I never had the 
slightest fear that we should ever be at a loss for successors to 
Rubinstein and Von Bulow. I was once by no means so sure about 
Madame Schumann. Concerning one of die most gifted of her 
pupils, Nathalie Janotha, I reserve my opinion for a few years 
mor^ or at least until I happen to hit on a concert at which she 
'plays: a matter in which I have been too remiss, except when I 
have been irresistibly attracted by an announcement that she is 
to play Beethoven's concerto in G. But Madame Schumann's true 
successor at present is Madame Backer Grondahl, in whose per- 
fectly or^;inal and independent style none of her predecessor's 
finest qualities are lacking. It will be remembered that when I first 
heard Madame Grondahl last June I hailed her as a player of the 
highest rank. After sleepii^ over that judgment for a year, I am 
as confident as ever that events will sustain it; and I shall go to 
the Crystal Palace tomorrow with an uncriticlike eagerness to 
hear her play Grieg's concerto and to say "I told you so" to those 
■who last year thought it safer to wait another quarter century or 
so before they committed themselves to an opinion. 

I have rather wandered away from the Bach Choir concert, at 
which Wachet aufwas sung for the second time in public in 
England. This is the sort of iact that almost disables me from 
writing another line. What on earth is the use of toiling over a. 
musical colunm for a nadon that has waited 1 50 years to hear a 
love poem which had no peer undl Tristan und Isolde was written. 
However, let me not be unjust. England has not been idle. She 
has produced Costa's Eli and Macfarren's Podphar's Wife, Dr 
Parry's Judidi, and Dorothy, not to mendon some forty thousand 
performances of ELjah. Wachet aufis a setting of an old love 
story narrated by Herodotus, which, by a misapprehension which 
is perhaps the most extraordinary in literary history, came into 


the Bible under the name of The Song of Solomon, and so happily- 
got set to music by Bach on a plane of idealization to which 
Herodotus would certainly not have raised him. 

Some day, when the County Councils be^n to do for music 
in England what the petty courts of Germany used to do for it, 
after a fashion, in Germany, I shall try to persuade the nation that 
a million a year spent on Bach choirs would be a remunerative 
investment. At present there is no use in filing the people what a 
great man Bach was, since they cannot help themselves. So I will 
only say that Mr Villiers Stanford is too thorough an Irishman 
to be an ideal Bach conductor. He is alert, clever, enthusiastic, 
&cile; but he lacks the oceanic depth of German sentiment that 
tmderlies die intense expression of Bach's music. 

Still, a clever Irishman is better than the usual alternative: 
a mediocre Englishman. Let me just suggest to him, in passing, 
that whether Joachim is playii^ or not (he played that D minor 
concerto which Madame Neruda played the other day with Mr 
Willy Hess), a conductor should always conduct. Mr Stanford 
modestly eilaced himself whilst Joachim and Mr Gompertz were 
playing the largo; and the result was that the basses in the orchestra 
lagged and got out of step with the soloists. The accompaniment 
I liked best that evening was the no-accompaniment of the motet; 
but if you must have an oi^an muddling matters with its tempered 
scales, then by all means serve it up to me with trombones in 
Bach's manner; for I admit that nothing in art can be compared to 
it except the best mediaeval building. 

Then there is that Crystal Palace concert. I do not return to it 
to compliment Mr Manns on a capital performance of Schumann's 
symphony in C; for I simply do not care about Schumann's sym- 
phonies: that is the long and short of it. Nor am I going to praise 
the clear and coniident lady who dragged in two fragments, 
Hear ye, Israel, and the waltz &om Gounod's Romfo, into a 
program consisting otherwise of complete artistic wholes. But 
I have a word to say about Mr German's overture to Richard HI, 
now that I have heard it under the conditions which were, of 
course, imperfecdy fulfilled at the Globe Theatre. I advise Mr 


German either to rewrite the work, or else drop Richard III and 
simply present it as Overture in G, that is to say, as a piece of 
"absolute music" in overture form. For if it is to be taken as 
dramatic I do not see why the Richard motive should be fitted 
with an "answer" as if it were a "subject," there being nothing in 
the dramadc idea at all corresponding to such answer. A^in, the 
fugato is flat nonsense unless Mr German wished to suggest a 
troop of litde Richards springing up through traps and chasing 
one another round the stage. I hope Mr German will, on reflec- 
tion, agree with me that the man who can write a dramatic over- 
ture is the man who can invent dramatic motives and develop 
them dramatically in music The oftener he breaks down in this 
arduous task and fells back on the forms of absolute music, the 
worse his work will be. For instance, the most entirely foolish 
thing in music is an overtiu^ by a Mus. Doc. in orthodox form, 
written solely with a view to that form, and then sent up for 
concert use with the general title of Portia and Shylock, and The 
Caskets, written in blue ink above the first and second subjects 
respectively. I venmre to accuse Mr German of a certain degree 
of the confusion between "absolute" and dramatic music, of 
which the above is an imaginary case. Mind, I admit that he has 
proved his ability as a musician up to the hilt. What remains 
comparatively questionable is his interest in Shakespear. 

The lught before last I repaired to the London Institution to 
see The Shakespeare Reading Society recite Much Ado. I have 
musical associations of all sorts with these recitals. Wagner once 
pointed out that music would never have survived the omissions 
and misunderstandings of conductors and concert givers had it 
not been kept alive in the homes of people whose spare cash went 
in buying pianoforte scores and the like for private consumption. 
In the sameway, people would knowvery little about Shakespear 
if they had no more of him than they get at the Lyceum Theatre. 
Therefore, as a Wagnerian, I no sooner saw that Mr William Poel 
was devoting himself to making ordinary people get up readings 
of Shakespear than I at once madeanote that he was a much more 
important art propagandist than Mr Irving. Another musical as- 
321 X 


sodation was formed by my seeing Mr Poel once play Beethoven 
to Miss Mary Rorke's Adelaide in a smpassingly unhistoric little 
drama. I fbi^t when and where it was; but I have mixed Mr Poel 
up ever since with Beethoven as he appears in a certain sketch 
whidt represents him as wearing a Poetlian collar. I have no doubt 
that the first-nighters who imagine that the way to Be in every- 
thing in London is to keep outside everything will not conde- 
scend to encourage Mr Poel's achievements, since the human 
material with which he works is necessarily rather green. The 
more reason for an ordinary person like myself to avow that 
from these simple recitals, without cuts, waits or scenery, and 
therefore without those departures from the conditions con- 
Kmplated by the poet which are inevitable in a modern theatre, 
I learn a good deal about the plays which I could leam in no 
other way. What is more, I enjoy myself, which is not invariably 
my experience in the more commercial atmosphere of the West- 
end theatre. 

7 March. 1890 
Let me hasten to reassure those who have been terrified by cer- 
tain strikit^ examples of the destructive force of this column, 
and who are aghast at such power beii^ wielded by one man. 
Their feais are vain: I am no more able to make or mar artistic 
enterprises at will than the executioner has the power of life and 
death. It is true that to all appearance a fourteen thousand pound 
pantomime, which the critics declared the best in London, col- 
lapsed at a touch of my pen. And the imagination of the public 
has undoubtedly been stroi^y seized by the spectacle of the 
much-written-up Tosca at the height of its prosperity, withering, 
like Klingsor's garden, at three lines in a postscript to my weekly 
article. But there is no magic in the matter. Though the east wind 
seems to kill the consumptive patient, he dies, not of the wind, 
but of phthisis. On the strong-lunged man it blows in vain. La 
Tosca died of disease, and not of criticism, which, indeed, did its 
best to keep it alive. 




For my part, I have struck too many blows at the well-made 
play without immediate effect, to suppose that it is my strength 
and not its own weakness that has enabled me to double it up this 
time. When the critics were full of the "construction" of plays, 
1 stead&stly maintained that a work of art is a growth, and 
not a construction. When the scribes and Sardous turned out 
neat and showy cradles, the critics said, "How exquisitely con- 
structed!" I said, "Where's the baby?" Of course, there never 
was any baby; and when the cradles began to go out of ^shion 
even the critics began to find them as dowdy as last year's 
bonnets. A fantoccini theatre, in which puppets play the parts of 
men and women, is amusing; but the French theatre, in which 
men and women play the parts of puppets, is unendurable. Yet 
there was a time when some persons wrote as if Adrienne 
Lecouvreur was a superior sort of tragedy, and Dora (alias 
Diplomacy) a masterpiece of comedy. Even now their artificiality 
passes for ii^enuity. Just as a barrister in England gets an im- 
mense reputation as a criminals* advocate when a dozen of his 
clients have been hanged (the hanging being at once a proof and 
an advertisement of the importance of the cases), so when a 
dramatist has written five or six plays in which two hours of 
intrigues and telegrams are wasted in brii^ng about some situa- 
tion which the audience would have accepted at once without 
any contrivance at all, he receives his diploma as a master of play 

I promised last Monday to return to the subject of Madame 
Backer Grondahl after her redtal, the Crystal Palace concert 
having left me in a carping temper. But if the concert left me dis- 
contented, the recital threw me into a perfect frenzy of exaspera- 
tion. Do you know that noble fantasia in C minor, in which 
Mozart shewed what Beethoven was to do with the pianoforte 
sonata, just as in Das Veilchen he showed what Schubert was 
to do with the song? Imagine my feelii^ when Madame Backer 
Grondahl, instead of playing this fantasia (which she would have 
done beautifully), set Madame Haas to play it, and then sat down 
beside her and struck up "an original part for a second piano," 


in which every interpolation was an impertinence and every addi- 
tion a blemish. Shocked and pained as every one who knew and 
loved the fantasia must have been, there was a certain grim ironic 
interest in the fact that the man who has had the unspeakable 
presumption to offer us his improvements on Mozart is the in- 
finitesimal Grieg. The world reproaches Mozart for his inspired 
variation on Handel's "The people that walked in darkness." 
I do not know what the world will now say to Grieg; but if ever 
he plays that "original second part" himself to an audience 
equipped with adequate musical culture, I sincerely advise him 
to ascertain beforehand that no brickbats or other loose and 
suitably heavy articles have been left carelessly about the room. 
My complaints are not at an end yet. I ask Madame Grondahl 
why she has so litde faith in our appetite for the cbssics of the 
pianoforte. Let her consult any of our favorite pianists (Halle, 
for instance) as to whether, with all our faults, we ever swerve 
in our fidelity to an artist who relies on our unquenchable appetite 
for Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann. What 
was it that at once secured for Madame Grondahl a leadii^ posi- 
tion here last year? It was the discovery that she was a great 
Beethoven player and a great Chopin player. Further, it was the 
discovery that she could bring to the execution of these com- 
posers' works a true pianist's technique, and not the sham or- 
chestral method that breaks down when tested with two bars of 
an andante from a Mozart sonata. The audience that crowded 
Steinway Hall on Wednesday, and flowed over on to the platform, 
was deeply disappointed to find, beside the Grieg outrage and 
the Chopin nocturne (C minor) and ballade (A flat), nothing in 
the program but drawing-room music In Norway it may be 
necessary to extenuate the crime of playing serious music by 
Neupert's studies, Lassen's crescendoes, Ole Olsen's and Grieg's 
dance tunes and Bluettes en forme <k VaUe, by one Ed. Schiitt; 
but here some of us know a little better than that; and the more 
exquisite the virtuosity shown in the execution of these things 
the more we feel the absence from the program of worthier 
subjects for its display. And not another word will I say about 


Madame Grondahl until I hear her play a Beethoven sonata in 

It has suddenly struck me that Grieg's appendage to Mozart's 
fantasia must be Norway's revenge for Mr Walter Besant's 
appendage to Ibsen's Doll's House. 

In my recent notice of the London branch of the Wagner 
Society, the ui^ent necessity for pitching into that body and 
waking up its committee prevented me from saying a word about 
the paper read by Mr Ashton Ellis on Wagner's letters to Uhl% 
Fischer and Heine, published in 18S8 at Leipzig by Breitkopf und 
Hartel (price 9 marks, or in paper cover 7m. 50). First I have to 
remark that the letters contain passages as to the interpretation 
of modem music which make the principles Wagner fought for 
against Mendelssohn almost plain enough to cure Sir George 
Grove of speaking of the distinction between "absolute" music 
and tone poetry as mere critics' slang. I defy any critic to attempt 
an intelligent classification of modem music without finding this 
distinction forced on him; and I further defy him to account for 
the difference between a Beethoven symphony as played by the 
HalI6 and Richter orchestras without seeing exactiy how Wagner 
found in Mendelssohn the arch enemy of progress in the orchestra. 
The Heine of the letters, by the bye, was not Heinrich Heine, 
but a costume designer and ex-comedian of the Dresden Court 
Theatre. An instalment of Mr Ellis's paper appears in the new 
number of the Meister, which also contains the first part of a really 
readable translation of the famous Pilgrimage to Beethoven, and 
a study of Die Mcistersinger, in which I note only one slip: i.e. 
the description of Hans Sachs as "the lowly shoemaker." A 
master shoemaker in mediaeval Nurembei^ was, I should imagine, 
anything but a lowly person. 

Whilst on the subject of Wagner, let me point out to those who 
do not see Messrs Novello's monthly paper, the Musical Times, 
that Mr Bennett's papers on the life and works of "the Meister" 
began in the January number, and are still running. They are 
valuable because they areso perfecdy free from Wagnerian hero- 
worship. Mr Bennett is one of those unhappy ones who, having 


shied all the bricks they could pick up at Wagner whilst he lived, 
have now reluctantly to build their missiles into a monument for 
him. In reading them I cannot refrain from chuckling at the con- 
flict between Mr Bennett's old habits and his new and rueful con- 
viction that the game is up. But he is a quite honest PhiUstine, 
still convinced that David is an overrated humbug, in spite of his 
having undeniably ovenhrown Goliath. The articles are rather 
more than less interesting for this; and the paper contains other 
matter that musicians will find readable. 

More than a month ago Mr Macready Chute, of the Prince's 
Theatre, Bristol, wrote to me; "We have 15 children under 10 
yearsofageoutof32on the stage. They are principally the same 
children as were eng<^ed last year, when they had a separate 
room with a fire in it, a matron, etc., exactly as the magistrates 
required this year, the only restriction beii^ the hour at which 
they had to leave the theatre. In fact, I have no hesitation in 
saying that children in the Prince's Theatre, Bristol, are always 
treated with the same consideration as they now ret^ve under 
Act of Parliament." The moral of which is that the Act causes 
absolutely no hardship whatever to humane managers like Mr 
Macready Chute, whilst it braces all the sordid or indifferent ones 
up to his level. I hope, however, that next year Mr ChuK will go 
a step further and try to do without those Hfteen children. Mean- 
while, I congramlate our good old Mrs Grudden on her new 
dignity of Parliamentary Matron. 

II March 1890 
The large audience of the Crystal Palace on Saturday may be 
claimed for Mr Hamish McCimn or for Wagner, according to 
bias. My own opinion is that the attraction was Mr Edward 
Lloyd. Bonny Kilmeny is a juvenile work of Mr McCunn's; and 
although a feiry story set to music could have no better quality 
dian juvenility, yet Mr Manns's platform is hardly the right plat- 
form for it. We are accustomed there to pregnant, concentrated, 
purposeful works, and Mr McCunn's diffuse strains, full of 
simple feeling and fancy as they are, did once or twice surest to 


me that the Sydenham orchestra might be better employed than 
in accompanying Hogg's verses and tootling the sentimental 
interludes for the wood wind which occur between every line. 
The baritone music, exceptionally well sung by Mr Norman 
Salmond, alone held its ground in spite of the associations of 
die place. When I first heard this gentieman at a Popular Concert 
a week or so ago, I was so much struck by the artistic sense with 
which he used his voice that I thought I would wait and hear 
him again before committing myself to a fevorable verdict that 
must necessarily seem improbable in a nation which is apt to 
model itself, when it sings ba^s, upon Mr Santley and S^or 
Foil. However, my impression is confirmed: Mr Salmond is un- 
doubtedly a considerable acquisition for our concert entre- 
preneurs. Schubert's symphony in B minor showed off the or- 
chestra to perfection; but the sudden transition to the Homeric 
busde and breadth of the Pegnitz scene from Die Meistersinger 
knocked it to pieces for some dozens of bars at the beginning. 
When the band had pulled themselves together, Mr Albert 
Fairbaim (vice Mr Andrew Black, Aors de combat with influenza) 
began his impossible task of singing the part of Sachs at sight, 
with dismal results. Except for Mr Lloyd's prize song, and for 
the interesting way in which some of the orchestral points came 
out under concert conditions, the performance can hardly be 
regarded as a successfiil one. Mr McCunn's Land of the Mountain 
and the Flood, a charming Scotch overture that carries you over 
the hills and fer away, was much applauded. I object, by the bye, 
to the "worlcing out" section, which Mr McCunn would never 
have written if his tutors had not put it into his head. I know 
a lady who keeps a typewriting establishment. Under my advice 
she is completing arrangements for supplying middle sections 
and recapitulations for overtures and symphonies at twopence a 
bar, on being supplied with the first section and coda. 

I was considerably disappointed to find such a crowd at the 

orchestral concert given in Princes' Hall by the smdents of the 

Royal College of Music. Doubdess the smdents were glad to see 

the gallery full; but the efiect on me was to iotct me to buy a 



stall, and to sit amon^ the nobility and gentry instead of in a 
modest shilling seat. Some of the orchestral students were already 
familiar to me. For instance, that promising lad, Master W. B. 
Wotton, is progressing satisfectorily with his bassoon; and the 
way in which G. Case, C. Geard, and J. Matt handled the trom- 
bones would have done credit to any College. W. L. Barrett 
plays the flute, and H. G. Lebon the oboe quite in a professional 
manner. (The foregoing is an elaborate and side-splitting joke, 
the gendemen named being skilled professors and no students 
at all.) All the violins were in the hands of students: fourteen 
lasses and ten lads; and they pFayed capitally: the influence of 
King Cole at South Kensington appears to have developed 
Addling at the college in an extraordinary degree. Miss Polyxena 
Fletcher, a young lady with a rich oriental tone in her complexion, 
gained great and deserved applause by playing Brahms' second 
pianoforte concerto courageously and even aggressively; for she 
occasionally, in the abounding strength of her young blood, 
thumped the keyboard as if it were Brahms' head. And she was 
quite right: why should she forbear at that age, with an orchestra 
thundering emulously in her ears? The madrigals and part songs 
had been well prepared and went with praiseworthy precision; 
but there was one unsubduable treble voice which pierced 
through the others like a steam siren, and spoiled the homo- 
geneity of the upper part in the harmony. Mr Pringle's scene 
from an Italian opera (MS.), with the starding dde of Messalina 
— ^what on earth do these young spirits know about our friend 
Messalina? — was sung by Miss Maggie Davies, a very clever 
young lady^hom I heard as Bianca in the students' performance 
of Goetz's Taming of the Shrew last year, and by Mr E. Brans- 
combe. Miss Davies's Italian vowels have been looked after; but 
Mr Branscombe remains an Englishman, and considers that a 
British "two" is equal to an Italian "tu" any day. I must afRrm 
that the performance was highly creditable to the Royal College, 
and to the conductor, Mr Villiers Stanford. 




14 March 1890 
I USED to think myself rafher an advanced musician; but Time is 
overtaking me at last. In five years I shall be an old fogey. A few 
weeks ago, when Sir Charles Hall£ played Beethoven's £ flat 
concerto in Edinburgh, the critics of that town voted it poor 
stuff, and called it arid, difiiise, and all manner of disparaging 
epithets. Whereupon Sir Charles up and told them that no person 
with any musical knowledge could have talked such nonsense. 
And The Musical World accused them of "an ape-like passion for 
wanton and destructive miscbieT'; lamented that it could visit 
them with nothing worse than "execration"; and called them 
"venomous fools" and "witlings who, unable to lift their feeble 
intellects to the level of works to which the world pays grateful 
homage, endeavour to bring such works down to the lower plane 
on which they grovel." People call me severe; but I wonder what 
they would say if I went on in that style. 

I submit two points in defence of the Edinburgh cridcs. i. If 
they thought the concerts overrated, arid, and diffuse, they were 
right to say so. 2. Perhaps the performance was arid. Hamlet is 
a very fine play; but with Charles Mathews in the leading part, 
it would seem a trifle long and dry. Are you quite sure, Mr 
Musical World, that if you were unfamiliar with the Emperor 
concerto, and heard it for the first time from Hall^ in his seventieth 
year, you would rise fully to the occasion? Besides, listen to what 
they are beginning to say in London. Last Tuesday a leading 
evening paper, criticising the Royal College concert at Prince's 
Hall, said calmly: "Brahms' E flat concerto is full of inspiration; 
and the day will come when the most famous pianoforte concerto 
in this key will be that, not of Beethoven, but of Brahms." That 
is the sort of statement that sets one looking for grey hairs and 
thin places on one's crown. 

The significance of such criticism lies in its being probably the 

first sign of a reaction in bcvoT of abstract or "^absolute" music 

against the great Wagnerian cult of tone poetry and music 

drama. An eclipse of reputation always becomes visible at 



Greenwich soon after its possessor's canonization. To tate minor 
cases, Macaulay is only just emerging from die shadow, and 
Geoige Eliot is in the very black of it. To take major ones, the 
Restoration conception of Shakespear as vapid and old-fashioned 
corresponds exactly to the Victorian conception of Mozart, a 
conception against which the Mozart idolatry of such writers as 
OublichefT availed nothing. Neither, I suppose, will the many 
books of Wolzogen avail Wagner when his turn comes. When 
it does come we shall have two consolations. First, these eclipses 
are made by cridcal ^shion rather than by popular feeling. 
Second, when the Wagnerian criticism becomes the mode, it will 
soon be so vulgarized that we shall be glad to shelve it until its 
professors are all dead. 

I did not go to the Goddard concert on Tuesday, as it was one 
of those occasions on which a critic's room is worth a guinea 
more than his company. Besides, the Norwegian colony in 
London had bidden me to a soirie at which they said they were 
going to entertain Madame Backer GrondahL Needless to say, 
when I arrived, I found Madame Grondahl entertainii^ them. 
Presently the floor was taken by a violinist who was no stranger 
K> me: to wit, Alexander Bull, son of the famous Ole of that ilk. 

Now, nothing will persuade me that Bull knows how to play 
the fiddle any more than I do. He always reminds me of the too 
celebrated amateur who being asked could he play the violin, 
replied that he had no doubt he could if he tried. Bull grabs the 
instrument cautiously by the shoulder, and considers how he can 
best tackle it. Finally deciding that he had better proceed like a 
man cutting a wedding cake exacdy in two, he very carefully 
draws the bow across it in that maimer, keeping a wary eye on 
the instrument in case it should, in some unlooked for way, resent 
such treatment. In his inspired moments he stands it on his 
shoulder and plays in mid air. Each performance has the same odd 
appearance of beii^ his first attempt; and though he makes less 
faults than most, professional violinists, yet there is something 
strange about them, because they are not the usual faults. He 
solves the ordinary player's difficulties by natural m^c, and 


then falls into difScuIties of his own which an ordinary player 
would settle ofFhand. But his tone is so fine and nervous, and so 
fiill of subtle and unexpected inflexions; and his playing is so 
unfiaggingly imaginative that I receive a much more vivid musi- 
cal and poetic impression from him than I do from Joachim, for 
instance, or from Isay^ who, they say, can play unbroken chords 
on four strings with an ordinary bow and bridge, and who is 
declared by experts the most dexterous of living fiddlers. I can 
answer for it that he is the most bumptious; but I do not rank 
bumptiousness high as an artistic quality: perhaps because I am 
myself singularly free from it. Now Bull is not in the least 
bumptious: he is chronically apologetic for not being able to 
play as well as his father. It must be a terrible thing to have such 
a father if you want to be an artist; for of course he will not teach 
you, and nobody else will venture to interfere. But the result in 
Bull's case goes to show that if you miss a good deal under such 
circumstances, you also escape something. I never heard his 
fether; but his own playing seems to me unique of its kind. 

Madame Backer Grondahl will at last appear in her right place 
at the Popular Concerts to-morrow and on Monday. If the Phil- 
harmonic Society will only give us an opportunity of hearing 
her play Schumann's concerto, we shall have nothing left to 
complain of. 

The other evening I made one of those appalling sacrifices of 
my own comfort which are the pritK of a comprehensive know- 
ledge of contemporary music It takes all sons to make a world; 
and each sort must have its music There is the stupid sort, for 
instance: the people who cannot follow the thread of any con- 
nected entertainment; whose attention cannot stand a ten minutes' 
strain; who are so credulous that they will sit open-mouthed and, 
in a well-meaning, joyless, wondering way, applaud anything 
that goes on in a room which they are not allowed to enter for 
less than a shilling. No competent musical critic could possibly 
enjoy an entertainment suited to these worthy people; but since 
they are eminently gullible, it is his duty occasionally to suffer 
for an evening in order to see that no inordinate advantage is 


taken of their artistic imbecility. It was with a vague notion of 
doing some good in this direction that I lately visited "the unique 
and incomparable Bohee Operatic Minstrels" at the International 
Hall over the Caf^ Monico. I took the title as a guarantee that the 
audience would be tolerably simple folk. 

They were. But I do not think that the Brothers Bohee pre- 
sumed unduly on their simplicity. If the singers — especially the 
comic singers — suppose that the audience can distinguish a single 
word of their songs without carefully reading the printed copy 
in the program, most of them deceive themselves enormously; 
and I must say I am not convinced that if, in choosing subjects, 
an occasional relief from the deathbeds of darling angel mothers 
were ventured upon, it would not be rather welcome than other- 
wise. I will even go the length of suggesting that rhymed balder- 
dash must be quite as troublesome to a dull intelligence as rhymed 
reason. Still, the verses were inoffensive, the tunes innocuous as 
bread pills, the tambourines iiill of spirit, and the choruses deeply 
affecting when repeated, as they always were, pianissimo. The 
musical conventions of the minstrel style are curious; but I shall 
reserve a fiill description of them for my treatise on modem 
music, which I hope to get through the Pressshortly before 19 Jo. 

The Bohee Brothers themselves are banjoists, and would have 
me believe that the Czar of Russia affects that weapon. Had I 
known this last Sunday, I should have made a much more vigor- 
ous speech in Hyde Park at the demonstration on behalf of the 
Siberian exiles. If it be true that the Prince of Wales banjoJzes, 
then I protest against his succession to the throne. The further 
suggestion that Mr Gladstone "favors the instrument" is enough 
to bring that statesman down to the International Hall with his 
axe. The banjo may be as fashionable as the chimney-pot hat; 
but the Brothers Bohee could no more reconcile me to the one 
than Messrs Lincoln and Bennett to the other. The more featly 
they twanged the more evident they made it that no skill of 
handling could extenuate the enormities of the Ethiopian lute. 



17 March 1890 
Providence did itself credit at the Pop on Saturday. Everybody 
played well: Madame Nenida and Madame Backer-Grondahl 
played very well. Not that those who only knew Madame Gron- 
dahl from her playing here this season yet know all that she is 
capable of unless diey have caught the fiill significance of one or 
two movements in the Grieg concerto at the Crystal Palace, or 
in the last movement of the violin sonata on Saturday. The feet 
is, Madame Grondahl has been rather reserved with us this time- 
Last year she played so as to let us into all her secrets. This time, 
having no doubt found out how unworthy a horde of Philistines 
we are, she has kept us at a certain distance, giving us a great deal, 
but not all. Personally, I feel snubbed. If that state of mind were 
more generally intelligible in this town, we should gain that con- 
fidence from great artists which alone can win them to make us 
their fevorite confidants. Madame Backer- Grondahl's technique 
can be bought; and well worth its price it is; but if you want her 
to play to you as to a friend whom she glories in pleasing, then 
you have got to convince her that you are artistically capable of 
that intimate relationship. On Saturday she played Schumann's 
Novellette in F, which was, of course, mere child's play, though 
it would, I admit, take an uncommonly forward infant to manage 
the modulations of the trio as delicately as Madame GrSndahl 
did. Chopin's prelude in D Sat b^;an die serious business of the 
concerL She played it with a wonderful concentration, holding 
the thread of it with a grip that never relaxed or lost its sensitive- 
ness, though the web of accompaniment that wraps it up like an 
atmosphere was all the time Boating as if her fingers had nothing 
else to do but to weave it, and her attention was perfectiy free. 
This indelible impressing on me of a theme; this exhaustion of 
its uttermost content without abandonment, without passion, 
without joyousness, with unfailing self-containment and im- 
flagging sense of beauty, put me completely out of coimtenance 
when it had been continued throughout Mendelssohn's study 
in B flat minor, which wc could not help encoring, though she 


had been so terribly severe with us. I was particularly oirious to 
hear how she would get on with Madame Neruda in the Grieg 
sonata; for I had a vivid recollection of how she ruled Johannes 
Wolff with a rod of iron when he played it at Princes Hall with 
her last year; and I knew that Madame Neruda has a will of her 
own. But there was no gainsaying Madame Grondahl's way; 
and at the end the two artists got into such perfect accord that 
the performance must stand as so &r incomparably the finest 
yet heard of that sonata in London. I neither expect nor desire 
to hear a better one. Madame Grondahl unbent a little, too, in the 
finale; and I was consoled as by a human caress after an angelic 
discourse. I really have more sympathy now with a gendeman 
who said to me ruefully after the Crystal Palace concert: "She 
doesn't even play any wrong notes." 

Mrs Henschel sang very prettily; and therewas something else; 
but it escapes my memory for the moment 

a I March 1890 
The Star printers are getting so musical that I can no longer 
depend on having my plain and studiously untechnical language 
set up faithfully. The other day I wrote about "a couple of mo- 
ments" during a performance; and it came out "a couple of move- 
ments." What I wanted to say about the Popular Concert was, 
that it introduced to us a pianoforte quintet by Giovanni Sgam- 
bati, a Roman composer who is pretty well known here. My ob- 
jection to him is that though he is at Rome he does not do as 
the Romans do, but writes academic music in sonata fonn, as the 
Germans and the English, in spite of my remonstrances, persist 
in doing. 

The &ct is, that musicians fail to see the real difEcuIties of the 
sonata form through allowing their teachers to engross their at- 
tention with a horrible conceit of its technical difficulties, which 
any fool can master. There is no more to prevent you or I from 
turning out a string of bars in the form of a sonata than to prevent 
us from turning out a string of lines in the form of a sonnet or a 
tragedyin five acts and in blank verse.It is notthe form that baulks 


us of a Shakespearean immortality, but the inordinate quantity 
of first-class stuffing that is required to make these fonns, long, 
severe, and tedious as they are in themselves, interesting, or even 
endurable, to any but the performers or the author. You really 
must have something very important to say to a man, if you ex- 
pect him to allow you to buttonhole him and claim his undivided 
attention for even twenty minutes ^t a stretch, much more (as in 
the case of a tragedy) for a whole evening. 

Sgambati had matter enough in hand to amuse an audience for 
eight or nine minutes. But in trying to make a whole quintet with 
it, he had so to wir&Klraw it and to pad it with desperate common- 
places, cukninating in that last resource of musit^ bankruptcy, a 
fiigato, that he failed to amuse us at all. Madame Backer>Grcmdahl 
managed to scatter a handful of pearls here and there over the 
dull fabric; but the general feeling (I always speak of my own 
private sensations as the general feeling) was that of Christopher 
Sly at The Taming of the Shrew: "Would 'twere donel" The 
Schubert quintet (C major) went beautifully, Joachim being in 
excellent form. 

And here a question occurs to me. Joachim is &mous for the 
austerity of bis repertoire. He will play nothing meretricious: he 
stands inflexibly by the classics; and will none of your Sarasate 
dance tunes and national airs. A pupil of his once flatly refused to 
believe me when I mentioned that I had heard him play in public 
an air by F^Uden David. But I cannot, for the life of me, see that 
Joachim has any valid standard of criticism. It seems to me that if 
he is prepared to tolerate second-hand Mozart, faked by Spohr, 
and mechanical padding by Sgambati, he is hardly in a position 
to turn up his nose at the free and original compositions of Sara- 
sate and Wieniawski. Joachim cannot be sufficiently applauded 
for teaching his pupils to refuse to play unworthy music. He 
might with equal righteousness urge them not to keep die com- 
pany of unworthy persons. But as, in the latter instance, the adop- 
tion of a tall hat and an income of not less than X'^^^ ^ y^^ ^ 
the criterion of worth would at once reduce the wise counsellor 
to the level of a most malignant snob, I suggest that the accept- 


ance of conformity to any special form as the criterion of worth 
in a musical composition is the snobbery of art. Imagine the state 
of soul of a neophyte who should interpret Joachim's precept and 
example as meaning that any fiddler wiio considered folk music 
beneath his notice would be entitled to consider himself as 
superior in artistic rank to Ole Bull or Sarasatel 

I have nothing more to say about the concert exapt to chron- 
icle the three recalls, culminating in an encore, which formally 
stamped Madame Backer-Grondahl as an indispensable addition 
to Mr Chappell's list of artists without whom no Monday Popular 
spring season is complete. I should like to remonstrate with Miss 
lliza Lehmann for singing some unsuitable triviality about Robin: 
come and kiss me, in response to an invitation to repeat a song 
of Stopford Brooke's, set by Mr Somervellj but I had perhaps 
better let my indignadon cool first. 

The other day I met Mr William Archer, fresh from a study 
of the theatre at Copenhagen. I am specially interested in the 
publicadon of his observations, because my sanity was seriously 
called in question a year ago when I suggested that Mr Harris 
should offer Coquelin an engagement to play Leporello in Don 
Giovanni. However, I am but mad nor'-nor'-west; when the 
wind is in the south I do not know a hawk from a hemshaw, for I 
am no ornithologist; but I know what I am talking about. In 
Denmark the most famous actors beloi^ to the operatic as well 
as the dramatic staff of their theatre; and the same man will play 
Shylock in Shakespear's Merchant of Venice and Mephistopheles 
in Gounod's Faust, 

as March 1890 
On reachii^ St James's Hall on Saturday afternoon, I found diat 
the room was frill. This seemed a very extraordinary success for 
Mr Arthur de Greef, whom I had come specially to hear. But I 
presently noticed that the program included Bach's concerto 
in D minor for two violins. "There!" I said, as I turned away 
from the ticket office and made for Princes Hall: "that is the true 
attrzction." Now a foreigner might suppose from this that we 


are so for advanced in music in this city that Bach is our first 
favorite. Would it were so! The truth is that Bach had nothing 
to do with the crowd. When Boswell disparaged Vauxhall, and 
said it was not worth half a guinea, Johnson pointed out that the 
real consideration for the money was relief from the stigma of 
not having been to Vauxhall. In London no person can pretend 
to musical culture unless he or she has heard Joachim and Norman 
Ncruda. As they do not usually play at the same concert, this 
costs, as a rule, two shillings. But when they play together in 
Bach's concerto, then you can kill two birds with one stone, get- 
tingyour diploma as onewho has heard both Joachim and Neruda, 
at half-price. When Lady HalI6 played the same work with Mr 
Willy Hess, and when Joachim played it with Mr Gompertz, I 
got a seat easily enou^. 

At Princes Hall I found Miss Frederika Taylor and Miss Teresa 
Aungier giving a concerL Sefior Guetary, of whose siting parti- 
cular mention has been made here and there of late, gave us Come 
geruill He reminded me of Gayarr4. This unfortimately means 
that his singing is not to my taste. The actor who moved Hamlet 
so deeply had "a broken voice, and his whole function suiting 
with forms to his conceit." I confess I bar the broken voice in a 
lyric artist, even when he sings dramadc music. Not, of course, 
that Gayarr^'s voice was actually broken, any more than Sefior 
Guetar^s is. But it was harsh, acute, piercing, disquieting: its 
finish and polish were like those of a circular saw. This did not 
prevent so great a critic as Wagner from placing Ga)rarr4 in the 
front rank of Lohengrins; and Sefior Guetary may, for all that 
his voice does not happen to please me, achieve a reputation as 
great as De Reszke's; but it will not be a reputadon for beauty 
of tone or for realizing the summer night charm of the irresistible 
Don Pasquale serenade. Were I Saul, and De Reszke David, his 
singing would do mc good. But if Gayarr6 or Guetary were 
David I should get mad and shy javelins. 

On trying the Popular Concerts again on Saturday, I found 
Mr de Greef still there, but the crowd gone. Yet I will swear that 
Joachim was better worth hearing in the Beethoven quartet 
337 Y 


(Rasoumowski in £ minor) than in the Bach concerto. It was as 
fine a piece of playing as any mortal has a right to expect. It is all 
very well for me to protest against Joachim's abortive stn^gles 
with Bach fugues, and to point out that his intonation is no longer 
to be depended on in proIoi^;ed quick movements; but every 
quartet I have heard him lead this season has renewed and in- 
creased my admiration for him. Mr de Greef is a true Bel^an, 
spirited, brilliant, neat, confident, clever, and intensely happy in 
the consciousness of being all that. His execution is extremely 
ambidexterous; and he has a prodigious musical gift, besides 
having a &ir share of sense and taste. Seiior Allxniz will find in 
him a formidable rival; but I do not think that Stavenh^en or 
Madame Grondahl need fear the strength of his youdi. I base 
upon his reading of the Chopin scherzo the opinion that he is not 
a very deep player. However, this must not be taken as final: if he 
gives a redtal, I shall be open to further light on the subject. 

It is one of the inevitable evib of my profession that I am 
asked to go to all manner of places; but hitherto I have drawn the 
line at going to church. Among the pious I am a scoifer: among 
the musical I am reli^ous. What has a man who knows Die 
Zauberflote, die Schiller Ode to Joy as set in the Ninth Symphony, 
and Parsifal to do with your collects and rubrics and Jackson in 
F and all the rest of it? I do not believe that many of the 
people who compound for their essential irreligiousness by put- 
ting in a couple of penitential hours in church once or twice every 
Sunday have any better motive than escaping datnnation, in which 
case they are plainly damned up to the neck already, though they 
do not know it. However, since I know it, I am bound to look 
on the poor devils in a fiiendly and forbearing spirit, as becomes 
a happier and more fortunate soul. Anyhow I went to tjiiurch on 
Tuesday last, to St Nicholas Cole-Abbey. 

I had some difficulty in finding St Nicholas. He has an old 
Tower in Thames Street^ among the warehouses; but a glance at 
it convinced me that if there was an oigan inside, there would be 
no room for me. Besides, there was no sign of its having been 
opened since the great fire of London; so I made for a red brick 



mansion which I took to be the Saint's private house, and ^vas 
there directed by a young lady to go back to Queen Victoria 
Street and look about me, which I had no sooner done than I per- 
ceived St Nicholas staring me in the fece on the other side of that 
spacious thoroughfare. Inside I found some sixty people listening 
to Mr John Rundman, who was compelling a loud-mouthed in- 
tractable oigan to discourse to the following effect: i. Andante 
con moto from Beethoven's C minor symphony. 1. The Parsifal 
prelude. 3. Bach's organ fugue in A minor. 4. The Death March 
from the Gotterdammerung. 5. Mr Marshall Hall's Witenagemot 
music. 6. The prelude to the third act of Lohengrin. 

This is exactly the right sort of program for an organ recital 
in a church. An organist who plays Guilmant and Lenunens, fin- 
ishing up with a transcription of the Hallelujah chorus, and per- 
haps throwing in the fugue which he wrote for his Doctor's 
degree, would be much better employed outside witha mechanical 
piano, to which the girls could at least dance. But he who sticks to 
Wagner and Bach, and can play diem, as Mr Rundman did, in an 
imaginative way, will eventually get the choicest spirits in the 
parish into the way of coming to die church and learning some- 
thing there. In some churches it might even end in the oi^^anist 
educatii^ the parson; though that is not necessary at Cole Abbey, 
where, I blush to say it, the parson (Canon ShuttlewortJi, a 
muscular Christian Socialist) sometimes finds it hard enoi^ to 
educate the organists. 

It is a curious sort of church, archittctuially, diis of St Nicholas. 
I caimot help suspecting that it was designed in the days of St 
Nicholas Without and St Walker Within, alluded to by Anthony 
Weller. The altar reminds me feebly of that church of St Carlo 
Borromeo at Antwerp, firom which, af^r one glance, I fled with 
yells of agony and disgust. The platitudinous ceiling suggests 
Cannon Street Hotel. The rack in which the Rev. George Allen 
hoists the pr<^;ram number of each piece has a touch — quite 
welcome and congruous in view of the labors of the Church and 
Stage Guild — of the music hall. The stained glass is not so had 
as I naturally expected it to be — always excepting the rose window, 


with its plausible, empty, conventional representation of the figure 
that ought to be more real and deeply felt than any other in the 
place. But the mother and child over the south door, by Mr 
Heaton, is all sunshine; and the two large windows behind the 
altar, though they are hopelessly off the lines of the great glass 
painters, are dignified, rich in local color and in design, and contain 
a couple of expressively drawn figures. 

The oi^an redtals, let me add, take place every Tuesday at 
one o'docJc 

J April 1890 
The Philharmonic Society is, I fear, hardly to be held responsible 
for its actions. It is very old; and it never even in its best days had 
much sense. Some years ago it brought itself to the veigc of ex- 
tinction by its conservatism. Since then it has been desperately 
spurting to get abreast of the times — trying new composers, new 
conductors, new virtuosos, new everything. Now if the Phil- 
harmonic had any musical intelligence it would stick to its old 
line by bringing forward only what is new in that line. It should 
concern itself mainly with abstract music and the very highest 
class of diamadc music: that class of dtamatic music which may 
be called secularly religious music. But whatever else it may see 
fit to do — ^and Providence only knows what it will be up to next 
— it had better avoid such senseless vagaries as its last effort at a 
concert program. 

First, by way of shewing that it has learnt nothing and for- 
gotten nothii^ it put down the Naiades overture, a genteel 
musical mongrel which would be a musical description of the 
Rhine if it were not meant to be a formal concert overture, and 
which would be a formal concert overture if it were not meant 
to be a musical description of the Rhine, the net result being, of 
course, that it is neither the one nor the other. At this time of day, 
wasting the Philharmonic orchestral forces on it is about as 
sensible as engaging Rubinstein to play pieces by Stephen Heller 
would be. Mr Joseph Bennett helps out the sodeiy by bravely 
eulogizing the work in his analytical program as "enjoying uni- 


versal recognition as among the most beautiful of its kind" 
(observe that the mischief is just that tt is of no kind at all), and 
by peppering in such adjectives as "divine" and the like; but who 
is taken in thereby? We all know that Mr Bennett loves Mendels- 
sohn with a love that overflows upon Mendelssohn's most slavish 
imitator; and how firmly persuaded he is that Wagner wrote 
music only to revenge himself by its ugliness on the Parisians 
for not producing Rienzi at the Grand Opera in 1840; but the 
value of these opixiions is a purely historical one, like that of the 
fossils in the Jeimyn Street museum. When I want to impress a 
young man with the vastness of my musical experience, I hand 
him the criticisms of Mr Bennett on Wagner and Mendelssohn, 
and say "Young man: I can remember the days when everybody 
talked like that." To which the neophyte always reverently re- 
sponds, "Indeed, sir?" meaning "Poor old buffer!" 

Therefore I would counsel the Philharmonic to drop Stemdale 
Bennett undl they begin to find their audiences falling off for lack 
of his attracdon, when they can easily recover the lost ground by 
devodng an entire concert to his works, with a few andques by 
Smart or Bishop, a novelty by Sir Arthur Sullivan, and a song 
from Costa's Eli, thrown in for the sake of variety. Such a concert 
would be crowded with old assodadons; but otherwise there 
would be plenty of room at it. 

The selection of Haydn's symphony in B flat (The Queen 
of France) was dictated by all that is good in the conservatism 
of the Philharmonic Haydn would have been among the greatest 
had he been driven to that terrible eminence; but we are fortunate 
in having had at least one man of genius who was happy enough 
in the Valley of Humiliation to feel no compulsion to struggle on 
through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to attain only a 
moment's glimpse of the Celestial City from the summit of the 
Delectable Mountains. However, that is not the question just now. 
We are justified in expecting a very fine performance of a Haydn 
symphony from an orchestra like that of the Philharmonic 
Society. That it should be perfectly smooth and neat is nothing: 
technically a Haydn score is child's play to men accustomed to 


tackle Berlioz and Wagner. Yet there was nothing more than that 
in die performance last week. The charming tender Romance in 
E flat went as mechanically as upon a musical box; and, what 
was worse, there was a touch of that traditional haste to get the 
slow movement over before there was time to go asleep which 
is quite the most ignoble of all the Philharmonic traditions. I 
do not allude to the omission of the repeats; thoi^ why they 
should be omitted in the Romance, where they are not unwel- 
come, and observed piously in the allegro, where they are tedious 
and obsolete, passes my understanding. 

When Haydn and Stemdale Bennett were solemnly disposed 
of, a wild rush to the opposite extreme followed. What has the 
Philharmonic Society to do with Peter Benoit, of all composers? 
His Lucifer conclusively shewed that he was an excitable and 
imaginative musician, without the slightest originality as a com- 
poser or depth as a poet. The essential poverty of his scores was 
only emphasized by their bigness, their ferocity, their grandiosity, 
their mechanical extravagance. Anyone with two pennortii of 
critical Acuity and experience could have seen that the sort of 
overture and entr'actes he would be likely to compose for a drama 
on the subject of Charlotte Corday would attain the maximum 
of unsuitability for a Philharmonic concert. And so, of course, 
it proved. The music was very strenuous: the Marseillaise was 
duly intoned and the fa ira madly whistled on "red fool fiiry 
of the Seine" lines; the wood wind went into the greenroom 
and played a waltz, of which I only heard the flute part (which 
did not happen to be the theme); but we thought of Egmont — 
indeed, it would have been sufficient almost to think of Struensee 
— and felt that the Philharmonic was making an idiot of itself. 

Yet it was not Mr Benoit who suffered in person for the 
stupidity of the program. There was another composer in the 
bill, a MrHuberti, who followed with a couple of unconscionably 
spun-out songs in the sentimental manner of Gounod, one of 
which he accompanied very prettily on the organ. But they took 
so long, and the hour was so late, and the listeners were so afraid 
that they would not be able to wait for Ysaye's second piece, that 


they fell on the unfortunate strainer with hisses: actually with 
hisses! so mortally alarmed were they lest Mr Blauwaert, the 
singer, should take the slightest applause for an encore. So poor 
Mr Blauwaert retired, an astonished man; and Ysaye came on at 
last. YsaJ;>e was on his metde: he had probably heard that London 
is under the impression that Joachim can play Bach; and he accord- 
ingly gave. us the prelude and gavotte in £, just to shew us what 
real Bach playing meanL He had already astonished the audience 
to the extent of three flirorious recalls by his plajring of Vieux- 
Kmps' fourth concerto; and in both works his performance must 
have opened the eyes of those who have accepted the concerto 
playing of Joachim and Lady Hall4 today as examples of what 
a great executant can do in his prime. Even Saiasate is five or 
six years past attacking a concerto — a true violinist's concerto — 
with the superb, prodigious, transcendent impetus of Ysaye. Of 
course he overdid it. InsKad of being content with a speed which 
would have been impossible to any other violinist, he dashed into 
a speed impossible to himself; but what he succeeded in doing 
without sacrificing the accuracy of his intonation or the quality 
of his tone, was astonishing. And he Icnew it, and revelled in it. 
As I said the other day, Ysa^ is bumpdous. But then he has a 
good deal to bounce atx>ut, and must have paid a heavy price in 
labor for his dexterity. 

I am fiill of admiration for the vigor and enterprise of Miss 
Caroline Holland, who has just introduced Tinel's oratorio 
Franciscus to us with the aid of her own choir, her own piano, 
a harp, and a triangle. Under these restricted conditions, the thing 
could hardly have been better done; and I only wish that those ' 
who have larger opportimides would make half as good use of 
them. But I cannot agree with her that Frandscus is a "magnificent 
work." Musically it is as barren as Benoit's Lucifer, diough its 
poem is much superior to the vaporing nonsense of that huge 
ado about nothing. I do not at all doubt that it created a great 
sensation in Brussels. The dty which municipalized Wiertz's 
show as a temple of Miltonic genius, and regards lAon Gallait 
as a great painter, is capable of admiring anything that has 


nothing in it; but for my part, I must b^ to be excused. I give 
much more credit to Miss Holland for the performance than to 
Tinel for the composition. 

The following letter, signed with an Italian name, has reached 
me. "Let me correct your paralytic version of a favorite old 
wheeze re the fiddler in The Star of a day or two ^o. You say 
he replied, 'I daresay I could play the fiddle if I tried,' or words 
to that effect. That is leprous nonsense. The only true version is 
thus. Being asked if he could play the fiddle he answered 'I dont 
know: I have never tried.' There is some humor, some point in 
this. But in your version — ?" 

I do not deny that there is more humor and more point in the 
above way of describing the incident But my business in this 
column is not to be funny, but to be accurate. My version, what- 
ever its artistic shortcomings may be, is the true one; for / was 
present on the occasion, and can positively answer for it that the 
gentleman replied in the exact terms I attributed to him. I hope 
this will teach my correspondent to be a little more careful 
henceforth in dogmatizing on subjects of which his knowledge 
is but secondhand. As to the pamphlet which he enclosed, prov- 
ing vegetarianism to be an enfeebling and ultimately fetal practice, 
I confute it by the simple statement that I — Como di Bassetto — 
have tieen a vegetarian these ten years. Pamphlet or no pamphlet, 
a mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from 

II April li^ 
I AM strongly of opinion that the Chaimel Timnel should be pro- 
ceeded with at once. There are worse things than foreign in- 
vasions, worse things even than foreign conquest, worse thii^ 
than the extinction of England as a nation, if you come to that. 
I came over yesterday morning from Calais; and — but enough I 
The subject is not dignified; and it is haclcneyed. All I will say is, 
that never again whibt I live — and yet I have made the same vow 
before, and broken it. Still, do not suppose that that silver streak 
of which you are so proud does not cost you something in die 


way of Continental musical news in the course of the year. But 
for it, The Star would be as great a musical power in Europe as 
it is in England. 

Paris is, as usual, imposing on American greenhorns and 
British Philisdnes as a city artistic before everjfthing, with speci- 
alities in cookery and well-dressed women. I am not an artistic 
novice, English or American; and I am not to be taken in. Paris 
is what it has always been: a pedant-ridden &iliu% in everything 
that it pretends to lead. Mozart found it so more than a hundred 
years ago: Wagner found it so half a century ago: Como di 
Sassetto regrets to say that he iinds it so today. In music, it 
prides itself on its Opera, which Is about twenty years behind 
Covent Garden; and Covent Garden, as everybody knows, is 
thirty years behind time: even New York leaving it nowhere. 
I went to the Paris Opera on Monday to fulfil my mission of hear- 
ing Saint-Saens' new opera Ascanio. I need not waste many 
words on the music of it. There is not an or^;inal phrase in it 
&om beginning to end. The tragic scenes are secondhand Verdi; 
the love scenes are secondhand Goimod; the "historic" scenes 
are secondhand Meyerbeer. A duller potboiler I would not desire 
to hear anywhere. The orchestra is hardly better than the Covent 
Garden orchestra was in the seventies, before we got tired of the 
Gye-Mapleson managements that learned nothing and forgot 
nothing, and passed Vianesi, the conductor, on to Paris, where 
his immense industry, his cleverness, his ostentation, and his 
thorough superficiality enabled him to take root at once. Vianesi 
looks younger than ever, and is still on the alert for opportunities 
of turning conspicuously to the wood wind and brass, and offer- 
ing them superfluous leads to shew how complexly he has the 
score at his finger-ends; whilst the men have cultivated his slap- 
dash, noisy style — or want of style — to the highest imperfection. 

As to the singers, there is Lassalle, who brings down the house 
in a roaring duet with the tenor in the second act, and moves it 
to sentimental admiration in a mock pathetic passage in the fourth, 
begiiming, "En&nts: je ne vous en veux pas." Lassalle can hardly 
believe in the part of Benvenuto Cellini; but he believes immensely 


in Lassalle, and so matu^s to make things go with an efTecdve 
air of conviction. Madame Adiny is undeniably what we call a fine 
figure of a woman; but her tremolo and her superb screaming 
power leave in the shade even the lady who played Desdemona 
here in Verdi's Otello at the Lyceum last year. Planjon, as 
Francis I, and Madame Eames, as Colombe, sang pleasandy 
enough; and I have no right to find feult with Madame Bosnian 
as a capable if not highly distinguished representative of the old- 
fashioned type of "dramatic" singer, merely because I object to 
the entire spedes. The acting was the old impossible Richardson's 
Show strutting and swaggering, pitiful to see; and the libretto, 
lilte the music, was a string of commonplaces, culminating in 
Madame Adiny keeping Madame Bosman in a golden shrine in 
a public room for three days, at the expiry of which Madame 
Bosman was found dead "for Benvenuto's sake," which was the 
more affecting inasmuch as there was not the smallest reason why 
she should have got into the shrine in the first place or forborne 
to call on somebody to let her out in the second. 

On the whole, I am afraid I must dismiss Ascanio as an 
elaborate and expensive tomfoolery, and applaud the wisdom 
of those frequenters who came only for the ballet, which, though 
artificial as it well could be — classical, in short — ^was good of its 
kind. Yet Ascanio bored me less than Barbier's Joan of Arc at 
the Porte St Martin, with Gounod's music, and Sarah Bernhardt 
in the title parL Barbier, as everybody knows, is the man to go 
to if you want a great subject debased for operatic purposes. He 
can turn a masterpiece by Shakespear or Goethe into a trashy 
melodrama in the twinkling of an eye. He fell on Joan of Arc 
years ago and fixed her up (no other expression conveys the pro- 
cess) for the Gaiet6. Now she is dragged to light again with con- 
siderable excisions — all heartily welcome — for Madame Bern- 
hardt. In the music, Gounod imitates himself almost as mechanic- 
ally as Saint-Saens, and more exclusively. The best number is 
the vision of St Margaret and St Catherine. Even now, when his 
fount runs yet drier than in the last decade, Gounod can always 
write heavenly music But Sarah is really too bad. We all know 


her way of pretending to act when there is no part for her — how 
sweetly she intones her lines and poses like a sainL This is what 
she does in Joan. There is no acting because there is no play; 
but she sends the lines out in a plaintive stream of melody 
throughout which only a fine ear can catch the false ring. You 
would almost swear that they meant something and that she was 
in earnest. Not until the final scene at the stake does the aHair 
become thin enough for even the American and British tripper 
to see through it. Sarah did not wink once: perhaps because she 
did not catch my eye, perhaps because she was in no humor 
for making fim of herself. It must be wearisome to keep up that 
make-believe night after night, knowing all the time that her 
serious work is going on without her at the Frangais. 

Of course, I went to the Franjais for the sake of the traditions 
of the house of Moli^, and found diem to consist of equal 
parts of gag and horseplay, in no way superior — disdnctly the 
contrary, in feet — to those established only the other day in 
Mr Benson's company for Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew. 
But if the traditions are feeble, the acting is not; and not many 
things are more enjoyable than an Easter Monday afternoon 
performance of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by the Comidie 
Fran^aise. Monsieur Jourdain can only be enjoyed in Paris, 
because he is himself bourgeois Paris incarnate. When the play 
is over you can continue your study of his flunkeyism in his 
petrified Lord-Mayor's-coach of an opera house; his helpless 
incapacity for art, and cotisequent subjection to any pedant 
who will talk to him about something that he can imderstand 
(something quite beside the purpose of art, necessarily) in the 
Louvre; and his petty rationalism and delight in unreasonable 
scraps of logic anywhere you please. If I ever take to playwriting 
(one never knows how low one may fell) I shall do a London 
Bourgeois Gentilhomme — quite as curious a creature in his way. 

However, my main business here is not with the Com£die 

Fran^aise, but with a certain "Soir^ Musicale et Litt^raire du 

Vendredi Saint" at die Winter Circus. The sensadon here was the 

appearance of the divine Sarah in a divine character — that of the 



Vii^ Mary, no less. She did more than this, however: she 
doubled her pan with that of Mary Magdalen. Philippe Gamier 
confined himself to the leading character of Jesus; and Bremont 
compendiously undertook Pilate, Annas, Caiaphas, Peter, and 
Judas Iscariot. The worit was described as "a mystery in five 
parts" by Edmond Haraucourt, and was endded The Passion. 
A lai^ dose of Berlioz, Beethoven, and Wagner was adminis- 
tered first to get us into the proper frame of mind; and then the 
mystery began. Sarah, in a dress of the purest, softest white, and 
with her complexion made up with really exquisite delicacy into 
a feint blush that could hardly have been more virginal, was well 
received. The Passion began amid a hush of expectation, and soon 
proved to be fiJly equal in depth of thought and novelty of 
illustration to our finest specimens of modem oratorio libretti. 
Sarah sang — sung as usual, holding the book in her right hand 
and waving her left in the air with a rhythmic persuasiveness that 
did wondets in soothing the distressing cough that soon became 
epidemic On the whole the audience bore up bravely until 
Gamier rose to deliver a son of Sermon on the Mount some 
forty minutes long. In quarter of an hour or so the coughing 
took a new tone: it became evident that the more impatient 
spirits were beginning to coi^ on purpose, though their Iimgs 
were as sound as Gamier's own. Then came a voice crying 
"Music, music," followed by applause, laughter, and some faint 
protest. Gamier went on, as if deaf. Presently another voice, in 
heartfelt appeal, cried, "Enough, enough." The reception of this 
was unmistakeably sympathetic; and Sarah's shoulders gathered 
themselves expressively; but Gamier held on like grim death; 
and again the audience held their hand for a moment on the chance 
of his presendy stopping; for it seemed impossible that he could 
go on much longer. But he did; and the storm broke at last all 
the more furiously because it had been so long pent up. In the 
midst of it a gentleman rushed down the grades of the amphi- 
theatre; crossed the arena; and shook hands demonstratively 
with Sarah, then Gamier, then with Br^monL This was Harau- 
court himself; and he capped his protest by shaking his fist at the 


audience, who reiterated their fundamental disagreement with 
him on the merits of his poem by yells of disapproval. Hereupon, 
exasperated beydnd endurance, he took the extreme step of in- 
formmg them that if they persisted in their behavior he would 
there and then leave the room. The threat prevailed. An awe- 
struck silence fell upon the multitude: and the poet was moving 
loftily towards his seat when a lady, presumably his wife, threw 
herself on his neck and rained kisses on him. This affecting 
spectacle moved the gentlemen in the neighborhood to offer him 
their hands, which he took in an impressive attitude. Then he sat 
down; and the imperturbable Gamier started again. But soon 
the convicdon spread that even at the risk of Haraucouit fiiliillii^ 
his terrible threat, the speech must be stopped. Gamier, whose 
demeanor throughout was a model of perfect taste, at last ex- 
changed glances with his colleagues, and then with the poli^st 
deprecation began: "Ladies and gentlemen: if you dont wish it" 
— ^whereupon the people in the arena expressed their opinion 
that the conduct of die five franc snobs was disgracefid, and the 
snobs in question vehemendy gave Gamier to understand 
that there was no "if' at all in the question — that they didnt 
wish it and wpuldnt have it. Sarah, in lively pantomime, con- 
veyed her thanks to the arena; but I could not help suspecting 
that she was privately of the gallery's opinion. At last the three 
artists held a consultation, at the end of which Gamier sat down, 
and Sarah started at a scene only a few pages from the end. The 
audience accepted the compromise; Haraucourt made no further 
protest except by applauding occasionally; and the remainder of 
Tile Passion was dispatched without further interrupdon. 

The and- Wagner party was present in full force. It consists 
of six old gentlemen, more or less like the Duke of Cambridge in 
personal appearance, who make faces and stop their ears whenever 
an unprepared major ninth occurs in the harmony. As the audi- 
ence was some thousands strong, and enthusiastically opposed 
to the veterans, they did not make much headway. Wagner 
always maintained that the great Tannhauser fiasco was a success 
with the gallery; and there is no serious reason to doubt that he 


was right Lamoureux's orchestra played with Fefinement and 
precision; but the first movement of the C minor symphony was 
taken in the old empty, hurried, vapidly elegant way; and in the 
overture to Tannhauser the brass, reinforced by two extra comets 
and a fourth trombone (a monstrous license), played like a coarse 
cavalry band, and blared out the Pilgrims' Mardi in a most de- 
testable manner, making the famous violin figure quite inaudible. 
One moral of which is that London, which declined to accept 
Lamoureux as a great conductor, and took Richter to its bosom, 
is as &r ahead of Paris in musical judgment as in most other 

I have only had one peep at the Carl Rosa company. That was 
last night at Mignon. For the present, I shall say no more than 
that the performance was a very creditable one — much more 
enjoyable than that at the Paris Opera, for instance. 

I have returned to Mr F. R. Benson a couple of stalls which 
he has been kind enough to send me for his Hamlet at the Globe 
Theatre; and I shall make my reason public The tickets were 
inscribed "Evening dress indispensable for stalls, dress circle, 
and private boxes." Now, I object to be forced into the uniform 
of any class — most of all that of the class of gentiemen to which 
I do not beloi^ and should be ashamed to belong. I need not 
here repeat the refutation of the stale pretence that the evening 
dress regulation ensures decency and cleanliness. A man can be 
just as offensively unclean in evening dress as in any other cos- 
tume. It is, as I have said, a class uniform and nothing else. Now 
I submit to it at the opera (in London) because I cannot effect- 
ively challenge Mr Harris's right to place his theatre on the foot- 
ing of a West-End drawing room as long as the West-End people 
pay up the subvention which in France comes from the nation. 
But I submit reluctantly, and take a distinct pleasure in the fact 
that my evening suit is by far the seediest article of clothing I 
possess. When Mr Benson tries on the same tyraimy without the 
same excuse, I object I prefer to pay two shillings and go into the 
pit, where I can wear what I like. That is what I did some weeks 
ago, when I went to see Mr Benson as Hamlet on my own 


inidadve, and remarked that he keeps up ^e pleasant old tradi- 
tion by which the Danish court enters to the strains of the march 
from Judas Maccabaeus. The performance is an interesting and 
enjoyable one; and Mr Benson is better as Hamlet than in any 
other of the parts he has played here this season. But he is not 
going to force his inky cloak and customary suits of solemn 
black on me, for all that. And his attempt to do so makes me half 
suspect him of beii^ a relative of the archbishop afrer alt. 

14 April 1890 
Saturday was an eventful day in my musical life. After two 
hours of Wagner at the Crystal Palace, I heard Lurline for the 
first time. Evidently indeed for the first time; since, if I pretended 
that, having ever before heard Wallace's masterpiece, anything 
short of being in love with one of the performers could have in- 
duced me to go a second time, I should not be believed by any 
expert. No: once is enough, if not once too much. And yet there 
are several inoments in the opera in which the string of hackneyed 
and trivial shop ballad stuff rises into melody that surges with 
genuine emotion. During the first half of the overture you say 
to yourself, "Now, if he can only keep this up, Lurline will come 
out at the head of modem English operas." But he does not keep 
it up; and presently you are wallowing in banalities that are fully 
worthy of the desperate trash — the naked and unashamed non- 
sense — of Fi tzball's libretto. If Wallace had taken his art seriously, 
he would no more, in his mature age, have set a line of such 
fustian to music than Wagner would have turned aside from the 
score of Parsifal, to set Scribe's Robert the Devil. And the poor 
silly public forgave Wallace for the sake of Sweet Spirit, hear 
my prayer, just as they make much of that other absurdity The 
Bohemian Girl, for the sake of When other lips, and I dreamt 
that I dwelt. 

I cannot say that the performance was much less ridiculous 

than the piece itself. Obviously a good deal might be done with 

the Rhine scenery, and the changes from the depths of the river 



to its surface. The problem of making Lurline look like a water 
spirit without exposing her to an undue risk of catching cold is 
also one for a costumier of genius. But Mr Harris knows the value 
of Lurline too well to spend an extra five shillings on it. As for 
the costumes, Madame Georgina Bums boldly followed the ex- 
ample of Mrs Leo Hunter at the fancy ball, and put on a silk 
gown with spangles — a thing not to be contemplated without 
amazement and laughter. Mr Crotty, as the Rhine King, fell back 
on the habiliment of a pantomime demon, and left to the mon- 
ster the distinction of being the sole representative of rational 

Madame Bums secured a great success as Lurline. I hinted die 
other day that Madame Adiny, of the Paris Opera, had consider- 
able power of making herself audible; but I had not then heard 
Madame Bums in her latest phase. In the concerted piece in the 
last scene of the second act, she had much to contend against. 
The brass blared; Mr Lely roared; Mr Crotty shouted; Mr 
Eugene bellowed; and the chorus lent a willing hand; but Madame 
Bums was able for them all. She sent her voice ripping, tearing, 
piercing through the hurty burly until the gallery, astounded and 
almost hysterical, madly demanded a repetition of the unparal- 
leled sensadon. It was magnificent; but it was not singing. How- 
ever, it brought down the house; and if that is all Madame Bums 
cares for, I have only to congratulate her on her entire success. 
Her other efforts were comparatively lustreless. The first lines of 
Sweet Spirit were not ill sung; but Take this cup of sparklir^ 
wine was given in a fashion which in London is generally con- 
fined to the music hall; and the shakes i^ch she introduced were 
made up of wrong notes — not even the right notes sung flat, but 
actually of notes far remote from those which she intended to 
sing. Mr Crotty sang his ballad in the second act very well; and 
the hearty encore he got was the heartiest of the evening. I have 
only to beg him to reconsider the advisability of treating London 
to such an unheard-of provincialism as beginning a high note 
widi a double attack. Mr Lely got on ^rly as Rudolph the Ridi- 
culous^ but Mr Eugene, whether his cramped attitude disabled 


him, or whether his Neptune-like beard got into his mouth, could 
do nothing with the florid passages in the drinking song. Not that 
it mattered: the song is not worth singing well, because it is not 
worth singing at all. The work will be repeated on Tuesday, on 
which occasion I shall make a point of beii^ elsewhere. 

18 April 1890 
I HOPE the Carl Rosa Company \nU get severe criticism and 
plenty of it during their stay in London. "The Italian Opera" is a 
class affair at best; and its influence in the country generally is 
smalL But these Carl Rosa people play everywhere. They are at 
it practically all the year round; and the rising generation in the 
provinces — from which, be it remonbered, the &tiu« critics and 
coimoisseurs of London will be lai^ely recruited — will have its 
ideas formed by witnessing the sort of thing now proceeding at 
Dmry Lane. Consequently I regard every member of the com- 
pany as saddled with a heavy national responsibility. I wonder 
how many of them have any adequate sense of this! 

The company has yet to recover from the eiFects of what was 
in many respects a bad start. Car! Rosa was a sensible, pertin- 
acious, shrewd man of business, with a turn for music, but with- 
out that quick keen sympathy with the artistic instinct in its 
human vehicles — that confidence, power, and tact in developing 
it and stimulating it to courageous action, which make the really 
able impresario. For if anybody supposes that operatic com- 
panies, or dramatic companies, or, for ^e matter of that, political 
parties can be made by simply enrolling a number of more or less 
clever individuals, and then expecting them to do spontaneously 
what they have undertaken to do, such a one knows little of the 
incapacity of his species for concerted action. In the old times I 
never saw in the Carl Rosa Company much more than a fortuitous 
assemblage of middle-class amateiurs competing with one anodier 
for applause under a certain factory discipline. Of artistic disci- 
pline there was very litde. The singers were allowed to play to the 
gallery by introducing such alterations and interpolations as their 
3S3 z 


vanity and ignorance suggested. They were allowed to take sham 
Italian names, and to sing broken English that would not have 
imposed on a moderately intelligent cockney poodle. How vulgar 
and offensive the follies of the Italian stage become when they are 
aped by young people of the Irish and American middle classes 
need not be described. Carl Rosa could have checked it if he had 
cared to; there is never any difficulty in checking practices that 
do not pay. As they were not checked, I think it is fair to con- 
clude tlwt he had no adequate sense of the mischief they did in his 
company; and I would eamesdy impress on the surviving mem- 
bers thereof that instead of having a great past to live up to, they 
have an inglorious and third-rate record to retrieve by renouncing 
all the lusts of operatic vanity and making it their sole aim every 
evening, not that this song shall be encored, or that popular 
favorite called before the curtain, but that they shall collectively 
achieve a representation of the work in hand as nearly perfect as 
dieir individual shortcomings will allow. 

The operatic stage is improving, like other things. But it is still 
possible for a prima donna to bounce on the stage and throw her 
voice at the heads of the audience with an insolent insistence on 
her position as a public favorite, and hardly the ghost of a refer- 
ence to the character she is supposed to impersonate. An am- 
bitious young artist may easily be misled by illustrious examples 
of stage misconduct. To tell an average yoimg opera singer that 
she is a Patti or a Nilsson is to pay her the highest compliment 
she desires. Yet Madame Patti's offences against artistic propriety 
are mighty ones and millions. She seldom even pretends to play 
any odier part than that of Adelina, the spoiled child with the 
adorable voice; and I believe she woidd be rather hurt than other- 
wise if you for a moment lost sight of Patti in your preoccupation 
with Zerlina, or Alda, or Caterina. Nilsson, a far greater dramatic 
artist, so far stood on her dignity that she never came before the 
curtain to bow until there had been applause enough to bring 
out her rival at least six times (Patti will get up and bow to you 
in the very agony of stage death if you only drop your stick 
accidentally); and yet it is not sixteen years since I saw Madame 


Nilsson, in the weddii^ scene in D Trovatore, turn to the tenor 
at the end of Ah, si ten mio, and slap him on the back with a 
loud "Bravo" that was audible — and meant to be audible — all 
over the house. Try to imagine Miss Ellen Terry doing that to 
Mr Irving after the "palace lifting to eternal summer" speech in 
The Lady of Lyons;' and you will begin to realize how far the 
opera house is behind the theatre in England, and how ^y young 
lady, by the exerdse of the simplest good sense and taste, may 
attain a higher normal level of dramatic sincerity ttiza the two 
most famous of her predecessors. 

And this reminds me of a writer in The Musical World who 
last week advocated the abolition of applause. I wish there were 
any chance of his suggestion being carried out. The writer sup- 
poses that it has been abolished at Bayreuth; but he is wrong: 
it has only been reduced to the comparative innocence of a burst 
at the end of the representation, acknowledged by raising the 
curtain for a moment on the last tableau; and I am by no means 
sure that when they come to perform Mozart's masterpieces there 
it will be possible to avert an encore of La ci darem or Voi eke 
sapete. I am against applause on the balance of its advantages (to 
which I am keenly sensible) and disadvantages. The latter are 
enormous, especially at dramatic representations, ^ere the in- 
terruption of the illusion is an obvious and conclusive objection. 
Further, it enables a noisy minority to tyraimize over a silent and 
disgusted majority; it gives a false importance to claptrap which 
does nothing to attract audiences to the theatre, however much 
it may excite them when they are once inside; and its quantity 
and frequency are necessarily in inverse ratio to the preoccupa- 
tion of die audience with the drama. The worst offenders are the 
people who clap because they are constitutionally ready to be 
good-natured when it costs them nothing, and those who clap 
because the others do. For my own part, I alwajfs regard the 
money I pay at the doors as suiEdent evidence of my appreciation 
of the performers; and in the normal coiuse of things I hardly 
ever applaud. When I do, it is usually to join in some personal 
demonstration apart from the merit of any particular performance. 



For instance, at the Crystal Palace last Saturday Mr Manns 
marked his appredadon of the occasion (the afternoon was de- 
voted entirely to Wagner) by discarding his velvet jacket and 
appearing in a frock coat, as if he had been marrying or burying 
somebody. At the end, the audience, instead of rushing off to the 
tea-room to snatch a refresher before the half-past five train, felt 
a common impulse to give Mr Mamis a spontaneous assurance of 
their unaltered affection for him. So they waited long enough 
to discomiect their projected ovadon from the effect produced by 
the performance of the Kaisermarsch which had just ended the 
concert, and then gave a great salvo of clapping, which soon 
brought the frock coat back from the depdis. Thus was a pesti- 
ferous custom for once nimed to account conveniendy, appro- 
priately, sensibly, and feelingly; and I joined in the applause with 
much satisfaction to myself and no harm to anyone else. 

I have been for some time waitii^ for an opportunity of saying 
a word about Mrs Langoys revival of As You Like It at the St 
James's Theatre. I submit that the play is spoiled by the ruthless 
cutting to bits of the last half of it. TWs has been forced on the 
management by want of skill and want of thought on the part of 
the actors. The problem is to get through a play of so many lines 
between eight o'clock and eleven. Any fool can solve this in the 
^shion of Alexander (I allude to the man who stopped a hole to 
keep the wind away, and not to the lessee of the Avenue Theatre) 
by cutting out a chunk here and a scrap there until the lines are 
few enough to fit. But, somehow, the shorter you make your play 
in this fashion, the more tedious it becomes. The proper way is to 
divide your play into movements like those of a symphony. You 
will find that there are several sections which can be safely taken 
at a brisk allegro, and a few that may be taken prestissimo: those, 
for instance, which serve only to explain the mere mechanism of 
the plot. Each allegro will improve the representation if it is 
judiciously chosen and managed. Mr Benson has introduced one 
or two in Hamlet with die happiest effect. Of course the thing 
must be honestly done: the familiar star system trick of making 
the minor characters slur their work in order to leave plenty of 


time for the mock pregnant pauses, head wakings, and elaborate 
business of the leading actor, is vile, and shows a pidfiil ambition 
in the fool that uses it. The star must not take a minute more than 
his lines are worth, or put oS the third murderer with a minute 
less. Under these conditions, I believe it would be quite feasible 
to play As You Like It right through in a litde over three hours 
without sacrifidng a point. 

However, it would be necessary to get another Jacques than 
Mr Bourchier, or else to rudely shake his conviction that the 
secret of effective elocution is to pause at every third word 
and look significanriy out of the comers of his eyes at anybody 
who happens to be in that direction before letting out the fourth. 
Mr Bourchier can easily make himself a competent Jacques; but 
he may take it from me that he is at present as bad a one as Lon- 
don has seen for some years. Mrs Langtry makes a very womanly 
Rosalind, and succeeds better than any other actress within my 
recollection in making her love for Orlando the keynote of the 
part. I may remark that in spite of the beauty of the verse and the 
deep feeling for sylvan and pastoral scenery which pervades the 
play, the human part of it is excessively conventional, and might 
almost have been planned by Tom Taylor. Like Henry V., it 
belongs to that moment of sympathy with die common morality 
and thought of his time which came between the romanticism of 
Shakespear's early plays and the independent thought of his later 
one; and this is why it is so easily played by any company with a 
fair share of sense and skilL There is no confounded insight re- 
quired in the business. 

One member of the cast, dressed as a youi^ god (Hymen, in 
feet) seemed to me to be no other than Carl Armbruster fresh 
from a rejuvenating dose of the elixir of life. The playbill ex- 
plained that Hymen is Carl's daughter. I have been so accustomed 
to regard him as one in whom the energy and vehement enthusi- 
asms of early manhood will achieve a perfect balance and mellow- 
ness on his attaining middle age, that I cannot quite believe that 
this young lady of eighteen is his daughter. When she was at school 
with the Moravians at Neuwied, and subsequently went to Miss 


Genevieve Ward to study for the stage, it was hard to give her 
father credit for a daughter of more dian ten at the outside; but 
it appears that Time was, as usual, hurrying fester than I thought. 
I shall be a grand old man myself presently. 

19 April 1 890 
I AM not disposed to quarrel with the Carl Rosa Opera Company 
over L'Etoile du Nord on no better ground than that the principal 
parts are entirely beyond the means of their principal singers. 
Le mieux est /'ennemi Ju bien; and it is perhaps better to play 
Meyerbeer's operas with half the bravura left out and the other 
half more or less botched than not to play them at all. Besides, the 
inadequacy is not really greater in L'Etoile du Nord than in many 
other works which are regarded as the natural prey of English 
opera companies. It only appears so because Meyerbeer's music 
leaves no latitude for that unaffected slovenliness which makes 
life comparatively easy for the Carl Rosaists, in spite of their hard 
work in the provinces. A Meyerbeer opera requires extreme me- 
chanical precision of execution and unflagging energy and atten- 
tion. Everybody must be smart, polished, alert; there must be no 
hitch, no delay, no fluking or trusting to laisser-aller. It follows 
that the company must be clever and in good condition, fresh as 
paint every time. Now I do not say that the Carl Rosa Company 
is not clever, nor do I deny that it is always ready to do roiigh 
and ready work with a will. But if it is jolly it is also a little jaded, 
and has come to think itself lucky if it gets through its seven 
operas a week without an acmal breakdown; so that though it 
never gets quite down to the level of a subscription night during 
the regular Italian season, yet it certainly does fall considerably 
short of the Meyerbeer standard of finish. 

It must not be supposed that completeness has been aimed at 
in adapting The Star of the North to the requirements of the Carl 
Rosa Company. TTie camp scene is given in full, except for an 
ugly cut in the quintet in the tent scene (which should, by the bye, 
have been taken more swifdy and delicately), and the necessary 


excision for Madame Bums's sake of the brilliant coda to the trio 
in which Peter drinks Catherine's health. But the first act was 
vigorously scissored. Danilowitz's polonaise, the trio in which 
Catherine describes her visit to Prascovia's father, and even the 
great duet in which Catherine fires Peter's ambition, were ail 
sacrificed, whilst the third act was simply gutted, nothing beii^ 
left but a verse of Peter's song, an air for Prascovia, and Cather- 
ine's scena cut all to ribbons. The act would bear with advantage 
the restoration of Danilowitz's charming air in £ flat, and the 
concerted piece for Peter, Danilowitz and Gritsenko, which is 
given in dialogue. 

I am not going to shoot at the performers, though I am by no 
means prepared to admit that they all did their best Mr Cell! 
might have sung "By thy side, oh beauty cruel" a little more care- 
fully, even if he had substituted mere vocalizing for the impos- 
sibly ridiculous words of Chorley. Mr Aynsley Cook can scarcely 
be quite incapable of giving at least some suggestion of Grit- 
senko's eccentric devotion to discipline, which eventually leads 
the raonomaniacal Cossack to approve of the Czar's proposal to 
shoot him. That very rough diamond, Mr Child, may rest as- 
sured that a spell of patient practice would open his ears to some 
of the refinements of Meyerbeer; but unfortunately I cannot be- 
lieve that practice is encouraged in the company: it would give 
the artist who tried it a mean advantage over the others. At least 
it seems to me that the average Carl Rosa execution is that of 
singers who have not worked at their scales for years. The minor 
parts were well done; the chorus, which is ordinarily too much 
addicted to shouting, acquitted itself capitally; and the military 
bands covered themselves with well-earned glory. The orchestra 
was not so good: it was slt^gish and blurred in many passages 
where nearness and delicacy were needed: for instance, the ex- 
cellently imagined accompaniment to Catherine's scene on her 
entry in the diird act. Mr Goossens seemed to me to be imper- 
fectly in sympathy with the electrical Meyerbeerian atmosphere. 
On the whole, however, I think the audience felt that they had 
had their money's worth. The immense adroimess and genuine 


fire of the camp scene were sufficiently brought out to interest 
and please the house in an exceptional degree. 

P.S. Is it an established English custom to speak of the 
Ukraine as the You-Crane? I do not know whether it is good 
Russian to call it the Oookia-eena; but it is much prettier. 

zj April li^ 
I CONFESS to a weakness, not altogether musical, for Madame 
Sophie MenKr. There is an enormous exhilaration and sense of 
enhiged life and freedom communicated to me by her super- 
lative and victorious power and adroitness. I worship her mag- 
netic muscle: I admire her puissant hands: I expand in the re- 
flection of her magnificent strength, her suppleness, her swiftness, 
her inexhaustible, indefatigable energy. I grant that this may be 
the rebellion of the old Adam in me — a diabolic turbulence of 
the unchastened will-to-live, inherited from my beefeteak eating 
ancestors: I even insist on the superiority of the plane upon which 
I am raised by the spiritual intensity and purely musical instinct 
of a player like Madame Backer-Grondahl, whose right arm seems 
frailer than Madame Menter's little finger. All the same, I have no 
intention of restraining my enjoyment of her immense execution, 
whit^ places her beside the violinist Ysaye at the head of the musi- 
cal athletes of the world. 

No doubt the admirers of Schumaim were disappointed with 
the performance of his concerto by Madame Menter at the Crystal 
Palace on Saturday. But what could they expect? To the superb 
Sophie, solid, robust, healthy, with her mere self-consciousness 
an ^cample and sufficient delight to her, playing Schumann was 
like bringing a sensitive invalid into the fields on a sunshiny day 
and making him play football for the good of his liver. You coidd 
hear Schumann plaintively remonstrating in the orchestra, and 
the piano coming down on him irresistibly, echoing his words 
with good-natured mockery, and whirlii^ him off in an endless 
race that took him clean out of himself and left him panting. 
Never were the quick movements finished with less r^ard for 



poor Schumann's lungs. 

The intermezzo delight me beyond measure. Ordinarily, no 
man can put into words those hushed confidences diat pass in it 
between piano and orchestra, as between a poet and a mistress. 
But I can give you what passed on Saturday, word for word. 
Here it is.- 

sophie: Now, then. Bob, are you ready for anodier turn? 
SCHUMANN; Yes. Just half a moment, if you dont mind. I 
havent quite got my wind yet. 

SOPHIE: Come! you feel all the better for it, dont youi* 
SCHUMANN: No doubt, no doubt. The weather is certainly 
very fine. 

SOPHIE: I should think so. Better than sticking indoors at 
that old piano of yours and sentimentalizing, anyhow. 
SCHUMANN: Yes: I know I should take more exercise. 
SOPHIE; Well, you have got wind enough by this time. 
Come along, old man: hurry up. 

SCHUMANN: If you wouldnt mind goii^ a bit slower 

SOPHIE: Oh, bother going slow. You just sdck to me and I'll 
pull you through. Youll be all right in a brace of shakes. 

Now: one, two, three, and 

(fittacca stihito railegra). 
And it really did Schumann good. 

Pray do not suppose that Madame Menter is a hard, bloodless, 
unsympathetic; in a word, an unkind player. Not a bit of it. 
When, after an indescribable performance of a piece by Scarlatti 
and a Hungarian rhapsody by Liszt, she was recalled once, twice, 
thrice, four times, and eventually seized bodily by the intrepid 
Mr Manns and led in custody back to the piano, she played Liszt's 
transcription of Beethoven's Wonne der Wehmuth, and by that 
selection, as well as by the strong tenderness with which she 
played, completed the conquest of the already heavily-smitffin 

The orchestra was in fine form; and I cannot recall a perform- 
ance of the Pastoral Symphony which has afforded me more 
pleasure. But the vocalist, Mr Charles Maimers, who, if I recollect 


aright, first burs t on London as the meditative sentinel in lolantbe, 
threw away a chance of distinguishing himself by finishing 
The Two Grenadiers with an interpoladon which he honesdy 
meant to be decorative, and to give the song a rounding-ofF which 
Schumann had not been equal to. I hope that Mr Manners is under 
no illusion as to the effect he produced. The minority who ap- 
plauded him may have distracted his attention from the eloquendy 
grim expression of the majority who did not. If so, let him take 
my word for it that his cadenzas had better be reserved for his 
next tour to Juan Fernandez. As it is the custom to sing Qui 
sdegno sharp, and to spoil the end by going down to the low E, 
I do not greatly blame him for that. But as he seems to have a 
genuine love of his profession, and considerable qualifications for 
success in it, I can do no less than warn him against those failings 
in taste and good sense which, more than any deficiency in voice 
or musical aptitude, keep so many of our singers in die second or 
third rank as artists. 

Miss Dell Thompson made me laugh so exceedingly at the 
soir^ given by the Norwegian Club some time ago that there 
was no difficulty in inducing me to go to her recital at Princes 
Hall this day week. I will not attempt to describe her personally, 
because I do not know which is the real Miss Thompson: the 
small girl of three feet high, with staring eyes, infantile mouth, 
elbowless little sticks of arms, and absurdly laughably childlike 
squeak of a voice, or the young woman who is like any other 
well-favored and graceful young woman, except in respect of 
being clever and able to do something. Anyhow, she is gifted in 
a remarkable degree with the qualities needed for distii^uished 
success in naturalist comedy. As a reciter, what she wants at 
present is a litde criticism from the London point of view; and 
that is what I now propose respectfully to offer her. 

First, then, as to her selection of pieces for recitation. She laid 
a good deal of stress on The Chariot Race from Ben Hur, which 
I took to be a novel in the manner of Mr Rider Hazard. It is 
without literary grace, being as business-like a piece of three- 
volume prose as ever was penned; and the chariot race is imagined 


in a perfectly commonplace way. There is nothing in it that speci- 
ally suits Miss Thompson's style; and she adds nothing to it; 
indeed, she finds the incidental specifications of the arena so hope- 
lessly insusceptible of artistic treatment, that her air of intelligent 
explanation verges harder upon the ridiculous than I quite like to 
say. And when, in a hopeless eifort to chum the literary skim 
milk into some presentable sort of oleomargarine, she lavishes 
all the vigor of her young lungs on it, the strain on the patience of 
the audience becomes severe. There were people who hissed on 
Friday, as well as people who applauded. Both were fools for 
their pains; they should have let Ben Hur fall with his own un- 
aided flatness. Miss Dell Thompson is clever enough to see, on 
reflection, that it would serve him right. I certainly think she has 
formed either an over-estimate of Ben, or an under-estimate of the 
taste of London. 

Another point. Miss Thompson has an irresistible American 
accent; merely to hear her say "Tom" sets me wondering whether, 
if she whispered the more euphonious "Como di Bassetto," it 
would be possible to refiise her anything. But when she passes 
from impersonation to description — from the first person to the 
third — from dramatic utterance to abstract recitation, then I con- 
fess that the need for classical diction asserts itself imperatively, 
and I involuntarily make notes of such words as bawlcony, 
fehllowed, invahlved, invahlunteriy, necesserrily (with a stress 
on the third syllable worthy of Mr Henry George himself), sym- 
pithy, equil, tern for turn, dew fot do, and a ringing nasal ah-oo 
which is sometimes charming, but which does not seem at its best 
in words like bound, round, etc. Then Miss Thompson has de- 
liberately cultivated an R which is neither ilie no R at all of 
Middlesex nor the clean trilled R which is the only pleasant alter- 
native to it. She just rolls her tongue up and treats us to a thick 
guttural R which makes such a word as "neared" (for example) 
an ugly obstruction in the middle of the silver stream of her 

London is full not only of cockneys who have too many and 

horrible defects of their own to leave them any excuse for fastidi- 



ousness, but with provincials and Americans who have got the 
better of the ugly features of their native dialects, and who are 
therefore rather intolerant of professional speakers who shew any 
indisposition to take the same trouble. I am myself disposed to 
insist on the right of the individual to the widest latitude; but 
obviously a line must be drawn somewhere; and it should be 
drawn higher for one who professes speaking as an art than for 
a private person or a propagandist lecturer. My own diction when 
I speak in public is perhaps slighdy less artistic than that of 
Coquelin; and Mrs Victoria Claflin Woodhull falls considerably 
short of Miss Ada Rehan as an American exponent of the art of 
dicdon. Nevertheless, the cridc who should object to otu* lectures 
on that ground would be jiistly contemned as an unmitigated 
prig. Not so in the case of Miss Dell is her business 
to be word-perfect; and nobody who heard her recite "What my 
lover said" can doubt her capacity for the most delicate degree of 
excellence, if she chooses to set about attaining it Nobody can 
even doubt that her artistic insight will compel her to insist on 
attaining it the moment she becomes conscious of the smallest 
refinement not yet mastered by her. 

As I do not wish to confine myself exclusively to destructive 
criticism, I may as well point out to Miss Thompson that she has 
a substitute for Ben Hur of the highest order ready to her hand 
in William Morris's Atalanta's Race, which she will find in The 
Earthly Paradise. Further, it may interest her to know that The 
Owl Critic is played out here, and that our very souls loatlie Poor 
Little Jo and the quagmire of sloshy false sentiment to which he 
belongs. Besides, only artists who are bom third-rate ever really 
succeed with third-rate stuff. I suspect that Miss Dell Thompson's 
future will be chiefly devoted to the stage; but in the meantime I 
hope she will not mistrust herself and us so far as to play low 
down in her selections. If I were a reciter I should get up a single 
program and stump the country with it. Here it is: 

Part I 
The Ancient Mariner — S. T. Coleridge. 



Part II 
John Gilpin — Cowper. 

2 Mt^ 1890 
Although Mr Manns was inconsiderate enough to select the 
very wettest day he could find for his benefit, the audience was 
of the largest; and as they all had umbrellas to thump with, the 
applause was exceptionally effective. Not so the program. The 
Freischiitz overture, played without the Wagnerian interpreta- 
tion of the Jecrescendo mark over the chord preceding the entry 
of the "feminine theme" in the coda, was as fresh as ever; 
though, with all respect to Mr Manns, Wagner was assuredly 
right. The Tamihauser overtute was equally welcome. But then 
the FreischuD: was played at three and the Tannhauser at five; 
and between the two were two mortal hours of music which did 
nothing to restore that alacrity of spirit which the rain had 
washed out of me. 

There was Dr SapellnikofTs playing of Tschaikowsky's piano- 
forte concerto in G (No. 2) for the first time in England. The 
apology made by Sir George Grove in the program for the 
absence of an analysis was the less needed because the work 
contains nothing new. It is impulsive, copious, difficult, and pre- 
tentious; but it has no distinction, no originality, no feeling for 
the solo instrument, nothing to rouse the attention or to occupy 
the memory. It left me without any notion of Sapelliukoff 's rank 
as a player: he is, of course, swift and powerful with his fingers; but 
six bars of a Mozart sonata would have told me more about his 
artistic gift than twenty whole concertos of the Tschaikowsky 

And here let me remark that whenever you hear of a great 
composer from Russia, or from Hungary, or from any other 
country which is far behind us in social development, the safest 
plan is not to believe in him. You cannot be too intensely insular 
on the art question in England. If England wants music to reach 
her own highest standard, she must make it for herself. The 
adolescent enthusiasms, the revolutionary ardors, the belated 


romantidsm of Slav and Czech can produce nothing for England 
except toys for her young people. Wagner himself is, on some 
points, too sentimental for us: we must have an Et^lish Wagner: 
perhaps he is starving somewhere whibt I write. If we would 
only give a chance to every potendal Wagner among our 
millions — that is, secure him adequate schooling and adequate 
grub — ^we should have an actual one in two generadons at latest. 

Perhaps you doubt the national capacity for music of Wag- 
nerian depth and strength. No Englishman, you liiink, has a 
Mdstersinger in him. Pinchbeck Handel and secondhand Men- 
delssohn, with words by Mr Joseph Bennett: that, according to 
your experience, is English music But every nation has its 
plague of "kapellmeister's music"; and if the critics are foob 
enough to mistake such academic trifling for genuine art, so 
much the worse for them and not much the better for the kapell- 
meisters and Mr Joseph Bennett. Not all the good-natured puifing 
of Mr Bennett's colleagues will get as much wear out of Mr 
Cowen's Thorgrim or Mr Parry's Judiili as I shall get out of my 
second best pair of boots before they descend into the blind cave 
of eternal night. As to where an English Meistersinger is to come 
from, all 1 know is that long before Wagner was bom England 
produced Henry Purceli's Yorkshire Feast, a work cognate with 
the Meistersinger in its most characteristic feature. We cannot 
count on another Purcell; but in my opinion England's turn in 
art is coming, especially since there is a growing disposition 
among us to carry our social aims further than providing every 
middle-class dog with his own manger as soon as he is able to 
pay for it. 

Some time ago 1 suggested that Mr Matms should give us 
some medieval trombone and organ music at ihe Saturday con- 
certs. Consequently I should be praisii^ myself if I were to 
applaud the selection of Heinrich Schutz's Lamentatio Davidis 
for performance on Saturday. Besides, the chief credit on this 
score must surely be due to Mr George Case, who probably in- 
duced the Wind Instrument Society to bring it forward at a 
concert last month. 1 guess this because I first heard the work in 


1885 at South Kensington, where he played it with Mr Geard and 
Messrs J. and Antoine Matt, the voice part (taken by Mr Henschel 
on Saturday) being sung by Mr Stanley Smith, On that occasion 
they also played Luther's Eine feste Burg, which I can recom- 
mend to Mr Manns if he feels disposed for more trombone music. 
We all know the trombone in its melodramatic moods; but its 
noblest qualities never come out so impressively as when it is 
treated in what I may call a spirit of pure counterpoint. 

I have to apologize to Mr Harold and Miss Ethel Bauer for 
missing their concert on Monday. I allowed myself to be seduced 
by the management of the Prince of Wales's Theatre into attend- 
ing the looth night of Marjorie, intendii^ to leave after an act 
or two and go on to the concert But my Herculean frame sud- 
denly yielded to the strain which the present stress of picmres, 
politics, and music put on a critic who is engaged in all three 
departments simultaneously. I settled down lazily in my stall 
and never budged until the curtain fell. Not that the performance, 
though it amused me, can be said to have enthralled me. I can tell 
you very litde about it — not even how often Mr Coffin kissed 
Miss Broughton. He seemed to me to be kissing everybody with 
a reckless disregard of propriety. I must say that Mr Coffin, being 
a handsome young man, and considerably under-parted to boot, 
had an easy time of it. Had he been trying his prentice hand at 
lago or Don Juan I should have set my brains seriously to the 
task of criticism; but Marjorie is child's play for him. As a singer 
be has been better, and he will some day again be better, than he 
is today. He insists too much on the manly roughness of his 
voice, and is, it seems to me, actually impatient of the delicate 
color and the rich, l^ht, smooth tone with which he started, and 
which was the cause of his success; for anybody can produce 
the rough, loud article if he sets himself at it Mr Coffin has only 
to cast back after his old charm to get two stops to his organ. 
Then skill and taste in their employment, with the dramatic in- 
telligence of which, even in this Marjorie nonsense, he shews 
plenty, will keep him in the front rank when he becomes a middle- 
aged operatic villain, and takes to serious business. 



Mr Slaughter has not allowed the better to become the enemy 
of the good in composing Marjorie. The score is sufficient for its 
purpose; but I think he really might have devised some worthier 
climax for Mr Coffin's song in the third act than a hackneyed 
waltz refrain. Marjorie compares fevorably with Dorothy as to 
the book: unfavorably as to the music The book of Dorothy was 
not only silly, but stupid. The book of Mariorie is also silly, but 
it is amusing. On the other hand, the music of Dorothy was 
pretty, and had a certain el^;ance and technical finish which be- 
longed to the Mendelssohn-Stemdale Bennett traditions tn which 
Mr Cellier, like Sir Arthur Sullivan, was trained. Mr Slaughter 
has been less fastidious; and his share in the success of Marjorie 
is proportionately less than that of Mr Cellier in the success of 
Dorothy, which, by the way, is still ravaging the provinces. 

I must bring these disjointed remarks to a close. The fact is, 
I have been at the Royal Academy all day, "Press-viewing" it; 
and my mind is unhinged by the contemplation of so much 
emptiness and so much bungling. My wits were in a suffidentiv 
unsettled condition before I went there: for last week I described 
how Madame Sophie Menter played Liszt's transcription of Beet- 
hoven's Worms der Wehmuth, whereas what she did play was — 
as I heard with my own ears and knew perfecdy well — his tran- 
scHpUon of Mendelssohn's Auf Flugeln des Gesanges. I have 
before this gone to a performance of Don Giovanni, and begun 
my notice thereof with half a column about Fidelio before, in 
trying to remember how the statue came into the prison scene, 
the truth flashed on me. I therefore give warning that I will not 
be answerable for the accuracy of any statement that may appear 
in this column — or out of it, for that matter. 

P.S. I forgot to say that the omission of any reference to 
Dvorak's new symphony is due to that idiotic body the Executive 
Committee of the London Liberal and Radical Union, which 
selected for a council meeting the night fixed long beforehand 
for the Philharmonic concert. These Goths think that a concert 
is a thing of no importance. If it were a horserace now 1 




9 May 1890 
I OCCASIONALLY get letters from artists whom I have cridcized, 
explaining away their misdeeds, or thanking me for my valuable 
su^esdons, or aiding the point with me, or threatening me 
with personal violence, either to relieve their feelings or to follow 
up a small opening. Some of them mean nothing more than to 
nobble me with a litde flattery; and these are the wise ones; for I 
need not say that I delight in flattery. Even when there is no mis- 
taking it for sincere admiradon, I am pleased to find that anybody 
attaches sufHcient importance to my opinion to spend a postage 
stamp on an attempt to humbug me. Therefore let no diplomatic 
young singer be deterred from paying me compliments by the 
certainty of my seeing through them. Flatter by all means; and 
remember that you cannot lay it on too thick. The net pleases 
the bird no less than the bait. But be particularly careful not to 
discuss artistic points with me; for nothing is easier than to drop 
some remark that will make me your enemy for life. 

For instance, I have before me a letter from a singer who wrote 
to me to ask whether a certain song should not be sung with a 
high note interpolated at the end for the sake of effect. As the 
song was by Mozart, my reply may be imagined. The following 
is the astonishing rejoinder of my correspondent: "I see plainly 
that you are quite right; and when I sing at another c/assical con- 
cert I shall act on your view. But you will, of course, agree with 
me that a singer must try to be popular; and therefore at ballad 
concerts, etc., if he finds a high note brings him success Mid 
secures him the applause of the public, it is only common sense 
for him to do it. I confess it is inartistic; but what is one to do? 
To earn my living I must please my audience." 

Imi^ne my feelings on being calmly told that "of course I 
will agree" with the assumption that it is "only common sense" 
to act against your conscience whenever there is money to be 
made by doing so. However, this is not really the position taken 
by my correspondenL He does not feel that the high note is in- 
artistic at all: he only knows that certain cranks like myself, who 
369 2A 


are supposed to be authorities on the sut^ect, say that it is in- 
artistic; and he agrees as a pure matter of convention. Conse- 
quendy, the high note is not ^;ainst his conscience: it is only 
gainst mine, which is not morally binding on him, though be 
supposes himself let in for admitting that I know better than he. 
Therefore I now say to my correspondent Go on singing the 
high note. If you like it better than Mozart's ending, or if the 
repugnance you feel to the alteration is so slight as to be profit- 
ably compensated by the applause which the note brings you 
from people who have not even that slight repugnance, then fire 
away. Your artistic sense will be satisfied: mine will be outraged. 
You guaranree the applause from the audience: I guarantee the 
slating from at least one critic. The feet is, that if the singers felt 
about these interpolations as a cultivated musician does, they 
could not sing them without an intolerable sense of discomfort 
and humiliation. And until a singer has that sense it is idle for him 
to suppose that the word "inartistic" has any genuine significance 
for him. 

As to the distinction between classical and popular concerts, 
it conveniently describes the difference between a Crystal Palace 
Saturday concert and one of Messrs Boosey's ballad concerts. 
But it does not mean that the r^t way to sing a song by Mozart 
at one concert is the wrong way at another. At a ballad concert 
you may substitute the music of Milton Wellings for the music 
of Mozart; but you most certainly may not substitute the wrong 
way of singing Mozart for the right way. 

Here is an affectionate comment of The Musical World on the 
unmusical World: 

"We have more than once pointed out, with friendly amuse- 
ment, the harmless mistakes ^^ch have been made in speaking 
of English art by our excellent contemporary 'Le Menestrel.' But 
there is a limit to our toleration. When it asserts, as in its last 
issue, that Mr Louis Engel is a member of our staff, we are bound 
to protest. We do not pretend to know what evil days may be in 
store for TTie Musical World; but our readers may be assured that 
these days are not yet" 




Now, in the name of all that is easy-going, why this unpro- 
voked onslaught? Ordinarily, I have only one fault to find with 
Mr Jaques (that is the M.W.'s name). It is that he is scandalously 
good-natured: so much so, that he wrapped up the nakedness of 
the bitter truth about Thorgrim in an article joo,ooo words long, 
in order to spare the feelii^ of Mr Cowen and Mr Bennett. I be- 
lieve that the indignation unnaturally pent up by this effort de- 
manded an outlet; and so feelii^ that he must have somebody's 
blood, he flew at the unfortunate L. E., and wreaked on him the 
rage that ought to have laid Thorgrim low. This sort of Ber- 
serkerism must not be encouraged; for how do I know who may 
be the next victim? myself, perhaps] 

Some time ago a weekly paper, criticizing a performance of 
Gounod's Ave Maria by Madame Patd, took occasion to observe 
that the harmonium ohbligato was vilely played. It was L. £. who 
played it; and he played it with admirable dtscredon; but the 
critic evidently despised The World's musical column,and felt that 
he must assassinate its author. Now the reason L. £. is thus pur- 
sued is that he is beyond all comparison the best musical cridc 
of his school in London, as far as my knowledge goes. His school 
(mid-century Parisian) is not mine: I was brought up in it, and 
soon had enough of it, finding its arch enemy Wagner more to 
my taste; but that does not prevent me from seeing that he knows 
his business, and that he has the force to write individually, ori- 
ginally, making his mark with every opinion he delivers. Of how 
many cridcs in London is it possible to say as much? When one 
thinks of the average critic, with his feeble infusion of musical 
dictionary and analytical program, the man who has no 
opinion, and dare not express it if he had, who is afraid of his 
friends, of his enemies, of his editor, of his own ignorance, of 
committing an injustice (as if there were any question of abstract 
justice involved in the expression of a critic's tastes and distastes), 
it is impossible not to admire L. £., who, at an age at which all 
ordinary journalists are hopelessly muzzled by the mere mass of 
their personal acquaintance, can still excite these wild animosities 
in the breasts of his colleagues. 




Another critic, Mr Clement Scott, has been describing how he 
was boycotted in the early days of his warfare against the man- 
agers. But my advice to managers and concert givers is Boycott 
all good critics. I am myself vigorously boycotted; and I take it 
as a sincere compliment. Concert givers are perfectly well aware 
that my criticism will be exactly the same whether I pay for my 
seat or not; and they naturally think they may as well have my 
money as well as my notice. In my opinion the whole system of 
complimentary tickets for the Press should be discontinued. The 
managers have only to combine against the free list, and the thing 
is done. The papers must have cridcisms; the cridcs must see the 
plays; and the propordon between praise and blame must remain 
practically the same, however freely and sincerely expressed. Un- 
fortunately, the inidadve in the matter ought to come from the 
cridcs and not from the managers. Just as waiters will have their 
wages made precarious by the dpping system until they have the 
sense to refuse dps; so managers will send tickets as long as the 
critics will accept them. We ^ould form a Critics' Trade Union, 
and pledge ourselves never to enter a place of public entertain- 
ment without paying (and chaining the price to our paper). If we 
are anything like so highly skilled as we ought to be, diere could 
be no danger of blacklegs taking our places on papers of any 
pretension to high-class literary matter. Who will join.* There 
would be no gain or loss to speak of, except to ourselves in inde- 
pendence. The managers would make the papers pay for the 
stalls; but then the papers would make the managers pay for ad- 
vertisements to replace the purely complimentary pu& which 
are a feature of the present system. 

Miss Elsie Hall is an infant phenomenon of the latest iashion, 
that is, a twelve-year-old pianist. She played last Monday at 
Steinway Hall with all the vigor and enjoyment of her age, and 
as dexterously as you please, being a hardy wiry girl, with great 
readiness and swiftness of execution, and unbounded alacrity of 
spirit. At the same time, there is not the slightest artistic excuse 
for exploiting her cleverness at concerts; I hope we may not hear 
of her again in public until she is of an age atwhich she mayiairly 


be asked to earn her living for herself. And this reminds me of a 
matter I omitted to mention in connection with Marjorie last week 
[May 2]. It is that the stage is "dressed" with children in the first 
set, quite unnecessarily. I again urge on the notice of our legis- 
lators thecynicalunscrupulousnesswithwhich the loophole made 
in the Act for the purpose of enabling Richard m to have his little 
Duke of York on the stage has been abused to the extent of making 
the Act, so far as the stage is concerned, almost a dead letter. 

I deserted Miss Meredyth Elliott's concert on Wednesday to 
hear Dr John Todhunter's pastoral entitled A Sicilian Idyll at 
the litde theatre of the club in Bedford Park. It is not every 
poet who could reconcile me to an hour's transparent Arcadian 
make-believe in the classic Sicily of Theocritus; but Dr Tod- 
hunter did it. There is nothing in music more beautiflil in its way 
than blank verse in its early simplicity of line by line, each beauti- 
ful and complete in itself. Marlowe's line was not "mighty": 
blank verse did not become mighty until the lines had grown 
together into the great symphonic movements of Shakespear's 
final manner; but it was tunefiil, exquisitely emphasized, and 
sometimes gorgeous in its sound color. Somedmes, on the other 
hand, it was vulgar and swa^ering. Now Dr Todhunter writes a 
line that is guiltless of swagger. It is melodious, tender, delicately 
colored, and with that convincing cadence that only comes &om 
perfect fitness of emphasis. It was quite enchanting to sit listenii^ 
to it, and to escape from the realistic drama of modem life for a 
whole hour. The performance was very creditable. Music, dan- 
cing, costumes, scenery were all excellent. Mr Paget (Alcander) 
seemed to me to have no experience of using his voice except for 
private conversation: there was not enough tone and weight in 
his lines; but I have no other fault to find with him. Florence 
Fair's striking and appropriate good looks no doubt helped her to 
a success that would have cost a plainer woman more to achieve; 
but her intelligence and her instinct for the right iail of the line 
was never at fault. Miss Linfield's ear is perhaps not quite so sure 
as diat of her lover Daphnis, enacted by "Mr John Smith." I may 
mention that Dr Todhimter has evidently never experienced the 


vicissitudes known as "having the brokers in." He has therefore 
never heard the terrible word "inventory" pronounad. If he ever 
does (aisit omen/) he will discover that the accent is on the first 
syllable instead of, as he supposes, on the second. 

16 May 1890 
I CANNOT quite account for the crowded state of the concert-room 
at the Philharmonic last week. And they were so enthusiastic, too. 
Young Mr Borwick is hardly an established favorite as yet (it was 
his first appearance in England); and Signor Mancinelli, though 
he has conducted for a few seasons at Covent Garden, is not 
absolutely the idol of London. I could not help thinking that both 
these gentlemen must have been treated very liberally by the So- 
ciety in the matter of complimentary tickets. Nothing could be 
more natural under the circumstances; but the effect, as &r as the 
public is concerned, is much the same as if the claque system had 
been introduced for the evening. For instance, I do not believe 
that the desire to hear the third movement of Signor Mancindli's 
Venetian suite was as general among those who had paid for thdr 
tickets as among those who had not. The orchestration is after 
the pattern of that glittering sample which Signor Mandnelli 
showed us in his finale to Bizet's P&:heurs de Perles at Covent 
Garden. The success of its execution by "the famous Philhar- 
monic orchestra" was a melancholy proof of the sort of work 
which that kid-gloved body is now fit for. It is an imapproach- 
ably noiseless, delicate, well-bred band, too superfine for the vul- 
garities of Beethoven or the democratically unreticent Wagner, but 
incomparable for a Venetian suite or a quadrille at a Court ball. 
Mr Leonard Borwick would have made a greater success if he 
had not been a httle over-newspapered beforehand. I have no fault 
to find with his playing: it is well studied, accurate, and earnestly 
and enthusiastically set about, as it should be; but he is still a pupil 
Mid not a master. Whether Mr Borwick will be spoken of here- 
after only once a year (after his benefit concert) as "that excellent 
pianist and well-known professor," or whether he will be current 


throughout Europe as "Borwick" sans phrase, is a question which 
the Philharmonic concert has left unsettled. It is sufficiently high 
praise for the present to say that it was not settled adversely. 

Mr Cowai's conducting reminded me rudely of the flight of 
time. We have been so long accustomed to regard Mr Cowen as 
a young man that the sudden discovery of such signs of age as 
slowness, timidity, exhaustion of musical eagerness, come upon 
us with a shock: at least, they do on me. I forget Mr Cowen's 
exact age; but if I were to judge of the fimereal way in which he 
led the Frischka of Liszt's Fourth Hut^;arian Rhapsody — one of 
the maddest of them — I should put him not far from eighty. The 
allegro of Dove sono was also hr too tame. Miss Madntyre, 
whose popularity increases each time she sii^, got through it 
very creditably; but if I were to say that she sang it quite satis- 
factorily I should imply that she is a singer of the very highest 
rank, which she can hardly yet claim to be. 

It seems to me that there are -more champion pianists in the 
world at present than any previous age has seen. Possibly the 
introduction and general use of the street piano has raised the 
standard of swiftness and certainty in execudon. However that 
may be, mere technique, which used to suffice to stamp as a 
"great player" any dullard who had perseverance enough to be- 
come a finger acrobat, is now a drug in the market; and the seat 
of the higher faculties of the pianist is no longer supposed to be 
the left wrist Consequendy I went to hear the famous Pader- 
ewski without the slightest doubt that his execution would be 
quite as astonishing as everybody else's; and I was not disap- 
pointed. He plays as clearly as Von Bulow — or as nearly so as is 
desirable, and he is much more accurate. He has not enough con- 
sideradon for the frailty of his instrument; his firtissimo, instead 
of being serious and formidable like that of Stavenhagen, is rather 
violent and elate. He goes to die point at which a piano huddles 
itself up and lets itself be beaten instead of unfolding the richness 
and color of its tone. His charm lies in his pleasant spirit and his 
dash of humor: he carries his genius and his mission almost 
jauntily, ^^ch is more than can be said for Stavenhagen, whose 


seriousness, however, is equally admirable in its way. He began 
with Mendelssohn, and knocked him about rather unceremoni- 
ously; then he took the Harmonious Blacksmith and spoiled it 
by making it a stalking-horse for his sleight-of-hand — playing it 
too fast, in fact; then he went on to Schumann's Fantasia, which 
seems so hard to fathom because there is next to nothing in it; 
and then the way was cleared for Chopin. His playii^ of that 
great composer's studies — three of them — was by far the best 
thing he did. The other Chopin pieces were not specially well 
played; and his execution of the Liszt rhapsody at the end was by 
no means equal to Sophie Menter's. Still his Parisian vogue is 
not to be wondered at: he makes a recital as little oppressive as it 
is the nature of such a thing to be. 

I desire to thank Mr William Stead publiclyfor getting out The 
Review of Reviews in time for the Bach Choir concert on Satur- 
day afternoon, and so lightening for me the intolerable tedium 
of sitting unoccupied whibt the Bachists consdendously maun- 
dered through Brahms' Requiem. Mind, I do not deny that the 
Requiem is a solid piece of music manufecture. You feel at once 
that it could only have come from the establishment of a first- 
class undertaker. But I object to requiems altogether. The Dead 
March in Saul is just as long as a soul in perfect health oi^t to 
meditate on the grave before turning lifewards again to a gay 
quickstep, as the soldiers do. A requi.em overdoes it, even when 
there is an actual bereavement to be sympathized with; but in a 
concert-room when there is nobody dead, it is the very wanton- 
ness of make-believe. On such occasions the earnest musician 
reads The Review of Reviews; and theCuIture Humbug sits with 
his longest face, pretending to drink in that "solemn joy at the 
commencement of a higher life" which Mr Bennett, in the analy- 
dcal programme, assures him is the correct emotion for the occa- 
sion. By the bye, I must quote Mr Bennett's opening remark, as it 
put me into high spirits for the whole afternoon. "This Requiem," 
he writes, "was composed in 1867 as a tribute by the composer 
to the memory of his mother, a sentiment which lends especial 
interest to the soprano solo." For boldness of syntactical ellipsis, 


and &rfetched subtlety of psychologic association, Mr Bennett 
must be admitted the master of us all. 

Somebody is sure to write to me now demanding, "Do you 
mean Mozart's Requiem?" I reply, that in the few numbers — or 
parts of numbers — in that work which arc pure Mozart, the corpse 
is left out. There is no shadow of death anywhere on Mozart's 
music Even his own funeral was a failure. It was dispersed by a 
shower of rain; and to this day nobody knows where he was 
buried or whether he was buried at all or not. My own belief is 
that he was not. Depend on it, they had no sooner put up their 
umbrellas and bolted for the nearest shelter than he got up, shook 
off his bones into the common grave of the people, and soared off 
into universality. It is characteristic of the British middle class 
that whenever they write a book about Mozart, the crowning 
tragedy is always the dreadful thought that instead of having a 
respectable vault all to himself to moulder in for the edification 
of the British tourist, he should have been interred cheaply among 
the bodies of the lower classes. Was it not the Rev. H. R. Haweis 
who waxed quite pathetic over this Umentable miscarri^e of 
propriety, and then called his book Music and Moralsl? 

However, I am not yet done with the Bach concert. It turned 
out that the Requiem was only a clever device of Mr Stanford's 
to make his setting of Tennyson's Revenge seem lively by force 
of contrast. But it would have needed half a dozen actual fiineials 
to do thaL I do not say that Mr Stanford could not set Tennyson's 
ballad as well as he set Browning's Cavalier songs, if only he did 
not feel that, as a professional man with a certain social position 
to keep up, it would be bad form to make a public display of the 
savage emotions called up by the poem. But as it is, Mr Stanford 
is far too much the gendeman to compose anything but drawii^- 
room or class-room music. There are moments here and there in 
The Revenge during which one feels that a conductor of the 
lower orders, capable of swearing at the choir, might have got a 
brief rise out of them; and I will even admit that the alternating 
chords for the trombones which depict the sullen rocking of the 
ht^e Spanish ship do for an instant bring the scene before you; 


but the rest, as the mad gentleman said to Mrs Nickleby, is gas 
and gaiters. It is a pity; for Mr Stanford is one of the few pro- 
fessors who ever had any talent to lose. 

I(S May i8c)o 
"JFe are losing, we are sorry to say, Como £ Bassetto. The 
larger salary of a weekly organ of the classes has proved too muck 
for the virtue even of a Fabian, and he has abandoned us. We -msh 
him well, and twice even the big salary that is coming to kimfrom 
the bloated coffers of the organ of the aristocracy. Let us give his 
adieu to The Star readers, with whom he has been on terms of such 
pleasant intercourse, in his own words," — T.P. 

After the malediction, the valediction. I have now to make a 
ruinous, a desolating, an incredible announcemenL This is the 
last column from the hand of Como di Bassetto which will appear 
in The Star. Friday will no longer be looked forward to in a 
hundred thousand households as Uie day of the Feast of Light. 
The fault is not mine. I proposed long ago that not only this 
column, but the entire paper, political leaders and all, should be 
conducted on Bassettian lines, and practically dictated by me. 
This perfectly reasonable proposition, which would have spared 
the editor much thought and responsibility, he refused with such 
an entire blindness to its obvious advantages that I could do no 
less than inform him that he knew nothing about pohtics. It will 
hardly be beheved that he retorted by aspersing my capacity as a 
musical cridc. One memorable Friday, when the machines failed 
to keep pace with the demand for the paper, he declared that the 
newly-issued report of the Pamell Commission, and not my 
column, was the attraction. He even said that nobody ever read 
my articles; and I then felt that I owed it to myself to affirm ^t 
nobody ever read anything else in the paper. 

At last our relations became so strained that we came to the very 
grave point of having to exchange assurances that we esteemed 
one another beyond all created mortals, and that no vicissitude 
should ever alter those feelii^ of devotion. Upon this brotherly 
basis I had no hesitation in magnanimously admitting that a daily 



paper requires, in the season at least, a daily and not a weekly 
chronicle and criticism of musical events. Such a chronicle I am 
unable to undertake. A man who, like myself, has to rise regularly 
at eleven o'clock every morning cannot sit up night after night 
writing opera notices piping hot from the performance. My habits, 
my health, and my other activities forbid it. Therefore I felt that 
my wisest course would be to transfer myself to a weekly paper, 
which I have accordingly done. I ask some indulgence for my 
successor, handicapped as he will be for a time by the inevitable 
comparison with one whom he can hardly hope to equal, much 
less to surpass. I say this on my own responsibility, as he has not 
invited rae to make any such appeal on his behalf, perhaps be- 
cause it is not yet settled who he is to be. Whoever he is, I hope 
he will never suffer the musical department of The Star to lose 
that pre-eminence which has distinguished it throughout the 
administration of "Como di Bassetto." 

By a Ghost from the 'Eighties 

The insdmtion called variously a busman's or a stage-door- 
keeper's holiday has never been called a musical cridc's holiday. 
The musidan who has been a professional cridc knows, better 
even than Wagner, that music is kept alive on the cottage piano 
of the amateur, and not in the concert rooms and opera houses of 
the great capitals. He will not go to public performances when he 
is no longer paid for his soul-destroying sui]krings. I wonder how 
many of our aides at last become quite clearly conscious that 
what they have to listen to in these places is not music. Some- 
times the horrible thought comes that perhaps some of them have 
never heard music in their lives, but only public performances, 
and therefore honesdy believe that these sounds, produced for 
so many guineas a week, and synchronized by an official called 
a conductor, really make music, and that there is no other sort 
of music. But such a state of damnation is hardly possible; for it 


happens from time to time witiim the experience of every opera 
or concert goer that the pentecostal miracle recurs, and for a few 
bars, or a whole number, or even for a whole evening, the guineas* 
worth of notes organize themselves into livii^ music. Such occa- 
sions are very rare; but they are frequent enough to give every 
critic some moments of the real thing to compare with the simu- 
lacrum. Yet the critics seldom venture to face the conclusion that 
the dJHerence is not between a bad performance and a good one, 
but between the waste and heartbreak of a vain search, and the 
supreme satisfaction of a glorious discovery. 

Still, the miracle being always possible, there is hope, as long 
as the performers are really trying. Sometimes, if only for a 
moment, there is success. But they are not always trying. Worst 
of all, they are sometimes guying. Our orchestras become so 
stale with their endless repetitions of work which contains no 
durably interesting orchestral detail nor presents any technical 
difficulty, that nothing but a high standard of artistic self-respect 
and honesty in their public obligations will make diem do their 
work seriously if the conductor either sympatiiizes with their 
attitude or lacks the authority which is not to be trifled with. 
When these saving conditions are lacking, you get spoof opera. 
The accompaniments are a derisive nmi-tum. The fortissimo 
chords are music-hall crashes, pure charivari, in which the players 
play any no» that comes uppermost, and then iaugh to one 
another. The joke is kept from the audience, partly by its own 
ignorance, and partly by the fact that as the farceurs are in a 
minority, most of the players are playing the notes set down in 
their parts because that is the easiest thing to do, and because 
they are not all in the humor for horseplay, not to mention that 
some of them are artists to whose taste and conscience such 
tomfoolery is detestable. 

Verdi was the victim of a riot of this sort which lately came 
imder my ghostly notice. I haunted a famous London theatre one 
evening in time to hear the last two acts of what was the most 
popular opera of the nineteenth century until Gounod's Faust 
supplanted it: an opera so popular that people who never dreamt 



of going to the opera as a general habit, and never in all their 
lives went to any other opera, went again and again to hear II 
Trovatore whenever they had a chance. 

II Trovatore is, in fact, utiique, even among the works of 
its own composer and its own country. It has tragic power, 
poignant melancholy, impetuous vigor, and a sweet and intense 
pathos that never loses its dignity. It is swift in action, and per- 
fectly homogeneous in atmosphere and feeling. It is absolutely 
void of intellectual interest: the appeal is to the instincts and to 
the senses all through. If it allowed you to think for a moment it 
would crumble into absurdity like the garden of Klingsor. The 
very orchestra is silenced as to every sound that has the inimnt 
(i[uality that awakens thought: for example, you never hear the 
oboe: all the scoring for the wind that is not mere noise is for the 
lower registers of the clarionets and flutes, and for the least reedy 
noKs of the bassoon. 

Let us admit that no man is bound to take H Trovatore seri- 
ously. We are entirely within our rights in passing it by and 
turning to Bach and Handel, Mozart and BeethovenjWagner and 
Strauss, for our music But we must take it or leave it: we must 
not trifle with it. Hewho thinks that II Trovatore can be performed 
without taking it with the most tragic solemnity is, for all the 
purposes of romantic art, a fool. The production of a revival of 
II Trovatore should be supervised by Bergson; for he alonecould 
be trusted (o value this perfect work of instinct, and defend its 
integrity from the restiess encroachments of intelligence. 

The costumes and scenery need to be studied and guarded 
with the most discriminating care. For example, there is only one 
costume possible for the Count di Luna. He must wear a stiff 
violet velvet tunic, white satin t^ts, velvet shoes, and a whits 
turban hat, with a white puggaree falling on a white cloak. No 
other known costume can remove its wearer so completely from 
conunon humanity. No man could sit down in such a tunic and 
such dghts; for the vulgar realism of sitting down is Kn times 
more impossible for the Count di Luna than for the Venus of 
Milo. The gipsy must be decorated with sequins and Zodiacal 



signs: as well put a caravan on the stage at once as relate her by 
the smallest realistic detail to any gipsy diat ever sold uncouth 
horses at St Margaret's Fair or kept a shooting-gallery. The harp 
of Manrico must be, not "the harp that once," but the harp that 
never. It should be such an instrument as Adams decorated ceil- 
ings with, or modem piano-makers use as supports for the pedals 
of their instruments. Give Manrico an Erard harp — a thing that 
he could possibly play — and he is no longer Manrico, but simply 
Man; and the unplumbed depths of the opera dry up into an 
ascertained and disilluding shallow. And the scenes in which 
these unbounded and heart-sadsfying figures move must be the 
scenery of Gustave Dor^ at his most romantic The mountains 
must make us homesick, even if we are Cockneys who have nevv 
seen a mountain b^;er or remoter than Primrose Hill. The 
garden must be an enchanted garden: the convent must be a 
sepulchre for the hving: the towers of Castellor must proclaim 
the dungeons within. 

I should say diat a production of D Trovatore is perhaps the 
most severe test a modem impresario has to fece; and I suggest 
diat if he cannot fece it he had better run away from it; for if he 
pretends to make light of it no one will laugh with him. 

Well knowing all this, I haunted, as aforesaid, half a per- 
formance of this wonderful opera a few nights ago. It c»st me 

Let the six-and-sucpence go: I do not ask for my money back, 
except, perhaps the sixpence that went as tax to the Government, 
whidi might have stopped the performance by virtue of Dora, 
and didnt. But except for the unorganized individual feats of the 
singers, it was not worth the money. The Count of Luna not 
only wore an ugly historical costume (German, I think), in which 
he could have sat down, but actually did sit down, and thereby 
killed the illusion without which he was nothing. The scenery 
was the half playful scenery of the Russian opeia and ballet. The 
soldiers, instead of being more fiercely soldierly than any real 
soldiers ever were on sea or land, were wholly occupied in demon- 
strating their unfitness to be combed out; and though, unlike the 



old Italian choristers, they had voices, they seemed to have picked 
up their music by ear in the couise of a demoralizing existence 
as tramps. Worst of all, the humorists of the orchestra were 
guying what they regarded as the poor old opera quite shame- 
lessly.-There was some honorable and fine playing in the wood 
wind: Leonora could not have desired a more dignified and sym- 
pathetic sea>nd than the flute in her opening of the last act; but 
there were others, of whom I cannot say that they treated Verdi, 
or the audience, or their own professional honor, handsomely. 

In their defence, I will say just this: that the cue was given tt> 
them by mutilations of the score for which the management must 
be held responsible. In the wedding scene, Verdi demands that 
Leonora stuiU wear a bridal veil and make it clear that her inten- 
tions are honorable. But here Leonora scandalously wore ber 
walking dress. Manrico shamelessly sai^ his love song; and dien, 
instead of giving Leonora a chance in the touching little and- 
phony which introduces the organ and gives the needed ritual 
character tg the scene, besides saving die lady's character, he 
went straight on to the final war song with the bolero accompani- 
ment, and thus made the whole scene a licentious concert The 
end of it was quite senselessly botched in a way that must have 
given somebody a good deal of unnecessary trouble. The first 
interlude between the bolero blood-and-thunder song and its 
repeddon was cut out, and replaced by the second; yet the song 
was repeated, so that when it ended there was nothing to be done 
but set the chorus and band to demonstrate at random, in the 
key of C or thereabouts, whilst the tenor brought down the 
curtain and the house by delivering that note "all out," as 
motorists say, above the din. If there was any more design in 
the business than this, all I can say is that it was not 
dis<%mible: the finish seemed to me to be pure spoof. In any case, 
I see no reason why any gendeman employed about the theatre 
should have been called on to improve Verdi, who knew how to 
arrange that sort of climax very well. As the thrown-open win- 
dow, and the blaze of red fire whidi tells the audience diat Man- 
rico's high C is extracted from him by the spectacle of his mother 


at the stake, were omitted (too much trouble in the hot weather, 
doubtless), nobody had the least notion of what he was shouting 

Again, in the prison scene, when one was expecting die litde 
stretto for the three singers which leads to Leonora's death, and 
which is happily not a stunt for any of them, but a very moving 
dramatic passage which completes the mudcal form of the scene, 
the lady suddenly flopped down dead; the tenor was beheaded; 
and the curtain rushed down: this barbarous cut announcing 
plainly diat the object was to get the silly business over as soon 
as possible when there were no more solos for the prindpals. 

Yet that is not the worst thing of the kind I have heard lately. 
I went to hear Figaro's Wedding, by Mozart, at another theatre 
a few weeks ^o; and diey not only made a cut of several pages 
in the finale of the last act, including one of the most beautifid 
passages in the whole work, but positively stopped die music 
to speak the words set to the omitted music, and then calmly 
resimied the finale, leaving me gasping. They had mucJi 
better have taken a collection. There would have been some 
sense in that. And they began the proceedings with the 
Nadonal Anthem, which almost makes the matrer one of high 

And now may I ask the critics why they, the watth-dogs of 
music, suffer these misdemeanors to pass unmentioned and un- 
reproved? They may know so litde of Italian opera, and have so 
low an opinion of it, diat the cuts in II Trovatore may escape 
diem; and they may really believe that all that spoof and charivari 
is genuine VCTdi. But if they know anything about the forms of 
music at all, they must know that the interruption of a Mozart 
finale for a spell of dialogue is as impossible as a step-dance 
by a dean in the middle of an anthem. Several numbers of the 
opera were abo omitted; but the omission of complete separate 
numbers is not mutilation: drcumstanas may make it reasonable; 
for instance, the artists may not be able to sing them, or it may 
be desirable to shorten the performance. But if such cuts as I 
have just described are allowed to pass without remonstrance, we 


shall soon have all the connective tissue of opera either left out 
or supplied by spoof, the residue consisting of star turns. Needs 
there a ghost from the critidsm of the eighteen-eighties to tell 
the public that they are not getting full measure? Wiy, even the 
dramatic critics only the other day missed Polonius's blessing 
from Hamlet when Mr. Harry Irving cut it. When his fether 
omitted about a third of King Lear, the critics of that day did not 
miss a line of it, and only wondered mildly what on earth the play 
was about. If dramatic criticism can progress, why should musical 
criticism, which used to be the senior branch, be left behind? 
What makes me touchy about II Trovatore is that the materials 
for a better performance than I have ever heard were present. In 
the nineffienth century, Verdi, Gounod, Arthur Sullivan, and die 
rest wrote so abominably for the human voice that the tenors all 
had goat-bleat (and were proud of it); the baritones had a shatKr- 
ing vibrato, and could not, to save their lives, produce a note of 
any definite pitch; and the sopranos had the tone of a locomotive 
whisde without its sKadiness: all this being the result of singing 
parts written for the extreme upper fifth of voices of exceptional 
range, because high notes are pretty. But to-day our singers, 
trained on Wagner, who shares with Handel the glory of being 
great amoi^ the grea^st writers for the voice, can play with 
Verdi, provided they do not have to do it too often. There was 
no spoof about the ^ging of Leonora and Manrico: they threw 
about high Cs like confetti, and really sang their music I have 
never heard the music of the prison scene simg as it was by the 
tenor. He was, by the way, remarkably like Mr Gilbert Chester- 
ton, who would certainly have a very pleasant voice if he took 
to opera (I hope he will); and the illusion was strongly reinforced 
by die spectacle of Mr Belloc seated in a box in evening dress, 
looking like a cardinal in mufti. A better Leonora was impossible: 
there is nothing more in die part than she got out of it. Thou^ 
the opera was supposed to be in English, they all exhorted her to 
lay a Nora whenever they addressed her; and I am afraid they 
ijiou^t they were pronouncing her name in the Italian manner. 
I implore them to call her Leeonora, like Sir James Barrie's 
38J aB 


heroine, in future; for that is at least English. Layanora is nothing 
but simple mispronunciation. I do not think either the conductor 
or the chorus knew much about the opera except the tunes they 
had picked up from the ghosts of the old barrel-organs (where 
diey heard them, goodness only knows); but the Count knew 
his part; and the result in the trio at the end of the third act, 
where there is a very jolly counterpoint tt) be piec«d out in 
mosaic by the Count, Ferrando, and the chorus, was amusing, 
as the Count got in his bits of the mosaic, whilst the bewildered 
chorus merely muttered distractedly, and the conductor laced 
madly to the end to get it all over and enable the gipsy to cover 
his disgrace by answering repeated curtain calls, which she de- 
served, not only for her courageous singing against a very un- 
sympathetic accompaniment, but for the self-restraint with which 
she refrained from committing murder. 

England's musical obligations to the artistic director of diis 
enterprise are so enormous that it seems ungrareful to ask him 
K> add to them by taking H Trovatore in hand himself next time 
I drop in. But I really can say no less dian I have said above. 
Even at that, I am surprised at my own moderation. 

By the way, incredible as it may seem, there really was a 
Manrico in the fifteenth century who fought a Di Luna, who 
was not a Count, but a Constable (not a police-constable). Di 
Luna was not his brother, and did not cut his head off; but as 
Manrico was the founder of Spanish drama, perh^ it would 
have been betKr if he had. 
The Nation, ^thJufy 1917 


I HAVE read most of the articles on Verdi elided by his deadi, 
and I have blushed for my spedes. By diis I mean the music- 
critic spedes; for though I have of late years disused tlus learned 
branch I am still endded to say to my former colleagues "Anck' 
io son critico." And when I find men whom I know otherwise 


honorable glibly prerandtng to an intimate acquaintance with 
Oberto, Conte di San Bonifado, with Un Giomo di Regno, with 
La Battaglia di Legnano; actually comparing them with Falstaff 
and Alda, and weighing, with a nicely judicial air, the differences 
. made by the influence of Wagner, well knowing all the time that 
diey know no more of Oberto than they do of the tunes Miriam 
dmbrelled on die shores of the divided Red Sea, I say again that 

I blush for our profession, and ask them, as an old &iend who 
wishes them well, where they expect to go to after such shame- 
lessly mendacious implicadons when they die. 

For myself, I value a virtuous appearance ■above vain erudition; 
and I confess that the only operas of Verdi's I know honesriy 
right through, as I know Dickens's novels, are Emani, Rigoletto, 

II Trovatore, Un Ballo, La Traviata, Aida, Otello, and Fabtaff'. 
And quire enough too, provided one also knows enough of the 
works of Verdi's forerunners and contemporaries to see exactly 
when he came in and where he stood. Itis inevitable that as younger 
and younger cridcs come into the field, more and more mistakes 
should be made about men who lived as long as Verdi and Wagner, 
not because the critics do not know their music, but because they 
do not know the operas diat Wagner and Verdi heard when they 
were boys, and are consequendy apt to credit them with the in- 
vention of many things which were familiar to their grandfathers. 

For example, in all the articles I have read it is assumed that 
the difference between Emani and Mda is due to ihe influence of 
Wagner. Now I declare without reserve that there is no evidence 
in any bar of ^da or the two later operas that Verdi ever heard 
a note of Wagner's music There is evidence that he had heard 
Boito's music, Mendelssohn's music, and Beethoven's music; but 
the utmost that can be said to connect him with Wagner is that 
if Wagner had not got all Europe into the habit of using the 
whole series of dominant and tonic discords as freely as Rossini 
used die dominant seventh, it is possible that Falstaff might have 
been differentiy harmonized. But as much might be said of any 
modem pantomime score, Verdi uses the harmonic freedom of his 
time so dioroughly in his own way, and so consistently in tettns 



of his old style, that if he had been as ignorant of Wagner as Ber- 
lioz was of Brahms there is no reason to suppose that the score 
of Falstaif would have been an unprepared thirteenth the worse. 

I am, of course, aware diat when Alda first reached us, it pro- 
duced a strong impression of Wagnerism, But at that time nothing 
of Wagner's later than Lohengrin was known to us. We thought 
die Evening Star song in Tannh&user a precious W^nerian gem. 
In short, we knew nothing of Wagner's own exclusive style, only 
his operatic style, which was much more mixed than we imagined. 
Everybody then thought that a recurring theme in an opera was 
a Wagnerian Leitmotif, expedally if it stole in to a tremohnJo of 
the strings and was harmonized with major ninths instead of 
sub-dominants; so when this occurred in Alda's scena, Estoma 
vmcitor,iKC all said "Aha! Wagner!" And, as very often happens, 
when we came to know better, we quite foi^ot to revise our pre- 
mature conclusion. Accordingly, we find cridcs taking it for granted 
to-day that Atda is Wagneiized Verdi, although, if they had not 
heard Aida until after Siegfiiedand DieMeistersinger, they would 
never dream of connecdng the two composers or their styles. 

The real secret of the change from the roughness of II Tro- 
vatore to the elafaoradon of the three last operas, is the inevitable 
natural drying up of Verdi's spontaneity and fertility. So long as 
an opera composer can pour forth melodies like La Jarma e 
mobile and // baUn, he does not stop to excogitate harmonic 
elegancies and ordiestral sonorides which are neither helpful to 
him drainadcally nor demanded by the taste of his audience. But 
when in process of dme the well begins to dry up; when instead 
of getting splashed with the bubbling over of Ah si, ben mio, 
he has to let down a bucket to drag up Celeste Alda, then it is 
time to be clever, to be nice, to be distinguished, to be impressive, 
to study instrumental confectionery, to bring diought and know- 
ledge and seriousness to the rescue of failing vitality. In Aida 
this is not very happily done: it is not until Otello that we get 
dignified accomplishment and fine critical taste; but here, too, 
we have unmistakably a new hand in the business, the hand of 
Boito. It is quite certain that Boito could not have written Otello; 


but certain touches in lago's Credo were perhaps either suggest 
by Boito, or composed in his manner in fatherly compliment to 
him; and the whole work, even in its most authendc passages, 
shews that Verdi was responding to the claims of a more fastidious 
artisdc conscience and even a finer sensitiveness to musical sound 
than his own was when he tried to turn Macbeth into an- 
other Trovatore, and made Lady Macbeth enliven the banquet 
$(£ne with a florid drinking song. The advance from romantic 
intensity to dramatic seriousness is revolutionary. Nothing is, 
more genial in Verdi's character than this docility, this respect 
for the demands of a younger man, this recognition that the 
implied rebuke to his taste and his coarseness showed a greater 
tenderness for his own genius than he had shown to it himself. 
But there is something else than Boito in Otello. In the third 
act there is a movement in six-eight time, Essa t'awince, which is 
utterly unlike anything in the Trovatore period, and surprisingly 
like a rondo in the style of Beethoven. That is to say, it b pte- 
Wagnerian; which at such a date is almost equivalent to anti- 
W^nerian. In FalstaiT, again, in the buck-basket scene there is a 
light-fingered and humorous moto perpetuo which might have 
come straight out of a Mendelssohn concerto. Unfortunately it is 
ineffectively scored; for Verdi, brought up in the Italian practice 
of using the orchestra as pure accompaniment, was an unskilled 
beginner in German symphonic orchestration. These are the only 
passages m the later works which are not obviously the old 
Verdi developed into a careful and thoughtful composer under 
die influence of Boito and the effect of advancing age on his 
artistic resources. I think they would both be impossible to a 
composer who had not formed an aflecdonate acquaintance with 
German music. But the music of Beethoven and Mendelssohn is 
the music of a Germany still under diat Franco-Italian influence 
which made the music of Mozart so amazingly unlike the music of 
Badb. Of the bter music that was consciously and resolutely 
German and German only; that would not even write allegro at 
the head of its quick, or adagio at the head of its slow movements, 
because these words are not German; of the music of Schumann, 


Brahms, and Wagner, there is not anywhere in Yerdi the faintest 
trace. In German music the Italian loved what Italy gave. What 
Germany offered of her own music he entirely ignored. 

Having now, I hope, purged myself of the heresy that Verdi 
was Wagnerized, a heresy which would never have arisen if our 
foolish London Opera had been as punctual widi Lohengrin as 
with Alda, instead of being nearly a quarter of a century late 
with it, I may take Verdi on his own ground. Verdi's genius, like 
,Victor Hugo's, was hyperbolical and grandiose: he expressed all 
the common passions with an impetuosity and intensity which 
produced an etfect of sublimity. If you ask What is it all about? 
the answer must be that it is mostly about the police intelligence 
melodramatized. In the same way, if you check your excitement 
at the conclusion of die wedding scene in U Trovatore to ask 
what, after all, Di quella pira is, the answer must be that it is 
only a common bolero tune, just as StriJa la vampa is only a 
common waltz tune. Indeed, if you know these tunes only 
through die barrel oi^ans, you will need no filing. But in the 
theatre, if the singers have die requisite power and spirit, one 
does not ask these questions: die bolero form passes as unnoticed 
as the saraband form in Handel's Lascia ch'io pianga, whereas 
in the more academic form of the aria widi caballetto, which 
Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti accepted, the form reduces the 
matter to absurdity. Verdi, stronger and more singly dramadc, 
broke away from the Rossinian convention; developed the 
simpler cavatina form with an integral codetta instead of a 
separated cabaletto; combined it fearlessly widi popular danc£ 
and ballad forms; and finally produced the once enormously 
popular, because concise, powerful, and comparatively natural 
and dramatic type of operatic solo which prevails in II Trovatore 
and Un Ballo. A comparison of diis Italian emancipation of dra- 
madc music from decorative form with the Wagnerian emancipa- 
tion shews in a moment the utter undiinkableness of any sort of 
connection between the two composers. No doubt the stimulus 
given to Verdi's self-respect and courage by his share in the 
political activity of his time, is to some extent paralleled by the 


etfect of the 1848 revolution on Wagner; but this only accentuates 
the ditference between the successlul composer of a period of 
triumphant nationalism and the exiled communist-artist--philo- 
sopher of The Niblung's Ring. As Wagner contracted his views 
to a practicable nationalism at moments later on, I can conceive 
a critic epigranimaacally dismissing die Kaiser March as a bit of 
Verdified Wagner. But the critic who can find Wagner in Otello 
must surely be rela^ to the gendeman who accused Bach of 
putting forth the accompaniment to Gounod's Ave Maria as a 
prelude of his own composition. 

By diis Mascc^ni-fadlitating emandpation of Italian opera, 
Verdi concentra^ its qualities and got rid of its alloys. II Tro- 
vatore is Italian opera in earnest and nothing else: Rossini's 
operas are musical entertainments which are only occasionally 
and secondarily dramatic Moses in Egypt and Soniramis, for 
example, are ridiculous as dramas, though both of them contain 
one impressively splendid number to shew how nobly Rossini 
could l^ve done if the silly conditions of the Italian opera houses 
had given their composers any chance of being sensible. "I could 
have adiieved something had I been a German" said Rossini 
humbly to Wagner; "car/avais du talent." Bellini, Donizetti, and 
the Italianized Jew Meyerbeer pushed the dramatic element in 
opera still further, making it possible for Verdi to end by being 
almost wholly dramatic But imtil Verdi was induced by Boito to 
take Shakespear seriously they all exploited the same romantic 
stock-in-trade. They composed with perfect romantic sincerity, 
undesirous and intolerantofreality, untroubled by the philosophic 
faculty which, in the mind of Wagner, revolted ^^inst the 
demoralizing falseness of their dramatic material They revelled 
in the luxury of st<^e woe, with its rhetorical loves and deaths 
and poisons and jealousies and murders, all of the most lusdous, 
the most enjoyable, the most imreal kind. They did not, like 
Rossini, break suddenly off in the midst of their grandiosities to 
write excuse^ du peu at die top of the score, and finish with 
a galop. On the contrary, it was just where the stage business 
demanded something elegandy trivial diat they became em- 


barrassed and vulgar. This was especially the case with Verdi, 
who was nodiii^ if not strenuous, whereas Bellini could be 
trivially simple and Donizetd thoughtlessly gay on occasion. 
Verdi, when he is simple or gay, is powerfully so. It has been 
said, on liie strength of the allied failure of a foigotKn comic 
opera called Un Giomo di Regno, tliat Verdi was incapable of 
humor; and I can understand that an acquaintance Umited to 
Emani, H Trovatore, La Traviata, and A!da (and acquaintances 
of just this extent are very common) might support that opinion. 
But the parts of the Duke and %}arafudle in Rigoletto could not 
have been composed by a humorless man. In Un Ballo i^ain we 
have in Riccardo the Duke's gaiety and gallantry widiout his 
callousness; and at the great moment of the melodrama Verdi 
achieves a master-stroke by his dramatic humor. The hero has 
made an assignation with the heroine in one of diose romantic- 
ally lonely spots whidi are always to be found in operas. A band 
of conspirators resolves to seize the opportunity to murder him. 
His friend Renato, getting wind of their design, arrives before 
them, and persuades him to fly, taking upon himself the charge 
of the lady, who is veiled, and whose identity and place of 
residence he swears as a good knight to refrain from discovering. 
When the conspirators capture him and find that diey have die 
wrong man they propose to amuse themselves by taking a look 
at the lady. Renato defends her; but she, to save him from being 
killed, unveils herself and turns out to be Renato's own wife. 
This is no doubt a very ibrilling stage climax: it is easy for a 
dramatist to work up to it. But it is not quite so easy to get away 
from it; for when the veil is off the bolt is shot; and the difficulty 
is what is to be said next The librettist solves the problem 
by falling back on the diaffing of Renato by the conspirators. 
Verdi seizes on this with genuine humorous power in his most 
boldly popular style, giving just the right vein of blackguardly 
irony and mischievous mirth to ihe passage, and getting the 
necessary respite before the final storm, in which the woman's 
shame, the man's agony of jealousy and wounded friendship, and 
the malicious chuckling of the conspirators provide material for 


one of those concerted pieces in which Italian opera is at its best. 

And here may I mildly protest that the quartet in Rigoletto, 
wi^ its four people expressing different emotions simultaneously, 
was not, as the obituary notices almost all imply, an innovation 
of Verdi's. Such concerted pieces were de rigueur in Italian opera 
before he was bom. The earliest example that holds the stage is 
the quartet in Don Giovanni, Non n fidar; and between Don 
Giovanni and Rigoletto it would be difficult to And an Italian 
opera without a specimen. Several of them were quite as famous 
as the Rigoletto quartet became. They were burlesqued by 
Ardiur Sullivan in Trial by Jury; but Verdi never, to the end of 
his life, saw anything ridiculous in them; nor do I. There are 
some charming examples in Un Ballo, of which but little seems to 
be remembered nowadays. 

In Otello and Falstaff there is sonie deliberate and not un- 
successful fun. When Cassio gets too drunk to find his place in 
lago's drinking song it is impossible not to burst out laughing, 
though the mistake is as pretty as it is comic The fiigue at the 
end of Falsaff so tickled Professor Villiers Stanford that he com- 
promised himself K> the extent of implying that it is a good 
fiigue. It is neither a good fiigue nor a good joke, except as a 
family joke among professional musicians; but since Mozart 
finished Don Giovanni with a whizzing fiighetta, and Beethoven 
expressed his most wayward fits by scraps of fiigato, and Berlioz 
made his solitary joke fugally, the FalstafT fiigue may be allowed 
to pass. 

However, to shew that Verdi was occasionally jocular does 
not prove that he had the gift of dramatic humor. For such a 
gift the main popular evidence must be taken from the serious 
part of Falstaff; for there is nothing so serious as great humor. 
Unfortunately, very few people know The Merry Wives of 
Windsor as it was when Falstaff was capably played according 
to the old tradition, and the playgoer went to hear the actor pile 
up a mighty climax, culminating in "Think of that. Master 
Brook." In those palmy days it was the vision of the man- 
motmtain baked in the buck-basket and suddenly plunged hissing 


hot into the cool stream of the Thames at Datchet that focused 
the excitement of the pit; and if the two conversations between 
Ford and FalstafF were played for all they were worth. Shake- 
spear was justified of his creation, and the rest was taken cheer- 
fully as mere tilling up. Now, it cannot be supposed that either 
Boito or Verdi had ever seen such a performance; and the criti- 
cisms of modem quite flitile productions of The Merry Wives 
have shown that a mere literary acquaintance with the text will 
not yield up the secret to the ordinary unShakespearean man; 
yet it is just here, on Ford and Falstaif, that Verdi has con- 
centrated his attack and trained his heaviest artillery. His Ford 
carries Shakespear's a Step higher; it exhausts what Shakespear's 
resources could only suggest. And this seems to me to dispose of 
the matter in Verdi's favor, 

The composition of Otello was a much less Shakespearean 
feat; for the truth is that instead of Otello being an Italian opera 
■writren in the style of Shakespear, Othello is a play written by 
Shakespear in the style of Italian opera. It is quire peculiar among 
his works in this aspect. Its characters are monsters: Desdemona 
is a prima donna, with handkerchief, coniidante, and vocal solo 
all complete; and lago, diough certainly more anthropomorphic 
than the Count di Luna, is only so when he slips out of his stage 
villain's part. Othello's transports are conveyed by a magnificent 
but senseless music which rages from die Propontick to the 
Hellespont in an 01^ of thundering sound and bounding rhythm; 
and the plot is a pure farce plot: that is to say, it is supported on 
an artificially manu&ctured and desperately precarious trick with 
a handkerchief which a chance word might upset at any moment. 
With such a libretto, Verdi was quite at home: his success with 
it proves, not that he could occupy Shakespear's plane, but that 
Shakespear could on occasion occupy his, which is a very different 
matter. Nevertheless, such as Othello is, Verdi does not belitde 
it as Donizetti would have done, nor conventionalize it as Rossini 
actually did. He often rises fijlly to it; he transcends it in his 
setting of the very stagey oath of Othello and lago; and he 
enhances it by a charming return to the simplicity of real popular 


life in the episodes of the peasants singing over the fire after 
the stonn in the first act, and their serenade to Desdemona in the 
second. When one compares these choruses with the choruses 
of gypsies and soldiers in II Trovatore one realizeis how much 
Verdi gained by the loss of his power to pour fordi // bakns 
and Ah, che la mortes. 

The decay and discredit which the Verdi operas of the Tro- 
vatore type undoubtedly brought on Italian opera in spite of 
their prodigious initial popularity was caused not at all by the 
advent of Wagner (for the decay was just as obvious before 
Lohengrin became familiar to us as it is now that Tristan has 
driven Manrico from the Covent Garden stage), but by Verdi's 
recklessness as to the effect of his works on their performers. 
Until Boito became his artistic conscience he wrote inhumanly 
for the voice and ferociously for the orchestra. The art of writii^ 
well for the voice is neidier recondite nor difficult It has nothii^ 
to do with the use or disuse of extreme high notes or low notes. 
Handel and W:^er, who are beyond all comparison the most 
Exiled and considerate writersof dramatic vocal music, do not 
hesitate to employ extreme notes when they can get singers who 
possess them. But they never smash voices. On the contrary, the 
Handelian and Wagnerian singer thrives on his vocal exercises 
and lasts so long that one sometimes wishes that he would sii^ 
II Trovatore once and die. 

The whole secret of healthy vocal writing lies in keeping the 
normal plane of the music, and therefore the bulk of the singer's 
work, in the middle of the voice. Unfortunately, the middle oi 
the voice is not the prettiest part of it; and in immature or badly 
and insufficiently trained voices it is often the weakest part. There 
is, therefore, a constant temptation to composers to use the upper 
fifth of the voice almost exclusively; and this is exactly what 
Verdi did without remorse. He pracdcally treaKd that upper 
fifth as the whole voice, and pitched his melodies in the middle 
of it instead of in the middle of the entire compass, the result 
being a fright&l strain on the singer. And this strain was not 
relieved, as Handel relieved his singers, by frequent rests of a 


bar or two and by long ritomellos: the voice has to keep going 
from one end of the song to the other. The upshot of that, except 
in the case of abnormally pitched voices, was displacement, 
fatigue, intolerable strain, shattering tremolo, and finally, not, as 
could have been wished, total annihilation, but the development 
of an unnatural trick of making an atrociously disagreeable noise 
and inflicting it on the public as Italian slicing, widi the result 
that die Italian opera singer is now execrated and banished firom 
the boards of which he was once the undisputed master. He sdll 
imposes himself in obscure places; for, curiously enough, nothing 
dumbs him except well-written music Handel he never attempts; 
but Wagner utterly destroys him; and diis is why he spread the 
rumour through Europe that Wagner's music ruined voices. 

To the unseductive bass voice, Verdi always behaved well; 
for since he could not make it sensuously attractive, it forced him 
to make the bass parts dramatically inreresting. It is in Ferrando 
and Sparafudle^ not in Charles V. and the Count di Luna, that 
one sees the future composer of FalstafT. As to the orchestra, 
until Boito came, it was for the most part nothing but the 
big guitar, witli the whole wind playing the tune in unison or 
in thirds and sixths with the singer.* I am quite sure diat as far 
as the brass was concerned this was a more sensible system, 
and less harshly crushing to the singer, than the dot and dash 
system of using trumpets and drums, to which the Geiman 
sdiool and its pupils in England clung pedantically long afrer the 
employment of valves had made it as unnecessary as it was ugly 
and absurd. But beyond this, I do not feel called upon to find 
excuses for Verdi's pre-Boitian handling of the orchestra. He 
used it unscrupulously to emphasize his immoderate demands for 
overcharged and superhuman passion, tempting the executants 
to unnamral and dangerous assumptions and exertions. It may 
have been exciting to see Edmund Kean revealing Shakspear "by 

* ^gar, rhe greatesi of all orchestral technicians, maintained that the big f^Ear 
business has a genuine skilled technique, and that, for instance, such scores as 
Rossini's Siabat Mater, in the apparently crude and cnishii^ accompaniment CO 
Cujui animam, in performance sound exactly right, and help the siogei instead of 
annihilating him. 



flashes of lightning," and Robson rivalling him in burlesque; but 
when the flashes turned out to be tumblers of brandy, and the 
two thunder-wielders perished miserably of their excesses, the last 
excuse for the insufferable follies and vu%arities of the would-be 
Keans and Robsons vanished. I speak of Kean and Robson so 
as not to hurt the survivors of the interregnum between Mario 
and De Reszke, when bawling troopere, roaring Italian porters, 
and strangulating Italian newspaper criers made our summer 
nights horrible with Verdi's fortissimos. Those who remember 
diem will understand. 

But in his defects, as in his efGciendes, his directness, and his 
pracdcal common sense, Verdi is a thorou^ unadulterated 
Italian. Nothing in his work needs tradng to any German source. 
His latter-day development of declamatory recitadve can be 
traced back through the recitatives in Rossini's Moses right back 
to the beginning of Italian opera. You cannot trace a note of 
Wotan in Amonasro or lago, though you can trace something 
of Moses in die thythms of Wotan. The anxious northern genius 
is magnificendy assimiladve: the self-sufEcient Italian genius is 
niagnificenriy impervious, I doubt whether even Pucdni really 
studies Schumann, in spite of his harmonic Schumannisms. Cer- 
tainly, where you come to a strong Italian like Verdi you may 
be quite sure that if you cannot explain him without dragging in 
the great Germans, you cannot explain him at all. 

At all events, Verdi will stand amoi^ the greatest of the Italian 
composers. It may be that, as widi Handel, his operas will pass 
out of fashion and be forgotten whilst the Manzoni Requiem 
remains his imperishable monument Even so, that alone, like 
Messiah, will make his place safe among the immortals. 
The Anglo-Saxon Review 
March 1 90 1 


I DO not wish to hurt your feelings, O respectable reader; but do 

you really think a man of genius would feel much moce at home 



in your company than you would in the galleys? Your objection 
to a galley-slave, after all, is only that he is a coarser fellow dian 
yourself, insensible to the extremes of your points of honor in 
decency and morality; tolerant of sights, sounds, and deeds that 
are horrible to you; and callously reckless, even to bodily violence, 
of the delicacies and amenities which are to you the indispensable 
conditions of bearable himian intercourse. Among such creatures, 
shrinking and constant apprehension would be your lot; and yet 
itwouldnot be safe to shew your fear any more than if you were 
in a den of hyenas and jackals. I submit to you, then, as politely 
as sudi a thing may be submitted, that since Plato, Dante, Shake- 
spear, Goedie, and men of that kind are esteemed great only 
because they exceed us average persons exactly as we exceed the 
galley-slave, it follows that they must walk through our world 
much as through a strange country full of dangerous beasts. It 
must, therefore, take something like a lion-tamo's nerve to be a 
man of genius; and when the man of genius is timid — and fear 
is die begiiming of wisdom — ^he must suffer much more than the 
ordinary coward, who can, at any rate, choose a safer pursuit 
than lion-taming, whereas your hapless man of genius is bom 
into the den and must stay there until he is carried out in his 

Obviously, I have never seen Goethe or Shakespear or Plato: 
diey were before my time. But I have seen Richard Wagner, who 
was so vdiemently specialized by Nature as a man of genius that 
he was totally incapable of anything ordinary. He fought with 
the wild beasts all his life; and when you saw him coming through 
a crowded cage, even when they all felt about him as die lions 
felt about Daniel, he had an air of having his life in his hand, as 
it were, and of wandering in search of his right place and his own 
people, if any such there might be. When he had nothing else to 
do he would wander away to the walls and comers, apparently 
in search of some door or stairway or other exit from the world, 
not finding which he would return disconcerted, and either sit 
down in desperation for a moment before starting off on a fresh 
exploration^ or else — being a most humane man — pet one of the 


animals with a little conversation. 

In 1883 Wagner wandered to Venice, and there at last 
stumbled upon that long-sought exit, since when he has not been 
seen by mortal man. You may well believe, then, how ghostly a 
sensation I had when, at Queen's Hall in London ten years later, I 
saw, making its guarded way dirough the crowd on the platform, 
a phantom W^ner, again, in Bunyan's phras^ "walking through 
the wilderness of this world." Of course I knew perfecdy well 
that it was really Siegfried W^ner, son of Richard, and grandson 
of Liszt; for had I not come there expressly to see him? But, for 
all that, what appeared to me was the ^liier in his habit as he 
lived, the old face with immortal youth in it, the set expression 
of endurance, the apprehensive step, and die unmistakable feeling 
of supematuralness among the wild beasts. 

This illusion did not wear off so soon as I expected: it came 
back again and again whilst Siegfried was conducdi^ It only 
broke up completely when, in response to the applause, he turned 
round smiling; made a series of boyish bows which had all the 
pleasant qualities of friendly nods; and became quite a youi^ 
fellow in his earliest manhood. When he got to work again, die 
old look came back: there was something of the quaint gravity of 
an old-fashioned child: one Remembered, in trying to account 
for it, that his fadier was over fifty when he was bom, and his 
mother, though much younger than diat, stilt a mature woman. 
His handling of the music, too, was very W^nerian, more so 
even than diat of Wagner himself; for Wagner had roots in the 
past which have been pulled up since before Siegfried's time. No 
man bom in 1813, as Richard Wagner was, could have conducted 
Les Preludes or the Siegfried Idyll with such a complete detach- 
ment from the mechanical swing of the old dance and march 
measures &om which their forms are descended. 

We are certainly all old fogies compared to this young man, 
who shews not only a perfect comprehension of the poetic side 
of his father's and grandfather's music — a much less troubled 
and turbid comprehension at certain points than liie composers 
diemselves had — ^but an instinctive gendeness and strong padence 


of handling of die finest masculine quality, complemented by a 
sensitiveness of feeling of the finest feminine quality. He gave us 
the Mephisto Waltzes without a whiff of brimstone, the Flying 
Dutchman overture without a touch of violence. He treated the 
overture's atmosphere of curse and storm, its shrieking tempest 
and scurrying damnation, with scrupulous artistic care and serious- 
ness, albeit with a certain youthful share in the excitement which 
was perhaps not £ai remote from amusement; but it was with the 
theme of love and salvation that he opened the music to its very 
depdis. And this is the clue to him as a conductor, and to those 
complaints of sentimentality which have been made against him 
by critics who were in an unregenerate mood and missed the 
violence and the brimstone — missed the bitterness of deadi in his 
beatific version of Isolde's Liebestod — found heaven, in short, 
rather dull after London. For my part, I was touched, charmed, 
more dian satisfied. I can appreciate Richter*s grandeur of tone 
and breadth of style. I like die thunder of Mottl's drums, die 
splendid enei^ of his accents, and the fasddious polish and 
refinement of his .manner. But there is a place left — and a very 
high one — for this old-young conductor, with his rare com- 
binadon of ins^t and innocence, and his purity and delicacy of 
sendment, not to mendon complete technical knowledge of his 
business and a first-rate standard of orchestral execution. It is of 
course as impossible for him as it was for Motd to make the 
immense impression here as a conductor that Richter made, not 
because Richter is a greater conductor than eidier Motd or 
Siegfried, but because diey have had to follow Richter, whereas 
Richter had only to foUow Cusins, Costa, Carl Rosa, and Vianesi, 
by comparison with whom the pupil of Wagner could not help 
appearii^ a demi-god. Excspt Mr August Manns at the Crystal 
Palace, nobody in London at Richter's advent could possibly 
have known what modem orchestra handling meant. Siegfried 
Wagner is, at a moderate computation, about six hundred times 
as great a conductor as Cusins, Costa, Carl Rosa, and Vianesi 
rolled into one, with Dr Mackenzie, Dr Villiers Stanford, Mr 
Cowen, Sir Ardiur Sullivan, Mr Randegger, and Signer Bevig- 


nani thrown in as make-we^ts; but he would certainly make 
no greater claim as gainst Richter dian Midiael Angelo made 
against Bnmelleschi: "Different, but not better." 

There is little more to be said. The penetrating musical criti- 
cism of our day, whidi nothing escapes, has pointed out already 
that Siegfried conducts with his left hand, and diat he uses 
a score. I can add nothing except to say that the concert, though 
it left Si^;fned'5 ability as a symphony conductor unsetded, 
tliere being nothing in sonata form in the program, placed his 
talent as an interpreter of tone poetry beyond all doubt. He 
comprehended ever3rthing; and it was gratifying to find that 
though he did not take command of the army like Richffir, nor 
head the charge like Mottl, but simply gave the band plwity of 
time to turn in, and trusted without misgiving or embarrassment 
to the rightness of his own reading, he got their very best work 
out of the players. They surpassed the Bayreuth orchestra not only 
in volume of tone — a sort of superiority which is a forgone con- 
clusion in London, our instruments being better — but ran Bay- 
reuth hard in point of smoothness of combination, delicacy, and 
precision in the execution of what may be called the stage effects 
of the Wagner scores. It seems to me — though in this I may be 
wrong, since I am only guessing by the general effect, and not by 
any particular instance that I can put my finger on — that more 
trouble has been taken at these concerts to secure accuracy in the 
band parts than has ever been taken before. 
The Pall MaU Budget 
ij November 1894 

Postscript, 1937. I grieve to have to add that the magic of 
Siegfried's firet concert was not maintained at the second. The 
orchestra had thrown itself wholeheartedly into making a success 
of his first appearance; but he must have got on the wrong side of 
his players after this; for at the second concert they were not 
helpful; and the evening fell rather flat. Siegfried, it appeared, was 
the sort ofconductorhis father most abhorred: a gentleman con- 
ductor, meaning a conductor who is a gentleman first and a 
401 2C 


conductor afterwards, an order of things whidi ends in his not 
being a conductor at all. In short, a snob conductor. Our univer- 
sities produced a succession of them whidi made the advent in 
London of Richter with Wagner in 1877 a revelation and a re- 
volution. It was many many years before Siegfried came to 
London again to conduct a concert at the Albert Hall. He was 
then an elderly person, still extremely gendemanly. His conduct- 
ing was too depressing to be describable as maddening; but it 
made us all feel as if we were at a garden party in a cathedral town 
being welcomed by a highly connected curate who failed to find 
any tea for us. There was in the program a harmless litde piece 
by himself: the elegant diversion of a superior person who 
dabbled in light composition. The ferewell and fire music from 
Die Walkiire was handled as it had never within our experience 
been handled before, and will, I trust, never be handled agun. 
The trombones echoing Wotan's final Ifer meines Speeres Spit^e 
fiirchtet sounded like an evening hymn, slow and sweet, all but 
sotto voce. The critics, I think (I was no longer one of them) 
got up and left after this; for the man seemed hopeless; and the 
politeness of the applause was deadlier than silence. 

Then an incredible thing happened. The last item in the pro- 
gram was the overture to Die Meistersinger. The last, and, as it 
at once promised, the worst Its slowness, its genteelness, made 
me doubt whether I was not dreaming. I felt that the overture 
would certainly peter out and Stop from sheer inertia if he did not 
Speed up the final section. Instead, to my amazement, he achieved 
the apparently impossible feat of slowing it down. And the effect 
was magical. The music broadened out with an effect diat is 
beyond description. It was immense, magnificent. At the end the 
audience, which ten minutes before would have murdered him 
but for the police, was frantically recalling him to the platform 
again and again and again and yet again. The next we heard of 
him was that he was dead. It was his swan song. 



Abdominal breathing, iSS 

Abramoff, i66 

Absolute or abstract music, 321, 

325, 329 
Academic music, 366 
Academies do not turn out good 

angers, 1^7 
Achurch, Janet, 149, i jo 
Adiny, Madame, 346, 3J1 
Agnesi, Luigi, 39 
Agouste, 291 
AlDA, 37, 38*5-90, 391 
Albani, Marie Louise Emma, 

sings in Die Meistersinger, 1 66; 

La Traviata, 140; The Messiah, 

Alb^niz, Isaac, loj, 213, 269, 338 
Albert Hall Chord Society, ;o-2 
Albertieri, Signor, 315 
Alexander, Matthias, 17, 18 
Alexander's feast, 65 
Alhambra Theatre, 196, 314-16 
Allen, Rev. George, 339 
AJlwood, Fred, 250 
Altos, male, 238-40 
Amateur musicians, 380 
ANACREON ovcTture, 93, lOlS, 114, 

275, 308 

Anderson, Mary, 224 
Andrade, Signor d', see 

Applause, abolition of, 357 
Appreciation of music, 131-3 
Archer, William, 5, 140, 148, i;o, 

151, 181, 196-8, 213, 300, 336 
Arditi, Luigi, 107, 141, 191, 194, 


Aristocracy, iii, 112 
Armbruster, Carl, 138, 181, 357 

Amoldson, Sigrid, 37 

AS YOU LIKE IT, 356, 3J7 
ASUODEUS, 314, 315 
ATHALIE, 73, 91, 1 J 1-3 

Aimg^er, Teresa, 337 

Bach, Chevalier Emil, 56, 57 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 16, 30, 
36, 69, 95, 314, 339, 381, 389; 
Cantatas, ill; Concerto in D 
minor, 309, 336; Mass in B 
minor, Ji, 33; Sonata in C, 317; 
Wachet auf, 319 

Bach Choir, 34, 74, 317, 319, 376, 

Bache, Walter, 308 

Backer-Grondahl, Agatha, 113, 
iji, 169, 319, 323, 330, 331, 
333. 334, 335. 33^, 338, 360; 
her coropo^tions, 170; inter- 
viewed, 161 

Badeali, Italian singer, 11 

Badia, Mademoiselle, 43 

Ballads, 135 

Ballet, 224, 314-16 

390, 392, 393 

Bamberg, tSo 
Banjo, 332 
Banks, C., ;2 


Barbiei:, Jules, 346 

Bamby, Sir Joseph, ;i, 52, too, 

Barrett, W. L., 328 
Barrett, Wilson, 99, 102 
Barretii, Mr, 107 
Barry, Mr, 307 
Barth, Herr, 149 



Bass voice, no 
Bassoon, 77 
Bateman, Mr, 104 


Bauer, Harold and Ediel, 367 

Bauenneister, Madame, 166 

Bax, Arnold, 31 

Bayreuth Festival, 171, 176-8, 
180-8, 102, io% 509, 355, 401 

Beating dme, 117, 118 

Becket, Thomas i, 182 

Beckmann's picture of Wagner, 

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 47, 69, 
US, 119, 190, 191, 323, jij, 
381, 389, 393;Egmont overture, 
138; Fidelio, 174; Leonora 
overture, 154, 1510; Pianoforte 
concerto in E flat, 161, 319; 
Pianoforte sonata in A flat, 
60; Septet, 59, 60, 267, 298, 
199; Setting of Schiller's Ode 
to Joy, 9;; Sonata in D major 
No. 3, 41; Waldstein sonata, 
6i; Wonne der Wehmuth, 361, 
368; Symphonies — E flat, 
Eroica (third), 114, 300, 309; 
B flat (fourth), 308; C minor 
(fifth), 112, 190; A (seventh), 
36, 92; F (eighth), 92, 252; Z> 
minor (ninth), 191 

Bell, Rose, 292 


Bellini, Vincenzo, 390, 391; La 

Sonnambula, 139, 172, 308 
Belloc, Hilaire, 385 
Bellwood, Miss, 212 
Bennett, Joseph, in, 126, 274-6, 

32J, 340, 366, 371, 376 
Bennett, Sir William Stemdale, 

262, 341 ; N^ades overture, 340 
Ben6it, Peter, Charlotte Corday, 

341; Lucifer, 90, 91, 100, 103, 

34h J43 

Benson, F, R., 184-6, 350, 351, 
3i6 . 


Berger, Anna Teresa, 127 

Beigson, Henri, 381 

Berlioz, Hector Louis, 39, 93, 115, 
307, 388, 393; Benvenuto 
Cellini, 174; Damnation of 
Faust, 1 5 J, 174; Hungarian 
March, ijj; Les Francs Juges, 
48; Romeo and Juliet music, 

Bernhardt, Sarah, 25J, 2j8, 346- 

Besant, Sir Walter, 283, 325 

Bessone, dancer, 315 

Betz, Frans, 183 

Bevignani, Enrico, 199, 204, 207, 

Biolo^cal science, 19, 20 

Bishop, Sir Henry Rowley, 341 

Bizet, Georges, Carmen, 174, 191; 
Les P&heurs de Perles, 120- 
"3, 174 

Black, Andrew, 327 

Black, Holman, 204 

Blagrove, Richard, 78 

Blank veise, 373 

Blauwaert, £mile, 343 

Bliss, Arthur, 31 

Blondin, 210 

Bohee Operatic Minstrels, 332 

Boito, Anigo, 396; his influence 
over Verdi, 388, 389, 391, 
394, 39;; Meflstofele, 128, 1^4, 


Borwick, Leonard, 374, 37; 
Bosman, Madame, 346 
Boswell, James, 337; Journey to 

the Hebrides, 83 
Bourchier, Arthur, 357 


Bovill, Alfred, 250 


Bow and Bromley Institute, iiiS 

Braham, Leonora, 164 

Brahms, Johannes, 31, 46, uSi, 

388, 390; E flat concerto, 329; 

Guten Abend, mein Schatz, 

199; Requiem, 376 
Branscombe, £., 318 
Brass instrument playing, 76, 

Biimont, M., 34S 
Brereton, Mr, 248 

BRIGANDS, 217-30 
BRimO, lOO-lOJ 

British Assodadon meeting at 

Bath, 181 
"British Bandsman", jS 
British public, ideal^ of, iii, 

Broadstairs, 177-84 
Br<ekstad, H. L,, 149, 163 
Broughton, Miss, 367 
Browning, Robot, 69 
Bruet,M., 314, 315 
Bruges, prize fight, 178 
Brunelleschi, Filippo, 401 
Buchanan, Robert, 133 
Bull, Alexander, 330 
Bull, Ole, 330, 336 
Bulow, Hans Guido von, 164, 

319, 375 
Bums, Georgina, 105, 3^2, 

Byron, Lord, 190 

Cadwalader, L., 164 

Caffarelli, Gaetano Majorano, 
13 s, 224, 272 


Campbell, Lady Colin, ^6 

Cano, Sefior, iio 
Cantatas, 237 
Canterbury Cathedral, 281 
Carl Rosa Opera Company, 195, 
1". 35a, 353. 3S8-*> 

Carleton, Royce, 149 
CARUEN, 174, 191 
Carpenter, Netde, 192, 3J7 
Carrodus, Mr, 57 
Carroll, William George, 14 
Carte, Richard D'Oyly, 19 j 
Caryll, Ivan, 108 
Casati, 31 j 

Case, George, 328, 366 
Castelmary, Signor, sings in 
Faust, 123, 126, 129 


Cataneo, Signor, 161 
Cavallazii, Signorina, 316 
CelU, Frank, 359 
Cellier, Alfred, Doris, 100, 107, 

255, 263; Dorothy, 46, 213-16, 

25 J, 262, 368 
Censorship, 231-5 
Ch^ne, Mr, 113 
Channel Tunnel, 344 
Chapman, G. R., 193 


Charrington, Charles, 149, 151 

Cherubini, Matia, 106, 115; Ana- 
creon overture, 57, 93, 106, 
114, 17J, 308; Deux Jo^m&s, 

Chesterton, Gilbert, 385 

Cbevi system, i2j 

CHEVY CHACE Overture, 106 

Child, Mr, 3J9 

Children in theatres, employ- 
ment of, 167, 196-S, 295-<S, 
326, 372 

Chopin, Fr6d6ric Fran;ois, 42, 
169; Prelude in D flat, 333 

Choral singing, i;i, 152 

Christian, Mr, 25^ 

Chtirch and Stage Guild, 186 

Church cantatas, 237 

Churches, dandng and music in, 

Churchgoing, 238, 239, 338 



Chute, John Macready, 294, 

Gibber, Colley, 83, 84, 159 
CUbbom, Mr, 8 
CliiFe, Frederick, Symphony in 
. C minor, 114 
Cockle, Major, 221, 225 
CofEn, Hayden, 46, 108, 255, 

2(6, 367 
Cole, Belle, 116,208 
Coleman, John, 137 
Colin, Lady, 141 
Colman, Bessie, 250 
Cologne Cathedral, 178 
Colombati, Mdlle, 209 
Com^die Franjais, 347 
Comic songs, censor of, 231, 

Communism, 246 
Concert perfonnances of music, 

Concertina, 77 
Conductors, 401 
Conquest, George, 232 


Cook, Aynsley, 359 

Copyrights, 244-7 

Coquelin, BenoJt Constant, 2J3, 
154, 2S8, 301, 336, 364 

Comet, 58, 59, 75, 203 

Como di Basseito, 6 

Costa, Sir Michael, 39, 40, ji, 
184, Z07, 311, 341, 400; Addi- 
tional accompaniments to Mo- 
zart, 281 

Counter-tenor voice, 240 

Coursing, 279 

Covent Garden, opera at, 36, 37, 
9S, 123, 118, 140-8, i;3, 154, 
165, 171, 172, 181, 184, 185, 
192, 194, 196, 210, 288, 345, 

Covent Garden promenade con- 
certs, 191, 193, 100, 20J, 207 

Cowen, Sir Frederic, 113, 114, 
375, 400; Pauline, 222; St. 
John's Eve, 174- J ; Thorgrim, 
366, 371 

Ctament, Mr, 17 

Cramer, Pauline, 119, 138, 181, 

Crane, Walter, 49, 5j 

Craven, Hawes, 108 

Criticism, the art of, 29 

Critics, a Critics' Trade Union, 
371} the average music critic, 
371; their power, 322 

Crotty, Mr, 3J2 

Crysul Palace Choir and Or- 
chestra, 43, 72, 77, 248, 308, 

Crystal Palace concerts, 42, 43, 
221, 242, 2(4, 2S<), 274, 306, 
311, 318, 320, 323, 326, 333, 

Cusins, Sir William, ji, 57, 58, 
138, 3 r I, 400 


Dancing, 113, 314-T7; in 
churches, 34 

D'Andrade, A., sings in Lohen- 
grin, 130 

D'Andrade, Francesco, t22; sings 
in Aida, 38; Don Giovanni, 
141; Les Huguenots, 146; 
Lohengrin, 130 

David, FiHden, 335 

Davies, Ben, 2{{, 256 

Davies, Emily, 160 

Davies, Fanny, 311 

Davies, Maggie, 328 

Davies, Ma^, 1^6 

Day, Dr Alfred, 271 


Dedications, 283 
Delaporte, Miss, 220 
Delibes, L&3, lakmi, 53 


Derijy, Lord, 164 
Derbyshire, J. S., ijj 
Dibdin, Mr, 181 
Dicdon, 2;4, 2^7, 259, 1S7, 
301-4, 363 


DIES iRAE, vaiiadors on, 307 
Docker, F. A. W., 64, 65 
Doll's House dinner, 148 

DOK GIOVANNI, 17, Jl, Gl, 77, 

Donizetd, Gaetano, 30, 40, 121, 
171, 2;8, 35)0, 391, 394; Luda 
di Lamraermoor, J7, 138, 139, 
154, 172, 258 

DOHIS, 100, 107, 25;, 263 
DOROTHY, 46, 114, 25;, 2(13, 31S8 

Dowdeswell, Charles, 49, 181 

DREAM OF WEALTH, 314, 316 

Dressier, Fraulein, 185 
Drury Lane Theatre, opera at, 
^ 194, 195. 353 
Dublin Festival, 21 
Ducd, Signor, 266 
Diingate, Lizzie, 250 
Dunraven, Lord, 167 
DvoF^ Antonin, quintet, 40, 41 
Dysart, Miss, 255 

Barnes, Emma, 346 
Ear, culdvadng the, 254 
Edwardes, F, G., zz6 
EGMONT overture, 128 


Elgar, Sir Edward, 27, 31, 396 «, 
Eliot, George, 330 
Elliott, Miss Meredyth, 373 
Ellis, Alexander J., 254 
Ellis, Ash ton, 30, 325 
Ellis, Mr, 310 
Ellsler, Fanny, 31 j 
Elocution, j«« Dicdon 
Empire llieatre, 314, 315 
Engel, Louis, 370, 371 

English language, singers and, 

English music, 365 
English society, musical culture 

in, 264-7 

ERNANI, 3S7, 392 

Essipoft, Annette, 41 
£toile du NORD, 3^8-60 
Eugene, Mr, 352 
Euphonium, ;8, 75 
BUKYANTHE Overture, 93, 300, 

Evans, David, 160 
Evening dress, 3J0 

Facdo, Franco, 161, 167, 174 

Fairbaim, Albert, 327 

Falk-Mehlig, Mad^ne, 241 

Falsetto, 227-30 

FALSTATP, 387, 38B, 389, 393, 396 

Farr, Florence, 373 

FAUST (Berlioz), see damnation 


FAUST (Gounod), 123, 127, 128, 

154, 182, 3B0 

FEEN, DIE, overture, 66 
Festival music, 237 

FIDEUO, 174 

Fieber, Annie, 250 
Filippi, Rosina, 120 
Fillunger, FtSiddn, 114, 2;7, 269 
Finck, Henry T., 135, 1^6 
FINGal's cave overture, 57 
Fisher, Marjorje Field, 304 
Fishing, 279 
Fiugeiald, Edward, 190 
Fit^erald, John, 2;o 
Fletdier, Polyxena, 318 
Floral tributes to artistes, 206 
Flute, 75, 77 


Foley C' Signor Foil '% Allan 
James, 193, 327 



Folk muMc, 79 
Foote, Banington, 209 
Form, musical, 69 
Foster, Hugh, ijo 
Foxhunting, 279 
Frands, C. J., 214 
FRANCiscos, 343 

FREISCHJJTZ, DER, 93, 99, 365 

French horn, 74 

French Revolution, its eiFect on 
music, 114 

French theatre, 313 

Fresselle, Miss, 6j 

Friedheim, Arthur, 200 

Friedricks, Herr, i8j 

Fry, Annie, 169 

Fugato, 335, 393 

Fugue form, 69 

Fiirsch-Madi, Emmy, sings in 
Don Giovanni, 141; Lohen- 
grin, 130 

Gabriel, Virginia, aj 
Gallait, L6on, 343 
Galley-slaves, 398 
Gallon, F., 116 
Gambling, 379 
Ganz, Wilhdm, J3 
Gamier, Philippe, 348-9 
Ganick, David, 1J9 
Gatehouse, Mr, 116 
Gayarr^, Julian, 288, 289, 337 
Geard, C., 27 j, 328, 367 
Genius, men of, 398 

music to Richard ni, 82, 3;-3, 

German music, 389 
Gerster, Etelka, <3i 
Giambatttsia, di, Signor, 120 
Giddings, Mr, 134 
Gigout, Eug^e, 116, 117 

Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck, 

Gtlbert-SuUivan opera, 46 
GiocoNDA ballet music, 191 

GIORNO DI REGNO, 387, 392 

Giuglini, Antonio, 40, 107 
Gladstone, William Ewart, 90, 

"50. 258. n^ 
Glinka, Michael Ivanovitch, 

Kamarinskaja, 93, 300 < 
Glyn, Miss, 258 
Goddard, Arabella, 175 
Goetz, Hermann, Symphony in F 

major, 242; Taming of the 

Shrew, 104, 105, IJ9, 174 
Goldschmidt, Otto, 33, 46 
Gomez, 242 
Gomez, Alice, 54, 199 
Gompertz, Richard, 337 


Goossens, Eugene, 31, 359 

gSitehdXmuerung, 30 

Gounod, Charles Francois, 75, 
270; wrote abominably for the 
human voice, 385; Faust, 112, 
123, 127, IS4, 174, 182, 380; 
Joan of Arc, incidental music 
to, 346J Redemption, 9;, 109, 
221; Romeo and Juliet, 140, 
141, 147, 171, 174; Setting of 
Victor Hugo's serenade, 96 

Grain, Comey, no 

Granville-Barker, Harley, 28 
Graves, Bessie, 2J0 
Gray's Inn, masque at, 223, 224 
Great men, 398 
Greef, Arthur de, 336, 337 
Greenwich, Morton's Theatre, 

GRETNA GREEN, 263, 270 

Grieg, Edvard Hagerup, 70, 79, 
81, 11S3, 164, 324, 325; Peer 
Gynt suite, 80, 30S 


Grieg, Madame, So, 8i 

Grimaldi, 291 

Grondahl, Agatha Backer-, tte 

Backer- Grondahl 
Gr6ndahl, Olaus Andreas, 164 
Groome, Reginald, 211 
Grosvenor Qub, 26(1 
Grove, Ben, 183 
Grove, Sir George, 242, 307, 

Griining, Herr, 177, 188 
Gudehus, Hdnrich, 184 
Guetary, Seiior, 337 
Guildhall School of Music, 

students' concert, 301 
Guilmant, Filix Alexandre, 339 
Guilmartin, euphomum player, 

Gundersen, Fru, 148 
Gumey, Edmund, ii<S 

Haas, Alma, <Si, 323 
Habeneck, Fran;ob Antoine, 

Hackney Choir, 70 

HadJield, trombone player, 209, 

Hagerup, Dr, 149 

Hal6vy, Jacques, 217-19, 307 

Hall, El^e, 372 

Hall, MargueriK, 298, 299 

Hall^ Sir Charles, 41, 107, 305, 

308, 311, 329 
Hall6, Lady, see Neruda, Wilma 
Hall^ Orchestra, 269, 299, 308, 

WfM:^^^, 350, 35i> 35<S, 385 
Handel, George Frederic, 39, 69, 
9!) "Si i9i< ^"^ JiB) 3M; his 
operas, 397; is amongst the 
greatest writers for the voice, 
385, 395; Alexander's Feast, 
ti;; Jephtha, 211; Judas Mac- 
cabaeus,. 147; Lasda ch'io 

pianga, 258, 390; Messiah, 49- 
52, 397; Saul, the dead march 
from, 30, 376 

Handel Orchestra, ip 

Handel Society, 64-G 

Haraucourt, Etbnond, 348-9 

Hare, John, 301 

Harper, Mr, 298 

Harris, Sir Augustus, 37, 98-100, 
103, 105, 128, 129, 131, 137, 
140, 153, 155, 164, i6j, 167, 
169, 172-4, 194, 19s, 288, 336, 
350, 35a 

Harris, Charles, 2;6, 290-1 

Hart, Mrs Ernest, 9J 

Hauk, Minnie, 105 

Hawds, Rev. H. R., 377 

Haydn, Joseph, his oratorios, 9^; 
Symphony in B flat, 67, 341 

Headlam, Rev. Stewart, 34, 18;, 

Heaton, Mr, 340 

Hegner, Otto, 70 

Heine, costume designer, 32; 

Heinrich, Max, 56, ij6, 254, 269 

Henderson, W. J., 2J7 

Henry V, 120 

Henschel, Sir George, 59, 66, 67, 
70, 131, 2|;4, 261, 298, 299, 367 

Henschel, Mrs, 261, 334 

Her Majesty's Theatre, opera at, 
139, 172, 194 

Her Majesty's Theatre, promen- 
ade concerts, 198, 204, 20^, 
207, III 

Herodotus, 320 

Hess, Willy, 309, 320, 337 

Hill, Carl, 183 

Hill, Miss, 13 

Hill, Weist, ji, 304 

Hindemith, Paul, 31 

Hoate, Maigaret, 349 

"Hobby Horse", 48, 49 

Hoerschelmann, Mdlle de, 170 



Hoiintiller, Herr, 186 
Holiday, Henry, 305 
Holland, Caroline, 343 
Hollander, Benno, 60 
Holmes, Henry, 268 
Horse traction, 279 
Hoskins, Miss, 249 
Howeil, E., J7 
Huberd, Gustave, 343 
Hueffer, Dr Frands, 54, 164 
Hughes, ophicleide player, ;8 
Hugo, Victor, 3S>o 

HUGtIENOTS, L£S, 30, I45, IJ4, 

174. 182, 190 

Hullah, John, 124 
Human advancement, 20 
Himmiel, Jean Neporauk, 266, 


Hunter, Mrs Leo, 351 
Hypocrisy and musical per- 
formances, 200~2 


Ibach, Mr, 45) 

Ibsen, Henrik, 148, 171, 233, 
283, 321 


Image, Selwyn, 49 
IMMATURITY, Preface to, j, 6, 28 
Impressionism, 128 
Invisible orchestras, 211 


Ireland, John, 31 

Irish music, 231 

Irving, Hany, 381 

Irving, Sir Henry, 45, 94, 99, 161, 

2SJ, 2Si, 2^8, 2S9. 30^ 3Ji, 

. '*' 

Isaacson, Miss, 57 

Isaye, see Ysaye 

Isnardon, M., 167 

Janotha, Nathalie, 319 
Jaques, Mr, 371 
Jee fainily, 294 

Jefferson, Joseph, 253, 302 
ensen, Adolf, 73 

Joachim, Joseph, 74, 164, 268, 

JOAN OF ARC, 34(3 

Johnson, Dr Samuel, 149, 337 
Jokes, Englishtnen and Scots- 
men and, 260 

JUDITH, 43, 221, 366 


Kean, Charles, 258 

Kean, Edmund, 396 

Kemp, Mr, 46 

Kend^ Mrs, j(S, 73, 171, 25J 

Kendal, WiUiam, 254 

Ken wigs, Morleena, 197 

King, Frederic, 118 


Kirwan, P. J., 303-4 
Kjerulf, Halfden, 163 
Knighihoods amongst musicians, 

Kosleck, Julius, 33, ;S 
Kruse, Joliann, 137 
Kobe, Mr, i<$9 
Kullak, Adolf, ii;3 

Lablache, see Merle Lablache 
LASMi, 53 

Lalo, tdouard. Rhapsody, 243 
Lamb, Beatric^ 73 


Lamoureux, Charles, 350 


Lang, Andrew, 259 
Lange, de, Mr, 81 
Langtry,Lily, 3j6, 3J7 


Lansdowne-Cottell, Mr, 126 

Laia, Isidore de, 70 

Larynx, ossification of the, 90 

LaMalle, Jean, 1B4; sings in As- 
canio, 34^; Ballo in Maschera, 
3fi; Die Meistersinger, 166; 
Les Huguenots, 146 

Lassus, Orlandus, Si 


Latter, Beriram, 96, 149 
Lazarus, Henry, 60, 19B, 199 
Lebon, H. G., 318 
Leclercq, Miss, 84 
Lecouvreur, Adricnne, 323 
Lee, Geoi^ John Vandaleur, 

10-12, ij, 16, 18, 21-J, 27 
Leeds Festival, 227 
Lehmann, Liza, 336 
Leigh, Henry, 218 
Leighton, Sir Frederick, 94 
Lely, Mr, 352 
Lemiitre, M., 300 
Lemmens, Nidiolas Jacques, 339 
Lcmmens-Sherrington, Madame, 

90, 107 
LEONORA overture, 1J4, 1S9 
Leslie, Mr, 4;, 46, 19^, 19S, 214, 

216, 255, 290, 291 
Lestellier, M, 142 


OF OLD, 115 

Levey, Nellie, 170 

Levi, Hermann, 140, 174, i8j 

L^vy, M., 76 

Lewis, Dyved, 96 

Lido, MtUle de, 96 

Liebich, Rudolph, 269 

Linfield, Miss, 373 

Lisle, Rouget de, 115 

Liszt, Franz, 49, 70, 368, 395); his 
qualities as a composer, 308; 
Campanella, 142; Dante sym- 
phony, 307; Hungarian rhap- 

sody, 67, 37j; Mazeppa, 92; 
Preludes, 70; Variations on 
Dies Irae, 307 
Uoyd, Edward, 3;, 36, 54, 56, 
ijS, 193, 199, 10s, 248, 2S4, 
326, 327 

LOHENGRIN, 56, 119, 174, 390, 395 

London, Bishop of, 34 
London Institution, 321 

LORD ULLIN'S daughter, 48, 2lSl 

Love, Mabel, i^ 


139, '54. "72>258 

LUCIFER, 90, 91, 100, 103, 342, 

Ludwig (Ledwidge), Paul, 231 
Lueila, Marie, 219 
Lumley, Benjamin, 39 

LURLINE, 351-3 

Luther, Martin, Fine feste Burg, 

Lyceum Theatre, opera at, 161 
Lyndale, Miss, 294 

Maas, Joseph, 105, 228 

Macaulay, Lord, 330 

MACBETH, incidental music to, 

MacCimn, Hamish, 110-13; 
Bonny Kllmeny, ji6; Land of 
the Mountain and the Flood, 
327; L^t Minstrel, 66; Lord 
Ullin's Daughter, 4S, 262; Ship 
o' the Fiend, 262 

Macdermott, music-hall singer, 

McDougall, Mr, 233 

Macfarren, Sir George Alexander, 
242; Chevy Chase overture, 
106; Robin Hood, 106-8 

M'Grath, Mr, 58 

McGuckin, Barton, 44, 45, 130, 



Madntyie, Maigaret, 37^; sings 

in Faust, 123; Mefistofele, 128 
Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, 4], loj, 

400; Six pieces for the violin, 68 
McKenzie, Miss, i}4 
Mackenzie, Marion, 148 
Mackenzie, Dr Morell, 188, 227 
UAGic FLUTE, set Zaubeiflfite 
Maitland, Fuller, 248 
Mal^n, Therese, 187 
Mandnelli, Lui^ 37, 38, iii, 129, 

130, 146-S, 154, iiSi, 166, 374; 

Venetian suite, 374 
Mann, hom player, i£6 
Manners, Q^les, 361 
Manns, Sir Ai^ust, 42, 43, 47, 51, 

70, 71, 77, 249, IJ7, 261, 274, 

27s. 308, 3". 320, 356, 361, 

365, 366, 400 
Mansfield, Richard, 82-4, 99, 130 
M^leson, James Henry, 39, 136, 

138-40, 171, 172 
Margate, 280 

Mario, Giuseppe, 39, 40, 228 
MAKjoHiE, 367, 373 
Marschner, Heinrich August, 242 


Marshall-Hall, Mr, 131, 133 
Marsick, M, 47 

Marx, Karl, J 


Massenet, Jules, 105 
Massinghan, H. W., j 
Masstni, Signor, 129 
Matenia, Amalie, 183; sings in 

Parsifal, 176, 187, 188 
Mathews, Charles, 22S, 329 
Matt, Antoine, 367 
Matt, J,, 328, 367 
Maurel, Victor, 161 
Maurier, du, Mr, 268 
May, Florence, 46 


Mehlig, see Falk-Mdil^ 
Meilhac, Henti, 217-19, 307 
" Mebter", 48, 310, 3aj 

KEISTEHSINGER, DIE, 29, 16;, 169, 
171, 184-6, 32J, 327, 402 

Melba, Dame Nellie, sings in 
Romeo and Juliet, 144 

Melville, Mr, 106 

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, 6, 
22G, 211, 298, 317, 325, 341, 
389; his qualities as a com- 
poser, 69, 70; compositions for 
the violin, 1 19; A minor 
(Scotch) symphony, 312; Ath- 
alie, 92, ip-3; Auf Flugeln 
des Gesanges, 36S; Cantatas, 
9j; Fingal's C^ve overture, 57; 
Italian symphony, 308; Mid- 
summer Night's Dream, inci- 
dental music to, 287; Quartet 
in E flat, 68; St Paul, 69, 70, 

Menier, Sophie, 360-1, 368, 376 

Meric Lablache, Madame de, 21, 


MESSIAH, 49-S2, 397 

Mettrop, Frank, 250 

Meyerbeer, Giacomo, 28, 30, 171, 
273, 391; his artificiality, 307; 
his operas, 115, 190; Les 
Huguenots, 30, 121, 145, 154, 
174, 182, 190; L'Etoile du 
Nord, 3J8-60 

Michael Angelo, 401 


inddeotal music to, ^87 
Milligen, S. van, Biinio, 100-3 
Mills, Watkin, 52 
Milton, Maud, 286 


Moli^re, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, 
Le Bouigeob Gentilhomme, 



Montariol, Signor, ^ngs in Die 
Mdstersinger, i66; Faust, 
123; Romeo and Juliet, 140, 

Moore, Bertha, 41 

Moore, Maggie, 269 

Morris, Wiliiam, 185; Atalanta's 
Race, 3&4 

Morrow, Walter, 33, 58, 59 

iiosES IN EGYPT, 391, 397 

Mostyn, Hallen, 210 

Moszkowski, Moritz, 88 

Mottl, Felix, 1S4, 18;, 400, 401 

Moul, Alfred, 244-6 

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 30, 
415,69,190, i9i> 171. 33S, 34J, 
3;;, 381, 389; interpretation of 
his instrumental works, 102; 
Victorian conception of, 330; 
Das Veilchen, 313; Die Zau- 
berfldte (The Magic Flute), 67, 
9^, 189; Don Giovanni, 27, 
31, 62, 77, 141, 142, 174, 190, 
204, 393; Fantasia in C minor, 
323; Giunse al fin, 57; Idom- 
eneo, 27; Le Nozze di Figaro, 
174, 384; Quartet in B fiat, 
41; Requiem, 6, 376; Sym- 
phonies — D (Kochel No. 504), 
93; E flat, 47, 93, ijs, 308; G 
minor, 47, 200; Tiioroughbass, 
27; Variations on Handel's The 
people that walked in darkness, 

Murray, Nellie, 294 

Murska, lima de, 39, <ii 

Music hall censor^p, 231, 233 

Musical Guild, 267, 30J 

Musical papers, 230 

"Musical Times", 325 

"Musical World", 329, 35;, 370 

Mundans are ill-conditioned 
controversialists, 230 

"Musigena", 63, 70, 77, 91, 97 

Nach^ Hvadar, 20J, 112 

naIades overture, 340 

Nansen, Herr, 149 

National Standard Theatre, 106-9 

Navarrini, Francesco, 38 

Neruda (Norman-Neruda, after- 
wards Lady HalM), Wilma, 41, 
54, 60, 68, 268, 297-9, 309, 
318-20, 333, 334, 337, 343 

Neupert, Edmund, 163 

Newland, Dr, 12 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 79 

Newton, T., 153 


Nicene Creed, 140 

NichoU, William, j6 

Nikita, 193 

Nilsson, Christine, 39, 57, 62, 
"9. 355 

Noise and music, 55 

Nordica, Lilian, 76, 160, 242; 
sings in Aida, 37, 38; Lohen- 
grin, 130 

Noiman-Neruda, see Neruda 

North Foreland Lighthouse, 
281, 2S2 

North London College, 15 

Novara, Signor, 129 


Nuckell, Miss, 279 
Nuisance caused by musical 
noises, 28 


ROSE, 298, 299 
OBERTO, 387 

O'Brien, William, 231 

O'Connor, T. P., j 

Offenbach, Jacques, 271, 307; Les 

Briganck, 217-20; Voys^e dans 

la Lime, 293 
Okeghem, Jean de, 81 



Opera, English, 45, 104, 106-9, 
140; Gemian, 138, 140; Italian, 
28, 36-9, 98-100, 123, 130, 140, 
'47. i^i. 17*, »88, 353, 38s, 
391-7; audiences and times of 
perfbrmances, 136-8, 166, 172; 
opera houses in London, 194; 
prices of seats, 173; prima 
donnas' offences against aitisdc 
propriety, 354; spoof opeta, 
380-8(1; suggestions for im- 
provement of, 138, 174 

Ophicleide, 58, 76, ■^ 

Oratorio, 9;, 109, 221, 227, 238, 
239, 247 

Orchestra, 396 

Orchestral balance, 77 

Orchestral music, the thirst for, 59 

Orchestrion, 210 

Oi^an recitals, 339 

Organist's music, 112, 339 

OTELLO, 86, 161, 387, 388, 389, 
391. 393> 394 

Ouseley, Sir Frederick, 27 

Owen, Professor, 260 

Pachmann, Vladimir de, 199, 

Paderewski, ^jtiace Jan, 375 
Paersch, hom-player, 60, 298 
Paget, Mr, 373 
Pagliardini, Tito, 302 
"Pall Mall Gazette", 5 
Palladino, Madame, 315 
Palma, S^^ 30; 
Palmer, Mr, 228 
Pantomime, 2S9-96, 322 
PAPiu^KS, 298 
Parepa, Mad^:ne, 104 
Paris, 345 
Parry, Sir Charles Hubert, no; 

Judith, 43, 221, 366 

PARSIFAL, 56, 176-8, 181, 185, 
186, 209, 251 


Pasta, Giuditta, 191 

Patey, Janet Monach, 44, 52, 

Patti, Adelina, 53, 14, 71, 90, 97, 

98, 2ti, 254, 258, 308, 354, 371 

PAULINE, 104, 222 

Pavlov, Dr, 19-21 
Payne, Mr, 291 
Payne, Edmund, 294 


Pearsall, Robert Lucas, 48 
Peckham Tonic S0I-& Choir, 

Pedley, Grace, 109 


PEER GYNT suire, 80, 308 

Penley, Mr, 226 

People, music of the, 131-3 

People's Palace, 95, 109, 115, 
238, 248 

Performing rights, 244-7 

Persia, Shah of, 1 53 

Pertoldi, Aiuelia, 224 

Pettie, J., 1 10 

Phasey, trombone player, 275 

Philharmonic Society and Or- 
chestra, 55-7, 92, 138, 252, 254, 
340-2, 374 

Philips, Louise, 170 

Phillips, Henry, 118 

Pianists' technique, 374 

Piatti, Aifredo Carlo, 60, 298 

Pierpoint, Bantock, 6;, 156 

Pigoit, Mr, censor of plays, 232 

Pitch, absolute, 125, iz6; height 
of the English, 189 

Plan^on, Pol Henri, 346 

Poel, William, 321 

Ponchielli, Amtlcare, Gioconda 
ballet music, 192 

Popular Music Union, 94 

Porpora, Ntccola, 135, ij8, 224, 


Practice of musical instruments, 

Prange, Mr, 266, 167 
Ptimmer, lizzie, zjo 
Probert, John, 65 
Professors' music, 112, 321 
Programs, 88-90 
Pronimciation, jm Diction 
Prout, Ebenezer, 66 
Public Entertainments Trust 

suggested, 195 
Public performances and music, 

Puccini, Giacomo, 397 
Pugilism, 178 
Purcell, Henry, 63; Dido and 

Eneas, 64; Yorkshire Feast, 

Radclifle, John, 194, 2<37 
Ramsgate, iSo, 2S2 
Randeg^r, Alberto, 402 
Rayleigh, Lord, 126 
Reakes, Albert, 94$ 
RED FOX, 115 

BED HUSSAR, 255, 270 

Reeves, John Sims, 45, 6q, 107, 

139, 227, 228 
Reflexes, 19 

Rehan, AtU, 2;^, 302, '^64 
Reichmann, Tbeodore, 184 
Reimers, Froken, 149, 150 
REQUIEM (Brahms), 376 
REQUIEM (Mozart), 377 
REQUIEM (Verdi), 397 
Reszke, Edouard de, 227; sings 

in Les Huguenots, 145, 146; 

Romeo and Juliet, 144 
Reszke, Jean de, 39, 184, 227, 

337; ^ngs in Aida, 38; Ballo in 

Mascheia, 37; Die Meister- 

singer, 166; Don Giovanni, 
227; Faust, 227; Les Hugue- 
nots, 145; Romeo and Juliet, 
143, 148 


Revolution's dist task, 31 
Reyes, Senorita, 120 
Reynolds, Howard, 127, 199, 

200, 20^, 211, 298 
RICHARD 111, 32-8, 320, 373 
Richter, Hans, 35, 40, 47, ;t, 59, 

9«.93. '38.'4o. 148, 155, i^fi, 

167, 174, 176, 181, 185, 199, 

208, 350, 400, 402 
Richter, Jean Paul, 181 
Richter Concerts and Orchestra, 

iS. 9'. 9^ "3. »54, 310 


RiENZi, 105, 341; overture, $6,67 
Ries, L., 298 

RIGOLEITO, 387, 393 


Riviere, Madame, 314, 316 

ROBIN HOOD, 106-8 

Robson, Frederick, 397 
Roger-Mid OS, Madame, 208 
RoUa, Madame, 37 
ROUEO AND JULIET (Berlioz), 300 


140, 142, 147, 171, 174 


sky), 138 
Rorke, Kate, 285, 286 
Rorke, Mary, 83, 322 
Rosa, Carl August Nicolas, 45, 

104-6, no, 353.354)400 
Rosa, Madame, 104 
Roselle, Amy, 254- 
Rosenhain, Jacob, Pianoforte 

Rossini, Gioachino Antonio, 115, 
272, 273, 387, 396 n.; his con- 
ventionality, 307; his opeias, 
390, 391; Moses in Egypt, 391, 



Rossini, Gioachino Antonio — 
397; Oiello, 86, 394; Semira- 
mide, 86, 391; The Barber of 
Seville, 139, 173; William Tell, 
105; William Tell overture, 30, 

Royal Academy, 368 

Roval Academy of Music, stu- 
dents' concert, 341 

Royal College of Music, Concert 
Guild, 97, 243; students per- 
form Goets's Taming of the 
Shrew, 1J9; students' concert, 
337, 329 

Roy(^ Edward, 210, 291 

Roze, Maiie, 105 

Rubinstein, Anton Gregorovitch, 
42, 319 

Rundman, John, 339 

Russell, Sir Charles, 94 

Russell, Ella, izz, 146 

St James's Hall concerts, 40, 59, 


St Nicholas Cole-Abbey Chiuch, 

ST PAUL, 70, 221, 243, 247, 2JI 

Saint-Sagns, Charles Camille, 

Ascanio, 345-6 
Salmond, Norman, 327 
Salt, Henry, 78 
Salvini, Tammaso, 302 
Sandbrook, Mr, 160 
Sanderson, John Cobden, 18 1 
Santley, Sir Charles,' 39, 54, 59, 

61, 104, 105, 107, 131, 225, 327 
SapellnikofF, Vassily, 365 
Sarasate, P^lo, 57, 81, 127, 138, 

255, 257, a6o, 335, 343 
Sasse, Miss, 1 19 

Savoy operas, 270, 271 

Scalchi, Sofia, sings in Alda, 39; 
Les Huguenots, 145, 146; 
Mefistofele, 129 

Schlager, Toni, 145 

Schonberg, Arnold, 31 

Schoolmasters, 230 

Schubert, Franz, 69, 115, 324; 
settingofTbeLord is my Shep- 
herd, 72 J Symphony in R 
minor, 327 

Schumann, Claia, 162, 164, 319 

Schumann, Robert, 69, 169, 324, 
389, 397; Concerto in A minor, 
42, 360; Fantasia, 376; Papil- 
lons, 298; Quartet in A minor, 
298, 299; BJienish symphony, 
42; Symphony in C, 320 

Schijtz, Heinrich, Lamentatio 
Davidis, 366 

Scientific men, 230 

Scientific research and cruelty, 

Scott, Clement, 372 

Scott, Cyril, 31 

Scoundrelism, definition of, 20 

Scribe, Eugene, 145 

S^guin, M., 144 

Seidl, Anton, 138, 140 

SeifTert, Henri, 81, 116, 119 

Sembrich, Marcella, 57 


Sgambad, Giovanni, Pianoforte 

quintet, 334, 335 
Shakespeare, tenor vocalist, 269 
Shakespeare, William, 159, 330, 
373, 391! ^ You Like It, 356, 
357; Hamlet, 350, 351, 356, 
385; King Lear, 385; Merry 
Wives of Windsor, 393; Mid- 
summer Night's Dream, 284-7; 
Otello, 394; Richard m, S2-8, 
320, 373 


Shakespeare Reading Society, 


Shal^espearean theatres, music at, 

Shaw, George Bernard, his par- 
ents and early days, 7-ij; his 
education, 13-17; and evening 
dress, 3;o; as avocalist, 18, 151; 
as an open-air orator, 71, 21S;, 
331; as a music critic, j, 28-31, 
37ij 377; his musical know- 
ledge, 6, i;-i8, 23, 2<S-9, 12;; 
learns to play the comet, 76; 
his ambition was to become a 
painter, 17; his vegetarianism, 
279, 280, 344; objects to gamb- 
ling, foxhunting, shooting, fish- 
ing, coursing, and horse trac- 
tion, 279 

Shaw, George Carr (Father of G. 
Bernard), 8, 12, 13, i;, 23, 24, 

Shaw, Lucy, 22-1 

Shaw, Mrs (Mother of G. Ber- 
nard), 7-16, 18, 21, 23-8 

Shaw, Mrs, a whlsder, 20^-7, 212 

Shelley, Mr, aoj 

Shelley's Cend, 232 

Sherrington, Mad^ne Lemmens-, 
tee Lemmens-Sherrington 


Shipman, Richard, 304 
Shooting, 279 
Shutdeworth, Canon, 339 
Sibelius, Jean, 31 
Siberian exiles, 332 

SIEGFRIED, 35, 138 

Singing, art of, and teaching of, 
II, 18, 19, 25, 45, 157-60, 189, 
252, 271; change of re^ster, 
227-9; children and, 189; com- 
posers and the human voice, 
385, 39Ii 396; falsetto, 227-9; 

high noK finish, 369; indiffer- 
ence of singers to the artistic 
treatment of the English lan- 
guage, 45; long and ^ort reed, 
227-9; physical training for 
singers, 2o8;preservaiion of the 
voice, 228; singing in time, 212; 
the vocal compass, 109; what 

Sinico, Amelia, 312 
Slaughter's Marjorie, 367, 373 
Slavin, pugilist, 278 
Smart, Henry, 341 
Smidi, J. A,, 261 
Smith, Stanley, 367 
Smith, Mr, 52 
Smith, pugilist, 278 
Solla, Maurice de, 219 
Solomon, Mr, 225, 2^6, 293 
Sonata form, 69, 334 


Song, physiology of, i88 

SONNAMBULA, LA, I39, I72, 308 

Sound, magnitude of, and music, 

South London Chora! Associa- 
tion, 226 

Spanish Students' concert, 120 

Speaking, public, 149 

" Spectator", 140 

Speech, jee Diction 

Spencer, Herbert, 28 

Spohr, Louis, 69, 335; Concerto, 
299, 318 

Spoof opera, 379-86 

Staff notation, 124, 125, 152 

Stainer, Sir John, 27, 51 

Standard Theatre, see National 
Standard Theatre 

Stanford, Sir Charies Villiers, 
33. 79. 103. 3K>. 3*8, 393; 
Cavalier songs, 377; The Re- 
venge, 377 

Stanley, Alma, 236 



"Star" newspaper, j, 6, 29, 57, 


Standigl, Gtsele, 183, 185 
Stavenhagen, Bemhard, 181, 25)8, 

308, 338, 37S 
Stead, William, 376 
Stephens, H. P, The Red Hussar, 

Stephenson, B. C, 107, 214, 217 
Serling, Antoinette, 45, 153, 181, 

207, 302 
Stevenson, D. W., iii 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 53 
Storer, John, Gretna Green, 263, 

Strauss, Ludwig, 268, 298 
Stt^uss, Richard, 31, 381 
Sudiet, Rosa, 183 
Sullivan, Sir Ardiur, 25, 66, 92, 
loi, 103, 217, 311, 341, 368, 
385, 400; his operas, 270; The 
Gondoliers, 270; The Lost 
Chord, 207; Macbeth music, 
262; Trial by Jury, 393 
Svcnsden's Intermezzo, 300 
Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon, 81 
Symphonies, 112 

Talazac, M., 122 

Tamagno, Francesco, 161, 171 

Tamberlik, Enrico, Sti 

159, '74 

TANNhXuseb, 93, 174, 388J over- 
ture, 30, 349, 3^5 

Tardni, Giuseppe, 43 

Taylor, Frederika, 337 

Taylor, H. Ashworth, 258 

Taylor, Tom, 357 

Tdiaikovsky, tee Tschaikowsky 

Teaching, 17, 2J4, 251 

Telbin, Mr, 86 

Tempest, Marie, 255, 2j6 

Temple, Richard, 264 
Tennyson, Lord, 69 
Terry, Ellen, 94, 2j8, 259, 355 
Theatres in London, supniluity 

of, 194, 195 
Tliomas, Coring, 103, 105 
Thomas, Theodore, 59 
Thompson, Dell, 362 
moRGRiM, 366, 371 
Thome, Thomas, 259 
Tietjens, Marie, 204 
Tietjens (Tiiiens), Thcrcse, 39, 

107, 208, 229 
Tinel, Edgar, Frandscus, 343 
Todhunter, John, A Sicilian 

Idyll, 373 
Tone poetry, 325, 329 
Tonic SoUfa, 124, 125, 134, ij i 
Torriani, Madame, 104 

TOSCA, LA, 300, 322 

Townsend, Miss, 287 
TRAViATA, LA, 140, 387, 392 
Trebelli, Antoinette, 48, 313 
Trebelli, Zelia, 39, 191 
Tree, Sir Herb»t Beerbohm, r68 
Tiemelli, Mdlle, 192 


138, 174, 181-5, 319. 391 
Trombone, 76, 77, 366 

TROVATORE, IL, 37, I04, 38l-«, 

388-92, 395 
Trumpet, 58 
Trust, Helen, 96 
Tschaikowsky, Peter, Pianoforte 

Concerto in G (No. 2), 3655 

Romeo and Juliet symphonic 

poem, 138 
Tucker, Benjamin R., 181 
Turner, Mr, 108 

Valda, Giulia, 142 
Van Dyck, Ernest Marie Hubert, 
»ng5 in Patsifal, 188