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Title: Camilla: A Tale of a Violin - Being the Artist Life of Camilla Urso
Author: Barnard, Charles, 1838-1920
Language: English
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                               CAMILLA:

                         _A TALE OF A VIOLIN._


                       BEING THE ARTIST LIFE OF
                             CAMILLA URSO.


                          By CHARLES BARNARD.


                          LORING, Publisher,
                COR. WASHINGTON AND BROMFIELD STREETS,
                               _BOSTON._



      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
                             A. K. LORING,
       In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


           Rockwell & Churchill, Printers and Stereotypers,
                    122 Washington Street, Boston.



PREFATORY NOTE.


The intelligent reader, on opening a new book, asks why it was
written,—what excuse has it for existence. In this particular case the
author has more reasons than it is worth while to repeat. If there is
any one thing that is attracting the general attention of the American
people, it is the art of music. It is a good sign. It shows we are
getting beyond the mere tree-felling and prairie-clearing stages of our
existence, and coming to something better. This true “Tale of a Violin”
has to do with music. It is the story of a real musical life; not wholly
American, and therefore instructive. It has much, also, to do with our
people and country and our own times, and is therefore interesting and
home-like. It has to do with methods of teaching music in foreign
countries; and for the student this artist-life is full of valuable
suggestions. All of this can be properly said, because it is the
artist-life of a person now living among us. These are the excuses for
its existence.

The facts and incidents were supplied by Madam Camilla Urso herself at
such stray moments of leisure as could be found during a busy concert
season at Boston, in the months of January and February, 1874; and the
work was done at such spare moments as the writer could find in the
midst of journalistic cares. Such events as could be noted in one
evening having been written out, they were read aloud before Madam Urso
and others, and when brought up to the exact truth in every detail, and
fully approved by such persons as were entitled to an opinion, were
given to the printer.

So the book came to be. If it leads one reader to see the value of a
life devoted to art,—if it helps one lonely student struggling for a
musical education, by the splendid example of a life of toil and poverty
crowned by a great reward,—the work will not be wholly vain, nor will
it want excuse for being.

The author would express his thanks for the kind assistance of the Urso
family of New York, and Mr. John S. Dwight and others, of Boston.

                                                  THE AUTHOR.
  BOSTON, September, 1874.



PART I.



CHAPTER I.

BEFORE DAWN.


About thirty miles from the sea, on the River Loire, in France, stands
the quaint, sleepy old town of Nantes. The Erdre and the Sevre, two
smaller streams unite with the Loire just here and the town is spread
out in an irregular fashion over the islands, the little capes between
the rivers, and the hills that stand round about. The old part of the
town is on the hill-side and occupies the two islands called Freydean
and Gloriette, the more modern city has spread over the surrounding
country among the groves of chestnut, and the vineyards that fill every
available spot where the grapes can get a good look at the sun all
through the long sunny days.

The river runs swift and bright through the town and flashes under the
handsome bridges with their long rows of stone arches. In the river are
boats, ships, and steamers, for the good people there spend much of
their time in commerce and in catching and curing the silver-white
pilchards that swim in such great schools in the neighboring sea.

The broad quays that skirt the river are planted with trees, making a
most delightful walk, and near the eastern end of the town one of the
quays ends at what remains of an old chateau or palace. The houses are
mostly of stone, with slated roofs. There are some fine stores in the
Place Royal that are quite as grand as those in Paris. There are also
some old, old churches black with age, dim and vast inside, with
statuary on the outer walls, and splendid gothic towers that seem to
blossom all over with stone flowers as they climb so far up into the sky
above the quaint old town.

Round about the town are gardens and summer houses, pleasant walks and
drives, vineyards, groves and all the things that go to make a charming
rural scene.

In the Place Graslin is a fine theatre and a handsome Town Hall. Of
these buildings more presently when we come to see what happened within
them.

In this old French town in June 1846 there lived a very little girl just
four years old. Her home was on the first floor of a small house on a
narrow street not far from the Place de la Monnaie, an open square that
led into one of the principal streets known as the Rue Voltaire. The
house was built in the usual French fashion with a large arch-way under
the house that led into a court-yard in the centre. The front door
opened into the shady arch-way, and the window balconies were filled
with flowering plants in pots.

Her name was Camilla. Her father Monsieur Salvatore Urso played the
flute in the orchestra at the theatre, or opera house, and on Sundays
played the organ at the Church of the Holy Cross that stood facing a
little square not far from the river.

Her mother Madame Emelie Urso was a young and very handsome woman, and a
fine singer. She also helped her husband in his music lessons. She was
born in Lisbon in Portugal, but as she had come to France when quite
young, she had forgotten her mother tongue and now spoke French and
Italian. This last may have been owing to the fact that her husband was
from Palermo, Sicily. With Camilla’s parents lived her mother’s sister,
Caroline, whom we shall know as aunt Caroline. This made the Urso
household.

Both of Camilla’s parents were young and she was their oldest child and
only daughter. There was at this time a baby brother and later there
were three more brothers. The first four years of the little one’s life
were passed in an uneventful manner, very much in the fashion of other
children everywhere. When she was four years old she began to go to the
theatre with her father. Every night she put her small hand in his and
trotted off to the Place Graslin to sit with him in the orchestra among
the violins and close beside her father’s flute. He was a noted player
in those days and the little one shared his seat, with the music book
spread before her, and the stage in full view.

It was quite a fine theatre and many notable things took place there.
Operas, both new and old, were given, and often between the acts, a
piano was brought out and such famous players as traveled in that part
of France appeared and showed what they could do. Celebrated violinists
and great singers also appeared at times. So it happened that the little
Camilla almost lived in the midst of an orchestra and before she was
five years old had heard many of the best players and singers of the
times.

The orchestra became almost a second home to her. The lights, the crowds
of people, the music were every day matters and she grew up to be quite
indifferent to the public character of such a life. Most children would
have soon learned to go to sleep in the midst of it all. Camilla never
thought of such a thing. While the music went on she was content. If she
could only nestle down in a corner where she could hear those violins
and her father’s flute she was perfectly happy in a demure and sober
fashion that was infinitely amusing in such a very small girl.

On Sundays and on fête days when the church was open she went with her
father to the church of the Holy Cross.

The church was an old one and to reach the organ loft high up over the
great portal they had to climb a steep and winding stair in the great
tower. The stairs were worn deep with footsteps so that it was hard
climbing for the little one. Still, she always went with her father and
mother. Did he not play the tall organ with its great white pipes, and
did her mother not sing? She had a good seat where she could look up at
the black arches springing so high overhead, or down on the people who
seemed so small in the church far below.

When there was no theatre or church she played about her mother’s room
or under the trees in the public gardens, very much in the fashion of
other French girls.

Playing in an orchestra is not the road to wealth. The pay was very
small, and even with the organ salary and the music lessons things did
not prosper very happily and the little Camilla had to content herself
with such juvenile joys as could be procured without very much money.
This, happily, did not make much difference. There was enough to eat and
pretty good things to wear and no end of music. This last seemed to
quite satisfy her. The orchestra, the organ and the choir afforded her
perpetual amusement, and her life was as happy as that of the most
favored child in the town.

When not listening to music she was very active and merry and displayed
an abundant fund of good health and spirits. She early learned to talk
and walk and was considered an unusually bright and precocious girl. Her
earliest months gave a hint of her love for music. If fretful or peevish
with weariness or ill-health she could soon be pacified by a gentle song
from her father as he carried her about in his arms.

The first intimation of a desire to make music herself came when she was
three years old. Hearing a hand-organ play in the street while the
family were at dinner she softly left the table and went into the next
room. Presently the tune on the hand-organ was repeated on the piano in
the parlor. Her father opened the door quickly only to find the child
trying to hide, as if she had done something wrong.

Before she could talk she could hum over or sing a number of songs, and
at four years of age could repeat in a thin piping voice many of the
songs and airs sung by her mother and always insisting that the
accompaniment should be played while she sang.

She did not go to school. Hardly any children in the town had any such
advantage. There were a few small primary schools and that was about all
the chance that was open to the young people of Nantes for an education.

So far in Camilla’s life it did not make any particular difference.
Things were going on quite to her satisfaction and she was perfectly
happy even if she could not read or write.

Thus in a quiet way with much music the months had slipped away till
she was five years old. Then suddenly came the awakening of a new life.
Something happened that cast the rosy glow of coming day over the
twilight of her life. The morning star that shone out clear and bright
before her young eyes took the shape of a violin solo in a mass called
St. Cecilia. She was in the church when its promise-speaking light
flashed upon her. There was an orchestra, and a full chorus, with the
organ. The little Camilla now almost six years old sat in the old organ
loft and heard it all. She listened and dreamed and wondered and wished
and wished she could only do something like that solo for the first
violin. An ordinary piece of music, indifferently played, but somehow it
enchained her whole attention. It threw wide open the pearly gates of a
new and fairer life.

Many a time she had heard famous players at the theatre. They had never
interested her as did this one. He was not a very fine player. His music
was not particularly wonderful, but there was something about it that
pleased her greatly. She had been already excited by the music. The
majestic and noble character of the mass, the chorus sounding so loud
and grand through the church, the orchestra, her father’s organ with its
great thunder tones rolling under it all, had sent the blood tingling
through her veins. The great company kneeling on the floor so far below.
The lights and flowers on the altar. The blue clouds of incense rising
softly on the air and the dusky bars of colored light slanting across
the springing arches. The scene, the music, everything affected her.
Then that song on the violin. It was beautiful—and—if she could.
No—she never, never could—and it was all a dream. She was even
reluctant to leave for home after the service was over and wanted to
linger in the vast, dim church and dream it all over again.

If she only could play like that—if she could have a real violin, all
her own and play on it, why, that would be just too wonderfully grand
and splendid for anything. There were not words in the French language
that could express the pleasure it would give her. She could not speak
of it. It was too good to talk about.

For several days she thought about it and dreamed of it and wondered if
it would do to tell her father and ask him to give her a violin. At last
the secret became unbearable and on creeping into her mother’s bed
before daylight one morning for her regular petting she ventured to lisp
to her mother that she wanted a violin—“a real one, to play upon
herself.”

The morning star faded away quickly, and there was only the dull grey
dawn in the child’s sky. Her mother treated her request with laughter
and put out the little Camilla’s hope with a flat refusal.



CHAPTER II.

SUNRISE.


It was the town talk. The women gathered round the fountain in the Place
Royal and filled their water jars and gossiped about Salvatore Urso’s
silly whim with his child. Madame Dubois settled her cap and gave it as
her opinion that no good would come of such a foolish thing. Madame
Tilsit knew better, if the child wanted to play, why, let her play. The
priest would not forbid it. Madame Perche knew it was far better than
teaching children to read. That would lead them to dreadful infidelity,
and what not. Besides, what will you? M. Urso will do as he pleases with
the child.

At its best Nantes is a sleepy place, and in those days it was more
narrow, petty and gossipy than can be imagined. A small town in New
England where every mother’s daughter can read is bad enough, but in a
compact French town where every one must live next door or next floor to
everybody else gossip runs wild. Totally ignorant of books or any matter
outside of their own town, the people must needs fall back on themselves
and quietly pick each other to pieces. Everybody had heard that
Salvatore Urso, the flute player intended to teach his little girl the
violin. Part of the town approved of this bold, audacious step and part
of the town thought it eminently improper, if not positively wicked.
There was the Urso party and the anti-Urso party. They talked and
quarrelled over it for a long time in a fashion that was quite as narrow
minded and petty as could be imagined and it was more than a year before
the excitement subsided.

In the meantime the little Camilla was perfectly happy over her new
violin. The first refusal had not discouraged her. She waited a few days
and then repeated her request to her father. No. It could not be. This
did not seem to disconcert her, for in a few days she again asked if she
might have a violin and a teacher. This time the refusal was not so
decided. Again and again did the little one ask for a violin—only a
violin—that was enough. The importunate pleading carried the day and
the father took the matter into consideration.

Boys might play the violin, but a girl. That was quite another thing.
One girl had been known to play the violin. Mlle. Theresa Melanello had
played the violin, why not Camilla? If she wished to play so much it
must be that she had genius. Should it prove true she might become a
famous artist and win a great fortune. Perhaps, even sooner, much money
might come from the child’s playing.

Of course the child must at once go to Paris and enter the Conservatory
of music. Paris was a long way off. It would cost a deal of money to
get there and when there, it would cost a deal more to live, and there
was no way of earning anything in Paris. The theatre, the church and the
lessons enabled them to live tolerably well in Nantes. To give up these
things would be simple folly. It could not be done. The prospect was
brilliant, the way seemed inviting, but it was not available. In his
doubt and perplexity over the matter M. Urso went to his friend and
companion in the orchestra, Felix Simon. M. Simon played the first
violin at the theatre, and one night they talked it over between the
acts.

If Camilla was so exceedingly anxious to play she must have some latent
talent. Should she prove a genius or a prodigy it might be the means of
bringing the family a fortune. Paris offered the only field for
instruction and Paris meant a very great deal of money. With her present
limited resources the thing was not to be considered for a moment.

M. Simon heard it all patiently, talked with the child about it and
before her very eyes turned himself into an angel by offering to teach
her himself. At first the family could not believe that such good
fortune was possible. Still, it was true. M. Simon would teach Camilla
one year without pay if he might be allowed to have entire control of
her studies. She was to follow his instructions in every thing, she was
to have no “pieces” and was to give her whole time to her lessons. If,
when the year’s instruction was finished, the child really showed a
decided genius for the violin it might be well to talk about Paris. If
she then exhibited merely a talent for the art, the instruction could be
dropped and no harm or serious loss of time would come from it.

This liberal offer was, of course, accepted. M. Simon was a friend,
indeed. They could never repay him. It was of no consequence he said. If
Camilla proved her genius it would be reward enough to be known as her
first teacher.

So it was that the little girl not quite six years of age had her
darling wish and took her beloved violin under her arm and trotted off
to M. Simon’s house at the other side of the city near the beautiful
park called the Cours St. Pierre, where she had spent so many pleasant
days playing under the trees.

It was a small affair. Her arms and fingers were too short for an
instrument of the ordinary size and a little violin costing ten francs
($2) must answer every purpose.

The gossips might talk and quarrel over it in the steep streets of the
quaint, sleepy old town. They could say what they pleased. Little did
she care. She was going to learn to play the violin. That was happiness
enough. Her father was to teach her the elements of music and Felix
Simon was to show her how to play.

First she must learn how to stand, how to rest on her left foot with the
right partly in front, then how to hold her violin, how it should rest
on her shoulder and how to grasp and support it. Hold it perfectly
still for ten minutes. Then lay it down for a few moments’ rest. Take it
up again and hold it firm. With demure patience she bent her small
fingers over the strings as if to touch a chord. Head erect, left arm
bent and brought forward so that she could see her elbow under the
violin. Stand perfectly still with the right arm hanging down naturally.
Was she to have no bow? No, not yet. She must first learn to sustain the
weight of the violin, and accustom her arm to its shape. In silence and
motionless she held the instrument for perhaps ten minutes and then laid
it down again till she had become rested. This was the first lesson. For
two or three weeks she did this and nothing more, and at the end of that
time she had acquired sufficient strength to hold the violin with
firmness and steadiness.

Great was her delight when Felix Simon said she might take her bow. Now
rest it lightly on the strings and draw it down slowly and steadily. Not
a sound! What did that mean? Was she not to play? No. There was no rosin
on the bow and it slipped over the strings in silence. How could she
learn anything on a dumb violin? How make music on such a discouraging
thing?

Most children would have given up in despair. Not play at all? Nothing,
but positions and dumb motions? That was all. No music; not even finger
exercises. Simply, to learn to stand properly, to put the fingers in the
right place, and to make the right motions with the bow. The two hour
lesson slipped away quickly, and the little one went home satisfied that
she was now really making a good start.

Three times a week she took the long walk through the Rue Voltaire,
across the sunny Place Graslin, where the theatre stood, past the
handsome stores in the Place Royal, over the little bridge, where the
Erdre ran through the town, and then along the narrow Rue d’Orleans till
the grey towers of the old Chateau came in sight. Then to M. Simon’s,
and the lesson on the dumb violin. Not a word of complaint; no asking
for “little pieces,” after the silly fashion of American children; not
even a request for an exercise. With a patience past belief the little
one watched, listened, and tried her girlish best to do it right. The
violin would become dreadfully heavy. Her poor arms would ache, and her
limbs become stiff with standing. M. Simon had a temper, and at times he
was particularly cross, and said all sorts of unhappy things to her.

Tears at times, and childish grief over the dreadful weariness in her
arms, but with it all not one word of remonstrance or complaint. Felix
Simon knew everything. Her father knew what was best.

The violin would swing round to the left, and she would lose sight of
her elbow under it. There was nothing to do but to straighten up till
the instrument stood in a line with her fat little turned up nose, and
that elbow was in sight again. Then, that right wrist! How it did ache
with the long, slow motions with the bow. And her limbs grew stiff with
standing in one position till they fairly ached.

If the violin was heavy, she would not mind it, and if she was tired,
she would keep her eyes fixed on the strings and see that the bow lay
flat and square on them as it went up and down, up and down, from the
tip to the handle, over and over, again and again. Whatever happened,
she would keep on. She was going to play. This was the way to learn. She
would have patience.

At home the same thing was repeated. Three hours practice every day with
the dumb violin. And not only every day in the week, Sundays and all,
but every week. Three whole months passed away, and then they said she
had learned the positions, and the right motions. She could have some
rosin on her bow and begin to play. This was progress. She was really
getting on. Now she was to have some music. Nothing but the very dullest
kinds of exercises; still, it was music, or something like it.

Long sustained notes by the hour. The exercises were all written out
with a pen by her master. Nothing but long slow notes. Not very
interesting, certainly. She would not have agreed with you. To get a
good tone, to make one pure, smooth note was worth the trying for, and
she was content.

The bow hardly moved, so slowly did she draw it up and down. The right
arm stretched out to the full length, and then slowly back again, while
the wrist bent slowly and gracefully. If she obtained nothing else, she
would have a strong, clear tone, and learn to make a grand, full sweep
with her bow. Speed and brilliancy would come in good time. Strength,
power, and purity of tone were the things worth trying to reach. She
would have no feeble, short strokes, but the wide, bold movements of a
master hand.

As the weeks grew to months, her fingers and arms gained in power and
her child’s violin was exchanged for a larger and finer one, to her
great joy and satisfaction.

Slowly and patiently she crept along. By day and by night the beloved
violin was ever near her. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes late at
night, when ever her teacher could find the time, she listened to his
instructions and played over the endless exercises. Seven hours practice
every day. Three lessons a week; nothing allowed to interfere. Sleep,
eat, a little exercise in the open air, practice and lessons, lessons
and practice. Such was her young artist life.

The lessons gradually increased in variety and difficulty. Scales in
every key, running passages of every imaginable character; and with it
all not a single piece, song, or pretty melody of any kind. Ten months
of finger exercises; nearly a year of dry scales.

As we have already mentioned, Nantes was very much given to talking
about the little Camilla’s studies. The men in the orchestra laughed at
Felix Simon and Salvatore Urso for their silly experiment with the
child. The idea of a girl playing a violin! It was too absurd! And of
all children, that mite of a Camilla; thin, pale, and too small for her
age, she was the last one to think of such a thing.

One day a famous violinist, Apollinaire DeKonstki, now the director of
the Conservatory of Music, at Warsaw, visited Nantes, and gave a concert
at the theatre. Perhaps it would be well to ask him to hear the child
play. His opinion might be of great value, and perhaps it would silence
the miserable chatter in the town. “Would DeKonstki kindly hear the
little one play?” Yes. He would, with pleasure. He intended to give a
banquet to some of his friends that evening, and after the opera, and
when the supper was over, she might come to his rooms at the Hotel de
France. She sat in her usual corner in the orchestra all through the
evening, and then, near midnight, with her violin under her arm, she
crossed the Place Graslin and called at the Hotel de France. The great
artist was sitting in the dining room by the long table where the
banquet had been given. There were goblets and champagne glasses on the
table, and after talking about her music for a few moments he took a
fork, and gently tapping on a wine-glass, asked her what note that was.
It was E. And this one? A. And this one? D. The next? A flat. And the
next? G. Round the table he marched, fork in hand, striking the glasses
and asking their notes. Camilla followed after, and named every tone
correctly and without hesitation. He was greatly pleased with the
experiment, and said he would hear her play. “Only, you must mind, I
don’t like false notes.” This was too much, and she replied indignantly
“I never give ’em, sir.”

He laughed; and then, with demure seriousness, she began to play some of
her more difficult exercises from memory. She was a bold and sturdy
player, and astonished the master with the graceful sweep of her thin,
childish arm. He complimented her in a cordial manner, and hoped she
would go on with her studies. “Oh! she would, she would; she meant to
study all the time. Some day she would learn to play better still.” And
then she went home, well pleased that the master had approved of the
method of instruction she had pursued. Let the gossips talk. She was on
the right road, and she didn’t care for them.

This was the only time that Camilla played to any one outside her own
family during the first year of her musical life. Many musicians and
others asked to hear her, but M. Urso thought it best to refuse them. No
one was ever allowed to hear her practice, and her musical progress was
kept a profound secret. Naturally enough, this only excited curiosity,
and the gossip ran wilder than ever.

Her outward life was unchanged. She appeared regularly at the theatre
with her father, and sat by his side through the performance. The other
players often teased her, and asked her perplexing questions about the
music. What note was that? What key were they playing in now, and now
and now? Every time the music modulated from key to key, she followed
it, and named the notes and keys correctly, without hesitation.

Then something happened that made them think it might be well to let her
have a piece to play. And such a splendid piece! Not a mere child’s song
for the violin, or a little dance. Nothing like that. A grand concert
piece such as the Masters played. De Beriot’s famous “_Seventh air
varié_.” A melody with variations, by the great composer De Beriot. To
be sure it was not equal to some of the grand works of Haydn or
Beethoven, but for those days it was considered a remarkable
composition. Since the little Camilla has grown up people have learned
more about violin playing, and what was then thought to be a great piece
of music would not now be considered as anything very remarkable.

As it was, Camilla thought the piece something quite wonderful, and took
it up with the greatest eagerness. Utterly absorbed in her work, knowing
little or nothing of what was going on outside her lessons, she studied
and practiced day after day without a thought of anything else. The new
piece and the exercises took her whole time for the next two months.
That one “_air varié_” was in hand every day. She played it through
hundreds of times. Every phrase was studied. Hours were spent over one
note. A week on a single page was good progress. One little passage cost
her many a sorrowful hour. Somehow she could not get it right for a
long time. Once she played it over forty-seven times before her nervous
and irritable master would let her off. Other pupils were waiting. They
could wait. She was to play that measure just right if it took all day.
It was useless to cry. If she was obstinate and naughty about it she
should be punished. She must play it right. How her arms ached over that
passage. The tears dropped on the violin. It didn’t do any good, and
only made the master still more angry. At last she did it right, played
it over several times, went home and never played it wrong again in her
life.

Such was the child’s artist life for the first twelve months. Outside of
it the gossips fairly raged and warred with their nimble tongues.
Salvatore Urso’s experiment with his little girl was much talked about.
Some could not say too hard things of him. Felix Simon was blamed, her
mother was blamed. It was all wrong. It was wicked to teach the child to
play. Others said no, let her try, if she failed they would be well
punished for their work. If she succeeded it would be a fine thing. It
was rumored that the girl had great talent and would in time do
wonderful things.

In such a dull, sleepy town as Nantes, where there is nothing in
particular going on, and where the people have little or nothing to talk
about outside their own petty lives, such an experiment as this was
naturally the subject of much talk. It was such a bold step, and,
really, there was nothing else to talk about. Imagine the excitement
when it was announced that the little Camilla would give a public
performance at the Hotel de Ville.

It came about in this way. The Bassoon in the orchestra died. That was
the curious way they expressed it. The instrument had not died, but the
man who played it. He left a widow and one child, and no money. Nobody
had ever heard of an orchestral player who had left much. The pay was
too small for him to save anything, and so the poor widow was left
without a franc. Of course, they must give her a benefit concert. M.
Urso heard of it, and on talking it over with Felix Simon they decided
to prepare Camilla to take part in the charity concert for the benefit
of the widow of the Bassoon. So it happened that she took up the “_air
varié_” as her first piece.

It takes a long time to do anything in Europe. Here we would decide to
give a concert, advertise it, and hire the hall all in the same day, and
have it all over within a week. In Nantes it took six weeks to arrange
everything, see who would offer to play, and to properly announce the
event. This slow and deliberate way of doing things was an advantage to
Camilla as it gave her plenty of time to study the piece and to commit
it to memory past forgetting.

They collected a grand orchestra. Mdlle. Masson, who was quite a fine
artist volunteered to sing, and the little Camilla would play the
famous “_Seventh air varié_” from De Beriot.

The excitement was tremendous. Everybody wanted to go. The Italian opera
company, the French opera company, the dramatic company, all the grand
families, every musician in town, bought tickets. There was not a seat
or standing place in the Hotel de Ville to be had, and the Bassoon’s
widow received a most remarkable benefit. All the friends of the Urso
family were there to encourage the child, and all her father’s enemies
were on hand ready to laugh at her failure.

She was expected to fail. She might be able to struggle through the
piece without really breaking down, but of course she would stand
awkwardly, handle her bow like a stick, and do everything else that was
bad and inelegant. They might assert that she would play like an
artist—she could not do it. And so they waited to see Salvatore Urso’s
silly experiment come to a wretched end.

How amiable in them! We can forgive them. There was nothing else to talk
about in Nantes, and it was certainly a very bold thing to bring out the
six year old girl in this public manner. She must be a truly wonderful
child, or her father and teacher had quite lost their heads.

The concert began and went on very much as concerts do everywhere. The
orchestra played and the artists sang, and then there was a little
rustle and hush of expectation as they brought in a box or platform for
the child to stand upon so that all could see her. The piano was rolled
out into a convenient place, and then the slight, blue eyed girl, gay in
a white dress, white satin shoes, and a pink sash, appeared. They placed
the dot of a child, violin in hand, upon the raised platform before them
all. Felix Simon, with trembling fingers, sat down to the piano to play
the accompaniment. Her father stood near to turn the leaves of the music
book, though he was so nervous and excited he hardly knew what he was
about. In the audience sat her aunt Caroline, surrounded by a few of her
friends, and all of them in no enviable frame of mind. Her mother was
too nervous and excited to appear, and remained in the ante-room.

As for Camilla, she was absorbed in that remarkable pink sash and those
satin shoes. There was never anything quite so fine, and she did hope
all the people noticed how very becoming they were. That they were
really watching her, never entered her head. With perfect
self-possession she put the violin to her shoulder, and stood ready to
play. No awkwardness, no fear, no attempt at display; a simple girl,
with a girl’s manners. The critics admitted to themselves that she knew
how to hold her instrument, and could handle her bow with a certain
amount of grace. But, then, that was to be expected. Could she play?

There was not much doubt of it. The tone came, strong, full, and true.
The notes came in exact time, and with precision and certainty. The
people were hushed to a painful silence, as the child went steadily on
with the work. M. Simon was breathless with excitement, and her father
hardly knew where he was. In his haste, he turned two leaves of the
music-book at once. What a dreadful disaster! It was all over now. She
would break down at once, if the accompaniment should falter.

Not much danger; for she quietly turned her head, and in a hurried,
lisping, whisper said: “You’ve turned two pages, papa.”

The whole house heard every word, and a smile spread over the company.
Little did she care. She went straight on; not a note lost, not a break
or a sign of hesitation. The page was turned back without a pause, and
the music went on.

This piece of music begins with an introduction in _adagio_. The opening
bars are smooth and graceful, and then the melody becomes more
difficult, and moves in sixths and thirds. It ends in a brilliant
_cadenza_, that leads to the theme in _moderato_ time. This part is not
very difficult in rhythm, and is bright and pleasing in character. The
first variation is _poco piu lento_, and at once demands great skill to
execute its difficult running movements. The second variation is still
more difficult, and abounds in rapid scales and open chords. The third
variation is in G, and in _adagio_ time, and is full of trills and
abrupt changes from high to low notes. A long _cadenza_ leads to the
last movement in _moderato_ time and in the key of E. It finally ends
in an _allegro coda_ that abounds in brilliant and difficult writing.

What a dreadful uproar they did make over the child. It seemed as if
they never would stop clapping and cheering. She could not go, but must
stay and bow in a demure fashion, that was perfectly captivating. They
did not expect her to play the piece again. That was not the custom in
Nantes. M. Sollie, the leader of the orchestra, in the name of all the
musicians, offered to crown her young head with a wreath of white
camelias. The attempt was amusing, and they all laughed and cheered
again. The wreath was too big, or she was too small, and it slipped over
her head and shoulders, and fell to the floor, and there she stood in
the middle of it.

Some enthusiastic ladies presented her with a tiny ring for her finger,
and a handsome bracelet; and more wonderful than all, they brought out a
magnificent Paris doll, in a big white box, and set her quite wild with
joy by presenting it to her. With the doll under one arm, and her
precious violin under the other, she bowed her thanks from the middle of
the wreath. Then they cheered again, and laughed, and offered her
flowers. She was taken down from the platform and led away, but they had
her back again three times, doll, violin, and all. Altogether, it was a
very remarkable experience for father, mother, teacher, and wonderful
little girl.

Perhaps you think this overdrawn. This is a true story. Here is an
extract from one of the newspapers of Nantes, that only says the same
thing:

    ——“Never had violinist a _pose_ more exact, firmer, and, at
    the same time, perfectly easy; never was bow guided with greater
    precision, than by this little Urso, whose delivery made all the
    mothers smile. Listen, now, to the Air Variee of the celebrated
    Beriot; under these fingers, which are yet often busied with
    dressing a doll, the instrument gives out a purity and sweetness
    of tone, with an expression most remarkable. Every light and
    shade is observed, and all the intentions of the composer
    faithfully rendered. Here comes more energetic passages, the
    feeble child will find strength necessary, and the voice of the
    instrument assumes a fullness of tone which one could not look
    for in the diminutive violin. Effects of double stopping,
    staccato, rapid arpeggios—everything is executed with the same
    precision, the same purity, the same grace. Repeatedly
    interrupted by applause and acclamations, she was saluted at the
    end by salvos of bravos and a shower of bouquets.”

As for the anti-Urso party, they were completely demoralized and had not
a word to say. Camilla was a success, and they gracefully retired from
the field.



CHAPTER III.

THE DAY BEGINS.


The next morning Camilla trotted off to Felix Simon’s just as if nothing
had happened. The Ursos were too sensible to be upset by vanity. The
triumph of their child only caused them to soberly consider what was to
be done next. Camilla must lose no time. The lessons must go on
precisely as before and until matters were properly arranged her life
would be unchanged. She must prepare for more difficult tasks. Having
proved her skill she must now improve it. Greater tests and severer
trials were in store for her. She must go to Paris. She must enter the
Conservatory of Music. But how, and when?

Long and earnestly they talked over the matter and laid their plans as
best they could. M. Urso was a fine flute player. Of course, he could
readily obtain a place in some theatre in Paris. Camilla’s mother was a
charming singer and a good teacher. She could give lessons, and perhaps
sing in some church. Oh! and then there was the organ! Certainly so fine
an organist as M. Urso would soon get a good place with a comfortable
salary. Aunt Caroline must go too. She would keep house and help the
children. None of them had ever been to Paris, but the prospect seemed
brilliant and for Camilla’s sake they ought to go as soon as possible.
Having decided to move they sold all their furniture, collected whatever
was due for music lessons and salaries and prepared for the flitting.

Camilla, her father and aunt Caroline were to go first. The baby brother
was too young to bear the journey, and when they were comfortably
settled in Paris, mother could follow them. The journey was a slow one.
It was mid-summer, and on the road came the news that the cholera was
raging in Paris. It would not do to enter the city till cooler weather
came. So they tarried at Tours for six weeks till the sickness abated.

The Conservatory of Music stood at the corner of the Rue
Faubourg—Poissonière and the Rue Bergère in the old part of the city of
Paris. They must take rooms as near it as possible so that Camilla would
not have too far to walk on stormy days. With all their hopeful
prospects and though they had quite a large sum of ready money in hand
they took simple quarters in a house on the Rue St. Nicholas d’Antin.

As soon as they were comfortably settled Salvatore Urso went to the
conservatory to ask if the little Camilla might be admitted as a pupil.

The Director, Auber, received him politely and asked what he wanted.
“Could Camilla enter the Conservatory?” The little shrivelled up
gentleman opened his small eyes as wide as he could and said, in a
squeaking voice, “Camilla! That’s a girl!” Yes. Camilla was a girl. How
very shocking in her. Why was she not a boy? A girl. Oh! No it couldn’t
be considered for a moment. A girl enter the great Conservatory of
Music! Such a thing had never been heard of in the whole history of the
world. The Conservatory was not for girls and they couldn’t be admitted.

This was discouraging and M. Urso retired from the interview not knowing
what to do next. The idea that the great composer Auber would utterly
refuse to take the child had never entered his head. Of course, with her
undoubted genius the Conservatory would be proud to teach her. What
difference did it make if she did happen to be a girl?

It made a great deal of difference to the worthy officers of the
Conservatory. Not one of them would consider her case. The Secretary, De
Beauchesne was applied to with more success, but he was only one of the
officers and he could do nothing alone. He heard Camilla play and did
everything he could for her. He visited the family and was in every way
a friend. When Camilla’s third brother, Salvatore, was born, he stood
Godfather to the child, so we may infer that he was quite intimate at
the Ursos’.

It would not do to give it up so. Day after day slipped past, the time
grew to weeks and still the doors of the Conservatory were fast closed
against the child. M. Urso called on Auber several times. Would he not
interest himself in the child? Would he only hear her play? No. It was
useless. She was a girl. She could not enter. Why had M. Urso been so
foolish as to come to Paris when he might have known that they never
took in girls. Besides, she was not old enough. Not even a boy could
enter under ten.

People of influence were consulted, and in vain. If the Directors of the
Conservatory would not take the child it was no affair of theirs. They
could do nothing about it. It did seem as if everything was against her
and she began to realize what a very unhappy thing it is to be a girl.
Still, she would not despair nor relax one effort to obtain her darling
wish. She would keep on studying just the same and all through the weary
weeks of waiting she practiced and studied as best she could under her
father’s instruction.

The Winter passed away and the Spring came. It brought very little hope
with it. Camilla could not enter the Conservatory. There were only nine
places and there were seventy-six applicants and every one of them boys.
When they grew up they could play in the theatres. That was the aim of
their lives. The Conservatory was opened to teach them, to prepare them
for this very work. Camilla would not play in an orchestra and, of
course, she would be of no use to the country and it was idle to admit
her to the classes.

Persistence finally carried the day. M. Urso fairly worried the learned
officers of the Conservatory into a consent. The irritable little
Director, Auber, lost his temper and said “Well, bring the girl. She is
sure to fail. We will hear her play, but she cannot enter.”

The Ursos were greatly pleased with this concession. If they would hear
Camilla just once it would be enough. They could hardly refuse to take a
child of her great talents even if she did have the misfortune to be a
girl.

At last the eventful day arrived. The seventy-six boys and the one girl
were to be examined. Her case was quite hopeless, they said. She might
play like an angel and it would avail nothing. The boys would have the
places.

She never lost her courage, but with that quiet, serious manner that
only served to hide her sturdy character, she took her father’s hand and
soberly trotted through the streets without a fear. She knew what she
could do, she had her piece by heart; she meant to break into that
Conservatory, it was her only hope and she would try hard to do her
very, very best.

M. Urso was excited and nervous. How would it all end? Would Camilla be
admitted. It was doubtful, still, her genius might win the day in spite
of the determined opposition that was raised against her. As for Camilla
she clung to her violin in stubborn silence, and patiently waited for
the great trial. All the candidates met in one room, the seventy-six
boys and their friends and the one girl with her father.

All the names were numbered and the numbers placed in a box and shaken
up. Then, some one drew them out, one at a time, and called off the
numbers. Camilla’s number was nine, so her turn came quite early in the
day. This was fortunate, for she was fresh and eager to begin and the
jury had not become weary with their task. One at a time the boys were
admitted to the presence of the grand jury. Big fellows, fourteen and
fifteen years old, who had played before she was born. The case really
looked discouraging and desperate. Would she ever get in? She was only
seven, and looked hardly six. Her fingers were thin and her face pale.
She hardly seemed fitted to compete with grown up lads. It did not deter
her from trying, and when her number was called she felt sure she would
do her best.

They led her into a room where eight solemn looking men sat in big
green-backed chairs round a large table. Each had an inkstand and pen
and paper and every one had a look of severe dignity that was positively
appalling. There was the little Auber, the Director, Rossini the great
composer looking fat and grand in his impressive wig, Carraffa the
celebrated composer, Allard the violinist and four others looking
equally wise and solemn.

They placed her before the double quartette of players who were to give
the accompaniment and prepared to hear her work. She would try the
_andante_ and _finale_ from the _Fourth Concerto_, by Rode with
accompaniment for violin, second, viola, and violincello.

Here was her one grand chance. She must do her very best, stand just
right, and remember everything Felix Simon had said. Her father and
mother depended upon her.

The double quartette began to play and she forgot everything save the
music. The solemn judges never spoke, nor made a sign in any way
expressive of pleasure or disappointment. Some of them scratched their
pens over the paper through it all. Others looked straight at her in a
severe manner that was perfectly dreadful.

At last it was over. The eight gentlemen never smiled or uttered a word
or gave even a look that seemed like hope. She couldn’t guess whether
she had failed or won. Somebody led her back to her father in the room
where the seventy and six boys were still waiting the result of the
trial.

Those men looked so black and really it was all so grim and solemn that
she was depressed and discouraged and for six long hours she sat in the
room by her father waiting for the verdict to be pronounced. It was
eleven o’clock in the morning when her turn came and it was not till
five in the afternoon when the last boy had been heard.

There was a tremendous excitement when the Janitor came out to read the
names of the nine successful ones. Every one sat perfectly still while
the names were pronounced. First a boy’s name. She expected that and was
resigned. Then another boy’s name was given. It began to be
discouraging. Then one more boy’s name. Her chances were slipping away.
She would not be taken in. One more boy’s name. There were murmurs of
disappointment from the crowd. Half the names gone. Poor Camilla was
ready to cry with disappointment.

Just here Allard, one of the jury passed through the room and stopping a
moment said to Camilla’s father:

“The little Urso is admitted.”

Nobody could believe it! There was some mistake! That mite of a girl
taken in? The four remaining names given by the Janitor were hardly
heard in the uproar and confusion that broke out. The boys who had
failed and even their friends were for mobbing the child. It was
dreadful, an outrage, perfectly unheard of, a shame, and all that. What
right had a girl to come and take the place away from some good boy who
could undoubtedly play much better? M. Urso had used influence with the
jury and done many wicked things to bring about this unheard of result.

M. Urso threw up his hat in the air, behaved in a wild and happy manner
and gave no heed to the taunts of the people. He gave Camilla a ten
franc gold piece and conducted himself in a startling and peculiar
fashion generally that would have astonished his friends had they seen
him. As for Camilla her mind was absorbed in that gold piece. She had
never seen anything quite so magnificent. Here were riches, indeed, and
she didn’t care a pin for the silly boys who stormed and roared about
her. What a noise they did make over it! “Stupid boys, they couldn’t
play, and that was the reason they were so mad about it.” She must go
home and show her prize to her aunt. How glad her mother would be to
hear of her success. Hugging her violin close she paid no attention to
the rude people in the room and silently suffered her father to lead her
away.

It was a happy day for the Ursos. To think that the little one had
fairly broken down the bars of the Conservatory and compelled them to
take her in by the simple strength of her genius. Soon after her mother
joined them from Nantes and the reunited family was indeed a happy one.

Since that time several girls have been admitted to the Paris
Conservatory, but they have to thank Camilla, the youngest of them all,
for clearing the way.

Now she began to think that all the weary months with the dumb violin,
the long hours of practice, the days and nights spent with dear, cross,
old Felix Simon were happily rewarded. With all the elation and pride of
her parents she seemed only to be glad, in a quiet way, that she could
now go on and learn more and more.

Many weeks must pass before the long summer vacation would be over and
the Fall term of the school begin. In the meantime not a day was lost.
Three or four hours practice every morning with her father, a walk after
dinner, and then two hours more practice. No pieces. Nothing but
exercises in long, slow notes to keep up the strong, pure tone, and
scales in every key.

There is nothing so successful as success. Just as the vacation was
nearly over the little Camilla had another most flattering offer of
instruction. De Beriot, whose music she had played at the concert at
Nantes, visited Paris and gave several concerts. While he was in the
city M. Urso called upon him and asked permission to bring Camilla to
his room. Yes. He would gladly hear her play. This was certainly a great
favor and soon after she went to his hotel and played some of his music
to him. He was greatly pleased with the child and at once offered to
take her to Brussels where he lived, and give her a complete musical
education at his own expense. He was at that time the first teacher of
the violin at the Conservatory of music at Brussels, a place that is now
filled by Vieuxtemps, and he was certainly a master of the violin. He
would do this freely if he might have entire control of her education.
She was not to appear in public till he was quite ready. It might not be
for many years. To be sure, in three years, by the time she was ten, she
would be a wonderful player, but by waiting longer she would become one
of the few great violinists of the world.

This was indeed generous. They were thankful and would be delighted to
place her under his instruction if they could go too, and be near her
all the time. They had no means of supporting her in another city. She
could not leave father and mother. They already found it difficult to
get along. Paris seemed very different from their anticipations. It was
hard to decline such a splendid offer, but it was harder to part with
Camilla, and she could not go.

Then came the Conservatory. There were several teachers of the violin.
She might have the choice, and decided to go into Lambert Massart’s
class. He was the most popular teacher. He was known to be cross and
irritable. His pupils had a sorry time of it but they generally became
good artists. She meant to be an artist and she would go to him. It was
fortunate, for as soon as he heard her play and learned something of her
history and circumstances, he generously offered to give her private
lessons at his own house without money and without price.

“Heaven helps those who help themselves.” Salvatore Urso saw his store
of money melting away fast. It was not easy to find a place in the
orchestras in Paris. There was not a church in the city that did not
have several applicants waiting for the position of organist. Evil days
were beginning to come upon them. Nearly nine months had slipped away
and Camilla had only just succeeded in entering the Conservatory. For
all that, she had entered and her talents had won a good friend in the
great teacher Massart. They had no noble patron to aid them, there was
no wealthy friend to help them along. Everything depended upon
themselves and Camilla. She, brave little girl had done well and could
now go on and fulfill her splendid destiny.

Her first lesson at the Conservatory opened her eyes to the life that
was before her. There were eight boys in Massart’s class besides
herself. At first the boys sneered at her and resented her presence. Not
content with this they tried to annoy her with rudeness and to plague
her with boyish pranks. She took it all patiently, replied to nothing
and clung to her violin in stubborn silence.

Massart was a large, rosy faced man with an uncertain temper. He seemed
much younger than he really was, and though at times he was dreadfully
cross and savage, he was at heart a kind and generous man. His manner of
teaching was peculiar. One pupil played at a time and the rest looked on
in silence while the master walked up and down the room with a long
slender stick in his hand. At first she thought it was a baton to beat
time with or to point to the music. Presently she found it had quite
another use. One stupid boy did not take the proper position. Massart
told him how to stand and the boy put his feet in the right place.
Presently he changed one foot and down come the stick with a snap on the
boy’s legs. “Oh! M. Massart that hurt” cried the boy. “I meant it
should,” said he. “Do it right next time.”

If, thought Camilla, that is the way, I’ll remember it. Somehow it was
not so easy. Massart gave a direction once and then came the stick. They
must do it right once and for all. Before she knew it there was a slap
on her own limbs. It didn’t hurt much because her skirts warded off the
blow. As for the boys they had to take it sharp and heavy.

Then that little finger on her right hand. It would spring up as she
moved the bow. Massart said very pleasantly that she must keep it down.
She put it down but presently it flew up again and then came a stinging
blow from the slender stick that was not so pleasant.

That poor little finger had a sorry time of it before it would lay down
properly. Many a time it ached with the blows of the switch, and once
she thought it was certainly broken. She was obliged to nurse it in a
cot for two days. At last it came just right and has never gone wrong
since.

Some days Massart was in a terrible passion and stormed up and down the
room, and the stick danced about the boys legs till the little Camilla
felt sore all over, out of pure sympathy. It made her very cautious and
careful and as a natural result she escaped much of the shower of blows
that the master offered so freely. One day a stupid boy persisted in
holding his violin wrong and suddenly it flew up to the ceiling in a
hundred fragments. Poor Camilla fairly cried with fright when the master
kicked it out of the pupil’s hands and really had to take refuge in
sudden tears. She clung to her instrument with might and main after
that. He would not be able to kick it away in that style from her hands.

Up early in the morning, breakfast, then three hours practice at home
with her father, then to her lessons from two till four at the
Conservatory. Then home again to study till bed time. Such was her day.

Three times a week, at all sorts of hours, as happened to be convenient,
she went to Massart’s house for the extra lessons he gave her as a
private pupil. He was a famous teacher and pupils gladly paid him twenty
francs an hour for instruction on the violin. Camilla had it all for
nothing. It was the only gift she ever did have. Nobody had ever given
her money. They gave her an education and that was worth more than
money. She must work hard and show that she appreciated the master’s
kindness.

Besides these lessons, she studied harmony and practiced solfeggio at
the Conservatory. Her every hour was taken up with something. When her
fingers were weary with playing she could write out her exercises in
harmony.

So the days and weeks slipped away. Busy over her studies she hardly
noticed that the winter had come again till she began to need warmer
clothing. She went to aunt Caroline. Mother was busy on some embroidery.
It was strange how much time mother gave to that work now. She had not
done so at Nantes. Aunt Caroline gave her an old dress that had been
mended several times. Camilla put it on without remark. She thought it
odd, that there was no new dress for the winter but said nothing.
Somehow things seemed to be changed. Her father was discouraged and her
mother never went out, and worked hard all day at embroidery. What had
happened? She could not tell.



CHAPTER IV.

THE WOLF GROWLS.


It was a busy life for Camilla. As the winter advanced her hours of
study increased. More practice at home and more difficult lessons at the
school. Studies from Rode, Baillot, Fiorillo, Viotti, Kreutzer, Sporha
and the great masters of the violin, were taken up in turn. It was
designed that she should become acquainted with all the master works of
the day. In addition to regular studies in scales, finger exercises and
the like, she went through all the works of the masters that she might
become familiar with their style and learn to appreciate the best art.
There were no trifling songs, no silly pieces designed to show how fast
she could scrabble through a great many notes. Nothing of this kind
allowed. Solid work, grand concertos, sonatas and solos passed under her
hand in review and in an artistic atmosphere, she began to grow to the
stature of an artist while only a child.

The boys in the class soon laid aside their rude manners and forgot
their jealousy in admiration. Massart laughed at them and said: “Fie!
Boys! The hen is beating the roosters.” Much truth was hidden in the
master’s pleasantry. Camilla was rapidly distancing them all. She was
the favorite scholar. She had the advantage of Massart’s private
instruction three times a week and exhibited an aptitude for the work
that advanced her quickly to the head of the class. This was an honor,
for it must be remembered, that these boys had been selected as the
cream of all the candidates. Each had displayed marked talent for the
violin. Had it been otherwise they would not have been in the
Conservatory.

All were like Camilla, quite poor. Some were even supported by pensions
from their native towns, and nearly all of them afterwards became good
players. There was Lacham, Leon Regniér, and Isidor Lotto who afterwards
became so famous, and several others.

Henri Wieniawski was in the class before Camilla, but at the time was
still about the school. They often met and there began a friendship that
has continued to this day. Of Massart’s pupils, three, Camilla, Lotto
and Wieniawski have become famous the world over and are among the great
artists now living.

Besides her regular studies Massart advised Camilla to join a quartette
in order to perfect herself in reading music at sight. Once a week she
spent an hour or two in playing with three others at the Conservatory
and in this way heard much fine music and accustomed her young eyes to
read the notes quickly and taught her slender fingers to interpret the
music at command.

Not all of her days were happy. Massart was dreadfully cross at times.
He would detect the slightest flaw in the work. Once he marched a stupid
boy out of the room by the ear and told him never to come back again. If
she should be treated like that it would really break her heart. She
would try her best to attend to all that was said and to do everything
just right. Massart might storm and rage about the room, but it should
not be from any neglect on her part. Altogether it was not a very lovely
life. Try as hard as she could it did not always please, and some days
it was really pretty tough for such a very small girl.

Another trouble came. Mother would bend over that dreadful embroidery
all day long, and things did not seem so prosperous as in Nantes. Father
was busy looking about for new rooms and almost before Camilla was aware
of it they were ready for a change of residence.

They could not afford the rent of the rooms on the Rue St. Nicholas
d’Antin, and they found cheaper quarters in a flat just under the roof
in an old house on the Rue Lamartine, and up six flights of long, dark
stairs.

It was a sad change from their comfortable home in sunny Nantes. There
was nothing to be seen out of the windows save steep, red roofs, the
sky, and sundry wild cats that roamed over the tiles. The streets
thereabouts were narrow and crooked, with mean little sidewalks hardly
wide enough for one.

It was not the Paris of to-day. The wide and handsome Rue de La Fayette
that now passes near the Rue Lamartine and the beautiful Square
Montholon with its trees and gardens was not in existence then. Camilla
first knew Paris as a city of short, crowded streets lined with tall
houses and cheap shops and crowded with work people and small
householders.

They had only been settled in the new home a few weeks when a greater
trouble came to them. The wolf began to growl in the echoing entry way
of the tall house. They began to think he would climb the stairs or come
in over the tiles and scare even the starved cats away.

The store of money they had brought from dear, old Nantes had melted
away long ago. There was “little to earn and many to keep.” M. Urso
tried and tried, but could get no permanent position at any of the
theatres. There were scores of flute players in the city. As for
organists, there were a dozen for every organ. Once in a while he had a
chance to play for a single Sunday, as a substitute. Occasionally there
was a party or other gathering where a few francs could be earned by
playing.

Even mother had to help. At Nantes she had spent many a happy hour in
fancy needle-work and embroidery. In Paris the work was followed for
twelve hours a day that she might earn two francs and so help keep that
terrible wolf from coming up the stairs. Aunt Caroline kept house and
made the children’s clothing go as far as possible. All helped as well
as they could. They must stay in Paris. Camilla must keep on at the
Conservatory. There were two years more of study before her. She had put
her hand to the plow and could not turn back. They must all stay and
help her through.

The Winter passed away and the Spring came. Absorbed in her studies
Camilla hardly noticed it except to observe that her thin clothing was
more comfortable. It cost less to live in the Summer, and when in June
her ninth birth-day came and she was eight years old, they became more
hopeful. Perhaps they could pull through after all.

It was in vain. With the Summer came the dull times in business and
their case grew more and more desperate. There was no wealthy friend
near to help them. No grand Prince stood ready to pay the bills, after
the fashion of the good Prince who helped the young Haydn on in his
studies. They had not a single rich friend in the world.

Camilla might get on very well through the warm weather with her present
suit. But, to study or practice she must have good food and plenty of
it. She looked pale and pinched enough, poor child, and her dress was
too small for comfort. Something must be done or they would all starve.
They must take her away from the Conservatory or find more money.

In their distress they applied to Massart and the officers of the
Conservatory. The master was very angry. “What! Go away for six months!
Give concerts! It was a shame to lose so much time just when she was
doing so well.”

No. If Camilla left the Conservatory she could not come back. That is
what they said. And so it was all over and this was the wretched end of
all their trying. It was hard to give up. What could they do? The Summer
term was almost over. The summer vacation was at hand. Camilla might
give a few concerts during the vacation. The money might help them along
another winter and then they would be in want again. The vacation would
not give them time to accomplish all they wished. They hoped by making
an extended tour to earn enough money to support them a year or more.

It was the only thing to be done and after making proper representation
to the authorities of the Conservatory permission was given. Camilla
might be absent six months and then resume her place in the classes.
This was a great concession. Only Camilla’s undoubted genius, her desire
to study, and her poverty caused them to break over their rules in this
matter. Massart too, gave his consent and said he would resume her
instruction without charge when she returned.

Now she was to prove what she could do. It was a pity to interrupt her
studies. Her education was not half finished and she must appear in
public before she was really ready. If she succeeded now, how great
would be her triumph when the three years at the Conservatory were
finished.

It was impossible to break up the family, and the entire household
prepared for the expedition. As they had no money they must move slowly
and cautiously. Salvatore Urso would play the flute and accompany
Camilla on the piano. Her mother could sing. That would make three
performers, and with two pieces for each they could give quite a
programme. To make a variety they should have one more singer. So they
hired a gentleman to join their Company and sing buffo and other songs.
Aunt Caroline would stay in Paris with the boys. When all was ready
Camilla and her father and mother packed up and started off in search of
fame and money. They must do something, and this seemed the most
feasible plan.

The first journey was a short one and they landed at the town of Verdun.
As soon as they were comfortably settled in lodgings Camilla and her
father started out to present their letters of introduction. These
letters were to wealthy amateurs who might be interested in the child
and her playing.

The good people received them politely and after they had made a short
call they were formally invited to call soon and spend the evening with
a few musical friends. This was all that was wanted. If the ladies and
gentlemen once heard Camilla play they would be pleased and perhaps
they would take tickets to her concert. Things move slowly in France and
several days, perhaps a week, would pass before the musical party would
come off. In the mean time Camilla lost not an hour. From six to ten
hours a day she went through her exercises and studied such pieces as
she intended to perform in public. Her father was constantly with her,
guiding her studies, overlooking her practice and aiding her in every
way possible.

When the important evening came her long, brown hair was braided in two
long braids and secured with bows of blue ribbon. With her new frock and
simple manners, large blue eyes and thin, pale face she presented an
interesting appearance. A little too quiet and sober for such a young
girl. She seldom spoke, and was reserved and thoughtful. Her life had
not been a very happy one. Had it not been for her intense love for
music, had her heart not been bound up in her violin it would have been
a sad, dull life, full of toil and wearisome labor. In after years, when
the showers that fell so steadily during her younger days, cleared away,
the bright, animated and merry side of her nature came out and the
demure little girl became a vivacious and sparkling woman.

It was small wonder that the two or three hundred people who met to hear
her play were delighted. She seemed so earnest, her large eyed intensity
of expression, the bold and striking method of playing, the masterly
sweep of her bow captivated and charmed them all. She gave such pieces
from memory as she thought most pleasing and then after some little
conversation about her music they asked if she would give a concert in
Verdun. Yes, in a few days. Would they not take some tickets? Oh! with
the greatest pleasure. They would all attend and bring their friends.
Were the tickets ready? Yes. Her father had them. So they crowded round
her father and bought some ten, some twenty, some fifty, and some a
hundred. So most of the tickets were taken at once and success was
secured in advance.

To American eyes this seems a strange fashion. The idea of playing at a
private house and then selling the tickets strikes us as peculiar and
perhaps unpleasant.

The Ursos did not think so. It was the custom of the country. It is the
custom now. All the great players and singers have taken just such steps
as this and it seems quite proper and so no one thinks ill of them.

Then she took her violin again. Felix Simon knew what he was about in
Nantes. Massart’s instructions had not been thrown away. Camilla was an
artist in little. If she had not the expression and feeling that comes
with maturity, her playing was brilliant, strong and powerful. The tones
were pure and steady and technical difficulties seemed to be of no
consequence. She went through it all without effort and as easily and
gracefully as can be imagined.

The audience was charmed with her simple manners and her wonderful
playing. They fairly overwhelmed her with endearments and attentions.
Was there any thing they could do to gratify such a dear little girl?
One offered her one thing, another something else. She had a delightful
lunch with her new friends and at last went home laden with bon bons and
presents.

Then she must give a concert. They would ask all their friends and
really it would be quite a grand affair. Of course all this took time.
There was the permission of the Mayor to be obtained, and the hall to be
engaged, the tickets to be prepared, and posters and advertisements to
be sent out and tickets to be sold among the rich families of the town.

Her father must attend to it all. There was no one to help and he had to
attend to everything.

In a few days the concert came off at one of the small halls in the
town. There was “a good house,” as they say. Camilla played the violin
while her father played the accompaniment on the piano. Her mother sang
and the buffo singer gave some of his songs. The great attraction was
the pale little one with the long braids. How she raced through the
rapid passages and drew her wonderful bow with a great sweep that made
the tones roll out full and grand. Then those strange, airy harmonies
made by pressing one finger firmly on a string to give one note and then
lightly touching the same string a fifth above so that the lower note
was partially obscured by the note above it. Double stopping they call
it. We know it as harmonics. With either name it is difficult enough for
even a man’s hand. It was small wonder that the people cheered and
cried bravo! bravo! and threw flowers on the stage and actually filled
her arms with comfits and bon bons. Verdun was a great place for sugared
sweets and candied fruits and they thought they were doing quite the
proper thing by presenting some to her.

The next day they counted the money, paid all the few small bills and
found that they had four hundred francs left. Really! Things were
looking up. Their prospects were improving. Camilla was certainly a
great success. Collecting such letters of introduction as they could
obtain, they packed up and started for the next town on their programme.
Where was the wolf now? Nobody knew. Camilla had driven him away with
her violin.



CHAPTER V.

A GOOD FIGHT.


Then a short journey to Bar le Duc. As soon as they were comfortably
settled in the new place the whole ceremony was repeated. The good
friends they had found at Verdun gave them letters of introduction to
the best people and in about three weeks they had made their calls,
played at some of the grand houses and given a concert with the same
interesting result in the way of good, sound francs. How they treasured
up the little Camilla’s winnings. Every franc must be saved and they
lived as cheaply and simply as possible at all times. Every centime
would be needed to carry Camilla through the two more years at the
Conservatory.

Then to Metz and Strasburg and to the Rhine. It was to be a grand tour.
The Germans must hear Camilla play. They were true lovers of music. If
they were pleased it would be a great triumph and the concerts would be
very successful. From Strasburg they went to Manheim, then up the Rhine
to Bale in Switzerland. Then back again to Baden Baden, and to
Heidelberg.

What a glorious time she had. There were rides and walks among the
beautiful hills just as the grapes were ripe. Her spirits became more
animated and childlike and her color returned. It was like some strange
dream. Mother, too was happier, and as for father he had never been so
gay and merry since they left Nantes. How that pile of francs had grown.
From hundreds it had become thousands.

At Heidelberg she had a ride on the donkeys and visited the ruined
castle high on the hill. It seemed a kind of continual picnic. It was no
longer a weariness to practice. The weeks flew away so happily that they
hardly noticed that the Fall was near. They must return to Paris soon.
The vacation was over long ago. Still, the handsome pile of francs was
not large enough yet, and they kept on to Calsrue and Homburg. Every
where it was the same. Presents of every imaginable kind, flowers and
jewelry were showered upon her. At one place they gave her more
preserves and sugared fruits than she could eat in a month, and a German
Countess at Manheim was so charmed with the child that she took off a
beautiful pearl cross and chain and put it round Camilla’s neck. It was
the cross the lady had when she was confirmed at Church and she valued
it highly on that account. Camilla kept the beautiful present for a long
time till it was lost in New York, as we shall see later in the story.

The tour was really not a very extensive one. A part of Eastern France
and a part of the Rhine country was all she saw, but it took seven long
months to get through with it. Were she to undertake the tour now it
could be done in two weeks. They had no active agent traveling ahead to
hire the halls and secure the rooms at the hotels. There were no
advertising facilities, and no telegraphs. M. Urso had to do everything
himself. The ceremonious calls upon the great families took a great deal
of time. The subscription list and the sale of tickets could not be
started till they were fairly settled in the town. Three weeks in one
city was hardly enough time to prepare for one concert and during it all
Camilla’s practice could not be neglected for a single day. Her father
was always present watching and guiding her, and, in fact keeping her
steadily to her work.

To off-set all this, it cost them very little to live, and their concert
expenses were light. The rent of the halls was low, and they had very
few advertising bills to pay. This made it easy to make the tour
profitable, and when at last they returned to Paris they found they had
5,000 francs on hand, more money than they had ever dreamed about in
sleepy old Nantes. This represented Camilla’s first earnings. Aunt
Caroline had received part of the money to help along the little home in
the Rue Lamartine and when they came back she stood ready to welcome
them at the top of the six flights of stairs. The cats were all there on
the red roofs, but that wolf had run away in dismay. It is thought he
did not appreciate music. Camilla was sure he did not like her style of
bowing.

The very next day after the journey was over Camilla returned to the
little room in the corner of the Conservatory and took her place by the
window that looked out into the court-yard where the school bell hung in
its tower, where she could see fat and rosy Massart tramp up and down
the floor and scold the boys in his dear, cross old fashion. That stick
flourished about as lively as ever. Her own fingers and limbs felt it
once in a while when she became careless. It was not often now. She
would be nine next Spring. She was getting to be a big girl and knew too
much to be caught napping by Massart. The “German Tour” as she proudly
called it had sharpened her wits and made her even more attentive and
careful. She took up her studies in solfeggio and harmony and settled
down into the routine of hard, persistent study with renewed vigor.
Those boys were far ahead of her. Never mind. She would catch them
presently.

When we see Madam Urso play to-day we think her steadiness of posture
and grace of playing very easy. None can count the days, months and
years of trial and labor she spent to attain such skill and grace. In
playing it may be noticed that she stands very firm and erect on her
left foot, with the right slightly advanced in front. Even so simple a
matter as this cost weeks of painful effort and many a bitter tear. They
put her right foot into a china saucer in such a way that the slightest
weight upon it would crush it. She broke several before she fully
acquired the proper position. It cost tears and china ware, at first.
Now it is as nothing.

The playing appears to be easy enough to spectators. Her fingers fly
over the strings with unerring certainty. It seems as if it would be
impossible to go wrong. We look on the strings to see if there are
finger prints, or other marks to show where the strings should be
touched. There is nothing. On the piano each key is plainly marked out.
Knowing the notes and the keys we may in time touch them with absolute
certainty. On the violin, the fingers must find the right place without
assistance. The notes must be found, as it were, in the dark. Only by
learning just how far to stretch the fingers and by the employment of
years and years of practice can any degree of skill be obtained.

In spite of all this, here was our nine year old Camilla getting ready
to compete for the prizes at the end of her second year. It was not to
be a mere concert where each pupil was to come out and play such pieces
as they liked before a mixed audience. There was a long difficult
concerto, to be learned, and each was to play the same piece before the
severe and critical jury, and before such musicians and others as chose
to attend. It was held in the theatre attached to the Conservatory.
Besides that, there were three difficult questions to answer in harmony,
and a piece of music written in a most extraordinary manner was to be
sung at first sight.

In this country we now write vocal music in two clefs, known as the
bass and treble clefs. This makes it easy to read and any singer after
having mastered them both can get along without much difficulty. Some of
the more lazy ones think it hard to sing in even one and are quite upset
if they try to sing in any, save their own. What would the poor alto who
“didn’t know anything about the bass clefs” think of singing at first
sight in seven different clefs. Camilla’s trial piece at the examination
in solfeggio was a song that began in one clef, went a few bars and then
jumped into another, then into another and back again, then another and
so on in a manner perfectly bewildering and distracting. She had never
seen it before and went through it without missing a note. The result
was that she carried off the first diploma, and the jury and audience
were greatly pleased.

Then they placed a large basket before her in which were hundreds of
bits of folded paper. She was to take out three, open them, read them
aloud and give a verbal answer to each. The first question was something
about the relative minor of a certain major key and its signature. That
was easy enough and she answered at once without hesitation. The next
question nearly took her breath away. It was some deep and perplexing
thing about the construction of a chord. Many a music teacher would be
puzzled to answer it. She thought some wicked person had put it in the
basket just to annoy her. Nobody could answer such a tremendously hard
question. She paused perplexed. It would not do to fail, and calling up
her sturdy will she compelled herself to think it out. In a moment a
bright gleam passed over her face and she began to answer the question
slowly. Feeling more confident, she went on explaining the matter, and
suddenly went wrong. She caught herself at once and in a flash corrected
it and gave the right answer.

This was against the rules. No pupil was allowed to correct himself. He
must have it right the first time. She was greatly frightened, and
thought she had made a failure. She was so earnest and anxious over it,
and moreover she was a girl, the first girl on the violin ever admitted
to the Conservatory, and with a smile and a word of encouragement the
jury forgave her and accepted her answer. The third question was quickly
answered and the great trial was successfully finished. This trial of
skill, or examination as we should call it, lasted several days. One day
she was examined in harmony. The singing came another day, the violin
concerto another, and the playing at sight in a string quartette on
still another. The poor girl was quite worn out and thankful that the
summer vacation came soon after. At our Conservatories and music schools
the pupils take the vacation as a time of rest and enjoyment. They say
it is too hot to work. It is quite as warm in Paris, and Camilla was as
weary as ever they could be at such a time. Still she rose with the sun,
practiced all the forenoon with her father, went to Massart’s house
three times a week, and with the exception of the hours spent at the
Conservatory, her time passed exactly as if there was no vacation at
all. Work, work, work, all the time. Just enough exercise to keep her in
good health. Only a little play, now and then. Hours and hours of
practice day after day. Such was her life. A great and splendid reward
was in view. By and by she would win every thing. When her day of
success came she could rest and enjoy herself. Could she? Did she ever
rest? We shall see.



CHAPTER VI.

THE ROSE OF MONTHOLON.


The last year at the Conservatory was drawing to an end. It was early
summer and Camilla was just ten years old. The long and difficult course
of study that many a boy was proud to finish when he was nineteen, was
almost over before she had entered her teens. She was paler and thinner
than ever and felt glad the warm weather had come, for really, her frock
was not thick enough for comfort. That terrible wolf had again howled in
the dark echoing entry way of the house on the Rue Lamartine. The goodly
pile of francs she had won on the German tour had melted wholly away.
Mother had taken up that dreary embroidery again. There were four boys
to be clothed and fed now, and Salvatore Urso found it hard work to get
along.

Camilla absorbed in her music hardly knew how serious the case had
become. Many a time she came home from her lessons to find that the
family had been to dinner, and that something nice and warm had been
saved for her. They said they had dined, but in truth they had only
eaten a cheap lunch of fried potatoes or something a few sous would buy
that Camilla might have a better dinner. She must be maintained in good
health, and no sacrifice on their part was too great. When they had but
little they took the best for her and concealed from her their own
scanty meals. She was an exceedingly affectionate child and would have
shared her best with her mother had she known what they silently
suffered for her sake.

Her father was constantly with her when she practiced. Many an hour he
stood by her side and held her left arm to help sustain the weight of
her weary violin. At times he let her sit on a stool though the good
student always stands with the violin. She was a growing girl and
something of the rules must be relaxed. At the same time her father was
a strict master and never suffered her to slight or neglect her
practice. During the three years at the Conservatory he never was absent
while she practiced though it averaged ten hours a day during the last
year. During it all Camilla never once refused to go to her lessons and
in company with her aunt or father daily walked to the Conservatory and
to Massart’s house.

Could they go on much longer? Their case was getting positively
desperate. They had nearly struggled through the three years. It was
almost over and Camilla was well nigh ready to try her fortune in the
world. She must play before some of the wealthy amateur musicians and
show her talents. No money would come of it but it might serve as an
introduction to public life and bring her into notice so that when she
did leave the Conservatory she would not be wholly unknown.

One day there came an invitation to spend the evening at some private
house and she prepared to go. She had passably good clothing and was, as
far as appearance was concerned, ready to go. Then came a dreadful
discovery. The wolf was at the door. He had come up the stairs and was
scratching and snarling at the threshold. What were they to do? There
was not a thing to eat in the house. The very last franc had been spent.
There was nothing left but that pearl cross the Countess had given her
at Manheim. They might sell it. No they could not and would not. They
would go supperless to bed first. But Camilla, poor child, was going
out. Perhaps she would have a supper at the friend’s house where she was
to play. And perhaps not. Besides, she had eaten nothing since morning.
She might faint before the supper hour came. She could not give it up
and go to bed as her brothers had done. In their perplexity and trouble
Aunt Caroline came with the joyful news that she had found a sou in an
old coat pocket. Only a sou—a copper cent. Camilla dressed hastily, and
with her father set out for the private concert where she was to play.
As they walked through the streets they stopped at one of the little
cooking stands that are so common in Paris. With the one cent they
bought a paper bag holding perhaps a pint of fried potatoes. M. Urso
carried the violin and Camilla took the bag and ate her supper as she
passed along. Franklin’s breakfast of rolls in the streets of
Philadelphia was a royal feast beside Camilla’s supper. Using her
handkerchief for a napkin she finished the meal and throwing the paper
bag away entered the grand mansion as the honored little guest and
artist. As for her father he had no supper at all.

It is always darkest just before dawn. They struggled through a few more
days of bitter poverty and then came a sudden burst of wealth and good
fortune that fairly took their breath away. It seemed as if a shower of
gold actually rained down upon them and a new and most remarkable
experience came in the history of the Urso family.

The last term at the Conservatory was nearly finished. She must give her
whole energies to her studies. The Directors had given out the piece of
music that was to be played by the pupils at the examination in July and
she must go to work upon it. Eight weeks was little enough time to give
to such a piece of music. It was the 24th Concerto in B Minor for violin
by Viotti. Besides being a work of great difficulty it began with one
short note followed by a longer one. They must all get that place right,
if nothing else. The jury would not forgive them if they slighted the
first note in the piece. How they did try over that one passage. The
two notes echoed from every room in the Conservatory all day long. The
boys tried it over at every spare moment and it did seem to Camilla as
if those were the only notes in the piece. For herself she practiced it
carefully and very slowly, feeling sure it was better to trust to her
own coolness and steadiness at the trial than to go over it so many
times as to become too confident.

About a year before this a man, who said he came from America, had
appeared at the Conservatory to see Massart in relation to some music
lessons he wished given to his sons. For convenience we will call this
man the American. He is now dead and as his share in this story is not
the most happy this title may take the place of his real name. His two
sons played the violin and the father wished them placed under Massart’s
instruction. Camilla came in during the interview and quietly waited
till it was over. The two boys played for the master and Camilla sat
near by in silence. Then Massart asked her to play. She did so and the
American was so much pleased that he asked her name and residence. A day
or two after that he called upon Camilla’s father and proposed to him
that Camilla should visit the United States as soon as her lessons were
finished at the Conservatory. He thought she would attract great
attention there and offered to take her to America on a concert tour.
This was all very fine but Camilla could not go now and so the matter
was dropped. When the term was over there would be time enough to talk
about it. So the American went away and the Ursos thought no more about
it.

Suddenly in the Summer of the last year and just before the term was
finished he reappeared and repeated his offer to take Camilla to
America. She was to go with him for three years and was to play at
concerts in all the principal cities of the country.

In consideration of which he would pay M. Urso the sum of thirty
thousand francs the first year, sixty thousand francs the second year
and one hundred thousand francs the third year. Traveling and hotel
expenses for three people were to be paid and altogether it was a
flattering offer.

Thirty thousand francs in one year! It was too wonderful! They had never
dreamed of so much money! Sixty thousand francs! A hundred thousand
francs! Such sums were too vast to be taken in at one sitting. They must
consider the matter. After much discussion it was at last arranged that
when her lessons at the Conservatory were finished Camilla and her
father should start for America.

During the last Spring in Paris they changed their residence and moved
into more cheerful and comfortable rooms on the Rue Montholon, a street
that makes a continuation of the Rue Lamartine. Here they had front
rooms in the attic and in the sixth story. There was a broad balcony at
the foot of the steep mansard roof and here Camilla’s mother arranged a
pretty row of plants in pots so that the iron railing in front was half
hid by flowers. Poor as they were they always managed to have it as
bright and pretty about them as possible. With all their poverty they
always contrived to look neat and pleasant. M. Urso arranged a temporary
shed on the balcony for a kitchen and here in the bright sunshine high
up in the air above the noisy street Camilla used to watch the birds and
the clouds and peep through the geranium leaves down into the street so
far below. This change of scene was a great advantage to her. It
brightened her spirits and gave her thin cheeks a bit of color. As she
went through the streets with her violin, and gay in a new chip hat and
blue ribbon the people turned to look at the demure eyes and the half
smiling mouth and said: “She is the Rose of Montholon.”

The Rose could not be suffered to bloom alone in the alley-ways and
lanes of the old city and invitations to play at the houses of some the
grand families came in. One of these was to the residence of Madam
Armengo and another was the residence of Napoleon then known as the
Prince President. At Madam Armengo’s Camilla attracted great attention
and won many friends. Her playing was a surprise to all and the company
could hardly find words to express their pleasure and admiration.

Then came an invitation from the Prince President to take part at a
grand concert at the Palace de Elysée before the Prince and the great
dignitaries of the court. There were Generals and Marshals, Princesses
and grand Court ladies, artists and gentlemen with decorations and many
other notables. A place on the programme was assigned to the little Rose
of Montholon and in her usual simple and natural manner she played her
best before the honorable company. They paid her the best of attention
and she quickly captured all their hearts by her childish manners and
wonderful playing. They had never heard any such playing from one so
young and they crowded around her to thank her and congratulate her upon
her skill.

The Prince Napoleon came and spoke to her, praised her music and asked
what she intended to do next. Go to America. Ah! No. That was not right.
Such talent as hers must not leave France. M. Urso replied that the
contract had already been signed with the American and they must go with
him.

“Puisqu ’il en est ainsi, dépéchez vous à aller gagner de l’argent, et
revenez vite en France. A votre retour ne manquez pas de venir me voir.”

These were the very words of the Prince in reply. They thanked him
heartily and then the party broke up and they went back to their home on
the Rue Montholon.

Then came the final examination at the Conservatory. It did not differ
materially from the one described before except that it was much more
difficult. The questions in harmony were more searching. The piece of
music to be sung at first sight was more perplexing than ever before
and the new quartette for strings in which she was to take the first
violin far exceeded the others in technical difficulties. Each day of
the trial was a triumph for her. She received the first prize and never
were a family more pleased with the success of a child. It was a great
day for the Ursos and it seemed as if all their labor and sacrifice was
to be splendidly rewarded. Camilla had never faultered through it all,
and now that it was over the three years of study seemed as nothing. It
had been a hard struggle but she did not care. It was happily over and
soon she would go to America and gratify her father by winning a great
store of money. Then she would return to Paris and to dear old Massart.
In spite of his severe discipline he was a good man at heart and she
loved him dearly. She owed everything to him and she could never half
pay him for his generosity in helping her in her days of poverty. He was
very unwilling to part with his favorite pupil and wanted her to stay in
Paris and continue her lessons. It would cost her nothing. He would be
only too glad to teach her. It could not be. She must fulfill her
contract with the American.

America. Where was it? So far, so far away. Would she ever come back
from such a distant country? It seemed in those days a very serious
undertaking and their friends could hardly believe them when they said
they were going to New York.

The Director Auber was also very sorry to part with her and kindly
wrote a letter of introduction for her. The following is a copy:—

                                        PARIS, August 12th, 1852.

    “Mademoiselle Camilla Urso is a young pupil of the National
    Conservatory of Music. Although still at a very tender age, she
    has obtained brilliant success at several concerts in Paris, and
    above all at the Conservatory, where the jury have decreed to
    her by election the first prize at the competition for the
    prizes of the year.

    “Learning that she is soon to depart for the United States, I am
    delighted to state the happy qualities which ought to ensure a
    noble artistic career.

    “The Americans have already nobly proved that they are not only
    just appreciators of the fine arts, especially of music, but
    that they know as well how to recompense with generosity the
    merits of the celebrated artists who are heard in the hospitable
    towns of their rich and beautiful country.”

                                                  AUBER.

    Member of the Institute and Director of the Conservatory.”

Finally everything was arranged. Aunt Caroline was to go with Camilla
while her mother was to remain in Paris with the boys. The three years
would soon be over and then they would all be reunited and could live
happily together once more.

The American was liberal in everything. He supplied them with money for
their outfit, and it really seemed as if their days of trial and poverty
were at an end. There was nothing to do, but to accept and enjoy the
great reward that had crowned their exertions.

The new dresses, the parting with dear old Massart and the anticipation
of the voyage absorbed Camilla’s thoughts, and the sailing day arrived
almost too soon. The trunks were packed and the carriage came to the
door. It was a sad parting for fond mother and affectionate little girl.
She cried bitterly and would hardly consent to leave her mother’s arms.
As the carriage drove away she looked back up at the lofty balcony where
the geraniums put their red eyes through the railing and watched her
mother’s handkerchief fluttering so high in the air till a turn in the
crooked street shut her dear home from view. Two weeks later, on the
15th of September, a little girl, her father and aunt and a violin
landed from the Steamship Humboldt in New York and a new life began for
Camilla.

It was like a dream. They couldn’t believe it, nor understand it. It
seemed as if they lived in a palace. They had three parlors furnished in
the most costly and elegant style. There were yellow satin chairs in one
room and blue in the next. Obsequious servants waited upon their every
want. Camilla’s room looked out on Broadway and the view from the window
afforded her unending amusement She hardly dared to sit in the satin
chairs. They were almost too fine for use. Such splendor and luxury was
really oppressive. And the people! What a strange language they spoke.
She was sure she could never understand it. She listened and tried and
only succeeded in pronouncing the name of the hotel which she gave as
the “Ir-ving House.”

The first few days they gave themselves up to sight seeing. The American
called frequently and said that the first concert would come off very
soon. He had advertised it extensively and the whole troupe must prepare
for the great event. In the meantime they must be prepared to receive
company, for the authorities would soon call upon them. This they
thought would be quite proper and they felt sure they would receive the
dignitaries of the city with becoming respect.

In order to give a proper variety to Camilla’s concerts other talent had
been engaged. Oscar Comettant and his wife had been invited by the
American to join the troupe. He was to assist as accompanist and his
wife was to sing. There was also a M. Fetlinger a buffo singer. This
enabled them to present with Camilla’s assistance the best of
programmes.

While they were thus waiting at the Irving House for their first
concert, the whole party M. and Madam Comettant, M. Urso, Camilla, and
Aunt Caroline all went out to walk one bright sunny morning. As they
strolled through the streets they suddenly came to a dead wall where in
gorgeous letters six feet high was printed the startling announcement:—

    “CAMILLA URSO HAS ARRIVED.”

They all stopped and gazed with feelings of wonder and awe, upon this
remarkable sentence.

Oscar Comettant was the only one who could translate it and when he had
done so they all repeated it over to themselves. As for Camilla she
committed it to memory as the first sentence she had ever spoken in
English. They returned to the Irving House remarking to themselves that
America was truly a wonderful country. The intelligent natives
appreciated music. They welcomed artists in a truly royal manner, and
published their names in letters six feet high. While they were talking
over the matter the American suddenly came in. He seemed greatly excited
over something. Was the Mayor coming? Were the authorities coming to
visit them? Should they dress for company?

Ah! No! Something had happened. He was very sorry—but—his partner—who
supplied the money, etc. had—failed?

Failed! What did he mean! Failed?

No money?

No, not a dollar left!

They couldn’t believe it. Were they to give no concert? Was not Camilla
going to play? Was the grand scheme a failure?

Yes. It was all over. Everything had failed.

The whole party was utterly stupified and hadn’t a word to say. What
should they do? Where were they to go? The disaster was too great for
comprehension. They hardly knew what to say much less what to do. The
American could do nothing. He had not a dollar in the world.



CHAPTER VII.

“CAMILLA URSO HAS ARRIVED.”


What were they to do next? They could not speak a word of English and
had not a dollar. They would gladly return to France could they manage
the tickets. It was impossible. Something must be done. A concert or two
must be given. Camilla would surely succeed if she had a hearing. The
American must not desert them utterly. He might, at least, act as their
business agent and assist them in giving a few concerts.

They could repeat the plan that they had tried with such success in
Germany. Camilla might play before some of the wealthy families and then
give a concert. It did not meet their expectations. The customs of the
country were different, and though she visited Commodore Stevens, then
living at Hoboken, and played for him, nothing came of it. He was
greatly pleased with the child and on taking her to a jeweler’s bid her
select such a ring as she fancied. A ring with a variety of stones, a
sentiment ring, took her girlish eyes and she chose it in preference to
a more costly one.

And that was all that came of it. Her visit did not lead to a concert
and their fortunes seemed as desperate as ever. M. Urso went everywhere
among his countrymen and told his story and endeavored to find a chance
for Camilla to play. He could not give a concert on his own
responsibility. Some artist must be found to bring Camilla out before
the American public.

Fortunately, Madam Alboni was in New York about this time and through
her kindness an opportunity was found for Camilla. Three concerts were
arranged in which Camilla might make her bow before the American people.
Child violinists were not unknown in New York. Paul Julian had played in
the city and had attracted much attention. The announcement that a new
child-artist—a girl and a violinist would appear only roused curiosity
and people were eager to see how she compared with the boy Julian. They
called her Camilla—Camilla Urso. Who was she? Where did she come from?
No one seemed to know. Madam Alboni was to bring her out. The child must
have some talent to be patronized by such an artist as Madam Alboni.

Only ten years of age. Certainly a marvelous child. And a girl. It must
be a sight worth seeing. They would all go to the concert. In this
shallow style did the people of New York talk. They looked upon her as
some kind of natural wonder, or curiosity. That she might have an
artist’s soul, that her playing might be something more than mere
display did not seem to enter their comprehension.

In due time the concert came off and a slender, blue eyed girl hardly
four feet high appeared and played a fantasia or themes from Somnambula.
They had expected she would play fairly well, they looked for tolerable
skill. What they did see and hear so far exceeded their expectations
that they could not find words to express their admiration.

The steady position, the vigor and grace of her bowing, the strong, firm
tone, and more than all the wonderful delicacy and lightness of her
touch. The splendid technical ability, and her simple manners, the
demure and serious eyes and the slight, girlish figure, these captured
their hearts and won their respect.

The concert was a great success and Camilla in a single night
established her reputation in the United States. This was her first real
step in her artist life. She here laid the foundation of her reputation,
a reputation that was first American and afterwards European.

The next morning the New York Herald gave her the first newspaper notice
she ever received in this country.

    “Little Camilla Urso, the wonderful child violinist, divided
    honors with the prima donna. Of the same age and country as Paul
    Julian, whose masterly performance on the violin attracted so
    much attention here, this new candidate for public favor
    promises to be a powerful competitor with him. Her execution of
    the fantasia or Somnambula was most admirable and drew down
    vociferous calls for an encore which were honored. Several
    bouquets were thrown to her on the stage and the greatest
    enthusiasm was manifested in respect to the marvelous little
    artist.”

Then some one suggested that they try Boston. That city was a musical
centre and Camilla would be sure to meet with a good reception there.
Accordingly under the guidance of the American the entire party went to
Boston. Mr. Jonas Chickering, the piano-forte manufacturer kindly
welcomed her and invited her to call at his residence on Boylston
street, two doors from the building now occupied by the Art Club. So
much pleased was he with her simple manners and her wonderful playing
that he opened his elegant warerooms and invited a select company of
musical people to hear her play. This private concert first brought
Camilla before us. She had, as it were, come before us. Hitherto, it had
been a strange story that had been told to us. We could now see and hear
for ourselves.

The Boston Transcript and Dwight’s Journal of Music, then our best
authorities upon art matters thus spoke of this occasion:—

    “Her violin playing is not that of a child,—even a remarkable
    child—but that of an _artiste_ cultivated and accomplished. Her
    bowing is extremely graceful and free, her execution neat and
    clear, her intonation perfect.”

Dwight’s Journal of Oct. 9th says:—

    “Little Camilla Urso, the violinist, but eleven years old,
    announced a concert at the Masonic Temple for last evening, just
    too late for notice in this paper. But we had the pleasure,—and
    a choice one it was—of hearing her the other evening in a
    company of some forty invited guests, in Mr. Chickering’s
    saloon. Her playing is not only truly wonderful, but wonderfully
    true;—true in style, expression, feeling, as it is true in
    intonation and all mechanical respects. She played Artot’s
    _Souvenirs de Bellini_, and never have we listened to a long
    fantasia of several themes, worked up in all manner of
    variations, with a purer pleasure. It was masterly; the firm and
    graceful bowing, the rich, pure, refined tone, the light and
    shade, the easy control of _arpeggio_, _staccato_, _double
    stops_, etc., were all such as we could only have expected from
    the maturest masters we have heard. We could scarcely credit our
    own eyes and ears.

    The little maiden is plain, with strong arms and hands enlarged
    by practice of her instrument; yet her appearance is most
    interesting; a face full of intellectual and sedate expression,
    a large forehead wearing the ’pale cast of thought’ etc. Pity
    only that such fine life must be lived out so fast, and always
    in the blaze of too much sun for plants so young and tender!”

Then followed two concerts at the Masonic Temple. Concerning her playing
at these concerts we may quote from Dwight’s Journal of October 16th.

    CAMILLA URSO. “Two concerts have confirmed all we have said of
    this wonderful girl violinist. Two concerts, attended by an
    intelligent, nay, an exacting, audience delighted almost to
    tears—and yet not money enough in the house to pay expenses!
    Indifference to flaming advertisements of precocity is well; but
    it is _not_ well, not worthy of the taste of Boston thus to
    neglect one of the finest manifestations of genius that ever
    seemed to come to us so straight from heaven. It was one of the
    most beautiful, most touching experiences of our whole musical
    life, to see and hear that charming little maiden, so natural
    and childlike, so full of sentiment and thought, so
    selfpossessed and graceful in her whole bearing and in her every
    motion, handle her instrument there like a master, drawing forth
    tones of purest and most feeling quality; with an infallible
    truth of intonation, unattained by many an orchestra leader;
    reproducing perfectly, as if by the hearts own direct magnetic
    agency, an entire Concerto of Viotti or De Beriot, wooing forth
    the gentler melodies with a fine caressing delicacy and giving
    out strong passages in chords with ever thrilling grandeur.”

The first of these concerts was on the 8th and the second on the 12th of
the month. Neither was successful and evil days again came upon them.
The concert company broke up and each looked out for himself as best he
could. As for Camilla she returned to New York with her father and aunt
and they settled down in poor and miserable quarters in a house on
Howard street—the Rue Lamartine of New York.

Her reception in Boston had not been a pleasant one. There seemed to be
a prejudice against her. The good people could not quite forgive her for
being a girl. It was well for Paul Julian—he was a boy. Camilla’s
appearance disturbed their nice sense of propriety. This is only the
more remarkable when we come to see that later in her life Boston became
her second home. It was here that she afterwards laid the foundation for
her reputation and here she won her greatest triumphs. Since, she has
played in our city over two hundred times and here her greatest and
latest artistic efforts have been made. Little did she think as she left
the city that she should afterwards enter it twice under most peculiar
circumstances and afterwards make it the home of her girlhood and
sometimes her residence in womanhood.

Heaven helps those who try to help themselves. It was useless to cry or
sit down in despair. Camilla at once resumed her practice under her
father’s guidance. The violin was taken out again and the wretched
alley-ways about Howard street reechoed with the strains of the
marvelous instrument. By the hour the music floated out the dismal
chamber window where the wonder-child toiled over the seemingly hopeless
task. The thin, pale face bent over the music book all the day long.
Practice, practice, practice. Life seemed made for that.

What was the good of it all? It had only brought them poverty and
sorrow. Not for a moment did she pause. The art was reward enough
without the money. She would wait.

It happened just at this time that Paul Julian, not in the most happy
financial circumstances came to New York and for a week lived in the
same humble boarding house with the Ursos. Camilla’s room was up stairs
and Paul’s just under it. Both practiced incessantly, and Camilla’s
father while attending to her lessons would often say:—

“Hear that boy! He loves to practice.”

Paul’s father in the room below would bid the boy stop and listen to the
girl artist overhead and say:—

“Hear that girl! See how she loves to practice.”

When the lesson hour was over the two children met on the stairs or on
the sidewalk for their brief play hour and would exchange notes
concerning their two fathers.

“Was your father cross to-day?”

“Yes. Cross as a bear!”

“So was mine.”

Camilla did not remain in obscurity and poverty long. Archbishop Hughes
heard of her and arranged a charity concert in which she was invited to
appear. The concert was for the benefit of the Catholic Orphan Asylum
and as Camilla had contributed largely to its success a share of the
proceeds were given to her father. This fortunately saved them from
immediate want and in a few days after a still greater piece of luck
came to them. A letter came from Philadelphia inviting Camilla to play
at a concert given by the Philharmonic society of that city. She at once
went to Philadelphia in company with her father and aunt and there
received one hundred and fifty dollars for a single performance on her
violin. This was the largest sum she had ever received at one time and
it seemed as if their day of small things was nearly over.

While they were in Philadelphia an agent of the Germania Musical Society
of Boston visited them and invited Camilla to join the Society in a
series of concerts that they proposed to give in the New England cities.
A handsome salary was offered and they all three started once more for
Boston.

They took rooms at the United States Hotel and prepared for a long stay.
Camilla’s return and reappearance in our streets was not happy. They
arrived on Saturday and the next day having nothing in particular to do
Camilla took aunt Caroline’s hand and they went out for a little walk.
The streets, so strangely quiet in their foreign eyes, seemed dull and
they walked on thinking they might come to some garden or pleasure
ground where the people would be listening to a band, drinking coffee
and making merry in a proper manner.

They could not find the place. The stores were all closed and it seemed
very stupid and gloomy. They would return to their hotel. It was down
this street No. It was that way. Which way was it? The streets were so
very crooked that really they were quite lost.

They stopped a gentleman and said as best they could—“Unated Statis
Hotel?” He did not seem to understand and passed on. Then they tried a
lady and repeated the words “Unated Statis Hotel?” The lady talked about
something but they could not understand a single word. Again and again
they stopped people on the walk and repeated the strange words. Every
one shook his head or talked rapidly about things they could not
understand and not one could show the way to the “Unated Statis Hotel.”

Poor Camilla began to cry with the cold and they were having a sorry
time of it. They met an Irish servant girl going home from church. They
repeated the words to her and the quick witted girl soon led them back a
few steps and showed them the great brick block with its gilded sign
“United States Hotel.”

Now it was that we became familiar with Camilla’s face in our streets.
Her black felt hat and long dark green plume that was at once so
singular and so very becoming, her big blue eyes with the sly twinkle in
them, the smiling mouth and sweet tempered expression of her face won
unusual attention and admiration. Children in the streets said “there
goes Camilla Urso,” and ran after her to see the pretty French girl who
had come to live among us. Traditions of her girlhood days are still
treasured up in many Boston families and pleasant stories are told of
this part of her life. She here grew in mind and stature and she was no
longer little Camilla but Mademoiselle Camilla Urso.

The first concert with the Germanias was given on the evening of
December 11th, and from that time there was a brief space of financial
happiness for our young Mademoiselle. For several months she had more
leisure than she had ever known in her short life. Their headquarters
were in Boston and the tours were short and easy.

There seemed to be no immediate prospect of returning to France and
something must be done about Mademoiselle’s English education. The
family made their home at the United States Hotel and during the
intervals between the short concert trips a private tutor came to their
rooms to instruct her young ladyship in the language of the country.
Nothing had been done even in French and she found herself woefully
ignorant for a ten year old girl. It made very little difference for she
took up the matter with enthusiasm and learned to read in an incredibly
short time. Within three months she could express herself with tolerable
ease in English and learned to read almost anything that was put before
her either in French or English. How it happened she could hardly
explain. It must have been the intuitive grasping of a mind prematurely
active and retentive. She could read music as easily as a Boston girl of
her age could read the daily papers, and it did not seem to her in any
sense difficult to understand the much more simple alphabet of spoken
language. She had only one objection to her tutor. He helped her over
the hard words and all that and was not cross but as she confided to her
aunt, “he was very disagreeable—she didn’t like him for he chewed—and
it wasn’t pleasant.”

At the same time such a demure puss, with such proper notions about
manners was not above joining some of the other girls in grand romps in
the corridors of the hotel, nor afraid to join them in the glorious
mischief of changing all the boots put out at the doors of the rooms and
then listen at the top of the stairs at the fine uproar caused by their
pranks.

It was during this residence in Boston that Camilla was confirmed at
Church and she passed the allotted weeks of preparation at the Convent
of Notre Dame at Roxbury. Her father thought it a sad loss of time on
account of her violin practice, but for Camilla it was a period of
unalloyed happiness. She was the pet of the school, and her simple,
childlike nature bloomed out freely in the quiet atmosphere of the
place. Here for the first time she learned to use her needle. Pen,
needles, pen-knife and scissors had been carefully kept out of her hands
for fear of possible injury to her fingers and yet she learned to sew
quite well in a very few lessons. It was merely a mechanical operation
and it came to her in a flash. She astonished the good sisters with her
feats of embroidery and fine sewing and they could not understand how
such an one could learn so quickly. The manual skill of playing and the
quick eye in reading music had probably much to do with it. The weeks at
the convent were like a charming oasis in the dry and dusty plain of her
public life and she came out of the school blooming with health and
happiness.

On the 4th of April, 1853, the Germanias started out on an extended tour
through the Western States and with them went Mademoiselle Camilla, her
father and aunt. It was upon this trip that Camilla Urso’s face became
familiar to the people of this country. She had visited nearly every
important city and town in New England and now she played in every large
city through the Northern and Western States. She went as far west as
St. Louis and as far south as the Ohio. It was a stirring, eventful
life. Traveling constantly, playing four or five times a week, meeting
new friends every day, practicing steadily and growing in mind and
stature she seemed to have found the desire of her young heart. Finally
the trip ended at Rochester, New York, on the 11th of June, and the
company separated. The Germanias went to Newport for their summer
campaign and the Ursos returned to New York.

Madam Henrietta Sontag was at this time traveling in this country. She
had given a series of very successful operatic performances in Boston
and New York during the Winter and Spring, and proposed to make a
concert tour through the West and South during the Fall and Winter. M.
Urso while in New York received a letter from her agent inviting Camilla
to join the troupe. Accordingly she set out with her father and met
Madam Sontag’s party at Cincinnati. Aunt Caroline traveled with them as
far as Louisville, Ky. Madam Sontag, who was greatly pleased with
Camilla here offered to have a motherly eye over her and accordingly her
aunt returned to New York and only M. Urso remained to be guide and
helper to our young Mademoiselle.

For Camilla this trip was a season of great happiness. She was earning
money rapidly, her mother in far away Paris could share in the golden
store and her father was pleased and satisfied.

Madam Sontag became a second mother to Camilla and treated her with the
utmost kindness. Every day Camilla must come to her room to practice and
receive instructions in singing. Camilla’s instrument was the violin.
She could sing with more than ordinary skill and in perfecting her
phrasing and in improving her style in vocal music Madam Sontag
insensibly improved her violin music. All of Camilla’s music was
examined by the great singer and in those stray hours picked up between
the demand of concerts and travel much of art and happiness was enjoyed.

Camilla was the favorite of the entire company. There was Pozzolini, the
tenor, fat Badially, the bass, jolly Rocco the buffo singer and Alfred
Jael the rising young pianist, merriest of them all. With each Camilla
was a pet. Every one seemed ready to please the young girl and in their
society life passed happily. Freed from anxiety and the excessive and
wearisome practice her nature expanded and she began to show that sweet
and amiable character that so brightens her maturer years.

Giving concerts at every city the party took their triumphant way down
the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. The brilliant concerts, the
strange people, the mighty river, the life on the palatial steamboats,
the perpetual change of scene awoke Camilla’s fancy and imagination and
developed her character rapidly. The publicity, the glare and the
excitement only brought out her intellectual and artistic power. Most
young people would have been upset and spoiled by vanity. Her young
days in the orchestra at Nantes had accustomed her to public life, and
the poverty and trial she had gone through served as good ballast to
keep her steady when riding on the topmost wave of success.

The tour ended at New Orleans with even greater triumphs. Camilla
appeared eighteen times in company with Madam Sontag and each concert
was a perfect success in every sense.

Then in a moment the bright dream came to an end. Madam Sontag and her
opera company set out for Mexico, leaving Camilla and her father in New
Orleans. She would return soon and in the mean time Camilla could wait
and by study and practice prepare for a new tour through the Northern
States in the Spring.

In a few weeks came the dreadful news that the good and amiable woman,
and the great _artist_ was dead. She had died after a brief illness in
the city of Mexico and all of Camilla’s hopes were destroyed. Again she
was without employment and without money. Her father was not
distinguished for sound financial ability. He was too generous and
liberal, and in spite of the large sums of gold that had been paid to
him on Camilla’s account he found himself in actual distress at the
breaking up of the Sontag combination. With reasonable prudence they
could have saved enough to enable them to retreat to the more prosperous
field in the Northern States. As it was Camilla was obliged to begin
again, and slowly, and painfully win her way back alone to the North and
to happier days. An agent was found to take her through the Southern
cities and thence by the way of the seaboard to New York. It was not a
happy trip. There was no longer a great singer to attract attention,
there was no obedient and skillful business man traveling ahead to
prepare the way and secure hotel comforts and financial success.

Camilla’s violin was the only attraction, and to fill out the programme
they were obliged to call in the aid of such local talent as they could
find in the various cities they visited. Mobile, Savannah, Charleston,
and other places were visited and after a slow and disagreeable journey
they arrived in Baltimore in the Spring of 1855 almost without a cent.

Here came a singular episode in Camilla’s life that will illustrate the
perfection of her schooling at the Conservatory of music at Paris. A
gentleman and a public singer heard of Camilla’s difficulties and
arranged a concert for her benefit. At this concert Camilla for the
first and only time laid aside her violin and appeared as a singer. No
one had thought of her in this character and her duet from the opera of
L’elisir d’Amore, by Donizetti, was a great surprise. She exhibited a
fine, clear voice almost as well trained as her fingers. The performance
only showed how thorough had been her instruction in solfeggio at the
Conservatory. Every true artist is a singer. No matter what his or her
instrument may be, no matter how skillful their fingers may be with bow
or keys, singing must form a part of their education. This is the theory
of Camilla’s study in music. The practice of solfeggio gives clearness
and accuracy to the ear, and teaches the eye to read with certainty and
speed. Much of her understanding of music has come from such practice
and it should form a part of every musician’s education.

Finally father and daughter reached New York after an absence of nearly
nine months, and almost as poor as when they started. The Summer season
was at hand and there was very little opportunity for concerts. In
company with her father she then went to Canada and there traveled from
place to place giving occasional concerts and everywhere winning many
friends. Invitations to visit the homes of private families came to them
freely and for Camilla the trip was a very happy one. So happy indeed
that she was unwilling to leave her new friends even when the news of
her mother’s arrival in New York was received. M. Urso went on to
receive his wife, but Camilla persisted in staying where she was. She
was the admired and sought after young girl. Every one seemed ready to
offer her every pleasure and attention and she was far from willing to
return to the life of concert giving and practice.

Concerning the music that Mademoiselle Urso played at this time, we may
mention a few of the pieces usually given at her concerts. They give us
not only an idea of her musical ability, but serve to illustrate the
character of the concert pieces in vogue at that time. No musical life
would be complete, even if it is that of a “wonder-child” without some
information concerning the actual work performed. Mademoiselle Urso was
not in any sense limited in her range of pieces. She did not have a mere
stock set that she always played. She could and did play everything that
had been printed for the violin. In her girlhood’s concerts she chose
those most popular without much regard to their actual position in the
art. She had not then reached her true artist-life and was not, as now,
in a position to lead the public taste into the higher fields of classic
music. She played then such pieces as the _Violin Concerto_, by
_Viotti_, _Alard’s Souvenir_ the _Daughter of the Regiment_, _Souvenir
de Gretry_, _Souvenir de Mozart_, by _Leonard_, and the _Tremolo_, by
_De Beriot_. She also gave at times the _Witches’ Dance_, by _Paganini_
and _La Melancholie_, by _Prune_.

After some delay Camilla joined her father and mother at New York, and
the family were once more reunited. It was at this time that they had
the misfortune to have their rooms entered, and all the presents,
including the pearl cross that Camilla had received on that almost
forgotten German tour, were stolen.

The family were not united long. In the Fall Mrs. Macready, the reader,
invited Camilla to join her troupe on a tour through the West. As mother
and daughter had been separated for a long time Madam Urso traveled
with Camilla a portion of this journey. Unfortunately Madam Urso was
taken sick at Cincinnati and for a while Camilla traveled alone with
Mrs. Macready. This tour was quite a successful one for Camilla and it
finally ended in Nashville, Tenn., where the party separated.



PART II.



CHAPTER I.

INTO EACH LIFE SOME RAIN MUST FALL.


At the close of her tour with Mrs. Macready in 1855 Mademoiselle Urso
left the concert stage, gave up playing in public and retired to private
life in Nashville, Tenn., only appearing at occasional charity concerts.
Seven years later, in the Autumn of 1862, she returned to New York
prepared to resume her artist-life. The musical world remembered with
respect and admiration the Camilla Urso of her brilliant girlhood. The
wonderful child-life had ended. The new artist-life now begins. Once
more the swift fingers might fly over the mystic strings. Again the bow
arm wield its magic wand.

Could they? Would the art come back after seven years of almost total
neglect? Would the woman fulfill the promise of the child? She could not
tell. It seemed a life-time since she had played in public. It was a
doubtful experiment. She would not hesitate nor be afraid. She would try
again.

“Father, I have come home.”

Father, mother, daughter and dear aunt once more reunited. It was an
humble home in the midst of the great city. It was home and that was
enough.

“What now, my daughter?”

“Music, father. My violin. Give it me once more.”

Once more the violin is placed on the young shoulder and the bow is laid
with caressing touch upon the beloved strings. Ten and often fifteen
hours a day incessant practice. No rigid Massart to watch every note. No
father to sit by to guide and help. Alone with her violin. She would
have no master now. She would be her own master. Her genius should be
her guide.

Again the long, slow notes. Again the patient finger exercises. From the
almost forgotten years she recalled the lessons of the Conservatory and
the instructions of dear old Felix Simon, at sunny Nantes. He was at
hand and lived in New York. He might help her. No, she did not wish it.
She refused even her father’s aid. She knew herself now. Times had
changed since those old days in Nantes. Music had changed. Violin
playing had changed. She could not tell exactly how or why, but she felt
sure it must be so. If she was to succeed she must come up with the
level of the age. The standard of musical taste had changed during the
seven years of blank in her artist life. The playing of the
“wonder-child” would no longer please the public, much less herself. If
her music was then remarkable for a child it must now be equally
remarkable for a woman. No half way halting, no inferior work. She had
no longer the excuse of being a child. She must win her own place alone
and unaided.

Thus thinking, hoping and toiling incessantly she spent the weeks, and
then the toil become a pleasure and the hope fruition. To her surprise
and joy it all came back. And with it came something else. A new
discovery in her art. Her violin had a new voice. A wonderful something
was in its every tone. What was it? The brilliant sparkle and fire of
her girlhood-music was all there. Everything had returned and with it
had come a lovely spirit born of love and sorrow. She love her violin.
She had known grief. Both lived in her music.

Three months of hard study and then she felt ready to once more try her
fortune. The fame of her return had quickly spread, and early in 1863 a
letter arrived from Carl Zerrahn the conductor of the Philharmonic
Society in Boston, inviting her to play before the Society in our city.
She accepted the invitation and once more stood before us, violin in
hand, and surrounded by hosts of kind and true friends ready to welcome
her back again.

Here begins the new artist-life in our own city and at her childhood’s
second home where she had won such honors as a girl. Her first
appearance was at the Music Hall on the 14th of February, and on this
occasion she played the _Fantasie Caprice_ by _Vieuxtemps_ and the
_Andante et Rondo Russe_ by _De Beriot_.

On the 21st she played again and gave the _Souvenir de Mozart_ by
_Alard_ and the _Cappicco_ on themes from _Fille du Regiment_.

On the 2d of March she played a _Fantasie sur Lucrezia Borgia_ by
_Stanton_, the _Souvenir des Pyrenees_ by _Alard_, a _Duet_ from
_William Tell_, for violin and piano and repeated the _Vieuxtemps
Fantasie caprice_.

Immediately after this she was called to New York to play at the
Philharmonic concerts in that city. At one of these concerts the pianist
Gottschalk, who happened to be present, became so excited over her
playing that he jumped upon the seat and proposed cheers for Madam Urso,
and at the close of the performance introduced himself to her in the
ante-room and fairly overwhelmed her with congratulations and praise. It
was a great surprise and pleasure to her, as the opinion of such a
musician was of real value. She now grew more confident. The promise of
her girlhood might yet be fulfilled. She would take new courage and go
on with the work. She would practice and study every available moment.
In time she would become indeed a great artist. She would not now stop
to dream of future success. She must work and work hard.

Success and triumph were near at hand and almost before she was ready to
receive them, engagements to play flowed in upon her from every
direction. The days of poverty and trial were over. A steadily
increasing financial success followed her efforts and, taught by the
sorrowful experience of her childhood, she managed her affairs with
wisdom and laid the foundation of her present independence. In May she
gave a concert in Boston on her own behalf at Chickering hall and played
_Grand duo brilliant_ for piano and violin, _La Mucette de Portici_ by
_Wolff_ and _De Beriot_, _Reverie_ by _Vieuxtemps_, _Elegie_ by _Ernst_,
and the _William Tell Duo_ by _De Beriot_.

These were the most popular pieces of the day. They all belong to the
transcription or fantasie style. Enormously difficult and well
calculated to please the fancy and amuse the ear, they give a hint of
Madam Urso’s ability at that time and show just about how far American
culture had risen. It is interesting to notice them as we shall see how
rapid and how great have been the changes in violin music in the last
ten years that are included in this part of the story of a musical life.

In June she made a short tour through the Provinces and then returned to
New York and spent the Summer quietly among friends and in practice upon
her violin.

Nothing satisfied her in music. The true artist never is satisfied, but
is ever urged onward by a noble discontent. The concert pieces demanded
by the public, were not to her taste. She could do better work. She knew
and played finer works than these. The people would not listen to them.
She would wait. In time they would grow up to something better. In all
this she was ever urged on higher and higher, trying new feats of
technical skill, drawing forth even finer tones and continually
advancing towards the higher standard of excellence she had set for
herself. In all this she met with obstacles and difficulties. She could
not have instruction from others. There were none in the country who
could teach her anything and her concerts broke in upon her time
seriously. She was studying for public appearance and appearing in
public at the same time.

On the opening of the musical season in the fall of 1863 Madam Urso was
engaged by Mr. P. S. Gilmore to play at his concerts in Boston. The
summer of apparent idleness had been well spent. Her study and practice
bore splendid fruit and her genius bloomed out into new and wonderful
music that seemed to exhale a perfume as ethereal and delicate as it was
peculiar and original. The woman’s hand and heart lived in the music. To
all the brilliancy and technical skill of a man she added a feminine
lightness of touch, that in airy lightness, and grace, melting
tenderness and sweetness is past description. Her violin now seemed to
breathe and sigh. The tears would come to the listener’s eyes he knew
not why. The tears were in the tones. The sorrow of her life exhaled in
chastened sweetness from the strings. Her heart ran out on her finger
tips and lived in her music.

It is not surprising that at one of these concerts the musicians of
Boston should have united in presenting a testimonial of respect and
admiration and personal regard to her as an artist and a woman. The
letter was signed by the musical people of note resident in Boston and
was accompanied by a handsome gold watch.

However interesting the details of these events may seem it is
impossible to dwell upon them all. We must take the more salient points
in Madam Urso’s artist life, choosing such events as best illustrate her
character and best explain the secret of her success that we may learn
the true artistic lesson of her life and works. After traveling under
Mr. Gilmore’s direction through all the principal towns of New England,
Madam Urso left his company and spent the summer months in traveling in
her private carriage with a small party of her own, and giving
occasional concerts by the way.

She reached New York late in the fall and at once organized a new
company, and visited Canada. This trip was a remarkably successful one,
and extended till January, 1865. She then appeared at the Philharmonic
concerts at New York and Brooklyn, and on reorganizing her company
visited Northern and Central New York. She was at Syracuse at the time
of the assassination of Lincoln and moved by the event composed an elegy
for the violin that was afterwards performed with great success at
Rochester.

The early summer of this year was spent among friends and in retirement
and was entirely devoted to incessant and long continued practice.
Practice upon her violin is the one thing that is never neglected. If it
is not reported on every page it is because it is always present, never
forgotten. This is the one price every great artist must pay for his or
her position. What a commentary on our American haste to reach results
does Madam Urso’s life-work present? She has genius. Genius without
labor is worse than vain.

In June Madam Urso sailed in the China from Boston and passing through
London returned once more to France her native land. Returned to live in
dear old Paris but not in the Rue Lamartine. The city of her childhood
sorrows and trials now became the city of her triumph. Her reputation
both as a wonder-child and an artist had been almost wholly American.
Now she was to take a bolder flight and win a European reputation. The
opinions of our musical people were to be more than confirmed at Paris.

Her first appearance in Paris was at the invitation of the Count of
Niewerkerke, then Minister of fine arts. The concert was a private one
given at the Louvre before a select audience of artists, authors,
musicians, officers and members of the government, diplomatic corps,
etc. Every one appeared in uniform or decorated with medals or other
insignia of rank, “and the young woman from America” whom nobody knew,
and nobody ever heard, whose name even, was hardly known quietly took a
seat in a corner as if she was only some stray person who had wandered
into the grand assembly by some mistake. No little surprise was
manifested when the Count sought her out and offered his arm to the
young stranger to escort her to the seat of honor. Her violin case. It
laid at her feet on the floor. If he would kindly ask a servant to
bring it? Servant, indeed! No, he would be proud to carry it himself.
And he did while the interest and curiosity was roused to unusual
excitement, and every one asked who the young American could be that she
should receive such attention. A prophet is always without honor in his
own country, and the poor flute player’s daughter who had struggled
through their own famous Conservatory as a child was almost unknown as a
young woman. Rumors of an American reputation had invaded Paris, but who
were the Americans that they should venture to hold opinions concerning
Art. What did they know about music? Nothing, of course. How could such
a wild, barbarous country know anything at all?

The violin was taken out and with a few strokes of her bow the almost
unknown young woman was admitted to be a peer among them all. Never was
an artist received with greater honors and distinction. One performance
and her reputation was established. They suddenly found she was, as it
were, one of themselves. France was her native land, Paris her home and
so no honor they could bestow upon her would be too great. Pasdeloup,
the orchestral director, was present and then and there invited her to
play with his famous orchestra. So it was that the doors of fashionable
and artistic Europe were thrown open at one wave of the magic bow. Our
artist played the great Concerto in E by Mendelssohn with Pasdeloup’s
magnificent orchestra at the hall of the Conservatory and won a splendid
triumph on the very spot where in the days of her poverty-tinted
childhood she first drew her bow before her severe old masters who had
tried so hard to bar the young feet out of the paths of art.

For a year Madam Urso remained in France studying, listening to the best
music to be heard, mingling with players of her own artistic stature
and, as it were, renewing her musical youth by drinking deep at the
fountains that flow from one of the great art centres of the world.
Dear, sleepy old Nantes was visited and once more she played in the same
old place where she first drew her bow in those almost forgotten days of
her childhood. Not a thing had changed. It seemed as if even the same
cats sat on the sunny walls and as if the same old women filled their
water jars at the fountains and toiled up and down the steep streets.
There were the geraniums in the windows just as she had seen them in her
childhood. Her father’s organ stood in the dusty organ loft at the
church of the Holy Cross, and even the same grey cobwebs festooned the
arches above the seat where she used to sit and listen to the music. All
her father’s old friends came to see her and brought their
grandchildren. The Town Hall would not contain the hundreds that
besieged the doors to see the Rose of Montholon, the woman who had made
their town famous.

Many places in France were visited, and many concerts were given in
Paris and other cities. It was a life of success, honors and happiness.
More than all, it was home. For all that, another home claimed her, she
must return to her adopted home, and in September 1866, Madam Urso
returned to this country with renewed musical strength, increased
ability and her talents brought to even higher culture than ever.

Every life has its dull spots—its period of uneventful living. Even
public life with its exciting experiences, perpetual change and scenes,
its endless procession of new faces may in time become monotonous. The
artist life of Camilla Urso has been active and varied to a remarkable
degree, but to repeat the details of such a succession of concert tours
would be simply wearisome. Events are of small consequence except as
illustrative of character and we must only select such as serve to show
the woman and the artist in her true character. On returning from Europe
Madam Urso at once resumed her concerts and appeared in New York and
others cities. In January, 1867, she was engaged to play the
_Mendelssohn Concerto_ at one of the concerts of the Harvard Musical
Association in Boston, and in order to be present in good season for
rehearsal started two days before from New York by the way of
Springfield. On the road she encountered a severe snow storm and was
blockaded thirty-six hours between Worcester and Boston. Determined to
keep her engagement with the Harvards she pushed on as long as the train
would move. Again and again they were stopped, in gigantic drifts that
came up to the tops of the cars. The train people resolutely shoveled
their way through and pushed on again The day of the concert came and
still they were twenty miles or more from Boston. The fires gave out and
not a thing could be obtained to eat or drink. Still she would not give
it up. Perhaps the train would yet reach the city in time for the
concert. Finally the city came in sight. The wind had blown the the snow
away from the track on the marshes behind the city and the last mile was
made in good time and then the train plunged into another drift just
beyond the junction of the Providence Railroad and where the Dartmouth
street bridge now stands. It only lacked 60 minutes of the concert hour.
She would leave the cars and walk into the city. Perhaps she might be in
time yet. One of the gentlemen of the party took her violin case and
they set out to reach the houses on Boylston street that were in plain
sight not twenty rods away. It was a desperate undertaking but she
resolved to try it. She must get to the Music Hall if possible. The snow
might be overcome but she had not reckoned on the temperature, and
before she had gone twenty yards down the track she found her hands were
rapidly freezing and she seemed ready to faint and fall in the terrible
cold. The gentlemen at once took her up and after a tremendous effort
succeeded in carrying her as far as the signal house. She must get into
shelter or perish almost in our streets. The burly signal man saw the
party and opened the door of his round house and took them in. Madam
Urso’s hands were stiff and bloodless and in their fright her friends
thought they were forever lost. Even Madam Urso’s strong, brave spirit
was utterly broken down over the appalling disaster. Of what use was her
life if the cunning of her fingers was to be thus rudely destroyed. It
is small wonder that the disaster almost crushed her and brought the
bitterest tears to her eyes. The grimy signal man took in the situation
at once and resorted to measures that were at once as effectual as they
were grotesque and amusing. Kneeling down on the floor and taking off
his cap he bid the gentlemen rub her hands in his tangled and matted
hair. It was a most ludicrous remedy but it worked to a charm. The
gentle heat brought the blood slowly back and after half an hour’s
rubbing on the man’s big head she entirely recovered.

“Thet’s the way we always does, mum. Many’s the poor brakeman’s fingers
I’ve saved by rubbin ’em in some one’s thick head o’ hair.”

Whatever the philosophy of this wonderful method of treatment, Madam
Urso can give her testimony to its perfect success, and within an hour
she was so far recovered that she could laugh as heartily as any over
the adventure. The concert hour had come and gone while the party were
sheltered in the signal house on the Back Bay and there was no help for
it. She had done her best and even risked her life to fulfill her
engagement. There was nothing more to be done except to reach the city
in safety. The signal man helped the party over the tracks and up the
banks and they set out once more for Boylston Street. After a severe
struggle the party reached the first house but as the cold was intense
they decided to get under shelter as quickly as possible and at once
rang the bell. A woman put a frightened face out the door and gave one
look at the sorry looking party and slammed the door in their faces.
They at once rang the next bell but here the people wouldn’t even open
the door though they slyly peeped out the window at the forlorn looking
party on the steps. Madam Urso’s hands were again growing intensely cold
in spite of the fur gloves she had accepted from one of the gentlemen;
and his own hands were bare. They must get in somewhere or perish in the
storm. The next house opened to them at once, and in spite of their
rather battered looks they were welcomed and offered the best the house
contained. The bath-room, chambers and dining hall were free to them and
it seemed as if the daughters of the house could not do enough to
minister to the wants of the unhappy party. The discovery of whom they
entertained only added to the warmth of the reception and finally a
sleigh was found and just at night fall Madam Urso was once more with
friends. Singular as it may seem, she has not found out to this day who
so kindly opened their house to her in her distress. In the storm and
excitement of the occasion the number of the house was forgotten and
there was no name on the door. The family did not give their name and if
it should so happen that they read this, they may know how pleasantly
Madam Urso cherishes the memory of their kindness.

Carl Rosa who was then in Boston took Madam Urso’s place at the Harvard
Concert, and on the next morning Mr. Dwight the Treasurer called and
paid her the usual honorarium, just as if she had been present. Madam
Urso remained in Boston and appeared at the next concert as she makes it
a rule always to fulfill every engagement to the letter, whatever may be
the expense and inconvenience it may cause her.

Immediately after the little adventure in Boston, just mentioned, Madam
Urso was engaged by Mr. P. S. Gilmore to travel through the New England
States. This tour was a very successful one and at its close she spent
the Summer quietly at Saratoga and Long Branch. The season of 1867 and
1868 was an exceedingly busy one and engagements were made in all parts
of the country with uniform success. In the Spring she found the labor
and travel were telling upon her health, and in June she sailed once
more for Europe where she spent three months in Bologne and Paris, in
retirement. Though not giving concerts she practiced as steadily and
earnestly as her health would permit. The quiet sea-shore life at
Bologne, the drives on the beach and the charming social life rested her
fully and in September she was once more ready to resume her profession
in this country. To report it all is quite beyond our limits.
Engagements to play crowded upon her from all parts of the country, and
every concert seemed to be more successful than the last. One given as a
complementary testimonial to Madam Urso by the musicians of Boston, in
January 1869, brought out all her friends and packed the Music Hall with
an audience such as it never saw before. About the same time she was
elected an honorary life member of the Philharmonic Society of
Philadelphia. This Summer, like the last, was passed in Bologne and
Paris and was wholly devoted to study and practice, with some
recreation.



CHAPTER II.

THE SILVER BRICK.


On the 24th of September (1869) Madam Urso started from Paris for a new
and untried field. Stopping one week only in New York she pushed on
towards the Pacific and landed in San Francisco on the 22d of October.
Only four weeks from Paris to San Francisco including six days in New
York. This will illustrate her power of physical endurance, and the
experience that followed this rapid journey will serve to show her
business capacity, her executive talents, and her indomitable energy.
The seven months passed in California make one of the most remarkable
episodes of her life and it must be examined in some detail.

The party took rooms at the Occidental Hotel and the very first evening
Madam Urso was honored by a serenade, though no announcement of her
arrival had been made. Certainly, the musical people of the Pacific
Slope were eager to welcome her. It seemed so, for on announcing a
concert at Platt Hall, there was a greater demand for tickets than had
ever been known in that part of the country for any entertainment
whatever its character. Three more concerts were given with every
available seat and standing place occupied, and then three sacred
concerts on successive Sunday evenings at the California Theatre, were
announced. All of these concerts were of a classical character, the
first of the kind ever given in the State and to bring them out properly
the best talent to be found was engaged, including the Brignoli Opera
Troupe then traveling in California.

Never in her experience had concert giving been more successful and
profitable than here. It seemed as if she had captured all their hearts
and brought the golden State to her feet by one wave of her violin bow.
Deeply sensible of the feelings of respect and admiration entertained
for her by the people she resolved in some way to testify her
appreciation and to give material expression of her thanks. She looked
about for some worthy institution upon which she could bestow the
benefit of a series of concerts, or musical festival. After some
investigation and private correspondence Madam Urso wrote the following
letter that was dated at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco, December
1st 1869.

    _To the President and Board of Directors of the Mercantile
    Library Association of San Francisco_:

    GENTLEMEN: The present embarrassment of your Society having come
    to my knowledge, and wishing in some suitable manner to show my
    gratitude to the people of this city for the kindness and
    appreciation I have met with during my visit, I have thought of
    no better method to do so than in offering you the benefit of a
    grand musical entertainment such as I originally intended giving
    here, with the sincere hope that it may prove a help towards
    relieving the Mercantile Library of its present difficulties.

    Should my offer be accepted, I will, gentlemen, consecrate all
    my time during the two months necessary for its preparation, to
    make it a grand success. I am gentlemen, Yours obediently

                                                  CAMILLA URSO.

This generous offer was at once accepted and without delay the officers
of the Association, the city government, and in fact, the whole
community united with her to make the proposed festival one of the great
musical events of the Pacific Slope. Boston had given its musical
festival, why not San Francisco? There, it had been comparatively easy.
Here, it was an undertaking almost too vast and difficult for
comprehension. There was not a choral society in the State. If there
were a few choirs of male voices they had never sung together and though
there were many individual singers and performers in different parts of
the State they had never been brought together. A hall must be prepared,
the orchestra drilled, the music for the chorus selected and printed,
and the whole festival lasting three days be planned, laid out, and
carried into effect.

Never before has a single woman been so made a queen over an army of
men, women and children. The moment the event was announced the
Occidental Hotel was besieged by editors, musicians, officials,
contractors, carpenters, decorators, chorus masters and a hundred others
who thought they might be of use in some way. Madam Urso held high state
in her rooms and heard each one in turn, gave him her commands, and bid
him move on to his appointed work. The Mechanics’ Pavilion, a huge
wooden structure erected for the Mechanics’ Institute Fair in 1868, was
still standing. Orders to take it down had been given, but at her
request they were revoked and a host of carpenters swarmed into the
building and began to remodel it for the great Festival. Railroads,
Hotels, and Telegraph companies were ready to obey her every wish in
regard to the reception of the great company to be assembled. The State
arsenal opened at her command and a whole park of artillery was ready to
speak at the wave of her baton. An organ was built to order, and a drum
more portentous than the Gilmore affair was manufactured. The firemen
met to pound the anvils in the “anvil chorus” and Camilla herself
drilled them in the work. And at the head of it all was the one woman,
mistress of the whole kingdom, and with the resources of a State at
command. As if this was not enough she personally assumed the entire
expense and was responsible for the whole vast sum of thousands and
thousands of dollars that the festival involved. Had it been a failure
the Mercantile Association would not have lost a dollar. Every bill was
in her own name, be it for organ, contractors, printing music books or
agents’ fares by rail or boat.

The event exceeded expectation and was one of the most marked musical
successes ever recorded. On Washington’s birth-day, February 22d, 1870,
ten thousand people filled the Mechanics’ Pavilion to listen to Camilla
Urso’s concert. A chorus of twelve hundred composed the choir, and an
orchestra of two hundred good musicians furnished the accompaniment for
the choral members.

The programme was popular in its character and each piece was given with
unexpected effect. The concert was opened at half past two by the
performance of Von Weber’s Jubilee Overture by the orchestra under the
direction of Mr. Harold, the conductor of the festival. This was
followed by a chorus for men’s voices by the united singing societies of
the State. Next the orchestra and military bands gave a selection of
national airs and at the end the chorus and the entire audience rose and
sang “My country ’tis of Thee.” The chorus, organ and orchestra then
united to give the chorus “Night shades no longer,” from Moses in Egypt,
which was given in a skillful and effective manner. A chorus of men’s
voices from “Eurianthe” with horn obligato was next performed and then
came the Anvil Chorus, with chorus, bands, orchestra, organ, battery and
all the bells in the city united for accompaniment.

It was an event in its way and the irrepressible enthusiasm peculiar to
the Californians found vent in cheers and the waving of hats,
handkerchiefs and whatever was in hand. Certainly Madam Urso had never
in her whole experience seen such enthusiasm and she may have well
wondered if it was not all some strange, fantastic dream. The band gave
a selection from “Tannhauser” and then the concert closed with the “Star
Spangled Banner” given with cannon, big drum, church bells, organ and
great chorus.

The concert on the second day was honored with an audience of fifteen
thousand persons, the largest assembly that had ever met in California.
The programme began with the overture to “Ali Baba” which was followed
by the “Gloria,” from Mozart’s Twelfth Mass. Then the orchestra gave two
movements from the symphony in C, by Gade. “Sleepers wake,” from St.
Paul, and the “Prayer,” from “Moses in Egypt,” were next given in such a
superior manner by the chorus, that the last number won an encore.

At this point Madam Urso appeared and met with a reception that for wild
enthusiasm and fervor has probably never been exceeded by any concert
audience. The very proper coldness and passiveness of Eastern audiences
finds small favor beyond the mountains. The fifteen thousand people met
under that roof tendered her an ovation the like of which has probably
never been given to any artist in the world. Respect and love for the
woman who had done so much for them, admiration for her genius, and
gratitude for her splendid efforts in behalf of the Mercantile
Association roused the people to a pitch of excitement almost past
belief. For a few moments it seemed as if they would never cease
cheering, nor stop piling the mountains of flowers at her feet.

Then she took her violin and played for them, giving the Beethoven
Concerto. The building was too vast for all to hear her instrument but
they listened in eager silence and at the close there was another
tempest of applause and showers of flowers till the stage about her was
literally “knee deep in fragrance.” She was twice called out after the
performance, but the excitement and fatigue were too much for her and
she declined to play again.

The chorus—“The Heavens are Telling,” the overture to “Der Freyschutz,”
the Anvil Chorus, and the “Hallelujah” chorus, from the Messiah
concluded the entertainment and the vast audience quietly dispersed.

The third day of the Festival was perhaps the most remarkable of all.
The chorus on this day consisted of two thousand public school children,
under the musical direction of Mr. Elliot, of San Francisco. The
programme consisted of orchestral selections and choruses from the song
books used in the public schools, sung by the children. The Hall was
packed to its utmost limits and the concert was a perfect success, both
in the high character of the music given, and the excellent manner with
which it was rendered. We have Madam Urso’s testimony that the singing
of the children was fully equal to the singing heard in the schools of
Boston and other Eastern cities. Madam Urso played a selection of
popular airs, including “Home, Sweet Home,” and the national melodies,
to the great delight of the young chorus, and the immense audience
assembled to hear them. This children’s concert was very successful and
to gratify the great number of people who wished to attend it was
repeated on the following Saturday.

On Thursday evening the seats were removed from the Pavilion and a grand
ball was given in compliment to Madam Urso. The next day, Friday, the
chorus and the orchestra volunteered and gave her a benefit concert.
Like the other concerts of the Festival it was a great success, and gave
fifteen thousand people an opportunity to listen to her playing, and to
testify to their admiration of her work in their behalf. With the
children’s concert on Saturday afternoon the Festival week was brought
to a successful close. There was not an accident to mar the pleasure of
the occasion and the cause of music in California received an impulse
that may be felt to this day. The Mercantile Library received a gift of
$27,000 as the result after every bill had been paid and everything
promptly and thoroughly cleared up.

In looking at this singular episode in the life of Madam Urso we hardly
know which to admire the most, the business skill and energy that
carried it through to a financial success, the womanly qualities that
could win and hold the willing services of so many people in every walk
of life or the artistic culture and insight that arranged the programme
so as to at once please and instruct. The concerts were not too
classical to drive the people away nor were they wholly popular. In all
Madam Urso’s art life it has always been her aim to lift up and instruct
her hearers. First allure the people with simple music that they can
understand and then give them something from the masters, something a
little above their comprehension; a taste of classical music. They would
receive a little of the pure and true art and in time they would learn
to ask for nothing else. If she gave them nothing but high art they
would be repelled and would not listen to any art at all. The concerts
in California and those of the festival were arranged on this plan, and
she remained on the Pacific coast long enough to see the wisdom of her
method and to find that the people came to hear her gladly when she
preached the gospel of true and high art. She has ever pursued this high
aim and has lived to see a remarkable change come over the American
people in their love of music. Of this more farther on.

Soon after the festival Madam Urso made an extensive concert tour
through the interior towns of California and everywhere met with a most
flattering reception. The musical societies that had sprung into
existence at her command to assist in the festival turned out to welcome
her in every town, the general interest in music that the event had
awakened throughout the State seemed to have spread to most remote and
out of the way corners among the mountains, and every town seemed to try
to out-do the rest in showing her attention and in crowding her
concerts. At Virginia City the choral Society gave her a reception and
elected her an honorary member of their association. Each member was
expected to wear a badge of a miniature silver brick. They presented her
with a real silver brick, (life size) and as it was too heavy to wear or
even lift from the floor, they presented two bricks of smaller size, in
the shape of ear rings. Certainly it was a most extraordinary present,
in admirable keeping with the place and the people.

After visiting all the principal places of interest among the mountains
and having a most delightful and interesting journey, Madam Urso
returned to San Francisco in May. Here she gave a few concerts and on
the 16th of the month started once more for Paris and taking with her,
the famous silver brick, a most beautiful diamond pendant, and gold
chain, a gift from San Francisco friends, the respect and good wishes of
thousands of people whom she had charmed with her music and her warm
heart, and $22,000 in gold as the net result of her visit.

On the 18th of the following month she was once more in the quiet of her
own home in Paris.

It is not a matter of surprise to find that after Madam Urso’s seven
months’ experience in California there came a severe physical reaction.
The labor and anxiety of the trip were tremendous, and even her iron
constitution gave way, and she broke down utterly the moment the
excitement of her journey to Paris was over. For three months she was
confined to her room with brain fever, and only left it when she was
driven out of the city by the events of the Franco-Prussian war. She was
hastily removed from her house on a stretcher, on the 15th of September,
and took one of the last trains that left the city before the siege, and
was carried on her bed to Boulogne. The change was a fortunate one; the
sea air brought a favorable change in her illness, and her health was
restored. In October she was sufficiently recovered to bear the journey
to England, and she took up her residence in London.

The winter of 1870 and ’71 was passed in private life, but not by any
means in idleness. It seemed as if she had now won a position in which
she could command her time for study and practice. This great artist,
who had commanded the plaudits of two continents, quietly gave herself
up to renewed study, to more faithful practice, and to still greater
efforts towards perfection in her art. In London she could hear the
greatest players in the world. The finest and most scholarly programmes
were to be heard every week. She had nothing to do but to hear the best
music, study the styles of the masters, catch the splendid inspiration
of their works, and to transfer to her own heart and hand whatever of
the great and fine in music they had to offer to her. It was a winter of
hard work upon her violin, and a season of peace and rest from the
dreadful wear and tear of public artist life, and its fruits may to-day
be seen in the eminence she has attained in the very highest walks of
violin music. The classical concerts that she gave in Boston three years
later testify to the conscientious labor that was bestowed upon her
instrument during this quiet winter in London.

Here do we see the true artist-soul. We here catch the earnest meaning
of Camilla Urso’s life—the intense love of music, the devotion to its
highest aims, the eagerness to work, to study and to learn all that is
best and true. Genius, indeed, shines in her music, but without these
years of honest work the genius would only be a delusion and a mockery.
With work it becomes almost divine.

In June of 1871, Madam Urso returned to Paris and spent the summer there
in comparative retirement. She gave no public performances, but held
musical receptions at her own house once a week, that were attended by
all the most noted artists who lived in Paris or visited the city during
that summer.

In the early winter, in reply to a summons from London, Madam Urso
appeared at the Memorial Concert to Mendelssohn, and played his great
concerto at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham. This was her first appearance
in England, and, as we can well understand, it immediately placed her in
a foremost position among the artists of that country. After giving a
few concerts in Paris, she again took up her artist life, and appeared
at the St. James’ Hall in February, 1872.

These two concerts in London and Sydenham at once opened wide the door
to a new field in which her talents found general recognition and
constant employment. If the California experience seemed like some
Eastern dream, this season in London was like stepping back into the
last century, when princes and dukes gave banquets to musicians and
entertained minstrels with royal liberality. Invitations to play before
both the Old and New Philharmonic Societies, and at many other notable
musical gatherings came to her faster than she could accept them. She
played for the Royal Society of Musicians, the Duke of Edinburgh
presiding on the occasion, and she was also asked by the Duke of
Edinburgh to play at Montague House at a reception given in his honor by
the Duchess of Buccleuch. Other persons of distinction in London invited
her, and everywhere she charmed them all by the grace and beautiful
finish of her playing, and by her unaffected and simple manners.
Invitations to play at private houses came so fast that a carriage was
kept in waiting to take her from house to house, that she might appear
and play at several different places the same night.

To republican readers, this appearing at private houses for pay may
seem peculiar and perhaps beneath the dignity of the true artist. It is
the custom of the country. Persons of wealth wishing to entertain their
friends give a musical evening, at which a programme of choice music is
given by artists hired for the occasion. Usually each performer gives
one piece and then retires. He is not expected to appear till just
before his turn comes, and then he briefly presents his respects to the
lady of the house, plays his little piece and gathers his wedding
garments about him and flies away in a Hansom cab to the next house,
where he does it all over again. Then he rattles through the deserted
streets at break-neck speed to be on time at another palatial mansion,
where his piece appears near the end of the programme. The audiences
hardly have time to learn who is playing or singing before the bird has
flown and a new one, just out of his carriage, is ready to sing and fly
again. The very much dressed audience comes and goes at each place, and
the music is often drowned in the clatter of half empty wine-glasses and
the rattle of more empty heads. It is very grand, exceedingly tiresome,
and wonderfully profitable. A player or singer of first-class reputation
who is willing to follow up a London season in this style, can win more
money than by a year of concert giving. Each house pays for its one
piece of music, and as many as five houses can be visited in one
evening.

It is a rather startling method of procedure, but it is the custom of
the country. Madam Urso could not decline to do as all the other
musicians did, however much she might stand on the simple dignity of her
American name. She everywhere called herself an American, and, as it
always happens, won the more respect and admiration for her
independence. It is always an advantage to be known as an American in
Europe, and Madam Urso is only too glad and proud to acknowledge all
that she owes to the country of her adoption.

The English press could here be largely quoted, to give some idea of the
high position Madam Urso won in the musical world at that great art
centre. It is needless to give it, as it is well known that her American
reputation, great as it is, is not equal to that in England. The English
are even more willing to give Camilla Urso her honors due than are we,
and having said this we have said enough.

In July, 1872, Madam Urso returned to Boulogne, and after a short rest
returned to New York, early in September. A concert tour through the
Canadas was at once taken, and after a brief and most successful trip,
she returned to New York. She afterwards made a journey to New Orleans,
where she assisted at the opening of the new Exposition Hall.
Unfortunately, Camilla Urso was here taken sick with the chills and
fever, and was obliged to come North at once. She came to Boston, but
lost much valuable time, both from concerts and practice, by a long
illness at the St. James Hotel.

We now come, as it were, in sight of the present time. The year 1873,
though it was a disastrous one to art interests generally, by reason of
the panic, was one of uninterrupted success for Madam Urso. She took a
brief rest during the summer near New York, but during the remainder of
the time gave an uninterrupted succession of concerts in all the
Northern States, so that it seems as if the sound of her violin still
rang in our ears.



CHAPTER III.

THE GOSPEL OF WORK.


It is now in order to review briefly the events of this remarkable art
life, and to see what lessons it may teach to the musician, the student,
and the art lover. Whether we look at the child, gazing in large-eyed
wonder at the festival in the Church of the Holy Cross, the patient
girl, trudging day by day through the quiet streets of Nantes to take
her lessons, the pale student in the conservatory, the sober-faced
maiden who so won all our hearts so long ago in Boston, the brilliant
young woman who flashed out so suddenly into the highest walks of art,
the great artist born of a wonder child, or the simple American woman,
Camilla Urso, in whatever station we view her, we see the dignity and
reward of honest work. Everywhere we see the same passionate love of
music, the same eagerness to study, to learn the all there is of it, and
to play with ever increasing skill. Genius is the great gift that has
been bestowed upon her. She did not hide it in a napkin, but with heart
and soul she did her best to make it a good and acceptable gift to art
and humanity. Whether giving concerts among our prairie cities, resting
by the sea-shore at Boulogne, traveling among the mountains of
California, studying the great masters of the violin in London or Paris,
or among friends in Boston, she is always practicing upon her beloved
instrument. It is never out of her hands a day, unless ill or fatigued
by traveling. Each month she means shall show some improvement, and from
year to year she has gone on till the present standard of excellence has
been reached. To what perfection her skill has been carried, we shall
leave others to say at the end of this book.

The musician, in looking back over this life of an artist, naturally
asks what changes she may have seen in the art life of the world during
the dozen years or more she has been before the American public. We
purposely select the American public, because it is of the most interest
to us, and because the art life of Europe is somewhat different from
ours, and less liable to changes. Madam Urso’s own views upon the
subject are instructive and encouraging, and we present them in very
nearly her own words. Taken as a whole, the people of this country are
somewhat crude and uneducated in their ideas of music. They certainly
love music; they like music even better than the Europeans, but they do
not exactly know what they want. If, when an orchestra or an artist is
visiting a Western town, you ask a man if he is going to the concert, he
will often say, “No, I have seen him once.” Hearing the music given by
a splendid orchestra does not seem to be thought of any consequence.
Having “seen” the orchestra, there is no further interest in it. On the
other hand, with all their want of education, the people of this country
learn about music faster than any people she ever saw. They are greatly
interested in music, are willing to admit their ignorance concerning it,
are exceedingly eager to learn and anxious that their children should,
at least, study the rudiments, that they may enjoy and understand it.
They are ready and able to pay more for music than any nation in Europe.
If they think they are really to hear something that pleases them, they
will pack the hall whatever the price. The music that pleases them is
not always the best, for the simple reason they do not know what is
best. As fast as they learn better, they drop whatever is before them
and at once take up something else. The sudden disappearance of negro
minstrel music is an evidence of this. The people outgrew it, and it
passed away, as it were, in a night.

In instrumental music there has been a steady advance from the merely
showy and technical to the purely classical. Ten years since they would
crowd the hall to hear the “Carnival.” Had Madam Urso presented the
Beethoven Spohr, or the Mendelssohn Concertos, the people would not have
listened in patience through a single performance. If they heard it at
all, it would be under a sort of silent protest, and the next time the
piece was offered there would be nobody there. These remarks apply to
the country generally. In some of the older cities classical music of a
high order would have found a certain proportion of listeners. From year
to year, all this has changed. By introducing into the lightest and most
popular programmes some short selection from the great masters of violin
music, Madam Urso has gradually taught her audiences what they should
admire, and, by persistent and gentle urging, she has led them to a
knowledge of the best and highest in art. In this Madam Urso is not
alone. All true artists do thus teach the people and try to lift them up
to something higher and purer. It is this that makes the divine in
music. Happily, our people are willing enough to be taught. The general
education, and our freedom from precedents enables all art to grow
faster here than anywhere else. We are still, as a people, crude and
musically ignorant, but we are fast learning. The changes in the
character of concert music may be seen almost from year to year; the
standard continually advances and, certainly, there is everything to
encourage and satisfy the most ardent lover of music in the country.
While we have such artists as Madam Urso among us we have much to be
thankful for, and may press on till we reach the high standard of
excellence she ever keeps before herself.

We may here offer a short sketch of Madam Urso’s personal appearance and
manners, when free from the restraint of public life. The ideas
generally held concerning her “personally” are somewhat incorrect, as
the following will show:

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a cloudy, winter’s afternoon, and the place seemed dull and
gloomy. The Boston Music Hall is, at best, bare and vast, and by
daylight is particularly unattractive. The great organ pipes appear cold
and lustreless, and the light tints on the walls are not very
comforting. The orchestra of the Harvard Musical Association were upon
the stage, under the leadership of Carl Zerrahn, and a few privileged
subscribers, numbering a hundred or two, were gathered together at one
side, as if to keep each other in countenance. Over such a wide floor it
takes a thousand or more to make a comfortable and social company.

The orchestra were at work upon the 6th Symphony of Beethoven, placidly
overcoming its difficulties, stopping now and then to polish up some
delicate point, and taking things in an easy and rather indifferent
manner. In the midst of it entered at the side door a young woman in fur
cape, skull cap of the jauntiest pattern, and some plain dark dress. The
hackman came behind, bearing the great brown leather violin case. With a
serene and placid manner she mounted the stage, and bidding the man
place the violin case on the steps before the organ, she quietly took
off her outer garments and sat down on the steps. A friendly nod and a
smile to Zerrahn and then a cordial hand shake to the librarian of the
Society. She had brought the orchestral parts of the concerto she was
to play, and began to talk in an animated manner about their use. The
audience had no longer any ears for the symphony, and though it went
steadily on, they were all eyes to see and admire their favorite thus
“at home” among them.

Having arranged everything to her satisfaction, she came down into the
house and was quickly surrounded by a group of artists and others. For
all she had a hearty hand shake, a smile, and words of genial and
animated welcome. No pretty miss in the company more admired, no merry
talker more sought for than this unaffected, simple-minded woman.
Beating time on the back of the seat with one finger, nodding to
acquaintances, speaking to all in turn, now in French, and now in the
best of English, she sat the most observed and admired of all the goodly
company, and the most serene and happy.

Presently the symphony rehearsal came to an end, and, without the
slightest hint of affectation, she rose from her seat, smiled her
adieus, and went to the stage. Selecting a violin from its blue satin
wrappings, she threw a white silk handkerchief over her left shoulder,
tuned her violin, and took her place at the front of the stage in the
centre of the orchestra. Tall Carl Zerrahn on his stand seems
particularly giantesque beside such a little lady, and he pushed the
platform on one side and stood upon the stage, to be nearer to her. She
gave nods of recognition to members of the orchestra, shook hands with
Zerrahn, smiled and talked merrily with the leading violin, and then
explained something concerning the music to Zerrahn. With her bow she
gave the time, and the opening prelude began. She adjusted her
handkerchief to her shoulder, and with a light touch played snatches of
the orchestral part, as if to give a hint as to its proper rendering.
Now comes the solo. The accompaniment is hushed, that not a note of the
golden Mozartian melody be lost. Of her performance we will not here
speak in detail, as it is described a page or two further on. Our
present concern is with Madam Urso as a woman at home in her art, and
among friends. Suddenly, in the midst of a brilliant passage, she stops,
and lifting one finger she says, so that all can hear: “F natural.” The
first violins are caught napping, and without a book, and while playing
her own part, she detects and corrects a mistake of a semitone in the
accompaniment. There is no self-assertion or parade, but only an arch
smile and a merry shake of the head, as if it was a good joke to catch
them thus. A hearty laugh from orchestra and audience, and then the work
is resumed. As the piece returns, she nods and smiles her approval, and
the music goes on again. At the end of the movement comes a long
_cadenza_ of great difficulty. She treats it in that masterly and
effective manner that seems so natural to her. Then follows a liberal
round of applause from orchestra and spectators. Next comes the
_andante_ movement, the most beautiful of the three. During the brief
interval between the two she talks merrily with one and another, and
when she is ready gives the time to the conductor. Zerrahn wields the
_baton_, but Madam Urso is the real director. Her spirit guides the
music and inspires the orchestra with unusual animation. The rather
listless manner in the symphony is exchanged for painstaking care and
attention. Camilla’s earnestness and life seems to inspire them to
greater effort, and their playing gains in vigor and precision. “Not too
much fire, gentlemen.” This is the slow movement, and she gently
represses their enthusiasm. The feather like touch, the airy delicacy of
her own playing, spurs them on to unwonted care and restraint. At the
end comes another long _cadenza_, that for soft, whispering tones,
sweetness, grace, and vanishing lightness, is almost unequaled. Her face
becomes serious. Her eyes have a far away expression, dreamy and tender,
that soon affects the music. The magic violin sighs and breathes in
melting tenderness. The melody floats upward, melting and fading away,
exhaled into palpable silence. Not quite, for just as it seems ready to
languish into nothing, a soft, sweet chord from the band completes the
cadence and brings it to a natural end.

Shouts of “bravo” and loud applause greet this splendid effort, and she
nods and smiles with a pleased and natural expression. Still, she is not
satisfied. The band are not sufficiently delicate and light in the
treatment of the last chord or two, and she bids them try it again.
Three times they go over it, before her exacting and lofty standard of
perfection is reached.

Then comes the last movement. Vivacious, animated, and merry, it seems
to suit her happy hearted nature, and she fairly revels in its brilliant
melodies. Difficulties vanish like mist before the sun. It becomes a
delight to dash through the sparkling passages. Clear, clean cut, vivid
and sharp, like cut glass, the music stands out in bold characters. Not
a note slighted or blurred. No obscurity or doubt about the most
intricate passage. Curious little effects of _staccato_ mingled with the
most linked together _legato_. Bold flashes through chain lightning
scales. Chords pouring forth in torrents, and then airy scraps of
melody, as if the theme had broken up into shining bits, glistening
drops, and sparkles of song.

An artist soul blooms before us. Her face is rapt, and almost severe. In
a moment it is over, and her features break into a pleasant, natural
smile. Amid the applause she returns to the floor and mingles with the
people. No affectation, no looking for praise; nothing but sweetness and
friendliness. No common-place woman, with brush or needle in hand, could
be more simple and winsome, no genius could be more self-forgetting.

We may now properly close the chapter, and bring this story of an artist
life up to the present time by a brief sketch of a series of classical
concerts given by Madam Urso in the Spring of 1874, in Boston. They
were remarkable concerts; both in the character of the music given, and
in the crowded and appreciative audiences that attended them. As an
expression of Madam Urso’s present ability as an artist, we offer the
opinion of the _Boston Daily Advertiser_, our best local critical paper,
and, for the present, bring this story to its logical end. May it be
many years before it becomes necessary to add anything more to it,
except to record her continued success as an artist, and happiness as a
good and true woman.

The _Advertiser’s_ criticism upon the first concert of the series we
present in full for the reason that it expresses the critic’s opinion of
Madam Urso’s general character as a musical _artiste_, directress, and
manager, as well as of her rank and position as a violinist:

    “The Horticultural Hall was entirely filled last evening, and
    Madam Camilla Urso was welcomed back to Boston with an
    enthusiasm evidently as unaffected as it was hearty. The
    programme of the concert was singularly choice, but it was
    noticeable especially for the contrast which it presented to the
    bills of most of our _virtuosi_: in three of its numbers only
    did Madam Urso take part, and those three were a trio for
    violin, piano, and violoncello, a sonata for violin and piano,
    and a string quartette. Disappointment at not hearing the
    principal musician in a solo performance may have marred the
    pleasure of some of the audience; and at the other concerts of
    the series it is very likely that some provision may be made for
    the gratification of this natural desire. But the entire
    arrangement of last night seemed to us significant—delightfully
    significant of that noble, generous, self-forgetting spirit
    which has always distinguished this remarkable performer, and
    which is not the least of her titles to the grand name of
    _artiste_. Here seems to be as little as possible of vain show
    of self; nothing at all of that jealous littleness which
    tolerates no companions either as composers or interpreters; the
    _maximum_ of appreciation and reverence for the great authors,
    and of devotion to the best and worthiest in music. In the
    concert of last evening Madam Urso carried the higher principle
    so far that, as has been said, her own name appeared alone
    neither as author nor performer.

    The three chief numbers of this fine programme were a trio in
    C-minor, op. 102, by Raff; a sonata in F-major, No. 9, by
    Mozart; and Schubert’s posthumous quartette in D-minor. The Raff
    trio was new to Boston. It is a long and elaborate work, the
    absolute merit of which is not to be pronounced upon after a
    single hearing. That it is startlingly brilliant and striking in
    at least two of its numbers is plain at once, however; and there
    can be no denying or doubting its great vigor and originality.
    The _scherzo_ has remarkable ingenuity in its harmonic forms and
    instrumental combinations; and the _andante_, amazing in its
    melodic variety and richness, and reflecting, apparently, many
    moods of the composer’s mind, yet produces a unity of impression
    which proves the presence of a strong and self-poised genius.
    The Mozart sonata for violin and piano is exceedingly
    interesting in all its three movements, light and airy in its
    general character,—except in the _andante_, which is touched
    with pensiveness,—and not striking very far down in its
    suggestions, but full of fresh beauty and consummate in its
    symmetrical grace. In the happiest contrast with the sonata was
    the wonderful D-minor quartette of Schubert. No better
    illustration of the marked divergence between the modes of
    expression natural to two master composers could have been
    chosen than these. The invariable law of Mozart’s genius—in
    spite of, or perhaps, in aid of its broad inclusiveness—is
    condensation or conciseness; of Schubert’s, it is expansion and
    diffusiveness. But where the genius is so vital and inspiring as
    that which shines in every line of the D-minor quartette, the
    amplitude never degenerates into tediousness. There may be
    profusion in the host’s providing, but no surfeit in the guest’s
    appetite.

    In considering the quality of the performance one is tempted at
    first to the natural remark that Madam Urso’s power cannot be so
    plainly shown in concerted as in solo music. But in the very
    utterance, we find ourselves hesitating and more than doubtful.
    For purely mechanical effects and for all the immense variety of
    mere instrumental and personal display the solo, of course,
    offers unequaled opportunities. But, after all, of how little
    real value and beauty are these pyrotechnics of the profession;
    how shallow is the stream of emotion which flows from them, and
    how barren, dry and brief is the pleasure which accompanies
    their recollection! If proofs were sought that Madam Camilla
    Urso retained her skill in all its amazing perfection and her
    genius in all its vitality and inspiration, they were abundant
    indeed at the concert of last evening. There was the same grand
    steadiness and strength; the same absolute faultlessness in
    purity of tone; the same fine discrimination and delicacy; the
    same minute clearness and cleanness, so that in the most rapid
    and difficult delivery nothing was slurred or confused; the same
    docile yielding to the spirit of the composer and to the demands
    of her fellow-musicians. And more than this, there was ample
    room for the exhibition of the expressive and sympathetic power,
    which was always the first title of Madam Urso—as of every
    great violinist—to the highest rank in her art. Her violin in
    these fine concerted pieces spoke with the same “golden mouth”
    as of old, commanding, inspiring, defying and pleading by turns.
    And in such music as that of the well-nigh incomparable “_Tema
    con variazioni_” of the Schubert quartette, the highest
    eloquence of the king of instruments is not only permitted but
    demanded.”

Another view of the professional and technical skill of Madam Urso is
given by the critic of the _Advertiser_ in the following words:

    “We have said that Madam Urso’s place as a violinist is in the
    first rank; it is hardly necessary to add, that among performers
    of her own sex she is unquestionably the very first in the
    world. It is, indeed, only within a comparatively few years that
    the claims of women to superiority as violinists have been
    treated with anything better than sneers. And the supercilious
    and intolerant spirit which dictated such treatment had at least
    a much solider foundation than the narrow conservatism which
    refused to admit women into the lists with poets, novelists,
    sculptors, and painters: for power and force are the primal
    conditions of the highest success as a performer upon the
    violin, and most women would undoubtedly be weak players as
    compared with most men. But the genius of art—who, after all,
    is one and the same, whatever form the art may take—is no
    respecter of persons; nay, more, he demands for his high tasks
    those of every clime and rank, and of both sexes. And from each
    and every one he asks a peculiar service which no other could
    exactly render. And thus he has assigned to Madam Urso her own
    functions as an _artiste_. There is no denying the remarkable
    power and breadth of her style, which is far in advance of that
    exhibited by the majority of the best male performers;—her
    touch is at once as firm as steel and as soft as velvet; her
    mere manual dexterity is extraordinary; and her intonations are
    as faultless as the steadiest of hands and the correctest of
    ears can make them,—witness, especially, her recent wonderful
    playing of _cadenzas_ at a Harvard Symphony Concert. In all of
    this Madam Urso may be said to be a man, or the equal and
    compeer of man. But in the great expressive power to which we
    have often referred as her chief title to the highest place, the
    soul of the true and earnest woman finds its own exclusive
    utterance; and we get a something of tenderness, of sweetness,
    and of subtlety which is pre-eminently feminine. The world could
    not afford to lose this, though great performers were twenty
    times more numerous than they are. The age which has produced a
    Dickens and a “George Eliot,” a Holman Hunt and a Rosa Bonheur,
    a Story and a Harriet Hosmer, must needs have added to the
    scroll upon which the titles of Joachim, of Vieuxtemps, and of
    Ole Bull are inscribed, the name of

                            CAMILLA URSO.”



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.


THE SOPRANO.—A Musical Story.

    In paper,                  .60
    In handsome cloth,        1.00


THE TONE MASTERS.—Three Volumes.

    MOZART AND MENDELSSOHN.
    HANDEL AND HAYDN.
    BACH AND BEETHOVEN.

An illustrated musical series for young people and others.
    Cloth, price per vol.    $1.25


MONEY AND MUSIC.—An Art Story.

    In handsome cloth,       $1.00


GARDENING FOR MONEY.—How it was done with Fruit, Flowers and
Vegetables.

    In cloth,                $1.50


A SIMPLE FLOWER GARDEN.—A practical guide for every lady.

    In paper covers,       25 cts.



Transcriber’s Note: The table below lists all corrections applied to the
original text.

p. 5: [normalized] into the shady archway -> arch-way
p. 26: not very difficult in rythm -> rhythm
p. 28: rapid appeggios -> arpeggios
p. 28: Repeatedly nterrupted by applause -> interrupted
p. 30: The Director Auber, received him -> Director, Auber, received
p. 32: Persistance finally carried the day ->Persistence
p. 34: compete with grown up lads, -> lads.
p. 50: Salvator Urso would play the flute -> Salvatore
p. 63: paler and thiner than ever -> thinner
p. 65: given her at Manhiem -> Manheim
p. 66: 24th Concerto in B Minor for violin by Viotto -> Viotti
p. 69: the half smilling mouth -> smiling
p. 70: M Urso replied -> M. Urso
p. 75: Something had happend -> happened
p. 80: the greatest enthuasiasm -> enthusiasm
p. 81: flaming advertisements of pecocity -> precocity
p. 82: so natural and childlke -> childlike
p. 82: so selfposesed and graceful -> selfpossessed
p. 83: sit down in dispair -> despair
p. 85: They stoped a gentleman -> stopped
p. 85: Again and again they stoped -> stopped
p. 87: wofully ignorant -> woefully
p. 87: incredably short time -> incredibly
p. 89: It was a stiring, eventful life -> stirring
p. 91: and the povery and trial -> poverty
p. 92: L’elisir ’d Amore -> L’elisir d’Amore
p. 94: Witches’ Dance, by Paginini -> Paganini
p. 99: Souvenir des Pryrenees -> Pyrenees
p. 99: [normalized] to her in the anteroom -> ante-room
p. 103: before a seclet audience -> select
p. 103: beseiged the doors -> besieged
p. 100: fulfill every engagemet tno the letter -> engagement to
p. 114: the orchestra, drilled -> orchestra drilled
p. 115: beseiged by editors -> besieged
p. 115: The Mechanics’ Pavillion -> Pavilion
p. 115: a drum more portentious -> portentous
p. 119: the Festivale week -> Festival
p. 124: the Old and New Philarmonic Societies -> Philharmonic
p. 127: an unrupted succession -> uninterrupted





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