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Title: Memories of a Musical Life
Author: Mason, William, 1829-1908
Language: English
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[Illustration: WILLIAM MASON IN 1899]

Memories of a

Musical Life


William Mason

[Illustration: colophon]




Copyright, 1900, 1901, by


_Published October, 1901._





EARLY DAYS IN NEW ENGLAND                                              3
  Lowell Mason's Career                                                7
  First Beethoven Symphony in America                                  8
  Musical Conventions                                                  9
  Early Musical Training                                              10
  Webster and Clay                                                    11
  First Public Appearance                                             18
  Leopold de Meyer                                                    19
  "Father Heinrich"                                                   22
  An Embarrassing Experience                                          25

STUDENT LIFE ABROAD                                                   27
  Meeting with Meyerbeer                                              28
  Liszt's Feat of Memory                                              31
  First Meeting with Liszt                                            33
  Arrival at Leipsic                                                  34
  Moscheles, Beethoven, and Chopin                                    36
  The Intimacy of Moscheles and Mendelssohn                           37
  Schumann                                                            38
  Schumann's "Symphony No. 1, B Flat"                                 39
  Schumann's Absent-mindedness                                        42
  Moritz Hauptmann                                                    44
  A Visit to Wagner                                                   48
  Wagner on Mendelssohn and Beethoven                                 51
  A Wagner Autograph                                                  55
  Moscheles                                                           57
  Joseph Joachim                                                      62
  Schumann's "Concerto in A Minor"                                    63
  Carl Mayer                                                          65
  Dreyschock                                                          66
  Prince de Rohan's Dinner                                            71
  Chopin, Henselt, and Thalberg                                       75
  Anton Schindler, "Ami de Beethoven"                                 79
  Schindler and Schnyder von Wartensee                                82
  First London Concert                                                84

WITH LISZT IN WEIMAR                                                  86
  Accepted by Liszt                                                   88
  The Altenburg                                                       93
  How Liszt Taught                                                    97
  "Play It Like This"                                                 99
  Liszt in 1854                                                      101
  His Fascination                                                    102
  Liszt's Indignation                                                103
  Objects to my Eye-glasses                                          106
  A Musical Breakfast                                                108
  Liszt's Playing                                                    110
  Liszt and Pixis                                                    117
  Liszt Conducting                                                   119
  Liszt's Symphonic Poems--Rehearsing "Tasso"                        121
  Extracts from a Diary                                              122
  Opportunities                                                      126
  Brahms in 1853                                                     127
  Nervous before Liszt                                               128
  Dozing while Liszt Played                                          129
  "Lohengrin" for the First Time in Leipsic                          132
  In Stuttgart--Hotel Marquand                                       135
  The Schumann "Feier" in Bonn, 1880                                 136
  Brahms's Pianoforte-playing                                        137
  A Historical Error Corrected                                       141
  More about Liszt's Wonderful Sight-reading                         142
  Liszt's Moments of Contrition                                      144
  Peter Cornelius                                                    145
  Some Famous Violinists                                             147
  Remenyi                                                            151
  Some Distinguished Opera-singers                                   153
  Henriette Sontag                                                   154
  Johanna Wagner                                                     156
  Mme. de la Grange                                                  157
  "Der Verein der Murls"                                             158
  The Wagner Cause in Weimar                                         159
  Raff in Weimar                                                     161
  Dr. Adolf Bernhard Marx                                            165
  Berlioz in Weimar                                                  168
  Entertaining Liszt's "Young Beethoven"                             171
  Rubinstein's Opposition to Wagner                                  174

AT WORK IN AMERICA                                                   183
  Touring the Country                                                184
  "Yankee Doodle" and "Old Hundred"                                  187
  Settling down to Teach                                             191
  Theodore Thomas at Twenty                                          195
  Thomas as Conductor                                                197
  Karl Klauser, Musical Director at Miss Porter's School             202
  Louis Moreau Gottschalk                                            205
  Propaganda for Schumann's Music                                    209
  Sigismond Thalberg                                                 210
  Pedal and Pedal Signs--Why not Dispense with the Latter?           215
  Pedal Study for the Pianoforte                                     219
  Rubinstein and the Autograph-hunter                                221
  Evolution in Musical Ideas--Beethoven Pianoforte Recitals          226
  Rubinstein's Favorite Seat at a Pianoforte Recital                 227
  Bach's "Triple Concerto" and "Les Agréments"                       229
  A Significant Autograph from Rubinstein                            234
  Rubinstein, Paderewski, and "Yankee Doodle"                        236
  Meetings with Von Bülow                                            238
  Edvard Grieg                                                       241
  Rates of Tempo--The Present Time Compared with Fifty Years Ago     243
  Electrocuting Chopin                                               244
  Tempo Rubato                                                       246
  Unusual Pupils--Transposing--Positive and Relative Pitch           247
  Appledore, Isles of Shoals                                         251

MUSIC IN AMERICA TO-DAY                                              259

APPENDIX                                                             273

INDEX                                                                297

     The author acknowledges the efficient collaboration of Mr. Gustav
     Kobbé in preparing these Memories for publication, and also the
     valuable assistance of his son-in-law, Mr. Howard van Sinderen.


William Mason in 1899                                    _Frontispiece_
  From a photograph by Gessford & Van Brunt.

                                                          FACING PAGE

William Mason as a Boy                                                12
  From a daguerreotype.

William Mason at the Age of Eighteen                                  20
  From a daguerreotype.

Autograph of I. Moscheles                                             32

Autograph of Robert Schumann                                          38

Autograph of Mme. Schumann                                            44

Autograph of Moritz Hauptmann                                         48

Autograph of Richard Wagner                                           56

Autograph of Joseph Joachim                                           64

Autograph of Anton Schindler                                          80

Liszt in Middle Life                                                  88
  Drawn by George T. Tobin from a photograph of uncertain date.

The Altenburg, Liszt's House at Weimar                                96

Autograph of Vieuxtemps                                              144

Autograph of Ole Bull                                                150

Autograph of Henriette Sontag                                        164

Autograph of Hector Berlioz                                          168

Autograph of Ferdinand Laub                                          180

The Mason-Thomas Quartet                                             196

Theodore Thomas about Twenty-four Years Old                          200
  From a photograph by Duchochois & Klauser.

Autograph of Moreau Gottschalk                                       208

Autograph of Sigismond Thalberg                                      212

Autograph of Anton Rubinstein                                        232

Autograph of I. J. Paderewski                                        236

Autograph of Hans von Bülow                                          240

Autograph of Edvard Grieg                                            244

Interior of Studio in Steinway Building, New York                    248

Autographs of the Kneisel Quartet                                    262

Lowell Mason                                                         277
  From a daguerreotype.





I am the third son of Lowell Mason of Medfield, Massachusetts, and of
Abigail Gregory of Westborough, Massachusetts, his wife, and I was born
in Boston on January 24, 1829. My father was in the seventh generation
from Robert Mason, who was born in England about the year 1590. In 1630
Robert came to America, and was probably one of John Winthrop's company,
landing at Salem on the twelfth day of June of that year. Thomas Mason,
the elder son of Robert, went to Medfield to live in the second year of
the settlement of the town. His marriage with Margery Partridge, on
April 23, 1653, was the first marriage to be entered upon the town
records; and the homestead lands, which he acquired by grant from the
town, have ever since remained in possession of some member of the Mason
family. Thomas and two of his sons were killed by the Indians under
Monaco on February 21, 1676, when Medfield was burned. The line was
continued through Ebenezer, a third son, born at Medfield, September 12,
1669; Thomas, a son of Ebenezer, born at Medfield, April 23, 1699;
Barachias, son of Thomas, born at Medfield, June 10, 1723, who was
musical and who taught singing; and Johnson, son of Barachias, born at
Medfield, August 7, 1767. Johnson was the father of Lowell Mason, who
was born at Medfield, January 8, 1792. On January 8, 1892, the one
hundredth anniversary of my father's birth was celebrated at Medfield,
under the auspices of the Historical Society of that place. In the
address delivered by the president of the society, a period of his life
was touched upon concerning which but little had heretofore been
published. The address will be interesting to those who are interested
in him and in the work which he accomplished, and is printed, by
permission, in an appendix to these memories.

The difference between Boston and New York as musical centers is largely
due to my father. He made Boston a self-developing musical city. New
York has received its musical culture from abroad.

My father manifested a remarkable fondness for music at an early age.
His parents did not intend that he should take up music as a profession,
but his talent was not neglected. In 1812, before he was twenty, he
heard of an opening in a bank in Savannah, Georgia, and having secured
the position, he went there. After business hours he continued his
studies in music with an instructor named F. L. Abel, under whom he made
rapid progress. He soon attempted composition, his first efforts being
hymn-tunes and anthems. He arranged a collection consisting of a group
of selections from William Gardiner's "Sacred Melodies," to which he
added some of his own compositions. For this collection he vainly
endeavored to find a publisher in Philadelphia and Boston, until chance
brought to Savannah a Boston organ-builder, W. M. Goodrich, who had come
to set up an organ. He induced my father to go to Boston in person, with
the result that the work was submitted to Dr. G. K. Jackson, the
organist of the Handel and Haydn Society, and received his approval. It
was published in 1822, with the title, "The Boston Handel and Haydn
Society's Collection of Music," and was an instant success, finding its
way into singing-schools and church choirs throughout New England. Some
of my father's hymn-tunes have become famous. It has been said that his
missionary hymn, "From Greenland's Icy Mountains," has been sung in more
languages than any other sacred tune. Among the many popular tunes which
he composed are "Boylston," "Hebron," "Olivet," and "Bethany"; and one
of his collections of sacred melodies brought him in over a hundred
thousand dollars in royalties.


The success of my father's first venture led him to leave Savannah and
settle in Boston. Then, as now, the Handel and Haydn Society was largely
recruited from church choirs, but in those days its concerts were few,
and these were almost entirely devoted to church music. Rarely was a
"work" offered to the public. Outside the realm of church music, the
society's repertory consisted of "The Messiah", "The Creation" (and more
frequently fragments from these), the "Dettingen Te Deum" by Handel, and
the "Intercession" by M. P. King, who has long since been forgotten. For
five years my father was president of the society, and served as musical
director, the special employment of a conductor not having been
authorized until 1847.

Meanwhile he was constantly aiming at the introduction of popular
education in music. It was through his efforts--and strenuous efforts
they were--that music was introduced into the Boston public schools. To
bring this about he first taught classes of children free of charge, and
gave concerts to illustrate the practicability of his plans. When
finally musical education was made a part of the Boston public-school
system, the city council refused to make any appropriation for it, and
he served as instructor for a year gratuitously, beginning work in 1837
in the Hawes Grammar School, South Boston. The experiment was a complete
success. Music was generally introduced into the public schools, and my
father was made superintendent of the department. The seeds he sowed
then are still bearing fruit. This was part of his labor which created
in Boston a self-developing musical activity. While Dr. Samuel G. Howe
was engaged in organizing the Perkins Institution for the Blind in 1832,
at his request my father devised a system of musical instruction for the


About 1830 an English musician, Mr. George James Webb, settled in
Boston. He was a gentleman of high culture, thoroughly educated in
music, played the organ well, and was a good vocal teacher. His talents
and his personal charm were promptly recognized. My father became
intimate with him, and in 1833, with the coöperation of certain
influential gentlemen of Boston, they founded the Boston Academy of
Music, my father taking charge of the special department of church
music, while Mr. Webb devoted himself chiefly to secular music and
voice-culture. Instrumental concerts were also given at the academy, and
there, on February 10, 1841, occurred the first performance in America
of a Beethoven symphony, the Fifth, which was played by an orchestra of
twenty-three, under the direction of Henry Schmidt.


My father originated the idea of assembling music-teachers in classes.
In 1838, when the experiment was not more than three years old, one
hundred and thirty-four teachers, representing ten States, assembled at
the academy. From these assemblages grew the musical conventions which
my father held throughout New England and in some of the other States.
Choir-singers and other musically inclined people from the towns lying
within the surrounding district would gather at a central point, and he
would hold a musical convention lasting for several days, drilling the
singers in church music, but also, where he found sufficient
advancement, in music of a higher order. The Worcester festivals may be
traced to these conventions.


I had shown my fondness for music at a very early age. When I was a
child, my father was the organist of the Bowdoin Street Congregational
Church in Boston, of which Lyman Beecher had been the pastor. When I was
seven years old, he placed me unexpectedly on the organ-bench at a
public service, and while the choir sang the tune of "Boylston", I
played the accompaniment. Up to this time I had had but little
instruction in pianoforte-playing. My mother used to sit by me and guide
me in the way of careful practising, and thus I had acquired
considerable facility for those days, though now I have a feeling of
compassion for any one who had to listen to me.

I became useful to my father as an accompanist, and when he went to
musical conventions he took me along with him, and I would play the
piano accompaniments while he conducted.


It was at about this time that my father took me with him on a trip to
Providence. In those days the entrance to the cars was from the side,
and we took seats nearly opposite the door. My father called my
attention to a very dignified and impressive-looking man in the front
corner of the car, saying: "William, the gentleman in the corner is
Daniel Webster. Go over and wish him good morning." I promptly obeyed,
and marching over to him, said, "Good morning, Daniel Webster." He asked
my name, and I replied, saying my father was "over there," and then he
exchanged greetings with my father. I was somewhat awed by his great
dignity, and remember very well his piercing eyes.

About the year 1842 I went to Maysville, Kentucky, to stay with the
family of my uncle, Mr. E. F. Tucker. My health had not been good, and
the change of residence was thought to be judicious. My uncle was at the
head of some factory in Maysville, and one day, after I had been there
for some time, a gentleman called at the house to see him about business
connected with the factory. My aunt called me, and, presenting me to the
gentleman, requested me to show him the way to the factory. This
gentleman was Henry Clay. I remember his urbanity, and his friendly
conversation attracted me. This time it was not the eye which was
noticeable, but the mouth, which was unusually large.




Returning to Boston after a year, I was sent to Newport, Rhode Island,
to study under the Rev. T. T. Thayer, who was a Congregational clergyman
in that place. In a short time after my arrival I began playing the
organ at the services in his church, and continued this with regularity
until my return to Boston a few years later. At Boston I became the
organist at the Congregational church in Winter street, at which my
father was music-conductor.

I played in public about the year 1846, in one of the concerts of the
Boston Academy of Music, given in the Odeon, which was then the
principal concert-hall in Boston. On this occasion I had the
accompaniment of a string quartet. This was my first regular appearance
in public. About this time, too, I began taking pianoforte lessons of
Mr. Henry Schmidt, to whom reference has been made as the conductor of
Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony" on the occasion of the first performance
of this work in Boston. Mr. Schmidt's instrument was the violin, but he
was also an excellent pianoforte teacher, and to his careful and skilful
instruction I owe very much. I remember that in those days I was more
fond of playing--if my habit of improvising in a loose or inaccurate way
can be so called--than of careful practising and close attention to
detail. When my lesson-hour arrived I used to trust much to luck, and
thus occasioned poor Mr. Schmidt a deal of trouble and vexation. He
begged and entreated me to be careful, and after a while a spirit of
contrition overcame me, and so, on a certain occasion, I really did
practise carefully and to my best ability during the interval between my
lessons. When Mr. Schmidt made his appearance, however, I became so
nervous and apprehensive lest my work should not show to advantage that
the very thing I dreaded took place, and I stumbled through my piece in
a distressing manner. I do not wonder that my teacher's patience was
tried, and he rebuked me with severity, saying that he believed I had
not practised at all since the previous lesson. I received this all very
meekly, but when he took his departure I pitched the music into a
corner, and did not practise until he made his appearance for the
following lesson. At this lesson, however, I played with great accuracy
and spirit, much to my gratification and somewhat to my surprise. Mr.
Schmidt warmly commended my work, and attributed it to the fact that I
had _now_ practised industriously and carefully. I had enough sense to
know that the successful result was owing to the practice I had
previously done, and which needed time to produce its results. This bit
of experience I commend to pianoforte students for careful
consideration, to show that acts are not always immediately followed by
desirable results.

Mr. Schmidt taught me much concerning the production of tone in
pianoforte playing, and in particular led me to acquire a certain habit
of touch which I have never lost, and which has been the means of
greatly lessening the fatigue which would otherwise have been attendant
on the performance of pieces which require much strength and
long-continued endurance. I write somewhat at length concerning this
matter, feeling that a knowledge of my experience may be of substantial
use to pianoforte students.

The habit referred to has especial relation to the playing of the
various rapid scale and arpeggio passages, involving closed or open hand
position which are so common in pianoforte compositions and which grow
out of the nature of the instrument. The touch is accomplished by
quickly but quietly drawing the finger-tips inward toward the palm of
the hand, or, in other words, slightly and partly closing the
finger-points as they touch the keys while playing. This action of the
fingers secures the coöperation of many more muscles of the finger,
wrist, hand, and forearm than could be accomplished by the merely
"up-and-down" finger-touch. It is difficult to describe in detail
without an instrument at hand for illustration. If correctly performed,
however, the tones produced are very clear and well defined, and of a
beautifully musical quality. The simile of "a string of pearls" of
precisely similar size and shape has often been used in describing their
fluency and clearness of outline. A too rapid withdrawal of the
finger-tips would result in a short and crisp staccato. While this
extreme staccato is also desirable and frequently used, it is not the
kind of effect here desired, namely, a clear, clean delivery of the
tones which in no wise disturb the legato effect.

Of course it requires cultivation and skill to secure just the right
degree of finger-motion to preserve the legato and at the same time the
slight separation of each tone. Therefore the fingers must not be drawn
so quickly as to produce a separation or staccato effect, but in just
the right degree to avoid impairing the legato or binding effect. For
the sake of convenience in description I have named this touch the
"elastic finger-touch," and through its influence a clear and crisp
effect is attained. It is interesting to observe in this connection, a
fact which I learned only many years later, that Sebastian Bach's touch,
described in detail by J. N. Forkel in his work entitled "Über Johann
Sebastian Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke," both as used by Bach
himself and as he taught it to his pupils, seems to be identical with
the touch I am here attempting to describe. Forkel expressly emphasizes
the "pulling-in" motion of the finger-tips. While it has relation solely
to finger-action as distinguished from the action of the wrist and arm,
it cannot be accomplished properly without bringing into action the
flexor and extensor muscles, principally of the forearm from wrist to

Through the medium of this touch pianissimo effects are possible which
no other mechanism can reach, for passages of the most extreme delicacy
and softness still retain the quality of vitality and clearness of

During the season of 1846 I played the pianoforte part throughout the
series of six concerts of chamber-music given by the Harvard Musical
Association. I remember that Mr. Blessner played the violin and Mr.
Groenvelt the violoncello, but cannot recall the names of the players of
the second violin and viola. These concerts were given at the pianoforte
warerooms of Mr. Jonas Chickering, 334 Washington street, Boston. I
still have the programs. String quartets by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven
were played, also piano trios by Beethoven, Reissiger, and Mayseder.


The knowledge I gained from Mr. Schmidt was largely advanced and
supplemented by what I learned a year or two later, in 1847-48, from the
playing of the pianoforte virtuoso Leopold de Meyer, who came to the
United States about that time.

It was from a careful study of the manner of his playing that I first
acquired the habit of fully devitalized upper-arm muscles in
pianoforte-playing. The loveliness and charming musical beauty of his
tones, the product of these conditions, greatly excited my admiration
and fascinated me. I never missed an opportunity of hearing him play,
and closely watched his movements, and particularly the motions of hand,
arm, and shoulder. I was incessantly at the pianoforte trying to produce
the same delightful tone quality by imitating his manner and style.



My continued perseverance was rewarded with success, for the result was
a habit of devitalized muscular action in such degree that I could
practically play all day without a feeling of fatigue. The constant
alternation between devitalization and reconstruction keeps the muscles
always fresh for their work and enables the player to rest while
playing. The force is so distributed that each and every muscle has
ample opportunity to rest while yet in a state of activity. Furthermore
the tones resulting from this touch are sonorous and full of energy and
life. An idea of my own which was persistently carried into act aided
materially in bringing about the desired result. This was to allow
the arms to hang limp by my side, either in a sitting or standing
posture, and then to shake them rigorously with the utmost possible
looseness and devitalization. This device was in after years recommended
to my pupils, and those who persistently followed it up and persevered
for a while gained great advantage from it, and eventually acquired a
state of habitual muscular elasticity and flexibility.

I might easily have learned from any book of anatomy the names of the
muscles which are here referred to, but for the practical instruction of
pianoforte pupils this seemed to be of little consequence. However,
there are three muscles of the upper arm which may here be named: the
triceps, the brachialis anticus, and the biceps. Of these the
first-named is of the most importance to the pianist.

Leopold de Meyer's New York concerts were given in the old Broadway
Tabernacle, some distance below Canal street, as I now remember. The
piano-lovers were not so numerous then as they are now, and it was
difficult to fill the hall, even with the help of deadheads. De Meyer's
agent, acting on the principle that "a crowd draws a crowd," hired a lot
of carriages to make their appearance a little before the concert-hour,
and to stand in front of the doors and then advance in turn, so that
passers-by might receive the impression of activity on the part of the


Somewhere about this time there lived in New York an elderly German
musician and composer who had somehow gained the cognomen of "Father
Heinrich." He composed quite a number of large works, both vocal and
instrumental, and also a number of pianoforte pieces. During a visit
which he made to Boston, his headquarters were at Chickering's
pianoforte warerooms, and on one occasion I was presented to him as a
youth of some musical promise. He immediately showed me one of his
pianoforte pieces in manuscript, and said: "Young man, I am going to
test your musical talent and intelligence and see if you appreciate in
any degree the importance of a proper observance of dynamics in musical
interpretation." He had placed the open pages of the manuscript on the
pianoforte desk, and I was glancing over them in close scrutiny. "I wish
to tell you before you begin to play that I have submitted this piece to
two or three of the best musicians in New York and they have failed to
bring out the intended effect in an important phrase." This remark put
me at once on my guard, and while he was talking I was closely
scrutinizing the manuscript to see if there was some dynamic or other
mark which would reveal his intention. About half-way down the second
page I discovered a series of sforzando marks, thus: > > > > > over
several notes in one of the inner parts, and immediately determined to
bring out these tones with all possible force. Further than this there
seemed to be no peculiarity; but as he had by this time finished his
remarks I began to play with special care. The piece was easy to read,
and so I made good progress, and on coming to the passage referred to I
put a tremendous emphasis on the tones marked sforzando, playing all of
the other voices by contrast quite softly. To my boyish satisfaction I
found I had hit the mark. The excitement and pleasure of Father Heinrich
was excessive and amusing. "Bravo! bravo!" he cried. "You have great
talent, and you have done what none of our musicians in New York have

I did not at the time understand how he could lay so much stress on the
affair, but in the light of a long experience as teacher of the
pianoforte I no longer wonder at his excitement. All music is full of
nuances and accents of greater or less intensity, to which pupils hardly
ever give any attention, although they are necessary in order to give
due expression to rhythm. They correspond to vocal accents in reading
aloud, or in declamation.


It is difficult to realize the crudity of musical taste in the early
days. I remember that in 1840 my father conducted a convention in
Vermont--I think in Woodstock. We went by rail as far as we could, and
then traveled a number of hours by coach. We were received by the
dignitaries of the town, and conducted to the house in which we were to
stay. While we were shaking off the dust of travel, we heard the sounds
of drum and fife. Looking out of the window, we found that these
instruments headed a small procession which had come to escort us to the
church. The drum and the fife were the instrumental outfit of the town;
so, led by these, my father and I marched with the magnates of the place
to the church. I still remember how foolish I felt.

In 1846 my father was preparing to hold a convention in Augusta, Maine.
Mr. Webb was to go with him, and I was sent to his house the evening
before they were to start to let him know about the arrangements.
Though I knew Mr. Webb very well, I had never had occasion to go to his
house. At this time I was seventeen years old. When I was shown into the
drawing-room, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Webb and their daughter, a girl then
not fourteen. I had not been in the house half an hour before I was
deeply in love with her. I found that she was going to Augusta, and I
decided at once that I would go, too. So the next day we all started
together. She and I grew to be good friends, but the idea of an
engagement between us was not to be thought of at that time, and while I
lived in Germany we were not permitted to correspond. For five years I
did not see her; but when I came back I hastened to her father's house.
The sequel I shall tell later.


It having been decided that I should continue my musical studies in
Europe, I sailed from New York for Bremen on the side-wheel steamer
_Herrmann_ in May, 1849, accompanied by Mr. Frank Hill of Boston, who
had already attained some distinction as a pianist. My intention was to
go directly to Leipsic to study with Moscheles. One of our
fellow-passengers was Julius Schuberth, the music-publisher of Hamburg,
who had been in America on business. Arriving at Bremen, we learned that
the insurrection had not yet been suppressed, and that within two or
three days there had been bloodshed in the streets of Leipsic. For this
and other reasons I gladly accepted Mr. Schuberth's invitation to visit
him, first making a short trip to Paris with Hill.


I arrived in Paris shortly after six o'clock in the morning, and went to
the Hôtel de Paris, in the Rue de Richelieu. In those days, at that
early hour, Paris was as quiet as an American town at midnight. There
were three of us in the party. We secured two rooms, and my friends
remained up-stairs, while I returned to the porter's lodge below to have
my passport sent to the Bureau of Police to be viséd. The porter went
out to attend to this, and I was left alone in the lodge.

Shortly afterward a man entered, of medium height, well dressed, and
with a good deal of manner. He addressed me in French, but when I asked
him if he could speak English he began conversing fluently in that
language. He asked if I was from England and a stranger in Paris. When I
told him I was from America, he exclaimed, "Ah, that is farther off."
Then, noticing the passport, which was uncommonly large and was bound
like a book, he asked, "Is that an American passport? Please let me
have a look at it I'm curious to see it." Bound in with the passport
were a number of blank leaves to be used for the visés of various
consuls. "Young man," said my chance acquaintance, "you have leaves
enough there to travel about Europe for twenty years." Then he inquired
if I was traveling for pleasure or on business.

"I have come over to study music."

"Ah, composition?"

"No; mainly piano, but also theory and composition."

"And where?"

"I expect to go to Leipsic to study with Moscheles, Hauptmann, and
Richter. Eventually I hope to go to Liszt."

"Well, well, you've chosen good men. Moscheles knew Beethoven."

Then, with a few friendly words, he left the lodge and entered the
hotel. Just as he was leaving the porter returned.

"Who is the gentleman?" I asked, pointing after the disappearing form.

"Meyerbeer, the composer."

The porter then took me into the courtyard and pointed out the room
which Meyerbeer occupied, calling my attention to the fact that his
window and mine almost faced each other.

"If you look out of your window about eleven o'clock," said the porter,
"you will see Mme. Garcia and Roger, the tenor, coming here to rehearse
their rôles in the new opera with the composer."

Meyerbeer was so affable at our chance meeting that I think I could
easily have followed it up and have seen more of him; but when a boy is
in Paris for the first time, he has many things to think of. Moreover, I
did not realize that at the end of the century, "Le Prophète," the work
which Meyerbeer was then rehearsing, would still be in the repertory of
every first-class opera-house. I knew that he was a distinguished
composer, but I did not for a moment imagine that his work would live so
long. As I now look back through the perspective of time, I realize the
opportunity I missed; but I thank the freak of fortune which threw in
his way, if only for a few moments, a young man who was too careless to
improve the chance acquaintance.

From Paris I returned to Schuberth's in Hamburg. He was an active,
enterprising, pushing business man, with a large acquaintance in the
musical world, and the knowledge of how to put it to the best use. I
remained in Hamburg for some time. Boy-like, I had spent all my money in
Paris, and was now obliged to wait for a remittance from home. In
Hamburg I met Carl Mayer of Dresden, a fine pianist of the Hummel
school, and Mortier de Fontaine, who was very well known in his day as a
Beethoven-player--had, in fact, won considerable fame as the first
pianist to perform Beethoven's "Sonata, Op. 106" in public. That was his


From Hamburg I went to Leipsic, but Schuberth did not lose sight of me.
Whenever he came there he looked me up, and was very kind in
introducing me to people whom it was well for me to meet. He knew Liszt
very well, and having taken a fancy to a composition of mine, "Les
Perles de Rosée," which was still in manuscript, he said: "Let me have
it for publication. Dedicate it to Liszt. I can easily get Liszt to
accept the dedication. I am going directly from here to Weimar, and will
see him about it. At the same time, I will prepare the way for your
reception later as a pupil."

[Illustration: Autograph of I. Moscheles]

Not long afterward I received a letter from Schuberth in which he told
me that when he handed the music to Liszt, the latter looked at the
manuscript, hummed it over, then sat down and played it from memory.
Then, going to his desk, he took a pen, and accepted the dedication by
writing his name at the top of the title-page. Encouraged by this, I
wrote a letter to Liszt, expressing my desire to become one of his
pupils, and asking what my chances were. Unfortunately, I misinterpreted
his reply, and received the impression that it amounted to a
refusal; but at the same time he gave me a cordial invitation to
attend the festival about to take place in Weimar in commemoration of
the hundredth anniversary of Goethe's birth. I still have this letter,
which is dated August 18, 1849. Had I understood then that Liszt was
ready to accept me as a pupil, I should have taken up my residence at
Weimar at once, instead of waiting until I learned my mistake, as I did
during a call which I made upon Liszt nearly four years later.


However, I went to Weimar with Mr. Hill to attend the Goethe festival,
arriving there early in the afternoon of the day before it began.

The third day of the festival we called on Liszt, who was then living in
the Hotel zum Erbprinzen, and were received most cordially. Schlesinger,
the Paris publisher, was there with his little daughter, who was
precocious as a pianist and played several Chopin waltzes. Liszt was
very busy with his guests, so that our visit was limited, and nothing
was said about my coming to Weimar to study except that Liszt said he
never received pupils for regular lessons, but that those who lived in
Weimar (and there were only three or four in those days) had frequent
opportunities of hearing and meeting artists who visited him. Having
misinterpreted his letter, I accepted these remarks as a further
politely worded refusal to receive me. So I returned to Leipsic to
continue my studies there.


I well remember the feeling of awe mingled with interest with which I
looked upon every German whom I met in the streets of Leipsic on my
first arrival in that famously musical city. I looked on even the
laboring-men, the peasants as well as those in higher positions, as
being Mozarts and Beethovens, and the idea gained such ascendancy that I
felt my own inferiority and metaphorically held down my head. This
feeling, however, was not of long duration, and changed in the course of
a month or two on account of what happened at a concert of the Euterpe
Society which I attended. The concerts of this musical society were
second only to those of the famous Gewandhaus, and their audiences were
made up largely of those who attended the concerts of the latter. At
this concert the program was classical and unimpeachable as to the
orchestral concerted pieces, but one of the numbers was a solo for
clarinet. At my age I was disposed to look down on this as an inferior
kind of music, and as decidedly unsuitable to an educated and musically
cultivated taste. Therefore, when, to my surprise, this turned out to be
the most popular piece of the evening and received the most vociferous
applause of the entire audience, I found my high opinion of the select
musical taste of the Germans sensibly decreased.

Since then I have learned that there is a place for everything good in
its way; but the clarinet solo seemed out of place in the classical
atmosphere of a symphony concert.


Moscheles, with whom I studied in Leipsic, had been a pupil of Dionysius
Weber in Prague. At that time Beethoven was still a newcomer, and was
regarded with skepticism by the older men, whose ideas were formed and
who could not get over their first unfavorable impressions of him.
Beethoven was a profound man and had strong individuality. He was
eagerly accepted by the younger men, Moscheles among them; but Dionysius
Weber regarded him as a monstrosity, and would never allow Moscheles to
learn any of his music. Consequently, Moscheles practised Beethoven in
secret, and when he grew up he prided himself on being a
Beethoven-player, and wrote a life of Beethoven, which, however, is
largely based on Schindler's.

At about the time I went to Leipsic the attitude of Moscheles toward
Chopin was very like what Dionysius Weber's had been toward Beethoven.
One of the daughters of Moscheles was very fond of playing Chopin, but
her father forbade it. Afterward she married and went to London, where
she played Chopin to her heart's content. It is curious how men who in
their younger days are pioneers become so conservative as they grow
older that they are like stone walls in the paths of progress. They
forget that in their youth they laughed at or criticized their elders
for the same pedantry of which they themselves afterward become guilty.


Moscheles and Mendelssohn had been warm friends. Moscheles, in
particular, prided himself on the composer's friendship. No one to-day
can understand the influence which Mendelssohn had upon his
contemporaries, by whom his music and his personality were fairly
worshiped. Comparisons were made between him and Beethoven to the
latter's disadvantage. I remember an excellent musician saying to me,
"Beethoven does have consecutive fifths now and then, Mendelssohn
never." He did not realize that these apparent violations of technical
rules were part of Beethoven's ragged strength, while Mendelssohn's
scrupulous adherence to them was evidence of weakness.

Mendelssohn's death was a great shock to Moscheles. Mendelssohn had
often visited him, and there was such profound musical sympathy between
them that they were able to improvise together on two pianos. They
understood each other so well that one of them would improvise a theme,
which the other would follow. After a while they would interchange their
rôles, the second piano taking up the theme, the first piano
subordinating itself. This is not in itself an extraordinary feat, but
it illustrates the musical sympathy which existed between Mendelssohn
and Moscheles.


[Illustration: Autograph of Robert Schumann]

For some years prior to 1844 Schumann lived in Leipsic. It was his habit
to compose intensely all day, and then to walk to a beer-cellar at
the upper end of the Grimmaische Strasse. There he would sit at a table
with one of his most trusted friends, an odd-looking but able musician
and piano-teacher named Wenzel. There were two or three other musicians
who frequented the place and were generally at the same table. Schumann
enjoyed being among friends, but disliked nothing more than the
restraint of social functions. No doubt there was a large consumption of
beer, after the fashion of the Germans on such occasions, but to a
musical student who could sit within hearing there was afforded a golden
opportunity of absorbing musical ideas.


When I went to Germany, Schumann was living in Dresden, but he made
frequent visits to Leipsic. I knew little or nothing of Schumann's
music, for Mendelssohn then dominated the musical world; but the first
orchestral composition of Schumann's that I ever heard placed him far
above Mendelssohn in my estimation. It was at the second concert I
attended at the Gewandhaus in Leipsic, and the work was the "First
Symphony." I was so wrought up by it that I hummed passages from it as I
walked home, and sat down at the piano when I got there, and played as
much of it as I could remember. I hardly slept that night for the
excitement of it. The first thing I did in the morning was to go to
Breitkopf & Härtel's and buy the score, the orchestral parts and piano
arrangements for four and two hands, and in these I fairly reveled.

I grew so enthusiastic over the symphony that I sent the score and parts
to the Musical Fund Society of Boston, the only concert orchestra then
in that city, and conducted by Mr. Webb. They could make nothing of the
symphony, and it lay on the shelf for one or two years. Then they tried
it again, saw something in it, but somehow could not get the swing of
it, possibly on account of the syncopations. Before my return from
Europe in 1854, I think they finally played it. In speaking of it, Mr.
Webb said to my father: "Yes, it is interesting; but in our next concert
we play Haydn's 'Surprise Symphony,' and that will live long after this
symphony of Schumann's is forgotten." Many years afterward I reminded
Mr. Webb of this remark, whereupon he said, "William, is it possible
that I was so foolish?"

Only a few years before I arrived at Leipsic, Schumann's genius was so
little appreciated that when he entered the store of Breitkopf & Härtel
with a new manuscript under his arm, the clerks would nudge one another
and laugh. One of them told me that they regarded him as a crank and a
failure because his pieces remained on the shelf and were in the way.

I often saw Schumann in Leipsic, and I heard him conduct his cantata,
"The Pilgrimage of the Rose." His conducting was awkward, as he was
neither active nor of commanding presence. However, I liked his looks,
as he seemed good-natured, though perhaps not like a man with whom one
might easily become acquainted. This impression, however, may be due to
anecdotes which I had heard regarding his lack of sociability.


Up to the time of Mendelssohn's death his followers and the small body
of musicians who appreciated Schumann had rubbed pretty hard together.
Naturally, Moscheles and Schumann had not been intimate. But Moscheles
felt Mendelssohn's loss so keenly that he cast about for some one to
take his place, and finally decided to make overtures to Schumann by
inviting him to his house to supper. What occurred there was told to me
by a fellow-pupil. He said that while the company was gathering in the
drawing-room, Schumann sat in a corner apparently absorbed in thought,
without looking at any one or uttering a word. He did not impress my
friend as morose, but rather as a man whose thoughts were at the moment
in an entirely different sphere. Supper was announced, and the guests
being seated, it was discovered that there was a vacant place at the
table. Moscheles looked about for Schumann, but he was not there. The
host and several guests went back to the salon to look for him, and
found him sitting in his corner, still deep in thought. When aroused, he
said, "Oh, I hadn't noticed that you had gone out." Then he went in to
supper, but hardly said a word. What a contrast there was between his
personality and that of the ever-affable, polished Mendelssohn! There is
the same contrast between their music: Schumann's profound, and
appealing to us most when we wish to withdraw entirely within the very
sanctuary of our own emotions; Mendelssohn's smooth, finished, and
easily understood.

Early in 1844 Schumann had moved to Dresden, and I called upon him in
that city and received a pleasant welcome, contrary to my expectation,
for I had heard much of his reticence. Judging by the brief entry in my
diary, nothing of importance was said. I could not see Mme. Schumann,
because she was giving a lesson. This was on April 13, 1850. I called
again later in the month, and Schumann gave me his musical autograph, a
canon for male voices; and the next day I received an autograph from
Clara Schumann. In 1880 I learned from Mme. Schumann that the canon
referred to had already been published at the time when I received it
from Schumann. (See Op. 65, No. 6.)

Afterward, when I met Wagner I could not help contrasting his lively
manner and glowing enthusiasm with Schumann's reserve, which, however,
was by no means repellent. Indeed, if I had been the greatest living
musician, instead of a mere boy student, Wagner could not have received
me with more kindness, or have talked to me more delightfully during the
three memorable hours of my life which were spent with him.


[Illustration: Autograph of Mme. Schumann]

My teacher in harmony and counterpoint was Moritz Hauptmann, a pupil of
Spohr, and an excellent composer of church music, his motets being
especially beautiful. He was the cantor and music director of the
Thomas-schule at Leipsic, a position which years before had been held by
Sebastian Bach. He was altogether a genial and attractive man, of gentle
manner and disposition, and I at once became much attached to him. He
was in delicate health and suffered constantly from dyspepsia, yet bore
all of his ills with patience and equanimity. I remember that he had a
passion for baked apples, one of the few things he could eat without ill
results, and on his stove, a regular old-fashioned German structure of
porcelain, nearly as high as the ceiling, there was always a row of
apples in process of slow baking.

His autograph is one of the most curious in my book, and is an excellent
example of his technical knowledge. It is a _Spiegel-Canon_
("looking-glass canon"). When held up to the mirror the reflection shows
the answer to the canon in the related key.

Not long after beginning my studies under Hauptmann, I received from my
father a copy of his latest publication, being a collection of tunes,
mostly of his own composition, for choir and congregational use in the
church. He requested me to show this to Hauptmann and get his opinion,
if practicable. I felt a decided reluctance to do this, because I
thought my father's work was not worthy of the notice of such a profound
musician, so I delayed the carrying out of his request. After a few
weeks, however, I began receiving letters from my father upon the
subject, and realized that I could not postpone action any longer. So
one day, going to my lesson, I took the book with me. I kept it as well
out of sight as I could during the lesson, and then at the last moment,
when about to leave the room, I placed it on Hauptmann's table, telling
him in an apologetic way of my father's request and seeking to excuse
myself for troubling him. I said I was afraid he would find nothing in
the book to interest him.

When the regular time for my lesson recurred I hesitated to present
myself again; but there was no way of avoiding the difficulty, so with a
tremendous exercise of will I faced the situation. What was my surprise
and relief when he greeted me with "Mr. Mason, I have examined your
father's book with much interest and pleasure, and his admirable
treatment of the voices is most musicianly and satisfactory. Please give
him my sincere regards, and thank him for his attention in sending me
the book."

At the moment I could not understand how such a big contrapuntist could
express himself in such strong terms of approval; but I knew him to be
genuine, and so I straightened myself up and really began to be proud of
my father. Another and more important result was the recognition of my
own ignorance in imagining that a thing in order to be great must
necessarily be intricate and complicated. It dawned upon me that the
simplest things are sometimes the grandest and the most difficult of

I also took lessons in instrumentation from Ernst Friedrich Richter, a
pupil of Hauptmann.


My parents joined me in Leipsic in January, 1852, and in the spring of
that year we planned a tour which was to take us to Switzerland in June.

In Leipsic I made the acquaintance of a man named Albert Wagner, meeting
him quite frequently at the restaurant where I took my meals. While I
was planning the tour, I chanced to mention it to him, and when he heard
that I was going to Zürich, he said: "My brother, Richard Wagner, lives
there. I will give you a letter of introduction to him." This was the
first intimation I had that Albert was a brother of the composer. I
suppose he had not thought it worth while to tell me. Richard was still
under a political cloud in Saxony, and was compelled to live in exile on
account of the part he had taken in the revolution of 1848; nor was
his reputation as a composer then so general that Albert would have
thought his kinship much to boast of.

[Illustration: Autograph of Moritz Hauptmann]

We reached Zürich on June 5, 1852, and, the next morning, armed with the
letter, I made my way to Wagner's chalet, which was situated on a hill
in the suburbs. It was then about ten o'clock in the morning.

When I asked the maid who opened the door if Herr Wagner was at home and
to be seen, she answered, as I had feared she would, that he was busily
at work in his study, and could not be disturbed. I handed her my letter
of introduction, and asked her to give it to Herr Wagner, and to say to
him that I was expecting to remain in Zürich three or four days, and
would call again, hoping to be fortunate enough to find him disengaged.

Just as I was turning to leave, I heard a voice at the head of the
stairs call out, "Wer ist da?" I told the maid to deliver my letter
immediately. As soon as Wagner had glanced through it, he exclaimed,
"Kommen Sie herauf! Kommen Sie herauf!"

At that time Wagner was known, and that not widely, only as the composer
of "Rienzi," "The Flying Dutchman," "Tannhäuser," and "Lohengrin." I had
heard only "The Flying Dutchman," but considered it a most beautiful
work, and was eager to meet the composer.

Wagner's first words, as I met him on the landing at the head of the
stairs, were: "You've come just at the right time. I've been working
away at something, and I'm stuck. I'm in a state of nervous irritation,
and it is absolutely impossible for me to go on. So I'm glad you've

I remember perfectly my first impression of him. He looked to me much
more like an American than a German. After asking about his brother, he
began questioning me in a lively way about his friends in Leipsic, about
the concerts and opera there, and the works that had been given. He also
asked most kindly after my own affairs--what I was doing, with whom I
had studied, how long I intended to remain, what my plans were for the
future, and most particularly about musical matters in America. In some
way Beethoven was mentioned. After that the conversation became a
monologue with me as a listener, for Wagner began to talk so fluently
and enthusiastically about Beethoven that I was quite content to keep
silent and to avoid interrupting his eloquent oration.


As he warmed up to the subject, he began to draw comparisons between
Beethoven and Mendelssohn. "Mendelssohn," he said, "was a gentleman of
refinement and high degree; a man of culture and polished manner; a
courtier who was always at home in evening dress. As was the man, so is
his music, full of elegance, grace, finish, and refinement, but carried
without variance to such a degree that at times one longs for brawn and
muscle. Yet it is music that is always exquisite, fairy-like, and fine
in character. In Beethoven we get the man of brawn and muscle. He was
too inspired to pay much attention to conventionalities. He went right
to the pith of what he had to say, and said it in a robust, decisive,
manly, yet tender way, brushing aside the methods and amenities of
conventionalism, and striking at once at the substance of what he wished
to express. Notwithstanding its robustness, his music is at times
inexpressibly tender; but it is a manly tenderness, and carries with it
an idea of underlying and sustaining strength. Some years ago, when I
was kapellmeister in Dresden, I had a remarkable experience, which
illustrates the invigorating and refreshing power of Beethoven's music.
It was at one of the series of afternoon concerts of classic music given
at the theater. The day was hot and muggy, and everybody seemed to be in
a state of lassitude and incapacity for mental or physical effort. On
glancing at the program, I noticed that by some chance all of the pieces
I had selected were in the minor mode--first, Mendelssohn's exquisite 'A
Minor Symphony,' music in dress-suit and white kid gloves, spotless and
_comme il faut_; then an overture by Cherubini; and finally Beethoven's
'Symphony No. 5, in C Minor.'" At this point Wagner rose from his chair,
and began walking about the room. "Everybody," he continued, "was
listless and languid, and the atmosphere seemed damp and spiritless. The
orchestra labored wearily through the symphony and overture, while the
audience became more and more apathetic. It seemed impossible to arouse
either players or listeners, and I thought seriously of dismissing both
after the overture. I was very reluctant to subject Beethoven's
wonderfully beautiful music to such a crucial test, but after a moment's
reflection I appreciated the fact that here was an opportunity for
proving the strength and virility of it, and I said to myself, 'I will
have courage, and stick to my program.'"

Wagner stopped walking a moment, and looked about the room as if
searching for something. Then he rushed to a corner, and seizing a
walking-stick, raised it as if it were a baton.

"Here is Beethoven," he exclaimed, "the working-man in his
shirt-sleeves, with his great herculean breast bared to the elements."

He straightened himself up, and, giving the stick a swing, brought it
down with an abrupt "Ta-ta-ta-tum!"--the opening measure of Beethoven's
"C Minor Symphony":

[Illustration: Musical notation]

The whole scene was graphically portrayed. Then throwing himself into a
chair, he said: "The effect was electrical on orchestra and audience.
There was no more apathy. The air was cleared as by a passing
thunder-shower. There was the test."

"When Wagner spoke of Mendelssohn, his tone of voice indicated the
gentle refinement of the courtier and his music. When he mentioned
Beethoven, his manner was animated and full of enthusiasm.

Wagner's enthusiasm, his openness in taking me at once into his musical
confidence, fascinated me, and gave me an insight into the wonderful
vitality and energy of the man. He was planning a tramp through the
Tyrol, about a week later, with a professor from the Zürich University.
"Come along with us," he said. "Alle guten Dinge sind drei" ("All good
things are three"). However, I did not feel at liberty to leave my
parents to continue their trip alone, as I was acting as interpreter for
them. Of course Wagner was not then what he afterward became in the eyes
of the world. I now know what I missed.


But I did not leave Wagner's house without what many musicians, to whom
I have shown it, consider one of the most interesting musical autographs
ever penned. It is autographic from beginning to end, even to the lines
of the staff; for when I asked Wagner for his autograph, he drew them
himself on a sheet of blank paper, and then wrote what is evidently the
germ of the dragon motive in "The Ring of the Nibelung." It is dated
June 5, 1852, and it is particularly interesting that he should have
written this motive at that time. From his correspondence with Liszt, it
is clear that he had not yet finished the poem of the "Walküre," and had
not yet begun the score of the cycle. He wrote the books of the "Ring"
backward, but in the composition of the cycle he began with the
"Rheingold," in the autumn of the year in which I met him. The dragon
motive occurs in the "Rheingold," but in quite a different form. He
began the "Walküre" in June, 1854, two years later, completing it in
1856. In the meantime, in the autumn of 1854, he also began the music of
"Siegfried," and it is in the first act of this music drama, written
more than two years after I had met him, that we find the dragon motive
exactly as it is written in my autograph, except that it is transposed a
tone lower, and that the length of the notes is changed, though their
relative value is the same, dotted halves being substituted for

[Illustration: Autograph of Richard Wagner]

The passage will be found on page 7 of Klindworth's piano-score of
"Siegfried." This, I believe, is the only place in the four divisions of
the "Ring" where the motive appears in this form.

Added significance and value are given to the autograph by the lines
which Wagner wrote under it, and which are signed and dated: "Wenn Sie
so etwas ähnliches einmal von mir hören sollten, so denken Sie an mich!"
("If you ever hear anything of mine like this, then think of me.") Even
this was characteristic of the man. "Siegfried" was not heard until
nearly a quarter of a century after he had written a passage from it in
my autograph-book--_but it was heard_.


The playing of Moscheles was in a direct line of descent from Clementi
and Hummel, and just preceded the Thalberg school. Moscheles was fond of
quoting these authorities and of holding them up as excellent examples
for his pupils. He advocated a very quiet hand position, confining, as
far as possible, whatever motion was necessary to finger and hand
muscles; and by way of illustration he said that Clementi's hands were
so level in position and quiet in motion that he could easily keep a
crown-piece on the back of his hand while playing the most rapid scale

I was not much surprised at this, for I knew it had been said of Henry
C. Timm of New York, an admirable pianist of the Hummel school, that he
could play a scale with a glass of wine on the back of his hand without
spilling a drop. I, boy-like, could not resist the temptation to repeat
what I had heard. There was a curious expression upon the face of our
good teacher, which gave the impression that he thought it a pretty tall
story, and my fellow-pupils put it down as a yarn prompted by desire on
my part to get ahead of Moscheles. Among these was Charles Wehle of
Prague, of whom I saw a good deal. Some years later, after I had left
Weimar for America, Wehle happened to visit Liszt. My name was
mentioned, and Wehle asked, "Did you ever hear his wonderful tale about
Timm, the New York player?" Then he repeated the anecdote, but changed
the glass of wine to a glass of water. Liszt shook his head
incredulously, and said, "Mason never said anything about a glass of
water all the time he was in Weimar."

Moscheles was an excellent pianist and teacher, but he was already
growing old, and his playing of sforzando and strongly accented tones
was apt to be accompanied by an audible snort, which was far from
musical. However, as a Bach-player he was especially great, and it was a
delight to hear him. One evening, after my lesson, he began playing the
preludes and fugues from the "Well-tempered Clavier," and I was
enchanted with the finish, repose, and musicianship of his performance,
which was without fuss or show. I have never heard any one surpass him
in Bach.

Paderewski's Bach-playing is much like that of my old teacher. Several
years ago, in company with Adolf Brodsky, the violinist, I attended one
of Paderewski's recitals given in this city. After listening to
compositions of Bach and Beethoven, Brodsky said: "He lays everything
from A to Z before you in the most conscientious way, and through
delicacy and sensitiveness of perception he attains a very close and
artistic adjustment of values."

Thoroughly in accord with Brodsky, I vividly recall the similarity of
Paderewski's interpretation to that of Moscheles, both being
characterized by perfect repose in action, while at the same time not
lacking in intensity of expression. The modern adaptations and
alterations from Bach are not here referred to, but the music as
originally written by the composer. In Paderewski's conception and
performance, like that of Moscheles, each and all of the voices received
careful and reverent attention, and were brought out with due regard to
their relative, as well as to their individual, importance. Nuances were
never neglected, neither were they in excess. Thus the musical
requirements of polyphonic interpretation were artistically fulfilled.
Head and heart were united in skilful combination and loving response.

While I was in Leipsic, Moscheles celebrated his silver wedding, and one
of the features of the occasion was odd and interesting. I forget
whether I had the story direct from him or from one of my
fellow-students. It is as follows: At the time Moscheles was paying
attention to the lady who afterward became his wife he had a rival who
was a farmer. What became of the farmer after Moscheles carried off the
prize history does not make clear. A friend of Moscheles, an artist of
ability, conceived the unique idea of commemorating the joyous
anniversary, and, putting it into act, he painted two portraits of Mrs.
Moscheles, one representing her as she appeared on that interesting
occasion, and the other giving his idea of how she would have looked
after twenty-five years of wedded life had she married the farmer.


"Leipsic, Wednesday, September 19, 1849." Under this date I find in my
diary a note to the effect that Joachim the violinist made me a friendly
call at half-past ten o'clock. I had previously called on him to present
a letter of introduction which I had received in Hamburg from Mortier de

Joachim made a marked impression upon me as being genial and unassuming
in manner. He very cordially invited me to come to his room, saying, "We
will play sonatas for violin and pianoforte together." This afforded a
fine opportunity to a young piano-student, and, coming as it did without
solicitation or expectation, was all the more appreciated. Less than two
weeks later, on September 30, I heard him play the Mendelssohn violin
concerto at the first Gewandhaus concert of the season, and was
enchanted with his musical interpretation of the beautiful composition.
A little further on in the diary it is written that the second
Gewandhaus concert was given on October 7. The Schumann "Symphony in B
Flat Major, No. 1," was played, and "I never before experienced such a
thrill of enthusiasm." On Thursday, October 18, the third Gewandhaus
concert took place, the symphony being by Spohr, "No. 3, C Minor." An
item of special interest regarding this concert is that I heard here for
the first time the fine violoncellist Bernhard Cossmann, with whom, in
later years, I became intimately acquainted. He was then in the Weimar
orchestra and the Ferdinand Laub String Quartet, and was one of our
"Weimarische Dutzbrüder."


This concerto I heard for the first time in Leipsic, on Saturday,
January 19, 1850. It was in one of the Euterpe Society's concerts,
exceedingly well played by Adolph Blassman of Dresden, and I vividly
remember the stunning effect it produced upon some of the best pupils of
the Conservatory who were present. I was nearly as much excited over
the composition as I had previously been at the performance of the
"Symphony in B Flat Major."

A few weeks later the same concerto was played in a Gewandhaus concert
by Fräulein Wilhelmine Clauss, a pupil of Mme. Schumann, who had studied
it under her supervision. The result was another good rendering,
although at the previous rehearsal there had been trouble with the
so-called syncopated passage where the 3/2 and 3/4 rhythms alternate,
and it was not until after many repeated attempts that success was

On account of the long, uninterrupted continuance of this 3/2 rhythm its
character as a syncopation is entirely lost and it becomes simply an
augmentation of the preceding and following 3/4 rhythm, and all of the
best orchestral conductors I have seen always give out the beat
accordingly--that is, in a manner equivalent to simply doubling the rate
of speed in the 3/4 from that of the 3/2 movement. I do not see how the
performers, both in orchestra and piano, can be kept together in any
other way.

[Illustration: Autograph of Joseph Joachim]


From Leipsic I went to Dresden in March, 1850, and stayed there a few
months with some American friends who were studying the pianoforte under
Carl Mayer, whose very beautiful and finished playing was more adapted
for the salon than for the concert-hall. Although I took no lessons of
him, I constantly enjoyed his society, frequently heard him play, and in
this way profited much from the association.

I wished, however, to get to work in the more advanced and modern
methods, and so decided to go to Alexander Dreyschock in Prague. My
departure from Dresden was somewhat delayed because, upon going to the
Austrian consul's to get his visé, he refused to give it to me. This was
owing to the political disturbances which had taken place in Europe a
year or two before. Thereupon I wrote to Dreyschock for his assistance,
and being on friendly terms with the Austrian minister at Dresden, he
easily accomplished the desired result.


Alexander Dreyschock was one of the most distinguished
pianoforte-virtuosos of his time, and his specialty was his wonderful
octave-playing. Indeed, he acquired such fame in this particular that
the mention of "octave-playing" at once suggested the name of Dreyschock
to his contemporaries. He was also celebrated on account of his highly
trained left hand, so much so that Saphir, the famous Vienna critic,
paid tribute to the fact by writing a stanza which obtained wide
circulation, and which runs as follows:

    Welchen Titel der nicht hinke
      Man dem Meister geben möchte,
    Der zur Rechten macht die Linke?--
      Nennt ihn, "Doctor beider Rechte."

An anecdote, related to me by one of his most intimate friends not long
after my arrival in Prague, is interesting in this connection, as well
as instructive to piano-students. Tomaschek, his teacher, was in the
habit of receiving a few friends on stated occasions for the purpose of
musical entertainment and conversation. One evening the rapid progress
in piano-technic was being discussed, and Tomaschek remarked that more
and more in this direction was demanded each day. A copy of Chopin's
"Études, Op. 10," open at "Étude No. 12, C Minor," happened to be lying
on the piano-desk. It will be remembered that the left-hand part of this
étude consists throughout of rapid passages in single notes, difficult
enough in the original to satisfy the ambition of most pianists.
Tomaschek, looking at this, remarked, "I should not wonder if, one of
these days, a pianist should appear who would play all of these
single-note left-hand passages in octaves." Dreyschock, overhearing the
remark, at once conceived an idea which he proceeded next day to carry
into execution. For a period of six successive weeks, at the rate of
twelve hours a day, he practised the étude in accordance with the
suggestion of Tomaschek. How he ever survived the effort is a mystery,
but, at any rate, when the next musical evening at Tomaschek's occurred
he was present, and, watching his opportunity for a favorable moment,
sat down to the pianoforte and played the étude in a brilliant and
triumphant manner, with the left-hand octaves, thus fulfilling the
prediction of Tomaschek. Upon a subsequent occasion he repeated this
feat at one of the Leipsic Gewandhaus concerts. Mendelssohn, as I am
told, was present, and was very demonstrative in the expression of his
delight and astonishment. I will add, for the benefit of those of my
readers, should there be any, who are inclined to try the experiment,
that certain adaptations are necessary in various parts of the étude in
order to get the required scope for the left-hand octaves. Thus, the
opening octave series, as well as other similar left-hand passages
throughout the étude, must, when necessary, be played an octave higher
than written.

At the time of which I write (1849-1850) very little seems to have been
known of the important influence of the upper-arm muscles and their very
efficient agency, when properly employed, in the production of
tone-quality and volume by means of increased relaxation, elasticity,
and springiness in their movements.

I received considerably over one hundred lessons from Dreyschock, and
with slow and rapid scale and arpeggio practice his instruction had
special reference to limber and flexible wrists, his distinguishing
feature being his wonderful octave-playing. Beyond the wrists, however,
the other arm muscles received practically little or no attention, and
the fact is that during my whole stay abroad none of my teachers or
their pupils, with many of whom I was intimately associated, seemed to
know anything about the importance of the upper-arm muscles, the
practical knowledge of which I had acquired through the playing of
Leopold de Meyer as described in the earlier part of this book. In the
Tomaschek method, as taught and practised by Dreyschock, the direction
to the pupil was simply to keep the wrists loose. To be sure, this could
not be altogether accomplished without some degree of arm-limberness,
but no specific directions were given for cultivating the latter. So far
as wrist-motion is concerned, Leschetitsky's manner of playing octaves
has much in common with the Tomaschek-Dreyschock method, if the former
may be judged from the playing of most of his pupils, who seem to pay
but little attention to the upper-arm muscles. This is quite natural
when it is remembered that Leschetitsky was in some sense an assistant
of Dreyschock when the latter was at the head of the piano department in
the Conservatory of Music at St. Petersburg. The Leschetitsky pupils,
however, have a manner of sinking the wrists below the keyboard which
was not in accordance with Dreyschock's manner of playing. It seems to
me that the latter's method of level wrists is more productive of a
full, sonorous, musical tone.

I remained with Dreyschock for over a year, taking three lessons a week
and practising about five hours a day. I played also in private
musicales at the houses of the nobility and at the homes of some of the
wealthy Jews, two classes of society which were entirely distinct from
each other, never mingling in private life. I met and became well
acquainted with Jules Schulhoff, whose compositions for the pianoforte
were very effective, but more appropriate to the drawing-room than to
the concert-hall.


It was customary in Prague to give once a year an orchestral concert of
high order, the pecuniary proceeds of which were for the benefit of the
poor, and on one of these occasions I played with orchestra a brilliant
composition of Dreyschock's entitled "Salut à Vienne." It was also the
custom, in concerts of this order, to use the name of some nobleman--the
higher the better--as patron. On this occasion the name used was that of
the Prince de Rohan, a French nobleman who, expatriated, had lived for
some time in Prague in a palace of the old Austrian Emperor Ferdinand,
who, shortly before the time of which I write, had abdicated in favor
of his nephew, the present emperor. A few days after the concert, while
I was practising in my modestly appointed room, there was a loud knock
at the door, and immediately there entered a servant of the prince in
gorgeous livery, who, advancing to the middle of the room and
straightening himself up, announced in stentorian tones, "His Highness
Prince Rohan invites you to dinner," at the same time handing me a large
envelop with a big seal on the back. Without waiting for a reply, he
made a low obeisance and left the room.

It turned out that all the principal artists who had taken part in the
concert had been invited to the dinner, and on the appointed day one of
these, an opera-singer of distinction, came to my room and asked if he
might go with me. Never having been to a prince's house, and not knowing
what ceremony might be considered appropriate to such an occasion, he
conceived the idea of securing a chaperon. The incongruity of his
selecting a green American youth for this purpose greatly amused me,
but I said, "Come along; they won't hang us for anything we are likely
to do." Arriving at the palace five or ten minutes before the hour, the
porter at the outer gate refused us admission, saying we were too early.
This untoward reception somewhat unsettled us for the moment, but there
was nothing for us to do but to walk about until the appointed time. On
presenting ourselves again at the gate at precisely the right moment, we
were promptly admitted. After passing through the hands of several
servants, we were finally ushered into the presence of the prince.

He was not an imposing man in appearance, neither was he as well dressed
as several of the four or five guests who arrived later, my companion
and I being the first-comers. The prince offered me his arm, and led me
through the picture-gallery adjoining the reception-room, pointing out
the portraits of his ancestors, whose names were mostly familiar to me
from French history. As all formality in his manner had passed away, I
found the occasion intensely interesting.

Dinner being announced, we proceeded to the dining-room, and, when we
were seated, the prince said that he would greet us first with a glass
of Schloss Johannisberger Cabinet wine, which he had just received from
his friend Prince Metternich, the owner of that world-renowned vineyard.
As is well known, this Cabinet wine is never on the market, and can be
bought only at an administrator's sale, and then commands the highest
price. It is not unusual for tourists to pay a large price for this wine
on the spot, even then not getting the genuine thing, for the space
where the Cabinet wine grows is very small compared with the quantity of
wine which is credited to it. Several kinds of red and white wines were
served, and various kinds of German beer, as well as English and Scotch
ale. Finally, after seven or eight courses, a single glass of
champagne--no more--was poured out for each guest. Liquid refreshments,
however, did not end there, for we afterward adjourned to the library,
where we found a roaring wood fire in a vast stone chimney-place, where
cigars, liqueurs of many kinds, and finally coffee and tea with rum were
served. There was no music.


I had always looked forward to taking lessons of Chopin at some period
during my sojourn in Europe, but this was not accomplished, on account
of his death, which took place in Paris on October 17, 1849. Neither did
I ever hear him play. One of Dreyschock's anecdotes about him is
interesting as well as instructive, for it conveys an idea of one of the
principal characteristics of his style. Dreyschock told me that, a few
years before, Chopin gave a recital of his own compositions in Paris,
which he, Dreyschock, attended in company with Thalberg. They listened
with delight throughout the performance, but on reaching the street
Thalberg began shouting at the top of his voice.

"What's the matter?" asked Dreyschock, in astonishment.

"Oh," said Thalberg, "I've been listening to _piano_ all the evening,
and now, for the sake of contrast, I want a little _forte_."

Dreyschock spoke of Chopin's extremely delicate and exquisite playing,
but said that he lacked the physical strength to produce forte effects
by contrast in accordance with his own ideas. This is illustrated by
another anecdote which I heard many years afterward from Korbay. A young
and robust pianist had been playing Chopin's "Polonaise Militaire" to
the composer, and had broken a string. When, in confusion, he began to
apologize, Chopin said to him, "Young man, if I had your strength and
played that polonaise as it should be played, there wouldn't be a sound
string left in the instrument by the time I got through."

The distinguishing characteristic of Chopin's piano-playing was his
lovely musical and poetic tone, his warm and emotional coloring, and his
impassioned utterance. In those days one was not afraid to play with a
great deal of sentiment, although pianists who were capable of doing
this poetically were rare. In modern times it has become the fashion to
ridicule any tendency toward emotional playing and to extol the
intellectual side beyond its just proportion. It seems to me that there
should be a happy combination and a delicate and well-proportioned
adjustment between the temperamental and intellectual, with a slight
preponderance of the former.

An anecdote of Adolf Henselt, also related to me by Dreyschock, is
entertaining as well as suggestive, especially to pianoforte-players,
who are constantly troubled with nervousness when playing before an
audience. Henselt, whose home was in St. Petersburg, was in the habit of
spending a few weeks every summer with a relative who lived in Dresden.
Dreyschock, passing through that city, called on him one morning, and
upon going up the staircase to his room, heard the most lovely tones of
the pianoforte imaginable.

He was so fascinated that he sat down at the top of the landing and
listened for a long time. Henselt was playing repeatedly the same
composition, and his playing was also specially characterized by a warm
emotional touch and a delicious legato, causing the tones to melt, as it
were, one into the other, and this, too, without any confusion or lack
of clearness. Henselt was full of sentiment, but detested
"sentimentality." Finally, for lack of time, Dreyschock was obliged to
announce himself, although, as he said, he could have listened for
hours. He entered the room, and after the usual friendly greeting said,
"What were you playing just now as I came up the stairs?" Henselt
replied that he was composing a piece and was playing it over to
himself. Dreyschock expressed his admiration of the composition, and
begged Henselt to play it again. Henselt, after prolonged urging, sat
down to the pianoforte and began playing again, but, alas! his
performance was stiff, inaccurate, and even clumsy, and all of the
exquisite poetry and unconsciousness of his style completely
disappeared. Dreyschock said that it was quite impossible to describe
the difference; and this was simply the result of diffidence and
nervousness, which, as it appeared, were entirely out of the player's
power to control. Pianoforte-players frequently experience this state of
things. The only remedy is freedom from self-consciousness, which can
best be achieved by earnest and persistent mental concentration.


After finishing my studies with Dreyschock, I went to Frankfort, not to
study under any particular master, but in order to enjoy the opera and
the musical life there. Moreover, two or three of my old Boston friends
were temporarily settled there, pursuing their musical studies.

Anton Schindler, one of the well-known musical characters of the day,
and who had been Beethoven's most intimate friend during the latter
years of the great composer's life, lived at Frankfort, and, being
members of the same club, the Bürger Verein, I often enjoyed the
pleasure of his society, and heard much concerning Beethoven. Schindler
had written a life of Beethoven, and was naturally very proud of his
close association with the great master. During his residence in Paris,
some years previous to the time of which I am writing, he caused to be
printed on his visiting-cards, "Anton Schindler, Ami de Beethoven."

He worshiped his idol's memory, and was so familiar with his music that
the slightest mistake in interpretation or departure from Beethoven's
invention or design jarred upon his nerves--or possibly he made a
pretense of this. He held all four-hand pianoforte arrangements of works
designed and composed for orchestra as abominations. Extreme
sensitiveness is a rôle sometimes assumed by men in no wise remarkable,
in order to enhance their own importance in the eyes of others.
Schindler's attitude as to the undesirability of orchestral pianoforte
arrangements will meet with the approval of many, but he certainly
carried his sensitiveness in regard to the interpretation of Beethoven's
works to amusing extremes.

[Illustration: Autograph of Anton Schindler]

Every winter a subscription series of orchestral concerts was given in
Frankfort, each program of which included at least one symphony. The
concerts took place in a very old stone building called the "Museum,"
and on the occasion here referred to the symphony was Beethoven's "No.
5, C Minor." It so happened that, owing to long-continued rains and
extreme humidity, the stone walls of the old hall were saturated with
dampness, in fact, were actually wet. This excess of moisture affected
the pitch of the wood wind-instruments to such a degree that the other
instruments had to be adjusted to accommodate them. Schindler, it was
noticed, left the hall at the close of the first movement. This seemed a
strange proceeding on the part of the "Ami de Beethoven," and when later
in the evening he was seen at the Bürger Verein and asked why he had
gone away so suddenly, he replied gruffly, "I don't care to hear
Beethoven's 'C Minor Symphony' played in the key of B minor."


Another story current in Frankfort at this time further illustrates
Schindler's peculiarity. Among the noted musicians living in Frankfort
was a theoretician, Swiss by birth, named Schnyder von Wartensee, who
was of considerable importance in his day. Schindler and Von Wartensee
had lived in Frankfort, but had never met each other, although common
friends had at various times made ineffectual efforts to bring them
together. They were both advanced in years, and, as it seemed, ought to
have been genial companions. Possibly the failure to arrange a meeting
had been due to Wartensee's being older than Schindler, and thus in a
position to expect the latter to call first, while Schindler, being "Ami
de Beethoven," felt it beneath his dignity to make the first move.
However, some time previous to my arrival another plan for an interview
was contrived, and as so many previous ones had failed the outcome of
this was watched with interest.

By the exercise of considerable diplomatic tact Schindler was persuaded
to agree to call upon Wartensee and to fix a time for the visit. The
friends of the gentlemen had all been looking forward with much interest
to the result of this meeting, hoping thereby to hear a great many
musical reminiscences, and a committee was appointed to watch Schindler
and make sure that he kept the appointment. After a while the committee
returned to the Bürger Verein and reported that they had seen him almost
reach Wartensee's house, then pause for a moment, and suddenly turn and
hurry away. Later Schindler himself came in, and being questioned
concerning the interview, exclaimed, "Bah! as I got near the house I
heard them [Wartensee and his wife] playing a four-handed piano
arrangement of the 'Eroica.'"


In January, 1853, my stay in Frankfort was brought to an end by a letter
from Sir Julias Benedict, asking me to come to London to play at one of
the concerts of the Harmonic Union at Exeter Hall. I accepted the
engagement, and made my first appearance in London under Benedict's
conductorship, playing Weber's "Concertstück." An account having been
published in a London paper of the very delightful celebration, in 1899,
of my seventieth birthday by my pupils, past and present, and by many of
my friends, I received an inquiry from a lady living in London, asking
whether I was the same William Mason whom she had heard in Exeter Hall
nearly half a century ago!

I accepted only one other engagement to play in public, though I
remained near London for more than two months, just to look about.

I was much impressed with the extent to which Mendelssohn's influence
prevailed in English matters musical. I met a great many excellent
musicians there, especially several fine organists; but a large
majority, both in their ideas and in their style of playing and
composition, were nothing but Mendelssohns in "half-tone," and to some
extent this is still true of England.


After my London visit I was obliged to return to Leipsic to transact
some business, and I decided to call on Liszt in Weimar en route. My
intention was to make another effort to be received by him as a pupil,
my idea being, if he declined, to go to Paris and study under some
French master.

I reached Weimar on the 14th of April, 1853, and put up at the Hotel zum
Erbprinzen. At that time Liszt occupied a house on the Altenburg
belonging to the grand duke. The old grand duke, under whose patronage
Goethe had made Weimar famous, was still living. I think his idea was to
make Weimar as famous musically through Liszt as it had been in
literature in Goethe's time.

Having secured my room at the Erbprinzen, I set out for the Altenburg.
The butler who opened the door mistook me for a wine-merchant whom he
had been expecting. I explained that I was not that person. "This is my
card," I said. "I have come here from London to see Liszt." He took the
card, and returned almost immediately with the request for me to enter
the dining-room.

I found Liszt at the table with another man. They were drinking their
after-dinner coffee and cognac. The moment Liszt saw me he exclaimed,
"Nun, Mason, Sie lassen lange auf sich warten!" ("Well, Mason, you let
people wait for you a long time!") I suppose he saw my surprised look,
for he added, "Ich habe Sie schon vor vier Jahren erwartet" ("I have
been expecting you for four years"). Then it struck me that I had
probably wholly misinterpreted his first letter to me and what he said
when I called on him during the Goethe festival. But nothing was said
about my remaining, and though he was most affable, I began to doubt
whether I would accomplish the object of my visit.


When we rose from the table and went into the drawing-room, Liszt said:
"I have a new piano from Érard of Paris. Try it, and see how you like
it." He asked me to pardon him if he moved about the room, for he had to
get together some papers which it was necessary to take with him, as he
was going to the palace of the grand duke. "As the palace is on the way
to the hotel, we can walk as far as that together," he added.

I felt intuitively that my opportunity had come. I sat down at the piano
with the idea that I would not endeavor to show Liszt how to play, but
would play as simply as if I were alone. I played "Amitié pour Amitié,"
a little piece of my own which had just been published by Hofmeister of

[Illustration: LISZT IN MIDDLE LIFE]

"That's one of your own?" asked Liszt when I had finished. "Well, it's a
charming little piece." Still nothing was said about my being accepted
as a pupil. But when we left the Altenburg, he said casually, "You
say you are going to Leipsic for a few days on business? While there you
had better select your piano and have it sent here. Meanwhile I will
tell Klindworth to look up rooms for you. Indeed, there is a vacant room
in the house in which he lives, which is pleasantly situated just
outside the limits of the ducal park."

I can still recall the thrill of joy which passed through me when Liszt
spoke these words. They left no doubt in my mind. I was accepted as his
pupil. We walked down the hill toward the town, Liszt leaving me when we
arrived at the palace, telling me, however, that he would call later at
the hotel and introduce me to my fellow-pupils. About eight o'clock that
evening he came.

After smoking a cigar and chatting with me for half an hour, Liszt
proposed going down to the café, saying, "The gentlemen are probably
there, as this is about their regular hour for supper." Proceeding to
the dining-room, we found Messrs. Raff, Pruckner, and Klindworth, to
whom I was presented in due form, and who received me in a very
friendly manner.

I had no idea then, neither have I now, what Liszt's means were, but I
learned soon after my arrival at Weimar that he never took pay from his
pupils, neither would he bind himself to give regular lessons at stated
periods. He wished to avoid obligations as far as possible, and to feel
free to leave Weimar for short periods when so inclined--in other words,
to go and come as he liked. His idea was that the pupils whom he
accepted should all be far enough advanced to practise and prepare
themselves without routine instruction, and he expected them to be ready
whenever he gave them an opportunity to play. The musical opportunities
of Weimar were such as to afford ample encouragement to any
serious-minded young student. Many distinguished musicians, poets, and
literary men were constantly coming to visit Liszt. He was fond of
entertaining, and liked to have his pupils at hand so that they might
join him in entertaining and paying attention to his guests. He had
only three pupils at the time of which I write, namely, Karl Klindworth
from Hanover, Dionys Pruckner from Munich, and the American whose
musical memories are here presented. Joachim Raff, however, we regarded
as one of us, for although not at the time a pupil of Liszt, he had been
in former years, and was now constantly in association with the master,
acting frequently in the capacity of private secretary. Hans von Bülow
had left Weimar not long before my arrival, and was then on his first
regular concert-tour. Later he returned occasionally for short visits,
and I became well acquainted with him. We constituted, as it were, a
family, for while we had our own apartments in the city, we all enjoyed
the freedom of the two lower rooms in Liszt's home, and were at liberty
to come and go as we liked. Regularly on every Sunday at eleven o'clock,
with rare exceptions, the famous Weimar String Quartet played for an
hour and a half or so in these rooms, and Liszt frequently joined them
in concerted music, old and new. Occasionally one of the boys would
take the pianoforte part. The quartet-players were Laub, first violin;
Störr, second violin; Walbrühl, viola; and Cossmann, violoncello. Before
Laub's time Joachim had been concertmeister, but he left Weimar in 1853
and went to Hanover, where he occupied a similar position. He
occasionally visited Weimar, however, and would then at times play with
the quartet. Henri Wieniawski, who spent some months in Weimar, would
occasionally take the first violin. My favorite as a quartet-player was
Ferdinand Laub, with whom I was intimately acquainted, and I find that
the greatest violinists of the present time hold him in high estimation,
many of them regarding him as the greatest of all quartet-players. We
were always quite at our ease in those lower rooms, but on ceremonial
occasions we were invited up-stairs to the drawing-room, where Liszt had
his favorite Érard. We were thus enjoying the best music, played by the
best artists. In addition to this there were the symphony concerts and
the opera, with occasional attendance at rehearsal. Liszt took it for
granted that his pupils would appreciate these remarkable advantages and
opportunities and their usefulness, and I think we did.


Liszt's private studio, where he wrote and composed, was at the back of
the main building in a lower wing, and may easily be distinguished in
the picture by the awnings over the windows. I was not in this room more
than half a dozen times during my stay in Weimar, and one of these I
remember as the occasion of Liszt's playing the Beethoven "Kreutzer
Sonata" with Remenyi, the Hungarian violinist, and giving him a lesson
in conception and style of performance. Remenyi was a violinist of fine
musical talent, but not a classicist, his style being after the fashion
of the class represented by Ole Bull. He was, as is well known, a
genuine Hungarian, thoroughly at home in the musical characteristics of
his native country. He was unconsciously disposed to color and mark the
music of all composers with Hungarian peculiarities, and this habit gave
rise to a story that sometimes he added to the concluding strain of the
theme in the slow movement of the "Kreutzer Sonata" the peculiar
Hungarian termination as a final ornament. This story probably
originated in a spirit of fun. It was, nevertheless, so characteristic
of Remenyi that it obtained wide circulation.

[Illustration: Musical notation]

The picture gives a very good view of the house as it appeared in
1853-54. In the nearest corner of the building were the two large rooms
on the ground floor to which reference has already been made, of which
we boys had the freedom at all times, and where strangers were
unceremoniously received. The Fürstin Sayn-Wittgenstein had apartments,
I think, on the _bel étage_ with her daughter, the Prinzessin Marie.
Any one who was to be honored with an introduction to them was taken to
a reception-room up-stairs; adjoining this was the dining-room. This
print is from a water-color painted for me by my friend Mr. Thomas Allen
of Boston. It is copied from a photograph of the original,--a
water-color by Carl Hoffman,--which Mr. Hoffman painted expressly for
his friend Mr. James M. Tracy, a former pupil of Liszt, who is now a
professional pianist and teacher in Denver, Colorado, and to whom I am
indebted for permission to publish it here. Mr. Tracy writes me that it
has been published before, but without his permission.

We boys saw little of the Wittgensteins, and I remember dining with them
only once. I sat next to the Princess Marie, who spoke English very
well, and it may have been due to her desire to exercise in the language
that I was honored with a seat next to her. Rubinstein met her when he
was at Weimar (I shall have more to tell of his visit later), and
composed a nocturne which he dedicated to her. When he came to this
country in 1873 he told me that he had met her again some years later at
the palace in Vienna, but that she had become haughty, and had not been
inclined to pay much attention to him. There are many Wittgensteins in
Russia. When I was in Wiesbaden in 1879-80 I saw half a dozen Russian
princes of that name. There was but one Rubinstein.

Liszt had the pick of all the young musicians in Europe for his pupils,
and I attribute his acceptance of me somewhat to the fact that I came
all the way from America, something more of an undertaking in those days
than it is now. I became very well acquainted with those whom I have
mentioned, especially with Klindworth and Raff, and before many days we
were all "Dutzbrüder."


The first evening Raff, whom I had previously never heard of, struck me
as being rather conceited; but when I grew to know him better, and
realized how talented he was, I was quite ready to make allowance for
his little touch of self-esteem. We became warm friends, dining together
every day at the table d'hôte, and after dinner walking for an hour or
so in the park. Nineteen years later I went abroad again and visited
Raff at the Conservatory in Frankfort. He interrupted his lessons the
moment that he heard I was there, came running down-stairs, threw his
arms around my neck, and was so overjoyed at seeing me that I felt as if
we were boys once more at Weimar. Of the pupils and of the many
musicians who came to Weimar to visit Liszt at that time,--"die goldene
Zeit" (the Golden Age), as it is still called at Weimar,--I think
Klindworth and I are the only survivors. Klindworth is one of the most
distinguished teachers in Europe, and taught for many years at the
Conservatory in Moscow. He is now in Potsdam.


What I had heard in regard to Liszt's method of teaching proved to be
absolutely correct. He never taught in the ordinary sense of the word.
During the entire time that I was with him I did not see him give a
regular lesson in the pedagogical sense. He would notify us to come up
to the Altenburg. For instance, he would say to me, "Tell the boys to
come up to-night at half-past six or seven." We would go there, and he
would call on us to play. I remember very well the first time I played
to him after I had been accepted as a pupil. I began with the "Ballade"
of Chopin in A flat major; then I played a fugue by Handel in E minor.

After I was well started he began to get excited. He made audible
suggestions, inciting me to put more enthusiasm into my playing, and
occasionally he would push me gently off the chair and sit down at the
piano and play a phrase or two himself by way of illustration. He
gradually got me worked up to such a pitch of enthusiasm that I put all
the grit that was in me into my playing.

I found at this first lesson that he was very fond of strong accents in
order to mark off periods and phrases, and he talked so much about
strong accentuation that one might have supposed that he would abuse it,
but he never did. When he wrote to me later about my own piano method,
he expressed the strongest approval of the exercises on accentuation.


While I was playing to him for the first time, he said on one of the
occasions when he pushed me from the chair: "Don't play it that way.
Play it like this." Evidently I had been playing ahead in a steady,
uniform way. He sat down, and gave the same phrases with an accentuated,
elastic movement, which let in a flood of light upon me. From that one
experience I learned to bring out the same effect, where it was
appropriate, in almost every piece that I played. It eradicated much
that was mechanical, stilted, and unmusical in my playing, and developed
an elasticity of touch which has lasted all my life, and which I have
always tried to impart to my pupils.

At this first lesson I must have played for two or three hours. For some
reason or other Raff was not present, but Klindworth and Pruckner were
there. They lounged on a sofa and smoked, and I remember wondering if
they appreciated the nice time they were having at my ordeal. However,
not many days afterward came my opportunity to light a cigar and lounge
about the room while Liszt put them through their paces.

Two or three hours is not a long time for a professional musician to
practise, and I had often spent many more hours at the piano, but never
under such strong incitement. I was exceedingly tired afterward, and
actually felt stiff the next day, as if I had performed some very
arduous physical work. Liszt heard of this, and turned it into a joke,
telling people that at the time set for the next lesson I appeared at
the Altenburg with my hand in a sling, and said that I had strained my
wrist while hunting, and would be unable to play. I think this is _non è
ver e ben trovato_, as I have no recollection of it.


The best impression of Liszt's appearance at that time is conveyed by
the picture which shows him approaching the Altenburg. His back is
turned; nevertheless, there is a certain something which shows the man
as he was better even than those portraits in which his features are
clearly reproduced. The picture gives his gait, his figure, and his
general appearance. There is his tall, lank form, his high hat set a
little to one side, and his arm a trifle akimbo. He had piercing eyes.
His hair was very dark, but not black. He wore it long, just as he did
in his older days. It came almost down to his shoulders, and was cut off
square at the bottom. He had it cut frequently, so as to keep it at
about the same length. That was a point about which he was very


As I remember his hands, his fingers were lean and thin, but they did
not impress me as being very long, and he did not have such a remarkable
stretch on the keyboard as one might imagine. He was always neatly
dressed, generally appearing in a long frock-coat, until he became the
Abbé Liszt, after which he wore the distinctive black gown. His general
manner and his face were most expressive of his feelings, and his
features lighted up when he spoke. His smile was simply charming. His
face was peculiar. One could hardly call it handsome, yet there was in
it a subtle something that was most attractive, and his whole manner had
a fascination which it is impossible to describe.

I remember little incidents which are in themselves trivial, but which
illustrate some character-trait. One day Liszt was reading a letter in
which a musician was referred to as a certain Mr. So-and-so. He read
that phrase over two or three times, and then substituted his own name
for that of the musician mentioned, and repeated several times, "A
_certain_ Mr. Liszt, a _certain_ Mr. Liszt, a _certain_ Mr. Liszt,"
adding: "I don't know that that would offend me. I don't know that I
should object to being called 'a _certain_ Mr. Liszt.'" As he said this
his face had an expression of curiosity, as though he were wondering
whether he really would be offended or not. But at the same time there
was in his face that look of kindness I saw there so often, and I really
believe he would not have felt injured by such a reference to himself.
There was nothing petty in his feelings.


On one occasion, however, I saw Liszt grow very much excited over what
he considered an imposition. One evening he said to us: "Boys, there is
a young man coming here to-morrow who says he can play Beethoven's
'Sonata in B Flat, Op. 106.' I want you all three to be here." We were
there at the appointed hour. The pianist proved to be a Hungarian, whose
name I have forgotten.

He sat down and began to play in a conveniently slow tempo the bold
chords with which the sonata opens. He had not progressed more than half
a page when Liszt stopped him, and seating himself at the piano, played
in the correct tempo, which was much faster, to show him how the work
should be interpreted. "It's nonsense for you to go through this sonata
in that fashion," said Liszt, as he rose from the piano and left the

The pianist, of course, was very much disconcerted. Finally he said, as
if to console himself: "Well, he can't play it through like that, and
that's why he stopped after half a page."

This sonata is the only one which the composer himself metronomized, and
his direction is M.M. [Illustration: quarter-note] = 138. A less rapid
tempo, [Illustration: quarter-note] = 100 or thereabouts, would seem to
be more nearly correct, but the pianist took it at a much slower rate
than even this.

When the young man left I went out with him, partly because I felt sorry
for him, he had made such a fiasco, and partly because I wished to
impress upon him the fact that Liszt could play the whole movement in
the tempo in which he began it. As I was walking along with him, he
said, "I'm out of money; won't you lend me three louis d'or?"

A day or two later I told Liszt by the merest chance that the hero of
the Op. 106 fiasco had tried to borrow money of me. "B-r-r-r! What?"
exclaimed Liszt. Then he jumped up, walked across the room, seized a
long pipe that hung from a nail on the wall, and brandishing it as if it
were a stick, stamped up and down the room in almost childish
indignation, exclaiming, "Drei louis d'or! Drei louis d'or!" The point
is, however, that Liszt regarded the man as an artistic impostor. He had
sent word to Liszt that he could play the great Beethoven sonata, not an
inconsiderable feat in those days. He had been received on that basis.
He had failed miserably. To this artistic imposition he had added the
effrontery of endeavoring to borrow money from some one whom he had met
under Liszt's roof.


I have mentioned that Liszt was careful in his dress. He was also
particular about the appearance of his pupils. I remember two instances
which show how particular he was in little matters. I have been
near-sighted all my life, and when I went to Weimar I wore eye-glasses,
much preferring them to spectacles. Eye-glasses were not much worn in
Germany at that time, and were considered about as affected as the mode
of wearing a monocle. The Germans wore spectacles. I had not been in
Weimar long when Liszt said to me: "Mason, I don't like to see you
wearing those glasses. I shall send my optician to fit your eyes with

I hardly thought that he was serious, and so paid no attention to him.
But, sure enough, about a week later there was a knock at my door, and
the optician presented himself, saying he had come at the command of
Dr. Liszt to examine my eyes and fit a pair of spectacles to them. As I
was evidently to have no say in the matter, I submitted, and a few days
later I received two pairs, one in a green and one in a red case. I
thought them extremely unbecoming, but I was very particular to put them
on whenever I went to see Liszt.

Not long afterward Liszt went to Paris, and when we called to see him
after his return, and he was talking about his experiences there, he
said casually: "By the way, Mason, I find that gentlemen in Paris are
wearing eye-glasses now. In fact, they are considered quite _comme il
faut_, so I have no objection to your wearing yours." As he did not ask
me to send him the spectacles, I kept them, and have them to this day.

Klindworth, Pruckner, and I had played the Bach triple concerto in a
concert at the town hall, and had been requested to repeat it at an
evening concert at the ducal palace. An hour before the ducal carriage
arrived to take me to the concert, a servant came from the Altenburg
with a package which he said Liszt had requested him to be sure to
deliver to me. On opening it, I found two or three white ties. It was a
hint to me from Liszt that I most dress suitably to play at court.

This incident shows the care that Liszt bestowed on little things
relating to the customs and amenities of social life. He evidently sent
the ties as a precautionary measure. Possibly he was not sure whether
Americans were civilized enough to wear white ties with evening dress,
and was afraid I might appear in a red-white-and-blue one. Seriously,
however, it was very kind of him to think of a little thing like this.


Before I went to Weimar I had not been of a very sociable disposition.
At Weimar I had to be. Liszt liked to have us about him. He wished us to
meet great men. He would send us word when he expected visitors, and
sometimes he would bring them down to our lodgings to see us. In every
way he tried to make our surroundings as pleasant as possible. It would
have been strange if, under such circumstances, we had not derived some
benefit from our intercourse with our great master and his visitors.

I shall always recall with amusement a breakfast which, at Liszt's
request, Klindworth and I gave to Joachim and Wieniawski, the
violinists, then, of course, very young men, and to several other
distinguished visitors. Liszt had been entertaining them for several
days. We knew that it was about time for him to bring them down to see
one of us. So I was not surprised when he turned to me one evening and
said, "Mason, I want you and Klindworth to give us a breakfast
to-morrow." I asked him what we should have. "Oh," he replied, "some
_Semmel_ [rolls], caviar, herring," etc.

The next morning Liszt and his visitors came. I remember looking out of
my window and watching them cross the ducal park, over the long
foot-path which ended directly opposite the house where Klindworth and I
lived. It had been raining, and the path was slippery, so that their
footsteps were somewhat uncertain.

The breakfast passed off all right. When he had finished, Liszt said,
"Now let us take a stroll in the garden." This garden was about four
times as large as the back yard of a New York house, and it was
unflagged and, of course, muddy from the rain of the previous night.
Never shall I forget the sight of Liszt, Joachim, Wieniawski, and our
other distinguished guests "strolling" through this garden, wading in
mud two inches deep.


Time and again at Weimar I heard Liszt play. There is absolutely no
doubt in my mind that he was the greatest pianist of the nineteenth
century. Liszt was what the Germans call an _Erscheinung_--an
epoch-making genius. Taussig is reported to have said of him: "Liszt
dwells alone upon a solitary mountain-top, and none of us can approach
him." Rubinstein said to Mr. William Steinway in the year 1873: "Put all
the rest of us together and we would not make one Liszt." This was
doubtless hyperbole, but nevertheless significant as expressing the
enthusiasm of pianists universally conceded to be of the highest rank.
There have been other great pianists, some of whom are now living, but I
must dissent from those writers who affirm that any of these can be
placed upon a level with Liszt. Those who make this assertion are too
young to have heard Liszt other than in his declining years, and it is
unjust to compare the playing of one who has long since passed his prime
with that of one who is still in it. In the year 1873 Rubinstein told
Theodore Thomas that it was fully worth while to make a trip to Europe
to hear Liszt play; but he added: "Make haste and go at once; he is
already beginning to break up, and his playing is not up to the
standard of former years, although his personality is as attractive as

In March, 1895, Stavenhagen and Remenyi were dining at my house one
evening, and the former began to speak in enthusiastic terms of Liszt's
playing. Remenyi interrupted with emphasis: "You have never heard Liszt
play--that is, as Liszt used to play in his prime"; and he appealed to
me for corroboration, but, unhappily, I never met Liszt again after
leaving Weimar in July, 1854.

The difference between Liszt's playing and that of others was the
difference between creative genius and interpretation. His genius
flashed through every pianistic phrase, it illuminated a composition to
its innermost recesses, and yet his wonderful effects, strange as it
must seem, were produced without the advantage of a genuinely musical

I remember on one occasion Schulhoff came to Weimar and played in the
drawing-room of the Altenburg house. His playing and Liszt's were in
marked contrast. He has been mentioned in an earlier chapter as a
parlor pianist of high excellence. His compositions, exclusively in the
smaller forms, were in great favor and universally played by the ladies.

Liszt played his own "Bénédiction de Dieu dans la Solitude," as pathetic
a piece, perhaps, as he ever composed, and of which he was very fond.
Afterward Schulhoff, with his exquisitely beautiful touch, produced a
quality of tone more beautiful than Liszt's; but about the latter's
performance there was intellectuality and the indescribable
impressiveness of genius, which made Schulhoff's playing, with all its
beauty, seem tame by contrast.

I was not surprised to hear from Theodore Thomas what Rubinstein had
told him concerning Liszt's "breaking up," for as far back as the days
of "die goldene Zeit" it had seemed to me that there were certain
indications in his playing which warranted the belief that his
mechanical powers would begin to wane at a comparatively early period in
his career. There was too little pliancy, flexion, and relaxation in his
muscles; hence a lack of economy in the expenditure of his energies.

He was aware of this, and said in effect on one occasion, as I learned
indirectly through either Klindworth or Pruckner: "You are to learn all
you can from my playing, relating to conception, style, phrasing, etc.,
but do not imitate my touch, which, I am well aware, is not a good model
to follow. In early years I was not patient enough to 'make haste
slowly'--thoroughly to develop in an orderly, logical, and progressive
way. I was impatient for immediate results, and took short cuts, so to
speak, and jumped through sheer force of will to the goal of my
ambition. I wish now that I had progressed by logical steps instead of
by leaps. It is true that I have been successful, but I do not advise
you to follow my way, for you lack my personality."

In saying this Liszt had no idea of magnifying himself; but it was
nevertheless genius which enabled him to accomplish certain results
which were out of the ordinary course, and in a way which others, being
differently constituted, could not follow. His advice to his pupils was
to be deliberate, and through care and close attention to important,
although seemingly insignificant, details to progress in an orderly way
toward a perfect style.

Notwithstanding this caution, and falling into the usual tendency of
pupils to imitate the idiosyncrasies and mannerisms, even faults or weak
points, of the teacher, some of the boys, in their effort to attain
Lisztian effects, acquired a hard and unsympathetic touch, and thus
produced mere noise in the place of full and resonant tones.

Before going to Weimar I had heard in various places in Germany that
Liszt spoiled all of those pupils who went to him without a previously
acquired knowledge of method and a habit of the correct use of the
muscles in producing musical effects. It was necessary for the pupil to
have an absolutely sure foundation to benefit by Liszt's instruction. If
he had that preparation Liszt could develop the best there was in him.

There is danger of unduly magnifying the importance of a mere mechanical
technic. In Liszt's earlier days he inclined in this direction, and
wrote the "Études d'Exécution Transcendante." I remember his saying to
his pupils one day, when these were the subject of our conversation,
that having completed them, his interest in that direction had ceased
and he wrote no more. Moreover, he added, "I expected that some day a
pianist would appear who would make this subject his specialty, and
would accomplish difficulties that were seemingly impossible to
perform." It has been said of Liszt that he worshiped this kind of
technic. I think the assertion does him injustice. A friend of mine who
visited him in Weimar about the year 1858 wrote that Liszt, speaking of
one of his pupils, said: "What I like about So-and-so is that he is not
a mere 'finger virtuoso': he does not worship the keyboard of the
pianoforte; it is not his patron saint, but simply the altar before
which he pays homage to the idea of the tone-composer." A perfect
technic is more than a wonderful power of prestidigitation, or facility
in the manipulation of an instrument. It implies qualities of mind and
heart which are essential to an all-round musical development and the
ability to give them adequate expression.


In his concertizing days Liszt always played without the music before
him, although this was not the usual custom of his time; and in this
connection I remember an anecdote told to me by Theimer, one of
Dreyschock's assistant teachers. Pixis was an old-fashioned player of
considerable reputation in his day, and was the composer of
chamber-music, besides pianoforte pieces. Among other works of his was a
duo for two pianofortes. While this composition was yet in manuscript it
was played in one of the concerts of Pixis with the assistance of Liszt.
Pixis, knowing Liszt's habit of playing from memory, requested him on
this occasion at least to have the music open before him on the
piano-desk, as he himself did not like to risk playing his part without
notes, and he felt it would produce an unfavorable impression on the
public if Liszt should play from memory while he, the composer, had to
rely on his copy. Liszt, as the story goes, made no promise one way or
the other. So when the time came the pianists walked on the stage, each
carrying his roll of music. Pixis carefully unrolled his and placed it
on the piano-desk. Liszt, however, sat down at the piano, and, just
before beginning to play, tossed his roll over behind the instrument and
proceeded to play his part by heart. Liszt was young at that time,
and--well--somewhat inconsiderate. Later on he very rarely played even
his own compositions without having the music before him, and during
most of the time I was there copies of his later publications were
always lying on the piano, and among them a copy of the "Bénédiction de
Dieu dans la Solitude," which Liszt had used so many times when playing
to his guests that it became associated with memories of Berlioz,
Rubinstein, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Joachim, and our immediate circle,
Raff, Bülow, Cornelius, Klindworth, Pruckner, and others. When I left
Weimar I took this copy with me as a souvenir, and still have it; and I
treasure it all the more for the marks of usage which it bears. I also
have a very old copy of the Handel "E Minor Fugue," which was given to
me by Dreyschock and which I studied with him and afterward with Liszt.
Dreyschock had evidently used this same copy when he studied the fugue
under Tomaschek. It has penciled figures indicating the fingering, made
by both Dreyschock and Liszt. A few years ago I missed this valuable
relic for a while, and was much grieved by my loss. Fortunately it was
discovered in the ash-barrel at the back of the house. Shades of
Tomaschek, Dreyschock, and Liszt!


In his conducting Liszt was not unerring. I do not know how far he may
have progressed in later years, but when I was in Weimar he had very
little practice as a conductor, and was not one of the highest class. He
conducted, however, and with good results on certain important
occasions, such as, for instance, when "Lohengrin" was produced.

On account of his strong advocacy of Wagner and modern music generally,
he had many enemies, as was to be expected of a man of his prominence.
If perchance a mishap occurred during his conducting there were always
petty critics on hand to take advantage of the opportunity and to
magnify the fault.

One of these occasions happened at the musical festival at Karlsruhe in
October, 1853, while he was conducting Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony." In
a passage where the bassoon enters on an off beat the player made a
mistake and came in on the even beat. This error, not the conductor's
fault, occasioned such confusion that Liszt was obliged to stop the
orchestra and begin over again, and the little fellows made the most of
this royal opportunity to pitch into him.


When Liszt first began his career as an orchestral composer two parties
were formed, one of which predicted success, the other disaster. The
latter asserted that he was too much of a pianist and began too late in
life for success in this direction. Even in Weimar, in his own
household, so to speak, opinions were divided. I remember one of my
fellow-pupils saying that he did not think it was his forte. Raff had
pretty much the same opinion, and I inclined to agree with them. Liszt
was in earnest, however, and availed himself of every means of
preparation for the work. Frequently upon his request the best
orchestral players came to the Altenburg, and he asked them about their
instruments, their nature, and whether certain passages were idiomatic
to them. About the time I came to Weimar to study with him he had nearly
finished "Tasso," and before giving it the last touches he had a
rehearsal of it, which we attended. We went to the theater, and he took
the orchestra into a room which would just about hold it. Imagine the
din in that room! The effect was far from musical, but to Liszt it was
the key to the polyphonic effects which he wished to produce.


As an illustration of some of the advantages of a residence at Weimar
almost _en famille_ with Liszt during "die goldene Zeit," a few extracts
from my diary are presented, showing how closely events followed one
upon another:

"Sunday, April 24, 1853. At the Altenburg this forenoon at eleven
o'clock. Liszt played with Laub and Cossmann two trios by César Franck."

This is peculiarly interesting in view of the fact that the composer,
who died about ten years ago, is just beginning to receive due
appreciation. In Paris at the present time there is almost a César
Franck cult, but it is quite natural that Liszt, with his quick and
far-seeing appreciation, should have taken especial delight in playing
his music forty-seven years ago. Liszt was very fond of it.

"May 1. Quartet at the Altenburg at eleven o'clock, after which
Wieniawski played with Liszt the violin and pianoforte 'Sonata in A' by

"May 3. Liszt called at my rooms last evening in company with Laub and
Wieniawski. Liszt played several pieces, among them my 'Amitié pour

"May 6. The boys were all at the Hotel Erbprinz this evening. Liszt came
in and added to the liveliness of the occasion."

"May 7. At Liszt's, this evening, Klindworth, Laub, and Cossmann played
a piano trio by Spohr, after which Liszt played his recently composed
sonata and one of his concertos. In the afternoon I had played during my
lesson with Liszt the 'C Sharp Minor Sonata' of Beethoven and the 'E
Minor Fugue' by Handel."

"May 17. Lesson from Liszt this evening. Played Scherzo and Finale from
Beethoven's 'C Sharp Minor Sonata.'"

"May 20, Friday. Attended a court concert this evening which Liszt
conducted. Joachim played a violin solo by Ernst."

"May 22. Went to the Altenburg at eleven o'clock this forenoon. There
were about fifteen persons present--quite an unusual thing. Among other
things, a string quartet of Beethoven was played, Joachim taking the
first violin."

"May 23. Attended an orchestral rehearsal at which an overture and a
violin concerto by Joachim were performed, the latter played by

"May 27. Joachim Raff's birthday. Klindworth and I presented ourselves
to him early in the day and stopped his composing, insisting on having a
holiday. Our celebration of this event included a ride to Tiefurt and
attendance at a garden concert."

"May 29, Sunday. At Liszt's this forenoon as usual. No quartet to-day.
Wieniawski played first a violin solo by Ernst, and afterward with Liszt
the letter's duo on Hungarian airs."

"May 30. Attended a ball of the Erholung Gesellschaft this evening. At
our supper-table were Liszt, Raff, Wieniawski, Pruckner, and Klindworth.
Got home at four o'clock in the morning."

"June 4. Dined with Liszt at the Erbprinz. Liszt called at my rooms
later in the afternoon, bringing with him Dr. Marx and lady from Berlin,
also Raff and Winterberger. Liszt played three Chopin nocturnes and a
scherzo of his own. In the evening we were all invited to the Altenburg.
He played 'Harmonies du Soir, No. 2,' and his own sonata. He was at his
best and played divinely."

"June 9. Had a lesson from Liszt this evening. I played Chopin's 'E
Minor Concerto.'"

"June 10. Went to Liszt's this evening to a bock-beer soirée. The beer
was a present to Liszt from Pruckner's father, who has a large brewery
in Munich."

"Sunday, June 12. Usual quartet forenoon at the Altenburg. 'Quartet, Op.
161,' of Schubert's was played, also one of Beethoven's quartets."

The last entry may not seem to be particularly important, but it may be
as well not to end the quotations from a musical diary with a reference
to a bock-beer soirée.


The period covered by these extracts was chosen at random, and they give
a fair idea of the many musical opportunities which were constantly
recurring throughout the entire year.

Ferdinand Laub, the leader of the quartet, was about twenty-one years of
age, and already a violinist of the first rank.

Wieniawski and Joachim, young men of the age of twenty-two and nineteen
years respectively, were among the most welcome visitors to Weimar.
Joachim, already celebrated as a quartet-player, was regarded by some as
the greatest living violinist. The playing of Wieniawski appealed to me
more than that of any other violinist of the time, and I remember it now
with intense pleasure.


On one evening early in June, 1853, Liszt sent us word to come up to the
Altenburg next morning, as he expected a visit from a young man who was
said to have great talent as a pianist and composer, and whose name was
Johannes Brahms. He was to come accompanied by Eduard Remenyi.

The next morning, on going to the Altenburg with Klindworth, we found
Brahms and Remenyi already in the reception-room with Raff and Pruckner.
After greeting the newcomers, of whom Remenyi was known to us by
reputation, I strolled over to a table on which were lying some
manuscripts of music. They were several of Brahms's yet unpublished
compositions, and I began turning over the leaves of the uppermost in
the pile. It was the piano solo "Op. 4, Scherzo, E Flat Minor," and, as
I remember, the writing was so illegible that I thought to myself that
if I had occasion to study it I should be obliged first to make a copy
of it. Finally Liszt came down, and after some general conversation he
turned to Brahms and said: "We are interested to hear some of your
compositions whenever you are ready and feel inclined to play them."


Brahms, who was evidently very nervous, protested that it was quite
impossible for him to play while in such a disconcerted state, and,
notwithstanding the earnest solicitations of both Liszt and Remenyi,
could not be persuaded to approach the piano. Liszt, seeing that no
progress was being made, went over to the table, and taking up the first
piece at hand, the illegible scherzo, and saying, "Well, I shall have to
play," placed the manuscript on the piano-desk.

We had often witnessed his wonderful feats in sight-reading, and
regarded him as infallible in that particular, but, notwithstanding our
confidence in his ability, both Raff and I had a lurking dread of the
possibility that something might happen which would be disastrous to our
unquestioning faith. So, when he put the scherzo on the piano-desk, I
trembled for the result. But he read it off in such a marvelous way--at
the same time carrying on a running accompaniment of audible criticism
of the music--that Brahms was amazed and delighted. Raff thought, and so
expressed himself, that certain parts of this scherzo suggested the
Chopin "Scherzo in B Flat Minor," but it seemed to me that the likeness
was too slight to deserve serious consideration. Brahms said that he had
never seen or heard any of Chopin's compositions. Liszt also played a
part of Brahms's "C Major Sonata, Op. 1."


A little later some one asked Liszt to play his own sonata, a work which
was quite recent at that time, and of which he was very fond. Without
hesitation, he sat down and began playing. As he progressed he came to a
very expressive part of the sonata, which he always imbued with extreme
pathos, and in which he looked for the especial interest and sympathy of
his listeners. Casting a glance at Brahms, he found that the latter was
dozing in his chair. Liszt continued playing to the end of the sonata,
then rose and left the room. I was in such a position that Brahms was
hidden from my view, but I was aware that something unusual had taken
place, and I think it was Remenyi who afterward told me what it was. It
is very strange that among the various accounts of this Liszt-Brahms
first interview--and there are several--there is not one which gives an
accurate description of what took place on that occasion; indeed, they
are all far out of the way. The events as here related are perfectly
clear in my own mind, but not wishing to trust implicitly to my memory
alone, I wrote to my friend Klindworth,--the only living witness of the
incident except myself, as I suppose,--and requested him to give an
account of it as he remembered it. He corroborated my description in
every particular, except that he made no specific reference to the
drowsiness of Brahms, and except, also, that, according to my
recollection, Brahms left Weimar on the afternoon of the day on which
the meeting took place; Klindworth writes that it was on the morning of
the following day--a discrepancy of very little moment.

Brahms and Remenyi were on a concert tour at the time of which I write,
and were dependent on such pianos as they could find in the different
towns in which they appeared. This was unfortunate, and sometimes
brought them into extreme dilemma. On one occasion the only piano at
their disposal was just a half-tone at variance with the violin. There
was no pianoforte-tuner at hand, and although the violin might have been
adapted to the piano temporarily, Remenyi would have had serious
objections to such a proceeding. Brahms therefore adapted himself to the
situation, transposed the piano part to the pitch of the violin, and
played the whole composition, Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata," from
memory. Joachim, attracted by this feat, gave Brahms a letter of
introduction to Schumann. Shortly after the untoward Weimar incident
Brahms paid a visit to Schumann, then living in Düsseldorf. The
acquaintanceship resulting therefrom led to the famous article of
Schumann entitled "Neue Bahnen," published shortly afterward (October
23, 1853) in the Leipsic "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik," which started
Brahms on his musical career. It is doubtful if up to that time any
article had made such a sensation throughout musical Germany. I remember
how utterly the Liszt circle in Weimar were astounded. This letter was
at first, doubtless, an obstacle in the way of Brahms, but as it
resulted in stirring up great rivalry between two opposing parties it
eventually contributed much to his final success.


Liszt never questioned Wagner's sincerity. He considered "Lohengrin"
Wagner's greatest work up to the time at which it was composed. It was
dedicated to Liszt, and, as Raff told me, the good man could not
conceive that Wagner would dedicate anything but his best and greatest
to his friend and champion, such was Liszt's faith in the struggling
composer whose cause he had made his own.[1]

On the occasion of the first performance of a Wagner opera in any
neighboring town, a delegation from Weimar was apt to be on hand for the
purpose of making propaganda; and this was the case on Saturday, January
7, 1854, when the opera of "Lohengrin" was given in Leipsic for the
first time.

We boys were demonstrative claqueurs, and almost always succeeded in
making a sensation, especially in a town like Leipsic, where we had
acquaintances among the Conservatory students and could get them to help

The general public and a large majority of the musicians were not at
all favorably disposed toward Wagner's music in those days, and in this
connection a remark of Joachim Raff made to me in 1879-80, on the
occasion of my second visit to Germany, was significant. Raff had been
in earlier years, perhaps, the most ardent of all pioneers in the Wagner
cause. A quarter of a century had elapsed since I had seen Raff, and
naturally one of my first questions was, "Raff, how is the Wagner
cause?" "Oh," said he, "the public have gone 'way over to the other
extreme. You know how hard it was to force Wagner upon them twenty-five
years ago, and now they go just as much too far the other way and are
unreasonable in their excessive homage." "Well," I replied, "I suppose
the matter will find its level and be adjusted as time passes on."

After the performance of "Lohengrin," which, by the way, was successful,
the whole Liszt party, by invitation, went to supper at the house of the
concertmeister, Ferdinand David. Quite a number of other guests were
present. Among them I remember with pleasure my Boston friends and
fellow-townsmen Charles C. Perkins and J. C. D. Parker, who were
temporarily located in Leipsic, pursuing their musical studies.

Brahms also was present, and during the evening he played the Andante
from his "F Minor Sonata, Op. 5."


NOT long after my visit to Raff in 1879-80 I went on a pleasure trip to
Stuttgart, and on account of old associations stopped at the Hotel
Marquand. One of the objects of my visit was to meet again my old Weimar
fellow-pupil Dionys Pruckner, at that time eminent among the staff of
pianoforte teachers in the famous Stuttgart Conservatory of Music.
Alighting at the hotel, I was impressed with the marks of consideration
shown to me by the hotel porter. He was so very attentive that I was
somewhat puzzled. The explanation was apparent the next day when he
respectfully inquired if I was the kapellmeister of New York! He had
read the name and address on one of my trunks and jumped at conclusions.
I told him that I was not that individual, and explained that in New
York no such office existed, although the title might be with propriety
applied to the conductor of the Philharmonic Society. However, the idea
found a lodgment in his head, quite to my advantage, as evidenced by the
many attentions he paid to me throughout my stay.


Over a quarter of a century elapsed after my first meeting with Brahms
before I saw him again, and then the meeting occurred at Bonn on the
Rhine, on May 3, 1880. He was there, in company with Joachim and other
artists, to take part in the ceremonies attendant on the unveiling of
the Schumann _Denkmal_.

There were also musical performances, and at a morning recital of
chamber-music the program consisted solely of Schumann's works, vocal
and instrumental, with the addition of the Brahms "Violin Concerto,"
played by Joachim. The concluding number was Schumann's "Piano Quartet
in E Flat Major, Op. 47," Brahms playing the piano part, and Joachim,
Heckmann, and Bellman playing respectively violin, viola, and


The pianoforte-playing of Brahms was far from being finished or even
musical. His tone was dry and devoid of sentiment, his interpretation
inadequate, lacking style and contour. It was the playing of a composer,
and not that of a virtuoso. He paid little if any attention to the marks
of expression as indicated by Schumann in the copy. This was especially
and painfully apparent in the opening measures of the first movement.
This introductory passage is marked, "Sostenuto assai," followed by the
main movement marked, "Allegro ma non troppo." Instead of accommodating
himself to the quiet and subdued nature of the introduction, the
pianist quite ignored Schumann's esthetic directions, and began with a
vigorous attack, which was sustained throughout the movement. The
continued force and harshness of his tone quite overpowered the stringed
instruments. As an ensemble the performance was not a success.

On going home to dinner, and learning that Brahms was stopping at the
hotel, I gave my card to the porter, with instructions to deliver it to
Brahms as soon as he came in. When about half-way through the table
d'hôte the porter entered and said that Brahms was in the outer hall,
waiting to see me. He was very cordial. At the moment I had quite
forgotten that I had met him at David's house in Leipsic, so I said:
"The last time I met you was in Weimar on that very hot day in June,
1853; do you remember it?"

"Very well indeed, and I am glad to see you again. Just now my time is
very much engaged, but we are going up the river on a picnic this
afternoon--Joachim and others; will you come along? We are going to a
summer restaurant on the Rhine, where they have excellent beer, and it
will be _ganz gemütlich_."

I regretted extremely that I had to forego the pleasure of this
excursion, and fully realized the opportunity I was losing; but my
party--there were four of us, my wife and I and two children--had
previously arranged our plans, and in order to make connections we were
obliged to go on to Cologne that day.

Here was a companion-piece to the disappointment occasioned by my having
to forego the pleasure and profit of a foot-tramp through the Tyrol with
Richard Wagner, as already related in these "Memories." But so the Fates

Partly on account of the untoward Weimar incident, and partly for the
sake of his own individuality, I took a peculiar interest in Brahms. His
work is wonderfully condensed, his constructive power masterly. By his
scholarly development of themes through augmentation, diminution,
inversion, imitation, and other devices, he seems to be introducing new
thematic material, while the fact is, as will be seen on close
investigation, that he is presenting the original theme in varied form
and shape, and gradually unfolding and expanding its possibilities to
the uttermost. In other words, his treatment is exhaustive and complete.
In his later piano compositions this is readily apparent, and as these
pieces are short, and at the same time complete in form, they furnish
excellent opportunities to the student for analytical studies. In all
that relates to the intellectual faculty Brahms is indisputably a
master. I find this to be the consensus of opinion among intelligent
musicians. But there are differences of opinion as regards his emotional
susceptibilities, and it is just this fact that prevents many from fully
accepting him. The emotional and intellectual should be in equipoise in
order to attain the highest results, but in the music of Brahms the
latter seems to predominate. In sympathetic and affectionate treatment,
so far as relates to his piano composition, he does not compare with


I have read in a recent number of a musical magazine the following
sentence: "We have seen with what ardor the first compositions of this
serious young man [Brahms] were greeted by Schumann and Liszt."

I have already mentioned the fact that all of the published accounts of
the first meeting of Liszt and Brahms were far from accurate, and in
fact convey an impression directly opposite to the truth; and the
foregoing statement, according to my belief, is just as far from being
in accordance with the facts. I am quite sure that Liszt was not
enthusiastic about Brahms at the time of the first interview in Weimar
heretofore described, and the letter received from my friend Karl
Klindworth, in Berlin, sustains me in this belief. Liszt was of too
kindly a disposition to treasure up animosity against Brahms on account
of the mishap on that occasion; but the fact that Brahms was put forward
by the anti-Wagnerites as their champion may possibly have influenced
him somewhat. A coolness also sprang up between Joachim and Liszt,
although during my stay in Weimar the violinist had been welcomed so
frequently at the Altenburg. During the entire career of Brahms he and
Joachim were close friends.


Liszt's playing of the Brahms scherzo was a remarkable feat, but he was
constantly doing almost incredible things in the way of reading at
sight. Another instance of his skill in this direction occurs to me and
is well worthy of mention.

Raff had composed a sonata for violin and pianoforte in which there were
ever-varying changes in measure and rhythm; measures of 7/8, 7/4, 5/4,
alternated with common and triple time, and seemed to mix together
promiscuously and without regard to order. Notwithstanding this apparent
disorder, there was an undercurrent, so to speak, of the ordinary 3/4 or
4/4 time, and to the player who could penetrate the rhythmic mask the
difficulty of performance quickly vanished. Raff had arranged with Laub
and Pruckner that they should practise the sonata together, and then, on
a favorable occasion, play it in Liszt's presence. So on one of the
musical mornings at the Altenburg these gentlemen began to play the
sonata. Pruckner, of sensitive and nervous organization, found the
changes of measure too confusing, especially when played before company,
and broke down at the first page. Another and yet a third attempt was
made, but with the like result. Liszt, whose interest was aroused,
exclaimed: "I wonder if I can play that!" Then, taking his place at the
instrument, he played it through at sight in rapid tempo and without the
slightest hesitation. He had intuitively divined the regularity of
movement which lay beneath the surface.


Deep beneath the surface there was in Liszt's organization a religions
trend which manifested itself openly now and then, and there were
occasions upon which his contrition displayed itself to an inordinate
degree. Joachim Raff, long his intimate friend and associate, told me
that these periods were sometimes of considerable duration, and while
they lasted he would seek solitude, and going frequently to church,
would throw himself upon the flagstones before a _Muttergottesbild_, and
remain for hours, as Raff expressed it, so deeply absorbed as to be
utterly unconscious of events occurring in his presence.


Rubinstein also told me that on one occasion he had been a witness of
such an act on the part of Liszt. One afternoon at dusk they were
walking together in the cathedral at Cologne, and quite suddenly
Rubinstein missed Liszt, who had disappeared in a mysterious way. He
searched for quite a while through the many secluded nooks and corners
of the immense building, and finally found Liszt kneeling before a
_prie-dieu_, so deeply engrossed that Rubinstein had not the heart to
disturb him, and so left the building alone.


Sometime, I think late, in 1853 Peter Cornelius, nephew of the
celebrated painter of that name, and composer of the comic opera "The
Barber of Bagdad," came to Weimar and was added to the Altenburg circle.
He was well known and highly esteemed by musicians, and as he was always
cheery and bubbling over with musical enthusiasm, I at once became very
fond of him as a friend, and later on paid due homage to his decided
talent as a composer. As an illustration of how easy it is to underrate
the abilities of a new acquaintance the following incident is both
interesting and instructive. In October, 1853, or thereabouts, quite a
large musical festival took place in Karlsruhe, which was under the
general direction of Liszt, who also conducted the orchestra. It goes
without saying that under the management of Liszt a number of selections
from the Wagner operas were played, and one of these happened to be the
bridal chorus from "Lohengrin." Wagner at that time was an entirely new
experience to Cornelius, and after the concert, while speaking to Liszt
of the beauty of Wagner's music, he instanced this bright and pretty
melody, emphasizing its beauty as though it were the special object of
his admiration. We boys, while we recognized the beauty of the bridal
march and its fitness for the place in which it occurs, were apt to
coddle ourselves upon our superior knowledge of Wagner, and would have
saved our enthusiasm for the more completed and distinctly Wagnerian
characteristics. The enthusiasm of Cornelius for the purely melodic
phrases of Wagner, which were in no wise characteristic of his genius,
rather led us to look down upon the musical perceptions of Cornelius--or
perhaps I should speak only for myself and give these as my personal
impressions; but it was not long before his great talent was duly
recognized and acknowledged, at least by musicians. Cornelius was a
charming fellow, and I enjoyed his society because he was so
enthusiastically and intensely musical.


I have already mentioned in these papers my meeting with Joachim in
Leipsic in the year 1849. He was then about eighteen years of age and
already famous as a violinist. He was of medium height, had broad, open
features, and a heavy shock of dark hair somewhat like that of
Rubinstein. I had a letter of introduction to him, which I presented a
short time after my arrival in Leipsic, and received immediately a
return call from him. He was kind and affable, and easy to become
acquainted with, but owing to diffidence on my part I did not improve
the opportunity as I should have done, a circumstance which I now much
regret. He played the Mendelssohn concerto in one of the Gewandhaus
concerts within a month of my arrival at Leipsic, and I heard him then
for the first time, and was much impressed by his beautiful performance.
Subsequently, when in Weimar, I had the pleasure of meeting him on many
occasions, for he was in the habit of going there not infrequently, and
would sometimes take part in the Altenburg private musicales, as well as
in the public concerts at the theater.

During the year 1845-46 I heard and became well acquainted with three
famous violinists, Vieuxtemps, Ole Bull, and Sivori, who came to Boston
and played many times both in public and in private. They were all great
players, each having his special individuality. Vieuxtemps and Ole Bull
I met several times in later years, and became familiar with their
playing. Vieuxtemps came to Weimar and played both in private and in
public. His playing was wonderfully precise and accurate, every tone
receiving due attention, and his phrasing was delightful. Scale and
arpeggio passages were absolutely clean and without a flaw. He was
certainly a player of exquisite taste, and he still preserved his
characteristics when I heard him years later, in 1853 at Weimar, and in
1873 at New York. Ole Bull came to Boston a year or so after Vieuxtemps.
He was a born violinist, and developed after his own fashion and nature,
in the manner of a genius. Vieuxtemps was the result of scientific
training and close adherence to well-founded principles. Ole Bull, on
the other hand, was a law unto himself, and burst out into full blossom
without showing the various degrees of growth. He did not realize the
importance of close attention to detail while in the course of

Sivori was of the gentle, poetic, and graceful class of players. Beauty
and grace rather than self-assertion characterized his style. Ernst,
whom I heard in Homburg in the year 1852, was a player of great
intensity of feeling, and was regarded as the most fervent violinist of
his time. Joachim's style impressed me as classical and rather reserved,
and while I enjoyed and admired it, there was present no feeling of
enthusiasm. Wilhelmj, with his broad and noble style, was certainly most
impressive. Henri Wieniawski had a musical organization of great
intensity, and this, combined with his perfect technic, made his playing
irresistible. Ferdinand Laub, for some reason not so well known to the
general public as he should be, is generally conceded by the most
distinguished violinists to have been the greatest of all
quartet-players. Laub was concertmeister during the whole period of my
stay in Weimar, and was an intimate friend of mine. It will be
remembered that at that time Bernhard Cossmann was the violoncellist of
the Weimar string quartet. I owe many delightful moments of musical
enjoyment to his exquisitely poetical and refined playing. The last time
I met him was at his own house in Frankfort. His wife and children
were present, and being thus quite _en famille_, we played together, for
the sake of old times, the piano and violoncello sonata of Beethoven in
A major.


There are many others whom I am prevented by lack of space from
mentioning; but I must not omit the name of my friend Adolf Brodsky, a
violinist of the first rank, and a man of great nobility of character.
His playing is broad, intelligent, and thoroughly musical, whether as
soloist or as first violin in chamber quartet music. Sometimes I have
heard him in the privacy of my own home, where, feeling entire freedom
from restraint, he has thrown himself intensely into his music, to my
thorough and complete musical satisfaction.


I have already had something to say of Eduard Remenyi, the Hungarian
violinist who accompanied Brahms to Weimar in 1853. He was a talented
man, and was esteemed by Liszt as being, in his way, a good violinist.
He remained at Weimar after Brahms left there, and I became intimately
acquainted with him. He was very entertaining, and so full of fun that
he would have made a tiptop Irishman. He was at home in the Gipsy music
of his own country, and this was the main characteristic of his playing.
He had also a fad for playing Schubert melodies on the violin with the
most attenuated pianissimo effects, and occasionally his hearers would
listen intently after the tone had ceased, imagining that they still
heard a trace of it.

Not long before leaving Weimar I had some fun with him by asking if he
had ever heard "any bona-fide American spoken." He replied that he did
not know there was such a language. "Well," said I, "listen to this for
a specimen: 'Ching-a-ling-a-dardee, Chebung cum Susan.'" I did not meet
him again until 1878, twenty-four years after leaving Weimar. I was
going up-stairs to my studio in the Steinway building when some one
told me that Remenyi had arrived and was rehearsing for his concerts in
one of the rooms above. So, going up, I followed the sounds of the
violin, gave a quick knock, opened the door, and went in. Remenyi looked
at me for a moment, rushed forward and seized my hand, and as he wrung
it cried out: "Ching-a-ling-a-dardee, Chebung cum Susan!" He had
remembered it all those years.


My concert-playing and teaching have naturally made me more interested
in instrumental than in vocal music. Moreover, the principal celebrities
who came to visit Liszt during my sojourn at Weimar were composers and
instrumentalists. For that reason I met but few distinguished
opera-singers during my stay abroad. However, I heard the best of them
in opera or concert.

In Boston, about the year 1846-47, the Havana Italian Opera gave a
season at the Howard Athenæum of that city, and created considerable
interest. They gave, I think for the first time in this country, Verdi's
"Ernani," which was received with great favor. The principal soprano was
Mme. Fortunata Tedesco, who was afterward at the Grand Opéra in Paris
from 1851 to 1857. The tenor was Signore Perelli, who had an
exceptionally fine voice. Both of these singers had well-trained voices
and were well supported by chorus and orchestra. As this was my first
experience in opera, it produced a deep and lasting impression.

The opera season in Leipsic in the year 1852, beginning about the 1st of
February and continuing up to the 1st of May, was notable, for it
afforded the opportunity of hearing in quick succession three singers of
world-wide reputation: Henriette Sontag, Johanna Wagner, and De la


[Illustration: Autograph of Henriette Sontag]

The singer of whom I have the liveliest impression is Henriette Sontag,
whom I heard in Leipsic on her first appearance after she had been
twenty years in retirement. The interest I took in the occasion was much
increased by the fact that I had a seat next to Moscheles, who was very
communicative, and gave me an interesting history of his long
acquaintance with Sontag, whom he had heard at her last appearance, I
think, before her retirement. He was naturally on the _qui vive_, and
impatiently waited for the opera to begin. Like many of her other old
admirers who were in the theater, he was full of expectancy mingled with
dread of possible failure. She appeared as _Maria_ in Donizetti's "Fille
du Régiment" In this part the voice of the singer is heard before she
appears on the stage, and as soon as Moscheles heard Sontag's voice
trilling behind the scenes, he exclaimed with delight, "It is Sontag!
Nobody I have heard since she left the stage could do that! She is the
same Henriette!"

Some of the rôles in which I heard her were _Amina_ in "Sonnambula,"
_Martha_ in the opera of that name, _Susan_ in "The Marriage of Figaro,"
and _Rosina_ in "The Barber of Seville." I enjoyed the lovely feminine
quality of her voice and manner. There was something peculiarly charming
and womanly about her. She sang with unfailing ease and grace, her voice
being so flexible that it sounded like the trilling of birds. The most
difficult roulades and cadences were given with absolute accuracy and
rhythm. It was simply fascinating.


During the month of March of the same year, Johanna Wagner, niece of
Richard Wagner, sang in several operas. Among those in which I heard her
were Bellini's "Romeo and Juliet," as _Romeo_; "Fidelio," as _Leonora_
or _Fidelio_; and "Iphigenia in Aulis," by Gluck, as _Iphigenia_. Here
indeed she was a contrast to Sontag, and in these parts she seemed to me
quite unapproachable. Her voice was large and full, and her acting most
dramatic. Like all the German singers whom I heard, she lacked the
nicety of detail, the clear and beautiful phrasing, characteristic of
the Italians I had heard in Boston. But when I grew to know the German
method, I began to admire it, not so much for the actual singing itself
as for the combination of qualities that entered into it--the artistic
earnestness, the acting, and the musicianship.


It was my experience that the Germans themselves greatly admired singing
of the Italian school, for when, following Sontag and Wagner, Mme. de la
Grange came the next month and sang an engagement in Leipsic (April and
May, 1852), the management doubled the prices, and, notwithstanding
this, the house was crowded every time she sang. She was in her prime,
and one of the finest singers I ever heard. Her style was brilliant and
dazzling, but never lacking in repose. Her high tones were clear and
musical, without any trace of shrillness, and in the most rapid passages
the tones were never slurred or confused, but distinct and in perfect
rhythmic order. The rôles in which she most appealed to me were as
_Queen of the Night_ in "The Magic Flute," by Mozart, and _Rosina_ in
"The Barber of Seville," by Rossini. But she also sang both parts of
_Isabella_ and _Alice_ in Meyerbeer's "Robert the Devil" in the most
admirable manner.


Liszt was the head and front of the Wagner movement; but except when
visitors came to Weimar and were inveigled into an argument by Raff, who
was an ardent disciple of the new school, there was but little
discussion of the Wagner question. Pruckner started a little society,
the object being to oppose the Philistines, or old fogies, and uphold
modern ideas. Liszt was the head and was called the Padishah (chief),
and the pupils and others, Raff, Bülow, Klindworth, Pruckner, Cornelius,
Laub, Cossmann, etc., were "Murls." In a letter to Klindworth, then in
London, Liszt writes of Rubinstein: "That is a clever fellow, the most
notable musician, pianist, and composer who has appeared to me among the
modern lights--with the exception of the Murls. Murlship alone is
lacking to him still." On the manuscript of Liszt's "Sonate" he himself
wrote, "Für die Murlbibliothek."


My admiration for Wagner did not go to the extreme of Liszt's and of my
fellow-pupils'. Liszt rarely expressed his opinion of Wagner, because he
took it for granted that everybody knew it, and he was not a
controversialist. I know that he considered those people who refused to
follow Wagner as old fogies, and my colleagues used to twit me for not
being as enthusiastic as they were. Certain passages in his operas have
always given me great musical enjoyment and delight, but here and there
are crudities which, as it seemed to me, were unpardonable in a great
composer. Under these circumstances I could not pose as a genuine Murl,
although this fact did not disturb the genial and fraternal relations
which existed between my colleagues and me; and on occasion also I was
equal to the best of them in exercising the specialty of a genuine Murl

I think that Wagner will always rank among the greatest composers, but
will not always remain as preëminent as he is now in the popular
estimation. Some of his compositions are wonderfully intricate, although
musical, but at times his faults appear and disturb the balance of
things in such a way that the music loses the effect of spontaneity and
becomes forced.

In the Weimar days the general objection of the "old fogies" was that
his music lacked melody. Doubtless by melody they meant the little tunes
of the anti-Wagner period; but the fact is that Wagner has contributed
his share to increasing the scope of melody and enlarging its
boundaries. It may be that he has gone too far in this direction and has
completely obliterated all limitations, thus approaching dangerously
near confusion. It was said that he had no melody, but his scores are
full of it. There are sometimes so many melodies in combination, each
exercising its individuality and proceeding independently, that the
"tune effect" is obscured and lost in the crowd of accompanying tunes.
But to me Wagner's melody seems restless. It comes on suddenly and
progresses without periods of repose. There is almost constant motion,
which produces a feeling of unrest. A sentence must have its commas,
semi-colons, and periods, and punctuation is as necessary in music as it
is in letters.

I have never quite understood just what it is in Wagner's music that so
fascinates many people whom I know to be unmusical.


Of my Weimar comrades, Joachim Raff, it is hardly necessary to say,
became the most distinguished. My first impression of him was not wholly
favorable. He was hard to become acquainted with and not disposed to
meet one half-way. He was fond of argument, and if one side was taken
he was very apt to take the other. He liked nothing better than to get
one to commit himself to a proposition and then to attack him with all
his resources, which were many. Upon better acquaintance, however, one
found a kind heart and faithful friend whose constancy was to be relied
on. He was very poor, and there were times when he seemed hardly able to
keep body and soul together. Once he was arrested for debt. The room in
which he was confined, however, was more comfortable, if anything, than
his own. He had a piano, a table, music-paper, and pen and ink sent
there. How this was accomplished I do not know, but I think Liszt must
have had a hand in it. Raff enjoyed himself composing and playing, and
we saw to it that he had good fare. The episode made little impression
on him: so long as he could compose he was happy. However, the matter
was compromised, and in a short time he returned to his own lodgings. He
was a hard worker and composed incessantly, with only a brief interval
for dinner and a little exercise. We habitually sat together, and
afterward usually took a short walk. I enjoyed his conversation
exceedingly and derived much profit from it.

At about five o'clock in the afternoon, looking out of my window, I
would frequently see Raff coming over the path leading through the park,
with a bundle of manuscript under his arm. He liked to come and play to
me what he had composed. His playing was not artistic, because he paid
little attention to it, and he did not attempt to elaborate or finish
his style.

He composed very rapidly, and many of his compositions do not amount to
much. He could not get decent remuneration for good music, and he had to
live; therefore he wrote many pieces that were of the jingling sort,
because his publishers paid well for them. Sometimes, however, he turned
out a composition which was really worthy, and among his works are
symphonies, sonatas, trios, and chamber-music which gained him
reputation. His symphony "Im Walde" is well known in the musical world,
and his "Cavatina" for violin, although not a piece of importance, is
one of the most popular and effective violin solos and exists in various
arrangements. At times he was much dejected, and there was a dash of
bitterness in his disposition. I think he felt that, being obliged to
turn out music for a living, he would never attain the rank to which his
talents entitled him.

In promoting the cause of Wagner, Raff did considerable work for which
Liszt got the credit. I think that at one time Raff acted as Liszt's
private secretary; but he had decided ideas of his own, and knew how to
express them. Being generally in close accord with Liszt, and having a
ready pen, he rendered great assistance in promulgating the doctrines of
the new school by means of essays, brochures, and newspaper articles. Of
course much that he wrote was based upon suggestions made by Liszt. Raff
was a tower of strength in himself, while at the same time acting as
Liszt's mouthpiece in the Wagner propaganda.


When Dr. Adolf B. Marx of Berlin was in Weimar in June, 1853, it was by
invitation of Liszt for the purpose of bringing out a new oratorio which
he had just composed. As usual on such occasions, we gave him a warm
reception, and Liszt arranged a midday dinner at the Hotel zum
Erbprinzen, at which some eight or ten guests were present. In the
afternoon we all attended a rehearsal of the oratorio, which lasted from
four o'clock until eleven o'clock P.M. According to my present
recollections, the work did not have a brilliant success. I was reminded
of this event by the receipt of the following letter in March, 1901,
from an old friend, Mr. Adolph Stange, who happened to be present on the


24 January, 1901.

     DEAR DR. MASON: When you wrote your "Memories of a Musical Life,"
     July-October, 1900, of Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, you
     probably did not have any presentiment that there is in a distant
     country, far from you, somebody who only by one day younger than
     yourself (born January 25, 1829) will be reading with the greatest
     interest your excellent and truthful description of different
     musical celebrities and authorities. Being myself for many years a
     pupil of Gerke and of Henselt in St. Petersburg, I had been with
     many of the eminent men you name personally acquainted; with
     Moscheles and Rubinstein I had more often and more intimate
     relations, and my delight was naturally great in reading your true
     and graphic account of some of my former musical friends. It is
     indeed with a feeling of admiration and gratitude that I am now
     addressing these lines to its author. Your interesting description
     of your stay at Weimar in 1853 gave me special pleasure, as in that
     same year, in May, June, and July, I had also been with Liszt in
     Weimar, and I remember you, dear Dr. Mason, perfectly, as well as
     Klindworth, Pruckner, the two Wieniawskis, Winterberger, Raff, and
     others; they are all living in my memory. That period of my youth
     is full of the most beautiful and noble impressions.

     Your account of that incomparable meister we both, I dare say,
     equally admire, awakened in me Liszt's greatness as artist, and
     still more, if I may say so, the greatness of his nature and
     character, so richly endowed with so many generous and noble
     instincts; and I recall with delight to my mind our pleasant walks
     in the Schlossgarten, where we visited Klindworth in his modest
     apartments; the supper at the Hotel zum Erbprinzen, where Liszt
     wished to get acquainted with the card-game "preference," which I
     had to show him; our visits to the Schloss, in the ground floor of
     which we listened to Liszt's divine playing and afterward got
     invited to dine up-stairs with the Princess Wittgenstein and her
     charming daughter. I believe you had already left Weimar when
     Professor Adolf Marx came from Berlin to visit Liszt and brought
     with him the score of his new oratorio. Marx wished to say a few
     words about its performance to Liszt before the first rehearsal,
     but was much disappointed, as he told me, not to find an
     appropriate moment to speak with the meister, whose attention was
     constantly taken up by his pupils. On the day of the rehearsal,
     Marx, who was sitting next to me, again expressed his regret at not
     having found an opportunity to talk the matter over with Liszt.
     Shortly after the rehearsal had commenced I felt several times
     Marx's elbows, which, giving way to his enthusiasm, came in close
     and sensible contact with mine. At last he exclaimed: "Liszt
     guesses my most secret thoughts and intentions in my own
     composition!" ...

     Let me, dear Dr. Mason, assure you what real and intense enjoyment
     I experienced by the perusal of your "Musical Memories," and beg
     to thank you from all my heart for giving me the possibility of
     recalling once over again those dear and ever-present reminiscences
     of a bygone but ever-delightful time in my life. It is seldom one
     can read in a biography a description like yours, which expresses
     in a few words, with so much reality, truthfulness, and
     impartiality, the characteristics of a whole series of well-known
     artists. Finally, you will ask: "Stranger, who art thou?" I will
     not, like _Lohengrin_, make a mystery of it, but answer your
     question: I wanted to become what you are now! After my return from
     Weimar, however, where I had been for a time Liszt's pupil, I
     entered into Russian state service, remaining, nevertheless, during
     my whole life, though a dilettante, a great and fervent admirer of
     that art, and a real artist in my heart. I sign, with veneration to
     your person, Dr. Mason, and have the honor to remain,

Yours very truly,



[Illustration: Autograph of Hector Berlioz]

Hector Berlioz came to Weimar occasionally, and I remember particularly
one of his visits, which took place in May, 1854. He was famous as
an orchestral conductor, and I saw him in this capacity in a concert the
program of which consisted exclusively of his own compositions. These
were especially attractive on account of their magnificent orchestral
coloring. In this regard he was certainly wonderful, and produced many
gorgeous effects. His masterly skill and intelligence in the treatment
and development of his themes were also everywhere apparent. Every
detail received careful attention, and the result was admirable.

Not long afterward he gave a similar concert in the Leipsic Gewandhaus
Hall, on which occasion the Weimar contingent was of course present.
There was no need of our services as claqueurs, however, for the hall
was crowded and the audience demonstrative.

Schubert was spontaneous and inspired, and thus stands in contrast to
Berlioz. Melody gushed from Schubert at such a rate, and musical ideas
crowded upon each other so rapidly, that he did not take time to work up
his compositions. There are a few which he elaborated with care, but
they are the exceptions, and emphasize the general spontaneity of his
work. If he had constructive power,--and certain passages in his work
show that he had,--he nevertheless failed to make adequate use of it.
His music is charming and delightful on account of its melodious
freshness and naïveté. It appeals directly to the heart. The only
drawback is his servile adherence to conventionalities, such, for
instance, as the old method of invariably repeating every section of a

Beethoven stands as the model of constructive power and emotional
expression in happy equipoise. Both the head and the heart are
satisfactorily employed, and in his orchestral treatment they find full
expression. This is true of all of his concerted works; but his weak
point is manifested in his pianoforte compositions, especially in the
sonatas, which are not idiomatic of the instrument for which they were
written. It is not intended to find fault with the music _per se_. It is
simply to say that his ideas are all orchestrally conceived, and as
they are not in the nature of the pianoforte, that instrument is
inadequate to their true expression. The sonatas are not pianistic,
idiomatic--_klaviermässig_. Had he written them for orchestra, we would
have had thirty-two symphonies.

Chopin's compositions are the very essence and consummation of the
piano, and he is, therefore, the pianoforte composer _par excellence_.
On the other hand, his orchestral work is weak and incompetent, as, for
example, the accompaniment to his concertos and some other pieces.

Schumann is at home in both directions. He is polyphonic in orchestral
treatment, and at the same time thoroughly pianistic. Without suggesting
comparisons, his music is _musical_ and complete. Beethoven's is heroic.


Liszt sometimes left Weimar for a few days in order to be present at or
to conduct music festivals. On one of these occasions, early in June,
1854, I remained alone at home on account of slight illness. As
Klindworth had gone to London for concert-playing and
pianoforte-teaching, I had moved into a suite of rooms in the Hotel zum
Erbprinzen. As a matter of interest to pianists I here note the fact
that these identical rooms had been occupied by Hummel several years

On the afternoon of the day on which Liszt left with his cortège the
head waiter came to me, saying that a young man who had just arrived was
in the café inquiring for Liszt and seemed disappointed on learning of
his absence. "I told him," said the waiter, "that you were the only one
of the family here. Will you see him?" I assented, and in a few moments
he ushered in a young man about twenty-four years of age, of strong
features and with a great shock of dark hair, who introduced himself as
Anton Rubinstein. I explained to him that Liszt had gone away for three
or four days to conduct a festival, that I could not say precisely when
he would return; but in the meantime, if I could make him feel at home,
I should be very glad.

After some conversation he asked me to play. I remember very well how he
looked sitting on the sofa, and the position of the piano in the room. I
played, but he did not. I had a suspicion that he was inveigling me into
playing without any intention of allowing me to take his measure. He sat
there like a gruff Russian bear; or perhaps my imagination helped to
produce this impression.

Rubinstein was already quite well known as a child prodigy, but of
course not nearly so famous as he afterward became. I do not recollect
paying him very much attention during Liszt's absence, but, then, he did
not allow me--he was rambling about all the time; nor did I hear him
play before Liszt came back. When Liszt returned, Rubinstein was
immediately invited to take up his residence on the Altenburg. I
remember that there, one afternoon, he played many of his own
compositions. His playing was full of rush and fire, and characterized
by strong emotional temperament. He had a big technic and reveled in
dash and fire. Those who heard Mark Hambourg here during the winter of
1899-1900 can form a very good idea of Rubinstein's personal appearance
at the time of which I write, and also his very pronounced style of
playing. His early touch lacked the mellow and tender beauty of tone
which distinguished it in later years.


Rubinstein's well-known dislike of Wagner, it seems to me, was
temperamental in a large degree, and it was quite natural that he was
not in agreement with him. Doubtless Chopin would not have approved of
Wagner's music, whatever he might have thought of his method. The
melodies of Chopin and Rubinstein are full of sentiment and well
defined, and their compositions run in entirely opposite channels from
those of Wagner, whose music is a vast sensuous upheaval, which
proceeds uninterruptedly from the beginning of an act to the end.

All musicians have a good deal of self-esteem. Rubinstein had his own
way of composing, which corresponded to his musical temperament. He had
to write everything just as it suited his musical ear, and he could not
conceive of any one else having as fine a musical ear as he. At all
events, he never stopped long enough to find out if any one else had.
Few musicians do. Liszt was fond of Rubinstein, and used to call him the
"young Beethoven," on account of a certain fancied resemblance he bore
to the great composer. He also recognized Rubinstein's great ability as
a pianist, although I think that as a player he rated Tausig much
higher. Many years after I left Weimar a relative of mine met Liszt in
Rome. She had a short time previous to this heard Rubinstein in concert,
and was in a state of great enthusiasm about his playing, and so
expressed herself to Liszt. His sole comment was, "Have you ever heard
Tausig?" The inference was that those who had heard Rubinstein and not
Tausig had missed hearing the greater of the two. I think Liszt regarded
Tausig as the best of all his pupils.

As I have said once before in these pages, I never saw Liszt after
leaving Weimar in July, 1854. I occasionally received letters from
him--several of them quite long and exceedingly entertaining. One of
these (the original in French) is reproduced here because it is
characteristic of his pleasantry and good humor:

     MY DEAR MASON: Although I do not know at what stage of your
     brilliant artistic peregrinations these lines will reach you, I
     feel assured that you are not ignorant that I am very, very
     sincerely and affectionately obliged to you for keeping me in kind
     remembrance, a fact to which the musical journals which you have
     sent me bear good witness. The "Musical Gazette" of New York has in
     particular given me genuine satisfaction, not alone on account of
     the agreeable and flattering things concerning me personally which
     it contains, but furthermore because this journal seems to me to
     inculcate an excellent and superior direction of opinion in your
     country. As you know, my dear Mason, I have no other self-interest
     than to serve the good cause of art so far as is possible, and
     wherever I find men who are making conscientious efforts in the
     same direction, I rejoice and am strengthened by the good example
     which they give me. Be so good as to present to your brother, the
     head editor of the "Musical Review", as I suppose, my very sincere
     thanks and compliments. If he would like to receive some
     communication from Weimar upon matters of interest which occur in
     the musical world of Germany, I will willingly have them sent to
     him through the medium of Mr. Pohl, who, by the way, does not live
     any longer at Dresden, where the numbers of the "Musical Gazette"
     were addressed by mistake, but at Weimar in the Kaufstrasse. His
     wife, one of the best harpists that I know, stands among the
     virtuosos of our "Chapelle", and is an important factor in the
     representation of the opera, as also in concerts.

     Apropos of concerts, in a few days I will send you the program of a
     series of symphonic performances, which ought to have been
     established here several years ago, and to which I consider it an
     honor and a duty to give definite encouragement from the year 1855.

     I expect Berlioz toward the end of January. We shall then hear his
     trilogy "L'Enfance du Christ", of which you already know "La Fuite
     en Egypte". To this he has added two other short oratorios, "Le
     Songe d'Herode" and "L'Arrivée à Saïs".

     The dramatic symphony "Faust" (in four parts, with solos and
     choruses) will also be given in full during his stay here.

     In regard to visits from artists who have been personally agreeable
     to me during the last month, I would name Clara Schumann and

     In Brendel's journal, "Neue Zeitschrift", you will find an article
     signed with my name, on Mme. Schumann, whom I have again heard with
     that sympathy and absolute admiration which her talent compels.

     As for Litolff, I confess that he has made a very vivid impression
     on me. His fourth concerto symphony (manuscript) is a very
     remarkable composition, and he played it in so masterly a manner,
     with such verve, with such boldness and certainty, that I derived
     intense pleasure from it.

     If there was a little of the quadruped in the amazing execution of
     Dreyschock (and this comparison should not vex him; is not the lion
     classed among quadrupeds as well as the poodle?), in that of
     Litolff, there is certainly something _winged_; moreover, he has
     all the superiority over Dreyschock that a biped having ideas,
     imagination, and sensibility has over another biped which imagines
     itself possessed of all this wealth--often very embarrassing!

     Do you continue your familiar intercourse with the Old Cognac in
     the New World, my dear Mason? Let me again commend _measure_ to
     you, an essential quality for musicians. In truth, I am not too
     well qualified to extol the _quantity_ of this _quality_, for, if I
     remember rightly, I have often employed tempo rubato when I was
     giving my concerts (work which I would not begin again for anything
     in the world), and even quite recently I have written a long
     symphony in three parts, called "Faust" (without text or vocal
     parts), in which the _horrible_ measures 7/8, 7/4, 5/4 alternate
     with common time and 3/4. By virtue of which I conclude that you
     should be satisfied with 7/8 of a little bottle of old cognac in
     the evening, and never exceed five quarts!

     Raff, in his first volume of "Wagner Frage", has thoroughly
     realized something like _five quarts_ of doctrinal sufficiency, but
     that is an unadvisable example to copy in a critical matter, and
     above all in the matter of cognac and other spirits!

     My dear Mason, excuse these bad jokes, justified only by my good
     intentions; that you may bear yourself valiantly, physically and
     morally, is the most cordial wish of

                      Your very friendly affectionate
                                      F. LISZT.

 WEIMAR, December 14, 1854.

     You did not know Rubinstein in Weimar?[2] He spent some time here,
     and was conspicuously different from the opaque mass of self-styled
     _composer-pianists_ who do not even know what it is to play the
     piano, still less with what fuel it is necessary to heat one's self
     in order to compose, so that with what they lack in talent for
     composition they fancy themselves pianists, and vice versa.

     Rubinstein will publish forthwith about fifty
     compositions--concertos, trios, symphonies, songs, light pieces,
     etc., which deserve notice.

     Laub has left Weimar. Ed. Singer takes his place in our orchestra.
     The latter gives much pleasure here, and is pleased himself also.

     Cornelius, Pohl, Raff, Pruckner, Schreiber, and all the new school
     of the new Weimar send you their friendliest greetings, to which I
     add a hearty _shake-hand_.

                                 F. L.

Other letters received from Liszt are perhaps not very important, but
with one exception never having been published before, they are printed
in the Appendix.

[Illustration: Autograph of Ferdinand Laub]

Pupils of Liszt and Thalberg and their pupils in search of an
entertaining diversion may amuse themselves by tracing their
musical pedigree back to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and thus lay claim
to very distinguished ancestry, as shown in the following table:

    Liszt, Franz, born Oct. 22, 1811.
    Czerny, Carl, born Feb. 21, 1791.
    Beethoven, Ludwig van, born Dec. 16, 1770.
    Neefe, Christian G., born Feb. 5, 1748.
    Hiller, Johann A., born Dec. 25, 1728.
    Homilius, G. A., born Feb. 2, 1714.
    Bach, Johann Sebastian, born March 21, 1685.
    Thalberg, Sigismond, born Jan. 7, 1812.
    Hummel, J. N., born Nov. 14, 1778.
    Mozart, Wolfgang A., born Jan. 27, 1756.

If there be any whose pride is not sufficiently nourished by this
display, they may go still further and show, by authentic records, a
descent through Bach from Josquin Desprez, the most eminent
contrapuntist of the Netherlands school, who lived about 1450-1521.

During the winter of 1879-80, which I spent at Wiesbaden on account of
ill health, I received a very cordial invitation to visit Liszt at
Weimar some time in July, and made plans to do so, which were
frustrated, however, through unforeseen circumstances. Bülow, when on
his first visit here, in 1875, told me that the old charm had entirely
passed away. The "Golden Time" was among the things that were.

The last message I had from Liszt was brought to me by Mr. Louis
Geilfuss of Steinway & Sons, who met Liszt in one of the streets of
Bayreuth only a few days before his death, which occurred somewhat
unexpectedly on July 31, 1886.


When I returned from Europe in 1854 my parents had moved from Boston,
and were living at Orange, New Jersey.

On landing in New York, I hurried to Boston, and went immediately to the
house of Mr. Webb. This had been my constant purpose ever since the time
I left America in 1849. In due course Miss Webb and I became engaged,
and were married on March 12, 1857.

My first enterprise after returning from Germany was a concert tour.
This I believe to have been the first exclusively pianoforte recital
tour ever undertaken in this country. Gottschalk, who was here at that
time, had traveled about giving concerts, but he was never without a
singer or associate of some kind.

In 1863 I had attended a recital given in Frankfort, Germany, by
Ferdinand Hiller, the program of which consisted exclusively of his own
compositions, concluding with a free improvisation on themes suggested
by the audience. My recitals were fashioned after this, only I played
very few of my own pieces. The programs were somewhat similar to those
of the present time, ranging from Beethoven and Chopin to Liszt. At that
time Bach's name, according to my recollection, was never seen on a
pianoforte-recital program. A large number of these compositions, such
as Liszt's "Twelfth Rhapsody" and Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu," were
played for the first time in this country at these concerts.


My friend Oliver Dyer managed the tour. My brothers Daniel and Lowell
were at this time booksellers and publishers in New York, under the
firm-name of Mason Brothers, and Mr. Dyer was connected with them in
business. He was a man of action, and possessed good literary ability.
He had lived for a time in Washington as reporter of speeches made in
Congress, and later on he was connected with Robert Bonner on the

He arranged a pamphlet in which he set forth and doubtless embellished
the facts connected with my sojourn in Germany and the favor with which
my playing had been received. When, in the course of our tour, we
arrived at a town where a lecture was to be given,--not an uncommon
occurrence,--he would take down the lecture stenographically and write
notices of it for the local papers. The editors appreciated this favor,
and were so kindly disposed toward us that they would print any advance
notices he chose to write about me. In what he wrote of me, however, I
was not willing to have him go to extremes, though he would frequently
slip something into the paper without my knowledge, leaving me to find
fault with him the next day.

All along the route it was difficult to persuade people that an
entertainment of pianoforte-playing exclusively could be made
interesting. They had never heard of such a thing, and insisted that
there ought to be some singing for the sake of variety. We stopped in
Albany, Troy, Utica, and many other places on the way to Chicago, where
I gave two concerts, one of which took place on New Year's eve. After
the concert I attended a large reception given in a private residence. I
remember being struck by the fact, as it seemed to me, that there were
so many young ladies at this reception, and I asked the hostess if there
were no married ladies in Chicago. "Why, Mr. Mason," she replied, "there
are only two or three unmarried ladies in the room." At that period
Chicago was full of young men who had come from the Eastern States,
principally New England. After staying in Chicago for two or three years
and getting well started in business they would get married, many of
them going to their native places for their brides. This accounted for
the youthful appearance of the assemblage, and illustrates in part the
very rapid growth of Chicago.

Up to the time we arrived in Chicago we had rainy weather constantly,
and partly on this account we were out of pocket. Dyer was for going
back to New York by the quickest route. I said: "No; I am going back
through the same towns, and shall give concerts in every one of them. If
the people liked my playing well enough they will come again and bring
their neighbors. If they did not like it, I shall soon find it out." As
it turned out, I had much larger audiences all the way home.


Copying the custom of Ferdinand Hiller, I used to close my concerts by
an improvisation upon themes suggested by the audience. All sorts of
themes were put into the hat--from Mozart, Beethoven, "Jordan is a hard
road to travel," "We won't go home till morning," and many negro
melodies. I had a faculty of developing a subject in such a way as to
hold my audience.

One night somebody sent up the request that I should play simultaneously
"Old Hundred" with one hand and "Yankee Doodle" with the other. This I
did, merely to show that even two such dis-similar melodies could be
played together in a musical way. There was a good deal of applause, but
also considerable hissing from the religions element, so I made a speech
explaining that I meant no disrespect to "Old Hundred" by placing it in
such close connection with "Yankee Doodle," and that the melody which
had to a certain extent been adopted as a national air was on that
account worthy of being played with any hymn.

Fifteen years later, in 1870, George F. Root, who had assisted my father
in his musical convention work in the East, but who had settled in
Chicago and was doing the same kind of pioneer work in the West, was
holding a summer musical convention in South Bend, Indiana. He wished to
introduce piano as well as vocal teaching, and invited me to take
charge of the piano classes. It was a fearfully hot summer, and during
the month I was in South Bend the temperature was continuously close to
100°. Toward the close of the season concerts were given, and it was so
hot that in lieu of a dress-coat I wore a linen duster, cut off at the

At the last concert I received a request from two or three people to
play "Yankee Doodle" with one hand and "Old Hundred" with the other.
Possibly they had heard me do so in 1855. Remembering my experience
then, I made a few remarks, in which I told them that some little
feeling had been created fifteen years before by my doing the same
thing, but that--and here I got a little mixed--in playing "Yankee
Doodle" with "Old Hundred" I did not intend any disrespect to "Yankee
Doodle." At this the audience began to laugh. Schuyler Colfax, who was
then Vice-President of the United States, was on the stage behind me,
and I could hear him chuckling. I thought to myself, "Well, I have made
some funny mistake, though I don't know what it is, so I won't go back
and try to correct it."

Afterward Mr. Colfax, who was a noted speaker, told me that whenever he
made a _lapsus linguae_, if it amused the audience he never attempted to
correct it.

On my return from this concert tour to New York, I established the
series of chamber-music concerts which, begun as an experiment,
continued thirteen years. I also settled down as a teacher. While I had
returned from Weimar with the full intention of continuing my career as
a piano-virtuoso, and while my concert tour had been promising enough, I
found that the public demanded a constant repetition of pieces to which
it happened to take a liking, and I knew that I should soon weary of
playing the same things over and over again. Moreover, I felt that from
my father I had inherited a certain capacity for giving instruction, and
that the chamber-music concerts and engagements with the Philharmonic
and at other concerts in New York and elsewhere would serve to keep up
my practice as a virtuoso.


In 1855 I accepted as pupils some four or five young ladies who were
being educated at a fashionable boarding-school in New York. One of
these girls was very bright and intelligent but without special musical
talent. She was extremely averse to application in study, and the
problem for me was to invent some way by which mental concentration
could be compelled, for from the moment she sat down to the piano to
practise she was constantly looking at the clock to see if her
practice-hour was up. After a little study I found that in playing a
scale up one octave and back, without intermission, in 9/8 time, there
are necessarily nine repetitions of the scale before the initial tone
falls again on the first part of the measure. Thus,

[Illustration: musical notation]

and so on until another accent falls upon the initial C. Such an
exercise is called a rhythmus, and the repetitions compel mental
concentration just as surely as the addition of a column of figures
does. I found that if the compass was extended four octaves, thus, from

[Illustration: musical notation]

the nine repetitions of the scale would require from three to four
minutes if played at a moderate rate of speed. I saw at once that a
state of mental concentration could not be avoided by the pupil, and
that in this exercise lay a basic principle. I gave the exercise to my
pupil. The result was that when the next lesson-hour came around and I
asked her how she found the new exercise, she exclaimed: "How do I like
it? Why, you have played a pretty trick on me! It took me nearly an hour
to accomplish it; but I like it. Why did you not give it to me before!"
"Because," I said, "I invented it simply in order to compel your
attention to your work." Following up the principle of grouping the
tones, I applied the rhythmic process not only to all sorts of scale
passages, but included in the treatment arpeggios, broken chords,
octaves, and in fact all passages idiomatic of the pianoforte. The work
of amplification was readily accomplished, and the result was a complete
method in which for the first time, so far as I am aware, scientific
rhythmic treatment was elaborated. This "Accentual Treatment of
Exercises," as I called the system, was first published in the Mason &
Hoadley Method, New York, 1867. The importance of accentual treatment is
now recognized in every modern method.

The idea of starting a series of matinées of chamber-music occurred to
me. I wished especially to introduce to the public the "Grand Trio in B
Major, Op. 8," by Johannes Brahms, and to play other concerted works,
both classical and modern, for this kind of work interested me more than
mere piano-playing. So I asked Carl Bergmann, who was the most noted
orchestral conductor of those days, and thus well acquainted with
musicians, to get together a good string quartet. This he accomplished
in a day or two, and made me acquainted with Theodore Thomas, first
violin; Joseph Mosenthal, second violin; and George Matzka, viola,
Bergmann himself being the violoncellist. We very soon began rehearsing,
and our first concert, or rather matinée, took place in Dodworth's Hall,
opposite Eleventh street, and one door above Grace Church in Broadway.
The program was as follows:

    Tuesday, November 27, 1855

    1. Quartet in D Minor, Strings        _Schubert_

    2. Romance from Tannhäuser,
    "Abendstern"                           _Wagner_

    3. Pianoforte Solo, Fantasie Impromptu,
    Op. 66 (first time)                    _Chopin_
    Deux Préludes, D flat and G,
    Op. 24                                 _Heller_

    4. Variations Concertante for
    Violoncello and Piano, Op. 17        _Mendelssohn_

    5. "Feldwärts flog ein Vöglein"       _Nicolai_

    6. Grand Trio in B Major, Op. 8,
    Piano, Violin, and Cello (first
    time)                                  _Brahms_

It will be observed that we started out with a novelty, Brahms's Trio,
which was played then for the first time in America. I repeated it in
Boston a few weeks later with the assistance of some members of the
Mendelssohn Quintet Club. It received appreciation on both occasions and
was listened to attentively, but without enthusiasm. The newspapers
spoke well of it in general, but there were some who regarded it as
constrained and unnatural. The vocal pieces were inserted in deference
to the prevailing idea of the period that no musical entertainment could
be enjoyed by the public without some singing. We quickly got over that
notion, and thenceforth, with rare exceptions, our programs were
confined to instrumental music.

It was my purpose in organizing these concerts to make a point of
producing chamber-work, which had never before been heard here,
especially those of Schumann and other modern writers.


The organization as originally formed would probably have remained
intact during all the years the concerts lasted had it not become
apparent almost from the start that Theodore Thomas had in him the
genius of conductorship. He possessed by nature a thoroughly musical
organization and was a born conductor and leader.

Before we had been long together it became apparent that there was more
or less friction between Thomas and Bergmann, who, being the conductor
of the Germania and afterward of the Philharmonic orchestras, also a
player of long experience and the organizer of the quartet, naturally
assumed the leadership in the beginning. The result was that Bergmann
withdrew after the first year, and Bergner, a fine violoncellist and
active member of the Philharmonic Society, took his place. The
organization was then called the Mason and Thomas Quartet, and so styled
it won a wide reputation throughout the country. I should say in passing
that Bergmann was an excellent though not a great conductor.



From the time that Thomas took the leadership free and untrammeled,
the quartet improved rapidly. His dominating influence was felt and
acknowledged by us all. Moreover, he rapidly developed a talent for
making programs by putting pieces into the right order of sequence, thus
avoiding incongruities. He brought this art to perfection in the
arrangement of his symphony concert programs.

Our viola, Matzka, was also an excellent musician, and for many years
the first viola of the Philharmonic orchestra. Mosenthal, who played
second violin, achieved a wide reputation as composer and conductor, in
which latter capacity he did splendid work for the Mendelssohn Glee
Club. He was also one of the best teachers of piano and violin in New


Thomas's fame as a conductor has entirely overshadowed his earlier
reputation as a violinist. He had a large tone, the tone of a player of
the highest rank. He lacked the perfect finish of a great violinist,
but he played in a large, quiet, and reposeful manner. This seemed to
pass from his violin-playing into his conducting, in which there is the
same sense of largeness and dignity, coupled, however, with the artistic
finish which he lacked as a violinist. He is a very great conductor, the
greatest we have ever had here, not only in the Beethoven symphonies and
other classical music, but in Liszt, Wagner, and the extreme moderns.
Why should he not conduct Wagner as well as anybody else, or better?
Everything is large about Wagner, and everything is large about Thomas.
His rates of tempo are in accord with those of the most celebrated
conductors whom I heard fifty years ago. In modern times the tendency
has been toward an increased rate of speed, and this detracts in large
measure from the impressiveness of the works, especially those of
Mozart, Beethoven, Von Weber, and others.

That the skilful orchestral conductor does not rely solely upon the ear
but sometimes receives assistance from the eye in his work is
illustrated by an experience of Theodore Thomas which he related while
dining at my house some two years since. On one occasion, when a benefit
concert was tendered to him, the orchestra was increased to jubilee
dimensions, and I think there were sixteen violoncello-players, with
other instruments in due proportion. During the final rehearsal Mr.
Thomas became aware of some imperfections, probably of phrasing, and
traced the error to the violoncellists, but could not at first detect
the individual whose fault it was. On closer scrutiny he observed that
one of them was bowing in the wrong way, and thus obscuring the

The newspapers, in reviewing the concert, mentioned this incident as
illustrating the wonderfully sensitive ear of the conductor, whereas on
this occasion, at least, the eye was the detective agent.

It is possible, however, for a trained ear to detect errors in mere
manipulation, and I am reminded by one of my former pupils that, having
taken advantage, during one of his lessons, of my momentary absence in
an adjoining room, to play a passage according to his own ideas of
proper technic, he was astonished to hear me call out to him that he had
used the wrong finger in striking one of the keys.

That Thomas had entire confidence in himself was shown in the outset of
his career. One evening, as he came home tired out from his work, and
after dinner had settled himself in a comfortable place for a good rest,
a message came to him from the Academy of Music, about two blocks away
from his house in East Twelfth street. An opera season was in progress
there. The orchestra was in its place, and the audience seated, when
word was received that Anschütz, the conductor, was ill. The management
had not provided against that contingency, and was in a position of much
embarrassment. Would Thomas come to the rescue? He had never
conducted opera, and the work for the evening's performance was an opera
with which he was unfamiliar. Here was a life's opportunity, and Thomas
was equal to the occasion. He thought for a moment, then said, "I will."
He rose quickly, got himself into his dress-suit, hurried to the Academy
of Music, and conducted the opera as if it were a common experience. He
was not a man to say, "Give me time until next week." He was always
ready for every opportunity.

[Illustration: THEODORE THOMAS


On Christmas day, 1900, a friend presented me with a calendar for the
year 1901. It has a leaf for each day of the year. The calendar
evidently required much labor in preparation, and necessitated
correspondence with many friends at home as well as abroad, and many are
the cordial responses that were received. The result is a daily pleasure
and surprise. The leaf for February 11, 1901, the day of my present
writing, has reference to the third concert of chamber-music, eighth
season of Mason and Thomas, which took place on Tuesday evening,
February 10, 1862:

     Tuesday, February 10, 1862

     The third soirée of Mason and Thomas had the following program:

     Quartet, C Major, No. 2                 _Cherubini_
     Piano Trio, D Major, Op. 70, No. 1      _Beethoven_
     Quartet, A Major, Op. 41, No. 3         _Schumann_

     A program as interesting and fresh to-day as thirty-eight years
     ago. The weather was very cold,--below zero,--and during the largo
     of the trio the gas gave out. We continued playing for some time,
     but finally had to stop. The "Geister" [the composition here
     referred to is called by the Germans the "Geister Trio"] did not
     assist us! Do you remember the fact?

     Es ist schon lange her.



Through Mosenthal our quartet became acquainted with Mr. Karl Klauser,
who was an active and enthusiastic musician of thorough education, and
who has accomplished a great deal of useful work both as a compiler and
teacher of classic and modern compositions. Mr. Klauser is a native of
St. Petersburg, born of German parents; he came to New York in 1850, and
was engaged as musical director in Miss Porter's famous school for young
ladies in 1855, a post which he filled with credit and ability for many
years. He was enthusiastically fond of chamber-music, and frequently
attended the rehearsals of our quartet; and it was through him that we
were induced to give recitals in Farmington six months after our
beginning in New York. On Thursday, June 26, 1856, our program was as

   String Quartet in E flat, No. 4                               _Mozart_
   Trio, Piano, Violin, and Violoncello, G Minor, Op. 15, No. 2  _Rubinstein_
   Variations from Quartet No. 5                                 _Beethoven_
   Also solos for pianoforte and for violoncello.

On the following day another recital was given, with an entire change of

At that time one of the undergraduates of the school was a young girl
who is now the wife of a distinguished lawyer of New York, and is
herself prominent in good works. Not long ago I received from her the
following very agreeable letter about the early Farmington days:

     MY DEAR DR. MASON: I am glad to hear that you are to share your
     pleasant "Memories" with your friends. I hope, in looking back to
     the happy times when you were young, you will not forget your
     annual visits to dear old Farmington; for if you do not remember
     them in words, many old admirers will wonder how you could fail to
     make much of occasions so precious to them.

     As one of Miss Porter's girls, who can now live over again the
     coming to town of William Mason, Theodore Thomas, J. Mosenthal, G.
     Matzka, F. Bergner, and the long-looked-for chamber-concerts, I
     feel sure that in all of your generous giving of a God-given
     genius, you never gave more real pleasure than you gave those
     school-girls and teachers hungry for a taste of life outside the
     school, and for good music, the best of all company. You were then
     to them what you only hoped to be after years of hard work,--great
     men in your profession,--and they could not have dressed with more
     care or been more excited if they had been going to listen with
     royalty to the greatest of the old masters.

     Among the choicest of my pictures of Farmington days is that of the
     girls in white and dainty pinks and greens and blues, with flowers
     to wear and flowers to throw to you, almost dancing down that
     beautiful street on a summer day to "the concert," and in the
     foreground a quaint dark figure whom all the girls remember on
     festive occasions as bearing the burden of her choice with a New
     England sense of propriety at war with her keen sympathy with all
     that is natural in young people, and with the pride in her
     good-looking family which made her blind to their youthful follies.
     That was long ago when we were giddy girls, but the verdict of our
     heads and hearts was a true one.

     Sure that your memories, dear Dr. Mason, must be bright in the
     sunlight of so many warm friendships, I am listening to the music
     of long ago.

     March 31, 1901.


I knew Gottschalk well, and was fascinated by his playing, which was
full of brilliancy and bravura. His strong, rhythmic accent, his vigor
and dash, were exciting and always aroused enthusiasm. He was the
perfection of his school, and his effects had the sparkle and
effervescence of champagne. He was as far as possible from being an
interpreter of chamber or classical music, but, notwithstanding this,
some of the best musicians of the strict style were frequently to be
seen among his audience, among others Carl Bergmann, who told me that he
always heard Gottschalk with intense enjoyment. He first made his mark
through his arrangement of Creole melodies. They were well defined
rhythmically, and he played them with absolute rhythmic accuracy. This
clear definition in his interpretation contributed more than anything
else to the fascination which he always exerted over his audience. He
did not care for the German school, and on one occasion, after hearing
me play Schumann at one of the Mason-Thomas matinées, he said: "Mason, I
do not understand why you spend so much of your time over music like
that; it is stiff and labored, lacks melody, spontaneity, and naïveté.
It will eventually vitiate your musical taste and bring you into an
abnormal state."

Although an enthusiastic admirer of Beethoven symphonies and other
orchestral works, he did not care for the pianoforte sonatas, which he
said were not written in accordance with the nature of the instrument.
It has been said that he could play all of the sonatas by heart; but I
am quite sure that Mr. Richard Hoffman, who was his intimate friend,
will sustain me in the assertion that such was not the fact.

I have known Mr. Hoffman for more than fifty years, having met him for
the first time in the year 1847 or thereabout. His playing is still
characterized by precision, accuracy, and clearness in phrasing, with an
excellent technic, combined with repose. I have many times enjoyed his
artistic interpretations, and I heard him with great pleasure not a long
while ago, on the occasion of his fiftieth anniversary as a teacher in
this country.

Returning to Gottschalk, a funny thing happened one day. At the time of
which I write, forty-five years ago, William Hall & Sons' music-store
was in Broadway, corner of Park Place, and was a place of rendezvous for
musicians. Going there one day, I met Gottschalk, who, holding up the
proof-sheet of a title-page which he had just received from the printer,
said: "Read that!" What I read was, "The Latest Hops," in big block
letters after the fashion of an outside music title-page. "What does
this mean?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "it ought to be 'The Last
Hope,' but the printer, either by way of joke or from stupidity, has
expressed it in this way. There is to be a new edition of my 'Last
Hope,' and I am revising it for that purpose."

[Illustration: Autograph of Moreau Gottschalk]

I have in my autograph-book a letter of his, undated, but written in the
late fifties:

     MY DEAR M.: If you have nothing to do, come and spend the evening
     with me on Sunday next. No formality. Smoking required, impropriety
     allowed, and complete liberty, with as little music as possible.
     I was going to mention that we will have a glass of wine and
     chicken salad.

    Your friend,
    149 East Ninth Street.


Gottschalk's remark about my liking for Schumann's music was at that
time echoed by others, for when I returned from Germany and found
Schumann virtually unknown here, I made it my mission to introduce his
music into this country--a labor of love in which I was afterward
greatly aided by the quartet concerts and by my teaching. Shortly after
my return from Germany I went to Breusing's, then one of the principal
music-stores in the city,--the Schirmers are his successors,--and asking
for certain compositions by Schumann, I was informed that they had his
music in stock, but as there was no demand for it, it was packed away in
a bundle and kept in the basement. Pretty soon, however, my pupils
began calling for Schumann's pieces, and Schumann moved up from the
cellar to the main floor. His music was expensive, because it was
published in sets, and if a pupil wanted to buy one of the "Novellettes"
or "Kinderscenen," it was necessary to purchase the whole collection.
After a while, however, some of the music-dealers began to publish a
number of the pieces separately. This had the effect in some measure of
opening up the sale of his music to pupils and amateurs.


Thalberg's playing was characterized by grace, elegance, and perfection
of finish in detail. His style was suave, courteous, and aristocratic.
Being a pupil of Hummel, who had in turn taken lessons of Mozart for two
years, it was quite within the line of descent that he should have
acquired the extremely smooth legato touch of those masters. As
distinguished from any pianist-composer up to his time, his specialty
was the surrounding of a melody with arabesques and ornamental passages
of scales and arpeggios played with rapidity, clearness, and brilliancy.
Parish Alvars, the harpist, had originated this device, and Thalberg
adapted it to the pianoforte, for which instrument it was better suited
and more effective than on the harp.

The important influence of the upper-arm muscles in the production of
powerful and resonant tones seems to have been but little known in those
days. Leopold de Meyer's constant use of these, as noted elsewhere, was
apparently unconscious and instinctive.

Thalberg's octave-playing was not altogether elastic and free from
rigidity, for in long-continued and rapid octave passages a close
observer would have noticed a contraction of his facial muscles and a
compression of the lips, which would have been avoided under the
conditions of properly devitalized upper-arm muscles and loose wrists.

Shortly after his arrival in our country he went by invitation to my
brother's house in West Orange, New Jersey, on a visit of some weeks.
This afforded an opportunity which was not neglected, and as a result I
became well acquainted with him and his method of practice. In this way
he was virtually one of my best teachers, although no regular lessons
were received from him. Moreover, in several of his concerts I played
with him his duo for two pianofortes on themes from "Norma," and these
were occasions of great artistic profit. One learned much, also, from
hearing him practise. His daily exercises included scale and arpeggio
passages played at various rates of speed and with different degrees of
dynamic force. These were always put into rhythmic form, and the
measures, sometimes in triple and sometimes in quadruple time in many
varieties, were invariably indicated by means of accentuation. Dynamic
effects, such as crescendos and diminuendos, also received due
attention. In short, as it seems to me, he made it a point--as well in
the cultivation and development of physical technic as in his
public performances--to play _musically_ at all times.

[Illustration: Autograph of Sigismond Thalberg]

Thalberg's technic seemed to be confined mainly to the finger, hand,
wrist, and lower-arm muscles, but these he used in such a deft manner as
to draw from his instrument the loveliest tones. He was altogether
opposed to the high-raised finger of some of the modern schools, and in
his work entitled "L'Art du Chant applique au Piano" he cautions
students against this habit. The same advice had been previously given
by Carl Czerny in his "Letters on the Art of Playing the Pianoforte,"
namely: "Do not strike the keys from too great a height, as in this case
a thud will accompany the tone."

Thalberg adds: "Gewöhnlich arbeitet man zu viel mit den Fingern und zu
wenig mit dem Geiste" ("Generally one works too much with the fingers
and too little with the intelligence").

This is reasonable advice, for a touch which starts off simply for
strength and mechanical development, separate from other traits, becomes
eventually so obstinately fixed and determined that its influence will
dominate and stand constantly in the way of poetic and musical
development. In this connection it is well to remember and apply the
proverb: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

He was very fond of his grand pianofortes, both of which were made by
Érard of Paris. One of these instruments was drawn upon a much larger
scale than had previously been made by this or, so far as I know, by any
other manufacturer. The tone was powerful and of a lovely musical
character. Thalberg's idea was that the better the instrument the
greater the advantage afforded the virtuoso, not only for public
playing, but as well for the purpose of practice and musical development
I remember his telling me that a fine instrument even suggested ideas to
the composer and furthered his work. An experience of many years has
proved to me the soundness of his theory and the importance of its
practical application.

The not uncommon assertion that "any piano will do for a beginner" is
wrong in principle. How absurd to assert that any associates will do
for children in the beginning! It is just at this tender age when
impressions are so easily received that the best musical advantages
should be afforded. What can be better adapted to the cultivation of a
musical ear than the constant presence of musical tones of the highest
quality and purity? The ear requires close musical companionship in
order to promote corresponding development.

The cultivation of a physical technic is important, indeed
indispensable, but it should not precede or be separated from musical
companionship. Its development should at all stages be surrounded by a
musical atmosphere in which its adaptability to the expression of
poetical ideas may be developed. The heart and head should be closely


Prolonged or organ tones are not possible on the pianoforte. From the
moment the hammer strikes the string the tone begins to diminish in
volume and soon fades away. One of the chief arts of the pianist is to
sustain a tone throughout the full value of the note which represents
it, and this is accomplished either by steady pressure on the key or by
the use of the open pedal, frequently misnamed the loud pedal. The use
of the word "loud" in this connection is illogical and misleading. The
word "open" is much better, because this pedal, when pressed, causes the
dampers to be raised from the strings, thus leaving them open, and so
prolonging the tones. Furthermore, the open pedal is constantly used in
the softest and most delicate passages. Its mission is simply to prolong
the tones, whether loud or soft. In either case the tone dies rapidly
away, and the pianist, sensitively aware of this, and feeling the
necessity of keeping up the volume of sound, is led unconsciously to
anticipate or take the next tone a little before its due time. The
effect of this process in continuation is to produce a feeling of unrest
on the part of the hearer, and is fatal to repose. On this account
Thalberg earnestly recommends to piano-students that "the tones
invariably be held throughout their absolute or exact value" (see "L'Art
du Chant"). Tones can be sustained, so far as this is possible on the
pianoforte, in two ways, namely, by means of the open pedal or by
holding down the keys firmly during the exact value represented by the
notes. How can this value be determined? Solely through the medium of
the ear. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." The proof of
musical sounds, as to quality and duration, is in the listening.

This being granted, it seems to follow that all signs, such as "Ped.,"
*, or [** two check marks], etc., should be discarded as being even
worse than useless, for when pupils pay careful attention to them they
are apt to be guided solely by the eye. They press down the pedal at the
sign "Ped.," and release it at the following asterisk (*), doing this in
a merely perfunctory way, and hence they either fail to produce a true
legato effect or err in the opposite direction of an over-legato, which
results in a confusion of sounds. This may be best avoided by
practising on an instrument of fine musical quality and beautiful
singing tone, which promotes the habit of listening attentively, and
thus contributes in the highest degree to the development and training
of the ear.

It is true that musical temperament is inborn, and those who possess it
have native insight, and hence develop with rapidity. There are,
however, very many who are not "to the manner born." Such are obliged to
acquire habits through persistent and persevering effort. All travel the
same road, but the genius flies while the less gifted plods along.
However, for the benefit and consolation of the latter, I remind them
that the tortoise left the hare asleep and won the race. The ear should
be cultivated for music, the eye for painting, the mind in both; and the
heart especially in music, because the latter is the "language of the

A little pedal study from my work entitled "Touch and Technic" (Part IV,
page 18), will serve to illustrate what I mean. It is on an elementary
plane and can easily be accomplished by a beginner with a little care
and ordinary perseverance.


(_To be played throughout with one finger_)]

It is to be played with only one finger, and the tones of the melody
must receive special emphasis so as to stand out clearly, and they must
be sustained by means of the open pedal throughout the exact length of
time represented by the notes. The crescendo and diminuendo must be
observed according to direction, and as a help to this effect the soft
pedal may be used simultaneously, either all of the time or
occasionally, in an experimental way and according to fancy. This
promotes the faculty of judgment and leads to individuality, a very
desirable result.

The melody is on the middle line and the accompaniment on the outer
lines. The melody must predominate in power, and must be sustained
throughout the exact value of its representative notes, which are mostly
dotted halves, viz.: [Illustration: dotted quarter-note]. This is
accomplished by firmly pressing the open pedal, the finger in the
meanwhile playing the accompaniment. Thus the tone is sustained solely
by means of the pedal. Carefully observe the effects of crescendo < and
diminuendo >. Play strictly in time.

In the final measure still continue the pedal pressure after the C in
the treble has been played. There are now four tones sounding together.
Now replace the finger, silently and without striking, on the melody key
E. While still pressing this key raise the foot from the pedal. This
leaves the E sounding alone. Hold down the key until the tone has quite
died away.


One afternoon I accompanied Rubinstein from his hotel to Steinway Hall,
where he was to give a recital. Just outside of the stage-entrance were
two young ladies, one of whom stepped forward and, handing me a sheet of
paper and a pencil, begged me to ask Rubinstein for his autograph, and
to leave it for her in the dressing-room, so that she could get it
after the recital. I told her that Rubinstein did not like writing
autographs; that he was a man of kindly disposition, but sometimes acted
from impulse; nevertheless, I would see what could be done. So,
following Rubinstein up-stairs to the retiring-room, I handed him the
writing materials, stating the young lady's request.

He took them, saying nothing, but walked with an air of determination to
the window, opened it, and threw them into the street "Mason," he said,
"I don't like your country. People pry too much into private affairs."
He then went on to speak of newspaper writers who had interviewed him
and ingeniously beguiled him into speaking of many things which
concerned solely his own personality, and the next day published all of
these things in detail. He said: "There is absolutely no privacy in this
country." "Rubinstein," I said, "I can quite appreciate your position,
and understand why you should have come to such conclusions, but I am
sure that upon due reflection you will realize that you are doing us an
injustice. You have been incessantly occupied during your sojourn here,
have hurried from place to place, given concerts with hardly any
intermission, and naturally have had no time to see people in their
homes. You have not been able to judge of our domestic life or to mingle
in society and study our habits." He admitted this at once and made due
acknowledgment. Wieniawski, who was once with us when a similar
conversation occurred just before the close of their stay here, said:
"Mason, I regret extremely that I have not been able to go out to Orange
to visit you. We have traveled constantly and rushed from place to place
in order to fulfil concert engagements, so that there has been no time
for social intercourse. I don't wish you to gather from my apparent
neglect an idea that Poles are unsociable; on the contrary, I assure you
we are very fond of social life."

Rubinstein came here with a great reputation, and achieved a good
success. He had transcendent ability, accompanied, however, by certain
limitations. By nature impulsive and excitable, he often lost
self-control, and in consequence he frequently anticipated his climax.
He was like a general who excelled in a brilliant sortie, but who had
not the dogged persistence necessary to a long-sustained battle, and at
the critical points he was constantly losing his self-poise. When,
however, he did effect a climax, it was apt to be a great one, a
jubilee. Liszt, on the other hand, was remarkable for his reserve force
and for the discretion with which he made use of it; for if, perchance,
he missed a climax he immediately made preparation for a new one, and
was always sure to reach the zenith at precisely the right moment.

There were occasions on which Rubinstein played with the most wonderful
repose, and at such times his playing was musical and poetic in the
highest degree. This was particularly the case in slow or moderate
movements characterized by tenderness, affection, and fervor. But in
the rapid and spirited movements his tendency was to run away and
finally to lose self-possession--an affliction to which the large
majority of concert pianists are subject. Violinists and singers are not
nearly so much so, because they can prolong their tones with steady
force, or diminish and increase the tone at will. As I have already
pointed out, the case is different with the pianist, for after the
piano-key has been struck the tone immediately begins to decrease in
power, and this incites the player to produce another tone; so he
proceeds a little too quickly, constantly gaining a little in speed and
crowding one tone upon the other. The effect is exasperating to the
listener, who becomes more and more restless, until finally all quiet
and repose is utterly lost.

The unevenness in Rubinstein's playing I believe to have been wholly due
to the temperamental moods of a man of extreme artistic sensitiveness.
He was a thoroughly conscientious artist and worked at the piano
incessantly many hours a day. I remember his once saying to me: "I
dislike nothing more than to have people say to me, as they frequently
do, 'But you do not have to practise, for you are a born genius and get
everything by nature.' It is provoking to listen to such stuff after
having worked so hard."


No pianist ever dreamed of playing Beethoven's sonatas in public in
those days. They were reserved for the parlor; and one, or two at most,
were enough for an evening. The mental absorption of this amount was
sufficient. Lighter pieces filled out the program. I am quite sure that
it was Bülow who first played several of Beethoven's sonatas
consecutively at a recital. I learned of this through Anton Rubinstein
when he was here in 1873. He spoke of it as being an extraordinary
thing, and added that, as a musician, he could not give it his approval.
It might be a scientific thing to do, but was certainly not congenial to
a true musical nature, which required variety. A dinner consisting of
heavy dishes throughout, without the interspersion of condiments,
vegetables, and tarts to stir and incite the appetite, would be both
distasteful and fatal to good digestion. The pieces selected for the
musical feast should be homogeneously arranged; and so should the
various courses of the dinner.

However, notwithstanding what Rubinstein said in 1873, I noticed that,
but a comparatively short time afterward, he also began the practice of
giving recitals at which he played several sonatas in sequence. It is
possible that he did this less to gratify his own personal artistic
tastes than in deference to those of the public who had not his musical
organization, and so could stand the intensity of the thing while he
profited by the physical practice.


Rubinstein, as a listener, was particular as to the location of his seat
at a concert or recital of pianoforte music, and always sought a place
in one of the galleries on the left hand, facing the stage. Thus he sat
in the corner diagonal to the pianoforte, looking over the right
shoulder of the player.

It is true that even on the ground floor or parterre of a hall this
position affords a great advantage, and the tones of the pianoforte are
essentially more full of resonance and musical tone than in any other
location. This may be accounted for on the theory that the raised lid of
the instrument deflects the sound in that direction. There is a
corresponding disadvantage in a position on the opposite side of the
house, especially if seated on the ground floor near the stage. I have
frequently tried both of these positions, and always with the same
result; hence I have learned to make due allowance in judging of the
pianist. A listener unaware of this difference may seriously err in
estimating the tone quality of the instrument.


In Bach's time many embellishments were used in playing the clavichord.
They were all included under the general title _Les Agréments_, or, in
German, _Manieren_. Of these the mordent, almost identical with the
modern _Pralltriller_, was in most frequent use. It is quite a little
thing and simple enough, but there are few players who succeed in giving
it the right snap or rattle, without which its true significance is
wholly lost. I have already mentioned playing this concerto with
Klindworth and Pruckner at a court concert in Weimar. While previously
rehearsing it, Liszt was very particular in his directions, especially
regarding the mordents, and we did our best to follow them. Moreover,
Liszt was an authority. He always made thorough investigation of a
subject before expressing an opinion upon it, and he was very careful to
give a historically accurate and truthful rendering of these
old-fashioned ornaments. I afterward found that when three pianists
came together for the purpose of playing this concerto a good deal of
time was wasted in discussing the proper way of playing the mordent. It
was on the program of the Mason-Thomas matinées in New York more than
once, and on one occasion we had the assistance of the well-known
pianists Messrs. Timm and Scharfenberg. There was no friction at that
time, as the three performers were of one mind.

In May, 1873, Theodore Thomas arranged a grand musical festival in New
York, of which Rubinstein was the principal attraction. The "Triple
Concerto" was one of the features of the festival. Rubinstein played the
first piano, and Mills and I the other two.

The concerto has the accompaniment of a string quartet, which may be
doubled or increased to the size of a small orchestra if desired. It was
thought best to have a preliminary rehearsal for the three pianos alone,
and a time was appointed for our meeting together at my studio in
Steinway Hall. Mr. Thomas, not being familiar with the concerto, wished
to be present in order to become acquainted with it, and at the
appointed time was the first to make his appearance. I told him that
Rubinstein, not precise in historical methods, would play the mordents
in accordance with the mood in which he happened to be. "However," I
continued, "I have an old book by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, published
in Berlin in 1765, in which he gives written examples of all of the
_Manieren_. We will show this to Rubinstein and have some fun. But I do
not propose to waste time in discussions. He can play as he likes, and
Mills and I will follow suit."

Rubinstein shortly made his appearance, and Mills came a little later. I
told Rubinstein about my ancient authority, adding that we should be
spared the tediousness of a discussion as to the manner of playing. "Let
me see the old book," said Rubinstein. Running over the leaves, he came
to the illustrations of the mordent. The moment his eyes fell upon them
he exclaimed: "All wrong; here is the way I play it," and going to the
piano, he played as follows:

[Illustration: Musical notation]

This is what Marpurg calls a kind of double mordent, or _Doppelschlag_.
The three keys are struck almost simultaneously, but the middle one only
is held down, while the upper and lower ones are immediately released,
thus producing the effect of a turn. The true way of playing the mordent
is thus:

[Illustration Musical notation]

However, we adopted Rubinstein's way without comment.

[Illustration: Autograph of Anton Rubinstein]

What I have written about Rubinstein and Bach's "Triple Concerto in D
Minor" recalls to my mind an occasion when I played it with Mr.
Boscovitz and Mme. Essipoff at the latter's last recital here, I think
in the year 1876. When, at the rehearsal, we came to discuss the
mordents, Essipoff exclaimed: "I cannot play those things; show me
how they are done." After repeated trials, however, she failed to get
the knack of playing them, as, indeed, so many pianists do, so at the
recital she omitted them and left their performance to Boscovitz and me.
I think the effect of the concerto was not marred by the omission. The
incident just related most not be construed as in any degree a
disparagement of Mme. Essipoff's playing; as an artist she belongs
easily in the first rank of women players and her style is charming.

In taking leave of my old book by Marpurg I present a specimen of advice
which he addresses to pianoforte-students, namely: "In regard to
deportment and manners [at the pianoforte], one should take care to
avoid making faces, bobbing the head, snorting, twisting the mouth,
gritting the teeth, and all such ridiculous things. In the absence of
the teacher, a pupil who has fallen into such ungainly habits can
correct them by means of a mirror placed in front on the music-rack."
The foregoing is as honest a translation from the German as I am able to
make. Daring a half-century's experience in pianoforte-teaching I do not
remember a single case among my pupils of one who stood in need of this


Just before leaving Weimar I had asked Rubinstein to write in my
autograph-book, and he immediately complied.

The theme, which he wrote in the key of E flat major, is characteristic
of him. It is strong and has a vigorous upward movement. It suggests the
young man just starting out in life, with the vitality and courage of
early manhood. It is dated "Weymar, le 5. Juin, 1854."

I did not see Rubinstein again until 1873, the year of his visit to this
country. Happening in his room one day with my book, the idea occurred
to me of asking him to write in it again, under his former signature.
For some reason he was averse to doing so, but finally consented. At a
glance the second theme seems like the first, but on examination the
difference will appear. He has transposed the theme to E flat minor, and
its character is entirely changed. The young man has reached the summit
of the hill and realizes that he is now upon the descent. The allegro
maestoso of former years has changed to an adagio, and, as Rubinstein
aptly writes, it is "not the same."

An autograph written for me by Joachim Raff is also interesting. On the
night before I left Weimar, June 25, 1854, Raff and I had supper at the
Erbprinz together, and as the evening wore on we somehow got into a
heated discussion about _Zukunftsmusik_, taking opposite sides. However,
as a matter of course, we made up before parting. He had previously
written his musical autograph in the book, but now he added a kind
thought to speed me on my way, namely: "That he may live well, work
well, and soon return to Weimar music. Mitternachtscheide."


Not long before Rubinstein's departure for Europe he wrote a large
number of variations on "Yankee Doodle," and meeting me shortly
afterward, he informed me of the fact, and added: "I have inscribed your
name at the head of the title-page, and they are now in the hands of the
publisher." He said further, and in a seemingly apologetic tone: "They
are good, I assure you, and I have taken much pleasure in writing them."
He played this composition at his farewell concert in New York, and in
point of fact the variations were very well made; but I think that much
of his playing at the concert referred to was improvised.

The second season Paderewski was here I sat next to him at a dinner
given just after his arrival. During conversation he said somewhat
suddenly: "Mr. Mason, I have just composed a fantasy on 'Yankee Doodle,'
and have dedicated it to you."

[Illustration: Autograph of I. J. Paderewski]

He looked at me, and thought he saw a curious expression in my
face,--although I was quite unaware of such a thing,--and continued,
"You don't like it!" "Oh, I do," I protested, "and esteem the dedication
as a great honor." "I see you don't," he said. "Well," I replied, "I
already have one 'Yankee Doodle' from Rubinstein, and was thinking that
the coincidence of your dedicating me another was very curious, that is
all. Let me explain to you that 'Yankee Doodle' does not stand in the
same relation to the United States as 'God Save the Queen' to England,
'Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser' to Austria, or the 'Marseillaise' to
France. 'Yankee Doodle' was written by an Englishman in derision of us."
I am afraid that my remarks discouraged him, for he never finished the
composition. He played it to me as far as he had progressed with it, and
it is certainly the best treatment of the theme I have ever heard. He
had given it respectability, and, indeed, he told me that he really
liked the tune.


Von Bülow, who had been a pupil of Liszt a year or two before my time,
would occasionally return to Weimar from his concert tours, and during
these visits I became well acquainted with him. In certain ways he was a
wonderful man. He had an extraordinary memory and remarkable technic. He
was invariably accurate and precise in his careful observance of rhythm
and meter by means of proper accentuation, and the clear phrasing
resulting therefrom made up a good deal for the absence of other
desirable features, for his playing was far from being impassioned or
temperamental. His Chopin-playing always impressed me as dry, and his
Beethoven interpretations lacked warmth and fervency.

I remember he once said to me: "Rubinstein can make any quantity of
errors during his performance, and nobody is disturbed by it; but if I
make a single mistake it will be noticed immediately by every one in
the audience, and the effect will be spoiled."

Personally, Von Bülow and I got along very well together. He always made
kind inquiry for me when he met common friends in Europe, and he once
presented me with an autograph of Brahms which he valued highly. The
following letter he wrote me shortly after his arrival in this country,
in response to an invitation to make me a few days' visit in Orange, New
Jersey, where I was then residing.

BOSTON, October 21, 1875.

     MY DEAR COLLEAGUE: I have just now received your kind note, and
     although I have not a single moment of leisure, I want to thank you
     and to tell you how happy I should be to meet you again after
     nearly a quarter of a century out of sight.

     Alas! it is quite impossible for me to make you a visit before my
     arrival in New York. I must work very hard in spite of a bad health
     and a not at all Rubinstein-like constitution.

     As this specimen of cablegrammatical shows, I am unable to express
     myself in your language without a heap of wrong notes in every
     line. It was but two years ago, when I made my first appearance in
     old England (much less sympathetic to me than New England), that I
     began to stammer the Anglo-Saxon idiom. Please kindly excuse the
     shortness and weakness of my reply.

     Many thousand most friendly compliments from our common co-pupil
     Carl Klindworth,[3] whom I saw last summer in Tyrol; we often spoke
     of you.

     Yours most truly,

I know from what Von Bülow himself told me that he accepted
philosophically the trouble between himself and his wife Cosima Liszt,
and her subsequent marriage to Wagner. Soon after he arrived in New
York, in 1876, I called on him, and during our conversation I broached
the subject in a tentative way. I was not sure that his feelings toward
Wagner were not so hostile that mention of the Bayreuth master would
have to be avoided, and I thought it just as well to arrive immediately
at a clear understanding of the matter.

[Illustration: Autograph of Hans von Bülow]

"Bülow," I said, "you will excuse me if I touch on a rather
delicate subject. Of course your friends abroad know just what your
present attitude is toward Wagner; but over here we know little or
nothing about it. Perhaps you would like to enlighten me. I hope,
however, I have not touched on a painful subject."

"Not at all," he exclaimed. "What happened was the most natural thing in
the world. You know what a wonderful woman Cosima is--such intellect,
such energy, such ambition, which she naturally inherits from her
father. I was entirely too small a personality for her. She required a
colossal genius like Wagner's, and he needed the sympathy and
inspiration of an intellectual and artistic woman like Cosima. That they
should have come together eventually was inevitable."


On July 1, 1890, my daughter, sister-in-law, and I were in Bergen,
Norway, having just returned from a very pleasant trip to the North

Being so near Grieg's home, an hour and a half's drive from Bergen, and
having received an invitation to visit him, we presented ourselves at
his "Villa Troldhangen" in the afternoon. The day was bright and lovely,
and thus we saw Grieg's place under the most favorable aspect. Our
reception by Mr. and Mrs. Grieg was most hospitable, and we felt
immediately at home. After half an hour's conversation, we all strolled
through the beautiful grounds, which in many places are thick with trees
and shrubs, while here and there are clearings through which the waters
of the fiord shine bright and clear. The wild flowers, with their rich,
brilliant colors, were especially attractive; indeed, this is everywhere
in Norway an attractive feature.

Mr. Grieg is a man of high intelligence and culture, and is thoroughly
natural and genial. I have very pleasant memories of our cordial
reception and delightful visit.


In recalling Liszt's playing I cannot help noticing the marked
difference in modern rates of tempo as compared with those which were
considered authentic fifty years ago. This is noticeable in many of
Chopin's compositions, especially the larger ones, such as the sonatas,
ballades, fantasies, etc., with all of which I am very familiar, having
heard them played not only by Liszt in Weimar, but in other German
cities, and by artists of the highest rank, many of whom were
contemporaries and personal friends of Chopin. They all seemed to adopt
a certain rate of speed, as if in conformity with the composer's
intention, and it was in agreement with my own intuitions. Dreyschock
and Liszt had often heard the composer play his own pieces and must
certainly have been familiar at least with his rates of tempo. I was
very close to the Chopin day, having been in Germany only a few months
when he died. Two of my teachers and nearly all of the musicians I had
met were his contemporaries and had heard him play his own compositions.
I certainly ought to have the Chopin traditions.


[Illustration: Autograph of Edvard Grieg]

The question is, Should Chopin be played in accordance with the spirit
of the time in which he lived, should his works be played in the tempo
in which he played them, or, because electricity has brought about so
many changes and has enabled us to do so many things much more rapidly
than formerly, should Chopin's music be electrified, or, as it seems to
me, electrocuted? I think there is a general tendency to play the rapid
movements in Chopin, and, in fact, in all composers not of the extreme
modern type, too fast. To play these movements rapidly and give the
phrases with absolute clearness, one must have such breadth, command of
rhythm, and repose in action that he can put the tones together like a
string of pearls, so that each is rounded into shape, and the
phrase is a complete and definite series of tones, and not like a lot of
over-boiled peas, so soft that they all mash together. In too rapid
playing the effect of speed is lost. The Chopin "Waltz in D Flat Major"
is often played much too fast. The theme is said to have been suggested
to the composer by a lap-dog in his room suddenly beginning to chase his
tail. Whether true or not, the story is suggestive. Destroy the contour
of that waltz by playing it at too high a rate of speed, and the dog is
no longer chasing his tail, but dashing aimlessly about the room.

Nor should the tempo be too slow. Slow movements are effective, but
sufficient animation must prevail to impart life and fervency to the
music. A stream may flow so sluggishly that the water loses its
clearness. This is not repose, but stagnation. During the musical season
of 1899-1900 in New York I heard modern pianists play some of Chopin's
compositions so slowly that the effect produced upon me was like that
of a music-box running down. One endures it for a while, but finally is
wrought up to such a feeling of impatience as to induce the exclamation,
"Either stop that thing altogether or wind it up."


In modern times there is also a tendency to excessive use of tempo

I have recently heard the second part, of Chopin's "C Sharp Minor
Scherzo"--the choral with arpeggio passages--played by a celebrated
pianist in such a way that, mathematically adjusted, about one measure
was added to every section of four.

The player was afterward highly extolled on account of his wonderful
rubato effects. The truth is that he was all the while simply playing
mathematically out of time. Rubato ("robbed") is a slight modification
of rhythmic flow in alternation with a corresponding compensation; it is
like excitement in verbal narrative; it is alternately losing and
making up, but within judicious bounds, so that in the end the balance
is preserved. The nature of music is essentially "tune and time"--in
other words, emotion and intelligence, or heart and head, in loving and
well-balanced combination. These conditions are absolute and can never
be violated without disaster. Hence a true rubato must be played in
time, but accommodatingly.


I once gave to an intelligent pupil the task of transposing one of
Bach's inventions into various keys. My directions were that at her next
lesson she should be prepared to play it successively in three or four
different keys. As she came to my studio for her lesson but once a
month, there was ample time for preparation, and she succeeded in
accomplishing the feat with ease and without error. But, more than this,
she continued her transposing until she had completed the round of all
the twelve keys without a mistake--a rare and creditable performance,
deserving the emulation of all young ladies and gentlemen engaged in the
study of musical development and the cultivation of pianoforte technic.

Another case is that of a young lady pupil not remarkably musical, but
who has an ear for positive pitch. By this is meant that she could
immediately name the pitch of any tone on hearing it sung or played. All
competent musicians possess the power of relative pitch. I mean by this
that if a definite pitch is given to one who has a musical ear, the
pitch of any other tone immediately following or sounding in connection
will be instantly perceived, and the interval between the two tones--in
other words, their pitch relationship--at once understood.


The power of positive pitch has been regarded by many as a very
desirable gift, but judging from the experience of the pupil of whom I
am writing, it would appear to be just the other way. This young
lady, to whom I had also given the task of transposition into various
keys, complained, on coming for her next lesson, that the effect upon
her was very disagreeable, in fact, extremely painful. She explained
that she was obliged to look at the music on the pianoforte-desk while
transposing, and that on account of her quick perception of positive
pitch she heard in companionship both the tones of the original key and
those of the key to which she was transposing, thus producing a jargon
and discord which was distressing. This at first seemed very strange to
me, indeed almost incredible, but not having an ear for positive pitch
myself, either by nature or through cultivation, I could not judge from
personal experience, so, having confidence in her sincerity, simply gave
her assertion credence.

Later on, however, her statement received confirmation through the
authentic testimony of a German musician and conductor of high eminence.
At the time this gentleman came to our country, somewhat over fifteen
years ago, the standard of concert pitch was slightly lower in Europe
than with us. Since then it has been adjusted and is now uniform the
world over. This discrepancy caused our German friend extreme annoyance,
for having an acute and delicate perception of positive pitch, it pained
and confused him to hear the familiar symphonies and other works of the
great masters played in a higher pitch than that to which he had become
accustomed. This is, therefore, the penalty for an ear for positive

Some of the greatest musicians have possessed this faculty, notably
Mozart, but others of equal rank were without it. Of course a musical
ear of the most delicate sensibility as to relative pitch is common to
all of them, and this by the grace of God, as the Germans happily
express it.

Another case is that of a lady having by nature an ear for positive
pitch, who occasionally attends church with me. She is constantly
disturbed by the difference of pitch between the tones of the organ and
the pitch indicated by the notes of the tones in the hymn-book. She
reasons that either the tones of the organ are above standard pitch or
else the organist transposes the music. At any rate, the two vary by the
interval of a semitone.

Theodore Thomas is not only able to detect the disagreement, but at the
same time perceives whether it is by reason of transposition from the
original key or on account of the tones of the organ differing from
standard pitch.


MY first visit to Appledore was in August, 1863, two of my brothers
having discovered the island, so to speak, the year before. We were
enthusiastic fishermen, and during our summer vacation almost lived on
the ocean. Furthermore, during almost the entire year I was engaged in
teaching or in public appearances as a concert-player, so that in my
vacation I detested the very sight or even thought of a pianoforte.
Appledore afforded an ideal retreat where retirement verging almost on
oblivion was possible, and thus it happened that I had spent many
summers there before my musical vocation was brought to light.

A few years later my friend Professor John K. Paine of Harvard
University also discovered the Shoals, and from that time came year
after year without intermission. After a year or two he had a piano sent
down from Boston for the summer and placed in the reception-room in
Celia Thaxter's cottage. I had the pleasure of Mrs. Thaxter's
acquaintance, but up to that time simply in a formal way, and beyond a
call on my arrival and one on taking leave, I had little association
with her; Professor Paine, however, quickly formed a habit of playing
Beethoven's sonatas to her, and she very shortly showed a delight in
music, and especially in Beethoven's sonatas, with which she became
quite familiar. In the year 1864 Isidor Eichberg accompanied my brothers
and myself to the island, and that led, still later on, to Mr. Julius
Eichberg's becoming an habitué of the island. He brought his violin with
him, and with Mr. Paine frequently played compositions of Bach for piano
and violin. Finally I was drawn into the current, and played, with
Eichberg, Schumann's and other sonatas. As I grew older I gave less time
to fishing. Moreover, whereas I had formerly spent only a couple of
weeks or so at the island, I now began to go early in July and stay
until September, so that in the nature of things I could not fish all
the time, and gradually formed a habit of playing in Mrs. Thaxter's
cottage every day from eleven o'clock in the morning until the arrival
of the boat, about an hour and a half later.

Hers was an interesting and enthusiastic nature, which attracted to her
many literary and artistic people. She held, in a most charming and
informal way, what may really be called a salon. The walls of her parlor
were covered with paintings and pictures of all kinds, many of them the
work and gifts of personal friends. As she herself expressed it, "a
beautiful thought was always suggested whenever and wherever she

Her love of flowers amounted almost to a passion, and no expenditure of
time or strength given to garden work was grudged, even when the effort
of very early rising was involved. And when did garden ever better repay
the personal love and care of the gardener? Where were ever seen such
radiant, waving poppies, such hundred-hued pansies, such stately and
brilliant hollyhocks, and such fragrant sweet peas? And upon entering
the parlor, it seemed as if one had hardly left the garden, so many and
so beautiful were the masses of flowers.

As I have said, Mrs. Thaxter was very fond of music, and every morning
welcomed those of her friends who shared this taste to hear any artist
who might be on the island.

It was my pleasure, being so much at Appledore, to play a great deal in
these informal ways. The doors wide open to the sun and salt breezes,
the people sitting in the room and grouped on the piazza, shaded by its
lovely vines, the beautiful vistas of gaily colored flowers, sea and sky
beyond, made a charming and ever-to-be-remembered scene.

Chopin and Schumann were the favorite composers, their compositions
being constantly requested. After a while I enlarged the repertoire by
introducing several of Edward MacDowell's smaller works. These found
immediate favor. Some half-dozen years ago, having become acquainted
with and thoroughly enthusiastic over the "Sonata Tragica" of this
composer, I began to play it early in the summer on arriving at the
Shoals. At first the audience was somewhat reserved in the expression of
an opinion, but after a few hearings the composition found friends who
really appreciated and enjoyed it. Being curious to ascertain what
result a closer acquaintanceship with the work would bring about, and
wishing to do some missionary work, I formed the resolution of playing
it once a day during the season, and announced my intention to the
audience. With but the exception of a few days, the scheme was carried
out, and with gratifying success, for the "Sonata Tragica" became
eventually the favorite of the majority, and it was constantly called

One or two ladies who found it tedious at the outset became thorough
converts, and finally experienced genuine musical enjoyment from it. On
the publication of the "Sonata Eroica" a few years later a similar
result was reached, but not in the same degree as in the case of the

This incident is related to illustrate the remarkable effect of musical
surroundings and the great advantage of living in a musical atmosphere.
Here were people of intelligence and culture who, under adverse
circumstances, would not have appreciated the beauty of these
intellectual works, but who after closer association were led to
perceive their beauty and who learned to love them.

Sundays were celebrated by the playing of Beethoven's sonatas. Every
one seemed to look forward to and enjoy these pleasant mornings. Mrs.
Thaxter was a delightful hostess, and possessed the rare quality of
bringing out the best in those about her.

During the summer of 1894 Mrs. Thaxter seemed as well and active as
usual, still working in her garden, still the lively center of her group
of friends and admirers. One day she did not appear, nor the next, and
then we heard she had peacefully passed away.

None who were at Appledore then will easily forget that 26th of August,
nor the day she was buried on her island home.

The funeral service was held in the well-known sitting-room; the address
was made by her old friend the Rev. Dr. James De Normandie, and, by
request of her sons, I played Schumann's "Romance in F Sharp," and
Dvo[^r]ák's "Holy Mount,"

    The tides of Music's golden sea
    Setting toward Eternity.

When the simple service was over the coffin was followed by her old and
faithful friends and the island fishermen to the grave by that of her
father and mother. The long procession of people, through the gray mist,
winding in and out along the rocky way, the leaden sky and sea, the
hushed voices of the children, usually ringing out so merrily from rocks
and hotel piazzas, accentuated the sense of our loss.

At the grave, all lined with bayberry and flowers, the coffin was
lowered, and each of those present came forward and laid upon it a few
of the flowers she loved so dearly.


A year or two ago a young lady came to my studio and asked for a single
lesson. She told me that she had been studying in Germany for some
years, and named the city, which is one of the well-known musical
centers. She was then going to the West on her way home, and stopped a
day over in New York expressly for a lesson from me. I heard her play
several pieces, and was surprised and pleased with her manner and style.
She phrased with intelligence and gave due attention to rhythmic
requirements. Her tone was large, full, and musically resonant, and
could not have been produced otherwise than through the agency of the
upper-arm muscles, which were constantly in active use. The flexibility
and elasticity of hands and wrists were also apparent, and finally the
evident repose in action of all of these qualities capped the climax. I
said to her: "My dear young lady, I cannot add to your playing, for it
is already finished and artistic. I might possibly suggest a different
rendering in certain parts, but, after all, this would amount only to a
matter of taste. If you had studied exclusively under my guidance for a
course of years, and I had succeeded in doing my best, aided by your own
intelligence and careful practice, I should have sought to bring about
just the result which you have reached. I think your teacher must be a
young man." "He is," she replied; "but why?" "Because," I answered, "his
method is free from the stiffness and rigidity of the old German school.
Has he, perhaps, a method of his own?" Her immediate reply was, "He uses
your method." She also told me her teacher's name, which I have now
unfortunately forgotten. I think this teacher deserves to have more

But the time has gone by when it was necessary for students of the piano
to go abroad to complete a musical education. There are now teachers of
the piano of the first rank in all of our principal cities, who secure
better results with American pupils than foreign teachers do, because
they have a better understanding of our national character and
temperament. Such men among my own former pupils are E. M. Bowman in New
York, S. S. Sanford in New Haven, W. S. B. Matthews and William H.
Sherwood in Chicago, and many others who are distinguished in their
profession as teachers, and who have done and are doing much in
furtherance of sound musical education and in the cultivation of a
refined, musical taste in America. Our country has also produced
composers of the first rank, and the names MacDowell, Parker, Kelley,
Whiting, Paine, Buck, Shelley, Chadwick, Brockway, and Foote occur at
once to the mind. Enormous progress in the art and science of music has
been made in America since I began my studies in Germany in the year
1849. Our teachers meet in great numbers in convention during the summer
months and in summer schools and classes, and it is difficult to
overestimate the beneficent results which flow from these assemblies.
They create a musical atmosphere, in which teachers and pupils live and
move and have their being. They afford opportunities for the intelligent
discussion of mooted questions and for the interchange of ideas, and
lead to a wider dissemination of the best educational methods.

[Illustration: Autograph of Kneisel Quartet]

Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton all have their chairs of music,
and doubtless this is true of others of our universities and colleges.
The city of New York has become one of the great musical centers of the
world. The Philharmonic Society, the opera season, the Kneisel Quartet,
and many others of high artistic merit, afford opportunities for the
gratification of musical taste which are hardly to be excelled
elsewhere; and the popularity of these and of the countless pianoforte
recitals and chamber-music concerts bears eloquent testimony to the
growth of an intelligent musical taste among us. Boston and Chicago have
their world-renowned orchestras, led by Gericke and Thomas, who are
passed masters of their art. The cities of Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and
St. Louis have their orchestras, each under competent leadership. The
most celebrated artists at home and from abroad are heard in our
principal cities. The season just closed (1900-01) is in striking
contrast to those of my early manhood. Among the many prominent pianists
who have played to us there are some of extraordinary talent, who give
abundant promise of brilliant future achievement.

Ernst von Dohnányi, born at Pressburg, July 27, 1877, is a wonderfully
talented musical composer and at the same time a pianist whose technic
is complete, combining as it does the emotional, intelligent, and
mechanical elements in happy union and adjustment. Von Dohnányi has by
nature as intense, thorough, and complete a musical organization as
ever came within my experience. He composes with marvelous spontaneity
and rapidity. His ideas are fresh and original, and their expression and
elaboration are effected with the freedom of an improvisation, thus in
no way emphasizing their mechanical setting forth.

He is just completing, in the twenty-fourth year of his age, an
elaborate symphony in D minor for grand orchestra, the scheme of which
is as follows: I. Allegro; II. Adagio; III. Scherzo; IV. Intermezzo; V.
Finale: Introduction, Tema con Variazioni; Fuga.

This is a massive production, apparently the result of inherent
qualities carried into act by impulse, in other words, of spontaneous
achievement. It is so instinctive and impulsive that the art of its
construction hardly occurs to the hearer at first, but as an
afterthought excites wonder and admiration.

Early in March of the present year (1901), Von Dohnányi, his wife, and a
few other friends, among them Emil Pauer, dined at my house, and during
the evening Von Dohnányi played his symphony on the pianoforte. This
instrument is naturally quite inadequate to the interpretation of such a
work, but Von Dohnányi's technic is so complete, his tone so massive
while intensely musical, and his enthusiasm so contagious that we became
conscious of an ever-increasing interest, steadily growing in intensity.
The occasion and its experience will not be forgotten by any of those

A week later the Von Dohnányis spent the evening with us just before
their departure on the following day for Europe, and he played again a
portion of the work, deepening and confirming the impression made at the
first hearing. The future of this young man is full of promise. His
teacher in composition was Hans Koessler in Pesth; his pianoforte
teacher was Stephen Thomán of the same city. Later on he had eight
lessons of Eugen d'Albert in Berlin, after which the latter said to him:
"You can go on by yourself now; I have taught you all I can."

Leopold Godowsky is a pianist of the first class, but above all he is a
specialist, and altogether unapproachable in his specialty. His left
hand is in every respect the equal of his right, and passages of extreme
intricacy and rapidity come out with an astonishing clearness of detail.
Nothing in his work, however minute, is slighted, but musical expression
and finish of execution are above criticism. His specialty is his
rearrangement and working up of many of Chopin's Études in such manner
that several of the various themes of these are, so to speak,
intertwined. In some instances three different melodies can be heard
progressing simultaneously in loving union, with a smoothness, delicacy,
and accuracy in counterpoint which is simply marvelous. There is never a
suspicion of haste in his playing, no matter how rapid the rate of
speed. His manner is full of repose--respectful, earnest, and
sympathetic; thus there is no suggestion of violence to the composer's
original production.

I know that among my best friends, whose judgment I esteem, there are
some who do not hold the same opinion, and who think that the
composer's work should be left intact. It seems to me, however, that
much depends upon the manner of treatment. The French proverb runs: "Il
y a fagots et fagots"; or, in the more homely phrase of dear old Boston,
"There are beans, and then there are beans." Moreover, the fact that
these compositions are études (studies), and therefore avowedly for the
purpose of developing physical technic as well as poetic style, should
be duly considered in judging of their _raison d'étre_. Similar
treatment of the sonatas, ballades, and nocturnes would surely be a
different thing. Furthermore, the solid and dignified Brahms--one of the
three B's of Bülow's trinity--set an example, by rearranging a rondo by
Von Weber, which he turns upside down, so to speak, making a bass of
what in the original is the right-hand part. Brahms has also utterly
destroyed the charm of Chopin's "Étude in F Minor, Op. 25, No. 2," which
lies in the very rapid and delicately pianissimo playing of passages of
triplets in the right hand as against duals in the left. In the original
these passages are throughout of single tones in both hands, and hence
can be performed in the most dainty and fascinating manner; but Brahms
has changed the right hand part to double thirds and; sixths, thus
completely altering the character of the music, and doing violence to
the exquisitely light, delicate, and graceful effect of the original
version. In passing judgment upon the work of Brahms, however, it must
not be forgotten that he publishes this in company with several other
arrangements, under the general title, "Studien für das Pianoforte,"
thus indicating that his object is the development of physical technic.

In this connection, I remember Rubinstein's telling me as long ago as
1873, in the artists' retiring-room during one of his recitals at
Steinway Hall, that he used in his boyhood's days "to do all sorts of
things with Chopin's études," as he expressed it, "in order to exercise
and strengthen the fingers." By way of illustration, he went to an
upright piano which happened to be in the room, and began playing with
his left hand alone the right-hand part of the chromatic-scale étude;
"Op. 10, No. 2," and this he did with fluency.

Godowsky has played his arrangements to me on several occasions at my
studio and at home _en famille_, and has invariably produced a state of
happy good humor which was of long duration and which in large measure
returns to me as I write.

April 20, 1901. Yesterday evening I attended the farewell concert of
Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the talented young Russian pianist. He was at his
best, and proved his right to stand in the front rank of modern
pianists. His playing throughout of a program of compositions of
Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt was masterly, combining as it did
genuine musical quality, intelligence in phrasing, and great brilliancy,
as well as poetry in interpretation. He is yet a young man and has not
reached the full climax of his power, and will doubtless show still
further development in the next few years. Other pianists who have
played in New York during the season of 1900-01, and who deserve to be
classed with the highest, are Harold Bauer, who has deservedly won a
very high reputation through his splendid ability in all styles of piano
music, and Arthur Friedheim, whose recent concert was brilliant in high
degree, and who on that occasion gave an interpretation of Liszt's great
"Sonata in B Minor" which it seems to me was not surpassed by the master
himself--and I have heard Liszt play this work many times. Richard
Burmeister also gave a masterly interpretation of this same sonata
earlier in the season. This is the sonata, by the way, of which mention
has been made, in the earlier part of these "Memories," as having been
played by Liszt on the occasion of the first visit of Brahms to Liszt,
in the year 1853.

We have also had Teresa Carreño, Adele aus der Ohe, and Fannie
Bloomfield-Zeisler, all of them of the first rank and established
reputation. Of these the first-named is a friend of long standing, for
my first acquaintance with her dates back to the early sixties, when she
first came to New York as a child prodigy. I well remember the
impression she made upon me at that time, both from her artistic playing
and her charming appearance in short dresses and "pantalets," the
fashion for children of that day. A friendship was immediately begun and
established, which still continues.

Josef Hofmann, with his tremendous technic and executive skill, has
given pleasure to many; and Arthur Whiting, Howard Brockway, and Henry
Holden Huss have ably upheld the reputation of American virtuosos and

In bringing these papers to a close, I desire to make my grateful
acknowledgment to the friends and pupils of many years who united in
celebrating the seventieth anniversary of my birth by presenting me with
a beautiful silver loving-cup, which I fondly cherish as an evidence of
affectionate regard, and which will be ever filled and overflowing with
loving memories, not alone of those who united in the gift, but of the
many others whom I have known in the course of an unusually long
professional career. To one and all I offer my heartfelt thanks.





FELLOW-CITIZENS: Most that has been hitherto said and written has been
rather concerning the public and professional career of Dr. Mason; and
we shall doubtless have presented many interesting mementos to-day, in
letter and address, relating to those things in which he is most
generally known. What I have to present in this paper will refer
particularly to his birth, parentage, and early surroundings, of which
comparatively little has been said.

[Illustration: LOWELL MASON


Lowell Mason was of English descent, being in the sixth generation from
Thomas Mason and Margery Partridge. Thomas, born in England, was the son
of Robert, who settled in Dedham, from whence he, with his brother
Robert, came to Medfield in the second year of its settlement. The
marriage of Thomas Mason and Margery Partridge, April 23, 1653, is the
first recorded marriage in this old town. He received his house-lot by
original grant from the town. It was upon North street, where Amos E.
Mason now lives, the homestead having never been out of the possession
of the Mason family. Thomas Mason and two of his sons were killed by the
Indians on that fateful morning in February, 1676, when the town was
burned. His eldest son was killed the following year, while fighting the
Indians at the "Eastward" (now Maine), leaving one boy, Ebenezer, who
was seven years of age only when his father was killed, and who,
therefore, became the progenitor of the line from which Lowell Mason
sprang. The son of this Ebenezer, Thomas Mason, left the homestead on
North street, and settled in the extreme northeast corner of the town,
at what is now known as the Charles Newell place. He married the
daughter-in-law of Samuel Sady, who kept a tavern on North street, where
the Pfaff mansion now stands; and his son Barachias, grandfather of
Lowell, inherited, through his mother, that place, and settled upon it,
where he lived with his son Johnson, father of Lowell. There the man
whose nativity we celebrate to-day was born. The building has been
preserved, and is, no doubt, the "farm-house," so called, on Adams

The first twenty years of his life were spent in his native town of
Medfield; and very little has ever been written about this portion of
his life, and much of that somewhat incorrectly. His biographers seem to
have endeavored to add to his fame by magnifying his want of
opportunities for education and culture in his youth. In a discourse
upon Mr. Mason's life and labors, the Rev. George B. Bacon, his pastor,
says: "Mr. Mason had no advantages of education. He was the son of a
mechanic in a small New England town. He began almost in his cradle that
fight for a living which left small opportunity for study or culture."
Another writer says: "He spent twenty years of his life doing nothing
but playing upon all sorts of musical instruments, and there was no one
to teach him their use." We feel inclined to believe that these
statements were half-truths only, and are not a complete statement, by
any means, of the conditions and pursuits of his youth.

We think it can be shown that while Medfield is proud of having such a
son, he was fortunate in having such a birthplace. We believe in the
influence of heredity in genius, but also in the influence of
environments. He was especially favored in both these respects,
descending for generations from an honored ancestry and surrounded in
his youth by educated people of high moral and religious character. His
parents were in fairly comfortable circumstances, and he was, as is
usual in such cases, permitted considerable freedom in following the
promptings of his natural genius, which, springing as he did from a
musical family, early showed tendency toward that branch of art.

Dr. Holmes says: "If we wish to educate a boy properly, we must begin
with his grandfather." Barachias Mason was a graduate of Harvard
University in 1742, but one hundred and fifty years ago. He was a
schoolmaster, a teacher of singing-schools, and a selectman of the town
for several years. This certainly is a fair start, on Dr. Holmes's
principle. His son, Colonel Johnson Mason, Lowell's father, lived with
him, and inherited the homestead, where he kept a public school for many
years. He was a merchant. In this pursuit, it seems, young Lowell
assisted him in his boyhood, as we learn that, on the occasion of his
narrow escape from drowning in 1806, he was out with a team on business
for his father, near what is now poor-farm bridge, where he was rescued
from a watery grave by two boys about his own age after having sunk for
the third time. Colonel Mason manufactured straw goods to some extent.
He was also an ingenious mechanic, inventing some useful machines used
in the straw business of those days. He was town clerk for nineteen
years, town treasurer, and a member of the legislature; he was a
musician, a player on musical instruments, particularly the violoncello,
and, together with his wife, sang in the parish choir for more than
twenty years. When the musical talent of the town united, on a
Fourth-of-July occasion in 1840, to supply the music, Colonel Mason
stood at the head of the basses, although then over seventy years of
age. He was also a prominent military man, commissioned captain in 1800,
and lieutenant-colonel in 1803. It will thus be seen that he was one of
the most intelligent and influential men in the town.

So much for the parentage; now for the neighborhood influences about the
Mason family. The nearest neighbor was the Rev. Thomas Prentiss,
minister of the old parish church from 1770 to 1814, and who sent four
boys to Harvard College, one of whom was of Lowell Mason's own age, a
schoolmate and playmate. His seatmate in the North School, which he
attended, and a lifelong friend, was the late Joseph Allen, D.D., of
Northboro, Massachusetts, who ever said that Lowell Mason was one of the
best scholars in the school; and the schools of the town being then
under the supervision of Dr. Prentiss, they were doubtless fairly good
schools. Ellis Allen, another friend and schoolmate, said that Lowell
Mason was the most popular and talented, as well as the handsomest,
young man in town. The next neighbor on the other side was George
Whitefield Adams (brother of the celebrated historian, Hannah Adams),
who built organs at his homestead, where Dr. Bent now lives; and,
without doubt, Lowell was familiar with that instrument, as he was with
many others--the violin, violoncello, flute, and clarinet particularly.
He led the Medfield Band in his day, playing the clarinet. Mr. Adams
went to Savannah in 1812, accompanied by Nathaniel Bosworth of this
town, and young Mason went with them, journeying the entire distance
with horse and wagon. Another near neighbor was Amos Albee, a
schoolmaster and musician of some note in those days, author of "Norfolk
Collection of Church Music." He assisted Mason in his musical studies,
as reliable accounts inform us. Libbeus Smith, a relative of the Mason
family, was also a singing-master here during the early years of this
century. James Clark, a fine player on the violin, lived in Medfield in
those days. From these facts it is easy to determine that, though the
musical advantages of the times would not perhaps satisfy the demands of
modern culture, yet the place was by no means devoid of influences
calculated to encourage the special development of a young man musically

Lowell Mason commenced teaching singing-schools when only a boy. He led
the parish choir when about sixteen years of age, and conducted the
music at the ordination of Dr. Ranger of Dover in 1812, writing an
anthem for the occasion, aided, it is said, by his neighbor Amos Albee.
The Medfield Choir assisted at these ceremonies, Mr. Ellis Allen and his
wife, from whom this account is obtained, being among them on that day.
Lowell's two brothers, Johnson and Timothy, were also good musicians,
and remained prominent in the church choir, both socially and
instrumentally, for many years after he left Savannah. They became
musical leaders in Cincinnati and Louisville. The old choir in those
days was large, and it was made up from the most influential people in
the town, which is an excellent thing for a church choir. The following
are some of those who were members of it while young Mason took charge
of the music: his father and mother, with his two brothers above named;
Major Fiske, father of the late Captain Isaac Fiske; Captain William
Peters, grandfather of Mr. William P. Hewins; Captain Wales Plimpton,
father of Deacon G. L. Plimpton; Oliver Wheelock, a merchant of the
town; Amos Mason, father of A. E. Mason; Ellis Allen, father of the
Allen brothers, from whose reminiscences we gather many of these facts.
The old choir, it will be seen, was highly favored, in a military point
of view, having a colonel, a major, and two captains. Mr. Mason often
said, in after years, that there was more musical talent in Medfield
than in any other town of its size in the State. This we can with
confidence believe.

It is not, therefore, strange, with his inherited tastes and capacities,
and surrounded as he was by musical people, that he should devote much
of his time to music. It was his common practice, tradition tells us, to
play from the meeting-house steps, summer evenings, upon the flute or
clarinet, to the young people who would congregate around the
locality--in this way, doubtless, doing much to contribute to the growth
of a musical taste among the companions of his youth. The atmosphere of
liberal culture which characterized his neighborhood aided him in taking
a more intelligent view of musical matters, without which natural
abilities, and even special training, produce comparatively meager
results; and the young person who knows nothing but music cannot expect
a very high place in public estimation.

That he had much ability as a practical musician is shown by the fact
that when he went to the South he was able to give entertainments with
his voice and violoncello alone, which brought him at once to the front
with the musical public in Savannah; and his tact, executive ability,
and intelligence gave him a position as teller in a bank. About this
time the conscious purposes of his life were changed, and the mode of
life characteristic of his early years gave place to one of deep-seated
religious convictions. He became a member of the Presbyterian Church in
Savannah, where he held the position as director of music for many
years. He was also superintendent of the first Sunday-school ever formed
in that city.

As an instance of his natural tact and shrewdness, it is related of him
that while a resident of Savannah he undertook the instruction of a new
band that was being formed somewhere in that region. On the first
evening a considerable number of instruments were brought in with which
he was unacquainted, and some of them, even, he had never heard of. He
got over this difficulty by telling the owners of them that it would be
necessary for him to take them all home, that they might be "fixed and
toned up." When he brought them back, at the next meeting, he had
mastered them all, and proceeded to give his instructions accordingly.

He had a remarkable degree of personal magnetism, which gave him that
wonderful control which he possessed over classes and conventions. When
he taught or lectured, all eyes were upon him, all ears were attentive,
all wills were moved by his. This, with his natural aptitude for
teaching, gave him the prominence which he so readily won in the chief
cities where his mature life was spent. Soon after his return to
Boston, about 1827, after fifteen years' sojourn in Savannah, he
attained great popularity as a singing-teacher. He organized a class for
the well-to-do ladies and gentlemen of Boston who wished to perfect
themselves in music, the instruction to be by the new method, and
gratuitous. Five hundred singers attended, and at the close voted him a
bonus of five dollars each, or twenty-five hundred dollars for the term.
He was in constant demand as a teacher and director, and it would be
strange if those who had occupied the field before him, and who were now
compelled to take a back seat or migrate to "fresh fields and pastures
new," should not manifest some feeling of opposition. This he had to
meet, in one form or another, during his twenty-five years' residence in
Boston. The writers on musical matters during that period show very
plainly that such was the case, often giving expression to personal

But as a teacher he had no superior, and but few equals, in this
country; and this not only musically speaking, but pedagogically as
well. Horace Mann said he would walk fifty miles to see him teach if he
could not otherwise have that privilege. Secretary Dickinson, of our
State Board of Education, says: "My first notions of what good teaching
is were derived from seeing Lowell Mason give a singing-lesson"; and
this although our honored secretary has no knowledge of musical tones.
George J. Webb, one of the best musicians in Boston, and himself
associated with Mr. Mason for many years as a teacher in the Boston
Academy of Music, said that he had seen him teach hundreds of times, but
never without astonishment at his wonderful power before a class. Dr.
George F. Root says that he always became intensely interested in
listening to Mr. Mason teaching even so simple a thing as the property
of long and short musical sounds. The writer of this sketch was himself
a member of the Boston Academy of Music at its latest session in 1851;
and it is not too much to say that he has never seen any one, from that
day to this, manifest such ability to hold a large class of teachers
and musicians to the consideration of the topic under discussion.

He was employed by the State Board of Education to teach music in the
normal schools and in the teachers' institutes for many years. Through
his influence singing was introduced into the Boston public schools as a
regular branch of study, which occurred in 1838. He introduced into this
country the inductive method of teaching singing, formulating a system
from the study of Pestalozzi and other eminent European teachers. His
system to this day molds the instruction, to a great extent, throughout
the United States. Modifications have been made, but the principles
which underlie all good elementary instruction in music were undeniably
first inculcated and placed before the people by him. He had, and still
has, a wide reputation; but it is not greater than his genius.

While we acknowledge with pride the honor bestowed upon the town of his
nativity, on the other hand, we think that this "obscure New England
village" is entitled to some credit for the formative influences which
sent forth such a son. Some one has said: "The first great requisite to
a man's amounting to anything is to be well born." He was born of the
sturdy yeomanry of Medfield. We cannot but think that the influence
emanating from the men, his neighbors and early counselors, who made the
old town what it was a hundred years ago, and what it is even down to
the present, contributes no little to the successful career of him whose
centennial we celebrate to-day.



     MY DEAR SIR: It will certainly give me great pleasure to see and
     hear you again at Weimar, but I trust that you will excuse me if I
     do not accept the proposition you make, that of giving you regular
     lessons, from which, moreover, I fancy you would have little to

     As for your idea of settling for some time at Weimar, it would be
     well for me to discuss it a little with you before you carry it
     out. The distance from Leipsic being so short, it would cause you
     but little inconvenience to pay me a short visit here, in the
     course of which it will be easy for me to say exactly what I
     believe will be best for you.

     Accept, my dear sir, the expression of my feelings of esteem and
     consideration for you.

     F. LISZT.

     WEIMAR, August 3, 1851.

     DEAR MR. MASON: Your welcome letter gives me very hearty pleasure,
     and I beg you to rest assured of the continuance of my most
     affectionate feelings for you.

     I often hear of your triumphs in America, and I rejoice to know
     that your talent is rightly appreciated and praised. Your
     compositions have not reached me yet, but I am all ready to make
     them very welcome.

     In a fortnight I start for Weimar. The Tonkünstler Versammlung is
     to take place this year at Meiningen, from the 22d to the 25th of
     August. I shall attend it, as also the Wartburg Jubilee Festival,
     at which my oratorio "Sainte Elisabeth" will be given on the 28th
     of August. Perhaps I may meet there Mr. Theodore Thomas and Mr. S.
     B. Mills, of whom you have spoken to me. The ability of Mr. Thomas
     I have heard highly praised; I have to thank him particularly for
     the interest which he takes in my "Poèmes Symphoniques." Those
     artists who desire to give themselves the trouble of understanding
     and interpreting my works are separated, by that alone, from the
     ranks of the commonplace. I, more than any one, owe them gratitude,
     and I shall not fail to show it to Messrs. Thomas and Mills when I
     have the pleasure of making their acquaintance.

     The news which reaches me from time to time of musical things in
     America is usually favorable to the cause of the progress of
     contemporary art which I am proud to serve and uphold.

     It seems that with you chicanery, blunders, and stupidity of a
     criticism perverted by ignorance, envy, and venality, exercise less
     influence than in the Old World. I congratulate you on it. May you
     successfully follow the noble career of an artist with industry,
     perseverance, resignation, modesty, and an unshaken faith in the
     Ideal--such as you showed in Weimar, dear Mr. Mason.

     Your truly affectionate and devoted

    FR. LISZT.

    ROME, July 8, 1867.

     DEAR MR. MASON: Mr. Seward has brought me your welcome letter and
     several of your compositions. These give me double pleasure, for
     they show that your time at Weimar has not been lost and that you
     continue to make good use of it elsewhere.

     "L'Étude de Concert, Op. 9," and "Valse Caprice, Op. 17," are
     distinguished in style and of good effect. I can also sincerely
     praise the three preludes (Op. 8) and the two ballades, but with
     some reservation. The first ballade appears to me a trifle

     There is a certain something lacking at the beginning and toward
     the middle (page 7) which is necessary to make the _motif_ stand
     out again, and the pastorale of the second ballade (page 7) figures
     there rather as padding--_embarras de richesse!_

     And, since I am criticizing, let me ask why you entitle your "Ah,
     vous dirai-je Maman," "Caprice Grotesque"? Beyond the fact that the
     grotesque style should not intrude in music, this title does
     injustice to the ingenious imitations and harmonies of the piece
     which is otherwise so charming; it would be more fitting to call it
     "Divertissement" or "Variazione Scherzose."

     As to the "Method," you do not, of course, expect me to make an
     exhaustive study of it. I am much too old for that, and it is only
     in self-defense that I occasionally try the piano--considering the
     incessant fatigue caused me by the indiscretion of a crowd of
     people who imagine that nothing can be more flattering to me than
     to amuse them!

     Nevertheless, in going through your "Method," I find highly
     commendable exercises, notably the _interlocking passages_ (pages
     136-142) _and all the accentuated treatment_ > > > > _of
     exercises_. May your pupils and editors derive thence all the
     benefit they should.

     A thousand thanks, dear Mr. Mason, and rely on my very affectionate
     and devoted feelings as of old.

     F. LISZT.

     ROME, May 26, 1869.

     It will give me genuine pleasure to see you again, dear Mr. Mason.
     Next week I return to Weimar and shall remain there as usual till
     the middle of July.

     Therefore, suit the time of your visit to your own convenience. I
     beg you to stay for several days at least.

     A thousand affectionate and cordial greetings.

     F. LISZT.

     VIENNA, May 23, 1880.


Allen, Thomas, 95

Altenburg, the, Liszt's studio in, 93;
  Fürstin Sayn-Wittgenstein at, 94;
  picture of, 94;
  Liszt pupils at, 98, 122

Appledore, Isles of Shoals, Mason at, 251-258

Bach, "Triple Concerto," 107;
  "les agréments" in, 229;
  Rubinstein and, 290;
  Essipoff and, 232

Bauer, 270

Beethoven, first symphonic performance in America, 8, 13, 31;
  Remenyi and "Kreutzer Sonata," 93;
  Op. 106, 103, and Liszt plays, 104, 105;
  "Eroica Symphony," Liszt's contretemps in, 120;
  Liszt's "Young Beethoven" (Rubinstein), 171

Bellman, 137

Benedict, Sir Julius, 84

"Bénédiction de Dieu dans la Solitude" by Liszt, Mason's copy of, 118

Bergmann, Carl, 193

Berlioz, autograph, 168, 169

Blessner, Mr., violinist, 19

Bloomfield-Zeisler, 270

Boston Academy of Music, 9

Bowman, E. M., 261

Brahms, 127-142;
  in 1853, 127;
  first meeting with Liszt, 127-131;
  MSS. illegible, 127;
  won't play for Liszt, 128;
  Liszt plays Op. 4 and part of Op. 1 at sight, 128;
  Raff on Op. 4 and B.'s reply, 129;
  dozing while Liszt plays, 129;
  Liszt annoyed, 130;
  wrong accounts of first meeting with Liszt, 130 and 141;
  feat in transposing, 131;
  and Schumann, 132;
  Mason's meeting with in Bonn in 1880, 136;
  pianoforte-playing, Mason's opinion of, 137, and of compositions, 139;
  Liszt's coolness toward, 142, 194, 267, 268, 270

Brockway, Howard, 261

Brodsky, 151

Buck, Dudley, 261

Bull, Ole, 148, 149;
  autograph, 150

Büllow, Hans von, 91

Bülow, Von, 182, 238-241;
  letter to Mason, 239;
  statement about Cosima and Wagner, 240;
  autograph, 240

Burmeister, Richard, 270

Carreño, Teresa, 270

Chadwick, George W., 261

Chamber-music concerts, Mason's, 193-197

Chickering, Jonas, 19

Chopin, style of playing, 75, 171, 244

Clauss, Wilhelmine, 64

Cornelius, Peter, 145-147

Cossmann, Bernhard, 63, 92, 150

David, Ferdinand, 134

Devitalized muscular action, its importance in piano-playing discussed, 20

Diary, Mason's, at Weimar, 122-126

Dodworth's Hall, 194

Dohnányi, Ernst von, 263;
  new symphony, 264

Dreyschock, 65-79;
  octave-playing, 66;
  on Chopin's pianoforte-playing, 75, and Henselt, 77

Dyer, Oliver, 184

Eichberg, Isidor, 252

Eichberg, Julius, 253

Erard pianoforte, Liszt's, 88, 92

Ernst, 149

Fontaine, Mortier de, Beethoven-player, 31

Foote, Arthur, 261

Franck, César, 122

Friedheim, Arthur, 270

Gabrilowitsch, 269

Geilfuss, Louis, 182

Godowsky, 265

"Goldene Zeit" at Weimar, 97, 122

Gottschalk, 183, 205-209;
  "The Latest Hops," 208;
  Characteristic letter and autograph, 208

Grange, De la, 154, 157

Grieg, 241;
  autograph, 244

Groenvelt, Mr., violoncellist, 19

Handel and Haydn Society, Boston, early repertoire of, 7

Handel's "E Minor Fugue," Mason's copy of, 119, 123

Harvard Musical Association, repertoire of, 1846, 19

Hauptmann, Moritz, 44;
  passion for baked apples, 45;
  _Spiegel-Canon_ autograph, 45 and 48;
  opinion of Lowell Mason's work, 46

Heckmann, 137

"Heinrich, Father," anecdote of, 22

Henselt, 75, and Dreyschock, 77

_Herrmann_, steamer, 27

Hill, Frank, 27

Hoffman, Carl, 95

Hoffman, Richard, 207

Hofmann, Josef, 271

Hummel, 172

Huss, Henry Holden, 271

Joachim, 62;
  autograph, 64, 109, 124, 126, 137;
  coolness between Liszt and, 142, 147

Kelley, Edgar Stillman, 261

Klauser, Karl, 202

Klindworth, Karl, 89, 91, 97, 100, 107, 109, 114, 127, 141

Kneisel Quartet, autograph, 262

Kobbé, Gustav, X

Laub, Ferdinand, 63, 92, 126, 150;
  autograph, 180

Leschetitsky, 70

Liszt, feat of memory, 31-34, 59;
  Mason a pupil, and reminiscences of, 86-182;
  in middle life, portrait, 88;
  method of teaching, 90, 97-101, 114;
  quartet at the Altenburg, 91, and Remenyi, 93, 152;
  Liszt pupils, 89, 96;
  personal appearance, 101;
  and Beethoven's Op. 106, 103;
  and the eye-glasses, 106;
  carefulness in dress, 107;
  pianoforte-playing, 110-114;
  touch and own opinion of, 114;
  warns pupils against, _id._;
  on technic, 116;
  and Pixis, 117;
  as a conductor, 119;
  rehearsing "Tasso," 121;
  and Brahms's first meeting, 127-132, 141;
  and Wagner, 132, 158, 164;
  Joachim and, 142;
  sight-reading, 142;
  contrition, 144;
  musical intuition, 167;
  opinion of Tausig, 175;
  letters to Mason, 179, 181, and 291-296;
  last message to Mason, 182, 184, 198, 224, 229, 243, 270;
  "Sainte Elisabeth," 292;
  "Poèmes Symphoniques," 293;
  opinion of Mason's compositions, 294

Liszt, Cosima, 240

Lohengrin, 133, 134, 139, 146

MacDowell, 255;
  "Sonata Tragica," 255;
  "Sonata Eroica," 256, 261

Marx, Dr., 165

Mason Brothers, 184

Mason, Lowell, 4;
  career of, 5-10 and 275 _et seq._;
  Handel and Haydn Society, 7;
  introduces music in Boston public schools, 8, 289;
  musical instruction for the blind, 8;
  Boston Academy of Music, 9;
  originates musical conventions, 9;
  fife and drum serenade to, 25;
  work praised by Moritz Hauptmann, 46;
  address on, by William S. Tilden, 275;
  ancestry of, 276;
  at Medfield, Mass., 277;
  portrait, 277;
  nearly drowned, 279;
  commences teaching, 282;
  religious views, 285;
  tact and shrewdness, 285;
  magnetism as a teacher, 286

Mason, William, portrait, 1899, frontispiece;
  ancestry of, 3;
  born at Boston, 3;
  early musical training, 10;
  meets Webster and Clay, 11, 12;
  portrait as a boy, 12;
  début as pianist, 13;
  piano lesson, 14, 15;
  hints on touch, 16-18;
  plays with Harvard Musical Association, 18;
  hears Leopold de Meyer, 19;
  portrait at eighteen, 20;
  and "Father Heinrich," 22;
  meets Miss Webb, 26;
  sails for Bremen, 27;
  in Paris, 27;
  meets Meyerbeer, 28;
  in Hamburg, 31;
  goes to Leipsic, 31;
  first meeting with Liszt, 33;
  arrives at Leipsic, 34;
  concert of the Euterpe Society changes his
    high opinion of German musical taste, 34, 35;
  begins studies with Moscheles, 36;
  contrasts Schumann and Mendelssohn, 43;
  calls on Schumann and secures his autograph, 43, 44;
  contrasts personalities of Wagner and Schumann, 44;
  pupil of Moritz Hauptmann, 44;
  of Ernst Friedrich Richter, 48;
  acquaintance with Albert Wagner, 48;
  call on Richard Wagner in Zürich and interview, 48;
  impressions of Wagner, 50;
  Wagner writes the dragon motive for him as an autograph, 55;
  compares Moscheles and Paderewski, 59;
  first meeting with Joachim and opinion of, 62;
  hears Schumann's "First Symphony," 63, and pianoforte concerto, 63, 64;
  comment on, 64;
  decides to study with Dreyschock in Prague, 65;
  passport difficulties, 65;
  opinion of Dreyschock, 66;
  remarkable pianistic feat of Dreyschock, 67;
  upper-arm muscles in pianoforte-playing, 69;
  comment on Leschetitsky's method, 70;
  acquaintance with Jules Schulhoff, 71;
  amusing experiences at Prince de Rohan's dinner, 71;
  goes to Frankfort, 79;
  meets Beethoven's friend Schindler, 79;
  London début, 84;
  Mendelssohn's influence in England, 84;
  again calls on Liszt at Weimar, 86;
  mistaken for wine agent, 87;
  plays for Liszt, 88;
  becomes a pupil of Liszt, 89;
  dines with the Wittgensteins, 95;
  acquaintance with Raff and Klindworth, 96;
  first lesson with Liszt, 98;
  fatigue after, 100;
  breakfast to Joachim and Wieniawski, 109;
  opinion of Liszt's playing, 111;
  M.'s copy of Liszt's "Bénédiction de Dieu dans la Solitude"
    and Handel's "E Minor Fugue," 118, 119;
  attends with Liszt rehearsal of "Tasso," 121;
  extracts from Weimar diary, 122-125;
  present at Brahms's first meeting with Liszt and description of, 127;
  attends Leipsic première of "Lohengrin," 133;
  supper at Ferdinand David's, 134;
  "Kapellmeister of New York," 135;
  meets Brahms at Bonn, 136;
  opinion of Brahms as pianist and composer, 137-141;
  acquaintance with Cornelius, 145;
  reminiscences and opinion of Joachim, Vieuxtemps, Ole Bull, Sivori,
    Ernst, Wilhelmj, Henri Wieniawski, Laub, Cossmann, and Brodsky, 147-151;
  acquaintance with Remenyi, 93, 151;
  reminiscences and opinion of Tedesco, Perelli, Sontag,
    Johanna Wagner, and De la Grange, 153-158;
  becomes a "Murl";
  opinion of Wagner, 159;
  reminiscences of Raff, 161-164;
  sees Berlioz conduct, 168;
  opinion of, 169;
  opinion of Beethoven, Chopin, and Schumann, 170, 171;
  entertains Rubinstein at Weimar, 171;
  compares him with Hambourg, 174;
  letters from Liszt to, 176, also Appendix, Part II, p. 291 _et seq._;
  messages from Liszt to, 181, 182;
  return to America, 183;
  marriage, 183;
  concert tour, 183-190;
  combines "Yankee Doodle" and "Old Hundred," 187;
  teaching in New York, 191;
  inaugurates chamber-music concerts, 193;
  first program, 194;
  "Mason and Thomas Quartet," 196;
  concert at Farmington, Conn., 202;
  reminiscences of Gottschalk, 205, and Schumann's music, 209;
  describes Thalberg's playing, 210;
  reminiscences of Rubinstein and opinion of, 221-236;
  and Von Bülow, 238;
  letter from Von Bülow to, 239;
  meeting with Grieg, 241;
  discusses piano technic, tempo, pitch, etc., 243-251;
  studio, 248;
  at Isles of Shoals, 251-258;
  opinion of Von Dohnányi, 263;
  Godowsky, 265;
  Gabrilowitsch, 269;
  Bauer, 270;
  Friedheim, 270

Mason-Thomas Quartet, portrait group, 196

Matthews, W. S. B., 261

Matzka, George, 194

Mayer, Carl, 31, 65

Mendelssohn, exaggerated worship of, 37;
  friendship with Moscheles, 37;
  thought greater than Beethoven, 37;
  influence in England, 85

Meyer, Leopold de, Mason's recollections of, 19;
  beauty of tone, 20;
  New York concerts and anecdote, 21, 69, 211-215

Meyerbeer, meeting of with William Mason, 28;
  rehearsing "Le Prophète", 30

Mills, S. B., 292

Moscheles, 27;
  autograph, 32;
  practises Beethoven in secret, 36;
  opposes his daughter's playing Chopin, 37;
  intimacy with Mendelssohn, 37;
  entertains Schumann, anecdote, 42;
  pianoforte-playing, 57;
  silver wedding, 61

Mosenthal, Joseph, 194

Mozart, 250

"Murls," the, 158

Musical conventions, origin of, 9

Musical pedigree, 180

Music in America to-day, 259-272

Ohe, Adele aus der, 270

Paderewski, 60;
  fantasy on "Yankee Doodle," 236;
  autograph, 236

Paine, John K., 252, 261

Parker, Horatio W., 261

Parker, J. C. D., 135

"Parsifal," Liszt's tribute to, 133

Pedal, hints on use of, 215-221;
  study, 219

Perelli, 154

Perkins, Charles C., 135

Philharmonic Society, New York, 262

Pitch, positive, 247;
  Thomas's ear for, 251

Pixis, 117

Pruckner, Dionys, 89, 91, 100, 107, 114, 125, 135

Pupils, unusual, 246

Raff, 89, 91, 96;
  friendship for Mason, 97, 124, 129, 133;
  in Weimar, 161-164;
  Mason's first impression of, 161;
  poverty, 162;
  arrested for debt, 162;
  comforts, 162;
  pianoforte-playing, 162;
  as a composer, 163;
  and Wagner propaganda, 134, 142, 144, 164

Remenyi and the "Kreutzer Sonata," 93;
  Liszt rebukes, 94;
  on Liszt's playing, 112;
  visits Liszt with Brahms, 127, 130, 151-153

Rhythmus exercises, 191
  Moscheles on, 193

Richter, Ernst Friedrich, 48

Rohan, Prince de, 71-75

Rubinstein and Princess Marie Sayn-Wittgenstein, 95;
  on Liszt's playing, 111;
  Liszt's contrition, 144;
  Mason entertains at Weimar in 1854, 171;
  plays, 173;
  opposition to Wagner, 174;
  Liszt's opinion of, 175, 180, 221-236;
  and the autograph-hunter, 221;
  opinion of Americans, 222;
  style of playing, 224;
  favorite seat, 227;
  Bach's "Triple Concerto," 230;
  significant autograph, 232, 234;
  "Yankee Doodle" variations, 236, 268

Sanford, S. S., 261

Sayn-Wittgenstein, Fürstin, 94;
  Princess Marie, 95

Schindler, Anton, 79;
  "Ami de Beethoven," 80;
  autograph, 80;
  and "Fifth Symphony," 81;
  persuaded to meet Von Wartensee, 82, and dénouement, 83

Schlesinger, 33;
  daughter plays Chopin, 33

Schmidt, Henry, conducts first Beethoven symphony in America, 9, 13-15, 19

Schubert, 125, 169

Schuberth, Julius, 27, 31, 32

Schulhoff, 112

Schumann, his life at Leipsic, 38;
  autograph, 38;
  not appreciated, 39;
  Mason's enthusiasm on hearing S.'s "First Symphony," 40;
  Mason sends score to Boston, 40;
  attempts there to play it, 40;
  Webb's opinion of it, 41;
  S. laughed at by his publisher's clerks, 41;
  as a conductor, 41;
  absent-mindedness, 42;
  compared with Mendelssohn by Mason, 43;
  Mason calls on him, 43;
  second call and autograph, 44;
  Mason contrasts the personalities of S. and Wagner, 44;
  a minor concerto, 63; 132, 136, 137, 171, 209

Schumann, Clara, 43;
  autograph, 44

Shelley, H. R., 261

Sherwood, William H., 261

Sontag, Henriette, and autograph, 154

Stange, Adolph, Weimar reminiscences of, 165-168

Stavenhagen, 112

Störr, 92

"Tasso," Liszt at rehearsal of, 121

Tausig, 175, 176

Tedesco, 154

Tempo, hints on, 243-247;
  Chopin, electrocuting, 244;
  rubato, 246

Thalberg, 75;
  and Chopin, 76, 210;
  autograph, 212

Thaxter, Celia, 252-258

Theimer, 117

Thomas, Theodore, 111, 194;
  at twenty, 195;
  genius of conductorship, 196;
  Mason and Thomas Quartet, 196;
  as a violinist, 197;
  a great conductor, 198;
  confidence in himself, 200;
  portrait at twenty-four, 200;
  contribution to Mason calendar, 202;
  ear for positive pitch, 251, 292

Timm, Henry C., 58

Tomaschek, 66-70

Tracy, James M., 95

Vieuxtemps, autograph, 144, 148

Wagner, Albert, 48, 49

Wagner, Johanna, 154, 156

Wagner, Richard, 48;
  "Wer ist da?" 49;
  receives William Mason, 49;
  appearance in 1852, 50;
  compares Beethoven and Mendelssohn, 51;
  tribute to Beethoven, 52;
  lively manner, 54;
  gives Mason his autograph, 55, 56, 132, 133;
  Wagner cause in Weimar, 159;
  Mason on, 159, 179

Walbrühl, 92

Webb, George James, 8;
  and Boston Academy of Music, 9;
  opinion of Schumann, 41

Webb, Miss, 26;
  engaged and married to William Mason, 183

Weber, Dionysius, 36

Weimar, 86;
  Mason's reminiscences of Liszt at 86-182

Whiting, Arthur, 261, 271

Wieniawski, Henri, 109, 123, 124;
  at Weimar, 126, 150, 223

Wilhelmj, 150

"Yankee Doodle" and "Old Hundred," Mason asked to combine, 187, 189

       *       *       *       *       *


[1] In a letter written twenty-four years later, in 1878, Liszt says of
"Parsifal": "The composition of the first act is finished; in it are
revealed the most wondrous depths and the most celestial heights of

[2] As I have elsewhere stated, I was the first to meet Rubinstein in
Weimar, while Liszt was away.

[3] He was at Moscow, being first professor of pianoforte-playing at the
Conservatory there.

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