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Title: My Musical Life
Author: Damrosch, Walter
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          [Cover Illustration]

[Illustration: WALTER DAMROSCH IN 1920]

                  From a photograph by Pirie MacDonald

                          =MY  MUSICAL  LIFE=

                           =WALTER  DAMROSCH=

                              =NEW  YORK=
                      =CHARLES  SCRIBNER’S  SONS=

                          COPYRIGHT, 1923, BY
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
            COPYRIGHT, 1922, 1923, by CURTIS PUBLISHING CO.
                Printed in the United States of America


                             _To dearest M_

    _This book I dedicate to you because you have walked hand in
    hand with me through most of the experiences related therein._

    _Because of you my disappointments have been cut in half and my
    happinesses made double, and if I have made known to you the
    wondrous muse of music, you in turn have brought into our home
    and given a permanent abiding place therein, the three gentle
    sisters—Faith, Hope and Charity._


    CHAPTER                                                      PAGE
          I. CHILDHOOD—1866-1875...............................     1
         II. BAYREUTH IN 1876—MY DOLL’S THEATRE................    13
               NEW YORK........................................    22
         IV. AUGUST WILHELMJ—TERESA CARRENO....................    28
          V. LISZT AND WAGNER..................................    36
               METROPOLITAN—DEATH OF MY FATHER.................    51
        VII. LILLI LEHMANN.....................................    63
       VIII. HANS VON BÜLOW....................................    74
         IX. ANDREW CARNEGIE AND THE BLAINE FAMILY.............    90
          X. THE DAMROSCH OPERA COMPANY, 1895-1899.............   104
         XI. ARTISTS...........................................   134
        XII. ROMANCE...........................................   164
       XIII. THE ORATORIO SOCIETY OF NEW YORK..................   169
        XIV. THE NEW YORK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA...................   186
         XV. THE GREAT WAR.....................................   221
        XVI. THE EUROPEAN TOUR.................................   272
       XVII. WOMEN IN MUSICAL AFFAIRS..........................   323
      XVIII. BOSTON............................................   333
        XIX. MARGARET ANGLIN AND THE GREEK PLAYS...............   344
         XX. DEAD COMPOSERS....................................   351
        XXI. POSTLUDE..........................................   367

             INDEX.............................................   369


    Walter Damrosch in 1920
    Afternoon coffee in the Damrosch Home, Breslau, 1867
    Doctor Leopold Damrosch and his son Walter at eighteen years of
    Lilli Lehmann as Isolde
    Mathilde Marchesi
    Nellie Melba
    Camille Saint-Saëns and Walter Damrosch
    Lieutenant Walker Blaine Beale
    Fritz Kreisler, Harold Bauer, Pablo Casals, and Walter Damrosch

                            My Musical Life



I am an American musician and have lived in this country since my ninth
year. I was born in Breslau, Silesia, on January 30, 1862, and my first
memories are connected with war, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. I was
four years old and remember being with my mother in a room in our
apartment in Breslau, which was filled with flowers and growing plants
(mother always had a marvellous gift for maintaining and nursing plants)
and various friends coming in to condole with her over the death of my
baby brother, Hans, who had died of cholera, which was then raging in
Breslau. The second child of my parents, born in 1860, had been
christened Richard, after Richard Wagner, who had officiated as
godfather at the ceremony. This child lived but a short time, and Wagner
had vowed that he would never again stand as godfather for the children
of any of his friends, as the ill luck which had pursued him all his
life was thus carried even into their families.

In order to safeguard the rest of her children from the danger of the
dread disease to which little Hans had succumbed, my mother took my
older brother, Frank, myself, and a baby sister into the country near
the Bohemian frontier, where the war was being fought. I can remember my
brother and myself standing at a country road, each armed with a huge
bouquet of flowers we had gathered, and watching for General Steinmetz
and his army to pass on their way to the front. As they marched by, my
brother bravely ran to one of the officers and gave him his flowers, but
my courage gave out and I threw my bouquet so that it fell on the
ground, from which one of the soldiers smilingly picked it up and stuck
it on his bayonet. That same afternoon Frank and I lay on the ground
with our ears closely pressed to it and we could plainly hear the
booming of the cannon.

When peace was declared, King William of Prussia (afterward Emperor
William the First) together with Crown Prince Frederick, Bismarck,
Moltke, and a brilliant retinue of officers, made their triumphant entry
into Breslau on horseback. My brother and I watched this gorgeous sight
with delighted eyes from the balcony of our apartment. My mother threw a
wreath, which fell on the neck of the horse carrying King William and
he, looking up, saluted her.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Musical conditions when my father first came to Breslau in 1858,
immediately after his marriage, were miserable enough, and it was not
until he founded, together with some musical enthusiasts, the “Breslau
Orchester Verein” that a regular symphonic orchestra was established
with a series of subscription concerts. All the great artists of the day
came to Breslau to take part in these concerts, and generally they
stayed at our house, although our quarters were very simple—Liszt,
Wagner, von Bülow, Clara Schumann, Tausig, Joachim, Auer, Haenselt,
Rubinstein. Some of them I can remember vaguely, but of course many
stories and anecdotes were current in the family regarding their visits.

When Tausig, Liszt’s greatest piano pupil, spent a night in our house,
the bed in the guest-room broke down in the middle of the night and he
calmly arranged his mattress on the floor and continued his slumbers.
But his visit was connected in my brother’s and my mind particularly
with a certain apple pudding which he adored and which my mother always
baked especially for him, so that it became known in our family as the
“Tausigsche Apfel-Speise.” It was a luscious mixture of apples, raisins,
and almonds incased in a delicate, light pie-crust.

My father and Tausig would sometimes engage in the most violent
discussions on musical or philosophical topics, and the latter would
often become so enraged that he would rush out of the house, vowing he
would never return. Then he would run around the block and come back in
five minutes, smiling and saying, “Come, Damrosch, let us play a
Beethoven Sonata together,” and all would be well.

When Joachim arrived he found a large

                       “WILLKOMMEN HERR JOACHIM”

in green leaves over the door of our music-room, carefully arranged by
my brother and myself. We adored him because he loved children and would
cut all manner of wonderful figures out of paper for us.

Liszt came on especially to officiate as godfather at the christening of
my older brother, Frank (Franz), who was named after him, but, as I was
not born at the time, my memory of it is not very vivid.

Once when Hans von Bülow arrived for dinner, my mother herself had
roasted a hare in his honor. To her despair she discovered at table that
she had seasoned it with sugar instead of salt, but Bülow, perfect
gentleman that he was, asked for a second helping, insisting that sugar
always improved roast hare immensely.

My favorite reading at the age of eight was a wonderful edition of
Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” in a fine high-sounding metrical
translation by Voss and with many beautiful illustrations by Friedrich
Preller, of Weimar, at whose house my mother (Helene von Heimburg)
became engaged to my father. As a result of reading these very exciting
Greek chronicles I constantly enacted scenes therefrom. My mother’s
clever fingers fashioned for me from silver paper and pasteboard helmet,
armor, and shield; and as Achilles I would drag Hector (my little
sister, Marie) on my chariot (two overturned chairs) around the walls of
Troy (the dining-room table).

In the winter there was always skating on the Oder, and I remember, aged
seven or eight, being given money to buy a ticket of admission and to
skate to my heart’s content. Part of this ticket had to be retained and
given up on leaving the ice. Of course I lost this ticket and being
refused egress by the uniformed attendant, I dismally skated about for
hours, becoming more and more frightened as the sun went down and the
river became more and more deserted. I thought I would have to remain
there for the rest of my young life, and it was a very tear-stained and
miserable little boy who ran toward the dear Tante Marie who, having
become anxious at my absence, had come to see where I was and who
released me, by payment for another ticket, from my dreadful

Tante Marie is a younger sister of my mother’s who came to live with us
at the age of sixteen and who became my mother’s closest helper during
many years of storm and stress, whose gentle and patient self-sacrifice
have never failed her and who, thank God, is still living and as
wonderful as ever, the last link with that dim past of long ago.

I think I was somewhat afraid of my father in those days. He was rather
stern and taciturn. Life was hard and the struggle for existence
difficult. He was somewhat severe about my studies and as those were the
days when whipping children for naughtiness was considered an essential
of their education, I received my share of such punishment. In fact,
sometimes I was whipped in school and then had to take my school report
home to my father and he would perhaps repeat the dose. But with all
that I was very proud of him and used to enjoy trotting by his side
along the promenade on the banks of the Oder, because so many people
would take off their hats to him deferentially as he passed.

He also gave us children a good deal of his time in reading to us books
that would stimulate our imaginations and cultivate our instincts for
the beautiful—Grimm’s and Andersen’s “Fairy Tales,” the “Arabian
Nights,” and some of the parables from the New Testament.

But whenever I was sent supperless to bed or confined to my room for
some misdeed, it was always mother who would comfort me and perhaps
bring me a plate of soup or dessert secretly and talk to me gently until
my obstinacy would melt and I would be ready to knock at my father’s
study and ask his forgiveness. Once I did not dare, but instead drew a
picture of myself standing penitently at his door and underneath the
words: “Seven times seventy times shalt thou forgive.” This I shoved
under the door into his study and it produced the desired effect, as it
brought my father out and in a very forgiving mood.

One of my sins was that I simply could not bear to eat spinach, and as
in those days it was considered the absolute duty of a child to eat
anything that was put before him because “God had grown the spinach and
other vegetables in order to feed hungry children,” and “there were
thousands of poor little children who would be only too glad to eat
spinach,” I was forced to eat it although it often choked me and made me
ill. Even to this day I cannot bear spinach, and with all the reverence
and deep affection that I have for my father, I do not think he was
right in this particular case as regards his pedagogic theories.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The following excerpts from letters of von Bülow throw an interesting
light on the conditions under which my father worked in Breslau at that

  _To the Princess Carolyn Sayn-Wittgenstein (Liszt’s closest friend)_
                                             Berlin, Feb. 10, 1859.

    . . . Anticipating Liszt’s promise I have sent the score of his
    “Ideale” to Damrosch who will have the parts copied and get the
    work to his public already during this month. If we could only
    have a half dozen soldiers like Damrosch at our disposal! . . .

 _To Felix Draescke (composer and disciple of Liszt for whom Bülow had
                      tried to obtain a position)_
                                             Berlin, Oct. 16, 1860.

    . . . I am assured of my complete lack of power to help. To
    achieve the like for Damrosch has also failed. D., with wife and
    child, and another one in the nearest future, is _quasi_ near to
    starvation. It has taken me much time to find out finally that I
    cannot help. . . .

_To Hans von Bronsart (mutual friend and musician. Intendant of the Royal
     Opera in Hanover. In relation to a joint concert with Bülow)_

    . . . A propos! Please fix Damrosch’s honorarium as high as
    possible. He needs it. In order to recompense him the better, I
    do not desire any violoncellist. I had arranged with him in your
    name for eight Louis d’or. You had authorized me to give as high
    as ten for Laub. Damrosch is Laub + ½. . . .

Laub was a distinguished violinist living in Berlin.

  _To Richard Pohl (distinguished writer on music and propagandist for
                      Wagner, Berlioz, and Liszt)_
                                               Berlin, Sept., 1861.

    . . . Damrosch had been engaged by Tausig for joint soirées in
    Vienna and a long Russian concert tour, but the matter suddenly
    came to naught, and although one cannot accuse T. of
    irresponsibility, Damrosch is in such miserable fashion again
    bound to that sterile Breslau. Poor, greatly talented, honest
    chap—must fight his way through greatest _misère_. Is there
    still no chance for him in Weimar? . . .

           _To Joachim Raff (German composer of distinction)_
                                             Berlin, Nov. 10, 1860.

    . . . Your piano and violin sonata I am to play in Leipsig. Laub
    and Singer are afraid of the Gewandhaus and are not keen about
    it, so I don’t yet know whom I am to serve as accompanist.
    Damrosch, with whom I played the composition six weeks ago,
    conceives it according to my views quite exceptionally. The
    adagio, for instance, he plays far more beautifully than Laub.
    Very likely we shall turn to him. . . .

In 1870 the papers were filled with accounts of “the outrageous insult
of King William by the French ambassador, Benedetti,” and the hostile
attitude of Emperor Napoleon the Third. War was declared and of course
we boys immediately began to indulge in imitations of the military drill
of the soldiers of our city. The most exciting and welcome news to me at
the time was that my piano teacher had been drafted and I had high hopes
of not having to continue to undergo the dreary necessity of daily
finger exercises, but alas, my hopes were rudely dashed to the ground
when a bald-headed substitute appeared to continue the lessons.

Soon the trains were coming in, bringing the wounded, and the French
prisoners, among whom the dark-skinned Zouaves and Turks especially
excited our interest. We looked with envy at the older boys of our
school who, having studied French, used to go up to the French officers
and ask them whether there was anything they could do for them.

The war ended and my young piano teacher returned, resplendent in his
uniform with shining brass buttons, in which he paid his first
ceremonial visit to my father and mother. My mother, wishing to put him
at his ease, asked him to tell something of his experiences in the war,
but he was not very articulate. Yes, he had been at the beleaguering and
capitulation of Metz.

“How wonderful,” said my mother, “and what happened to you there?”

“Oh, well, they—they—shot at us.”

And that was all we could get out of him.

In the meanwhile my father had become more and more discontented with
musical, social, and political conditions in Breslau. He was really a
Republican at heart and the Prussian bureaucracy, which had become more
and more accentuated by the war, irked and angered him. With greatest
difficulty he could make a bare living for his family, and he found the
population of Breslau, except a small band of devoted followers, steeped
in materialism and not particularly sympathetic toward art, especially
the modern German composers.

In 1871 my father received an invitation through Edward Schubert, the
music publisher of New York, to come to America as conductor of the
Arion Society, and while this opening was small enough, it seemed to
offer him an opportunity through which better and bigger things might
develop and under conditions more free than were possible in Germany at
that time. He therefore determined, at forty years of age, to take the
plunge and to precede his family to America in order to find out whether
a living and a new career might be made possible in the New World. The
Arion Society occupied an honorable position in the social and musical
life of the Germans living in New York.

I can remember his farewell concert, in Breslau, at which he performed
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. There were laurel wreaths, and chorus ladies
in white, and there was a general atmosphere of enthusiasm and of many
tears, but my memories are connected particularly with my astonishment
at seeing my teacher of arithmetic whom I hated, suddenly stand up in
the middle of the parquet during the intermission and ogle the ladies
with a pair of opera-glasses. It had never entered my childish mind
until then that a horrible school-teacher could be a man like other men
in private life.

A very tragic happening was that one of my suspenders burst during the
Ninth Symphony, and for the rest of the performance I was in mortal fear
that my trousers might not “stay put.”

After my father’s departure we children, of course, played nothing but
sailing off on a ship, again principally by aid of the parlor and
dining-room furniture. We read “Robinson Crusoe” and enacted its
chapters with great satisfaction to ourselves. It was all good fun to
us, but the anguish of parting from the country in which they had grown
up and lived for so many years, and the dread of the unknown in a
strange land, must have been terrible for my father and mother.

Finally came an enthusiastic letter from my father bidding us to follow
him to New York; we accordingly set sail, August, 1871, in a little ship
of the North German Lloyd, the _Hermann_ from Bremen, my mother, Tante
Marie, Frank, myself, and two younger sisters. I was desperately seasick
for several days until one Sunday morning, when, as I was lying on a
bench on deck, the young captain rudely kicked me off, saying, “Look
here, youngster, you have been ill long enough, now brace up,” which I
did and enjoyed the rest of the trip immensely. The captain was in a
very romantic mood because he was to marry a young American girl on his
arrival in New York. In the evenings my mother would sing Schubert and
Schumann on deck and the captain several times gave us firework
displays, rockets, etc., in honor of his approaching nuptials.

When we arrived in New York we found my father anxiously pacing the
wharf where he had been waiting, since early morning, for eight hours,
to take us in a carriage from Hoboken to a house in East 35th Street
which he had rented and furnished completely from top to bottom as a
surprise for my mother. The hot and cold water on every floor, the gas
and the carpets were a revelation to us, as these modern conveniences
were hardly known in Breslau at that time. My youngest sister, Elizabeth
(now Mrs. Harry T. Seymour), was born in this house.

My brother and I were immediately put into the primary department of
Public School No. 40 in East 23d Street, and as we did not know a word
of English we were entered in the lowest class, although I had already
been in the Sexta of the Gymnasium (High School) and my brother in the
Quarta, and I had studied Latin and he both Latin and Greek. But we
dutifully spelled out CAT, DOG, etc., until after a few weeks of this we
were promoted, and so these promotions went on with lightning rapidity
until we had acquired English and could enter a class more appropriate
to our years, nine and twelve respectively.

I continued my studies of piano under an old teacher, Jean Vogt by name,
and after his return to Germany I studied with Pruckner, von Inten, Max
Pinner, and Boeckelman. The last, feeling that I could not raise my
fingers high enough from the knuckles, gave me a machine of steel
springs which, through rings attached to the fingers, were to lift them
higher than nature would permit. Unfortunately this contrivance brought
about a weakness in the third finger of my right hand from which I have
never quite recovered and which unfortunately, or fortunately, has
prevented me from becoming a professional piano virtuoso. But I had
acquired a good technic and a singing quality of tone which served me
well years after when I began to give recitals at the piano on the
Wagnerian music-dramas, at which I played the orchestral part on the
piano while I recited the text and explained the various musical motifs
and their relation to the text.

My first appearance in an orchestra was, I am sorry to say, a rank
failure. I was only a boy of fourteen years and my father had prepared a
charming operetta of Schubert’s, “Der Häusliche Krieg,” for a “Summer
Night’s Festival” of the Arion Society. In this occurs a delightful
March of the Crusaders with one loud clash of the cymbals at the climax.
It did not seem worth while to engage a musician at “full union rates”
for this clash and I was, therefore, intrusted with it. At rehearsals I
counted my bars rest and watched for my cue with such perfection that
the cymbals resounded with great success at the proper time and in the
proper manner, but at the performance, alas, a great nervousness fell
upon me and as the march proceeded and came nearer and nearer the
crucial moment, my hand seemed paralyzed, and when my father’s flashing
eye indicated to me that the moment had come, I simply could not seem to
lift the cymbals which suddenly weighed like a hundred tons. The march
went on but I felt that the entire evening had been ruined by me and
that every one in the audience must know that I had “funked it.” As soon
as I could I slipped out of the orchestra pit underneath the stage and
into the dark night, feeling that life had no joy left for me. I could
not bear to hear the rest of the opera or to meet my father’s
reproachful eye.

 Frank, Tante Marie, Mother, Marie, Father, Walter]


                   BAYREUTH IN 1876—MY DOLL’S THEATRE

In the summer of 1876 Wagner inaugurated the Bayreuth Theatre with the
first production of his great “Nibelungen Trilogy.” All the old friends
and the musicians who had been in the forefront of the fight in the
early days when Wagner’s genius was not generally recognized, gathered
there from far and near in order to be present at what was destined to
be a magnificent demonstration of the final triumph of the cause.

My father, naturally, was keen to be there and to rejoice with his old
colleagues. He had not returned to Germany since he had left it in 1871
to found a home for his family in the New World. He had never regretted
this step, but many bonds of sentiment and many old friends drew him to
Europe. Alas, he had no money for such a trip and there seemed no way of
obtaining it. There was a lottery formed by a few Wagner enthusiasts the
proceeds of which should go to the Bayreuth Fund. The winner of the
lucky number was to receive a ticket for the first performance, and my
father bought a number, but of course he did not win, and there was the
price of the steamship passage to pay and the expenses of maintenance in
Europe besides. In his despair he told his old friend Schirmer, the New
York music publisher, of his distress and Schirmer immediately said:

“Doctor, you simply must go, and here is a loan of five hundred dollars,
which you can repay me whenever you can afford it.”

This was so friendly and generous an act that it gives me pleasure to
record it here, especially as his two sons, Rudolph and Gustav, also
continued on terms of friendliest intimacy with me from boyhood to their
all-too-premature deaths. Another friend of my father, Charles A. Dana,
the great editor of the _New York Sun_ asked him to write some articles
on his Bayreuth experiences for _The Sun_ and paid him another five
hundred dollars, so that my father was liberally supplied with funds for
his trip to Europe.

This visit, the reunion with Wagner, Liszt, Raff, Lassen, Porges, and
hosts of other old friends, together with all the marvels of the first
production of the “Nibelungen Trilogy,” refreshed my father immensely in
body and spirit, and when he returned home and recounted to us all the
glories of the trip, I fairly ached with the joy of it and immediately
proceeded to spend all my pocket money in the making of a very
remarkable doll’s theatre about three feet wide and equally high in
order to produce Wagner myself. I painted all the scenery and the actor
dolls for it, and had the most brilliant lighting effects and a curtain
that went up and down with a perfection not always witnessed even on the
real stage.

As I had some talent for painting and had attended the drawing classes
at Cooper Union, I knew something of colors and perspective and
delighted especially in designing interiors of palaces with dozens of
pillars which, beginning in large size at the proscenium, would dwindle
down to the smallest pillarets, gradually lost in the dim distances, so
that my palaces always looked as if they were miles long.

My fellow director was my boy friend, Gustav Schirmer, son of the
publisher, and our first production was, of course, a Wagner music
drama. Gustav’s mother was an enthusiastic Wagnerite who eventually
spent much of her life in Bayreuth and Weimar. “Rhinegold” seemed to me
especially fitted for our theatre as it offered almost boundless scenic
opportunities. The effect of water in the first scene which is supposed
to depict the depths of the Rhine, I achieved very successfully by
several alternate curtains of blue and green gauze, and behind the rocky
reef in the centre of this scene a gas-burner was very cleverly hidden,
the light of which, as it gradually increased in strength, brilliantly
simulated the awakening of the “Rhinegold.”

The united children of the Schirmer and Damrosch families together with
their elders constituted the audience. The children paid fifty cents
admission, but both Gustav and I permitted our respective parents to
contribute as much above that as their generosity would permit, and we
looked on it as very much the same kind of a subvention as the king of
Bavaria had allowed Wagner at Bayreuth.

The theatre had been very cleverly placed in the doorway between two
rooms, but as the piano was in the same room where the audience sat, I
had to rush backward and forward continually. For instance, when Gustav
pulled the curtain to disclose the depths of the Rhine, I played the
Rhine music, then would creep back under the table on which the theatre
was placed and help him manipulate the Rhine Maidens. Then I would rush
back again to play the music accompanying the awakening of the Gold and
so on until the change of scene when, as the rising sun shines upon the
mighty walls of Walhalla, I would reproduce the stately harmonies of the
Walhalla motive.

As I look back on it now, it must have been an absolutely crazy
performance, but the audience was hugely delighted and contributed so
liberally that my co-director and I had a surplus with which to begin
preparations for another play.

Some parents on reading this may think that all this was a huge waste of
time, but I cannot agree with them. Quite apart from the fact that it
taught me a good deal in the use of the brush, it was a great stimulus
to the imagination and a welcome outlet for the desire all children have
to live in a make-believe world of fancy. At any rate, Gustav Schirmer
and I can claim that we were the first to produce Wagner’s “Rhinegold”
in America, and it is possible that this was the germ for my decision
eighteen years later to form the Damrosch Opera Company solely for the
purpose of producing Wagner throughout America.

The dolls’ theatre was, however, not my only diversion from my school
and musical studies.

At one Christmas my father and mother gave me a very complete tool
chest, with which I fashioned, among other things, a dolls’ house for my
sisters and quite a little fleet of boats. I remember one three-master,
about three feet in length, the wood for which I obtained from a foreman
at the Steinway piano factory, then situated on Park Avenue. This
three-master with all sails set won several races for me on the pond in
Central Park.

In those days, Central Park was considered very far uptown, and where
now the palaces of millionaires flank its borders, Irish squatters lived
in improvised huts around which goats would gain a meagre livelihood
from the rocks stretching on all sides. These squatters established a
kind of lien on the land, which I believe was recognized as having some
legal force when the property became more and more valuable and the
owners began to grade the land for residential purposes.

Just as in the early days in Breslau, we continued to celebrate
Christmas Eve in America in the good old fashion. Weeks before, a
delicious atmosphere of mystery and secrecy began to envelop every
member of the family. The “front parlor” became taboo for us children.
Packages began to arrive and were stored there. The Christmas tree,
which was always carefully chosen by my mother and which, according to
old regulations, had to touch the ceiling with its top, was brought in
in the evening after we had been carefully “shooed” upstairs into our
respective bedrooms.

Dozens of sheets of gold and silver paper were cut by us into glittering
garlands for the tree and we were, of course, expected to present our
parents on Christmas eve with something fashioned by our own hands, or
to be able to recite a poem or play a new piano solo. Of all this they
were supposed to know nothing until the great day arrived, although they
must have heard our dreary practising of it for weeks before.

The celebration was held on Christmas eve, before supper. My father and
mother would disappear into the forbidden room to light the hundred
candles on the tree and put the last touches on the heaps of presents.
Then my father would play a march on the piano and we would all troop in
and stand breathless before the tree so beautifully illuminated by the
gentle light of the candles. Our presents would, of course, consist
mainly of necessities in clothing and underclothing, shoes, etc., which
we would have received anyhow, but which gained an added glow because of
the occasion. But there were always books, and the tree was crowded with
cakes and candies and gay-colored paper flowers and there were toys and
joyous singing of Christmas songs and hymns around the tree. Then would
come a delicious supper, accompanied by a cup of which Rhine wine and
sliced pineapples were the constituent parts.

After supper we children had to recite our verses or play our piano
solos, and, alas, these exhibitions sometimes ended in tears, as the
exciting events that preceded this contribution to the festivities
sometimes blunted our memories and we would get “stuck” in the middle.
Then we would cast a frightened glance at my father, who would, perhaps,
look rather serious until mother’s smile or some joking remark would put
him and us in good humor again.

Those wonderful Christmas celebrations of my childhood continued into my
married life. Then when my children came, besides participating in my
mother’s tree, we tried, my wife and I, to bring into our own home on
this beautiful day a kind of festive celebration which should pass on to
our children and friends that which my father and mother and Tante Marie
had so freely given to me.

We have had some wonderfully jolly Christmases. My four children and
their cousin, Walker Blaine Beale, took on themselves the loving burden
of our entertainment. A play was sometimes written or charades
improvised, for which upstairs closets were ransacked for costumes and
other paraphernalia in such haste and amid such ruthless confusion that
Minna, our old Swedish nurse, who has been in our family since the birth
of my oldest daughter, would often throw up her hands in horror at the
bedrooms, which indeed looked as if a tornado had swept over them. I
remember a delicious take-off on “Pelléas et Mélisande” which my oldest
daughter, Alice, wrote. I had given a number of lecture recitals on the
opera the previous season and it was much in the family mind. Then
another year a drama on “The North Pole” was written. This was just
after the dispute between Peary and Cook as to the discovery of the
pole. There was a real shiver when we were heralded back to our
transformed parlor. The Christmas tree had quickly become a lonely pine
outlined against bleak areas of farthest north cotton sheets, stretching
in all directions over “hummocks” of sofas and chairs. Our five
children, for Walker seemed as much our very own in these celebrations
as my own four girls, gave us a wonderfully spirited drama of the
conquest of the polar regions!

I can see and hear dear David Bispham laugh, my old friends Doctor and
Mrs. George Harris’s enthusiasm, Margaret Anglin, Julie Faversham. . . .
Our happy, happy Christmases!

The last Christmas party at our home was that of 1916. Then in 1917
Walker was training at Camp Dix and we all went out with his mother and
spent Christmas Day at an inn near by to which he could come. There was
a rumor everywhere that his regiment was to embark for overseas in a few
days, although he really did not sail until May. We all did our best to
make it gay in that hotel dining-room, the rain falling dismally. We
were so proud of our young khaki-uniformed lieutenant! My Polly played
and played, rags, anything and everything, on the old hotel piano. We
did not know it was to be our last happy Christmas together, but war had
already given to joy a kind of yearning anguish.

My nephew was killed the 18th of the following September, 1918, at
Saint-Mihiel. Reconnoitring to assure the safety of his men, he leaped a
fence to join three fellow officers. A shell tore them to pieces. This
was in the early afternoon. Walker was taken to a field hospital and
died at eleven that night.

We know that he did not suffer very much, and we think we know that he
never understood how severely he was wounded, that he never knew that
what, as a soldier, he so freely offered had been accepted.

He was his grandfather’s, Mr. Blaine’s, youngest grandson, only
twenty-two, his mother’s only son, our brightest and best.

There is no day we do not think of him, but Christmas, the day of
giving, is his own especial day.

On a frigid day last winter (January, 1922) travelling with my wife on
an untidy, dilapidated post-war train through Germany, on my way to
Stockholm to fill an engagement to conduct the orchestra there, we read
in an English magazine an article on Tennyson ending with a description
of the old graveyard in which lie the bodies of his two grandsons, both
killed in the war. “I did not know,” I said, looking out over the black
wintry flat German country, “that Tennyson lost _two_ grandsons in the

“But so did _my_ father,” my wife said proudly, and she spoke truly, for
another nephew, Emmons Blaine of Chicago was no less a war victim than
Walker. Unable to pass the physical tests required to enter the army he
agonized to find the nation’s greatest need behind the lines in which to
enlist. He chose shipbuilding and offered himself as a workman at Hogg
Island, near Philadelphia. Although never overstrong, he worked early
and late, and fell a victim of the terrible epidemic of the “flu,” dying
at Lansdown on October 9, 1918. Though Walker had already died in
France, we knew only at the time that he was wounded. Of his death we
learned four days later. Thus these two cousins, Emmons and Walker, are
forever enshrined together in our anguish, in our pride, and in our


                          SOCIETIES OF NEW YORK

In 1873 Anton Rubinstein, greatest of Russian pianists, accompanied by
the violinist Wieniawski, came to America by invitation of Steinway and
Sons. He dined at our house and expressed wonder that my father had not
yet been able to achieve a position in New York commensurate with his
reputation and capacity. My father explained to him how difficult the
situation was and that the entire orchestral field was monopolized by
Theodore Thomas. He told Rubinstein that when he had first arrived in
New York he had met Thomas at the music store of Edward Schubert in
Union Square and that after the introduction Thomas had said to him:

“I hear, Doctor Damrosch, that you are a very fine musician, but I want
to tell you one thing: whoever crosses my path I crush.”

Thomas at that time really believed that America was not large enough to
contain more than one orchestra, but he lived long enough to see my
father surpass him at the head of a symphony orchestra, as founder of
the first great music festival in New York and, above all, of opera in
German at the Metropolitan.

In 1881 the first symphony orchestra on a permanent basis had been
founded in Boston by Major Higginson, and before Thomas’s death there
were half a dozen great subsidized orchestras actively operating in the
United States, a number which has since then increased to twelve.

Rubinstein said to my father: “Why don’t you begin by founding an
oratorio society, and that will lead to other things?”

My father consulted a few devoted friends, and the Oratorio Society of
New York was accordingly founded in 1873 and began rehearsals in the
Trinity Chapel with a chorus of about eighteen singers, my mother’s
glorious voice leading the sopranos and my very humble and little self
among the altos. The first performance took place in the warerooms of
the Knabe Piano Company the following winter, at which time the chorus
had increased to sixty singers. The programme was a remarkable one for
that period, containing a capella chorus and accompanied choruses by
Bach, Mozart, Handel, Palestrina, and Mendelssohn.

From this small beginning the society developed until it became the
foremost representative of choral music in New York, performing, with a
chorus of three hundred and fifty voices, under my father’s direction,
the older oratorios of Handel, Haydn, and Mendelssohn, and such
novelties as the first part of “Christus” by Liszt, the Berlioz
“Requiem” and “Damnation of Faust,” the Brahms “Requiem,” Cowen’s “St.
Ursula,” the choral finale from the first act of “Parsifal,” and the
third act of “Meistersinger.”

Indirectly, but logically, the founding of the Oratorio Society led to
the founding of the Symphony Society of New York in 1877, which at last
gave my father an orchestra with which he could demonstrate his
abilities as a symphonic conductor.

The differences between him and Thomas were very marked. Thomas, who had
educated himself entirely in America, had always striven for great
cleanliness of execution, a metronomical accuracy and rigidity of tempo,
and a strict and literal (and therefore rather mechanical) observance of
the signs put down by the composers. America owed him a great debt of
gratitude for the high quality of his programmes. My father had been
educated in a more modern school of interpretation, and his readings
were emotionally more intense. He was the first conductor in this
country to make those fine and delicate gradations in tempo according to
the inner demands of the music, gradations which are too subtle to be
indicated by the composer’s signs, as that would lead to exaggerations,
but which are now generally considered as necessary in order to bring
out the _melos_ of a work.

Both conductors had their violent partisans, and, as they were at that
time literally the only orchestral conductors in America, feeling ran
very high. My father was the last comer, and Thomas was well fortified
in the field, with a group of wealthy men to support him. The first
years for my father were very hard and a portion of the New York papers
assailed him bitterly, continuously, and with vindictive enmity. Again
and again dreams of murder would fill my boyish heart when I would read
one of these attacks in the morning paper.

It was hard work to keep the two societies going and to enable them to
meet the bills for hall rent, soloists, and orchestra. There was as yet
but a small public for the higher forms of music, and again and again it
looked as if further efforts would have to be abandoned. But my father
persevered and struggled on, making a living for his family by teaching
violin, composition, and singing, and occasionally getting a fee of “a
hundred dollars in gold” as violin soloist or in a chamber-music
concert, officiating as musical director in a church and as conductor of
the German male choral society, the Arion.

The first production of Symphony No. 1, in C minor, by Brahms became a
subject of intense rivalry between the two conductors. Brahms had waited
until his fortieth year before writing a symphony, and the work was
eagerly awaited in New York, as the reports from Germany proved that it
had made a sensation.

My father went to see old Gustav Schirmer at his store on Broadway and
asked him whether the orchestral score of this work had yet arrived.
Schirmer told him that it had, but that he was in honor bound to give it
to Theodore Thomas as he had promised it to him. My father was very much
chagrined to think that this prize should thus have escaped him, and he
spoke of this very regretfully to a pupil of his in composition, Mrs.
James Neilson, member of an aristocratic old family in New Brunswick,
New Jersey, and a woman of great beauty and distinction. Mrs. Neilson
said nothing to my father but quietly went down to Schirmer’s and
inquired of the clerk whether the orchestral score of the Brahms
symphony had arrived, and when he answered in the affirmative, she asked
whether it was for sale. “Certainly,” answered the clerk.

She thereupon purchased a copy of the score and sent it up to my father
with her compliments. His astonishment was intense, but she did not tell
him until weeks afterward how she had obtained it.

He received the score on a Thursday and the first rehearsal for the next
concert was to take place on the following Monday. This left but little
time to obtain the necessary orchestral parts and Schirmer naturally
would not sell him any. He therefore cut the score into three parts and
divided them among three copyists, who worked day and night and managed
to have the parts ready in time for the rehearsal. Great was the triumph
in the Damrosch camp at this victory over the Thomas forces.

Some years later I gave the first performances in New York of the Third
and Fourth Brahms Symphonies, but I had no need to resort to strategem
to obtain the scores and orchestral parts.

Orchestral conditions were bad compared with to-day. There was no such
thing as a “permanent orchestra.” The musicians of the Symphony Society,
for instance, played in six symphony concerts during the winter, each
preceded by a public rehearsal. They also officiated at four concerts of
the Oratorio Society, and this was almost the extent of their efforts in
that direction. The rest of the time they made their living by teaching,
playing in theatres, at dances, and some of them even at political or
military processions and mass meetings. If a better “job” came along
than the symphony concert they would simply send my father a substitute.
Small wonder that occasionally their lips gave out and the first horn or
trumpet would break on an important note during a symphony concert. And
yet, in spite of this disheartening condition, my father succeeded in
infusing the orchestral players with such emotional intensity, and in
imparting so lofty an interpretation to them, that the audiences of that
day were often roused to the greatest enthusiasm; and I would tuck my
arm very proudly into his as we marched home from a concert, even though
we knew that the subscription to the concert was not more than eight
hundred dollars and the single sale at the box-office had not reached
the hundred dollar mark.

But all this was changed like a flash in the year 1879 when my father
decided to perform “The Damnation of Faust,” by Berlioz, until then
unknown in America. This concert, which was held at Steinway Hall, in
East 14th Street, necessitated the services of solo singers, the New
York Symphony Orchestra, the chorus of the New York Oratorio Society and
the male chorus of the Arion Society.

The work and the performance made a sensation. All New York buzzed with
it, and during that winter, 1879, it was given five times in succession
to crowded houses, creating an excitement such as New York had never
before seen in the concert field.

I played in all these performances at the last stand of the second
violins, as my father considered it of the utmost value to me as a
future conductor to be able to follow the conductor’s beat as one of the



In the spring of 1878 Maurice Strakosch, an old concert manager, called
on my father and asked him whether he would permit me to go on a
Southern concert tour with the celebrated violinist, August Wilhelmj,
who was then touring the country under Strakosch management. Mr. Max
Liebling, his regular accompanist, had been taken ill and as both
Wilhelmj and Strakosch knew that I had accompanied my father a great
deal at home, they thought that I could acceptably fill the position at
such short notice. I was naturally wild with delight at the idea and
prevailed on my father to let me go. I was to receive the, for me,
munificent salary of a hundred dollars a week and all my railway

We set forth the following Monday, the company consisting of Wilhelmj, a
soprano singer whose name I have forgotten, and Teresa Carreno, who was
then already a great pianist and certainly the most beautiful woman I
had ever seen.

Wilhelmj, who was exceedingly lazy, refused even to rehearse with me.
Our first concert was in Washington and I was to accompany him, among
other things, in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. I was naturally
nervous about it, and to my delighted astonishment, on the afternoon of
the concert, Carreno turned on Wilhelmj, reproaching him for not giving
me a rehearsal and insisting that rather than put me to such an unfair
strain, she would accompany him in the concerto herself. This was a
characteristic act of this remarkable artist and woman, and I shall
speak more in detail about my immediate adoration for her in another

In Washington Baron von Schloetzer, the Prussian minister, who was an
old friend of my father’s, received me very kindly, and, to my delight,
included me in the dinner which he gave in honor of Wilhelmj and
Carreno. He was an original and delightful old bachelor and wildly fond
of music, although his only accomplishment in that line was a real
talent for whistling, his _pièce de résistance_ being the “Tannhäuser
Overture,” in which he would whistle the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” and the
fluttering accompanying violins seemingly at the same time.

At his dinner he treated me somewhat as an older man would a child, and
would tell his butler to my great chagrin to only half fill my glass
because I was too young to drink as much as the older people. He had
several rare vintages of claret standing on the sideboard and some of
these I was not allowed even to taste, all for the same reason.

After dinner both Wilhelmj and Carreno played and then the beautiful
Mme. de Hagemann, American wife of the Swedish Minister, sang most
delightfully. She has since written charming memoirs of her earlier
diplomatic life abroad, especially of the Court of Napoleon the Third
just before the Franco-Prussian War, entitled “Courts of Memory.”

From Washington we went farther and farther South and my young mind was
tremendously impressed by its romantic atmosphere, the luxuriant
tropical foliage and the lazy, cheerful life of the “niggers” swarming

At Macon, Georgia, Wilhelmj and I stopped at an old ramshackle hotel in
two rooms en suite. We did not wake up until about eleven o’clock the
following morning, feeling very heavy and headachy, and on examination
found our trunks rifled of whatever valuables they contained. We had
evidently been chloroformed. A burly detective was engaged by Wilhelmj
to take charge of the case, but of course nothing happened except that
Wilhelmj and I purchased revolvers. His was very large and mine very
small and this is about the only weapon that I ever acquired, and of
course never used.

New Orleans was a real revelation. It was then still an absolutely
French city. I was invited to dinner at several delightful Creole
families and French was the language at table. The old Creole
restaurants were at the height of their glory, and such delicious crabs,
pompano, and shrimps I had never eaten before. Alas, their nice sanded
floors have been replaced by dancing parquets, and noisy ragtime bands
and wretched cooking are but poor substitutes for their past glories.

                       THE MUSIC FESTIVAL OF 1881

During the summer of 1880 my father conceived the idea of giving a
monster music festival in May, 1881, which was to last a week and for
which a chorus of one thousand two hundred, of which the Oratorio
Society should be the nucleus, was to be trained in sections during the
entire winter. He conferred with some of his friends, outlined his
project to them, and a Music Festival Association composed of the
directors of his Symphony and Oratorio Societies was formed. Other
prominent New York citizens were added and a guarantee fund was
provided, ample to protect the project financially.

Although I was only eighteen, my father deemed sufficiently advanced to
intrust the drilling of a great portion of this chorus to me, a
confidence of which I was very proud.

The entire summer of 1880 I spent in the little New England town of
Amherst. A very remarkable Frenchman, Doctor Sauveur by name, had
perfected a new system of teaching French and Latin, and Amherst College
had turned its buildings over to him for a summer course. It seemed to
my father and me that this was an excellent opportunity for me to
acquire the rudiments of these two languages.

I accordingly arrived in Amherst armed with a grand piano, reams of
music paper, and the orchestral score of the great Berlioz’s “Requiem,”
which my father had selected as one of the works to be performed at the
Festival. There was no piano score in existence and, to my joy, my
father intrusted me with the task of making one from the original
orchestral score.

I obtained a lovely bedroom from a farmer on the main street for the
opulent price of two and a half dollars a week, and my grand piano was
installed in the parlor, of which I had the entire use for four hours a
day to practise. My meals I got at the principal little hotel for six
dollars a week and when the genial proprietor saw me consuming my first
dinner he said:

“Ef I had known you et that hearty I would have charged you more. I
won’t make nothin’ out of you.”

The meals were certainly delicious, and at eighteen one’s capacity in
that direction is unlimited.

When I arrived in May the college was still in session and I was made
welcome by several of the students, among them Lawrence Abbott, now
editor of _The Outlook_, and John Cotton Smith, now rector of St. John’s
in Washington.

My days were certainly busy ones. In the morning I attended the sessions
of Doctor Sauveur in French and Latin and in the afternoon I practised
piano and worked hard at the arranging of the piano score of the Berlioz
“Requiem.” Incidentally, I seemed to find plenty of time for games and
fun of all kinds with a delightful family who had a country place there
and where I got my first real glimpse of American country life, which is
indeed unique and with which no other country can compare.

As fast as the different numbers of my arrangement of the Berlioz
“Requiem” were finished, I sent them on to my father who, after revising
them, gave them to the publisher in order to have the piano scores ready
for the rehearsals in the fall. He was well pleased with my work,
especially the “Tuba Mirum,” in which he thought that I had condensed
quite cleverly the four orchestras which Berlioz intended placed at the
four corners of the stage to represent the trumpets of the last

When I returned to New York in September, my father intrusted to me
Section B of the New York Festival Chorus, numbering two hundred voices
and the Newark Harmonic Society of Newark, New Jersey, numbering three
hundred. He himself drilled the chorus of the Oratorio Society of four
hundred at which I always played the piano accompaniments, and Mr.
Cortada, an old pupil of my father’s, trained a section in Brooklyn and
another in Nyack, New York. I hurled myself at my task with such
vehemence and enthusiasm that by the time the Festival came along my
choruses were letter-perfect, but I had become voiceless. My vocal cords
had quite gone back on me in justifiable anger at my abuse of them.

The choral works to be performed included the Berlioz “Requiem,”
Rubinstein’s “Tower of Babel,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Beethoven’s “Ninth
Symphony,” and shorter selections. The monster chorus and orchestra
numbered fifteen hundred, and a special stage and sounding-board were
built at the Seventh Regiment Armory at which the Festival took place.
The organ from St. Vincent’s Church was transferred bodily, and I was
intrusted with the organ accompaniments. An enormous audience of ten
thousand people attended every performance, and the public acclaimed my
father with much enthusiasm as America’s greatest musician. Such happy,
happy days!

Among the many memories of this great occasion I can never forget the
first rehearsal of the four orchestras and sixteen kettledrums which
Berlioz used in the “Tuba Mirum” to depict the Last Judgment. This
rehearsal took place in the Foyer of the old Academy of Music in
Fourteenth Street; and as the sixteen kettledrums came in like one man
just as the fanfare of the judgment Trumpets begins, the effect of these
vibrations in a comparatively small room was so tremendous that one by
one the orchestra men arose and a murmur began which grew and grew and
finally relieved itself in a loud shout of enthusiasm. It was several
minutes before my father could continue the rehearsal. I have never
witnessed anything quite like it since. We are now so sophisticated by
Strauss and the later-day dissonancers that so-called instrumental
“effects” neither shock nor stir us. And as regards the dissonances with
which some of the ultramoderns seek to irritate our ears, I have always
claimed that the human ear is like the back of a donkey—if you whip it
long enough and hard enough, it gradually becomes insensitive to pain.

Theodore Thomas and his supporters were much irritated that my father
should have “gotten ahead” of them with so stupendous a musical
demonstration, and they immediately proceeded to copy his idea by giving
a Music Festival the following year in the same building.

For me, the immediate result of the Festival was my election at eighteen
years of age as permanent conductor of the Newark Harmonic Society. This
gave me the long-desired opportunity to produce choral works with
orchestral accompaniment, and for several years I gave three or four of
these every winter, including not only the older oratorios of Handel and
Mendelssohn, but more modern works like Berlioz’s “Damnation of Faust,”
Rubinstein’s “Tower of Babel,” the Verdi “Requiem,” and choral excerpts
from the operas of Wagner. All of these concerts my father attended, and
after each performance he would analyze my conducting, praise freely and
enthusiastically where he thought I deserved it, and also show me where
he considered a tempo wrong or an entrance of instruments or chorus not
properly indicated. My mother and aunt would often lend their lovely
voices in the choruses at the performances whenever I thought I needed
them, but they would always insist in the most blindly partisan way that
my concerts were wonderful and that I was altogether a very remarkable

This year marked my real beginning as a professional musician, and I
enjoyed my weekly rehearsals in Newark immensely, although horse-cars,
ferry-boats, and trains made the trip in those days a cumbersome one.
But after each rehearsal Mr. Schuyler Brinkerhoff Jackson, the president
of the society, Mr. Shinkle, the secretary, my dear old friend Zach
Belcher, enthusiastic tenor and music lover, Frank Sealey, my pianist
and since then for so many years accompanist and organist of the New
York Oratorio Society, used to go with me to a nice German beer saloon
near the railroad station where, over a glass of beer and Swiss-cheese
sandwiches, we waited until train time and discussed the welfare of the
Harmonic Society and music in general. Alas, the Volstead Law has ended
all such simple and happy foregatherings and the soda-water counter with
its horrible concoctions is but a poor substitute for the gentle and
soothing beer of Pilsen and Munich.



                            LISZT AND WAGNER

In the spring of 1882 I sailed for Europe. My father wanted me to know
his old friend, Liszt, and to hear the first performances of “Parsifal”
in Bayreuth. My throat was also still bothering me and the doctor
thought that a cure at Ems would be a good thing.

I was naturally overwhelmed at the idea of seeing the great Liszt face
to face. His name had been, ever since I could remember, a household
word in our family. My father and mother had told me so much of his
friendship for them, his genius and his triumphs as a piano virtuoso,
and of his voluntary relinquishment of all this to devote himself
exclusively to creative work, and toward helping the entire modern
school of young composers. My father had kept up a desultory
correspondence with Liszt during the years he had spent in America, and
as soon as I arrived in Weimar I went to the little gardener’s cottage
in which he lived to pay my respects to the old master. I entered his
room in great trepidation, and when I managed to stutter a few words to
tell him that I was the son of Doctor Leopold Damrosch, I was amazed at
the kindness of his reception. He immediately spoke of my father and
mother with such love that I forgot some of my timidity. He asked me
about an opera on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which my father had
composed in the old Weimar days but which he had subsequently destroyed
as he was dissatisfied with it. He then asked me how long I expected to
stay in Weimar. I said two days and that I was then going to Ems for a
cure and then to Bayreuth to hear the first “Parsifal” performances.

A curious change came over Liszt as I spoke. He repeated several times,
“Two days, ha, yes, ‘Parsifal,’ of course, Bayreuth.—‘Parsifal,’ of
course,” and then he picked up a box of cigars.

“Well, at least you’ll take a cigar before you leave Weimar?”

I said: “No, master, thank you very much, I do not smoke.”

“You should then go to-night to the theatre to hear the first
performance of Calderon’s play ‘Above all Magic is Love,’ for which your
father’s old friend Lassen has written the music and which he will

I assured the master that I would certainly go, but sensing a certain
frigidity in the air, and feeling that so unimportant a person as myself
must not take any more time of the great Liszt, I withdrew.

That evening I went to the historic little theatre doubly hallowed by
the productions and ministrations of Goethe, as well as the memorable
times in the fifties when Liszt officiated there and conducted the first
performances of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” in which my mother had sung
_Ortrude_. The theatre was so small that you could almost see every
person in it as in a drawing-room, and to my astonishment, in the first
intermission, one of the servants of the theatre came to me and asked me
if I were Herr Damrosch. When I answered in the affirmative he said that
Kapellmeister Lassen wished to see me. I followed him to the stage and
was immediately accosted by Lassen whom I had not met before, but of
whom I knew, because he and my father had been close friends for many

He said: “What did you do to the master this morning? I came in just
after you left and found him in tears. He said, ‘a young son of Damrosch
called on me this morning, I thought of course he would stay here and
study with me, but instead of that he told me he was only going to stay
two days. The young generation have forgotten me completely. They think
nothing of me and they have no respect for us older men of bygone days.
Am I a hotel in which one takes a room for a night, then to pass on

Needless to say, I was overcome at such a dreadful development of a
perfectly innocent remark of mine. I could not conceive it possible that
so small a person as myself should have unwittingly brought about so
tragic a result, and I implored Lassen to tell me how I could efface it.
Lassen, seeing my unhappy state, advised me to go the next morning at
eight o’clock to see Liszt again and to explain everything to him. I sat
through the rest of the play but actually did not hear a word of it or a
note of Lassen’s music; I was too occupied with my own misery. I did not
sleep all night, but tossed about restlessly and at six arose and
wandered about dismally until seven when a frowsy waiter in the
dining-room of my hotel, the “Russische Erb Prinz” gave me a cup of

Punctually at eight o’clock I knocked at Liszt’s door and as I entered I
saw this wonderful-looking old man with his splendid white hair and
deep-set eyes, already at his work-table. As he saw me his eyebrows
arched and said:

“What, still in Weimar?”

I came forward and tried to speak, suddenly burst into tears and then
managed to stammer out my great admiration for him, how my father had
always held him up as the ideal musician of our times, and how he must
have misunderstood my words of yesterday if he thought that I intended
any lack of respect or reverence for such a man as he. As I reread this
it seems quite articulate, but as I told it to Liszt it must have
sounded very ridiculous, but nevertheless I suddenly felt his arms about
me and a very gentle furtive kiss placed upon my forehead. He led me to
a chair, sat down by me and began again to talk and reminisce about my
father and mother. He then invited me to come that afternoon to his
piano class and I left very much relieved at the outcome of my visit.

I then called on another old friend of my parents and also of Liszt’s,
Fräulein von Schorn. I found at her house a friend of hers, Baron von
Joukowski, a Russian painter of distinction and a highly interesting
man, who had become very friendly with the Wagner family and who had
designed the Hall of the Holy Grail for the “Parsifal” production at
Bayreuth. When I told them of my experience with Liszt they explained to
me that Liszt had grown very old, that he felt the modern musical world
was forgetting him and that in choosing a sacred text like “Parsifal,”
Wagner had been, so to speak, encroaching somewhat on his domain.
Perhaps even a latent jealousy of Wagner’s all-usurping powers was
slightly clouding a friendship and self-sacrifice which Liszt had so
abundantly given to Wagner all his lifetime. They also told me that
Liszt was now surrounded by a band of cormorants in the shape of
ostensible piano students, many of whom had no real talent or ambition,
but who virtually lived on the master’s incredible kindness, abusing it
in every way and altogether making the Weimar of that day a travesty on
former times.

Bülow confirmed this to me several years later and told me how he had
once “cleaned out” Liszt’s rooms and bade this unsavory crowd never to
return. Liszt had thanked him, but next morning they were all back

I attended the audition in Liszt’s rooms that afternoon and found that
there was indeed a pitiful crowd of sycophants and incompetents
assembled, but there were a few exceptions, notably young Eugene
d’Albert who was then perhaps fifteen or sixteen years of age and who
played wonderfully and to Liszt’s great satisfaction. There were a few
others who, however, did not play on that afternoon. But another one who
shall be nameless, sat down to play the Beethoven sonata in E flat, Op.
31, No. 3, and botched the introduction so horribly that Liszt gently
pushed her off the chair and sat down himself saying, “This is the way
it should be played,” and then the music seemed to just drop from his
fingers onto the piano keys, and such a heavenly succession of sounds
ravished my ear that I did not think it possible human hands could evoke
it. He then said to her: “Now, try it again.” And she did, and, if
anything, played even worse than before. Again Liszt played the opening
phrases, and then, somewhat irritated, he said:

“So, blamieren Sie sich noch einmal.” (Now, make a fool of yourself
again.) By that time to our relief she felt that both she and we had had

After this I met Liszt several times and he always treated me with
uniform cordiality, but every once in a while the memory of our first
meeting would come to him and he would make some gently malicious
remark, such as “Oh, here comes our young American; like lightning he
flashes through the world!”

From Weimar I went to Ems and dutifully took the “cure” for five weeks,
drinking the three glasses of the more or less miraculous waters while
the band played before breakfast, and watching little girls dressed in
white smilingly presenting bouquets of bachelor’s-buttons, popularly
supposed to be his favorite flower, to old Emperor William, who,
accompanied by an adjutant or two, used to take the cure at Ems every

To strangers like myself the place on the promenade at which the French
Ambassador, Benedetti, had “insulted” the King of Prussia in 1870 was
always pointed out, but this was many years before Bismarck’s famous and
cynical confession that it had all been a put-up job by him in so
altering the famous telegram relating to the King’s meeting with
Benedetti that, according to Bismarck’s memoirs: “It will be known in
Paris before midnight, and not only on account of its contents but also
on account of the manner of its distribution, will have the effect of a
red rag upon the Gallic Bull.”

Two summers ago, after an absence of thirty-eight years, I revisited Ems
with my wife and daughters. We had motored from Paris to Coblenz on a
visit to General Allen, then in command of our Army of Occupation in
Coblenz, and from there to Ems was but a short motor ride. We found the
town occupied by French troops from Morocco, and our officer guides
pointed out with some amusement the stone which marks the place where
Benedetti and King William had met in 1870.

In July I went to Bayreuth in high expectation, to hear the first four
performances of Wagner’s “Parsifal.” To a young musician from America
such an experience was especially new and exciting. I arrived there a
week or two before the first performance, hoping to gain admission to
some of the rehearsals. I found this impossible, but I met scores of
artists by whom I was cordially received because I was my father’s son.
Many of his old friends were there for the “Parsifal” performances and I
remember with much pleasure the kindly, refined and gentle Herman Levi,
General Music Director of the Munich Opera, who had been chosen by
Wagner to conduct the Bayreuth performances.

I received an invitation for the first reception held by Wagner and his
wife, Cosima, at Wahnfried and dutifully presented myself there with
some nervousness, which was allayed somewhat when I found Liszt almost
at the door as I came in. He immediately recognized me and not only
introduced me to Cosima, but when she said, “Father, you must introduce
this son of our old friend, Doctor Leopold Damrosch, to the Meister,” he
took me into Wagner’s workroom where I beheld Wagner surrounded by
musicians and in front of him the giant tenor, Albert Niemann, well
known later on to Wagner lovers in America as a member of the German
company at the Metropolitan for a number of years, and also as the
creator of _Tannhäuser_ in Paris at the tragic and disastrous
performances of 1861.

As we came in, Wagner was joking Niemann unmercifully, saying:

“Look at this man! I invited him to create the part of _Parsifal_ for me
and he refused because I told him that _Parsifal_ must be a beardless
youth and he said he would not cut off his beard for any man.”

“Why, Meister,” answered Niemann, “you know that is not true; I would
cut off my nose if it were necessary to sing one of your rôles

Wagner greeted me with kindness, asked about my father, and a few days
later sent me, through his publishers, for my father, a manuscript copy
of the finale from the first act of “Parsifal” (no orchestral score was
at that time engraved) for performance in New York by the Symphony and
Oratorio Societies. This was a remarkable act of friendship on his part
and I was very proud to be able to carry the precious score back to my

It was to me indescribably touching to note the way in which Liszt
sought to efface himself at Wagner’s house, in order that Wagner’s glory
should stand forth alone. When I first saw Liszt there I, following the
custom of the young musicians at Weimar and elsewhere, sought his hand
in order to kiss it; but, with a force incredible in so old a man, he
pressed down my hand, saying with his gentle smile: “No, no, not here.”

I doubt whether there ever was a musician who worked so incessantly for
the benefit of other musicians as he. He was constantly seeking, either
with his ten magic fingers as pianist or with his pen as musical critic
or propagandist, or with his own money, to save others from want or to
help them to obtain the recognition which he thought they deserved. It
is impossible to name the hundreds whom he thus benefited—Berlioz,
Saint-Saëns, César Franck, Schumann, Cornelius, and so on, and of course
above all Wagner himself, whose friendship with Liszt has become
historic. Like most friendships, the one gives much more than he
receives, and that one was Liszt, who, in his admiration for Wagner’s
genius minimized himself and what he had accomplished as composer to an
exaggerated degree. In those personal qualities that make up a man’s
character, Liszt was infinitely the superior. Wagner’s genius as a
musician was the greater, but this brought in its trail an overwhelming
egotism and a vanity which made many of his relations with his fellow
men unfortunate. Liszt gave up all worldly glories and honors and riches
which he might have acquired if he had continued his career as perhaps
the greatest piano virtuoso that ever lived, in order to devote himself
absolutely to composition and musical propaganda, without any thought of
pecuniary rewards. He literally, like his patron saint, Francis of
Assisi, took the vows of poverty. When I saw him he lived in most simple
fashion, always travelled “second class” and gave what little money he
had to others who seemed to him to need it more. Without his
never-ceasing support and encouragement, his absolute faith in the
eventual triumph of Wagner’s music, and without continual financial
support from Liszt and from those he constantly urged to help, Wagner
could never have carried on his struggle toward the triumphant
completion of a Bayreuth and an almost complete realization of his

The first performance of “Parsifal” made a tremendous impression on me.
I was much moved by the noble allegory and the music accompanying the
sacred rituals of the Christian Church as presented upon the stage in
the scene during the uncovering of the Holy Grail. But I must confess
that with each succeeding performance this feeling lessened. The fact
that it was not a devotional ceremony but an imitation of one which had
been carefully drilled and trained into the performers whose gestures of
devotion repeated themselves each time with automatic regularity,
gradually began to affect me disagreeably. I was at that time too young
to analyze this feeling properly, but, as the years went by, I gradually
arrived at the belief that such ceremonials should not be presented on a
stage, for if we see a group of Christian Knights partaking of the
Lord’s Supper, we should have the full conviction that it is a real
ceremony and not an imitation. The foot-washing scene between _Parsifal_
and _Kundry_ also affected me disagreeably. It was too direct an
imitation of Magdalen washing the feet of Christ. On the other hand, the
Good Friday scene between _Parsifal_ and _Gurnemanz_ moved me and many
others in the audience to tears because it was a lovely and lovable
presentation of the divine mercy through the self-sacrifice of the
Saviour. Old Scaria, the Vienna bass, who took the part of _Gurnemanz_,
sang and acted this scene with convincing tenderness.

I was naturally much interested in the invisible, subterranean orchestra
of the Bayreuth auditorium, and as the first noble theme of the prelude
literally floated into the darkened hall, the great advantage of an
invisible conductor was manifest. The division of the music into bars,
which are an essential of the conductor’s beat, should be seen only by
the orchestra, and I still wish it were possible to educate the public
to listen to music with their ears only and not with their eyes. But
this theory of mine would find violent opposition from the small but
select company of “prima donna conductors” who, at that parting of the
ways which comes to every conductor, whether he shall make himself an
interpreter of the composers’ works or a perverter in order to
demonstrate his own “tricks of the trade,” have chosen the primrose path
because a large part of the public are easily gulled and more easily
moved if the conductor “dramatizes” the music through his gestures. By
the skilful manipulation of his arms and hands, his hips and his hair,
he gives the impression that when the ’cellos play a soulful melody, it
really drips from his wrists, and when the kettledrums play a dramatic
roll it is really the result of a flash of his eye. There are many
people, especially among the gentle sex, to whom admiration for one
conductor entails a deep hatred of all others. It would be interesting
to note how many of them could pick out their favorite if half a dozen
of the prima donnas of the baton were to perform invisibly with an
invisible orchestra in quick succession to each other.

The strings of the Bayreuth orchestra were noble and rich in tone, but I
was disturbed by many inaccuracies and false intonations of the wind
choir, which surprised me all the more as the orchestra was supposed to
be composed of the best of every kind from the different opera-houses of
Germany. These faults were not noticed or acknowledged by my German
friends, and I think that the years have brought more and more of a
cleavage in this respect between their orchestras and ours, and that
to-day American orchestras obtain, especially in the wind-instrument
choirs, greater purity of tone and, without sacrificing elasticity, a
greater precision of ensemble.

I have always had a penchant for French wood-wind players and have given
them and their Belgian cousins a preference in my orchestra. Generally
speaking, a conductor can safely engage a first prize from the Paris
Conservatoire in flute, oboe, or bassoon without giving him any further

Where else can one find a flute of such ravishing tone quality as that
of George Barrère, who has been first flute of the New York Symphony
Orchestra for seventeen years and who was first recommended to me by his
great teacher, Tafanel, in Paris? I am happy to say that he is
developing many American players and giving to them something of his own
luscious and spiritual tone quality, so that he, as well as Mathieu, our
first oboe, and Lettelier, bassoon, are continuing the great traditions
of the Paris Conservatoire in this country and imparting their qualities
to a group of young American pupils. Germany has produced some great
clarinet players, of whom Muhlfeld, for whom Brahms wrote his beautiful
“Quintet for Clarinet and Strings,” was a fine example. Mr. Lindemann,
first clarinet of my orchestra, is another, and his tone is of a
peculiarly pure quality. I prefer the tone of the German trombonists to
that of their French colleagues. The Germans cultivate a darker and more
noble tone quality.

The summer of 1886 I returned again to Germany. I had been invited to
conduct some selections from “Sulamith,” a cantata of my father’s, at
the annual meeting of the “Ton-künstler-Verein” which took place at the
beautiful Thuringian hill town of Sondershausen, the residence of the
princely house of Schwartzburg-Sondershausen, where the prince
maintained a good permanent symphony orchestra.

Liszt, as venerable founder and president of the Ton-künstler-Verein, an
association of musicians the original purpose of which was the
production and cultivation of the modern school of composition, again
received me very kindly and expressed himself as much pleased at hearing
my father’s work.

At the close of the Festival I accompanied him, together with Baron
Joukowski and Fräulein von Schorn, back to Weimar. During the trip Liszt
was in a very gay mood and kept us in gales of laughter with a number of
outrageous puns and amusing comments on certain phases of the Festival,
especially on a long debate between Doctor Rieman, an eminent musical
theorist, and another man whose name I have forgotten, on certain
theories regarding the science of harmony. This debate, which was wholly
technical and very “gründlich” lasted for two hours, during which poor
Liszt had to sit in the front row in a room crowded to suffocation and
with not a door or window open. I can still see the venerable head of
Liszt drooping and dropping every now and then from sheer fatigue, and
then the Meister raising it again with that ineffable smile on his face
in order to show an interest in the discussion.

When we arrived in Weimar, Joukowski invited us all, together with
Lassen, to dinner at the Hotel “Zum Russischen Hof.” It was a jolly
affair. Champagne was served immediately after the soup and Liszt
reminisced so brilliantly and beautifully of the old Weimar days of
which Fräulein von Schorn and Lassen had been a part and with which I,
too, could claim some connection through my parents, that we all sat

During the dinner Liszt asked me if I knew anything of a portrait of his
which had been painted under interesting conditions many years before.
Liszt occupied rooms at the old Villa d’Este at Tivoli, near Rome, for a
month or two every winter. It then belonged to his old friend, Cardinal
Prince Hohenlohe. One evening his bell rang, and as his servant had gone
out, Liszt took a candle and opened the door. His visitors were Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet, who had brought a painter
friend, Mr. Healy, to introduce to the maestro. Longfellow was so struck
with the picturesque appearance of Liszt as he stood in the old doorway
in his long black soutane, holding a lighted candle, that he asked Liszt
for permission to have Healy paint a picture of him, and he consequently
gave Healy several sittings. Longfellow took the painting back with him
to America.

I had never heard of or seen this picture, but thirty years later, when
Ernest Longfellow, a nephew of the poet, was lunching at our house I
remembered the incident and asked him if he knew anything of the
whereabouts of the picture. He told me that he remembered it very well
and that it was still hanging in his uncle’s house in Cambridge. Through
the courtesy of the present occupants I was permitted to take a
photograph of it and it is reproduced in this book.

It was not until midnight that we accompanied Liszt through the park and
the lovely Goethe Garden back to his house. It was a gentle summer night
with a hazy moon giving an indescribable glamour to the trees and
bushes, and suddenly Liszt laid his hand on my shoulder and said

From the bushes came the song of a nightingale. I had never heard one
before and stood spellbound. It seemed incredible that such ecstatic
sweetness, such songs of joy and sorrow, could come from the throat of a
little bird, and to hear it all at twenty-four years of age and standing
at the side of Liszt! Dear reader, I confess that to-day, thirty-five
years later, I still thrill at the memory of it.

Alas! That was almost the last time that I saw Liszt. In July I went
again to Bayreuth to hear the first “Tristan” performance, and one
morning I met him, looking very old and worn, coming all alone out of
the church from early mass. A few days later, July 31, he had followed
his dearest friend, Wagner, into the beyond.

The following winter, in Liszt’s memory (March 3, 1887), I gave the
first complete performance in America of his oratorio, “Christus.” This
work made so profound an impression that I repeated it the following

I am sorry that “Christus” has not been performed since then by our
choral societies, as I consider it to be Liszt’s greatest work. Many of
its themes are based on the Gregorian modes. The choruses are set in
sonorous harmonies and breathe a tranquillity which can only be achieved
by a perfect mastery of the subject and the form in which it is treated.
There are two orchestral numbers—a Pastorale, indicative of the
shepherds and the annunciation, “Angelus Domini ad Pastores ait,” and
the March of the Three Kings, “Et ecce Stella quam Viderant”—which are
brilliantly orchestrated. The march depicts the three kings of the
Orient with their mighty retinue, the star guiding them to the manger in
Bethlehem being indicated by a sustained high A flat in the first
violins in an organ point around which the processional continues. The
trio, or middle part, in a beautiful unison of the violins and
violoncellos, depicts the kings opening their treasures and presenting
gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the little Jesu.

The entrance of Christ into Jerusalem is characterized by an atmosphere
of exalted, joyous acclaim, and the setting for baritone of the prayer
of Jesus,

             O my Father, if this cup may not pass away
             from me, except I drink it, Thy will be done,

is one of the most moving that I know of in the history of religious

In the last part there is an exquisite but simple setting of an ancient
Eastern hymn, “O Filii et Filiæ.” Altogether I cannot understand why, in
the dearth of religious music written by modern pens, “Christus” does
not take its permanent place in the repertoire of choral societies.

Like many other works of the greatest masters, a few good cuts will add
to the effectiveness of this oratorio.



The Metropolitan Opera House was built in 1882 by a group of rich New
Yorkers who, feeling themselves shut out by the older aristocracy who
owned the old Academy of Music and occupied all the boxes at the Italian
Opera seasons of Colonel Mapleson, determined to have an opera of their
own. They leased their new house for the inaugural season of 1883-84 to
Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau, a firm of theatrical speculators and
managers who had made a name for themselves by the tours of Mary
Anderson and other celebrated “stars” of Europe and America.

The Metropolitan Opera stockholders had appointed as architect a man
whose reputation had been made in building churches, but who knew
nothing of theatrical or operatic requirements, or of the latest
developments in Europe in the construction of the stage and modern stage
appliances. As a result, the stage arrangements were of the most clumsy
description. Great walls, many feet thick, ran beneath the stage from
the front to the rear, thereby precluding the possibility of a
“transformation” scene in which one set of scenery could sink into the
ground while the other descended from above. The parquet floor was
placed so low that the orchestra pit, which was supposed to be an
imitation (but was not) of the sunken orchestra at Bayreuth, had to be
placed still lower and in consequence the conductor was perched on a
kind of pulpit high in the air so that the singers could see him. He had
to gesticulate wildly upward toward the singers and downward toward the
abyss in which the orchestra fiddled without being able properly to see
his gestures. Besides this, the orchestra, being so far from the stage,
was almost inaudible to the singers, and this often resulted in the most
disastrous dropping of the pitch, especially in the concerted numbers.
Years later and at huge expense some of these faults of construction
were corrected.

For their season Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau engaged a large number of
operatic stars, including Nilsson, Patti, Sembrich, Trebelli, and many
others of distinction, but there was absolutely no artistic head of the
enterprise nor any one who had had any real managerial experience with
grand opera, and in consequence all these stars stepped on each other’s
feet and trains and the confusion was incredible. Good performances were
an accident, as the principal artists usually deemed it beneath their
dignity to attend rehearsals, and the season ended in failure and the
bankruptcy of Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau. Colonel Mapleson, the astute
manager of the Academy of Music, rubbed his hands with glee at this
downfall of what he called “the new yellow brewery on Broadway.” The
directors of the Metropolitan were at a loss what to do with their
elephant. Their president was James Roosevelt, an uncle of Hilborn
Roosevelt who was then president of the New York Symphony Society and
who was a stanch and devoted friend of my father’s. He suggested to his
uncle that my father be appointed as director and that a season of opera
in German be inaugurated, as Italian opera was evidently on the wane and
Wagner, especially, on the ascendant.

The directors thought well of this scheme and accordingly made an
arrangement with my father under which he should become director of the
opera for the season 1884-85 and that he should engage a company of
German singers of which, however, Madame Materna must be one, as she had
sung with great success at the Theodore Thomas Festival of the preceding
year and they wanted some name already known in America to head the list
of singers.

This meant a complete revolution in operatic affairs, as until then
Italian opera had been the only fashionable form of musical
entertainment. Opera in German was rather looked down upon and Wagner’s
genius was as yet too imperfectly known or recognized to exercise much
influence on the opera-going folks of that time.

My father was to receive a salary of ten thousand dollars, for which he
was to act as manager and also as musical conductor of the season. The
salary was certainly not large, even for those days, but my father was
glad to get it and at the same time to carry out the dream of his life,
the introduction of the Wagner music-dramas to America, and to sweep
away forever the artificial and shallow operas of the old Italian school
with which Mapleson, Max Strakosh, and others had until then principally
fed our public.

He sailed for Europe in May and returned in August with all his
contracts made, including Madame Materna, to whom he had to pay a
thousand dollars a night, as she had gotten wind of the dictum of the
Metropolitan Opera House directors that under all circumstances she must
be one of the company.

Among the singers were Marianne Brandt, one of the greatest dramatic
mezzo-sopranos and contraltos of our times, and Anton Schott, a typical
German “heroic tenor,” with whom Bülow had had his famous altercation at
Hanover a few years before at a “Lohengrin” performance. Schott had sung
_Lohengrin’s_ “Farewell to the Swan” out of tune and this had so
irritated Bülow, who was conducting, that he turned on the unfortunate
tenor and said to him: “You are not a Knight of the Swan, but a Knight
of the Swine.” Schott, as an ex-officer in a Hanoverian regiment, deemed
his honor as an officer insulted, demanded an apology or a duel, and as
the irate von Bülow would grant him neither the one nor the other, Bülow
had to resign his post as director of the Royal Opera, while Schott
remained triumphant in his position.

For the youthful lyric soprano rôles my father had engaged Madame
Seidl-Kraus, the wife of Anton Seidl and possessor of a voice of great
purity and simple appeal. The coloratura rôles were sung by Madame
Schroeder-Hanfstangel, a truly great artist, with the real _bel canto_
of the Italian school, whom Gounod had admired so greatly that he
invited her to Paris to sing _Marguerite_ in “Faust” at the Grand Opera.

The other singers possessed both the virtues and the failings of the
German Opera School of that time. They were very amenable to ensemble
work, carrying out the dramatic side of their rôles with real ability,
forming an excellent ensemble, and tireless in rehearsing, but their
singing was sometimes faulty and not equal to the naturally beautiful
tone emission of the best Italian singers.

The stage-manager, Wilhelm Hock, was one of the best in Germany and his
management of the movements of great crowds on the stage, as for
instance in “Lohengrin” on the arrival of _Lohengrin_ and the _Swan_,
the building of the barricades in “Massaniello,” the Coronation Scene in
Meyerbeer’s “Le Prophète,” was a revelation to our public. The orchestra
was, of course, that of the New York Symphony Society, and my father
infused the entire ensemble with such an ideal of perfection that during
many of the performances, especially in “Lohengrin,” “Le Prophète,”
“Fidelio,” and “Walküre,” the public seethed with excitement and
enthusiasm. There had been an “improvised” performance of “Walküre” at
the Academy of Music under the German conductor Neuendorf a few years
before. The _Brunhilde_ had been sung by Madame Pappenheim, possessor of
a glorious voice, but the rest of the cast had been woefully deficient.
Insufficient rehearsals and ignorance of the music of Wagner on the part
of the conductor had also prevented this performance from making any
impression or giving any real idea of the beauties of the work.

The performance under my father included Madame Materna as _Brunhilde_,
who had created the rôle in Bayreuth in ’76 and who was then at the very
height of her glorious vocal powers; Madame Seidl-Kraus, an exquisite
and pathetic _Sieglinde_; Anton Schott, a vigorous and highly dramatic
_Siegmund_; and Staudigl as _Wotan_. Staudigl was a son of the famous
old Viennese bass with whom he had studied, singing with such good
results that he made as fine an impression in concert and oratorio as in
opera. The first barytone was Adolf Robinson, who had begun his career
with my father in Breslau and whose warm impassioned _bel canto_ won
instant recognition here.

There was no professional opera claque at the Metropolitan in those days
such as is now maintained by some of the singers and conductors who, in
rivalry with each other, foolishly spend their money in the hiring of
twenty to fifty husky men, under a well-trained leader, who stand at the
side of the balconies and family circle and clap with the machine-like
regularity of a steel hammer in an iron foundry in order to produce so
and so many recalls after an act. In those days this was not necessary.
The public applauded wildly and shouted themselves hoarse of their own
free will, and the papers almost unanimously pronounced the performances
an artistic revolution, and said that such dramatic truth and ensemble
work had but seldom before been presented in such a convincing way on
the operatic stage of New York.

During the entire winter I lived in a sea of excitement and of joy at
seeing my father’s genius at last so universally recognized. But my
anxiety was also very great. I was with him constantly, from morning
until night, and could see that the labor of carrying everything
entirely on his shoulders, the effort of organizing an artistic whole
out of the many different elements, was overwhelming. The rehearsals
often lasted all day and I do not think that I missed a rehearsal or a
performance during the entire season. Sometimes I would timidly implore
my father to put some of the work, especially the managerial part, on
other shoulders, but he would not listen, saying that the responsibility
was his and that he could not delegate what he conceived to be his
solemn duty as one representing German art in a foreign country to any
one else.

In the meantime, the directors, after deliberating on their future
course, decided that opera in German had come to stay and offered my
father a contract for the following year in which, however, with what
they conceived to be real business methods, they reduced his salary to
eight thousand dollars but offered him a share in any possible profits.
Money matters were to my father always so unimportant as far as he was
concerned, that I think he would have signed a contract in which he
bound himself to pay eight thousand dollars a year to the Metropolitan
Opera House for the privilege of maintaining Wagnerian opera there. He
accepted their proposition and was happy in the evident security of
opera in German for many years to come. During this winter he would not
give up his beloved Symphony and Oratorio Societies, and he always
insisted that the weekly Thursday-evening rehearsals with the chorus of
the Oratorio Society were a rest for him from operatic affairs.

During one of these rehearsals in February 1885 (I think we were
preparing the “Requiem” of Verdi) he suddenly complained of feeling ill
and I rushed from the piano toward him, and together with some of the
singers we carried him to a cab and brought him home.

Pneumonia set in and he was too worn with the gigantic struggles of the
winter to withstand it. During this terrible week of illness the opera
had to be kept going and I conducted “Walküre” and “Tannhäuser” without
much difficulty. They had been so splendidly rehearsed by my father and
had been performed several times; I knew them by heart, and artists,
chorus, and orchestra gave me the most affectionate and willing
assistance. I have therefore never claimed much credit for what many
kind friends at that time considered an extraordinary feat.

The season had only one more week to run, but my father had made
arrangements for a short tour comprising Chicago, Boston, and

On February 15 he died and left me numb and overwhelmed by the terrible
responsibilities which began to press in upon me. Even at this late date
I cannot bear to write of my loss. Our relations had become so close and
intimate, and during the last years he had so often leaned on me with
such sweet confidence. I had always looked up to him as my ideal of a
man and musician, and it seemed to me that I could never smile again.

The last performances at the Metropolitan immediately after his death
were conducted by John Lund, a highly talented chorus master who has
since made his home in America, but there were so many immediate
necessities crowding in upon me that I had no opportunity for indulging
in quiet grief. Events moved with incredible and terrible swiftness. The
contracts for the tour had to be met. My father’s estate was technically
liable, although he left literally no money. There was no one to assume
the responsibility of taking the company on tour except poor me, and I
accordingly set forth, together with the entire company of about a
hundred and fifty members, on a special train of the West Shore Railroad
for Chicago on Saturday afternoon of February 21. We were to open with
“Tannhäuser” at the Columbia Theatre on the following Monday evening.
During this trip the worst blizzard of the year struck our train. We
were completely snowed in and the road, which was at that time a rather
lame rival of the New York Central, was so ill-equipped with means to
shovel us out that instead of arriving on Sunday evening, we did not get
into Chicago until Monday at eight P. M., the hour at which the
performance was to have begun. My dear brother Frank, who had come on
from Denver to meet me in Chicago and to discuss future plans, boarded
our train a little while out of Chicago and told me that not only was
the house sold out, but all had determined to wait until we arrived and
chivalrously to “see us through.” The mayor of the city had made an
excited speech from the proscenium box in which he was sitting and said
that Chicago must help a young man like myself who had so courageously
undertaken to carry on the great work of his father.

When we arrived at the station the company were quickly bundled into
cabs and omnibuses. Luckily the scenery had been sent on ahead, but the
costume and property trunks were on our train, and the work of
transferring them and getting out the “Tannhäuser” costumes and
properties was agonizing.

Materna and I were the first to arrive at the theatre, and we were
marched through the auditorium from the front entrance by the local
manager who wished to give this ocular demonstration of our presence.
The audience cheered.

Behind the scenes the confusion was incredible. The trunks with the wigs
could not be found, nor the trunks with the footwear, and _Tannhäuser_
and the other singers of the Wartburg, together with the noble lords and
ladies, appeared on the stage in a most remarkable combination of
costumes, mediæval and modern. But it made no difference. I began the
overture after ten o’clock. The audience cheered themselves hoarse.

The trunk containing Materna’s costume as _Elizabeth_ was not hurled on
the stage until just before the beginning of the second act. It made no
difference. When she appeared in all her smiling radiance and sang “Dich
Theure Halle” the audience again went mad with delight, and so on until
the curtain finally fell at one-thirty in the morning.

Ever since that terrible but wonderful evening I have had a soft spot in
my heart for Chicago, and during the many years I have never lost the
friendship of that remarkable city. Even to-day, every now and then, an
old gray-headed or bald-headed citizen of Chicago comes to me and says:
“Do you remember that first performance of ‘Tannhäuser’ at the Columbia
Theatre in February, 1885?”

The success was so great that we extended our season an extra week,
during which I produced for the first time “La Dame Blanche” by

We finished our tour with a week in Boston, where we had a similarly
enthusiastic reception, and especially “Walküre” and “Lohengrin” made a
profound impression. There I produced (for the first time in America, I
think) Gluck’s “Orpheus,” in which Marianne Brandt gave a glorious and
touching impersonation of the title-rôle. It is characteristic of the
audacity of youth that I should have given two new performances of
operas which were rehearsed and produced while we were on tour, “La Dame
Blanche” and “Orpheus.” But as the principal rôles had been sung by most
of our artists in Germany, these two operas being in the regular
repertoire of every German opera-house, the feat was not so
extraordinary. The performances were good in ensemble and gave great
pleasure to the audience.

My farewell performance in Boston was a Saturday matinée of the
“Walküre” with Materna as _Brunhilde_. In the morning the orchestra
struck. We had made arrangements to send the entire company to New York
on one of the large Fall River steamers, but they vowed that they would
not go by steamer and insisted on being sent by train. I was equally
determined to send them by water. The steamers were palatial, the
weather excellent spring weather, and there was no valid reason for
objecting. When they persisted in their demands I told them that I would
consider them as having broken their contracts, that I would not pay
them their salaries for the week, and would give the “Walküre”
performance accompanied on two pianos, by John Lund and myself. This
was, of course, a crazy bluff, but it worked and they decided to accept
passage by steamer.

At the close of the third act of “Walküre,” when Materna as _Brunhilde_
had snuggled into the artificially deep hollow of the rocky couch which
sustained her bulky form and on which she was to begin her slumber of
years until the hero, _Siegfried_, should awaken her, and when Staudigl
(_Wotan_) had disappeared in the flames, I suddenly noticed, while
conducting the beautiful monotony of the last E-major chords of the Fire
Charm, that the grass mats just below _Brunhilde’s_ couch had caught
fire, and that just as the curtain was descending slowly on the last
bars a Boston fireman with helmet on his head and bucket in his hand
quietly came out from the wings and poured a liberal dose of water on
the flames. The thing happened so late and so quickly that there was no
panic. The people went mad with enthusiasm and Materna, Staudigl, and I
had to bow our farewells many, many times. Just after one of these
recalls I noted the little fireman standing in the wings and saying: “Be
jabbers, I ought to come out too.”

“So you should,” I said, and with that took him by one hand and Materna
by the other and thus we dragged him before the footlights where, with
true Hibernian sense of humor, he bowed right and left with a delighted
grin on his face.

Thus ended my first opera tour.

While I was on tour the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House met to
consider their future policy, and, in view of the success of the opera
in German inaugurated by my father, they decided to continue on the same
lines. Curiously enough they appointed a young man as director of the
opera who had never had any managerial or musical experience in his
life. His name was Edmund C. Stanton. He was a relative of one of the
directors and had acted as recording secretary for the Board of
Directors. He was tall, good-looking, with gentle brown eyes, always
well groomed, of a kindly disposition and the most perfect and courtly
manners which indeed never failed him and which were about all that he
had left at the end of his seven years’ incumbency, at which time the
German opera crumbled to dust as a natural result of his curious
ignorance and incompetency in matters operatic. The directors at the
same time very generously appointed me as his assistant and as second
conductor, granting me a salary which was large enough to enable me to
support my mother and my father’s family decently. This was naturally a
great relief to me and I determined to strain every nerve to show myself
worthy of such confidence and generosity.


                             LILLI LEHMANN

In the spring of 1885 I was to accompany Mr. Stanton as assistant
director and musical adviser to engage singers for the following season
of German opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, but as Mr. Stanton’s
little daughter became ill and subsequently died, I went over alone and
have always been quite proud of the four contracts I had ready for
Stanton’s signature when he, a month later, arrived in Germany. These
were Lilli Lehmann, soprano from the Royal Opera House in Berlin; Emil
Fischer, bass from the Royal Opera House in Dresden; Max Alvary, lyric
tenor from Weimar, and Anton Seidl, conductor of the Angelo Neumann
Wagner Opera Company. These four artists became subsequently the
mainstay of the German opera and in America developed to greater and
greater power and fame.

Lilli Lehmann, at that time forty years of age, had sung principally the
coloratura rôles, and with these had made a great local reputation
throughout Germany and Austria. She had sung the _First Rhine Maiden_ at
Bayreuth in 1876, and an occasional _Elsa_ in “Lohengrin,” but it was
not until she came to America that she began to sing the _Brunhildes_
and _Isoldes_ which made her one of the greatest dramatic sopranos of
her time. Curiously enough, she insisted on making her first appearance
in America as _Carmen_, a rôle to which she gave a dramatic, tragic, and
rather sombre significance, but in which the lighter, coquettish touches
were perhaps not sufficiently emphasized.

She had achieved her pre-eminence as a dramatic soprano only after years
of the hardest kind of work, and had only through her indomitable will
and energy changed her voice from a light coloratura to a dramatic
soprano, and as I was at that period only twenty-three and already
occupied a position of considerable responsibility, it took some time
before she was ready to concede that I was really a musician of serious
purpose who was working day and night to fit myself for the various
responsibilities so suddenly thrust upon me.

Conducting is an art with a technic of its own, and good musicianship
alone is not sufficient. During a performance the conductor must know
how to make his singers and players convey his interpretation, and to do
this, a glance of the eye and many different movements of hands and head
have to speak a language of their own which his executants must quickly
understand and follow. The conductor must also know when and how to
follow a soloist with sympathy. This technic cannot be acquired
overnight, and I owe to Lilli Lehmann a valuable hint in this
connection. As Anton Seidl was the accredited and celebrated Wagner
conductor, these operas and any other novelties of importance naturally
fell to him, and it remained for me to conduct only such operas as he
did not care to assume—Meyerbeer’s “Le Prophète,” Verdi’s “Trovatore,”
etc., etc. This caused me great sorrow and anguish of heart, as a great
part of my training had been in the modern operas. I almost knew the
Wagner music-dramas by heart and had received a very thorough training
in the symphonies of the classic composers, but for the operas of
Meyerbeer and Verdi, I had a youthful intolerance, and of their
traditions of tempi and nuance I knew but little, with the exception,
perhaps, of Meyerbeer’s “Le Prophète,” which had been marvellously
performed under my father the preceding year and in which Marianne
Brandt had sung the part of the mother with incredible pathos and

One day, while I was rehearsing “La Juive,” of Halévy, Lilli Lehmann
turned on me during the intermission and said: “Walter, in those old
operas you do not watch the singers enough, you are occupied with the
orchestra as if you were conducting a symphony. You give them the cue
for their entrances and you look at them instead of at your singers. We
need you and you need us. The orchestra have their printed parts before
them; we sing by heart and have to rely on the conductor for difficult
entrances. Watch my lips when I sing, and you will know when I breathe
and you will breathe with me; you will immediately also sense the _tempo
rubato_ which is such an important part in the proper phrasing of these
older operas.”

This advice was a revelation to me, and I found to my delight that by
heeding it, not only was I able to follow the singers with the
orchestra, but even to influence the singers in regard to tempi. At the
performance of “La Juive” I must have stared at Lilli like a Cheshire
cat whenever she was singing. The music went with remarkable unanimity
and elasticity, and at the close of the performance Lilli, who was never
very profuse in praise, turned to me and said: “You see, Walter, how
well it goes. What did I tell you?”

In this way, slowly and often painfully, I strengthened my grasp of the
technic of my craft, and with increased assurance on my part came an
increased compliance on the part of the singers to follow my artistic
desires as regards the interpretation of their rôles.

But the operas that I was permitted to conduct were still only the
left-overs from Anton Seidl’s richly laden table, and he was naturally
not willing to give up any of his prerogatives to a man so much younger.
My first real opportunity came in the year 1890, when Seidl was to
conduct an exquisite opera by Peter Cornelius, “The Barber of Baghdad.”
Paul Kalisch, Lilli Lehmann’s husband, was to sing _Nureddin_ and Emil
Fischer the loquacious Barber. Cornelius had been a devoted and close
friend of my father and mother in the old Weimar days under Liszt. Liszt
had produced this opera in Weimar in those days, but the Weimar public
had rejected it because of what they considered to be its ultramodern
tendencies, and because of this, Liszt had resigned his position of
Grand Ducal Kapellmeister. I was naturally much interested in our New
York production. I had attended almost every rehearsal and had revelled
in the exquisite beauties and humor of the work.

Two days before the performance, Seidl became dangerously ill and I was
in a fever of uncertainty whether Stanton would postpone the performance
or let me conduct it. I found that Lilli Lehmann protested loudly that
it would be impossible for me to conduct this work, that it was too
difficult and too intricate, and that it needed a conductor of many
years’ experience and plenty of rehearsals at that. But I seemed to have
“good friends at court” and it was decided that I should conduct the
general rehearsal that morning for which singers, chorus, and orchestra
had been hastily called together, and if all went well I was to conduct
the performance. As I walked into the orchestra pit I could see Lilli
Lehmann seated all by herself a few rows back, looking at me with what
seemed to me baleful and threatening eyes. But as I turned my back on
her and gave the signal for the overture, my apprehension left me and I
gave myself up completely to the music. The curtain rose and Kalisch
began _Nureddin’s_ lovely song together with his attendants on awakening
from his long illness to renewed health and with renewed longings for
his beloved _Margiana_. Everything went as if on wings and at the end of
the act I saw, to my delight, among the singers who were rushing toward
me with affectionate congratulations, Lilli, the stately, telling me
that she had not believed it possible, but was now convinced that I had
a thorough grasp of the music and could conduct it successfully.

The performance the next day went even better than the rehearsal, and I
date from this my entry as a full-fledged opera conductor, and my
relations with Lilli Lehmann became artistically more and more fraternal
and personally more and more friendly.

In 1897-98 I engaged her to sing _Isolde_ and the _Brunhildes_ in my
Damrosch Opera Company and paid her a thousand dollars a night and all
hotel and travelling expenses for two people (her sister Marie travelled
with her), and she also insisted that I must pay her laundry bills. But
I found that this remarkable woman, having established her right to
these perquisites by contract, refused to abuse them, and when she found
that I paid quite a large figure for her “parlor, bedroom, and bath” at
the Normandie Hotel near the Metropolitan, she was furious; and, saying
that she did not see why these rascally hotel proprietors should be
enriched by me, she moved to a much cheaper suite at the top of the
hotel and she and her sister did a great deal of their laundry in their
own bathroom, partly because she wished to save me the expense, and also
because she insisted that all American laundries ruined delicate
lingerie. Incidentally the elevator boys insisted that she never tipped
them, and I sent my manager to her hotel to do this, as otherwise she
would not have received adequate service.

So much has been written about her marvellous portrayal of the heroic
figures in the Wagner music-dramas that it is hardly necessary for me to
add anything to the general chorus of admiration, but I wish to
emphasize the fact that by far the greater part of the credit belongs to
her for her indomitable will and perseverance, as nature had not given
her originally a dramatic voice. It was a wonderfully clear and high
coloratura soprano, but by persistent practice she developed an ample
middle and lower register and made it equal to the emotional demands of
an _Isolde_ or a _Brunhilde_.

Her acting was majestic, but in the first act of “Tristan” and in the
second act of “Götterdämmerung” her anger was like forked flashes of
lightning. I suppose that her technic of acting would be called
old-fashioned to-day, as those were the days of statuesque poses, often
maintained without changes for long stretches at a time.

On the forenoon of the days that she had to sing _Isolde_ she always
sang through the entire rôle in her rooms with full voice, just to make
sure that she could do it in the evening. Compare this to those delicate
prima donnas who, on the days when they have to sing, often speak only
in whispers in order that their precious vocal cords may not be

Having achieved so much through her own energy and triumphed over so
many obstacles, she thought that she could similarly transform her
husband, Paul Kalisch, from a lyric to a dramatic tenor. How she worked
and harassed that poor man! She certainly was the stronger of the two,
and while his entire inclination was toward easy and delightful
companionship with others of similar inclinations, she forced him to
study and to sing for hours at a stretch, but with only partial success
as far as his transformation into a real dramatic and “heroic” Wagner
tenor was concerned. It simply was not in his nature to become “heroic,”
and when, as sometimes happened, he committed some blunder, some false
entrance while singing _Siegfried_ in the “Götterdämmerung,” the glances
which _Brunhilde_ cast upon him on the stage were so terrible, so
pregnant with punishment to come, that from my conductor’s stand I used
to pity the poor man thus compelled to swim around in a pond which was
so much larger than he wanted; and often after such a performance I
would find him moodily seated all alone at a table in the restaurant of
the hotel with a pint bottle of champagne before him and with no desire
to go upstairs and face the anger of his _Brunhilde_ spouse.

A tragic but rather amusing occurrence in Pittsburgh should here be
recorded. The Damrosch Opera Company was playing a week there at the
Alvin Theatre. On the night in question we were to give
“Götterdämmerung” with Lilli Lehmann as _Brunhilde_. All was well. No
singers had sent ominous messages of illness during the day, and I had
just sat down to a quiet dinner at the Duquesne Club, previous to the
performance, when a telephone summoned me. It was my wardrobe mistress,
Frau Engelhardt, an excellent woman, devoted to her work, who had been
at the Metropolitan in the old German opera days and who had been with
me ever since the founding of the Damrosch Opera Company. She implored
me to come to the theatre immediately as something dreadful had
happened. I of course left my dinner with but faint hope of eating it
later on, arrived at the theatre and found the stage silent as the
grave, the scene set for the first act of “Götterdämmerung” and
seemingly no one there but Frau Engelhardt, who in greatest agitation
begged me to come immediately to Madame Lehmann’s dressing-room, where
the “something dreadful had happened.”

I knocked at her door and heard a tragic and hollow voice call “come
in,” and as I opened the door a sight indeed terrible met my astonished
gaze. There stood Lilli Lehmann, already apparelled in her white
_Brunhilde_ garb, but covered from head to foot with soot, so black that
she seemed more fit for a minstrel show than a Wagner music-drama. Her
face was covered with black streaks, especially where her tears had made
long and terrible furrows down her cheeks. I could not imagine what had
happened, and only gradually and between hysterical bursts of tears, I
learned that Lilli, according to her custom, had gone to the theatre
hours before the performance and had proceeded to dress herself, only
looking into the glass at the last moment to prepare her make-up. She
had then discovered the terrible condition of her face and costume. It
seemed that the janitor had given the heater in the cellar a special
raking which had sent tons of this dreadful Pittsburgh soft-coal soot
flying through the registers and into the dressing-rooms where it
settled like a pall on everything within reach.

Lilli vowed that it was absolutely impossible for her to sing that night
and I was in despair. It suddenly came to me that if I could divert her
mind in some way the tension might be eased, and I therefore turned on
poor trembling Frau Engelhardt and told her in as angry tones as I could
dramatically summon, that she was discharged, that it was her duty to
take care of my artists, and to allow such an outrage to happen to the
greatest of all of them was something which I could not understand or

As soon as I denounced our wardrobe mistress in this manner, Lilli
pricked up her ears and remonstrated with me at my injustice. She
insisted that it was not Frau Engelhardt’s fault and that it was very
wrong of me to discharge her. It showed that I had no heart and she for
one would never hold her responsible for such an occurrence. Slowly I
allowed myself to be persuaded and at the psychological moment gently
left the dressing-room, giving Frau Engelhardt a comprehensive glance
which she understood. I knew that the two women together would soon set
matters to right.

Outside the dressing-room I found my faithful Hans, son of my prompter,
Goettich. I gave him some money and told him to run to a florist and buy
a bunch of the whitest flowers that he could find and to bring them to
Madame Lehmann with my compliments. I then returned to the club and
finished my dinner.

When I got back to the theatre just before the performance, I found
Lilli already on the stage, newly attired in clean white robes, but as
she turned toward me I could still discern darkish streaks beneath the
make-up of her cheeks, and in her sombre, dramatic voice she said:
“Walter, I thank you for the lovely white flowers, but they will never,
never wash me clean again.” Her singing that night seemed to me more
glorious than ever.

From Pittsburgh we went to New York, where I had arranged with Abbey and
Grau to give me the Metropolitan Opera House for a short season of three
weeks. As I wanted a special attraction for New York, I engaged Madame
Nordica for a few “Lohengrin” performances in which she was to sing
_Elsa_, and Lilli Lehmann, _Ortrude_, a part that she had never sung in
New York, but whose dramatic possibilities interested her very much and
for which she was eminently suited. At first she was furious that I had
engaged any other singer for New York. “If I was sufficient to carry on
your season out of town, I do not see why you have to engage that ——
for New York.” But I explained to her my managerial reasons and somewhat
pacified her, and as soon as we arrived in New York I arranged for a
little rehearsal on the stage of the Metropolitan for Lehmann, Nordica,
and myself, in order that all the scenes, especially of the second act,
in which their acting together was of importance, might be properly
arranged. At this rehearsal Lehmann treated Nordica with icy disdain,
but Nordica acted with such clever tact and deference that Lehmann could
find no hook upon which to hang her anger, and the rehearsal passed off
with outward calmness, although I could feel the volcano trembling
beneath. As we passed out into the street in the late afternoon a
terrible rain-storm was raging and Lilli saw Madame Nordica approach a
coachman in livery who was waiting with opened umbrella to take her to
her coupé. Lilli, clad in a long gray rain-coat and old hat, turned to
Nordica: “Ha, you ride? I valk!” she said, as she lifted her dress and
showed a pair of great boots.

Incidentally my “showman’s instinct” had proved correct. Our
performances of “Lohengrin” with this combination proved artistically
very interesting and the public flocked to hear them. Nordica’s _Elsa_
had been very carefully trained at Bayreuth, and Lehmann’s _Ortrude_ was
truly demoniac, worthy to rank with that of Marianne Brandt’s in its
representation of concentrated hatred.



                             HANS VON BÜLOW

In 1856 my father and Hans von Bülow, pianist, were struggling to gain
recognition and a livelihood in Berlin. Both were idealists and
enthusiastic followers of the “new school” in music, of which Berlioz,
Liszt, and Wagner were the great representatives. Bülow’s letters of
that period show that they gave many chamber-music concerts together,
both in Berlin and elsewhere, and it is interesting to note that at one
of them, together with the violoncellist, Kossman, they performed a trio
by “César Franck of Liège,” about thirty years before this father of the
modern French school of composition became generally known and
recognized. It was through Bülow that my father and his achievements as
a violin virtuoso and composer became known to Liszt, who invited him,
in 1857, to become violinist at the first desk of the Weimar Opera
Orchestra, then under Liszt’s direction.

The friendship between Bülow and my father remained intimate and fine
during my father’s entire life, and even beyond, as this chapter will

My first recollection of Bülow goes back to 1876, when he came to
America at the invitation of the Chickering Piano firm to inaugurate
their new Chickering Hall on Fifth Avenue and 19th Street, and to give
piano recitals all over the country.

When my father and mother went to Berlin in the sixties for a joint
concert with Bülow, they stayed with him and his wife, Cosima. Since
then much had happened. Cosima had run away with Wagner, Bülow’s most
adored friend, and Bülow had nearly died with the shame and misery of
it. One evening during dinner at our house my mother asked him about his
children, whom she had not seen since those early days, and I can still
hear the punctilious courtesy with which he answered: “They are where
they should be, and in the best possible hands—with their mother.”

The fine intellectuality of his playing, the quality of his phrasing,
especially in Bach and Beethoven, created a deep impression on our
public which was not minimized by certain eccentricities in his
appearance and behavior. He always appeared on the stage for his
afternoon recitals attired in the traditional black double-breasted
frock coat and very light-gray trousers, his hands incased in
light-brown gloves and holding a high silk hat which was carefully
deposited under the piano before he took off his gloves and began to

For one of his recitals a young and highly talented soprano, Miss Emma
Thursby, had been engaged. She was a protégée of old Maurice Strakosch,
an impresario of the old school, shrewd, polished in his manners, who
very cleverly advertised the high personal character of the young singer
and especially her great “purity,” vowing that acquaintance with her,
hardened old sinner that he was, had made him a better man.

At the Bülow recital her singing of some German songs by Schubert and
Schumann, I think, was received with such enthusiastic applause that she
gave an encore, a rather trivial song by Franz Abt. When Bülow, in his
dressing-room, heard this “desecration” of a programme composed of works
of great masters only, his rage knew no bounds, and when he came out on
the stage to continue his own programme, he deliberately took out his
handkerchief and carefully wiped the keys of the piano up and down in a
noisy glissando scale and then began to improvise on the recitative from
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “O friends, not these tones. . . .”

Another time he gave a chamber-music concert with my father and they
played, among other things, the “Kreutzer Sonata” of Beethoven. Just
before going on the stage he turned to my father and said:

“Let us play it by heart.”

“With pleasure,” answered my father and laid down his music.

“No, no,” said Bülow, “take it on the stage with you.”

After they had taken their places on the stage Bülow ostentatiously
rose, took my father’s music from the stand and his own from the piano
and laid them both under the piano.

His memory, not only for music, but for all things that interested him,
was prodigious and to me uncanny. But it was, after all, human and not
infallible, and on this occasion he did lose his place in the last
movement of the sonata and my father had to improvise with him for a few
bars until, with quick ingenuity, he found the thread again.

I have spoken elsewhere of the terrible responsibilities which were
placed upon my shoulders because of the sudden death of my father, and
as the years went by I seemed to miss him more and more, not only his
wonderful companionship, but the wise counsel with which he used to help
me solve my musical riddles. I worked hard and made progress, I think,
for my circle of friends and followers grew larger and larger. But I
knew no one in this country to whom I could turn in the same way as to
my father, or who would have given me of his wisdom so freely and
generously as he. Seidl, my associate at the Metropolitan, was not
friendly and was completely wrapped up in himself, and besides, he had,
to my thinking, only one specialty, the Wagner music-dramas. As a
symphonic conductor he was completely without experience when he first
came to America and his interpretation of the classics lacked foundation
and real penetration, in spite of the noisy acclaim which a certain part
of our public gave him because of his undoubted genius as a Wagner

A lucky chance brought me a clipping from a German newspaper announcing
that Hans von Bülow would spend the summer of 1887 in Frankfort, where
he would teach a class of advanced pianists and devote the entire
receipts toward building a monument to his old friend, Joachim Raff, who
had spent his last years in Frankfort as director of the conservatory.

I immediately determined to go to Germany and ask Bülow if, in view of
his old friendship with my father and my need of the help of some great
musician, he would be willing to let me study with him the
interpretation of the Beethoven Symphonies in especial, and such other
works as it would interest him to analyze for me.

Bülow was at that time considered the foremost conductor of Germany. He
had taken a little mediocre orchestra of fifty, belonging to the Grand
Duke of Meiningen, and through his supreme genius had galvanized it into
a marvellous instrument. Under his guidance this little orchestra had
created a sensation all over Germany and Austria and a special _tour de
force_ was their playing of certain symphonies entirely by heart without
any music before them.

When I arrived in Frankfort I found that Bülow was living at the Schwan
Hotel, and with much trepidation I told him what I wanted of him. He
seemed very much touched and claimed that it was the first time in his
experience that a musician who, as he put it, “was already prominent in
opera, symphony, and oratorio” thought he could learn anything from him.
In the warmest, I may say most affectionate terms, he promised me every
possible help and advised me to take rooms in the same hotel. This I
did, and I can truthfully say that the entire summer during which I was
with him in closest companionship, not only in his rooms and during the
lesson hours for the pianists, many of which I also attended, but on
long walks to the museums, the parks, and the suburbs of Frankfort, his
almost paternal kindliness, his wisdom, and his comments on things
artistic, literary, political, and personal were a revelation to me. So
many stories were current about his biting comments and brusque behavior
toward people who excited his enmity, that I was amazed to find him
throughout so companionable and so gentle in all his relations toward
me. He had a heart most tender and sensitive, but life had dealt this
idealist so many hard knocks that he incased his heart in a shell with
which to protect it from further onslaughts.

He went through all Beethoven’s nine symphonies with me, bar by bar,
phrase by phrase, and I still have the scores in which he made certain
notations of phrasing or illustrated changes in dynamics of certain
instruments in order to bring out the undoubted intentions of Beethoven
more clearly. He virtually analyzed the symphonies for me in the same
way as in his edition of the piano sonatas, and at the close of our
three months together he gave me a copy of his own score of the Ninth
Symphony with all his own annotations, many of which were based on the
analysis made by Wagner during his historic performance of that work at
the corner-stone laying of the Bayreuth Fest-Spielhaus.

During these three months of intensive study I received so much from him
that was new to me, such a wealth of ideas regarding interpretation and
the technic of the conductor’s art, that it took me years to digest it
properly and to learn how, instead of merely copying slavishly, I could
make it my own and accept or reject parts of it, according to the
methods of analysis taught me by him.

During our stay in Frankfort a little Prince of Hesse, whose mother, the
Landgravine, was a “Royal Highness,” being a niece of the old Emperor
William, invited von Bülow to give a Brahms recital at his palace. Bülow
immediately insisted that I, too, must be invited, which accordingly I
was. When I accompanied him he introduced me to the various exalted
personages assembled, and the Landgravine asked me if I were not “the
son of the great Doctor Damrosch.” I politely answered: “Yes, your Royal

“Was he not a friend of Rubinstein?” she continued.


“He played the viola, did he not?”

I said: “No, your Royal Highness, the violin.”

“No,” she said, “the viola.”

This taught me that royalty must never be contradicted, even if they
know “facts” about your own father of which you are not aware.

The Prince of Hesse was blind and thought he had a gift for music, in
fact he “composed” string quartets which, I presume, he more or less
“dictated” to the court musician of his little princely household.

Just before the supper the Prince came up to Bülow with a huge laurel
wreath, which enraged Bülow very much. He always called them “vegetables
of Fame,” and he immediately shouted: “Is there no bust of Brahms here?”
but as there was none, he laid the wreath on the piano.

During the very good supper which was served to their Royal Highnesses
and von Bülow in one room and to the other guests in another, I found to
my amazement that the blind Prince was led to my chair holding a
champagne glass in his hand with which to toast me specially, “the
American musician and conductor,” and two days later the Prince and his
gentleman in waiting formally called on me at my hotel. An hour later
the gentleman in waiting returned to inform me that the Prince would
like to have me accept the position of musician in his household with
“twelve hundred Thalers a year and free board at the palace.” I had to
explain to him ever so politely and gratefully that I was then conductor
at the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York Symphony Society, and the
New York Oratorio Society, and that with high appreciation of this
offer, I could not possibly give up these positions and my American
career to come to Germany.

Bülow, when I told him of it, burst into loud guffaws of delighted

Bülow was in wretched health during the entire summer, suffering from
headaches, sleeplessness, and general nervous collapse, but with an iron
will he went through the summer’s programme, accepting no financial
recompense for himself, solely to help gather money through his classes
toward the completion of the Raff monument.

I remember one night returning to the hotel after the opera, and as I
passed the door of his room to get to mine, which was on the same floor,
I heard such loud and continued sobbing that I opened his door, after
receiving no response to my knocking. I found him in his nightclothes,
kneeling before his bed, his head buried in the mattress and sobbing so
bitterly that it was heart-breaking. I rushed over to him, thinking that
perhaps he was very ill, and it was a long time before I could quiet
him. He kept reiterating that life was over for him, that he wanted to
die, and it was only by continually telling him how much we all adored
him and what his friendship meant for us that I was able gradually to
quiet him and to put him to bed, where I sat holding his hands until
early morning when he finally went to sleep.

Weak and ill though he was after the summer’s arduous work, he had
promised the University of Marburg to give them two of his famous
Beethoven recitals, and as his friend Steyl, the music publisher, and I
were worried about his condition we decided to accompany him in order to
look after him. The arrangements for the concerts which were to be held
in the afternoon in the aula of the venerable university were in the
hands of the professor of Greek, a typical old absent-minded gentleman
who seemed overcome with the honor of having a visit from the great von
Bülow and who also was nervously afraid of this brusque little man. I
was worried over the whole affair. Bülow had been very weak all morning
and Steyl and I wanted him to cancel the recital, but he would not hear
of it and bravely went on the stage to begin his programme.

Unfortunately, owing to the summer heat, the windows of the aula were
open wide, and during the music the cries of the children playing below,
the rumbling of carts over the rough pavements of the mediæval streets,
came up in constant clangor.

Bülow began, faltered, began again and stopped—ran from the stage and
returned to begin again. But it was no use. The noise continued and the
recital had to be called off, and after a nervous crisis accompanied by
great weeping, we got him back to the hotel and to bed, Bülow heaping
curses on the little professor on whom he blamed everything, the glaring
sunlight, the cries of the playing children, and the noise of the carts.
The recital for the following day was, of course, cancelled, and we
arranged everything for taking Bülow back to Frankfort.

In the morning when I called at his rooms I found him punctiliously
attired in his frock coat, high silk hat, and brown glacé gloves, and in
answer to my evidently astonished gaze, he said: “We must not leave
without paying our farewell call of ceremony on the Greek professor.” I
trembled at the outcome, but a carriage with two horses and a liveried
coachman was already waiting in the courtyard of the hotel to take us up
the hill to the old mediæval tower of the university in which the
professor lived.

We were ushered into a wonderful circular library, the books covering
the entire inner wall of the tower, and while we were waiting for the
professor, Bülow ran around the room like a dog on the scent, examining
the titles of the various books on the shelves. Suddenly he pounced on
one, pulled it out and began to turn the leaves quickly until he got to
a certain page at which he held the book open just as the old professor
entered, trembling from head to foot. I was rather apprehensive of the
meeting between the two men, but to my astonishment, Bülow advanced,
book in hand, and with a low bow handed it silently to the gentle
amateur impresario, pointing to a certain place on the opened page. The
professor read it, blushed, and looked with a kind of dumb apology at
von Bülow, who then took up his hat and, with another low bow, left the
room, followed by me, still completely mystified by this silent
ceremonial, the meaning of which I could not understand.

During the drive back to the hotel, Bülow chirped up considerably. Now
and then he chuckled and finally, as if the joke were too good to keep,
he turned toward me and said:

“Do you know what quotation I gave to the Greek professor? It was from
one of the Greek philosophers to the effect that ‘it is not wise for a
man of learning to mix himself up in the practical affairs of life.’”

Perhaps some learned reader of this may be able to tell me who the Greek
author was. Bülow never told me.

On our long walks Bülow would often reminisce about the past and would
tell me enough stories to fill a book. Two of them I shall tell here.

Bülow was spending a winter in Florence and was invited to conduct a
performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the local orchestra. In
those days Italy had literally no symphonic orchestras, and the players,
recruited from the opera-houses, had but little routine for concert
music of symphonic importance. The men were willing and eager, but even
such a routined conductor as Bülow found it difficult to make them
understand certain rhythmic subtleties in this most intricate of all
Beethoven’s works. In the scherzo there comes a place where the
kettledrum has to enter rudely with a repetition of the first bar of the
main theme:

[Illustration: music fragment]

This rhythm the kettledrum player simply could not grasp, no matter how
patiently Bülow endeavored to instill it. He tried it slow, he tried it
fast. Bülow got more and more excited and irritable, and finally, as a
last resort, he fairly shouted to him on the rhythm of this theme the
Italian word for kettledrum. At the top of his voice rose the word:

                        “Tym—pan—y! Tym—pan—y!”

A delighted smile broke over the face of the kettledrum player.

“Ah, capisco, capisco,” he shouted, and immediately proceeded to put his
newly won knowledge to the practical proof.

Bülow told me that at one time he had adopted the habit of jotting down
any strange or incongruous names that he found on the signs of shops in
the various cities of the various countries that he visited. In a small
little German town he found over a greengrocery, the name of
“Seidenschwanz.” This appealed to him and he tucked it away in his
memory, determined to find a given name to add that would, by its very
contrast, fit it. For months he cudgelled his brains, but in vain, until
one night in Venice he jumped up from his bed, shouting: “I have it.
_Caligula Seidenschwanz!_” The name of the most cruel of Roman Emperors
coupled with that of the little greengrocer!

Next morning he proceeded to an engraver and had visiting cards printed
bearing the mysterious name of:

                        Caligula Seidenschwanz.

Shortly after, whenever Doctor Hans von Bülow paid a call on any one,
instead of presenting his own card, he left that of Herr Seidenschwanz,
thereby completely mystifying his friends.

I told this story years after while dining at the house of my dear
friends, May Callender and Caro de Forest. Lilli Lehmann was one of the
guests, and when I finished she jumped up and said:

“Walter, that is a very remarkable story, but it is absolutely true, as
I happen to know. I was coloratura soprano at the Berlin Royal Opera at
the time when Bülow paid us a visit one night when we performed
Meyerbeer’s ‘Prophète.’ He was so disgusted with the performance that he
wrote one of his indignant and cynical letters to a Berlin paper, in
which he compared the Royal Opera to a circus, and then added insult to
injury by apologizing to Herr Renz, owner of the greatest circus in
Germany, saying that he meant no insult to him, as he had always been a
great admirer of the Circus Renz. This letter aroused the old intendant,
Baron von Hulsen, to such fury that he forbade Bülow further entrance
into the opera-house and at the same time induced the old Emperor to
withdraw the title of ‘Pianist to His Majesty, the King of Prussia’ from
von Bülow.”

Lilli Lehmann then continued to narrate that the morning after the
performance she received a large basket of flowers in which a card had
been tucked, on which was written “To the only bright spot in
yesterday’s performance. In admiration, _Caligula Seidenschwanz_.”

Until that evening, when I explained the origin of the name, Lilli
Lehmann had not known that the flowers had been sent her by von Bülow.

At the close of the summer session Bülow invited me to go with him to
the Cologne Musical Festival. He told me that he had written to Brahms
about me and wanted me to meet him, and I would also hear a fine
performance of the Brahms “Requiem.” Needless to say I jumped at such an

My father, who with that wonderful liberal attitude of his did not share
the narrow attitude of other Wagnerians who hated Brahms, had been among
the first to introduce his music in America and had given the first
performance of the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C minor in America. Bülow
had become a similar propagandist for Brahms in Germany. I considered
him the last great composer of modern times, doubly interesting because
the great genius of Wagner, whom he admired greatly, left him untouched
as far as his own creative work was concerned, and he is, perhaps, the
only great modern composer whose works can show no influence of the
Wagnerian school. To conduct his symphonies is to me still one of the
greatest joys of the winter, and I continue to marvel how little the
years have aged them and how noble in conception and rich in subtleties
of feeling they continue to express in an unbroken line the highest
ideals of the Beethoven symphonies.

In the hurly-burly of a festival, I had but little opportunity to see
much of Brahms, who was there only a very few days, and I was too young
and unimportant to claim any attention from him; but I was grateful to
Bülow for the opportunity of meeting him, and can still see his
wonderful and kindly eye turned on me as Bülow told him some nice things
about me.

During our stay in Cologne I had an experience so curious, so
extraordinary, that I must especially assure my readers that it is true
in every particular.

One morning Bülow announced to me that he was going to cross the river
in the afternoon to visit the widow of an old friend of his, Madame
B——, who lived in a villa in Deutz. He asked me to accompany him, and
we accordingly called on a rather attractive young widow, attired in the
deepest mourning, who welcomed us very graciously. Her husband, a
Belgian pianist of distinction, had been professor of piano at the
Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg and had there married a young
Russian pupil of his.

After chatting awhile, she proposed that we go into the garden for a cup
of tea, and we followed her, accordingly, to a small stone building in
the middle of the garden that looked like a chapel, but which, to my
horror, I discovered, as we entered, to be a mausoleum. In the centre
stood a sarcophagus on the top of which reposed a coffin, with a glass
top, in which lay the body of B——! A footman in livery followed us
with a samovar and the teacups.

It seems that the lady had thus endeavored to demonstrate her love for
her departed husband. I confess that I became almost ill and hurriedly
left the mausoleum to smell the roses in the garden, but Bülow
punctiliously and courageously stuck it out and had his cup of tea under
these unique conditions.

Many years after I heard through Mrs. Franz Rummel, whose husband had
been a favorite pupil of B——, that his widow was again happily married
and that B—— had been properly buried underground.

In 1889 I induced Mr. Leo Goldmark, brother of the Viennese composer,
who was interested in music and the musical affairs of New York, to
bring von Bülow to America for another visit, and more especially to
give his Beethoven sonata cycle.

Bülow brought his second wife with him and the visit was a great success
in every way. She had been a young actress of talent at the Meiningen
Court Theatre and he had married her while he was conductor of the
orchestra there.

The Beethoven recitals were given at the Broadway Theatre which was
crowded to the doors, and press and public greeted the old master with
such friendly enthusiasm that he was very much touched and became very
enthusiastic about America. He also conducted my orchestra in a
memorable concert at the Metropolitan Opera House in which he
demonstrated his marvellous powers as a conductor. Among the works on
the programme was the “Tragic Overture” by Brahms. Just before beginning
the rehearsal of this he called out to the orchestra librarian, Russell,
by name: “Where is the contrabassoon? Why is there no contrabassoon

In vain were Russell’s protests that he had not been told to engage a
contrabassoon, but suddenly Bülow’s anger subsided and he began the
rehearsal. During it, as was his custom, he conducted without any
orchestral score before him. His memory of what the individual
instruments had to play was indeed remarkable, although I always felt
that he enjoyed showing it off a little at rehearsals. After the
rehearsal was over he called Russell to his side and, slipping him a
five-dollar bill, whispered: “Do not say anything; it was my mistake,
there is no contrabassoon in the Brahms Overture.”



In the spring of 1887 I sailed for Europe to spend the summer in study
with Hans von Bülow, and on the steamer I met Andrew Carnegie and his
young wife Louise. They were on their wedding trip and on their way to
Scotland, where Mr. Carnegie had rented “Kilgraston,” a lovely old place
near Perth. He had known my father and had invited him a few years
before to a dinner given in honor of Matthew Arnold who had been in
America on a lecture tour. Mr. Carnegie spoke of my father with great
affection and respect, and expressed his delight that I had taken up my
father’s work. He invited me to come for a visit to Scotland after my
studies with von Bülow were over.

In the late summer, I accordingly sailed in a small steamer from Hamburg
to Leith and was received with great friendliness by Mr. and Mrs.
Carnegie at Kilgraston. Among their guests were James G. Blaine, his
wife, and two of their daughters. My acquaintance with this remarkable
family soon ripened very fortunately for me into close friendship and
resulted finally in my marriage to Margaret, one of the daughters—but I
am progressing too fast.

Mr. Blaine had been defeated for the presidency in 1884. Since that time
he had been occupied in completing his book “Twenty Years of Congress,”
and in the spring of 1887 he and his family were taking a year’s holiday

Because of my youth and the exigencies of my profession, most of my life
had been spent among musicians and those interested in music. This was
the first time that I came into personal relations with a great
statesman, at that time the foremost in our country, and I found to my
amazement that, although an atmosphere of great dignity surrounded him,
he was absolutely simple and gentle in his contact with other people.

His wife, a woman of singular strength of character, with a highly
original mind and an absolute devotion to her husband and his ambitions,
was in many ways as remarkable as he. Her knowledge of and interest in
literature—poetry, history, memoirs—was very comprehensive, and the
discussions thereon, which were constant at Mr. Carnegie’s table,
interested me immensely and opened new worlds to me.

The two daughters, Margaret and Harriet, high-spirited and sharing the
interests of their parents, gave them a devotion and love so partisan
and intense in its character that it seemed at first to attract me
toward them almost more than anything else. As a boy I had suffered
agonies at seeing my father misunderstood and often attacked by men not
worthy to tie his shoe-strings, and here I found similar conditions but
on a much greater scale, as Mr. Blaine’s career had been national and
his triumphs and defeats had enlisted the sympathies or execrations of
millions of American citizens. Music had entered but little into the
lives of the Blaine family—although since then my wife has become
enthusiastically devoted to it—and I was really delighted that for the
first time in my life I was compelled to establish relations from a
purely human standpoint and without the assistance of any of the
“romantic glamour” of my profession. At this time, however, I got but a
glimpse of the Blaines, as they stayed only a week after my arrival, but
there were delightful rumors of a four-weeks coaching trip from London
to Scotland which Mr. Carnegie was planning for the following summer and
for which we were all to be invited.

Mr. Carnegie was at that time a generous supporter of Gladstone and the
Liberal Party, and several of its leaders came to Kilgraston to visit
him, among them John Morley, who impressed me immensely and for whom at
his own and the Carnegies’ request, I played excerpts every evening from
Wagner’s “Nibelungen Trilogy,” explaining the music and the text, as Mr.
Morley had never heard the music before. I was very proud of being able
to interest so fine a mind as his in Wagner’s music, and like to think
that my Wagner lecture recitals, which in later years I gave all over
America, had their origin in these informal talks in Scotland for Morley
and the Carnegies.

Incidentally, Mr. Carnegie became more and more interested in the New
York Symphony and Oratorio Societies and consented to become their
president and chief financial supporter. The more intricate symphonic
works did not appeal to him, but he had a natural and naïve love for
music. Because of his study and intimate knowledge of Scotch literature,
poetry especially, together with an intense affection for the country of
his birth, he particularly loved the folk-songs of Scotland, and in a
high, quavering, and somewhat uncertain voice could sing literally
dozens of them from memory. To me these folk-songs were a revelation,
and I still think that they have a variety and charm beyond those of any
other race.

I even adore the Scotch bagpipes and am almost in sympathy with the
Scotsman who says that his idea of heaven is “twenty bagpipers a’
playin’ t’gither in a sma’ room and each one playing a different tune.”

On our long walks and fishing excursions together, Mr. Carnegie talked
continuously and freely regarding his many plans to better the world
through liberal benefactions. He had already begun the founding of free
libraries all over Great Britain and America, and would often tell me of
his own great poverty as a child and the difficulty of obtaining the
books and education which he craved. His imagination would kindle at the
opportunities which his libraries would give the youth of to-day, and a
constant optimism as to the future of the world seemed to direct all his

The poor salaries paid to our teaching profession would especially
arouse his ire, as he considered that the entire future of America lay
in the hands of its teachers and that, therefore, the greatest minds of
the country should be enlisted in the work and suitably rewarded. As the
reader knows, this conviction finally culminated in his remarkable and
comprehensive scheme of pensions to college professors who had served
their calling a certain number of years.

As he would unfold to me his various dreams and plans, he became really
eloquent. His little hands would clinch, and for a moment even his
fishing-pole and a possible trout at the other end would be forgotten,
especially when he talked of his greatest aversion—war—and of its
hideous uselessness in settling any disputes.

As a boy he had had hardly any school education, but he had inherited
the Scotch passion for books. He had read omnivorously and, what is
better still, remembered what he read. Burns and Shakespeare he knew by
heart and could quote very aptly to clinch a point in his arguments.

His sympathy for suffering, especially that caused by poverty, was very
great and expended itself in practical help in every direction. The hard
struggles of his early youth had made him very understanding, and many
widows left destitute received immediate help from him and the children
were put through school and placed in business through his assistance.

His attitude toward religion was very curious. In those days he
professed to be an agnostic, but he had old Scotch prejudices in favor
of a “Scotch Sunday.” He despised theology and yet was really religious,
but he did not care to define his God or to explore the mysteries or
possibilities of a future life. His prejudices were as unyielding as the
pig iron which he manufactured at his Homestead works, and no argument
would move him if his mind was made up.

While Mr. Carnegie had a real admiration for music in its simpler forms,
this never crystallized into as great a conviction regarding its
importance in life as that which he had regarding the importance of
science or literature, and though always generous in its support, his
benefactions never became as great as in other directions. He could
understand that a library, a school, or a hospital could not and should
not be self-supporting, but I could not convince him that music should
fall into the same category. He always insisted that the greatest
patronage of music should come from a paying public rather than from
private endowment. He built Carnegie Hall in order to give New York a
proper home for its musical activities, but he did not look upon this as
a philanthropy, and expected to have the hall support itself and give a
fair return upon the capital invested.

In the spring of 1888 I again sailed for Europe with the Carnegies, and
on arriving at the Metropole Hotel in London we found the rest of the
coaching party already assembled—the Blaine family, Mr. Henry Phipps a
partner of Mr. Carnegie’s, and Mrs. Phipps, Gail Hamilton (Miss Dodge),
a cousin of Mrs. Blaine’s well known as a writer; also a young
Universalist clergyman, Doctor Charles Eaton, who was the pastor of Mrs.
Carnegie’s church.

We left the Hotel Metropole June 8, in the morning, on top of Mr.
Carnegie’s four-in-hand. There was a great crowd of people to see us off
and wish us “Bon voyage,” among them John Morley and Lord Rosebery. All
the men of our party looked very sporty in high gray top-hats which we
had hurriedly acquired at a hatter’s in the neighborhood that morning.

I had been appointed treasurer of the tour by Mr. Carnegie, “with no
salary but all the usual perquisites,” as he put it.

The coachman, a stout, good-natured Scotsman of real ability, drove his
four-in-hand with such skill and care that when we arrived in
Invernesshire four weeks later, his horses were in even better condition
than when we started.

It was certainly an ideal way to travel, and the pace was leisurely
enough for us to see and enjoy the exquisite countryside of England and
Scotland. Every night we stopped at a different inn but always carried
our lunch in hampers, and at noontime halted at some picturesque nook by
the bank of a river or on some grassy meadow in the shade of the trees
and enjoyed our meal in lazy fashion.

The discussions between Mr. Blaine and Mr. Carnegie at these picnic
luncheons were certainly fascinating to listen to, and especially
illuminating to an American musician whose horizon had perhaps been
bounded too exclusively by his own ambitions and the problems of his own
art. Mr. Blaine knew England, its history, and its great families far
more intimately than any Englishman I have ever met. It is well known
that he never forgot anything, and whenever we stopped either for
luncheon or at an inn for the night, he would immediately proceed to add
to his immense store of knowledge by questioning the local farmers,
field workers, or innkeepers regarding the economic or political
conditions of that part of the country.

An amusing opera-bouffe element of the entire coaching trip was added by
the constant but furtive appearance and disappearance of four American
newspaper reporters who had been sent by their respective papers to
“shadow” Mr. Blaine because the Republican convention for the
presidential nomination was about to be held in Chicago, and it was
eagerly hoped that Mr. Blaine would accept the nomination again. He, and
through him we, of course, knew that nothing was further from his mind,
but in the dusk of evening, when we would arrive at our inn for the
night, these four reporters, having travelled by train, would already be
there and try directly or indirectly to obtain “inside information”
regarding Mr. Blaine’s intentions. The reporters included Stephen Bonsal
for the _New York World_ and Arthur Brisbane for the _New York Sun_. The
latter, wishing to combine pleasure with business, would sometimes scorn
the train and hire a high dog-cart.

Our itinerary took in all the cathedral towns of the east coast of
England. We were bound by no time-tables and, therefore, had every
opportunity to see and study the mighty Gothic churches of Cambridge,
Ely, Peterborough, York, and Durham.

I had agreed to conduct a concert in London on the 19th of June, and so
very reluctantly said a temporary good-by to our party at York. This
concert was given by Ovide Musin, an eminent young Belgian violinist,
who wished to perform a concerto of my father’s which he had played in
New York about eight years before under my father’s own direction. I had
an excellent London orchestra of seventy-five players and also gave
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody Number
One. It was my first experience as a conductor in England, and as the
concert passed off very well I was much elated, especially when, just
before catching my train for Durham to rejoin the coaching party, I read
some complimentary criticisms of the concert in the _London Times_ and

It was raining when I left the railroad station in Durham to walk to the
road along which Mr. Carnegie’s coach was to appear. I well remember my
thrill of joy when I heard a merry fanfare played on the coaching horn
by one of the footmen—whom, by the way, I always envied for his
virtuosity on this instrument—and shortly after, at a turn of the road,
I saw the coach appear with everybody on top attired in gray rain-coats
and waving a friendly welcome. My wife has always insisted to my
children that on this entire trip I wore a double-breasted frock coat
which had done previous duty at my matinée concerts in America, but I
think this is a gross slander and not based on fact.

We crossed the border into Scotland and of course stopped at Walter
Scott’s home and also visited the ruins of Linlithgow Castle, in which
Mary Queen of Scots was born. And here the four reporters, who had been
as constant as leeches and as inevitable as death and the taxgatherer,
solemnly entered the ruins and gave Mr. Blaine a telegram which they had
just received announcing Benjamin Harrison’s nomination at the
convention. As Mr. Blaine had expected this for weeks, the news did not
excite him greatly. He bade a friendly good-by to the four young
sleuth-hounds, several of whom have since achieved fame in their
profession, and we continued our journey farther north until we arrived
at Mr. Carnegie’s home, Cluny Castle, on the evening of July 3.

It was bitter cold and the wind was whistling shrilly over the Dalwhinny
Moors as we first caught sight of Cluny, but an American flag was
floating proudly over its turrets, and inside warm fires and a delicious
dinner were awaiting us.

Then began a summer of delights for me. Mr. Carnegie had a piper who,
according to old Scotch custom, would walk around the outer walls of the
house every morning to awaken us. My room was in the bachelor quarters
and had a little fireplace in which a peat fire smouldered comfortably.
The smell of peat and the sound of the piper as he drew nearer and
nearer to my window and then again receded in the distance are always
inseparably associated in my memory. In the mornings I usually worked at
my studies in counterpoint and composition, but from luncheon on it was
nothing but delightful entertainment or listening with keenest interest
to discussions of all kinds—political, economic, poetical. Miss Dodge
was a most stimulating person. She had a mind that would accept nothing
without analysis or proof, and the verbal duels between her and Mr.
Carnegie were fascinating, for, although she was not Scotch, she, as
much as Mr. Carnegie, typified the story of the two Scotsmen who meet
each other and one says: “Where are you going, Donald?” “Oh, just doon
to the village to contradict a wee.”

Occasionally I would accompany Mr. Carnegie to some lonely loch among
the hills to fish for trout, but I have never developed into a very
ardent disciple of Izaak Walton. I used to get more pleasure from lying
on my back watching the marvellous Scotch sky with its low-hanging
clouds framing the hills in their loving embrace, with perhaps now and
then just a speck of blue shining through, than from the catching of the
“finny monsters.” These, however, rarely measured over six inches in
length, although I certainly enjoyed them the following morning, when we
had them for breakfast, rolled in oatmeal flour and deliciously fried.

In the evenings I had to contribute my little quota toward the
house-party by playing Beethoven and Wagner on an excellent Broadwood

During all this time I was amazed at the extreme simplicity and
gentleness which characterized Mr. Blaine’s demeanor toward all with
whom he came in contact. Here was a man who at that time was the most
loved and the most execrated American, and yet he had in him absolutely
nothing of the “prima donna” manner of many of those in my profession
who have achieved fame. His dignity, however, was innate and
unconscious, and during the many years that I knew him and knew him
intimately I have never seen any one who dared to presume on his
simplicity and general cordiality of manner by undue familiarity. His
power of abstraction from his surroundings was remarkable. He enjoyed
working in the room in which his family were talking, laughing, and
disputing on all manner of subjects, while he would sit in a corner
concentrated on some problem of his own and work it out, absolutely
oblivious to what was going on about him.

The Blaine family left Cluny all too soon, and not only I, but the
entire household felt their absence keenly.

Other guests followed, among them John Morley, with whom I went on long
and to me very interesting walks. He seemed a very lonely and perhaps a
disappointed man. He was married, but childless, and told me once that
the great regret of his life was that he had no son, as he would like to
have brought him up and educated him according to a theory all his own
as to what an Englishman’s training really should be. How many men have
had such dreams and how few, if any, can really control the future of
their children!

In March, 1889, Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated President and Mr.
Blaine became his secretary of state.

I was, as usual, terribly busy that winter with the opera, concerts, and
Wagner lecture recitals, and there were times when Washington seemed
very far away, but Margaret Blaine had good friends in New York whom she
visited occasionally, also a sister, the wife of Colonel Coppinger of
the United States army, who was stationed at Governor’s Island in New
York harbor. Whenever she stayed with Mrs. Coppinger I was a very
frequent passenger on the little ferry-boat which seemed to me
maintained by our beneficent War Department for the sole purpose of
enabling young men like myself to reach this picturesque though
antiquated military fortress.

Mr. Carnegie was absolutely unconscious of my aspirations regarding
Margaret Blaine, and the following summer he suggested a visit to Bar
Harbor, where Mr. Blaine had built a summer home. I accepted with an
alacrity which he mistook as springing only from the same source as his
own desire to see again the friends who had contributed so much toward
the delights of the coaching trip and Cluny Castle. When I afterward
told him of my hopes and that they had received some encouragement
during our Bar Harbor visit, he was very much put out and vowed that if
he had ever suspected anything of the kind he would never have taken me
with him. He told me that he had hoped I would not think of marriage for
many years, but would remain as a kind of semi-attached musical member
of his household, which at that time consisted only of himself and his
wife. Of course I listened to his many arguments absolutely unconvinced,
and obstinate though he always was, he found his equal in me. I must
confess, however, that when he saw how much in earnest I was, he not
only completely receded from his position, but accepted my engagement
and marriage with absolute good humor and approval.

My engagement to Margaret Blaine was announced in October of the
following year at the wedding of her brother, Emmons, to Anita
McCormick, of Chicago.

Mr. Blaine had bought the old Seward mansion on Lafayette Square, very
near the White House, and Mrs. Blaine, who had a remarkable flair for
harmonious house furnishings and decorations, proceeded to make it into
a dignified and charming house, the special feature of which was a large
drawing-room on the first floor, created by changing two rooms into one.

I have told elsewhere how in those days I was compelled, because of my
youth, to confine myself at the Metropolitan to the conducting of such
operas as “Le Prophète,” “La Juive,” and “Trovatore.” Seidl, my older
colleague, completely monopolized the Wagner operas, which I was of
course particularly anxious to conduct. Against “Trovatore” I had at
that time a particularly strong and unreasonable aversion, although it
was partly justified in that we did not have a cast in our German Opera
Company that could do justice to its Italian atmosphere or its vocal

Whenever good luck would have it that the Saturday matinée was a Wagner
opera, I would ask for and obtain from Director Stanton the permission
to leave for Washington on Friday night, as this would enable me to
spend Saturday and Sunday with my fiancée. On one of these Fridays, just
after I had received my permission, my brother Frank came to me and
urged me to take the first train to Washington that I could catch, as he
had just heard that the tenor who was to sing in “Siegfried” on Saturday
afternoon was ill, and that in all probability the opera would be
changed to “Trovatore.” I quickly took the hint, and when the message
came that I was to conduct “Trovatore,” I was nowhere to be found and
Anton Seidl was compelled to conduct it. He was furious, as he had no
greater love for it than I, and my brother told me afterward that he
conducted the entire opera with a black scowl on his face, which was
bent low over the score and from which he never lifted his eyes once to
give a sign to singer or orchestra.

During the following winter, tragedies began to overwhelm the Blaine
family. Walker, the eldest son, a young man of great talent who had
inherited much of his father’s personal charm and who had become a great
help to Mr. Blaine in the State Department, died, to be followed shortly
after by the oldest daughter, Mrs. Coppinger.

These two tragedies, following so closely upon each other, were the
first break in that perfect family circle, and this affected Mr.
Blaine’s spirit and health to such an extent that I do not think his
vitality ever recovered from it.

I was married to Margaret Blaine on May 17, 1890. I should like to write
much more than a chapter about the thirty-two wonderful years of our
married life, but as my wife has sternly forbidden me to even mention
her name in these memoirs, this chapter must close with the best left
unsaid, though the most deeply felt.


                 THE DAMROSCH OPERA COMPANY, 1895-1899

With the return of Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau in 1891, Wagner virtually
disappeared from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House as their
entire energies were turned toward producing operas of the
French-Italian School. It was a natural reaction from the seven years of
opera in German and the pendulum swung far to the other side. A company
of truly great singers had been assembled by the new managers; the
audiences revelled in their _bel canto_, and as Abbey, Schoeffel, and
Grau assumed the entire financial responsibility of the enterprise, the
directors of the opera-house were also well satisfied. They had become
tired of the growing deficits of the German opera.

The head and controlling spirit of the firm was Henry Abbey, a
magnificent and honorable gambler in “stars” whom he paid so liberally
that, while he sometimes gained large profits, he many times lost more
heavily. The chances of profit were too small and generally it was too
much like the roulette tables at Monte Carlo, with the odds in favor of
the stars.

John Schoeffel was not much more than the hyphen between Abbey and Grau.
I never could see that he did anything except, perhaps, arrange for the
advertisements of the opera company when it visited Boston, where he
lived as lessee of the Tremont Theatre.

The actual direction of the opera season, the arranging of the
repertoire, the engagement of the artists, and the handling of them was
in the hands of Maurice Grau, who had developed into a first-class opera
manager. He claimed but little knowledge of things artistic, but he was
astute and had a real flair, up to a certain point, for giving the
public what it wanted. He was honorable in his dealings with the artists
and in a grudging way (which operatic artists often have) they liked
him, although they tortured him incessantly. He used to sit in his
office like a spider from morning until night, working out repertoires,
quarrelling with the singers or placating them, and altogether having no
interests in life beyond that—except, perhaps, the national game of
poker, in which he and a small group of cronies used to indulge—and a
great affection for his little daughter.

With the exception of “Lohengrin,” which had sporadic performances in
the Italian language, poor Wagner was virtually boycotted, and with my
great adoration for him I chafed under this condition more and more.

The winter of 1893-94 I had been asked to arrange something original in
the way of an entertainment for a charity in which I was interested, and
as Materna, Anton Schott, and Emil Fischer were at that time in America,
I conceived the idea of giving a stage performance of the
“Götterdämmerung” at Carnegie Hall. Materna was old and fat, but her
voice was still glorious; Anton Schott still made a personable
_Siegfried_, and Emil Fischer was at the height of his vocal and
histrionic powers. The scenery, though simple, was well improvised and
part of it specially painted, and the weapons and other properties were
borrowed from the Metropolitan Opera House.

The success was so remarkable that we repeated the work several times
and added “Walküre.” This seemed to me conclusive proof that the
American public were more than ready for the return of Wagner, and I
called on Abbey and Grau to suggest that they include a certain number
of Wagner performances in German in their repertoire. They threw up
their hands in horror at the idea, saying that Wagner spelled ruin, but
as they were very kindly disposed toward me (I had conducted many
orchestral concerts for some of their instrumental stars) they suggested
that if I wanted to be foolish enough to give Wagner performances
myself, they would gladly rent the Metropolitan Opera House to me in the
spring and on easy terms. Almost irresistibly I was drawn into the
resolve to take their suggestion seriously, although it was made
laughingly and sceptically as to its outcome. I consulted a number of
devoted friends who shared my optimism and finally decided to make the
plunge, and, in order to finance my mad scheme properly, I sold my house
on West 55th Street.

At the home of Miss Mary Callender and Miss Caro de Forest, both of them
true friends and music lovers, a “Wagner Society” was formed, the
purpose of which was to help the sale of subscription seats for my
venture and to spread the propaganda for the project in every way. At
the first meeting of this society so many seats were subscribed for that
the success seemed assured, and, besides this, the directors of the
Metropolitan Opera House, although they were entitled to the free use of
their boxes, suggested to me very generously that as Abbey and Grau
would charge a nominal rental of five hundred dollars a night for my
performances they would pay me that amount for the use of their boxes,
so that I should have the house virtually rent free.

Abbey and Grau, who looked on me as a kind of foolish boy who was
plunging madly toward destruction, told me with equal generosity that I
could have whatever of their enormous stock of costumes and properties
might prove of use for the Wagner operas.

About this time I received a letter from Mr. William Steinway, then the
head of the house of Steinway & Sons, and a great lover of music, asking
me to come down to see him, as he was very much interested in my project
for the return of Wagner to the Metropolitan. I did so and found him at
his desk crippled with gout but very cheerful and happy over my venture,
for which he prophesied great success. He suggested, however, that while
he realized that the idea and the venture were entirely mine, and that I
was entitled to every credit and advantage from it, it would be a very
generous act on my part if I invited Anton Seidl to share the conducting
of the Wagner operas and music-dramas. He pointed out that Seidl was
looked on by the American public as a great Wagner conductor, and his
co-operation would show that I intended to found my project on the
broadest and most generous lines. He said that if I would agree to his
suggestion, he would arrange a meeting for Seidl and myself at his
office for the following day, and I could be sure of his heartiest
personal and financial support.

I thought well of his idea, and, while Seidl and I had never been on
cordial personal terms during the old German opera days, nor afterward
when we went our separate ways as concert conductors, I felt that the
project might be much strengthened by a combination, and accordingly met
Seidl, together with William Steinway, in the latter’s office the
following day. I outlined my project to Seidl, told him of the support I
had already gained, of my arrangement with Abbey and Grau, and that I
was financing the scheme myself, but that, with full admiration for his
work in America during the years of German opera after my father’s
death, I should be glad to divide the Wagner operas with him. I showed
him a list of the eight I intended to produce. They were, as I remember,
as follows:

                          “Tristan and Isolde”

I suggested to him that he should pick out the four which he preferred
and that I would conduct the other four. Steinway pronounced this offer
extremely fair and generous and urged Seidl to accept it, but Seidl said
he would have to think it over and would notify Steinway of his

The next day he called on Steinway at nine o’clock in the morning and
told him that he had come to the conclusion that he would not divide the
conducting of the Wagner operas with any one and, therefore, preferred
not to have anything to do with the venture. Steinway was furious, and
when he told me of this he said: “I am now with you heart and soul and
here is my check for twenty-five hundred dollars for which I will take
subscription seats for your season in different parts of the house.”

I arranged for a season of eight weeks at the Metropolitan and a tour of
five weeks which should take us as far west as Kansas City, as this Far
Western outpost had immediately put in a generous bid for three

I went abroad that spring to engage my artists and succeeded in
gathering a notable company of Wagnerian singers: Rosa Sucher, of the
Berlin Royal Opera for the _Brunhildes_ and _Isolde_; a young singer of
twenty-three, Johanna Gadski, who sang for me in Berlin, for _Elsa_ and
_Elizabeth_; Emil Fischer, of the Dresden Royal Opera, for _Wotan_ and
_Hans Sachs_, and Max Alvary, the handsomest and most dramatic of
_Siegfrieds_ and a truly knightly _Tristan_. He had studied the latter
rôle at Bayreuth and had sung it there at the first performances. At
Bayreuth I also found a highly gifted English singer, Marie Brema, who
was then almost unknown but who was the possessor of a rich and
expressive mezzo-soprano. Her talent for acting was remarkable and her
vocal range so great that I thought I could use her not only for
_Ortrude_ and _Brangäne_, but, if necessary, for the _Brunhildes_ as

A great deal of the scenery for “Tristan” and the “Nibelung Trilogy” as
well as for “Tannhäuser” I had especially painted in Vienna by the firm
of Kautsky and Briosky. They were at that time at the head of their
profession, and such beautiful foliage as, for instance, in the forest
scene of “Siegfried,” had never before been seen on an American stage.
Our New York painters gathered around it in amazement when it had been
unpacked and properly mounted and hung.

Such an expert on naval matters as William J. Henderson, the eminent
music editor of the _New York Sun_, deservedly criticised the
architecture and rigging of the ship that bore _Tristan_ and _Isolde_
across the Irish seas to Cornwall. Vienna, the home of my
scene-painters, is not a seaport, and the gorgeous tent of _Isolde’s_,
and the sails and mast, while very picturesque, completely hid the
course of the ship from _Tristan_ at the helm, and if he had not been an
operatic sailor, who knew exactly where the ship was going to land at
the end of the act, he undoubtedly would have sent it crashing against
the white-chalk cliffs of England instead of guiding it safely into the
harbor of Cornwall.

In the meanwhile, the subscriptions for seats at our New York office had
gone up by such leaps and bounds that the financial success of my “crazy
venture” was assured before the box-office opened for the single sale of

I had chosen “Tristan” for the opening performance. It was in 1895. The
general rehearsal had gone well and an immense audience filled every
available space of the opera-house and greeted me warmly as I appeared
on the conductor’s stand. I was just about to begin the prelude when a
whisper reached me that the English horn player was not in his place. It
was old Joseph Eller, who had played in the Philharmonic under my father
many years before. He had, incredible to relate, forgotten his
instrument and, discovering this only on his arrival at the
Metropolitan, had rushed home but had not yet returned. Imagine my
agitation! Everything was ready, the lights turned down and the audience
expectant, and I finally did not dare to wait any longer. I assigned the
English horn part to the third French horn player and we began the
long-drawn sighs of the violoncellos of the introductory bars of the
prelude. To my great relief I saw Eller slip into his place a few
minutes later, and the performance moved well and dramatically toward a
triumphant close, in which Alvary, especially, distinguished himself by
his marvellous acting and impassioned singing in the scene preceding the
arrival of the ship bearing _Isolde_. Sucher invested _Isolde_ with a
gentle, womanly dignity, but vocally she was no longer quite in her
prime and did not, I think, equal Lilli Lehmann or Klafsky and Ternina,
whom I brought to America the following year.

To re-enter the Metropolitan on such a Wagnerian wave after German opera
had been so ignominiously snuffed out five years before, was a great
triumph and satisfaction for me, more especially because my father had
laid the foundation eleven years before.

I produced the other Wagnerian operas in quick succession, and as the
houses were sold out for every performance the profit was considerable.

Madame Marie Brema proved herself such a valuable member of the company,
both as _Ortrude_ and _Brangäne_, that I felt it would be wise to give
her the opportunity to sing _Brunhilde_ in “Walküre” as well. I,
therefore, quietly began to train her in that rôle. Unfortunately,
during a rehearsal which I had with her alone on the stage, Madame
Sucher happened to saunter in and, hearing the familiar music coming
from my piano, she suddenly beheld another woman singing _Brunhilde_.
She gave me one indignant but comprehensive glance and then majestically
sailed off the stage. A few hours later I received a letter in which she
announced to me that she wished to return to Germany on the next
steamer, as she had not been accustomed until then to have “her” rôles
sung by another as long as she was in the company.

This was the first letter of the kind that I had received during my
short career as opera impresario, but it was but the prototype of many
similar ones that followed each other like snowflakes in a storm during
my various opera seasons.

I, of course, immediately sent Madame Sucher a large bouquet of roses
and wrote to her that, quite apart from contractual obligations, I could
not understand how she would want to leave America after she had “sung
herself so gloriously into the hearts of my countrymen.” I do not know
whether my letter or the roses had any effect, or whether wiser counsels
prevailed, but she stayed with me and continued her work with great good
nature and even endured the hated sight of having Marie Brema sing
_Brunhilde_ at several of the subsequent performances.

In Kansas City we ended our stay with a matinée performance of
“Siegfried,” Madame Sucher as _Brunhilde_ and Max Alvary, the handsome,
as _Siegfried_. My readers will remember the great scene in which
_Brunhilde_ is awakened from her slumber of years by the kiss of
_Siegfried_, who bends over her in that delightful but difficult
position for a long time until a certain bar in the music denotes that
the kiss is ended. The house was crowded and the greater part of the
audience were women. Suddenly, while I was conducting the exquisite
music accompanying the extended kiss, some one in the gallery inclined
to facetiousness imitated very distinctly the smacking sound of kissing,
and, to my horror, little ripples of feminine laughter rose and fell,
awoke and died, to be renewed again. Alvary was wonderful. He raised his
handsome head, gazed with calm eyes at the audience until a death-like
silence reigned and then, with equal calm, returned to his previous
occupation. It was certainly a triumph of man over woman, or rather
women, and at the end of the act they greeted this young god with
special and adoring enthusiasm.

The entire profits of my first venture as owner and director of an opera
company for thirteen weeks amounted to about fifty-three thousand
dollars. (Alas! I did not retain this quickly gained fortune a long

I had again planted the flag of Wagner firmly in American ground and
naturally did not wish to see it pulled down again. I therefore called
on Abbey and Grau and—as I had no desire for managerial honors, the
artistic side of it only interesting me—begged them to add a German
department to their really splendid galaxy of French and Italian artists
and to let me take care of it for them. But at that time they did not
seem ready to alter their traditional operatic scheme, and my suggestion
did not meet with a favorable response. I then decided that I would go
on myself. My first season had taught me a great deal. I had acquired a
considerable stock of scenery, costumes, and properties, and I knew
where I could still further improve the artistic personnel of my
company. I thought that by arranging for a longer season of five months
I should be able to give my singers and orchestra better contracts
financially and also introduce the Wagner operas over a greater

All my friends except one urged me to go on with the work. The one
exception was Andrew Carnegie who said, with that canny business acumen
which made him one of the world’s richest men:

“Walter, you have made a great success, artistically as well as
financially; your profits have been enormous. But such a success rarely
repeats itself immediately. You rightly divined the desire of the public
for a return of Wagner opera, but this current has drawn into it many
people who have come for curiosity only, and to whom Wagner is still a
closed book. Many of these will not come back another time. Be contented
to rest on your laurels.”

Of course I would not listen to such good business advice and
accordingly engaged a company of singers for the following year, who
made a really remarkable ensemble. Among the newcomers was Madame
Katherine Klafsky whose overwhelming impersonations of _Brunhilde_,
_Isolde_, and especially of _Fidelio_, still vibrate in my memory. This
last opera gave me such joy to conduct that, although it never drew
within a thousand dollars as much as any of the other operas, I would
insist on keeping it in the repertoire. This proves conclusively that
the artist in me was much stronger than the impresario and that I really
had no business to engage in the latter occupation.

_Fidelio_ (_Leonore_), in the second act, liberates her husband from his
shackles in the prison, and he says to her, “O, my Leonore, how much
hast thou done for me!” She answers, “Nothing, nothing, my Florestan,”
and the orchestra begins a soft murmur, upon which the two voices rise
in an ecstatic duet of love. Klafsky gave this scene with such
tenderness that the entire orchestra, as well as myself, were by this
time almost choking with emotion, and it was all that I could do to lift
my baton to give the signal for the beginning of the duet.

Madame Ternina, another newcomer, was prevented by illness from
appearing in Chicago, but in Boston she created a genuine sensation. The
public divided itself into two factions, the one extolling the almost
elemental dramatic vehemence of Klafsky, who fairly poured out her
glorious voice, while the other proclaimed Ternina the greater artist
because of her more intellectual conception and a certain noble artistic

Part of the summer of 1894 I had spent in beginning the music of an
opera on Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” The subject had always
fascinated me and I had years before prepared a dramatic scenario for
which I finally induced Hawthorne’s son-in-law, George Parsons Lathrop,
to prepare a libretto. I completed the composition of the music the
following summer and decided to produce it during the season 1895-96
with the Damrosch Opera Company in Boston, where the scene of the
original novel is laid, in the old Colonial days of Governor Endicott.

I gave the rôle of _Hester Prynne_ to Johanna Gadski. David Bispham
played _Roger Chillingworth_, and Barron Berthold sang the clergyman,
_Arthur Dimmesdale_.

The first performance took place February 10, 1896. American audiences
are proverbially kind to authors on first nights, and Boston was
especially interested in this opera because of Hawthorne’s novel. The
scenery presented old Boston in very picturesque fashion, and I had
spent a good deal of time with my stage-manager and costumer in the
different Boston collections of Colonial belongings in order to give a
correct picture of that period. Early portraits were consulted for the
“make-up” of Governor Endicott and other old Boston celebrities, and the
“company of ancient and honorable artillery” who appeared in the last
act carried an exact copy of the banner which still hangs, I think, in
Faneuil Hall.

Gadski gave a very touching impersonation of _Hester_, and Bispham
fairly revelled in the fiendish machinations of _Roger Chillingworth_.
The artists and composer received numberless recalls and the members of
my company united in presenting me with several charming mementos of the

Mrs. John L. Gardner, who had already in those days become a real and
loyal friend and supporter, and who has, according to her wonderful
capacity for friendship, continued as such during these many years, sent
a huge laurel wreath to the stage for me, the centre of which contained
a large scarlet letter “A”! The reader may imagine what jokes were
cracked at my expense about that very prominently displayed letter.

The music was, I think, well written and orchestrated, but so much of it
had been conceived under the overwhelming influence of Wagner, that I am
afraid Anton Seidl was right when, after hearing the work in New York,
he confided cynically to his friends that it was a “New England Nibelung

Reviewing the work critically myself after these many years, I would say
that it showed sufficient talent and musicianly grasp to warrant a
composer’s career, but life and its exigencies willed otherwise, and all
the “might have beens” are but idle speculation.

An evil star seemed to shine over that winter’s opera season from the
financial standpoint. The entire country was suffering from a severe
financial depression and my company was large and expensive. I had to
travel continually, and during the entire five months carried a company
of one hundred and seventy people, including an orchestra of seventy
men, as I considered so large an aggregation my solemn duty as a Wagner
disciple and propagandist.

As Abbey and Grau finally decided to embark on a German opera department
of their own, adopting my suggestion when it was too late for me to
combine with them, they very naturally shut me out of the Metropolitan
Opera House and I was compelled, for my New York season, to lease the
old Academy of Music which had become a house for cheap theatrical
productions and had lost its high fashionable estate of other years.

My seasons in Chicago and Boston had been profitable, but many cities in
the South, with the exception of New Orleans, which gave me a wonderful
welcome, could not pay expenses, as the theatres were too small and my
company too large and literally too good.

In New Orleans we played an entire week at the old St. Charles Theatre.
The dressing-rooms for the chorus were in the cellar and just before the
first performance the women of the chorus ran shrieking up on the stage,
vowing that they would not return, as rats as large as good-sized
rabbits were scampering around the cellar. I could not believe them
until I went down and saw those horrible creatures with my own eyes.

Our last performance was to have been on Saturday night, but on that day
I received a petition signed by a number of citizens asking whether we
could give them a “Fidelio” performance with Madame Klafsky on Sunday
morning. As our train was to leave at three P. M. on that day, we had to
begin this performance at eleven o’clock in the morning. The
announcement that this extra performance was to be given was made only
the night before and in the Sunday morning papers. By eleven o’clock the
house was sold out.

I took the company as far west as Denver and everywhere virtually
introduced for the first time the “Trilogy,” “Tristan,” and “Die
Meistersinger” to the public.

I remember a performance in Providence, Rhode Island, where, in default
of a theatre, the armory had been adapted for us by an improvised stage
which was, however, so low that the orchestra could easily see what was
going on. The opera was “Lohengrin,” and just before the scene in the
last act, when _Godfrey_, the little brother of _Elsa_, appears in place
of the magic swan to rush into the outstretched arms of _Elsa_, the
stage-manager suddenly discovered that the little ballet girl who always
assumed the rôle was not present. What to do? In the emergency he
grabbed Hans, son of my prompter and at that time a kind of assistant to
everybody as call-boy, assistant librarian, etc., etc. He was only
fourteen and small of stature but with the excessive length of arms and
legs characteristic of that age. By some painful process he was forced
into the costume of _Godfrey_ and pushed on the stage just in the nick
of time. I suddenly noticed a commotion among my orchestra, and as I
followed their astonished but delighted gaze I saw the uncanny
apparition of Hans as a counterfeit _Godfrey_ standing on the stage
evidently frightened out of his wits. Gadski, who sang _Elsa_, with
great presence of mind, stretched her arms wide and not only welcomed,
but extinguished him beneath the voluminous folds of her cloak and I
doubt whether the public realized that the real princely brother had not
made his appearance.

When we finally arrived in New York, I had already lost a great deal of
the large profits of the year before, and this loss was further
increased by my season at the Academy of Music.

During the New York season my wife and I stayed at the stately old house
of our dear friends, Sophie and Tina Furniss, on Fifth Avenue and
Fortieth Street. With characteristic kindness, they not only took a
large proscenium box for every performance, but, having heard that
affairs had not gone well financially, insisted that we must be their
guests for the entire New York season, in order, I suppose, that I
should not have to incur the extravagance of an hotel.

These elderly ladies, together with a married sister, Mrs. Zimmermann,
were the daughters of an old East India merchant who, in the earlier
part of the nineteenth century, had amassed a fortune. Their house was
full of lovely old furniture and mementos of a bygone age and they
dispensed within its walls a very generous and dignified hospitality.

An old colored coachman named Brown had been with them for forty years.
He always, together with a young colored footman, sat high up on their
carriage in great state and solemnity. The young footman having been
sent away in disgrace during our stay, Brown was instructed to procure
another boy to take his place. A week elapsed and the new boy had not
been found, and when Miss Sophie said to him: “Brown, why haven’t you
gotten us a new boy? Are they difficult to find?” he answered:

“No, Miss Sophie, there’s plenty o’ boys, but ah find it so hard to
ma’ch mah colah.”

He evidently was a great stickler for unanimity, not only in the color
of the livery but of the skin as well.

Miss Sophie, the oldest of these three delightful ladies, had an
incredible vitality, and although bodily infirmities and advancing years
did their best to curb her, she remained active, cheerful, and undaunted
until the end. Almost every night during my opera season of six weeks
she would hobble from the carriage to her proscenium box, supported by
her cane on one side and the footman on the other, and she listened to
the Wagnerian music-dramas with unflagging attention. Not even the
length of “Götterdämmerung” or “Meistersinger” would phase her, and
after the performance, during supper, she would proudly repeat, while
her eyes fairly snapped with laughter, some remark of mine that I had
made two years before at their country place in Lenox, during my
delivery of a series of explanatory recitals on the “Nibelung Trilogy.”

Another fellow guest was Doctor Sturgis Bigelow, an enthusiastic admirer
of Madame Ternina’s art, who had come to New York especially to be
present at all of her appearances. She was to have made her farewell to
America in the “Götterdämmerung” and Doctor Bigelow had ordered enough
flowers from half a dozen of the florists of Broadway and Fifth Avenue
to fill the entire Academy, but unfortunately Madame Ternina became ill
and her place had to be taken at the last moment by her rival, Madame
Klafsky. Doctor Bigelow had no desire to present the floral testimony of
his adoration to this rival singer, and therefore proceeded on the
difficult task of cancelling his many orders, but as many of the wreaths
and lyres had already been prepared, his bill for “damages” was quite

Before Ternina sailed for home she told me that she intended to stay
away for a few years. I had paid her five hundred dollars an appearance
which was a fair honorarium at that time, as she was absolutely unknown
and therefore had not yet developed a sufficient “drawing power” to
warrant a higher fee, but she said she would not come back to America
until she could command a fee of a thousand dollars. This decision she
adhered to, and when she did return a few years later, Maurice Grau
cheerfully paid her the thousand dollars and she was immediately
proclaimed one of the greatest _Isoldes_ of our time.

My New York season opened on March 4, 1896, with Beethoven’s “Fidelio.”
The audience was a distinguished one, containing a great many of the old
Academy habitués. Grand opera had not been given there since 1888, when
the tenor, Italo Campanini, had brought over an Italian opera company.

Of Klafsky I have already spoken, but my new barytone, Dimitri Popovici,
also made a sensation. I had found him in Bayreuth, where he had sung
_Telramund_ and _Kurvenal_.

I produced my own opera, “The Scarlet Letter,” during the second week,
and the reception accorded it was more than cordial. As the Symphony
Society of New York wished to present me with an exquisitely bound copy
of Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” as a memento, Richard Welling, the
secretary and an old friend, suggested to Anton Seidl, who was in the
audience, that he be spokesman, but as he refused Welling presented the
book to me himself.

While the balance-sheet of the five months’ season showed a “loss of
forty-three thousand dollars,” the larger part of my gains of the year
before, I cannot say that my wife and I were very much cast down. Youth
is optimistic, and the loss of money is, in itself, not such a dreadful
calamity if one still has enough to pay one’s debts; and all this time I
was adding to my experience and artistic stature.

After a long consultation with my wife we both decided that the
conditions under which I had worked that disastrous winter were not
normal, and that we could well risk another season. Two factors
influenced me greatly in this decision: one, that a group of
Philadelphia citizens had come forward and desired me to consider their
Academy of Music as my artistic home, and said that they would give
every possible assistance to a regular season there, and the other was
that Abbey and Grau frankly confessed to me that they had made a mistake
in not accepting my offer of a combination. They had not been fortunate
in the choice of their German singers and had lost a hundred and fifty
thousand dollars on their German operas, which was nearly four times as
much as I had lost. Grau suggested for the following season an
interchange of certain artists, and if I would occasionally lend him
Madame Klafsky, whom he admired greatly, he would in turn give me Madame
Calvé for a few performances of “Carmen.” This arrangement seemed
admirable to me, as I was beginning to feel that Wagner opera alone was
not sufficient to give a well-balanced opera season, and that for a
longer season Philadelphia would demand a more varied repertoire.

For the following season of 1897-98 affairs moved much easier for me.
The Philadelphia committee gave me a guarantee for a regular opera
season at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. This assured me a home and
a permanent place for my large store of scenery, costumes, and
properties. Rehearsals also were thus made easier and, for my New York
season in the spring, Abbey and Grau again rented the Metropolitan Opera
House to me.

I had re-engaged Madame Klafsky, but to our great sorrow she died, and
the problem of finding a successor was a serious one. Madame Gadski, who
had charmed our audiences with _Elsa_, _Elizabeth_, and _Sieglinde_, was
rather young for the heavy dramatic rôles, although I had begun to train
her in the “Walküre” and “Siegfried” _Brunhildes_. I began negotiations
with Lilli Lehmann and was successful in obtaining her wonderful
services for the following year—but of this I have written in detail in
another chapter.

The financial results of this season were quite satisfactory, but I was
beginning to chafe more and more under the unsympathetic task of
manager. To rehearse singers and orchestra from morning until night was
a pleasure, because there was an artistic ideal to be achieved and
because there were all manner of musical difficulties to be overcome.
That was part of my work as a musician and conductor, and the fatigues
and worries connected with this were easily endured. But the managerial
duties annoyed me, and the constant intrigues among the singers,
directed sometimes against each other and at other times against the
management, often seemed to me unbearable.

In the spring of 1898 Madame Nellie Melba, the golden-voiced, told me
that she would like to join my company for the following winter, and
suggested that her manager, Mr. Charles Ellis, well known as the manager
of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, form a partnership with me, the
company to be called The Damrosch-Ellis Opera Company, half of the
repertoire to be devoted, as before, to the Wagner operas and the other
half to the performance of French-Italian operas with herself as the
principal singer. We were to pay her fifteen hundred dollars a night,
ten times a month, guaranteed. The suggestion seemed to me reasonable
and advantageous, and arrangements were made accordingly. This
combination aroused great indignation on the part of Mr. George Haven,
the president of the Metropolitan Opera House. Mme. Melba had been one
of the principal singers there for several years and he felt that it was
an act of ingratitude on her part to leave the Metropolitan, and on mine
to take her into my company, as I had myself been associated with the
Metropolitan during so many years while he was president. I did not
think that his anger was justified, as a great deal of water had flowed
down-stream since those days; and, as Melba, for reasons of her own, had
definitely decided to sever all connections with the Metropolitan, I
could not see why I should not make her a member of my company. But he
could not, or would not, see my side of the controversy, and vowed that
as long as he was president of the Metropolitan I should never set foot
in it again in a professional capacity. This vow, however, was
subsequently not adhered to, as I not only gave performances there later
with my own company, but during the seasons of 1900-01 and 1901-02
officiated again as conductor of the Wagner operas for Maurice Grau, who
had then become the sole director and lessee of the Metropolitan.

The combination of Wagnerian operas with the operas of the
French-Italian school, of which Melba was the glorious star, proved
successful from a popular and financial standpoint, and the season
showed a handsome profit for Ellis and myself, although a great part of
this was dissipated by a spring tour in which Melba, supported by a
small company of singers, chorus, and orchestra, toured the Western
cities. This tour was managed by my partner, Ellis, and I did not
accompany them, as my services as conductor were not needed for the
French operas. I had by that time definitely decided to give up all
further connection with opera as manager and devote my future life
absolutely to purely musical work as a symphonic conductor and, as I
hoped, also as composer. The harassing occupation of “managing” singers
proved increasingly distasteful to me, and I felt that I was too good a
musician and artist to waste my time with such things in which the only
advantage could be a possible pecuniary gain.

I found that many singers were like children with no clear conception of
right or wrong. Their constant life in close proximity to each other at
rehearsals and performances often begets an exaggerated conception of
themselves and their importance to the world. They think that as their
contact with the public is only over the footlights, where they receive
enthusiastic acclaim for their artistic representations, the public
literally exists only for the purpose of hearing them sing, and they
willingly ignore the fact that the public may have other interests, such
as family, finance, politics, or religion to claim its attention. As it
is important for a manager not only to maintain a balance in his ledger
but to seek the best results that a disciplined ensemble may attain, he
cannot always be in harmony with all the individual desires and demands
of his artists. He must often cast his opera in opposition to their
personal pride, and I have letters to-day from several of the greatest
artists of my company insisting that they must leave or break their
contracts because I had wounded their deepest sensibilities in putting
so and so in the rôle which they claimed for their very own.

I found that some of them even indulged in occasional efforts at petty
blackmailing. One of my tenors, who shall be nameless, had a clause in
his contract that he should not be called upon to sing _Tristan_ the day
after a very long railway journey. We had played in Cleveland, giving a
“Lohengrin” performance in which, however, the other tenor had appeared,
and took a night train in comfortable sleeping-cars in one of which my
tenor occupied a drawing-room to Pittsburgh, which is, as my reader is
aware, a distance of only 150 miles or so. As we left Cleveland my
friend the tenor appeared in my drawing-room, and, calling attention to
the clause in his contract relating to _Tristan_ and a “long” railway
trip, insisted that he could not sing _Tristan_ the following day in
Pittsburgh without endangering his voice. But if I would pay him five
hundred dollars extra he would take the great risk of injuring his voice
and would agree to sing. Naturally I was furious and told him politely
but firmly what I thought of him, and then sent for my other tenor and
told him that his rival was trying to blackmail me and I suggested to
him that if he would sing _Tristan_ for me in spite of his having sung
_Lohengrin_ the night before, I would consider it as a performance
outside of his guarantee. Needless to say he jumped at the opportunity
of gaining an extra six hundred dollars and at the same time “putting
one over” on his hated rival. I then went to bed and slept soundly on a
pillow made downy by a deed well done.

Next morning I received word from tenor No. 1 that he had changed his
mind, was feeling very well, and would sing, but I very haughtily told
him that it was too late and that I had already made other arrangements.

So far this story seems a wonderful example of virtue triumphant and
vice defeated, but, alas, life’s problems do not always work out that
way! During the day my dramatic soprano who was to have sung _Isolde_
became hoarse and the opera had to be changed, so that all my carefully
reared structure of righteousness and meting out of punishment to the
guilty one fell to the ground with a very dull thud.

This is only one of many such instances, some of them childish and
others really wicked. But the most unmoral thing about it is that when
the culprits were great artists, no matter how much they enraged me by
their wickedness, after they had appeared again triumphantly as
_Siegfried_ or _Isolde_ I would often become so enthusiastic over their
work that their slate would be washed clean and I was ready to forgive
them again and to begin anew. Such is the power of art, and a grateful
public will always be willing to remember only the artistic uplift which
they have received from the artist and forget his personal weaknesses.

Naturally my strictures apply only to certain of the singers. There were
many who were always honorable in their relations with me. Among the
most devoted of the members of my company I should mention the singers
of the chorus. Many of these had been at the Metropolitan in the German
opera days. Their salaries were small, but if one of their number fell
ill or suffered other misfortune, none so quick as they to help, and
they always endured the hardships of travel with great good humor and
unfailing courtesy and decency toward me.

Among other reasons that impelled me finally to give up the opera was
the realization how comparatively seldom absolute artistic perfection
can be obtained at a stage performance. There are so many people
concerned in it that it is almost impossible always to obtain a cast
which is thoroughly satisfactory, and one “second rater” can spoil an
ensemble. Still another problem was the question of stage illusion. I
gave this a great deal of attention and study, and spent a great deal of
money on scenery and lighting. I examined the best inventions in this
direction in the opera-houses of Germany and imported many of them. I
was the first to bring over the very clever swimming-machines used in
Dresden by the Rhine Maidens in “Rhinegold.” But Wagner’s demands on the
stage are so extraordinary that a real illusion is not often possible.
His music excites the imagination and is often all sufficient. One can
see the glorious flames crackling and burning around the sleeping
_Brunhilde_ when one hears an orchestra of a hundred playing the music
of the “Fire Charm,” but how seldom does a stage performance enhance
this illusion! The _Brunhilde_ may be too big and too fat, or the light
of the flames may too clearly show that the scenery is but painted
canvas and pasteboard after all, and our sophisticated eyes know only
too well how the plumber’s steam-pipes convey the steam that is intended
to simulate the smoke of the flames from the boiler in the cellar. It
sometimes seemed to me, after striving in vain to carry out Wagner’s
ideal of a union of all the arts in order to produce a new and perfect
art form (the “music-drama”), as if this great genius had really
committed a gigantic mistake, and as if the very artistic illusion and
semblance of verity was destroyed by the scenic paraphernalia.

Of course there were performances over which a happy star seemed to
shine and which now and then gave us complete satisfaction and
happiness. But the static quality of scenery became to me more and more
a hindrance to an imagination ready to soar on the wings of the music.

I carried on my opera company for another year in conjunction with Mr.
Charles Ellis, and then definitely resolved to cease all managerial
activities and to confine myself absolutely to purely musical work. It
took me some time to arrive at this decision, as opera work has also a
very fascinating side, and I had made real friends with many of my

I had found Ellis to be a delightful partner. He had had years of
experience as manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and his equable
temperament and fairmindedness had made him many friends. I sold to him
my share in all our scenery, costumes, and properties as he wished to
continue operatic work with Madame Melba as his principal star, and I
agreed to conduct a limited number of Wagner performances for him in
Philadelphia during the following season.

After the four hectic years I had spent with the Damrosch Opera Company
I was glad of such an opportunity to take stock of the past and cogitate
on the future.

My wife and I rented the old Butler place in Westchester County, near
Hartsdale—a lovely old mansion surrounded by dark pine forests and with
the little Bronx River trickling through—and there we spent most of the
winter until May. I wrote a violin sonata there and enjoyed the
tranquillity of a life freed from operatic worries and excitements.

In 1900 I was once more tempted into the field of opera, but this time
it carried with it no managerial or financial responsibility.

Maurice Grau was at that time the lessee of the Metropolitan Opera
House. Abbey had died a few years before and the directors, who had
gradually realized that it was Grau who had been the real “man behind
the gun,” gave him and a small group of financial backers the lease of
the Metropolitan Opera House. Grau invited me to return to the
Metropolitan as conductor for the Wagner operas. He had at that time a
strong group of Wagnerian singers. At the head was the inimitable Jean
de Reszke, together with his brother Edouard. Grau had also taken over
from my company Madame Ternina, David Bispham, and Madame Gadski. The
latter had been a member of the Damrosch Opera Company for the entire
four years of its existence. She was only twenty-three when I first
engaged her, possessor of a lovely voice, and an indefatigable worker.
There were weeks on our Western tours when she would appear on five
successive days as _Elsa_, _Elizabeth_, _Sieglinde_, and _Eva_. She was
a hard student and her voice developed more and more. During her last
year with me she added the “Walküre” and “Siegfried” _Brunhildes_ to her
repertoire, studying them with me, partly on the trains while
travelling, partly in the hotels and theatres of the various cities we
visited. When she went into the Grau Company, she added the
“Götterdämmerung” _Brunhilde_ and _Isolde_, thereby completing the
entire circle of Wagner soprano parts, except _Kundry_.

Jean de Reszke, like Lilli Lehmann, turned to the Wagnerian rôles in the
high noon of his operatic career. He had made his fame in the
French-Italian operas, but Wagner attracted him irresistibly.

I remember that during one of the seasons of the Damrosch Opera Company
we were playing in Boston at the Boston Theatre while the Abbey and Grau
Company were performing in the huge Mechanic’s Hall. Jean and Edouard de
Reszke attended one of my “Siegfried” performances with Max Alvary in
the title-rôle. They applauded their colleague vociferously, and after
the performance Jean lamented to me that he was compelled to sing
nothing but _Fausts_ and _Romeos_ and _Werthers_, while it was the
ambition of his life to sing Wagner. The memory of his extraordinary
impersonations of these rôles later on is too vivid to need comment from
me. Illness kept him away from America one year, and when he returned I
was again at the Metropolitan as conductor of the Wagner operas. It was
a joy to work with this man. Great artist, courteous gentleman, and
generous colleague, and (what is most valuable to a conductor)
indefatigable at rehearsals. His return was like the triumphant entry of
a victorious monarch. He was a marvellous mimic, and used to give us
delicious imitations of the various artists of the company coming into
his dressing-room to offer their congratulations after his first

De Reszke would first depict the French tenor colleague who in polite,
reserved, and even patronizing accents would say:

“Vraiment, mon cher, vous-avez chanté très bien ce soir, très bien, je
vous assure!”

Then would come the German barytone in a double-breasted frock coat and
punctiliously polite manner, saying:

“Erlauben Sie mir, Herr de Reszke, Ihnen meine grosse Hochachtung aus zu
drücken für den wirklich ausgezeichneten Genuss den Sie uns heute Abend
bereitet haben.”

He was followed by the Italian barytone, who would rush in impulsively
and, kissing Jean on both cheeks, would exclaim:

“Caro mio, carissimo!” followed by a flood of Italian words.

Then came the real climax of the scene. Enter the electrician who,
thrusting a “horny hand of toil” into that of de Reszke, would exclaim
in real “Yankee” accents:

“Jean, you done fine!”

Edouard de Reszke, the huge bass brother with the heart of a child and
an imperturbable good nature, was an equally good mimic. But his
wonderful stories and impersonations were of a decidedly Rabelaisian
character and will not bear repetition here.

With these two well-corseted but un-Corsican brothers, Madame Ternina or
Madame Nordica, Madame Schumann-Heink, and David Bispham we gave
performances of “Tristan” which came as near perfection as I ever hope
to witness.

Madame Nordica had been for years a so-called “utility” singer at the
Metropolitan. She had been trained in the French-Italian repertoire, and
while her voice was beautiful she had not yet achieved full stardom,
perhaps because she was American born and lacked the European cachet,
which at that time was more important than it is to-day. She was not by
nature musically gifted and was able to learn a rôle only by the hardest
and most painful work of endless repetition and rehearsals. But her
ambition was boundless—she bided her time and, like Lilli Lehmann,
gradually worked herself into the Wagner repertoire. Realizing its
advertising value, she offered herself to Madame Cosima Wagner for the
“Lohengrin” production at Bayreuth. She meekly accepted every
instruction given her there during the months of preparations, no matter
how meticulous or artificial some of them seemed to her, and the success
which she obtained there launched her successfully on her career as a
Wagner singer. I trained her in the _Brunhildes_ as well as _Isolde_ and
was amazed at the way in which she achieved through hard work what
nature gives to others overnight.

I remember her coming to Philadelphia to sing “Götterdämmerung” with my
company. She arrived the previous day and I found her still very
uncertain in the second act, which is rhythmically very difficult. I sat
down with her at eight o’clock that evening and we went over that second
act again and again until about four o’clock in the morning. It was
ghastly but wonderful. At ten A. M. I gave her an orchestral rehearsal
and in the evening she sang the rôle with perfect assurance and with
hardly a mistake.

One performance of “Tristan” which we gave with the Grau Company in
Baltimore at the Lyric Theatre, which has perhaps the best acoustics of
any auditorium in the country, still stays vividly in my memory. At the
close we were so elated that all concerned kissed each other
ecstatically after the last curtain fell. Those are the rare moments
that make one forget the many times perfection in opera seems impossible
to attain.


[Illustration: NELLIE MELBA]



I have written elsewhere of my first visit to Europe after my father’s
death, when the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House made me
assistant to the director, Edmund C. Stanton.

I had gone over to engage German singers for the coming season, and Emil
Fischer, bass from the Dresden Royal Opera, was one of those whose
contract I had ready for Stanton’s signature when he arrived a month
later. Emil Fischer had become discontented with his life in Dresden and
in signing with us broke his contract with the Royal Opera, and
according to an arrangement which all the directors of the various
German opera-houses had with each other, this prevented him from ever
again appearing on the stage of a German opera-house. He remained in
America and became one of the main props of the Metropolitan Opera House
Company, and later on of my Damrosch Opera Company.

His voice was a beautiful _basso cantante_ of great range and vibrancy.
His tone production was perfect, and his powers as an impersonator
equalled his singing. He will always remain in my memory as the greatest
_Hans Sachs_ I have ever heard. He imbued the part with a nobility and
at the same time with a delightful humor that no other _Hans Sachs_ has
quite equalled.

As a man he was a delicious mixture of childishness, vanity, generosity,
and kindliness, but I do not think that any emotions of life touched him
very deeply.

In dress he was always extremely fastidious, inclining toward a somewhat
flamboyant love of extremes. His neckties were rather vivid, his
trousers perhaps a shade lighter in gray than the most harmonious taste
would demand. He had a highly developed chest, of which he was so
inordinately proud that he never buttoned the upper part of his
waistcoat, as if to demonstrate that no waistcoat could be cut large
enough to encompass his manly proportions.

Of the value of money, as far as saving it was concerned, he had no
idea, and his constant effort was directed toward hiding from his wife
the fact that he had money in his pocket. She was a buxom lady somewhat
older than himself who, in her youth, had been a _tragedienne_ in one of
the smaller German court theatres. She must have played such parts as
_Medea_, and continued the rather exaggerated and gloomy articulation of
her words into private life and through all the years that followed her
final exit from the stage. Whenever she told me: “My Emil is not well
to-day. I have made for him a plate of beef soup into which I have
boiled four pounds of beef,” it boomed upon my ears like Shakespearian
blank verse or like a Greek tragedy of Sophocles. I think that she
annoyed Emil excessively, and that he was happiest when he could get
away from her no doubt excellent control and find enjoyment among a
circle of boon companions.

I recall that when he was a member of my opera company I paid him two
hundred and fifty dollars an appearance, with about twelve appearances a
month guaranteed, but he insisted that in the written contract I should
make it only two hundred dollars an appearance and give him the other
fifty in cash. He used this subtle method in order to have about six
hundred dollars a month spending money of which his wife should know
nothing. It was I who had to endure the complaints from her, which ran
something like this: “I do not know why my Emil is so badly paid while
all the others get these enormous salaries. My Emil sings better than
any of them and he has to be content with only two hundred dollars an
appearance!” And I would sit by feeling very guilty, and yet, from that
horrid loyalty which one man has for another, not daring to exculpate
myself by condemning him.

At one time in Chicago I accompanied him into a haberdasher’s shop as he
wished to buy a necktie. He selected one the price of which was two
dollars and a half, and then superbly handed the astonished clerk a
five-dollar bill, saying grandiloquently: “You may keep the change!”

He was a great gourmet, and every now and then would give a banquet at
his house to his fellow artists, with interminable courses and all
manner of wines. Needless to say he did not save anything from his
earnings and there came years, as he grew older and his voice left him,
when he had to turn to teaching. But he never changed his habits and his
appearance was just as carefully gotten up as in former years. Finally
came the time when he was really in want, and I assisted Mr. Flagler,
who was also an old admirer of his, in getting up a benefit for him at
the Metropolitan Opera House. The directors very generously gave the use
of the house, many of the stockholders bought their boxes, and the
climax of the performance was the appearance of dear old Fischer in his
greatest rôle of _Hans Sachs_ in the third act of “Die Meistersinger.” A
very good sum was realized with which we bought an annuity for him. He
was then, I believe, seventy-four (his wife had died several years
before), and a ten-year annuity seemed to us the best way of taking care
of him without giving him an opportunity to squander his money. He was
delighted, and the first thing he did on the strength of his new wealth
was to marry a young lady from the chorus, who, however, I believe took
excellent care of him until he died.

During the second year of the Damrosch Opera Company, while we were in
St. Louis and just the day before Fischer was to sing _Hans Sachs_, a
telegram arrived saying that his wife was very ill and was not expected
to live more than eight hours. Frau Alvary insisted that I must make him
go to New York to see her. He did not want to go. He had not been on
particularly pleasant terms with her, he knew he could not arrive in
time to see her alive, and besides that he knew also that I had no
substitute to sing _Hans Sachs_ for him and that the cancellation of the
opera would cost me about five thousand dollars. But Frau Alvary, who
seemed quite ready to insist on reasons of sentiment when her own purse
was not concerned, so bedevilled us both that I finally, being still
young and sentimental, decided that he should go. I was therefore
compelled to change the programme at the last moment and to substitute
single acts from different operas, which, of course, was a very costly
change, as the audience in St. Louis had especially looked forward to
the first performance of “Die Meistersinger.”

The news of a possible change of programme had travelled fast, and on
that morning I received a visit from a young singer, Gerhardt Stehmann,
who a year before had come to St. Louis with a little German opera
company which had promptly stranded, leaving him without a job. He had,
however, continued to live there, acting in occasional German plays and
teaching Latin, as he was a man of excellent education. He asked me if I
could not give him a place in my company. I found him to be an excellent
singer, but above all a man musically so gifted that he could learn an
entire rôle in a few hours. He learned the entire third act of “Die
Meistersinger” overnight, so that I was able at least to present that to
my St. Louis audience. I immediately engaged him as a permanent member
of my company, and he remained with me until its dissolution three years
later, when he returned to Germany and was grabbed by Mahler for the
Imperial opera at Vienna, where he has been ever since. He literally
knew and sang every bass and barytone part in the Wagner operas and
music dramas. His _Beckmesser_ in “Die Meistersinger” was a masterpiece
of delineation, and no one could depict this nasty, carping, jealous,
and vain person in so convincing a fashion as he. But if the exigencies
of the moment demanded it, he was just as able to sing _Hans Sachs_,
_Pogner_, _Kothner_, or any other of the good old burghers of that
opera. In “Tannhäuser” he was equally at home as _Landgrave_ or
_Biterolf_, but his most remarkable feat of learning a part quickly was
performed in New York one spring. The German composer, Xaver Scharwenka,
was at that time living in New York as piano virtuoso and teacher. He
had, years before, composed an opera which he was anxious to perform,
and William Steinway and others asked me if I would let him have my
opera company for this purpose, so that he could conduct it himself at
an extra performance. I agreed and a good cast was selected. The tenor
part was to have been sung by Ernest Krauss, a rather conceited heroic
tenor who, not finding the part to his liking, pleaded hoarseness only
the day before the performance. There was, of course, no substitute, and
it seemed as if the performance would have to be cancelled, which would
have been a cruel experience for the composer. To my astonishment
Stehmann appeared and said very simply: “Give me the part and I will
learn it for to-morrow night.” When I interposed, “But this is a tenor
part and you are a bass barytone,” he answered: “Give it to me. I think
I can transpose a few of the high notes and can at least save the
performance.” Scharwenka, overjoyed, gave him the part and he sang and
acted it the following evening without a mistake—a truly remarkable

I grew very fond of him, not only because of his musicianly qualities
but also because as a man he was so simple and honorable, and I was glad
to hear later on that he had made an excellent position for himself in

This summer of 1922, I visited Vienna again after many, many years. I
felt that the war should be completely over for us and that we should
seek in every way to re-establish cultural relations with our former

I found Stehmann still at the Vienna opera, now no longer called
Kaiserliche but Staats-Oper. It was a joy to see him again, but the war
had brought to him also great misfortune! He told me that from his
savings, while a member of my opera company and from subsequent savings
in Vienna, he had bought a house with several acres of land in the
Austrian Tyrols. With tears in his eyes he showed me photographs of this
property. The house was charmingly situated in a picturesque valley with
the Tyrolean Alps beyond. After the war this territory was taken over by
Italy; and that government, wishing to drive out the Austrians and
settle the land with Italians, had compelled Stehmann to “sell” his
property for a sum fixed by them. He had no choice and the price which
he received amounted to about thirty-seven thousand five hundred kronen,
which happened to be the amount I had paid that morning for a pair of
shoes—at the present valuation about three dollars and seventy cents!
The Poles claim that Bismarck pursued the same policy in Posnia when
Prussia endeavored to suppress Polish national aspirations, by forcing
them to sell their lands to the Prussian Junkers.

I was sorry on arriving in Vienna not to see once more the venerable old
singer, Marianne Brandt, but she had died, aged eighty-four, during the
previous winter. In 1884-85 she had been one of the main props of my
father’s inaugural German opera season; and her emotional intensity in
“Fidelio” and as the mother in “Le Prophète” had made a deep impression
on our public. Nature had not endowed her with beauty of face or figure,
and she always insisted: “I have been a virtuous woman all my life
because I am so ugly that no man would ever look at me.”

Wagner had invited her to Bayreuth to sing the part of _Kundry_ in
“Parsifal,” but whether because of her lack of beauty or because, as she
thought, of terrible intrigues on the part of Madame Materna, she sang
the rôle only once and always remained exceedingly jealous of Madame
Materna, whose rather amplitudinous charms, she insisted, had completely
hypnotized Wagner.

She simply adored my father and his single-minded idealism, and the
spirituality of his character appealed to her to such an extent that she
was willing to undergo any amount of work and to sing any rôle which he
wanted of her, whether it were a star part or one of the Valkyries in
“Walküre.” After his death she was inconsolable, and always went on the
anniversary to Woodlawn Cemetery to deposit a wreath on his grave. She
also sought to demonstrate her veneration for his memory by helping me
in every way possible, both as superb artist and as one well versed in
the practical side of operatic life through years of experience in
Vienna and at the Royal Opera in Berlin. She always called me “Mein
Sohn,” and her encouragement and faith in my future as a musician during
many trying times can never be forgotten by me.

She had a delightful sense of humor, but also a very quick temper, and I
remember her telling me one day that she had received a notice from the
New York Post-Office Department that a registered letter was awaiting
her down in the General Post-Office at City Hall. She went there and
inquired at the proper window for her letter.

“Yes,” said the official, “we have it here. Have you got some document
to prove that you are Marianne Brandt?—a letter, a bank-book, or a

“I have none of these things, but I am Marianne Brandt and I want that

“I am sorry, madame, but the rules are strict, and you will have to
bring some one to identify you.”

By this time Brandt was in a state of high indignation. “You will not
give me the letter? I will prove to you that I am Marianne Brandt!” And
then she proceeded with full voice to sing the great cadenza from her
principal aria in “Le Prophète.” Her glorious voice echoed and re-echoed
through the vaulted corridors of the post-office. Men came running from
all sides to find out what had happened and finally the agitated
official handed her the letter, saying: “Here is your letter, but for
God’s sake be quiet!”

She finally retired from the stage to her old home in Vienna and gave of
her art with both hands to a group of devoted pupils. During the war I
heard from one of them that, owing to the destitute condition existing
in Vienna, she was in real want, but she promptly returned the check we
sent her and in a very sweet letter addressed as usual to “Mein Sohn”
assured me that she did not need any money, that she did not expect to
live much longer, and that she thought she could hold out without
receiving any alms from her friends. We did succeed, however, in sending
her food which she shared with others.

One of the singers whom I engaged for the Metropolitan Opera House
during my first visit to Germany and who afterward achieved great fame
was Max Alvary, a young lyric tenor at the Weimar Ducal Opera House. He
was the son of the well-known German painter, Andreas Achenbach, of good
education, gentlemanly bearing, and a refined artistic taste. He was
also exceedingly good looking. As a singer he was very uneven, although
he had studied with the Italian master, Lamperti. At first we paid him
only a hundred dollars a night, but after he had sung minor rôles for a
few months Anton Seidl chose him to create the part of _Siegfried_, and
in that rôle he made a success so instantaneous as to place him
immediately in the front rank of German opera-singers. No one else has
given _Siegfried_ such an atmosphere of boyish innocence and picturesque
beauty. The women, bless them, simply worshipped him, from the
sixteen-year-old schoolgirl to the matron of mature and more than mature
age, and this success repeated itself when he appeared as _Siegfried_ in
Germany, Austria, and England. He made a great deal of money and spent
it lavishly. His armor and helmet in “Lohengrin” were specially made for
him out of silver after a design which he had drawn himself. The stuffs
for his costumes were often specially woven for him. He reached the
climax of his career when he was chosen by Cosima Wagner to sing
_Tannhäuser_ and _Tristan_ at Bayreuth. At that time this shrine for the
Wagnerite had already become, under the guiding and autocratic hand of
the widow of Wagner, a highly artificial product. I saw several of these
performances and was frankly amazed at the apparent degeneration since
the days of Wagner. Alvary, who had a great sense of humor, gave most
entertaining descriptions of the rehearsals, and how, for instance, in
slavish imitation of certain rhythms in the orchestra, _Tannhäuser_ and
_Wolfram_ had to execute a kind of minuet opposite each other in order
to fill in the instrumental introduction before _Wolfram_ begins his
famous plea to _Tannhäuser_: “Als du im kühnen Sange uns bestrittest.”

In the spring of 1891 Carnegie Hall, which had been built by Andrew
Carnegie as a home for the higher musical activities of New York, was
inaugurated with a music festival in which the New York Symphony and
Oratorio Societies took part. In order to give this festival a special
significance, I invited Peter Iljitsch Tschaikowsky, the great Russian
composer, to come to America and to conduct some of his own works. In
all my many years of experience I have never met a great composer so
gentle, so modest—almost diffident—as he. We all loved him from the
first moment—my wife and I, the chorus, the orchestra, the employees of
the hotel where he lived, and of course the public. He was not a
conductor by profession and in consequence the technic of it, the
rehearsals and concerts, fatigued him excessively; but he knew what he
wanted and the atmosphere which emanated from him was so sympathetic and
love-compelling that all executants strove with double eagerness to
divine his intentions and to carry them out. The performance which he
conducted of his Third Suite, for instance, was admirable, although it
is in parts very difficult; and as he was virtually the first of great
living composers to visit America, the public received him with

He came often to our house, and, I think, liked to come. He was always
gentle in his intercourse with others, but a feeling of sadness seemed
never to leave him, although his reception in America was more than
enthusiastic and the visit so successful in every way that he made plans
to come back the following year. Yet he was often swept by
uncontrollable waves of melancholia and despondency.

The following year in May I went to England with my wife, and received
an invitation from Charles Villiers Stanford, then professor of music at
Cambridge, to visit the old university during the interesting
commencement exercises at which honorary degrees of Doctor of Music were
to be given to five composers of five different countries—Saint-Saëns
of France, Boito of Italy, Grieg of Norway, Bruch of Germany, and
Tschaikowsky of Russia.

The proceedings proved highly interesting and enjoyable. As each
recipient of the honor stepped forward in his doctor’s robe, the orator
addressed him in a discourse of orotund Latin phrases, praising his many
virtues and accomplishments, and these phrases were constantly
interrupted by the clatter of facetious remarks and requests from the
undergraduates in the balcony, all this according to old-established
custom. Sometimes the uproar became so great that the presiding officer
had to arise and demand “Silentium.”

Among the other recipients of degrees on that occasion was Field-Marshal
Lord Roberts, Baron of Kandahar, who, in his scarlet uniform beneath his
doctor’s robe, received of course the most uproarious welcome. At that
time no one dreamed that twenty-three years later he would go around
England uttering solemn warning against the inevitability of war with
Germany and bidding England gird on her sword and prepare, only to be
laughed at as an alarmist and publicly reprimanded by politicians for
seeking to arouse such feeling against a “friendly power.”

In the evening a great banquet was given in the refectory of the
college, and by good luck I was placed next to Tschaikowsky. He told me
during the dinner that he had just finished a new symphony which was
different in form from any he had ever written. I asked him in what the
difference consisted and he answered: “The last movement is an adagio
and the whole work has a programme.”

“Do tell me the programme,” I demanded eagerly.

“No,” he said, “that I shall never tell. But I shall send you the first
orchestral score and parts as soon as Jurgenson, my publisher, has them

We parted with the expectation of meeting again in America during the
following winter, but, alas, in October came the cable announcing his
death from cholera, and a few days later arrived a package from Moscow
containing the score and parts of his Symphony No. 6, the “Pathétique.”
It was like a message from the dead. I immediately put the work into
rehearsal and gave it its first performance in America on the following
Sunday. Its success was immediate and profound. We gave it many
repetitions that winter and I have played it since in concerts all over
the United States. Other orchestras have cultivated it with equal
assiduity, and in fact for me the time came several years ago when I
cried a halt and let the work lie fallow, as it had evidently been
overplayed and its high-strung rhythms had excited the nerves of
executants and audiences so often that they were in danger of being

Ignace Paderewski made his first appearance in America in 1891, and I
conducted his first five orchestral concerts. He came under the auspices
of Steinway and Sons, and they told me that the gross receipts for the
first concert were only five hundred dollars! His playing as well as his
personality, however, immediately took our public by storm, and I do not
think that since the days of Franz Liszt there has been any other
travelling virtuoso in whom the man was as fascinating as the artist.
People who have wondered how it was possible for him when the Great War
began to throw himself so fully equipped at every point into the
struggle to achieve national unity for Poland, do not realize that he
was, consciously or unconsciously, preparing himself for just this
opportunity all his life. He had always dreamed of a united and
independent Poland. He knew the history of his people, their strength,
and their weakness. It is said that one day he played before the Czar
who, congratulating him, expressed his pleasure that a “Russian” should
have achieved such eminence in his art. Paderewski answered: “I am a
Pole, your Majesty,” and, needless to say, was never again invited to
play in Russia. His mind is one of the most extraordinary I have ever
come in contact with. All the world knows what he has achieved in
music—his inspired interpretations, his prodigious memory, and the
subtle range of colors of his musical palette, but not so many know of
his interest in literature, philosophy, and history, and it took the
Great War to demonstrate that as orator and statesman he ranks as high
as musician. I heard him make a speech on Poland during the Exposition
in San Francisco in 1915 before an audience of ten thousand, in which he
gave so eloquent a survey of Poland’s history and of her needs and
rights, as to rouse the people to a frenzy of enthusiasm, and I am
convinced that Poland owes her national existence to-day to his
statesmanship and to the sympathy which his personality created among
the Allies at the Versailles Conference. I believe that Colonel House
pronounced him to be the greatest statesman of the Conference, and it
was only the cynical Clemenceau who said to him: “M. Paderewski, you
were the greatest pianist in the world and you have chosen to descend to
our level. What a pity!”

When he first came to America, his English was very incomplete but even
then he demonstrated his grasp of it in unmistakable fashion. One
evening he, my wife, and I dined at the house of very dear mutual
friends, Mr. and Mrs. John E. Cowdin, in Gramercy Park. Cowdin had all
his life been an enthusiastic polo player, and after dinner Paderewski
and I admired some handsome silver trophies that he had won and that
were placed in the dining-room. I said: “You see the difference between
you and Johnny is that he wins his prizes in playing polo while you win
yours in playing solo.”

“Zat is not all ze difference!” Paderewski immediately exclaimed in his
gentle Polish accents. “I am a poor Pole playing solo, but Johnny is a
dear soul playing polo.”

He is highly gifted as a composer, and besides a very interesting and
spiritual symphony I remember with keen pleasure his opera “Manru,”
which Maurice Grau brought out at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1902
and which I conducted. I cannot remember ever having worked harder
toward achieving a successful première. The orchestral parts, which had
been copied in Germany in a great hurry, arrived so full of mistakes
that the first rehearsals were an agony of constant stopping and
correcting, and these corrections went on during the entire time of
preparation, and I believe that I still found two inaccuracies at the
rehearsal just preceding the general rehearsal. Again and again I took
some of the worst parts home and worked late into the night going
through them meticulously myself, and comparing them with the orchestral
score in an endeavor to bring order out of chaos. The opera received a
warm welcome, but the libretto was lacking somewhat in dramatic
interest; and the music, with all its genuine charm and warmth, was not
able to successfully combat this lack.

I think that if Paderewski had been willing to sacrifice his marvellous
career as a piano virtuoso (and that would have been a great sacrifice)
he would have become one of the greatest composers of our time. It does
not seem easy to unite the two careers, as they are essentially at war
with each other. Liszt, the only man with whom I can compare Paderewski,
recognized this fact, and at forty years of age resolutely turned his
back on virtuosodom, with its life in the public glare, its excitements,
crowds, and emoluments, in order to devote himself to composition. He
settled in the little town of Weimar, living a life of poverty, and
never again touched the piano for personal gain. Only now and then he
would play in public in order to gather funds for the Beethoven monument
in Bonn or for some great charity. And yet it is universally conceded
that even he stopped too late and that, great as is the sum total of his
contributions to creative art, he would have been still greater and able
to express himself more genuinely if he had never been “the greatest
pianist of his generation.”

It is difficult to define the charm with which the artists of Poland
seem to be imbued almost beyond any other race. It is more than a social
gift. It is not the result of calculation but seems to be a combination
of kindliness of heart and good breeding. Madame Marcella Sembrich has
it to a supreme degree, also Jean and Edouard de Reszke, also Tim and
Joe Adamowski, Paul Kochanski, and my old friend Alexander Lambert, and
if the new state of Poland were composed only of such of the Polish
elect as I have just mentioned it would soon become the ideal republic
of the world. On the other hand, a country composed exclusively of
musicians might not make a contented population, as it is well known
that we need an audience to listen to us, and musicians, rightly or
wrongly, have the reputation of never being willing to listen to each

I do not, however, mean to imply that the Poles are the exclusive
possessors of personal charm. For instance, I do not know of any man who
has it in greater degree than my old friend Charles Martin Loeffler, who
was born in Alsace, received his musical education in France, was
violinist in the private orchestra of a Russian grand duke in Nice, and,
at the age of sixteen, came to America. My father immediately became
very fond of him, and on Sunday afternoons, when we always had
chamber-music at home in which my father played first violin and Sam
Franko second, Martin Loeffler would play the viola. I liked him
immensely and our friendship has lasted through the years. Our birthdays
are on the same day, and we are almost of an age, as he is only a year
older. When Higginson formed the Boston Orchestra under George Henschel,
Loeffler migrated to Boston and became first violin and second concert
master. At the same time he continued his studies in composition, and
has since become one of our foremost American composers. For years he
has lived as a gentleman farmer in Medfield, Massachusetts. His
compositions are few and far between, but all of them have the same
aristocratic conception, refinement, and original orchestration, such as
a man can write who has spent a great part of his life in the orchestra
and knows its literature and possibilities. His letters, exquisitely
penned, rank with those of Eugene Ysaye, and that is high praise, as
Ysaye is the very prince of letter-writers. I venture to insert one of
Loeffler’s here because it treats of the first performance of my opera,
“Cyrano,” and because it is so whole-hearted in its praise and so gentle
but discerning in its criticisms of the weak spots in my work.

                                                 Medfield, Mass.
                                                 Sunday, 26 March, 1913.

    Dear Walter:

    There was not a more amazed person amongst the audience last
    Thursday than your old friend here. Having plowed away and
    wallowed in storm for some time on my own One Act play, I know
    of the difficulties, the doubts and hazards that one encounters
    in the business of writing an opera. It is therefore with
    genuine admiration, that I take off my hat and bow low to him,
    who could write the Score of Cyrano. It is a masterly
    accomplishment of a treacherous task. I did not see you on that
    exciting night; there having been some uncertainty as to my
    being able to obtain a bed on the 1 o’clock train, I finally had
    to give up the pleasure of going to your house. I press your
    dear old hand now in spirit and in sincere admiration.

    Your orchestration sounded superbly. Your choruses blended
    wonderfully with the orchestra and I have no doubt that with a
    slight _remaniement_ and _raccourcissement_, Cyrano will give
    great joy to many in the future. I understand that you have
    already made considerable cuts, still do I advise cutting out
    more. Four Acts is a long proposition and some of the best
    things come in the last Act. But the public begins to tire and
    can no longer thoroughly enjoy the beauties of this Act. A few
    things have occurred to me besides. In the scene on the balcony,
    I think it is a mistake to let Cyrano say what Christian shall
    repeat to Roxane. Is this not what happens in Act III, “How
    could I love you more,” etc? Would it not be more expressive to
    let Cyrano prompt his stupid friend in whispering and pantomimic
    gesture? Curiously enough, this scene which one would have
    picked out as “made for an opera,” was perhaps the least
    effective part of the Opera. After the climb to his lady love,
    everything is again admirable.

    Then, in the last act, I believe if you were to shorten Cyrano’s
    delirium and hasten his death somewhat, you would strengthen and
    heighten the final effect of your work. Cyrano dies hard and one
    thinks of the nine-live-cat-death of Tristan! All this may only
    seem long coming at the end of the preceding three intense
    hours. There are really extraordinary effects in this final Act
    of yours and one would like to look at such a score as yours.
    Probably, like all telling things in this world, your effects
    are obtained through simplest means.

    The whole work is to me a delight on account of its real
    musicianship—a work evolved from a highly sensitive, very
    intelligent brain, that has absorbed and assimilated much,
    without imitating anybody or anything.

    These are my first sincere impressions of your work, to which I
    will add my sentiments. While the musician listened during the
    hours of the performance, the friend in him was carefully kept
    apart. When, however, the musician’s heart began beating more
    and more warmly, the friend and the musician became again at one
    in their joy.

    Here also arises the reflection: Where did you or where does
    anybody acquire mastery? Do the gifted themselves really know
    what they are doing and is Maeterlinck right when he makes
    Mélisande say “Je ne sais pas ce que je sais”?

    _A priori_ I shall always say: There must be Opera in
    English—but at present there cannot be, as nobody knows how to
    sing in it. The performance however was admirable. Amato was
    superb and so was the orchestra, chorus and old Herty! Hats off
    to him too!

    Kindest regards to Mrs. Damrosch in which Elise joins me.

    Believe me, dear Walter, as ever and more proudly than ever,

                                                     Your friend
                                                    CH. M. LOEFFLER.

In 1891 I was asked to give a concert for the Orthopædic Hospital in
which my friend, Mrs. John Hobart Warren, was always much interested,
and in casting about for some sensational feature which would draw the
public I conceived the idea of having Eugene Ysaye and Fritz Kreisler
play the Bach concerto for two violins. Ysaye was then at the very
zenith of his career and Kreisler had just come to America as a young
violinist of great attainments and charm, and still greater promise for
the future. The performance of the Bach concerto proved all that I had
hoped, and after the concert Ysaye had supper with me at the old
Delmonico’s in Madison Square. Ysaye is not only a remarkable artist but
one of the most brilliant conversationalists I have met, and during the
supper he proceeded in the most fascinating way to analyze himself and
Kreisler. He said: “I have arrived at the top and from now on there will
be a steady decrease of my powers. I have lived my life to the full and
burned the candle at both ends. For some time I shall make up in
subtlety of phrasing and nuance what my technic as a violinist can no
longer give, but Kreisler is on the ascendant and in a short time he
will be the greater artist.” It is not for me to say whether Ysaye’s
prophecy has come true, but no one who has heard him in his prime can
forget his truly gigantic conception of the Beethoven concerto, for
instance, and the mastery with which he poured out the golden flood of
his music.

In 1909 I gave a Beethoven cycle at which I performed all the Beethoven
symphonies and other smaller works of his in historical sequence. We had
engaged Ysaye to play the Beethoven Violin Concerto, but, to my
astonishment, he sent word only a week before that he must first play a
violin concerto by Vitali, as he had to get his fingers into proper
condition before playing the Beethoven. I remonstrated with him and
explained to him that in a Beethoven cycle I could not possibly give a
concerto by Vitali, even to oblige Ysaye, and suggested that he play the
Vitali concerto to himself in the greenroom before the concert, but he
refused to accept this amendment and I was ever so reluctantly compelled
to cancel his appearance in the cycle. This caused a coolness between us
which lasted several years and which I regretted exceedingly. But time
is a great peacemaker. We happened to meet again quite casually a few
years later, and by tacit consent this little contretemps was completely
buried and we are as good friends as of yore.

Perhaps the most important and interesting great musician of France whom
I have known was Camille Saint-Saëns, whom I met in 1908 when he came to
America on a concert tour. He was at that time seventy years of age. His
extraordinary vitality and the fluency of his playing amazed us all, and
America outdid itself to honor this venerable _grand maître_. I had the
great pleasure of conducting all of his concerts in New York at which he
played his five piano concertos, an extraordinary feat for a man of his
age. We had heard so many stories from French musicians of his “nasty
temper” at rehearsals and his caustic comments on this or that phrasing
in his symphonies or concertos that we were all very agreeably
disappointed in finding him genial, cheerful, and grateful for what we
were able to give him. He even insisted on playing the organ himself at
my performance of his Symphony No. 3, which is dedicated to the memory
of Liszt. I have always considered this to be his greatest work in that,
with all the clarity of form and diction which is a special
characteristic of his style, there is also a deep emotion which rises in
the last movement to a triumphant and thrilling climax.

I saw him again in Paris during the war in the summer of 1918, and
reminded him of a visit which my father had paid to him in 1876.

“That was not the first time I met your father,” he quickly rejoined. “I
remember very well meeting him in Weimar in 1857 while I was visiting

In 1920 my second daughter, Gretchen, was to be married to the son of
Judge Finletter of Philadelphia. The young people had met at Chaumont,
France, where Finletter had been stationed at General Headquarters after
the armistice and while Gretchen and her friend, Mary Schieffelin, were
there as war workers. My daughter agreed enthusiastically with my
suggestion that the wedding should be in Paris after my European tour
with the orchestra was finished, and this to them highly important event
was carried out with great success on the 17th of July, the ceremony
being solemnized at the American church and the reception held at my
hotel, the “France et Choiseul,” in the Rue St. Honoré. As I had come to
this hotel for so many years, Monsieur Mantel, the _directeur_, and all
the employees from the chef down, helped on the affair with an
enthusiasm which can only be found in a country like France, where all
festivals of family life are treated with tremendous importance. All the
reception-rooms down-stairs and the greater part of the courtyard, which
had been charmingly framed in with laurel-trees and filled with
inviting-looking little tables, had been placed at our disposal. All the
employees of the house—including Leonie, François, Pierre, Adolph,
Theo, Félice, Madeleine, Michel, and Louis, all of whom I had known
during the war and even before—wore large white boutonnières and
ribbons in honor of the occasion; and at four o’clock about a hundred
French and American friends began to arrive from the ceremony at the
church. Among these was my old friend Madame Nellie Melba, who had come
over from London for the purpose, and “_le grand maître_” Camille
Saint-Saëns, whom all the hotel employees immediately recognized and
treated with great and fond deference.

As Saint-Saëns entered the courtyard he turned to me and said, rather
testily: “Mon cher ami, pourquoi est-ce que vous n’avez-pas donné une de
mes symphonies dans un de vos concerts à Paris ce printemps?” For a
moment I was nonplussed what to answer. We had given three concerts in
Paris and I had devoted one to the “Eroica” of Beethoven, and the other
two to the César Franck D Minor, the Mozart “Jupiter,” and the Dvořák
“New World” symphonies, but Albert Spalding, my soloist, had played the
Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto, so that his name had been represented on
our programmes. Suddenly the right answer came to me: “Cher maître,
don’t you know that during the war I played your great Symphony No. 3 at
a gala concert on the Fête Nationale at the Salle du Conservatoire for
the benefit of the Croix Rouge, and here is Monsieur Cortot who played
the piano part and here Mademoiselle Boulanger who played the organ.”
(Both of them were luckily standing by my side as Saint-Saëns entered.)
He was completely pacified and was carried off in triumph to the buffet
by a crowd of adoring French musicians in order to offer him some

Henri Casadesus told me afterward that when Saint-Saëns arrived at the
buffet he said: “I am thirsty.” “Here is some champagne,” said
Casadesus. “No. That is too cold,” “Well, here is chocolate.” “No. That
is too hot,” whereupon he took the glass of champagne and poured it into
the chocolate and drank it down with evident relish. Pretty good for a
man then eighty-two years of age!

Saint-Saëns had always preserved a great adoration for Liszt, who had
been one of the first musicians to befriend him in his early days, and
his admiration for Liszt’s music had remained much greater than for that
of Wagner. In fact, during the war the majority of the French musicians
were furious at his chauvinistic attitude toward Wagner.

It is told that when Saint-Saëns was still a very young man he was
calling on Liszt and the servant asked him to wait a few minutes as
Liszt was engaged in another room. Saint-Saëns, seeing a manuscript
orchestral score on the piano, sat down and proceeded with his
marvellous musicianship to read and play it at sight, when suddenly the
door opened and Liszt and Wagner rushed in, amazed at hearing the
intricate harmonies of Wagner’s “Rheingold” so marvellously reproduced.
Wagner had just brought the score to Liszt in order to show it to him.

During the winter of 1920-21 I accepted the co-editorship for a series
of music readers to be used in our public schools, and as I had agreed
to invite a small group of distinguished French and English composers to
contribute some songs for this publication, I requested Saint-Saëns to
honor us with two. He readily complied, and in the summer of 1921
invited me to come to his apartment as he had the songs all ready. When
I called, he immediately sat down at the piano and from his very neatly
written manuscript played them for me, begging me to observe that he had
made the accompaniment exceedingly simple in order that “the American
school-teachers should not be too much puzzled by it.” For one of the
songs composed in honor of the aviators of the war, he had even written
the words himself, and for the other he had taken words by La Fontaine.

He called at my hotel in August of 1921. He seemed to me to have grown
more feeble, but seeing on my piano an edition of Beethoven’s piano
sonatas, edited by von Bülow, with which I always like to travel as I
find the playing of these sonatas very agreeable and restful between the
inevitable irritations of travel, Saint-Saëns suddenly bristled up and
became very angry at a certain rather complicated fingering which Bülow
had given to a piano passage, as his fingers had not been adapted by
nature to rapid playing.

“This is the way it should be played,” said Saint-Saëns, as he sat down
at the piano and proceeded to let his fingers, though still clad in gray
lisle gloves, run up the keys with incredible swiftness, like little
gray mice. This extreme dexterity never left him. I had heard him but a
month before at a musical given by Widor in his honor and in which
Saint-Saëns played the piano part in his own “Septet with Trumpet.” His
fingers literally ran away with him, and every time there was a quick
passage, he accelerated the tempo to such an extent that the other
players simply had to scramble after him as best they could.

He died last winter at eighty-four years of age, and all Paris,
governmental, artistic, and scientific, united in giving him imposing
and significant obsequies. The respect which the young men of France
have for their old masters is something exceedingly sympathetic to an
American observer. Whenever Saint-Saëns appeared among them they would
hover around with eager deference, flushing with pride as he would say
something to the one or the other. In fact, Widor, who is perhaps ten
years younger than Saint-Saëns, always insisted on treating him as if
he, Widor, were a young, deferential schoolboy in the presence of his
great master. Indeed, they reserve the words “_grand maître_” only for
their very choicest men of the arts and the learned professions.

With Lillian Nordica I made a joint tour through New England, giving
Wagner concerts. As she had by that time arrived at true prima donna
estate she had a private car in which she lived and in which I also had
a room. The poor lady arrived on the first day with an attack of
bronchitis so acute that she could hardly speak. Her voice sounded like
the croak of a raven. I have never seen any woman in such abject
despair, walking up and down the little dining-room of the car like a
caged tigress, every now and then touching a note on the upright piano
which had been placed therein, and trying her voice. She was clad in a
wrapper, and tears and misery had ravaged her comely face so that it was
hardly recognizable. I, of course, thought that she would not sing that
evening, but at seven she disappeared into her room and an hour later
emerged clad in a magnificent toilet, with her diamond tiara on the top
of her head and her face wonderfully made up. When she appeared before
her audience with whom she was an old favorite, her manner had all the
regal but smiling charm of yore. Her voice? Well, that is another story.

During that entire week this tragi-comedy would repeat itself every day.
Her bronchitis never left her, and from my room I could hear this poor
woman, as she entered the dining-room, touch the piano furtively and try
to sing a few notes. It was agony, and I have hated private cars ever
since, and am quite content to occupy a drawing-room or a berth in a
regular sleeping-car when I travel. It is certainly more cheerful.

When we finally arrived in New York, where we expected to give two
Wagner concerts, lo and behold, the clouds suddenly lifted. Nordica was
her old self, and while the diamond tiara could not have looked more
regal nor the smile have been more ingratiating than at Worcester,
Massachusetts, her voice had again regained its old charm and the cry of
the Valkyrie and _Isolde’s_ Liebestod brought back to the memory of her
audiences the happy days when Nordica, Schumann-Heink, and Jean de
Reszke had electrified them at the Metropolitan.

Madame Nordica was, however, not the only American artist with whom I
came into frequent professional contact and who had achieved an eminence
equal to that of the best of Europe. David Bispham became a member of my
opera company in 1896. He came of an old Quaker family in Philadelphia,
into whose lives music had never penetrated. How Bispham got his intense
musical temperament is one of those mysteries that the laws of neither
heredity nor environment can explain.

He was a man of some means, and finding the local atmosphere in which he
lived uncongenial to his evident artistic needs, he went to Europe. He
had a vibrant barytone voice, studied singing with Lamperti, and
gradually began to make successful appearances on the stage, especially
in England. In my company he achieved especial successes as _Telramund_,
_Kurvenal_, and _Beckmesser_, also as _Roger Chillingworth_ in my own
opera on Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter.” He adored a part in which he
could “act.” In fact, he sometimes overacted. His musical memory,
especially in his later years, was not always to be relied on, but the
more he forgot the words the more intense his acting became, and as
_Chillingworth_, in which rôle he really never quite learned the text,
he fairly contorted his body in giving expression to the sinister
machinations and revengeful desires of that demon.

As a man he was of a singularly delightful, almost childlike
disposition. The things of this life rarely existed for him as they
really were. He saw them through the glass of his own exuberant
imagination. The mysterious, the extraordinary, always fascinated him,
and he therefore often became the prey of designing people who took easy
advantage of his trusting nature. He was a most generous colleague and
more free from jealousy than most operatic singers. Rehearsals, no
matter how long, were to him as the breath to his nostrils, and he would
often spend hours before his glass in the dressing-room making up his
face for some character part in close imitation of a famous picture he
had seen at the Uffizi in Florence or the Royal Gallery in London. He
loved to enact a villain, but, on the other hand, his doglike devotion
to _Tristan_ as _Kurvenal_ often brought tears to our eyes.

My wife and I became very fond of him and, later on, when he and I
joined the Metropolitan Opera House Company, again under Maurice Grau,
we would often take our meals together on the long Western trips to and
from California.

He was exceedingly irascible if servants did not carry out his orders
properly, and he would berate them in his very resonant voice with a
distinctness of utterance worthy of the _Comédie Française_. One morning
we were seated at breakfast in the dining-car of our train when the
colored waiter brought him his coffee, which was so weak that a drop of
the so-called cream turned it a bluish gray. “Take away that coffee!”
Bispham thundered. “It is not fit to drink. It is too weak!”

“Oh, no, sah!” expostulated gently the waiter. “Dat coffee am all right.
It’s de cream what’s too powerful strong!”

At that time leather suitcases were just making their first appearance
and I had bought one and carried it about with me. Bispham noticed it
and said, in his extreme Kensington English, which he had carefully
acquired over there: “Walter, that is a very nice bag you have there. I
think I will buy four of them, each one a little smaller than the other,
so that I can put them all inside each other.”

“Why,” I said, “David, aren’t you going to pack anything else inside of
those bags?”

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed David. “Walter, you are always having your little

Whenever my opera company came to Boston the supers, when an extra group
or crowd of knights or peasants, etc., were necessary, were always taken
from Harvard University. This became a source of enormous revenue to the
doorkeeper at the stage entrance. Our stage-manager paid him twenty-five
cents for each super, but he not only pocketed this money himself but
charged the students anywhere from fifty cents upward, according to the
popularity of the opera, for the privilege of hearing it from the stage.
In consequence we often had the most wonderful athletic specimens that
the ardent pursuit of sport produces among college men, delighting our
eyes as the curtain rose, and the knights and nobles in the second act
of “Tannhäuser,” for instance, clad in magnificent robes, would march in
and solemnly listen to the contest of song in the castle of the
Landgrave of Thuringia.

But they were not all athletes, and I remember one real student among
them. The curtain went up on the first act of “Lohengrin” and, to my
amazement as I looked up from my conductor’s stand, I saw one of these
college boys, dressed in the armor and cloak of one of King Henry’s
knights, calmly standing at the foot of the throne, large spectacles on
his nose, busily following the action of the opera from a libretto which
he held in his hand and close to his eyes.

Another time a much more terrible occurrence took place, but very much
“behind the scenes.” I was in Boston with the Grau Opera Company and, at
a Saturday matinée, “Carmen” was given with Madame Calvé in the title
rôle. I did not conduct that opera, and happened to saunter on the stage
after the third act. I found the whole company in a state of only
half-suppressed merriment. While Madame A—— was singing _Micaela’s_
air on the stage, in which she implores _Don Jose_ to leave _Carmen_ and
return to his old mother, one of these young wretches from Harvard had
crept into her dressing-room, and in order to have a triumphant souvenir
to hang up in his rooms at college he had stolen her— No, not her
stockings, but another important part of her wearing apparel. Madame
A——, on returning to her dressing-room, had discovered the theft. Her
maid had told the wardrobe mistress, the wardrobe mistress had told the
stage carpenter, he had repeated it to the stage-manager, and so forth
and so on, the whole company revelling in it, especially as Madame A——
was herself of New England parentage and was considered an exceptionally
proper young person.

 From a snapshot taken in Paris at the wedding reception of Gretchen
   Damrosch, July 17, 1920]



“At last!” my readers will exclaim. “All these reminiscences about
musicians are well enough, but it is their love-affairs that we are
interested in. Think of Beethoven and the Countess Giucciardi, of
Berlioz and Miss Smithson, of Liszt and the Countess d’Agoult, of Wagner
and Madame Wesendonck. Musicians are so romantic, so different from
ordinary men. They wear their hair longer; they affect delightful
eccentricities of conduct and of clothes; the ordinary humdrum of life
does not touch them, and they live only in the higher and rarer
atmosphere of art and poetry.” Therefore woman, who is so much more
spiritual than man, sometimes thinks in her unguarded moments that true
happiness can only be found by falling in love with an artist or, better
still, having him fall in love with her.

Without venturing to place myself in the same category as the great
musicians mentioned above, I nevertheless propose in this chapter to
give a full and detailed account of all my love-affairs—all, or at
least of as many as can be crowded into the confines of a chapter. I
have lived a great many years and my life, like that of other artists,
has been full to the brim of all kinds of interesting and fascinating
happenings, and in order that my readers may gain a true picture I shall
begin at the very beginning, promising to tell the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth.

Terrible as it may seem, I have to confess at the outset that I began my
life as a gay _Lothario_ at the tender age of eight. My family were then
living in Breslau, Silesia, and the rear of the house in which our
apartment was situated opened on a large courtyard, upon which several
other houses faced. This courtyard naturally became the playground of
all the children who lived around it. We were particularly intimate with
one family, the children of which consisted of an elder brother, already
in the university, who affected the appearance and manner of the great
German poet, Friedrich Schiller. He was supposed to have great poetical
talents, and it was darkly rumored that he had already written two
tragedies. I was greatly in awe of him, but his younger brother, who was
a boy of my own age, was my classmate in school—the gymnasium, as it
was called. And then there was a sister, little Lorchen, seven years of
age, with blue eyes and many blond curls. I had played with her and her
brother for several months before I suddenly discovered that her curls
were beautiful, like spun gold, and that there was something
particularly ingratiating in the blue of her eyes. I had an intense
desire to put my arms around her, but, strange to say, the consciousness
of this filled me with such anger that instead of giving way to it I
took the first opportunity to slap this darling little child most
unmercifully. To this day I cannot explain my unnatural depravity, and I
wish that I could now—over fifty years later—meet little Lorchen again
to tell her that this slap was my only way of letting her know how much
I loved her. Alas, she never knew, and as we emigrated to America soon
thereafter, I never had the time nor the opportunity to overcome my
shyness and to place my love at her feet in proper fashion.

I cannot remember any new passions from then on until my sixteenth year.
Lorchen’s picture soon and completely faded from my memory. I was
tremendously taken up, first with learning English, New York school
life, my musical studies, playing marbles, flying kites, and building
ships to sail on the pond in Central Park. But when I was fifteen a
little Frenchman came to New York and presented himself to my father
with his two little daughters, Louise and Jeanne, who were both pianist
prodigies. Louise was fifteen and little Jeanne only twelve. The latter
was truly remarkable, and her playing made quite a stir in New York at
the time. But I was singularly drawn toward the older sister, Louise.
Their mother had died when the children were very young and Louise had
quite taken the mother’s place and watched over Jeanne with a maternal
solicitude and tenderness truly remarkable in so young a girl. She
played exquisitely herself, and I can still hear the velvety touch of
her fingers in the A Flat Etude of Chopin, but in her adoration for her
younger sister’s more brilliant talent she completely effaced herself,
and it was only with difficulty that one could get her to play if her
sister was present. They lived in a little French boarding-house and I
used to love to go there in the evening, and while Jeanne would play for
us in most brilliant fashion Louise would sit at a table in the centre
of the room and, under the mellow light of a centre lamp, would darn
stockings or deftly refashion some dress which Jeanne was to wear at her
next concert. Louise had the gentlest of brown eyes, and her face and
bearing breathed a tranquillity and sweetness rarely found in the
agitating nervous life of to-day. She was not talkative, but when she
spoke her eyes would smile and crinkle up in very ingratiating fashion.

I had certainly outgrown the slapping age, but had not yet developed the
courage to declare my adoration. I seem to have been quite content to
sit next to Louise, and to look into her gentle eyes, or watch her deft
fingers as they pleated and sewed and did all those clever things which
women’s fingers alone know how to do. That spring, alas, the father and
his daughters returned to France and I have never seen them again.

But so inconstant is youth that the following year I fell madly in love
with Madame Teresa Carreno, of whom I have already written in an earlier
chapter. I was sixteen and she was twenty-four, radiantly beautiful,
brilliantly educated, and a remarkable linguist, speaking English,
German, French, Spanish, and Italian with equal fluency. But for me her
eyes spoke a language even more eloquent than her tongue, and it was
small wonder that I was bowled over completely. On my first concert
tour, her beauty, her exquisite playing, and the languorous
half-tropical charms of the South through which we were touring was a
combination I could not withstand.

But my schoolboy adoration received a severe shock when, on the last day
of our tour, a handsome and very robust Italian barytone, by the name of
Tagliapietra, came to meet her and I found that she was madly in love
with him. They were married a short time after.

She, too, seems to have been unconscious of my adoration. Thirty-two
years later, at a dinner given at the Hotel Plaza in honor of my
twenty-fifth anniversary as a conductor, she was present and in my
speech of thanks I humorously referred to her as the _grande passion_ of
my early youth. She afterward told my sister: “I never knew that Walter
had felt like that about me!”

To proceed with my confessions. The following year I met—but, alas,
this chapter is already overcrowded and I shall have to continue the (to
me) so fascinating recital of my various romances in my next book of
memoirs, which I expect to publish in about twenty years.



My father had always considered that a study of the oratorios of Bach
and Handel was a highly important foundation for the young musician, and
I had spent many hours with him in studying their scores and imitating
their form in my own counterpointal work. Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion”
and Handel’s “Messiah,” “Samson,” and “Judas Maccabæus” I knew virtually
by heart. My father also believed the development of amateur choruses to
be a very strong factor in the musical growth of a people. Under his
inspiration the chorus of the Oratorio Society constantly grew in
numbers and technical proficiency; but it suffered from the great dearth
of men singers, especially tenors. The terribly one-sided condition of
musical development in our country, proceeding almost exclusively on
feminine lines, showed itself markedly in this branch of the art. Many
of the men singers who in one way or another had been cajoled or coerced
into joining a choral society, had often to be drilled in their parts
like children, though without a child’s quickness of perception. The
result was that the labor of training was incessant and the mistakes of
one year repeated themselves inevitably the next. In rehearsing such
oratorios as Handel’s “Messiah” or Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion,” for
instance, a good routined conductor could always prophesy beforehand
what mistakes the chorus was going to make.

During my father’s time the sopranos in the Oratorio Society were of
overwhelming power and quality; but this was largely because my mother,
when we came to America, gave up all solo singing in public and devoted
herself enthusiastically to leading the soprano choir. Her voice was
phenomenal in its strength and quality, and when, as in some fugal
chorus of Handel’s, the sopranos finally enter on the main theme, her
triumphant voice would carry everything along with it. She always sang
by heart, her beautiful, deep-set eyes fixed on the conductor, and when
this conductor happened to be her own husband or son there was a
devotion and a love in them that I can never forget.

To maintain a choral society in a huge city like New York is doubly
difficult because of the many temptations and distractions that beset
its members in so large a metropolis and threaten the regular attendance
at rehearsals. I have always felt, therefore, that the many splendid
performances which the society has given, in its long existence of
forty-nine years, are especially to its credit. The rehearsals with
these amateur singers, however, demand from the conductor ten times the
energy, patience, and vitality that are necessary with an orchestra
composed of trained professionals. And yet there is a charm in working
with devoted amateurs. My father loved it, and even during the harassing
labors of founding and maintaining the German opera at the Metropolitan,
he always turned to the regular Thursday-evening chorus rehearsals of
the Oratorio Society as a change and rest. I confess that I have
similarly enjoyed the almost primitive study necessary with an amateur
chorus after a day spent with my orchestra, and I look back with the
deepest pleasure on the many years during which I conducted the Oratorio

Smaller cities should be able to develop choral societies far more
easily than New York. Toronto, Canada, has always been an example of
what can be accomplished in that direction. There are four choral
societies of high merit there, among which perhaps the Mendelssohn
Choir, founded by Doctor Vogt, ranks highest. The English have an
inherited love and talent for choral singing, and in Toronto the weekly
rehearsal is the one “dissipation” of the week, and is eagerly looked
forward to by the singers. I have heard the Mendelssohn Choir repeatedly
on their visits to New York and have been thrilled by the beauty and
volume of their tone and the precision of their singing.

I have written elsewhere of the great musical festival which was
projected and conducted by my father in May, 1881. For the great chorus
of twelve hundred, which was its outstanding feature, the four hundred
singers of the Oratorio Society formed the backbone, and I was intrusted
with the drilling of two other sections of the festival chorus. As I had
been the accompanist and organist for years at all the rehearsals of the
Oratorio Society and had officiated as conductor of the Newark Harmonic
Society for three years after the festival, I was technically well
equipped to take over the directorship of the Oratorio Society when it
was offered to me after my father’s death in 1885.

I conducted the last concert of that season, Bach’s “St. Matthew’s
Passion,” and found that the affection and reverence which the chorus
cherished for my father made them help me devotedly in my difficult

For the following season I cast about to find a new work to mark my
entry into this field, and decided that a concert performance of
Wagner’s “Parsifal” would interest the New York public. The sacred
character of the work, the importance and beauty of its choral portions,
and the fact that as yet its music was almost unknown seemed to me to
invite such a performance, even though Wagner had conceived it for
dramatic representation and with a stage-setting. He had intended the
work for performance only in Bayreuth, but in 1882, when it was first
produced there, he himself had given me an orchestral score in
manuscript of the choral Finale from the first act to present to my
father, so that he might produce it in concert form in New York.

During a visit to London in the spring of 1886 I called on the London
representative of the publishers of “Parsifal” and asked whether an
orchestral score of the complete work could be purchased. He told me it
could, but that its purchase would not entitle me to a performance of
the work, and that if I used it for a performance I would have to pay a
fine of fifty pounds. I told him I was quite ready to pay such a fine as
I wanted it for a concert performance in New York, and promptly bought
an orchestral score and had the orchestral parts copied from it.

Owing to my connection with the Metropolitan Opera House I was able to
give the work an exceptional cast. _Kundry_ was sung by Marianne Brandt,
who had sung it in Bayreuth at one of the first performances. Max Alvary
was cast for the title rôle, and Emil Fischer for _Gurnemanz_. Alvary
became ill shortly before the performance and his part was taken by
another young tenor of our company, a Mr. Kraemer. The choral portions
were sung by the Oratorio Society with thrilling effect.

This was the first performance of “Parsifal” outside of Bayreuth, and it
made a sensation but also aroused quite a controversy in the newspapers
as to its fitness for the concert room. Good and weighty arguments can
be produced on both sides. At a performance in concert a great deal is
lost to many people, especially to those whose imagination cannot
function without the stimulus of scenery, costumes, and dramatic action;
but at that time this was the only opportunity for American music
lovers, who could not make the long trip to Bayreuth, to become
acquainted with the music. To many listeners the choral portions,
especially those centring in the religious ceremonies in the Hall of the
Holy Grail, were just as impressive, if not more so, than in a scenic
representation. To-day, and generally speaking, I would rather hear the
music from “Parsifal” with my eyes closed. My imagination, stimulated by
the music, can paint the scenic and dramatic investiture far more
idealistically than any actual stage representation, but I do not claim
this as a truth for all, but only as my individual preference.

We gave two concert performances at the Metropolitan Opera House (public
rehearsal and concert), and over three thousand people listened with
rapt attention at each rendition.

Years after, in 1903, when the then director of opera at the
Metropolitan, Heinrich Conried, announced his intention of giving a
stage performance of “Parsifal,” I received a letter from Madame Cosima
Wagner, saying that she had heard that I possessed the score and
orchestral parts of the work. She begged me not to give them to Mr.
Conried, as the _meister_ had left absolute directions in his will that
stage representations of this work were to be reserved for all time for
Bayreuth. She had heard that I had given a concert performance and
wondered how I had gotten permission.

I wrote to her and explained now I had obtained the score and had sent
the “fifty pounds fine” to the publishers, according to my agreement
with them. I then received another letter from her, as follows:


    Thank you very much for your kind lines and the expression of
    your feelings for Parsifal, which, of course, is never to be
    given out of Bayreuth; but concerning the production at concert,
    there has been made a very limited choice of fragments, which is
    not to be extended. The choice, done by the master, is as

    1. Prelude, close of the first act,—nothing of the second.

    2. Verwandlungsmusik—close of the third act.

    3. Amfortasklage

    4. Charfreitagszauber

    I am astonished that for £50 you got the allowance (permission)
    to execute the whole Parsifal in concert and I will ask the
    publisher (about it).

    Concerning the performance on the stage, I still hope that the
    cultivated part of the public at New York won’t agree to it.

    Receive, dear Mr. Damrosch, with my best thanks, my kindest

                                                          C. WAGNER

    Bayreuth, 6 Juli, 1903.

Conried, however, obtained his parts elsewhere, and gave a stage
performance that winter. Since then the copyright on “Parsifal” has run
out and it has been produced all over the world.

During my search for modern works I endeavored also to keep alive the
interest in the old oratorios. I owed much to them, and their dignity
and genuine expression of religious feeling had been a most important
factor in my early and earliest education. As a boy I sang alto in the
Oratorio Society chorus and at sixteen was promoted to the dignity of
accompanist at rehearsals. At this work I became quite an expert, and if
my father stopped at a certain place to correct the chorus, I would, of
course, know beforehand what he wanted, and would hammer out the right
note for the altos or the tenors—it was usually the tenors—or would
resort, even while they were singing, to all manner of expedients, such
as playing the critical intervals an octave higher in order to keep up
the pitch or to define them more clearly. As both my mother and Tante
Marie sang in the chorus, there would be the four of us going home
together after a rehearsal, discussing this or that point which needed
more drilling, or a weakness that needed bolstering up, or we would
express mutual enthusiasm over some chorus particularly well sung that
evening. Naturally the refrain after almost every rehearsal was: “How
can we get ten more first tenors?” America did not seem to grow them,
and as even basses were not as plentiful as they should have been, it
seemed almost as if the future American composer should write choruses
for women only. If at the voice trial of new applicants, which usually
took place before or after rehearsal, that _rara avis_, a tenor, was
found, we glowed with delight and speculated as to whether he would
really turn up at the next rehearsal and become a regular member. It
cannot be claimed that tenors are to be found in profusion even to-day,
but there has been an immense development in the quality of choral
singers. Their voices are better trained, they read better at sight, and
the general increase of interest in music manifests itself very strongly
in this direction.

In 1892 I gave a Handel festival in honor of the
one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the first performance of
Handel’s “Messiah” in Dublin under his own direction, in 1742, followed
by the one which King George II and his court attended, and when the
crowd was so great that the management requested the gentlemen not to
wear their swords nor the ladies their hoop-skirts, in order to enable
as many as possible to hear the work of “Mr. Handel.” At this
performance, when the Hallelujah chorus began, with its mighty climax,
“King of Kings, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” King George, overcome with
emotion, arose and remained standing until the end. Naturally the entire
audience rose in imitation of their royal master, and Great Britain has
continued this custom ever since. As this was a fitting homage both to
the Almighty and to the composer who in this chorus so marvellously
voiced man’s adoration for him, my father introduced the custom at his
own first performance of the “Messiah,” in 1874, and the Oratorio
Society audiences have followed it to this day.

An interesting account of the kind of orchestra Handel may have employed
is given in a description of a memorial service of the “Messiah,” sung
in Westminster Abbey shortly after his death. I decided to reproduce
such an orchestra as far as possible at our festival performance. The
main characteristics consisted in the doubling up of the string parts in
the choruses with oboes and bassoons and in duplicating the trumpets and
kettledrums in the choral climaxes. The effect of this was most
remarkable. I had placed an additional oboe with every three violins and
an additional bassoon for every three violoncellos, with a few
contrabassoons and contrabass clarinets to strengthen the double-basses
and to take the part of the serpent—an instrument which has become
obsolete. The doubling up of trumpets and kettledrums in the climaxes
did not make them sound louder, but more full. For the first time in my
experience the sound of the orchestra was not completely buried in the
avalanche of tone from a large chorus of three hundred and fifty voices.
The orchestral accompaniments supported and supplemented the chorus in a
way that perhaps only a very large and mellow church organ might.

In Handel’s time he himself usually sat at the organ and filled in with
masterly improvisations many of the harmonies for which in his score he
had written only the bass, with figures indicating the harmonies which
the organist should improvise. Since then various musicians have
endeavored to supply these harmonies in permanent fashion by writing
them for other instruments in the orchestra, principally for clarinets
and bassoons. As most concert-halls are but poorly supplied with organs,
these arrangements offered a kind of substitute, and the one most in use
was that of Robert Franz. He was a German composer of very lovely songs,
and a great admirer of Handel, but, curiously enough, his arrangements
were very bad and not in keeping with the Handelian spirit. Mozart also
had written accompaniments to supply the missing harmonies for a
performance of the “Messiah” in Vienna at a hall in which there was no
church organ. His additions, especially in the air “The people that
walked in darkness,” are of such transcendent beauty that when I
proceeded in my work of restoring the Handelian orchestra to its
original form my courage failed me completely as I came to this air. It
was as if one master had found a painting by another and had encircled
it in a frame of such beauty as to enhance the value of the original
picture. I could not bear to disturb it, but the clarinets and bassoons
of Robert Franz were thrown out by me with great gusto.

Another novel and interesting feature of our festival was a scenic stage
performance of a charming pastoral of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea.” This
proved to have dramatic qualities which in their appeal seemed way
beyond that of the many Italian operas which Handel has written. The
cast was excellent. The part of _Galatea_ was sung by Madame de Vere, a
charming coloratura singer; the shepherd _Acis_ by William Rieger, one
of our best young concert tenors; and _Polyphemus_, the giant, by that
master artist, Emil Fischer. The scene represented a landscape of
classic beauty, and all the participants were clad in very charming
Greek shepherd costumes. The scene in which _Polyphemus_, coming upon
the shepherd lovers, lifts a huge rock and in jealous rage kills Acis,
was done with such dramatic intensity as to thrill our audiences. The
performance was a real event, as this work had perhaps not been given in
its dramatic form since the time of Handel; but, curiously enough, it
roused but little interest, for, whereas all the other performances of
the festival were crowded to the doors, we had but half an audience at
our two performances of the pastoral. It came about twenty years too
early, and I think that to-day, especially if given under the auspices
of the Metropolitan Opera, it would arouse wide-spread interest.

This spring (1922) I was in Munich and the town was in great excitement
over the approaching performance of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” in
dramatic form. Their conductor, Bruno Walter, said to me: “We are very
proud of this stage performance, as it is the first since Handel’s
time.” He was amazed and, as he told me, much chagrined when I informed
him that I had given it in New York nearly thirty years ago. He gave it
a beautiful performance. I had costumed my singers in classic Greek, but
the Munich stage director had given the work an additional and rather
piquant flavor by dressing the singers and dancers as in Handel’s time,
when all performers, in no matter what age their plays were supposed to
take place, wore the costumes and huge periwigs of their own period.

In the summer of 1898 we were much excited by the dramatic accounts of
Admiral Dewey’s victory in Manila Bay, and it seemed to me fitting to
celebrate it by composing a “Te Deum” for soloists, chorus, and
orchestra. In order to give my “Manila Te Deum” an appropriate
character, I used several of the bugle-calls of the American army and
navy as a _cantus firmus_, around which I wove the fugal developments of
the voices of the chorus. In the last chorus, “O Lord, in thee have I
trusted; let me never be confounded,” I used the “Star-Spangled Banner”
in similar fashion.

The work received its first performance at a concert of the Oratorio
Society, December 3, 1898, and marked the introduction of my brother as
regular conductor of the society. The following spring I was invited to
conduct it at a Dewey celebration in Chicago, and on February 6, 1900, I
directed it again at a special performance given in Carnegie Hall, the
proceeds of which were to be used toward the building of an arch in
honor of Admiral Dewey. This arch, however, was never built, and the
several thousand dollars which resulted from our concert were finally
donated by the Dewey Arch Committee to a philanthropic purpose. Our two
guests of honor at this performance were Admiral Dewey, in a box on one
side of the hall, and Theodore Roosevelt, at that time Governor of New
York, in a box on the other side. Roosevelt was to make an appropriate
address, and as the victor of Manila Bay was present and the entire
occasion was one of jubilant admiration for our navy, we expected one of
Roosevelt’s most flaming patriotic addresses on the glories of the
American navy. But, alas, that evening his mind was completely occupied
with things nearer home, and after a few very courteous remarks about my
music, he launched forth into a terrific speech on the Street Cleaning
Department of New York and the “duty of every citizen to vote at the

In 1892 I gave the first performance in America of Saint-Saëns’s opera
of “Samson and Delilah.” This work is admirably adapted for concert
performance, and many portions of it are far more effective in this form
than on the stage. The music is lovely and of great melodic simplicity,
and many of the choruses are written in oratorio form. At stage
performances the dramatic climax of the second act, in which _Delilah_
appears jubilantly at the door of her palace, shaking _Samson’s_ red wig
triumphantly at the admiring high priest and soldiers, is really an
anticlimax, and excites our risibilities much more than our sorrow that
the God-given strength of the mighty soldier has left him.

From my father I have inherited a deep admiration for Hector Berlioz and
have conducted many performances of his greater works—the “Damnation of
Faust,” the “Requiem Mass,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and the first rendition
in America of his “Te Deum.”

Another novelty which I produced with the Oratorio Society in 1889 was
the “Missa Solemnis” of Edward Grell. This work created a sensation. Its
composer was virtually unknown except locally in Berlin, where he had
been a teacher of counterpoint and composition in the first half of the
nineteenth century. He had lived himself so completely into the style of
the Italian masters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that
modern harmonies simply did not exist for him, and his “Missa Solemnis”
is conceived absolutely in the manner of the early masters of
ecclesiastical music. It is written for four choruses of four parts each
and four solo quartets. There is absolutely no accompaniment, and the
purity of these sixteen-part harmonies without any admixture of
instruments produces truly celestial effects. The four choruses which
are generally used antiphonally with the solo quartets, produce
thrilling climaxes, and the _Benedictus_ especially gives an impression
of ecstatic beauty.

I have written elsewhere, of my first performance of the “Christus,” by
Liszt. I also produced “St. Christopher,” by Horatio Parker,
distinguished American musician and composer. This work, however, did
not prove as effective as his “Hora Novissima.” It seemed to fall
between two stools, as it was neither an opera nor an oratorio.

I gave, of course, many renditions of the oratorios of Handel, Haydn,
and Mendelssohn, and inaugurated the custom of an annual performance of
Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion” during Holy Week. I am happy to say that
I succeeded in “popularizing” this mighty work, so that now it draws a
huge and devout audience whenever it is given. But, generally speaking,
the interest in the older oratorios is waning, not only in New York but
all over the country. The ears of our audiences have lost pleasure in
the simpler harmonies of Handel and Haydn, and, accustomed to the richer
orchestration of to-day, find the accompaniments of the Handelian
orchestra thin and archaic. Something of the simple and naïve religious
faith that inspired the old oratorios has also gone, and the composer
has not yet been found who can voice the faith and aspirations of
to-day. It is a pity that the old oratorio form should therefore be
neglected. I think, however, that it is not dead but only sleeps, and
will awaken again.

In 1898 I retired as conductor of the Oratorio Society, owing to the
pressure of my operatic and orchestral work, and my brother Frank was
elected as my successor. He is two years older than I and has always
shared my love and enthusiasm for music in an equal degree. He studied
the piano as a boy, but had always insisted that his talent was not
great enough to warrant making music his profession; and therefore, at
the age of seventeen, he with great courage determined to go out West
and begin a business career. Arrived in Denver, Colorado, with one
hundred dollars in his pocket, he proceeded, in the manner of our
American young men who have no intention of becoming a burden on their
parents, to earn his own living.

He began at the very bottom and slowly worked his way upward, but
suffered intensely during his first years in Denver from the almost
total lack of music there. He had drunk of it in such generous
quantities in New York that it had become a larger part of his very life
than he had realized; and in order to satisfy his need he founded a
choral society with which he gave some of the old oratorios, and with
characteristic audacity he supplemented this with an orchestra composed
of a handful of professionals then playing at the Denver theatres and a
few amateurs. The citizens of Denver, realizing that he was a real
musician in spite of his modest estimate of himself, urged him to give
up business and turn altogether to music.

At the time of my father’s death Frank had become virtually the moving
force in all the higher musical enterprises of Denver. It seemed to me
that the time had come to urge him to return to New York and together
with me continue the work my father had begun. He was promptly engaged
as chorus master at the Metropolitan Opera House, and also became more
and more active in pedagogic work, for which he had a special enthusiasm
which has never waned.

His activities extended in many directions. He founded the Young
People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall, and became supervisor of music in
the public schools of New York, completely reforming the teaching of
music. The good effects of this are felt to this day. He also founded
the People’s Choral Union, in which working men and women were taught
singing and the rudiments of music and then promoted into a chorus of
twelve hundred voices which studied and performed the old oratorios of
Handel and Haydn.

He officiated as conductor of the Oratorio Society from 1898 until 1912,
and during this period conducted first performances in New York of
Edward Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius” and “The Apostles,” Anton
Dvořák’s “Stabat Mater,” Gabriel Pierné’s “Children’s Crusade,” Johannes
Brahms’s “Song of Fate,” and Wolf-Ferrari’s “La Vita Nuova.”

His interest in the pedagogy of music culminated in the founding of a
music-school—the Institute of Musical Art—which was liberally endowed
by James Loeb and others, and which has developed into one of the few
great music-schools of this country and Europe. This school soon began
to assume such proportions as to demand all of his time and vitality. He
therefore retired from other public work, with the exception of the
conductorship of the Society of Musical Art, a unique chorus of
sixty-five professional singers, giving only two concerts during the
season, representing the highest that can be attained in choral singing.
For its programmes he drew upon the rich and partly unknown treasures of
the _a capella_ choruses of such masters as Palestrina, Orlando di
Lasso, Cornelius, and Brahms; and as this chorus was composed of the
very elect of New York’s church and concert singers he obtained results
ravishing in their beauty.

When we were boys together we quarrelled dreadfully and outrageously.
Frank would try to assert his two years’ seniority over me and I would
resent this with both hands and feet. I remember my mother resolutely
separating us and giving me a little room to myself, as that seemed the
only way to achieve peace between us. But I am happy to say that since
1885, when Frank returned to New York, we have lived and worked together
in absolute harmony and mutual helpfulness. In fact, the unity between
us has been so complete that we are now inclined by contrast to consider
each other as having been exceptionally devilish and nasty during those
early boyhood years. I know, of course, that the blame was entirely his,
as he was so overbearing and presuming because of the accident of his
earlier birth, while he is equally convinced that I was altogether too
cheeky for my age and it was absolutely necessary for my own good and
future welfare to put me where I belonged.

In 1919 I was again asked to assume the direction of the Oratorio
Society. Their affairs had not prospered after my brother had
relinquished the conductorship. A huge debt threatened to engulf them,
and, while I was overwhelmed with work in connection with the New York
Symphony Orchestra, with which I gave over a hundred concerts every
winter, I could not resist their appeal and promised to stay by them
until they could find a permanent conductor to their liking.

I am glad to say that the man was found in Albert Stoessel. He had been
a bandmaster in the A. E. F. during the war, had been chosen as teacher
of conducting at the bandmaster’s school in Chaumont, which I had
founded for General Pershing, and had become my assistant conductor at
the rehearsals of the Oratorio Society. The chorus were delighted with
him, and he was elected as regular conductor of the society in 1920. He
has already conducted two highly successful seasons, and I think that
our beloved old society will have many years of life and success under
his direction.



When my father died there were only three symphony orchestras in
America, the New York Symphony, the New York Philharmonic (Thomas formed
his travelling orchestra from this), and the Boston Symphony. The last
of these was supported by Major Higginson, and was the only one whose
members received weekly salaries for a season of thirty weeks, met every
morning for rehearsal, and devoted themselves exclusively to the playing
of symphonic music. It was the first so-called “permanent orchestra”
founded in America. The New York orchestras at that time played only a
very small number of symphony concerts, for each of which they had about
three rehearsals. Their members added to their earnings by playing in
odd concerts, opera, theatre, in fact, in almost anything that they
could find.

To-day the New York Symphony is splendidly maintained as a permanent
orchestra through the generosity of its president, Mr. Flagler. The
Philharmonic is similarly supported by liberal contributions from
various sources, and other orchestras in Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit,
Minneapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles use
from a hundred thousand dollars a year upward, donated by their
respective citizens, over and above the receipts from the sale of
tickets, in order to maintain themselves as permanent symphonic
organizations. Without such subsidies these orchestras could not exist,
as, even though the concerts are crowded, the expenditures are much
greater than any possible receipts.

I wonder how many of the conductors of these orchestras, who all receive
generous salaries and have no personal financial risk in the enterprise,
realize what up-hill pioneer work we had to do in the early days to keep
our orchestras alive and to lay the musical foundations on which they
are now so solidly built.

After my father’s death I was elected, at the age of twenty-three,
conductor of the New York Symphony Society. We used to give six concerts
and six public rehearsals during the winter, and for the seven years
following my election this orchestra was also employed for the German
opera at the Metropolitan. But when German opera was supplanted by
Italian under Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau, I was hard put to it to find
sufficient work for my men to keep them together. The little subsidy
which was at that time contributed by the directors of the Symphony
Society was only large enough to give the six regular concerts of the
winter season. I had learned the difficult art of accompanying soloists
sympathetically with the orchestra, and the foreign artists who came to
America, such as Sarasate, Ysaye, d’Albert, Joseffy, Paderewski,
Kubelik, and many others, always chose my orchestra to accompany them.
But these concerts were comparatively few, and I had to look for other
ways of giving my men enough work to make it worth their while to stay
with me instead of accepting travelling engagements with little opera
companies, etc. Gradually I developed Sunday-afternoon symphony
concerts, a complete innovation, as up to that time the only music given
on Sundays was in the evening and of the more popular and trivial
character. I argued that Sunday was the one day in the week when men
were not immersed in business cares, and that on that day they and their
families would be more susceptible to the appreciation of a higher and
more serious class of music. I therefore boldly inaugurated a series of
symphonic concerts for every Sunday afternoon during the winter; and my
faith was justified, as not only were these concerts attended by huge
audiences, but the percentage of men was greater than had ever been seen
at symphony concerts before. For several years I enjoyed a monopoly of
my idea, but then other orchestras and soloists perceived its value, and
to-day I have to share Sunday afternoons with two or three other
organizations who also give high-class concerts, all of which are
generally well attended.

I also gradually developed long spring tours with fifty men, which in
those days was considered a travelling orchestra of good size. On these
tours I penetrated the South, the Middle West, and, later on, the Far
West of California and Oregon.

Many of the communities that we visited had never heard a symphony
orchestra before, and for them we did real pioneer work, as I maintained
a high standard of music on my programmes. The classics were, of course,
the foundation; but Wagner very soon became a great drawing power, and
Wagner programmes were often the most asked for.

The general plan of my tours was to have the advance agent organize
three-day festivals with a local chorus which would take part in some
oratorio or concert excerpts from the operas of Wagner, Verdi, etc. I
would also carry a quartet of solo singers, sometimes supplemented by a
“star,” for the average American public dearly loves a “name.” Many of
these stars make their greatest money long after their vocal powers have
diminished, and they are compelled to make up this lack by adventitious
means such as extraordinary costumes, perhaps more decolleté than local
custom would sanction, but which are always considered as quite the
right thing for so exotic a personage as the “prima donna.”

During these three-day festivals we would generally give five concerts,
and, as we often booked two festivals in one week, the ten concerts and
necessary rehearsals often proved a great strain on my vitality. But it
had to be done, as the local festival committees were compelled to crowd
in as many concerts as possible to make their expenses. It has always
been fascinating to me to do pioneer work, either by organizing
something new, introducing a new composer, or penetrating into regions
where symphonic music was not yet known. The gratitude of the people was
often very touching, and if my profits at the end of an arduous tour
were sometimes not so large as they should have been, I had at least
kept my orchestra together for eight, ten, or even twelve weeks, and had
enlarged the radius of musical activity by many hundreds—sometimes
thousands—of miles. I marvel now at the courage with which I would
start on a tour in which perhaps only half my concerts were guaranteed,
and these guarantees, alas, not always paid up in full. But for years I
was almost the only one travelling through the country with an
orchestra, and as railroad fares were just half of what they are to-day
I was generally able to end my tour with some profit.

I also began to tackle the question of how to utilize my orchestra
during the summer months, and had the good luck to solve that problem
for many years very effectively. As early as 1885 and 1886 I was invited
by the Southern Exposition of Louisville, Kentucky, to come there with
my orchestra and play the entire summer, giving two concerts a day. I
shall always look back on those two summers with delight and gratitude.
I was very young and it was my first experience of a prolonged stay in a
Southern city. Louisville at that time was a small community, but with
an old civilization which manifested itself in a circle of charming
people of established culture and social relations. They opened their
doors and their hearts to my brother and me. The Pendennis Club, in its
old-fashioned courtesy and hospitality, was like a page out of Thackeray
or Dickens. Most of the people had never heard symphonic music, and as
we played twice a day for about three months, I gave them almost the
entire orchestral repertoire, ranging from the good popular music of
Johann Strauss through the symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven, and the
modern composers, to Wagner, who immediately became their “favorite
composer.” The members of my orchestra were also received with great
cordiality, and several very tender and romantic love-affairs were the
result. I too would gladly have fallen a victim to the charms of these
Southern beauties, but, alas, I was such a hard-worked young man with my
two concerts a day and rehearsals that I could not indulge myself much
in romance.

One evening, during a terrific thunder-storm, the lightning crashed into
the machinery furnishing the electric light of the music-hall, and
plunged it in darkness. It was crowded with thousands of listeners and
for a few minutes there was an awe-struck silence, broken only by the
great crashes of thunder. Gradually hysterical cries from the women were
heard here and there and a rush for the doors began. The darkness was
intense, but I knew the orchestra could play the march from “Le
Prophète” by heart, so I shouted to them to begin this number. I can
still hear old Karl Deis, who had been trombone player under my father,
beginning all alone with the opening theme, followed immediately by the
rest of the orchestra. I was conducting like mad, although, owing to the
darkness, not one of the players could see me, except when the flashes
of lightning momentarily illuminated the hall; but the music immediately
calmed the audience, who sat down and at the conclusion of the march
applauded vociferously. We then started the “Beautiful Blue Danube,” and
in the second bar the electric lights of the hall blazed up again. The
following evening the chief of the fire department and other city
officials appeared, and with several bottles of champagne toasted the
orchestra and its conductor for their “great life-saving act” of the
evening before.

On Sundays there were no concerts, and they became blessed days of peace
and rest. I usually spent them at the country place of a friend—a
roomy, hospitable, Southern mansion, delicious noon dinner, and
afterward a lazy, happy time on the lawn, watching the horses,
beautiful, full-blooded, Kentucky bred, gambolling about without saddle
or bridle, like young puppies, according to the old-established Sunday
custom of the place. To the Kentuckian the love for his horses and pride
in their qualities is part of the romance of his life; at least it was
in those days, long before the automobile had made its appearance.

The many concerts at the Louisville Exposition, coming at the beginning
of my career as an orchestral conductor, gave me enormous routine and
acquaintance with the entire orchestral repertoire.

I found the South exceedingly receptive. New Orleans had, of course,
been a supporter of French opera for years—its opera-house was one of
the most charming I had ever seen—but I also established new centres
for music, one of which developed very successfully in the little town
of Spartanburg, South Carolina. The impulse here came from the Converse
College for Women, which has a high reputation in the South. The young
ladies of this institution formed the nucleus of a large and
well-trained chorus of two hundred and fifty voices. I went there with
my orchestra every spring for over ten years. We succeeded in building
up a great love and appreciation for music there and in other near-by
places, as it was the custom for the alumnæ of the college to return to
Spartanburg for Music Festival week and then to carry back and spread
their musical enthusiasm in their home towns.

Gradually I penetrated farther and farther West. In 1904 I made a tour
as far as Oklahoma City with the orchestra and quite a large group of
solo singers, with whom I gave excerpts from Wagner’s “Parsifal,”
connecting the various numbers with a few explanatory remarks. The tour
was highly successful, as the public had read much about the first
performances of “Parsifal” at Bayreuth and New York, and were keen to
hear the music. I recall an amusing incident in Oklahoma City. Our
concert had been scheduled as part of a course of entertainments under a
local manager. The theatre was crowded and I had just finished the
Prelude to “Parsifal” and was ready to begin the excerpts from the first
act, when suddenly the manager popped up on the stage and addressed the
audience somewhat as follows: “Ladies and gentlemen: I am proud to see
so many of you here to-night and take this opportunity of announcing to
you that I have already made arrangements for next season for a course
which will be in every respect finer than the one I am giving you this
year! I also would like to announce that Stewart’s Oyster Saloon will be
open after the concert for lunch.” (Sic.) This was, however, our only
interruption, and the rest of the music was listened to with evident
interest and enthusiastic approval.

After the concert was over, as I left by the stage door to return to my
hotel, I was met by the crowd of people descending from the top gallery.
A young man who had been lounging against the stage entrance went up to
one of the men who was coming out of the theatre and said: “Well, how
was it, Jim?” and Jim answered: “This show ain’t worth thirty cents.”
The woes of _Amfortas_ and the lilting measures of the _Flower Maidens_
had evidently not appealed to this young Oklahoman!

In contrast to this experience I should like to relate what happened
another time when we were giving a symphony concert, perhaps the first
ever heard there, at Fargo, North Dakota. Efrem Zimbalist, delightful
man and artist, was our soloist on this tour, and after the concert,
when we met for supper, he related with shouts of laughter that while I
was playing the “Lenore” Symphony, by Raff, he was sitting behind the
scenes of the “opera-house”—every Western city has a “grand
opera-house”—listening to the music, when a cowboy, young, handsome, in
flannel shirt, high boots, slouch hat, etc., came on the stage and sat
down amicably next to him. The cowboy was perhaps a little “mellow,” as
this was before the days of national prohibition, but he evidently had a
musical ear, although he had never before in his life heard a symphony
orchestra. Every time that the music developed into a kind of joyous
climax, he would grab Zimbalist’s knee in convulsive delight and shout:
“God damn it, but I like that music!” Then he would sit in rapt silence
until the next outburst, when he would again grab Zimbalist and shout:
“They can go to hell, but they know how to play!” We all envied this
man, because, no matter how much we may appreciate music, we have heard
so much that we can never again experience the thrill of hearing a
symphony orchestra for the first time in our lives.

The story, of course, went the rounds of the orchestra, and for weeks
afterward, if we were seated in the dining-car of our train, the voice
of one of the musicians might be heard above the roar of the cars and
the din of the clattering knives and forks shouting in joyous accents:
“God damn it, but I like this omelet!”

Speaking of dining-cars, on one of our Western tours during the first
years of the war we had heard much about the sad conditions of the
Belgians, whose territory had been so ruthlessly overrun by the German
armies. Our entire orchestra had just responded unanimously and
generously in contributing toward the Belgian Relief Fund, and in the
dining-car at the table opposite mine were seated our second flute
player, a Belgian, together with his son, who was one of our talented
violoncellists. Their plates were heaped with turkey, cranberry sauce,
and potatoes, and there was an apple-pie in the offing. I said: “I
thought the Belgians were starving!” “Oh,” said Barrère, the ever-ready
and ever-witty, “ils mangent pour les autres.”

How much we have owed on these tours to George Barrère! He has always
been for me a model member of an orchestra. He is a great
artist—perhaps the greatest on the flute that I have ever heard—but no
rehearsal is too long for him, and the inevitable contretemps of travel
are accepted by him with imperturbable good nature. I have described
elsewhere with what difficulty I was enabled to import him from France
seventeen years ago, owing to the opposition made by the New York
Musical Union, but he has more than justified his claims to American
citizenship since then, not only by his artistic work, but by the group
of American pupils whom he has gathered around him, who are devoted to
him and have received and made their own much of his artistry. He is a
delightful mixture of Gallic wit and American humor. He was asked once:
“If you were not a musician, Monsieur Barrère, what would you like to
be?” and he promptly answered: “An orchestral conductor!” A wicked
remark, but as he has since then become the conductor of Barrère’s
Little Symphony Orchestra I can give him tit for tat.

When the war broke out I found that as we had thirteen nationalities in
the orchestra, including all the nations at war, relations might often
become strained, especially on our long tours when the men are forced,
in the sleeping-cars and at the concerts, into constant and close
companionship. I therefore gave them a little talk in which I explained
that as they were gaining their living in this country and as they were
artists for otherwise they would not be in the New York Symphony—their
first duties were toward their art, toward me, and toward their families
whom they were supporting in honorable fashion, and that therefore for
the time being it was for the good of all to sink their political
differences and their various attitudes toward the war, and to live in
harmony with each other. This talk had good results, as during the
entire four years of war I cannot recall any serious difference or
quarrel between them.

There were, of course, serious discussions and sometimes good-natured
raillery. At that time Rudolf Rissland was the leader of my second
violins and had charge of the orchestra during the long tours. He has
been with me a great many years and I value him highly as a man of
character and loyalty. He is of German birth, and, although he had
become a patriotic American, he always wore his blond moustache combed
upward in German fashion. We had been informed before our Canadian tour
that no players of German birth would be admitted into Canada, but,
thanks to the British ambassador, Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, an old friend
of my wife’s family, we received a special permission for the few
German-born who had not yet received their second citizen papers, to
enter Canada, as I gladly made myself responsible for them. We were the
only orchestra that gave concerts in Toronto and Montreal during the
war. On this particular trip, after our train had left Toronto, the
orchestra began to twit Rissland unmercifully, accusing him of having in
most cowardly fashion combed his moustache downward before coming on the
stage for the concert. At first he denied this absolutely, but finally
confessed that he had combed down the side turned toward the audience,
but had kept the other side defiantly turned upward!

The idea of venting their feelings against a nation by maltreating the
music of its composers at rehearsals or concerts never entered the minds
of our players. Our Frenchmen would play a symphony of Beethoven or an
excerpt from a Wagner music-drama with the same care and enthusiasm as a
work by one of their own composers. The same was true vice versa of our
German-born members. To the good musician art is international, although
each nation has its own standards and traditions of interpretation, and
it is interesting to note how sharply opposed these sometimes are. There
is often a curious racial antagonism between the French and Italian
musicians. The Frenchman will insist that the phrasing of the Italian is
sloppy and hypersentimental, while the Italian will retort that the
Frenchman’s is academic and rigid. Every nation has its excellent
qualities, and the finest orchestra in the world is one composed of the
best of the different nationalities moulded into one harmonious whole by
a master conductor without racial musical prejudice.

Our visits to California were perhaps enjoyed the most of all. These
began long before the earthquake and fire had destroyed the old San
Francisco, and when the city had all the romance of earlier days and
Chinatown was still an exotic and fascinating region of mystery. The
society of San Francisco was different from that of any other city in
the United States. It was composed largely of restless pioneers from the
East and from other countries who, having “worked their way” across the
continent, had finally stopped and settled in San Francisco because the
Pacific Ocean prevented them from going still farther, and also because
in California nature opened both arms wide in welcome, and gave of her
bounty so freely that life and the necessity of supporting it became an
easy matter. Many of the well-to-do sent their sons and daughters, not
to New York and Boston, but to Paris and London, for their education.
Society was international in that it comprised Americans, Germans,
French, and Italians. They all loved music instinctively, and gave it
enthusiastic acclaim, much as in a city of Italy or the Midi of France.

Few trained symphony orchestras had penetrated so far West, and my
orchestra was a revelation to many of our hearers.

For me there were also pleasant visits to San Mateo and other beautiful
places near by, where one could see a good game of polo or tennis and
have one’s gastronomic needs delightfully ministered to by Chinese cooks
and Japanese butlers. In those days Los Angeles was but a small city and
no one then dreamed of the unique and lightning-like development which
has made it in a few years one of the most important cities in America.

In continuing our tour farther north we came under the management of two
very remarkable women, under the firm name of “Steers and Coman,” who
virtually control the musical field from Oregon and Washington as far
east as Denver. Miss Lois Steers and Miss Wynne Coman live in Portland,
Oregon. By dint of their organizing genius and enthusiasm for music, and
an absolute integrity in all business dealings, they have not only won
the highest respect and confidence of the communities to which they
minister but have built up a very effective organization. Under their
auspices every great artist who has ever visited this country has
appeared not only in the larger cities of the States which they control,
but in many of the smaller university towns and farming communities in
which the Misses Steers and Coman have been able to develop an interest
in music. They are not only business women of superior qualities, but
ladies of such fine sympathies and breeding that I have always felt
particularly honored by their friendship.

On our tours, Miss Steers usually attended to the local needs of the
cities we visited—the music committees, the hall managers, and the
newspapers—while Miss Coman travelled with us as general railroad
manager, baggage despatcher, and “committee of one,” to smooth out all
difficulties, adjust any disputes and, in general, to “oil the wheels.”
As soon as we came into their territory everything moved like clockwork.
I remember one agonizing day, however, when we had to make Salt Lake
City from the West and terrible floods had disarranged all railroad
schedules. The final jolt came when, at some station on the way, John
Drew’s two cars containing his dramatic company and scenery were added
to our already over-heavy train because the floods had compelled him
also to change his route. All hope of reaching Salt Lake City in time
for our concert seemed gone. Miss Coman hopped onto the engine and sat
down next to the engineer and stoker. I did not know whether she used a
woman’s wiles or brute force or a combination of both, but we arrived in
Salt Lake City at nine P. M. on a lovely summer evening. An audience of
two thousand had been notified that we would be late and were calmly
promenading up and down in front of the theatre. Trucks were in waiting
at the station to rush our baggage to the auditorium, our men had put on
their evening dress in the baggage-car, and I began the opening overture
with all the instruments properly tuned at ten minutes before ten.
Symphony concerts were so few and far between in Salt Lake City that the
audience did not mind this long wait one little bit.

Of course all these difficulties could not have been so happily solved
had I not always had devoted and efficient heads of the different
departments of our organization. George Engles is the most careful of
business managers; Rissland, the orchestra manager, has always been
tireless in his efforts to keep the men in good discipline and spirits
and to look after their welfare; and Hans Goettich, who has been my
baggage-master and librarian for over twenty-five years, is a perfect
marvel. I remember seeing him flag an entire train because he had
suddenly noticed that our baggage-car, containing all our music and
musical instruments, had been hooked on to it by mistake. As this train
was going to New Orleans, while we were headed for Chicago, we would
have had to stop giving concerts for several days until that baggage-car
had been traced and sent back to us! On Goettich devolves the entire
responsibility for the library, which is packed in dozens of boxes and
kept according to a system of his own. On these long tours our
programmes are changed more or less every day, partly to avoid the
monotony of repetition for us and partly because each community has its
own needs according to its stage of musical development, which I try to
gauge very thoroughly when making up my programmes. This means incessant
work for the librarian and mistakes might easily occur, but during all
these years I cannot recall a single concert when, through fault of
Goettich’s, an orchestral part has been lost or misplaced. This is a
remarkable record.

I remember giving a symphony concert in William J. Bryan’s town of
Lincoln, Nebraska. I found a typical Middle Western community, living in
nice houses with green lawns, with neatly bricked streets and concrete
sidewalks, and roomy large-windowed schools. The theatre in which we
played was thoroughly modern, clean, and well lighted, and the audience
well dressed and appreciative. One of my double-bass players told me
that he had played there thirty years before with Theodore Thomas. In
those days Lincoln was but a frontier town and the theatre and the
public who had come to hear the Thomas Orchestra were of a more or less
primitive character. My double-bass player told me that with a
colleague, whose head was devoid of hair, he had stood directly below a
proscenium box in which a group of cowboys were seated. While the
orchestra was playing Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony,” one of these
cowboys, who was chewing tobacco violently, amused himself by spitting
frequently and always aiming for the bald head of the bass player, who
had to keep one agitated eye on the conductor and the other on this
horribly resourceful listener, in order to avoid his only
too-well-directed shots.

Our orchestra always enjoyed the long spring tours, although now and
then uncomfortable happenings would mar their pleasure. Nothing makes a
musician so ill-natured as to be deprived of a good square meal, and
sometimes our dining-car would not connect properly or we would be so
delayed as to arrive in a town only just in time to rush to the theatre
and give our concert. Then I would have to exert all my powers as an
orator to induce them to go directly to the theatre instead of
“loitering by the wayside,” and I would quickly order large quantities
of ham and swiss-cheese sandwiches to be distributed behind the scenes
just before the concert.

At present our players while on tour receive so much per day above their
salaries for meals and beds, but in the early days I used to pay their
hotel expenses, my manager engaging rooms and arranging the rates “on
the American plan” before we arrived in the city in which we were to
play. This system, however, never worked well because there was always
intense jealousy among the musicians as to the quality or conveniences
of their respective rooms; and if the first oboe found that his room did
not front on as agreeable a locality as that of the first horn, he would
perhaps sulk and consider that he had been unfairly treated. The newer
arrangement proved much better, as it enabled some to save from the
money allowed them and permitted others to “splurge” by spending more.

I remember that once in those early days we had to fill in a date in a
small New York State town on our way to Canada. The principal hotel had
room for only about twenty, and the other members of the orchestra were
quartered in four other hotels. Naturally the unfortunate five who were
put into the last of these had a terrible story to tell of their
sufferings when we met the following morning at the station. To be sure,
the manager of the hotel had charged only a dollar for each person, and
this included his supper, bed, and breakfast, but their rooms had been
dismal and the beds hard. The climax was reached in the morning, when,
as a frowsy waitress began to serve them their breakfast in the
fly-specked dining-room on a table covered with the inevitable dirty red
and white checked cloth, the manager, putting his head in at the door,
shouted: “Lizzie, no eggs for the band!” This phrase became a catchword
in the orchestra, and whenever my manager or I refused anything to our
men, the cry immediately resounded: “Of course, no eggs for the band!”

Orchestra players through experience become remarkably routined
travellers. They know the good hotels and restaurants in every city of
the Union, and during the long railroad jumps, especially west of the
Mississippi, where distances between important cities become greater and
greater, they know how to amuse themselves, each one according to his
fashion. There are, of course, a few groups who play poker violently
from morning till night. Others are equally constant to pinochle or
bridge, while a few are perfect sharks at chess. The Frenchmen, as well
as the Russian Jews, are great readers of serious literature, and books
on history, philosophy, and music are in great demand among them.
Whenever the train stops, even for a few minutes, a dozen jump off to
play ball. As a rule, during the day we have two cars, one of which is
given up to the smokers, where indeed the air becomes so thick that one
could cut it with a knife. At night three or four sleepers are necessary
to take care of us comfortably. The old days, when I travelled with
fifty men, have gone long ago, and now we should not think of touring
with an orchestra of less than eighty-five.

The time for spring tours seems to be passing, however, as the Western
cities are beginning to minister to the needs of their respective
communities with their own excellent orchestras.

For many years I accepted long summer engagements with two concerts
every day, first at Willow Grove near Philadelphia, and then at Ravinia
Park, on the North Shore near Chicago. The former became a great
educational factor, as Philadelphia at that time had no orchestra of its
own. Willow Grove Park is situated seventeen miles from that city and
was built by the Rapid Transit Company in order to stimulate travel on
their trolley lines. The first season, for which a military band had
been engaged, had not proven a success, and I was invited the following
year in the hope that a symphonic organization might do better. I began
by giving them popular programmes of good music with a regular symphony
night every Monday and a Wagner programme every Friday evening, with
excellent results. Our audiences usually numbered from fifteen to twenty
thousand. The Rapid Transit Company, realizing the importance of the
concerts, promptly built a huge open-air auditorium after my own design,
consisting of only a roof on pillars connecting with the shell in which
the orchestra was placed. The acoustics proved exceedingly good and the
out-of-doors atmosphere was preserved.

I continued these concerts for seven seasons, thereby developing an
audience for symphonic music which eventually and inevitably demanded a
resident orchestra of its own. To-day the Philadelphia orchestra, under
the leadership of Leopold Stokowski, ranks as one of the foremost of our
country. Its concerts are crowded to the doors and I like to think that
our seven years of pioneer work in Willow Grove have helped to lay its

I also conducted a series of concerts at Ravinia Park, organized by the
Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway to serve a similar commercial
purpose. Chicago had, of course, enjoyed for years the splendid winter
concerts of the Chicago Orchestra, first under Theodore Thomas and then
under his successor, Frederick Stock, but this was the first time that
symphonic concerts were given during the summer amid such charming
surroundings on the borders of Lake Michigan. These concerts proved
exceedingly popular, the audiences consisting not only of the North
Shore residents but of thousands who came out from Chicago on trains and

After several years of this work, however, the incessant daily concerts,
coming after an arduous winter season, began to pall on my musical
nerves. I ran a real danger, if I continued, of becoming nothing but a
musical routinier, with an inevitable loss of the enthusiasm and
freshness which is an absolute necessity for the interpreter. I
therefore gave up all conducting during the summer months.

I founded the Damrosch Opera Company in 1895, and the harassing question
of how to maintain my orchestra seemed solved, for, during the first
year, my opera season lasted thirteen weeks and during the following
three years, from twenty to thirty weeks each. This not only enabled me
to maintain a beautifully trained orchestra for the Wagner operas, but
also gave to my symphony performances a greater finish. The orchestra
was now under my exclusive control and could rehearse as often as the
endowed orchestra of Major Higginson. But as it was the opera that
enabled me to give my men such a long engagement, its needs had to
control all other arrangements, and gradually the regular sequence of my
winter concerts in New York began to suffer. I could not keep my opera
company in New York except for a limited period each year, and therefore
had to fill in much of my time in Philadelphia, Boston, and the larger
cities of the South and Middle West. In 1899 I was therefore finally
compelled to give up the regular subscription series of our New York
concerts and the New York Symphony Orchestra became a part of my
travelling operatic organization.

I made this sacrifice with a heavy heart, but at that time it was the
only solution. An orchestra devoted only to concerts could not be
maintained without an endowment, and that I did not have at the time,
while the length of my Wagner opera season enabled me not only to give
my men a good engagement but to have the pick of the best musicians in
New York.

From then on until 1903 most of our playing of symphonic music was only
on our spring concert tours and at irregular intervals in New York.

In 1900 Maurice Grau asked me to conduct the Wagner operas at the
Metropolitan, and in the spring of 1902, at the close of my second
season with him, I received an invitation from the New York Philharmonic
Society to become its conductor. This invitation was a great surprise to
me, as the Philharmonic had been, ever since my father’s day, the rival
orchestra. In many ways it seemed a flattering proposition, as it was
the oldest organization of its kind in America and had had an honorable
history. Under the leadership of Theodore Thomas and later on of Anton
Seidl, the audiences had been large and its affairs had prospered. It
had always been a co-operative association, composed of the members of
the orchestra, who had complete control of its affairs, receiving no
salaries, but dividing the profits equally among themselves at the end
of each season. I accepted the conductorship, but found very soon that
my acceptance was a blunder. The society had come upon evil days, and
under its last conductor attendance had dwindled to less than one-half.
Of the membership of the orchestra only the skeleton remained, and I
found to my amazement that of the hundred players at the concerts, less
than fifty were actual members of the organization, the rest being
engaged from outside, and often changed from one concert to another.
Some of the members were old men who should no longer have played in the
orchestra at all; but they were devoted to the concerts of the society,
and as the orchestra was regulated by their votes, they naturally would
not vote themselves out of it. Many of them had been excellent musicians
and were personally upright men, but age, alas, is no respecter of
technic, and the fingers of the left hand and the muscles of the bow arm
gradually stiffen with advancing years. Most of the wind instruments
were outsiders and therefore could not be properly controlled regarding
their attendance at rehearsals and concerts, while, on the contrary,
nearly all of the first violins were old members, several of whom were
no longer fit to play first violin.

The fact was that Major Higginson, of Boston, with his permanent
orchestra composed of young men, many of them the best of their kind,
with their daily rehearsals and at least seventy-five symphony concerts
a season, had set a new standard of orchestral technic which the old
Philharmonic, under its archaic conditions, could not hope to equal.

The only solution seemed to me to lie in gathering together a fund large
enough to produce the same conditions and results as Higginson had
achieved in the Boston Orchestra, and, above all, to put the management
of the Philharmonic into the hands of a committee which should not be
composed of members of the orchestra, but of music lovers and guarantors
of the fund.

I discussed this idea with several of my friends and some old
subscribers and friends of the Philharmonic at a meeting held on January
5, 1903, and it was resolved to obtain a fund of fifty thousand dollars
a year for four years, to be administered for the benefit of the
Philharmonic Society as a permanent orchestra fund by a board of fifteen
or more trustees, but it was not to be subject to the control of the
Philharmonic Society. This fund was to be the beginning of an endowment
for a permanent orchestra, of which the Philharmonic Society was to be
the nucleus. The terms of the deed of trust under which the fund was to
be held were to be determined by a committee of three, consisting of Mr.
Samuel Untermyer, Mr. John Notman, and Mr. E. Francis Hyde.

The members of the Philharmonic Orchestra were not unfavorably disposed
toward our scheme. The idea of being guaranteed a yearly salary instead
of sharing problematic yearly profits, naturally appealed to them; but
when our committee explained to them that, under the terms of such an
endowment, several of the playing members would have to resign their
places because in the opinion of the committee they had passed the age
of usefulness, they rebelled. Nor did they feel inclined to give up the
absolute management of their concerts.

Among the most respected members of the Philharmonic Orchestra were two
old violinists. The one, Richard Arnold, vice-president of the society,
had been concert master under my father twenty-five years before and
still officiated in that position in the Philharmonic. The other, August
Roebbelin, who had played as first violinist in the orchestra for nearly
forty years, had also acted as manager of the society and unselfishly
given his best energies to its affairs. As a violinist, however, he had
passed his time of usefulness. Our committee, perhaps rather bluntly,
informed the Philharmonic committee that under the reorganization the
selection of the orchestra must be left in the hands of the conductor
and that Mr. Arnold would have to content himself with a second position
at the first stand, so that a younger artist could become concert
master, and that several of the first violinists, among them Mr.
Roebbelin, would have to be retired altogether.

I had made it particularly clear that my selection as conductor for the
following year was not in any way a necessary part of the reorganization
scheme, as it seemed to me that the only way to achieve a real permanent
orchestra for New York was to unite the conflicting factions and to let
the choice of conductor be made after the organization had been properly
placed upon a sound and comprehensive basis.

After lengthy negotiations the Philharmonic, in a letter of February 28,
1903, definitely refused the offer of the reorganization committee
because, as their secretary expressed it, the amendments required by our
committee “would so change the nature of the society as to seriously
interfere with the control of its affairs by its members, which has
always been its vital principle, and that the future prosperity of the
society would thereby be impaired.”

As I had no desire to continue another year with the orchestra on the
basis of existing conditions, I wrote to Mr. Arnold and requested that
my name be not proposed as a candidate for the following year. I had
been in a very delicate position during all this time, as I had grown
quite fond personally of some of the very men whom, for artistic
reasons, it was necessary to retire. It was not in human nature that
they should have seen themselves as others saw them, or heard themselves
as others heard them, and at our rehearsals and concerts they all
certainly gave the best that was in them. The changes which I had
proposed were necessary, however, if the society expected to continue
its existence as an orchestral body.

For a few years they staved off the inevitable by engaging for each
season a number of European guest conductors. This served as a stop-gap,
as it diverted the attention of the audience from the deficiencies in
the orchestra to the different and interesting personalities and musical
specialties of the conductors. But then a reorganization plan, exactly
on the lines originally proposed by me, completely eliminating the power
of the orchestral players to manage the concerts or to select the
players in the orchestra, was accepted by them, and to-day the orchestra
of the Philharmonic Society is organized and successfully working on
exactly the same basis as the New York Symphony Society and the Boston

For me the rejection of our reorganization plan was at the time
naturally a great disappointment, but not for long, as my efforts had
made new friends for me and in a new direction, which eventually proved
a turning-point in my life.

On March 19, 1903, I received a letter which read as follows:

    I have been instructed by the members of the Permanent Orchestra
    Fund Committee to express to you their appreciation of the
    spirit of unselfishness and of loyalty to the highest artistic
    interests which has characterized your attitude during the
    negotiations which have been in progress between our Committee
    and the Philharmonic Society. We regret that a consolidation of
    our interests has proved impossible, but we relinquish the plan
    we had in view with the greatest respect and admiration for your
    broad attitude of mind in regard to the undertaking, for your
    musicianship, and for your devotion to the cause of music in
    which we are all working.

                                           HARRY HARKNESS FLAGLER,
                              _Secretary Permanent Orchestra Fund_.

Years before I had met Mr. Flagler through his friend, Max Alvary, when
the latter was a member of the Damrosch Opera Company, but the meeting
was quite casual and I had not seen him again until the meetings of the
Philharmonic Orchestra Fund Committee, of which he had become a member.
I had been singularly attracted by him and his gentle and quiet, almost
diffident manner. He had been a great lover of music all his life and
had found in his wife Anne an enthusiastic companion in his love for the
art. As the reorganization scheme of the Philharmonic Orchestra
gradually unfolded itself, he became more and more interested in it as
the right solution of the problem of developing a symphony orchestra in
New York which should be the equal of the Boston Symphony or the Chicago
Orchestra, and he was ready to help such a scheme to the fulness of his
financial ability. Very quickly after the failure of this project, many
of the forces concerned recruited themselves anew, and a large
proportion of the would-be guarantors turned to me with the suggestion
to reorganize the New York Symphony Orchestra, and by subsidizing all
the first players and thereby binding them to the orchestra, make a new
beginning in the right direction. During the interregnum of three years
the orchestra had maintained itself fairly well through the earnings of
our long spring tours and summer engagements, but I joyfully hailed this
opportunity to renew the New York winter concerts. A reorganization of
the Symphony Society of New York was quickly effected by the re-election
of most of the old directors and of many new ones. My old and loyal
friend, Daniel Frohman, at whose theatre I had given many a Wagner
lecture in the years past, accepted the presidency pro tem and was of
great assistance in procuring outside work for the members of the
orchestra. He was succeeded by Mr. Samuel Sanford, a man of real musical
ability, who had founded the musical department at Yale University and
had contributed liberally to many musical enterprises. He immediately
became one of the largest guarantors of our orchestra fund.

We accordingly resumed our New York concerts under the best possible
auspices with an enthusiastic directorate and a large subscription list.
I was, however, not satisfied with the wood-wind players at that time
available in New York. The Musical Union, which controlled all
orchestral players, had made the influx of good musicians from Europe
almost an impossibility by insisting that a player must have lived at
least six months in this country before he could join the union, and
that until he became a member no other member of the union would be
allowed to play with him. As all orchestral engagements in opera,
concert, or theatre were in the hands of union men, this meant that the
newcomer would have to starve for six months before he could begin to
earn a dollar toward his maintenance. This law was not enforced by the
union men for patriotic reasons, as most of them had been born in
Europe, but because they feared the possible competition for the
positions they monopolized. The best wood-wind players at that
time—and, generally speaking, this applies to-day—were French or
Belgian. The Conservatoire of Paris has for years produced very superior
artists on these instruments. The Boston Orchestra, which is non-union,
had several among its members, and their exquisite tone and beautiful
phrasing always particularly enraged me because, owing to the union
restrictions, I could not have players of equal merit.

I determined therefore to throw down the gantlet to the union by
deliberately going to France to engage the five best artists I could
find in flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and trumpet, demonstrate their
superior excellence to anything we could obtain in New York at that
time, and through the pressure of public opinion—and, above all, the
necessity of artistic competition with the Boston Symphony—force the
union to accept these men as members. When the Frenchmen arrived, the
rage among the members of the New York union knew no bounds. I had a
summer engagement for the orchestra on one of the roof gardens, but the
union refused to let them play with us except as “soloists,” and I
determined to take the matter higher up to the annual convention of the
National Federation of Musicians, which was held in Detroit in the
summer of 1905.

I found the national delegates much more amenable to reason than my New
York colleagues. There were more real Americans among them and many of
them listened to my pleadings with interest and sympathy. The president
of the federation, Joseph N. Weber, is a man of real intellectual
ability; and while he and I have had some violent quarrels and
disagreements during these many years, and while I have sometimes
denounced him to his face as a fanatic and he has given me tit for tat,
I must acknowledge that he not only has had the ability to build up a
remarkable organization of great power, but has often acted with great
fairness in disputes that have come up between the directors of the New
York Musical Union and myself.

The National Federation decided in my favor and gave me the permission
to incorporate these five Frenchmen in my orchestra and to enroll them
as members of the New York union, but as I had “sinned against the laws
of the federation in bringing them over from a foreign country,” I was
fined one thousand dollars. It was, however, intimated to me privately
that if I would return to the next convention of the federation, which
was to be held in Boston the following summer, I would in all
probability receive a remission of the greater part of this fine. It is
needless for me to say that I never saw any part of that one thousand
dollars again.

I returned to New York jubilant and my French players proved themselves
such superior artists that, together with our other excellent members,
many of whom had been with me for years, the orchestra quickly took rank
among the best in the country.

The leader of my first violins was Mr. David Mannes. I had discovered
him a few years before at one of the New York theatres, where he was a
member of the little orchestra and where I heard him play a solo
charmingly between the first and second acts. The beautiful quality of
his tone, and a fine sensitiveness to the melos of the work he was
playing, attracted me and I engaged him for the last stand of the first
violins. From there he was quickly promoted until he occupied the
position at the first stand of concert master. He married my sister
Clara, a pianist of fine accomplishment. Their sonata recitals have
become models of intimate unity in chamber-music playing, and several
years ago they founded the David Mannes Music School. This encroached so
much upon his time and energy as to compel him to resign his position in
the New York Symphony Orchestra, which he had held so honorably for many

Each year the guarantee fund for the maintenance of the orchestra was
increased by the supporters of the New York Symphony Society, and more
and more men were engaged on regular weekly salaries. At last my dream
was realized, and New York had an orchestra organized on the same lines
as the Boston and Chicago Orchestras, devoted exclusively to symphonic
music and assembling daily for rehearsal.

The fund at this time reached over fifty thousand dollars a year, mainly
subscribed by the directors of our organization. Several of these had
been supporters from my father’s time, among them Isaac N. Seligman,
who, with his family, had been interested in music in New York for many
years. Others had come into the organization when I became its conductor
and had remained loyal supporters and close friends from that time on.
Among them were: Richard Welling, a director since 1886, a well-known
lawyer and reformer in municipal politics, and who as a member of the
Naval Reserves promptly enlisted as an ensign when we entered the Great
War, although he was then well over fifty years of age; Miss Mary R.
Callender and Miss Caroline de Forest who had been directors since 1885.
Miss Callender further signalized her affection for the orchestra by
leaving fifty thousand dollars to the pension and sick fund after her
death in 1919. The complete list of the subscribers to the fund at the
time was as follows:

Mrs. H. A. Alexander                 Mme. Nordica
Mr. C. B. Alexander                  Mr. Stephen S. Palmer
Miss Kora F. Barnes                  Mrs. Trenor L. Park
Mrs. William H. Bliss                Mr. Amos Pinchot
Miss Mary R. Callender               Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer
Mr. Robert J. Collier                Mr. Thomas F. Ryan
Mrs. Paul D. Cravath                 Mr. Charles E. Sampson
Mr. Paul D. Cravath                  Mr. Samuel S. Sanford
Miss Caroline de Forest              Mr. R. E. Schirmer
Mr. Charles H. Ditson                Mr. Henry Seligman
Mrs. S. Edgar                        Mrs. Henry Seligman
Miss A. C. Flagler                   Mr. Isaac N. Seligman
Mr. Harry Harkness Flagler           Mr. Jefferson Seligman
Mr. Edward S. Flagler                Mrs. Jesse Seligman
Mrs. Frances Hellman                 Mr. Frank H. Simmons
Mr. Otto H. Kahn                     Miss Clara B. Spence
Mr. A. W. Krech                      Mrs. F. T. Van Beuren
Mrs. Daniel Lamont                   Mr. Richard Welling
Mr. Albert Lewisohn                  Mrs. J. A. Zimmerman
Mr. Frank A. Munsey                  Mr. Paul Warburg
Mr. Emerson McMillin

The ideal conditions under which I now worked gave me the opportunity to
carry out several artistic plans which I had had for a long time. The
first of these was a Beethoven cycle, in which I gave not only all the
nine symphonies in chronological order, but other compositions of
Beethoven, some of which had not yet appeared on the concert programmes
of New York. Accordingly, in the winter of 1909, I prepared six
programmes composed of Beethoven’s works, and at the last concert gave a
double performance of his “Ninth Symphony.” This was a real _tour de
force_, but not original with me. During the summer of 1887, which I had
spent with von Bülow in study of the Beethoven symphonies, he had told
me of having given such a double performance in Berlin and that the
results had been very remarkable, inasmuch as at the second hearing, the
audience had been able the more perfectly to grasp many of the
intricacies of this “Hamlet” among symphonic dramas. Our double
performance caused a good deal of comment, most of which was very
favorable. Between the two performances the orchestra and chorus were
refreshed with hot coffee and sandwiches, and as the work takes about an
hour and ten minutes to perform, the repetition, together with a
half-hour of rest between, brought the final tumultuous outburst of the
choral “Ode to Joy” to eleven o’clock. Notwithstanding the lateness of
the hour, the audience began a great demonstration of approval,
applauding and shouting for many minutes; but while I and my performers
took some of this as ours by right, I have always felt that the audience
intended a good part of it as directed toward themselves for having so
nobly endured the great strain which I had put upon them.

This was the first Beethoven Festival ever given in New York, and a few
years later I organized a Brahms Festival on similar lines. I directed
his four symphonies, the ingratiating Zimbalist playing the “Violin
Concerto,” Wilhelm Backhaus the great “B-Flat Piano Concerto,” and my
brother with the chorus of the Oratorio Society conducting a very
beautiful performance of the “Requiem.”

Such festivals devoted exclusively to the work of one composer are a
great lesson to the serious music lover, and I think that as Beethoven
represents almost the alpha and certainly the omega of symphonic music,
there should be repetitions of Beethoven cycles every few years. I have
never been able to understand why it should not be similarly possible to
give Shakespearian cycles in spring, in which all of our best actors
could combine to make up ideal casts. We should certainly make American
children as familiar with Shakespeare’s great tragedies as, for
instance, the children of Germany, to whom Shakespeare is much more of a
household word than he is to those of this country or England. If music
can find Flaglers and Higginsons to endow it as an educational
necessity, why cannot similar men be found to do the same for the drama
and thus help to lift it as an educational factor from its painfully
weak position to which the necessities of making it a paying institution
have driven it.

During all these years my relations with Mr. and Mrs. Flagler became
more and more intimate. I had never met such people in my entire life.
Their devotion to and interest in the orchestra increased constantly,
and Mr. Flagler’s contributions to the fund became greater and greater
as the needs of the orchestra increased. But his help was offered with a
shyness, as if it had been the orchestra that conferred the benefit upon
him. He also took over a work which I had always detested more than
anything else, and that is the collection of funds. As the expenses of
the orchestra increased with the years, it became necessary to collect
money from outside sources beyond the large sums already contributed by
the directors of the society. With constant good humor, patience, and
infinite tact Mr. Flagler, whose own donations to the fund were greater
in proportion to his income than those of many others, would write
letters or call personally on well-to-do musical patrons to collect
perhaps a few hundred dollars toward the fund, and he would be
inordinately proud of his success as a financier and collector.

Finally even his infinite patience wore out under this yearly strain and
this manifested itself in a very remarkable way.

In the spring of 1914 he quietly informed me that he had decided to
assume the entire financial responsibility of the orchestra himself and
to contribute all necessary funds for its proper maintenance. This
amount was double what would have been considered necessary ten years
before, but salaries of orchestral players and other expenses in
connection with the giving of concerts had increased enormously and it
was Mr. Flagler’s desire that, while there should be no waste, the
affairs of the orchestra should be managed in such liberal fashion that
the artistic needs could first be considered in shaping its policy.

This magnificent and unique act naturally created a great excitement in
the musical circles of New York, and Mr. Flagler was universally
acclaimed as its foremost musical citizen.

I have a characteristic letter of his, dated August 31, 1914, in which
he says:

    Indeed I am not overmodest about my gift to the Symphony
    Society. It is not that, but what I am doing is so little in
    comparison with what the _real_ makers of music, creators and
    interpreters like yourself do for the betterment of the world
    through their art, that it doesn’t deserve to be thought of. I
    _am_ proud and happy in the thought that I may be the means of
    helping you to put before the world your ideas in regard to the
    interpretations of the masters and to bring the God-given art of
    music to many who would not otherwise have its uplifting and
    consoling power, and that is what we are doing together. You
    shall be free as never before to work out your own ideas
    unfettered by thoughts of the financial necessities. . . .

Since then the society has pursued the even tenor of its way and, freed
from all financial worries, has contributed much to the cause of music.
The orchestra plays over a hundred symphony concerts during the winter,
in New York and elsewhere. These include a series of Sunday-afternoon
concerts at Æolian Hall, Thursday-afternoon and Friday-evening concerts
at Carnegie Hall, and a series of young people’s concerts and another of
children’s concerts. There are also subscription concerts in Brooklyn,
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Rochester, and several tours
every winter to Canada and the Middle West. During the war Mr. Flagler
often gave the services of the orchestra for charities connected with
the war, and several times donated the gross receipts of our regular
concerts to such organizations as the American Friends of Musicians in
France, in which he and his wife became very much interested. But
perhaps the climax in the history of the orchestra was reached in its
great European tour in the spring of 1920. To this I shall devote a
separate chapter following one on my experiences in France during the
Great War.


                             THE GREAT WAR

When America finally entered the Great War I was, like most of my fellow
citizens, anxious to do something to help, and therefore shared the
restlessness and discontent which most men of maturer years felt because
they were not “too proud” but too old to fight.

A number of music lovers had formed an organization, “American Friends
of Musicians in France,” the object of which was to collect money with
which to help the families of musicians in France who were suffering or
destitute because of the war. Through my French colleagues we had heard
of many such cases—some of the most famous musicians were at the front,
in the trenches, and in the hospitals, doing their share just as did the
men in all the other professions and callings. Several organizations had
been formed in France to help toward maintaining their families, but
much remained to be done, and through our society, which aroused
immediate response in America, we were raising considerable sums and
expected to continue this work until the end of the war.

I had been elected president, and while discussing with our committee
the best ways and means of helping the older French musicians, it was
brought out that many of them were too proud to accept alms. What they
really wanted was opportunity to work in their profession, as the
constant air raids and bombardments of Paris had almost entirely stopped
the giving of lessons and concerts. During our discussion Henri
Casadesus, a French musician who was then on a concert tour in America
with his Society of Ancient Instruments, and who had given us much
valuable information regarding conditions in France, suggested that an
orchestra could be formed of such musicians as were still in Paris,
which might be used to travel around the country to the various camps in
which our huge army was forming and drilling, and to give our soldiers
good popular music during their hours of rest and recreation.

It was suggested that a French conductor be engaged to lead this
orchestra, but Casadesus asked whether it would not be possible for me
to go over and take charge personally. He thought that the French
Government would look on this idea very favorably, and through the
Ministère des Beaux Arts would give us every assistance possible toward
the forming of the orchestra and its transportation through the country.
Needless to say, my heart leaped with joy at this suggestion. One step
led to another, and Mr. Harry Harkness Flagler immediately and with
characteristic generosity donated a check large enough to pay the entire
expenses and salaries of a French orchestra of fifty men for six weeks.

The plan was outlined to the National War Work Council of the Young
Men’s Christian Association, who accepted it with enthusiasm, and to the
French High Commission in Washington, of which Mr. Tardieu was at that
time the chief. He sent one of his staff, the Marquis de Polignac, to
New York to discuss and arrange details, and immediately cabled to Paris
to obtain for me the necessary authority to enter France and to proceed
with the plan. The acting director of the Ministère des Beaux Arts was
at that time M. Alfred Cortot, the distinguished pianist, and within a
week he cabled us that he could place at my disposal the Pasdeloup
Orchestra of fifty men who would be ready on my arrival to travel
throughout our recreation centres, camps, and hospitals.

As no civilian who was not in government employ could sail for France
except under the auspices of one of the welfare organizations, I was to
sail as a war worker for the Y. M. C. A., whose entertainment division
was under the direction of Mr. Thomas McLane, an earnest, patriotic
citizen of New York who gave his entire time enthusiastically to this
arduous work. A few weeks before sailing, however, the war situation
became so serious that the possibility of carrying out our scheme seemed
very doubtful, but Mr. McLane and his chief, Mr. William Sloane, felt
strongly that I should go over anyhow, look over the field, and make
myself useful in one way or another.

The regulations of the Y. M. C. A. demanded that each one of their
workers should submit an indorsement by three well-known American
citizens, and as I had the honor of many years’ acquaintance with
Theodore Roosevelt, I gave his name as one who might be willing to
testify to my Americanism. The letter which he wrote is so
characteristic that I am vain enough to reprint it here.

                                      Sagamore Hill, May 4th, 1918.


    Mr. Walter Damrosch is one of the very best Americans and
    citizens in this entire land. In character, ability, loyalty,
    and fervid Americanism he, and his, stand second to none in the
    land. I have known him thirty years; I vouch for him as if he
    were my brother.

                                          (_Signed_) THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

The assurance of a safe-conduct from the Ministère des Etrangères was a
rather important item as I had been born in Germany, even though only
the first nine years of my life had been spent there. My father
emigrated to America in 1871, and as I had received my education here,
had lived in America ever since, and had married an American, I had
never felt myself anything but an American and of the most enthusiastic
variety. When the Germans invaded Belgium, when they sank the
_Lusitania_, and when they seemed to have broken all laws of
international relations, I expressed myself, both personally and in
newspaper interviews, so strongly that long before we entered the war
several Berlin newspapers violently took me to task and honored me by
calling me a renegade and a traitor to the country of my birth.

There was an understanding between our country and France that no
American civilian of German birth should be permitted to enter France
except by special permission of either M. Clemenceau or M. Pichon, then
Minister of Foreign Affairs. The French high commissioner cabled to the
latter and in most cordial terms recommended that I be permitted to
enter France, both because of my office as president of the Society of
American Friends of Musicians in France, and because of a life-long
admiration for French music, which I had demonstrated for thirty-three
years by producing in our country nearly every important symphonic work
that French composers had written before and within that time.

M. Pichon promptly cabled the necessary visé and with all proper
credentials I set sail on June 15, 1918, on the French steamship _La

The ship’s passengers were almost entirely soldiers and war workers.
There were two hundred and fifty Belgian soldiers with their officers
returning to France after three years spent in Russia, and who, when the
revolution broke out, had after incredible hardships reached
Vladivostok, sailing from there to California. There were Polish
soldiers on their way to join the Foreign Legion of the French army and
there were dozens of Red Cross, Y. M. C. A., K. of C., and S. A.
workers. There were not more than a dozen civilians, among them my
friend, Melville Stone, director of the Associated Press, and M. Sulzer,
the Swiss minister then accredited to our country. It was strange to be
on a transatlantic steamer without any idle rich, tourists, or
commercial travellers; and the large guns mounted fore and aft with a
gun crew watching, ready day and night, gave one a grim foretaste of the
war raging on the other side.

On the first day out Stone told me that M. Sulzer would like to meet me.
I expressed my pleasure and laughingly said: “I will promise not to ask
him any questions regarding the Swiss citizenship of Doctor Karl Muck.”
Stone must have repeated this to Sulzer, for immediately after our
introduction he said: “I want to tell you that Doctor Muck had no more
claim to Swiss citizenship than you have. The facts are as follows:
After the Franco-Prussian war, Muck’s father—a Bavarian living in
Munich—was afraid that Bavaria would become completely Prussianized,
and, as he had no liking for that country, he preferred to emigrate to
Switzerland, where he acquired citizenship which at that time was very
easy, as Switzerland was glad to receive the intelligentsia of other
countries. His son Karl left Switzerland as a boy to be educated in
Germany, and never returned. He went to a German university, studied
music, became an orchestral conductor, and as such officiated in various
German opera-houses, until he became conductor and Generalmusikdirektor
at the Royal Opera in Berlin. There he remained for many years and when
the war broke out offered his services to the German Ministry of War in
a clerical capacity. The Swiss Government does not recognize him as a
citizen and refuses him the protection which such citizenship would
afford him.”

Our journey was uneventful. We saw no submarines and, what was still
more important, no submarines saw us. When we reached the “danger zone”
some hundred miles from the coast of France, I was solemnly appointed a
committee of one to inform M. Sulzer that as he was the Swiss minister
and as such the representative of German interests in the United States
during the war, we intended to bind him to the foremast and play a
searchlight on him and on a large Swiss flag hanging over his head,
during the two or three nights before we dropped anchor in the Gironde.
He smilingly expressed himself as so willing to act in this capacity as
our guardian angel, that we refrained and trusted to luck, which indeed
never failed us.

We dropped anchor at the mouth of the Gironde to take on the usual
officials, among them the secret-service men who were to look over the
passengers while we waited the turn of the tide before proceeding
up-stream to Bordeaux.

It was a beautiful sunlit evening, and as I was standing at the rail
watching the tide, which ran out to sea like a mill-race, suddenly there
was a splash and we saw one of the Belgian soldiers lying on the water,
his face downward and his arms and legs outstretched and motionless. He
was being carried out to sea with incredible speed by the tide, and it
was evident that he was trying to commit suicide, as he made no effort
to struggle. The sailors were all busy elsewhere getting out the
mail-bags and trunks, and for a few minutes nothing seemed to be done.
Suddenly there was another splash as, from the deck above, a man dove
after the Belgian. It was Lieutenant Shirk, an aviator in our marines,
who had not even taken the time to throw off his coat or leather
puttees. A life-saving belt had been thrown just previously and floated
with the tide several yards ahead of the Belgian soldier, but both were
carried along so swiftly that it was some time before Lieutenant Shirk
could reach him. As he approached, the Belgian promptly kicked at him,
and it took several moments before he was overpowered and dragged toward
the life-belt. In the meantime a boat had been lowered, but so swift is
the tide in these waters that when the boat reached the two men, they
seemed like two small black spots in the distance. The excitement and
enthusiasm when they were brought back to the ship may easily be

Lieutenant Shirk proved to be a well-to-do young business man from
Indianapolis, who when the war broke out had immediately enlisted,
leaving a wife and children and large important business interests to
give himself whole-heartedly to the service of his country.

If you “tell this story to the marines” they will refuse to acknowledge
that it is anything extraordinary, and they will also tell you that that
is just a way they have of dealing with any emergency on land or sea.

The sad part of this heroic rescue is that a few days afterward, meeting
one of the Belgian officers in Paris, he told me that the soldier, soon
after landing, had succeeded in his effort at self-destruction, and had
shot himself in a fit of despondency. He had been away from Belgium for
four years, and during all that time had had no news of his wife or
children; his little farm was in the hands of the Germans, and there was
neither hope nor desire to live left in him.

We all had to assemble in the saloon of the ship to present our
passports, and when it came to my turn I was politely told to go to my
cabin with two secret-service men, that they might question me further
regarding my mission. One of these men was silent, but the other a very
voluble, polite Frenchman. But even the visé by the Minister of Foreign
Affairs and the French High Commission did not seem quite to satisfy
him. The fact that I had been born in Germany evidently impressed him
unfavorably. He asked me finally: “Do you intend to take any money out
of France?” “On the contrary,” I replied, “here is a letter of credit,
every cent of which is to be used on French orchestra musicians.” In
corroboration I showed him the cable from the Ministère des Beaux Arts
offering me the use of the Pasdeloup Orchestra, the conductor of which
was M. Rhene Baton. The face of my secret-service man suddenly became
wreathed in smiles. “Ah!” he said, “M. Baton! Why, before the war I used
to play third horn in his orchestra in Bordeaux. Everything is all
right.” With a bow he handed me back my passport, and at this point his
silent companion suddenly gave me a most genial wink, the nationality of
which could not be mistaken. I said: “You are American.” “Sure!” he
answered, and thus I was enabled to land at last in France with colors

The next morning saw me in Paris at the little hotel “France et
Choiseul,” to which I had always gone on my visits to Paris during
twenty-five years preceding. I found the same courteous, smiling
directeur, M. Mantel, to receive me. Even the old canary-bird, hanging
in the courtyard, was still living, but either corpulence or old age had
stopped his musical demonstrations.

It would take a man of much greater eloquence than I can claim, to give
an adequate picture of Paris at that time. It seemed to me more
beautiful and more noble than I had ever seen it during my many visits
in times of peace. The streets were almost empty, there were no
tourists, no pleasure-seekers, no idlers, and therefore that part of
Parisian life which usually stands out so prominently and which, alas,
is generally the only part that the average visitor sees, was entirely
absent. One saw only the French people going about their daily tasks and
the soldiers of France and her allies. The Champs-Élysées, the
Tuileries, and, above all, the Jardin de Luxembourg seemed more charming
than ever, but the tragic note was that the lovely children who in
former times crowded these gardens were all gone. Constant air raids and
the frequent bombardments by the “Big Bertha” had driven them away. It
was said that a million and a half people had left Paris, and that,
owing to the nearness of the German armies, the entire evacuation of the
civilian population was imminent. Rumors had it, furthermore, that all
the banks had sent their securities to Orleans and that the embassies
and various relief organizations were ready to leave Paris at a few
hours’ notice. There was not the least sign of panic, but an
indescribable sadness brooded over the city.

During the long twilight, which is the most beautiful time to see Paris,
when the sky and the clouds seem to hover most intimately and
caressingly over its wonderful vistas, I used to take long walks along
the banks of the Seine. Even the complete darkness at night, the absence
of all electric lights or signs, with only an occasional half-hidden
blue lamp here and there, made the city more picturesque and wonderful.
It was almost as if the centuries of civilization and modern inventions
had been swept away and we were back again in the time of the _Grand
Monarque_, when Paris was only dimly lighted by faintly flickering oil

Of course, I soon made the acquaintance of the nocturnal air raids, and
when the sirens placed at various high buildings of the city sounded
their horrible warning that the German Gothas were approaching, every
inhabitant was supposed to seek shelter in the cellars. I did this
dutifully for two or three nights, but as it meant leaving one’s bed at
about 11.30 or 12 and returning at about 1.30 or 2 A. M., I gradually
realized that my own pet cowardice was more the fear of not getting
enough sleep, as I was completely knocked out during the daytime by the
lack of it. After weighing the alternatives carefully I decided to take
the small risk of remaining in my bed and getting a good night’s rest in
consequence; and having solved this question to my complete
satisfaction, I used to wake up on hearing the warning of the sirens,
stretch myself comfortably, and immediately go to sleep again.

The gatherings in the _abri_ of our hotel were, however, quite amusing.
The guests used to assemble in the wine-cellar, which was protected by
walls several feet thick, and in which we could further fortify
ourselves by sampling a bottle or two of the excellent claret and
burgundy which it contained. If one of our little number was an army
officer we would make him tell us his experiences at the front, and
listen with awe and eager interest until the bugles of the fire
department outside sounded the “all-clear” signal. Then the old portier,
whom we used to call “Papa Joffre,” would come down and, with the
sweetest smile on his dear old face, assure us that all was safe and we
could creep back again to our beds.

In the meantime I began to investigate the conditions under which to
carry out our plan of giving orchestral concerts for our soldiers at
their rest camps and in the hospitals, and soon discovered that the
recent developments at the front would make it exceedingly difficult, if
not impossible. Paris was in a state of great depression. The enemy were
threatening the city, our rest camps were empty, and our soldiers were
being drilled furiously in order to put them as soon as possible either
in the line or behind the line as reserves. Every available inch of
space on the railroads had to be used for military purposes, for the
transportation of men and material, and to have intruded an orchestra of
fifty men with cumbersome luggage, musical instruments, etc., would have
been a nuisance instead of a service.

The French Government, through its various departments with which I came
into contact, especially the Ministry of Fine Arts and the French High
Commission, received me with the greatest courtesy and kindness. M.
Cortot, at the Beaux Arts, had taken steps to procure an orchestra for
me and I was already getting the full benefit of the friendliness for
everything American which, after the first entry of our troops into the
fighting-line at Seicheprey, Belleau Wood, and Château-Thierry developed
into an enthusiasm, the like of which cannot be imagined. I saw the
change from deepest despondency to greatest optimism come over the city
like a wave, and especially after the heroic stand of our men at
Château-Thierry there was nothing which an American could possibly want
that a Frenchman was not willing to give to him with both hands.

For the morning of the Fourth of July a Franco-American demonstration
had been arranged which was to culminate in a parade of French and
American troops from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées to the
Place de la Concorde. I was naturally among the crowds of eager
spectators who lined the avenue to greet our troops, which included a
company of our marines who had fought at the front but a few days
before. This was literally the first time that I had seen a crowd of
people in Paris, and it marked in significant fashion the change from
the gloom that had hovered over the city when I first arrived.

Paris had been decorated as only the French know how, and the noble
vistas of the city looked their best under a glorious sky of blue
slightly flecked with white clouds. In the waiting crowd there were no
young men, not even middle-aged, for all these had been at the front for
four years, but there were old men, boys, and women of all ages down to
a charming little girl of twelve, evidently of the poorer class, who was
standing by my side on tip-toe with excitement. She could speak a few
words of English and every now and then, with the sweetest and shyest
glance at me, she would demonstrate her knowledge of our tongue, and
then supplement it with more voluble French, as she pointed out to me
the various wonders of the day.

Overhead some of the most expert of the French airmen were flying
backward and forward, looping the loop, dipping the dip, and executing
marvellous manœuvres as they swooped down, sometimes almost brushing the
trees on either side of the magnificent avenue, all to the great delight
of the crowds awaiting the coming of our soldiers. As the mounted police
of Paris, a splendid body of men, came down the avenue, the excitement
became intense, and when our khaki-clad boys swept into view the
enthusiasm exceeded all bounds. Young girls, with their arms literally
banked with flowers, ran across the empty spaces cleared by the police,
and began to distribute them among our soldiers who, looking straight
ahead, awkwardly grabbed the flowers, stuck them into the tunics, or
held them in the hand not occupied with the rifle, all the time keeping
their alignment with the most rigid discipline, just as if they were
ignorant of the sweetest tribute that one nation could offer another.
The whole scene was so indescribably touching that every one in the
crowd, including myself, stood there with the tears rolling down his

On my other side stood an American bandmaster who recognized me, and
while we were waiting for the parade he implored me to do something for
the bandsmen in the American army in France. He told me that he had
drilled his little band of twenty-eight men for six months before being
sent overseas, that they had continued to work faithfully during their
stay in France, and that they had achieved a good standard of
efficiency. But, according to old American army custom, they had been
sent into the firing-line at Seicheprey as stretcher-bearers, and in
consequence so many had been either killed, wounded, or shell-shocked
that his band had become completely disorganized. His regiment was in
consequence without music, and he had been detached and sent to Paris as
general purchasing agent for musical instruments. He said: “It takes at
least six months to train a good bandsman, while a stretcher-bearer can
be trained in as many hours. We serve a real purpose, while the men are
in camp, in taking their minds away from the drudgery and monotony of
army life. Our music cheers them; a silent camp is almost unendurable.
Can’t you persuade General Pershing to change this custom, just as the
British and other nations have done?” I told him that I sympathized with
his views, that it seemed to me wrong to use the band for any other
purpose than music, except in case of absolute military necessity, but
that I was without any official connection with the army and so did not
think that I could be of much service to him.

When the parade was ended and the crowds dispersed, the little French
girl on my right said “Good-by” to me in English, ever so prettily, and
then very shyly pressed into my hand as a parting token a tiny little
American flag that she herself had painted on a bit of cotton, the stars
and stripes on one side and the French tricolor on the other. Needless
to say I still possess this charming symbol as a _porte-bonheur_.

I had arranged to conduct two concerts in Paris, one on July 13 at the
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, exclusively for our soldiers and Red Cross
nurses stationed in and near Paris, and the other on the following
afternoon, Sunday, July 14 (the Fête Nationale of the French), the
entire proceeds of which were to be given to the Croix Rouge Française.
For the latter concert the French Government immediately offered their
historic _Salle du Conservatoire_, a courtesy that had never been
extended to a foreign conductor before. This was to be a symphonic
concert, entirely devoted in honor of the day to works of the great
French composers, but at the first rehearsal it looked as if the concert
would have to be cancelled because it seemed impossible to collect a
first-class orchestra of eighty men. The four years of war had called
almost every male citizen of France into military service, and the
recent evacuation of Paris had drawn with it many of the musicians who
had until then remained in the city. At my first rehearsal only
forty-three men appeared, and these were divided in most abnormal
fashion. There were five first violins, ten seconds, two violas, one
violoncello, and three double-basses. There was no oboe or English horn;
only two French horns, one trumpet, etc. Of the forty-three men
assembled seven were members of the _Garde Républicaine_, the famous
Paris military band, but which unfortunately for me had to attend an
official celebration of the Fête Nationale at the Trocadéro on the
Sunday afternoon. The President of the republic was to be present with
various other dignitaries and a chorus of three thousand

I was in despair, and finally made an appeal to the orchestra in very
voluble but ungrammatical French, the gist of which was that America had
gladly sent one million soldiers to France and was getting ready to send
two millions more; all I asked in return was an orchestra of eighty men!
Could they not help me to supplement their thin ranks with a sufficient
number of trained musicians to complete the orchestra? My little speech
was received with an agitated enthusiasm. They immediately began to
gather in excited groups and swore to me that the orchestra could and
would be obtained. One assured me of a fine oboe, another of a
trumpeter, another of a first violin, and so on. M. Cortot also got
busy. He sent for Captain Ballay, the conductor of the _Garde
Républicaine_, and represented to him in what seemed to me an eloquent
oration worthy of the _Chambre des Députés_, that after Seicheprey and
Château-Thierry France could not and would not refuse an American
anything he asked for. Captain Ballay enthusiastically agreed, and
promised to send the seven members of his band whom I needed for my
concert—in the swiftest taxi-cabs he could procure—from the Trocadéro,
where the governmental celebration was to begin at three o’clock,
immediately after they had played his opening overture, to the _Salle du
Conservatoire_ at which my concert was scheduled for four. He thought
that the President of the republic was not musical enough to notice the
absence of these seven men, and that he would manage to get along
without them for the rest of his programme.

At the same time, noted French soloists who ordinarily did not play in
orchestras, offered their services—Captain Pollain, famous
violoncellist from Nancy and M. Hewitt (whose great-grandfather had been
an American but whose family had lived in France for three generations),
solo violinist of the Instruments Anciens. And at the second rehearsal,
whom should I see, but dear old Longy, for thirty years celebrated oboe
player of the Boston Symphony, who said to me most touchingly: “I see
you have no second oboe. I have no instrument in France as I left mine
in Boston, but I will borrow one and play for you if you need me.”

At my second rehearsal an excellent orchestra of seventy-seven men
assembled, and at the third the orchestra was complete, including many
French soldiers in uniform, four or five distinguished virtuosi who
played in orchestra only for this occasion, and even one of my own first
violinists from the New York Symphony Orchestra, Reber Johnson, who,
having been rejected for the army as physically not fit, had immediately
volunteered in the American Red Cross, and turned up at the rehearsal in
his uniform in the most natural way, as if this had been one of the
regular daily rehearsals of the New York Symphony.

My first trumpeter was a young French soldier who had played clarinet
before the war. His arm had been shot off only a year before, and as
soon as he left the hospital he studied the trumpet and with his one arm
not only held but fingered it with remarkable facility.

I do not think that in all my long career I have ever conducted concerts
or rehearsals in which both conductor and players were enveloped in such
an atmosphere of emotional excitement. Our young, handsome boys in khaki
seemed like demigods to these tired and worn people who had fought with
such incredible tenacity for four terrible years. The members of the
orchestra received every criticism which I made during the rehearsals
with a quick nod or an engaging smile, and every now and then some
remark of mine regarding the proper interpretation would be followed by
a murmur of approval, which would spread through the orchestra and
sometimes even vent itself in applause. I hope that my criticisms, as
well as my interpretations, pleased them, but I know that even if they
had not, it would have made no difference. I was an American and that
was enough.

At the Saturday-night concert, which was more popular in character, I
gave our American soldier audience Victor Herbert’s clever medley on
American airs, and those Frenchmen played as if they had known them all
their lives. The huge audience in khaki fairly seethed with patriotic
excitement, which of course found its climax when we turned into
“Dixie.” All jumped to their feet and cheered and cheered, so that for
ten bars or so literally nothing of the music could be heard, and only
by the waving of my stick and the motions of the players could one tell
that the music was going on.

The following afternoon the programme was one of real symphonic
proportions, and included Saint-Saëns’s great “Symphony No. 3” for
orchestra, organ, and piano, Debussy’s “L’Après-midi d’un Faune,” and
the “Symphonic Variations” for piano with orchestra, by César Franck.

The organ part in the symphony was played by Mlle. Nadia Boulanger,
without doubt the greatest woman musician I have ever known, and the
Franck “Variations” were superbly interpreted by Alfred Cortot. M.
Casadesus played an exquisite concerto for the viola d’amour by

The little _Salle du Conservatoire_, its quaint architecture dating from
the time of Louis XVI, with its tiny boxes and balconies, was jammed to
the doors—the janitor told me that it was the largest audience he had
ever seen there. Every available space was filled twice over and the
walls literally bulged outward. The audience was a very interesting one.
The French Government, with its usual politeness, had sent official
representatives from the _Ministère des Etrangères_, the _Ministère des
Beaux Arts_, and the French High Commission—many of them in uniform.
There were also many French musicians of distinction, among them dear
Maître Charles Widor, the _Secrétaire Perpétuel de l’Institut de
France_, and, of course, many French, British, and American soldiers. A
New York fire commissioner would have gasped at the way in which all
precautions were disregarded, and the excitement in the audience, when
at the end of the concert we played the “Marseillaise” and the
“Star-Spangled Banner,” can be imagined.

To add to my pleasure my daughter Alice, who was doing war work away
down in Brest, had received permission to come up to Paris for the great
occasion. My old friend, Paul Cravath, vice-president of the New York
Symphony Society, who was at that time at the head of our Finance
Commission in London, had flown over in an English airplane, and smiled
upon me from a centre box in all his splendor of six feet four as I
turned around to make my bow to the cheering audience.

I think we gave them an exceedingly good concert. The orchestra were
delightful in their keen desire to carry out my intentions; but I think
if we had played less well the enthusiasm would have been just as great,
for while we were playing, the names of Seicheprey and Château-Thierry
were vibrating in the hearts of all listeners, and their enthusiasm was
poured out upon me as if I, single-handed, demonstrated the valor of our
American troops.

At the end of the concert, the president of the Musical Orchestral Union
of Paris presented me with a large bouquet of roses tied with the
American colors, and in a very eloquent speech voiced the gratitude of
the French musicians for the assistance which had been given them by our
Society of American Friends of Musicians in France. I was able to
supplement my words of thanks with a further substantial check, which
had been sent by Mr. Flagler and which was to be devoted to the families
of orchestral musicians serving at the front.

The week had been fully occupied with the preparations for these two
concerts, but notwithstanding the attendant excitements and elations I
had periods of great despondency. The possibility of continuing my
mission in France seemed less and less capable of fulfilment, partly
owing to the tense military situation and partly because I did not seem
to get the proper assistance from the Y. M. C. A. Mr. McLane and Mr.
Sloane, at the head of affairs in New York, had given me their
enthusiastic support, and I had sailed at their urgent request. They had
cabled and written full instructions to the “Y” in France, and on my
arrival Mr. Ernest Carter, the head worker, whom I liked exceedingly,
had promised me the fullest co-operation. But he was evidently harassed
and overworked and did not get the efficient help which he should have
had in the running of so large an organization in war time. Many of the
heads of departments were ex-clergymen or church and Sunday-school
workers who were evidently inexperienced in the management of practical
affairs. I am told that later on this condition was much improved and
that the men who were subsequently sent out from America were chosen
more for their business ability, but at the time I mention, the
confusion at the headquarters in the Rue d’Agesseau was often great and
there seemed to be insufficient co-operation between the different
departments. In order to be able to travel around France unmolested I
had to have a _carte rouge_, and this card it seemed impossible to
obtain for me, notwithstanding all my proper and complete credentials as
an American, as a musician well known all over our country, and, above
all, as a _persona grata_ with the French Government.

A few days before my first concert I was informed that it was impossible
to procure this card for me, and that therefore I could not be permitted
to leave Paris. When I asked for an explanation, it was refused by a
rather sanctimonious person who put his arm around me, called me
brother, but expressed his regret at the unfortunate fact of my having
been born in Germany. I swallowed my rage as best I could, but my
chagrin was all the greater because in the meantime M. Casadesus and
four other distinguished French artists had offered me their services to
travel around with me in a motor-car and give concerts in our camps and
hospitals. I finally obtained the information from a very nice young man
who was in charge of the entertainment division of the “Y” that he
understood that the objections came from the Intelligence Department of
the A. E. F. I immediately called on Major Cabot Ward, the head of the
Intelligence Division in Paris whom I had known in New York for
twenty-five years. I showed him my various credentials, and he assured
me that: “As far as the United States army is concerned, you are as free
as air.” I returned with this information to the Rue d’Agesseau and was
met by the same impenetrable wall of ignorance or ill-will; and, as my
friends at the French High Commission had already assured me that as far
as they were concerned all France was open to me, I seemed to be at my
wit’s end how to unravel this riddle.

I finally called on my friend, Robert Bliss, counsellor of our embassy
in Paris. I can never forget his kindness and helpfulness during this
period. He and his charming wife had made their apartment the very
centre of American life during those trying times. Mrs. Bliss had
resolutely refused to leave Paris, and dispensed a generous hospitality
at their apartment in the Rue Henri Moissan. When I told him of my
troubles and that I, who had lived in America forty-seven years, should
now be thus treated, he smiled and said: “We can do nothing for you at
present, as you are still a part of the organization of the Y. M. C. A.,
but as soon as you get that uniform off, you will find every road open
to you.”

That wretched uniform! It had annoyed me from the first moment I had put
it on because the tailor to whom the “Y” had sent me had made a
miserable job of it. It was too narrow between the shoulders, which is
fatal for an orchestral conductor, and the trousers were a tragedy. But
there was no time before sailing to order a better-fitting uniform, and
as I had been told that I could not move an inch in France without it I
had literally taken no civilian clothes with me! I had ordered some new
clothes in Paris, but there was a tailors’ strike on and I was
therefore, for decency’s sake, compelled to hold on to that uniform,
much as I longed to divest myself of the symbol of the sacred triangle.
However, I began to see daylight, and as I hoped by the following Monday
or Tuesday to get my new civilian clothes, I decided to conduct the two
concerts on Saturday and Sunday and then magnificently hand in my
resignation. But I was not spared a last drop of bitterness, for on
Saturday morning I received a visit from a very stupid and exasperating
_officier de liaison_ of the Y. M. C. A., who proceeded to inform me
that as I had been “born in Germany” and therefore could not obtain my
_carte rouge_, the committee of the “Y” thought that I should not
conduct the two concerts in their uniform. Again that accursed uniform!
I was so enraged that I said I would either conduct in it or in my
underclothes, that my resignation had already been written and would be
presented on Monday, and that I insisted on an interview with Mr. Carter
and his executive committee, as I wished them to know how I had been
treated. I knew that Mr. Carter, poor man, had no knowledge of the
entire affair, as he had been zigzagging around France all this time to
the various posts and supply centres of the “Y,” trying to bring some
kind of order out of chaos. He immediately accorded me a meeting, and
when I told my story, made me an apology so ample and generous that I
left him with none but the kindliest feelings and really regretted that
he, a man of high ideals and spiritual power, should through the
exigencies of war have been so overburdened with practical affairs. For
a few of his aides I have nothing but absolute contempt, but there were
many among the men workers and certainly the majority of the women who
gave wonderful service and gladly suffered all kinds of annoyances and
deprivations in order to help the soldiers, who were not all angels by
any means.

But my real triumph was to come on the very Sunday morning of my concert
when General Charles Dawes, of the American army, called on me at my
hotel and, to my amazement, asked me whether I could come to the general
headquarters of the A. E. F. at Chaumont, and confer with General
Pershing regarding the possible improvement of our army bands. I could
not believe my ears that so suddenly after my bitter experiences with
the “Y,” the commander-in-chief of the American army in France had
personally sent for me.

General Dawes was at that time at the head of the army supplies, with
headquarters in Paris. A great lover of music, he had contributed
largely to its cultivation in his own city of Chicago. He was an old and
valued friend of General Pershing and I think that it was he who had
suggested my name to him. I can never thank General Dawes enough for
giving me, a musician and over fifty years of age, this wonderful
opportunity to touch even the outer hem of the robes of the war goddess.

Needless to say, my despondent mood immediately changed to one of
elation. I accepted the invitation with alacrity and arranged with
General Dawes to go to Chaumont on the following Wednesday, July 17.

In the meantime the air had been full of rumors regarding the “Big
Bertha” who had been conveniently silent ever since my arrival in Paris.
It was persistently said that on Monday morning seventeen of these
ladies bearing the same name would again begin a bombardment of Paris,
and I confess that it gave me something of a shock, when, on the Monday
morning after my concert while I was still luxuriating in bed—thinking
with pleasure of the triumphs of the day before and with eager
anticipation of my approaching trip to Chaumont—I suddenly heard a
curious reverberation, different from the explosions of the Gothas or of
the answering air-guns. It was the first greeting of Madame Bertha, and
this greeting was repeated punctiliously every fifteen minutes
throughout the day, the shells striking in Paris in different quarters.

It was interesting to watch the French people. After every shot, crowds
of them would run into the streets, talking, gesticulating, and
speculating where that particular shell had fallen. This would go on for
thirteen or fourteen minutes and then all would scoot back into their
shops and houses as they knew that the next shell was about due.

That evening I had been invited to dine at Mrs. Edith Wharton’s, at her
lovely apartment in the Rue de Varennes. Just as I got to her door a
Frenchman stopped and said to me that he had been at the concert on the
preceding day. He then added: “I see that you are making the
acquaintance of ‘La Grosse Berthe.’” Thinking that he referred to the
return of the bombardment, I smiled assent, and then proceeded to Mrs.
Wharton’s apartment. I found our great novelist with two other ladies,
an American officer, and an American composer, my dear friend Blair
Fairchild, who had been living in Paris for several years and was acting
most ably as distributing agent for the money which our “Society of
American Friends of Musicians in France” was sending over. The dinner
proceeded as if we lived in times of deepest peace. It was served with
punctilious efficiency, the flowers were charming, and the conversation
delightful, and it was only when dinner was half over that I found out,
quite casually, that what my French gentleman at the door had referred
to was, that only two minutes before my arrival the last shell of the
Big Bertha had fallen on the roof of the house opposite, demolishing it
and parts of the upper story.

On the following Wednesday, July 17, I took the morning train for
Chaumont, again comfortably clad in civilian clothes. I was met at the
station by a young officer, Lieutenant Wendell, nephew of my old friend
Evart Wendell, who took me to general headquarters and introduced me to
Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, secretary of the General Staff, who
explained to me in detail various points on which General Pershing
desired information and assistance. I was then most comfortably put up
at the guest-house, formerly a large private residence in the town,
which had been taken over by General Pershing to accommodate his
visitors. I was to dine at his château that evening, and spent a great
part of the afternoon walking through the quaint old hill town situated
on a high cliff overlooking the valley of the Marne. It was during this
walk that I saw the only drunken American private during my three
months’ stay in France. I was following a picturesque road leading out
of the town into the country, when a colored boy in khaki reeled toward
me and said: “’Scuse me, sah. Are you a Frenchman?” I said “No,” and he
replied: “Then foh Gawd sake, will you please tell me whar ah can get a
drink?” I answered: “No. You have evidently had enough already.” He
tried to follow me and I, seeing two white soldiers approaching, turned
to them, and said: “I think you had better take care of this boy. He has
had too much to drink.” They briskly answered: “Certainly, sir.” But as
they went up to him he kept peering at me and said: “I want to talk to
that gen’leman. That’s Mr. Damrosch!” I laughed out loud, for here I
was, over three thousand miles from home, and this boy, who perhaps had
musical inclinations and had heard me conduct in some concert,
recognized me even through the alcoholic vapors which surrounded him so
thickly that one could have cut them with a knife.

One of the other visitors at the guest-house was General Omar Bundy, who
commanded the first division and had come to Chaumont to receive the
congratulations of the commander-in-chief on the splendid work of his
division. He proved a delightful gentleman, and we chatted together very
amicably as a motor-car took us that evening about five miles beyond
Chaumont through most lovely country to the château surrounded by
exquisite gardens and woods which General Pershing had taken for his
personal residence. A scene of greater peace and tranquillity could not
be imagined, and literally the only sign and symbol of war was the
solitary sentry pacing up and down before the entrance, with bayonet

As this happened to be the first day of General Foch’s great attack in
which he pushed the Germans back six miles, General Pershing, who had
been at the front all day, had not yet returned, and General Bundy and I
walked through the grounds in the lovely evening twilight for perhaps
half an hour, when a motor-car drove up and our great
commander-in-chief, accompanied by his aide, immediately came over to us
and made us welcome in hearty and simple fashion. He reminded me that we
had met at the Presidio in San Francisco during the great exhibition of
1915, and indeed I remembered it well, for shortly afterward he had been
sent to the Mexican border in command of the troops, and while there had
been overwhelmed by the terrible tragedy of the death of his wife and
children, who were suffocated in a fire at night which destroyed their
home at the Presidio.

So much has been written regarding the wonderful impression which
General Pershing made in Europe on all who came in contact with him that
it is not necessary for me to more than echo the general chorus of
praise—soldierly, dignified, courteous, and simple in his bearing,
wearing a uniform as only a man can who has been a soldier all his life.

We entered the house and shortly after sat down to dinner. The party
consisted of the commander-in-chief, General Bundy, and a most
delightful staff of eight officers—I being the only civilian. As such I
expected and half hoped that the talk would be all about the wonderful
success of the first day’s push by Foch, of which I had already heard
enthusiastic rumors in the town, or of great military secrets, affairs
of strategy, monster guns, thousands of airplanes, and new, mysterious
machines of destruction. But, to my surprise, the conversation during
almost the entire dinner was of music, of its influence in raising the
spirits of the soldier, in giving him the right kind of recreation and
the necessary relief from the monotony of camp work or the horrors of
battle. General Pershing told me that after hearing some of the crack
military bands of France and England he had been so overwhelmed by the
consciousness of our inferiority that he was eager to know if something
could not be done to improve the general standard of our army bands,
and, more particularly, whether it might not be possible at least to
take out the best players from among the bands then in France and to
form a headquarters band of superior excellence, led by the best
bandmaster among them, and in this way form a model which the others
could endeavor to copy. This suggestion seemed to me excellent, and I
asked how many bandmasters there were at present in France, as I would
like to examine them as to their fitness. General Pershing said, with a
smile, that there were over two hundred, but this did not phase me and I
agreed to examine them all, provided that proper arrangements could be
made for a fitting test of their qualifications. Various plans for such
an examination were discussed and General Pershing finally decided to
send them all to Paris in batches of fifty every week, together with a
military band which should be stationed there for the following four or
five weeks, thus giving me abundant opportunity to test their efficiency
in conducting as well as in harmony and orchestration. It seemed to me
at the time remarkable that, in the midst of war and with all its many
immediate necessities weighing upon him, General Pershing should have
had the acumen to perceive the value of music in war time and to
interest himself in its improvement.

As I sat there, the memory of the hollow-cheeked Bandmaster Tyler who
had stood next to me at the Fourth of July parade in Paris suddenly came
back. I thought to myself that here I was, the only civilian at the
table, and that therefore I might say anything I pleased without being
put up against a wall at sunrise and shot, for at the worst they could
only consider me as very ignorant of army customs. Therefore I watched
for my opportunity and suddenly plunged in and spoke of my conversation
with Bandmaster Tyler while we were waiting for our marines to march
down the Champs-Élysées. I said that in my humble opinion it was a great
mistake to use musicians as stretcher-bearers in battle, not that their
lives as soldiers were any more valuable than those of any others in the
army, but that a stretcher-bearer could be trained in a very short time
while it took many months to train a bandsman; that the Canadian
regiments had followed the same custom during the first months of the
war, but the results had been so dire in destroying the bands and their
usefulness, that the soldiers themselves had implored their commanding
officers not to let their bandsmen be sacrificed in this way, as there
was nothing so terrible as coming back after battle to a silent and
therefore desolate camp. After I had finished my rather impassioned
peroration, General Bundy and others heartily agreed with me, but
General Pershing said nothing at all, and I felt that I had perhaps
talked too much and _mal à propos_. But the following morning, as I was
seated with Colonel Collins at general headquarters arranging the
details of my examinations, he smilingly handed me an order from the
commander-in-chief which had just arrived and which was to be sent to
the division commanders, to the effect that “from now on bandsmen are
not to be used any longer as stretcher-bearers except in cases of
extreme military urgency.”

One of General Pershing’s remarks during the dinner is so characteristic
that I repeat it here. He said: “When peace is declared and our bands
march up Fifth Avenue I should like them to play so well that it will be
another proof of the advantage of military training.” Subsequent
developments and meetings with this interesting man further deepened the
impression which he made upon me.

I returned to Paris and proceeded to make all necessary arrangements for
the examinations of the two hundred bandmasters. Our army had leased a
large hotel near the Bastille on the banks of the Seine, and a large
room on the ground floor served admirably for my purpose. The band of
the 329th infantry soon arrived and was quartered in this hotel, and
every morning at 9.30 the examinations began and continued from Monday
to Thursday at the rate of about fifty bandmasters a week, who arrived
from all quarters of France—from the seaport towns, from the training
camps, and some even from the very front line of the trenches. Fridays I
would usually return to headquarters and report on my findings and begin
recommendations, which gradually assumed greater and greater proportions
as the magnitude of the work developed.

To assist me in this prodigious work, I engaged the services of M.
Francis Casadesus, brother of Henri and a splendid musician. He examined
the men as to their qualifications in instrumentation and in their
general knowledge of the various instruments, while I examined them in
the actual process of conducting and drilling a band. I would first let
them bite their teeth into an overture like the “Oberon” of Weber, or a
movement from a classical symphony, and then would let them conduct a
composition of their own choice. I found very soon that while most of
these young bandmasters were musically talented and ambitious, they had
had no or but little opportunity for acquiring what we may call the
technic of the baton. They had had no intensive disciplinary training
such as our young officers from civilian life had received at Plattsburg
and similar camps. Many of them did not know how to beat time properly,
much less train a band in phrasing or rhythmic accuracy; and I soon saw
that unless some opportunity was given them to learn at least the
rudiments of their calling, the effort toward improving our bands would
be useless. It therefore seemed to me that the quick formation of a
bandmasters’ school was the only solution of the problem, and as our
army had had the help of French military and aviation officers as
instructors, loaned to us by the _Ministère de la Guerre_, I thought
that a similar arrangement could be made, under which we might obtain
the necessary musical instructors also from the French army, as nearly
all the musicians of France were at that time in uniform.

I also discovered that some of the most important musical instruments
which give mellowness and nobility to the tone of a band were almost
utterly lacking. We had hardly any oboes, bassoons, French horns, or
flügelhorns. I knew that some of the greatest masters of these
instruments, first prizes of the Conservatoire of Paris, were serving in
the French army, and immediately, through the _Ministère des Beaux
Arts_, obtained their names and the regiments to which they belonged. On
the following visit to Chaumont I proposed to General Pershing that we
form a music-school at which fifty bandmasters could get the most
intensive musical training and discipline for eight weeks, to be
succeeded by a new batch of fifty, etc., and at the same time forty
pupils each in oboe, bassoon, French horn, and flügelhorn could get a
similar training of twelve weeks on their respective instruments.

General Pershing and his staff were delighted with the plan and I
offered to procure the necessary instructors from the French army,
promising General Pershing that the school would be in complete running
order by October 1, provided a proper building could be obtained. The
general asked me where I wished to place the school and offered me
Longres, where several schools on the strategy of war were already in
progress, but I claimed that the surroundings for my music-school should
be of a more “peaceful and even academic character,” and suggested
Chaumont. General Pershing smiled, but insisted that it was already
overcrowded and that I would not be able to find a building large enough
to house so great a number of instructors and pupils. He gave me full
power, however, to see what could be done, and I set forth immediately
with a French liaison officer—member of the French Military Commission
at Chaumont, and in G-5, general headquarters, under which department
the proposed music-school would come—who proved a most remarkable and
valuable assistant in my work. He was Lieutenant Michel Weill, nephew of
the owner of the well-known White House in San Francisco, and an
enthusiastic musical amateur who, through his long residence in America,
had acquired a knowledge of English and a sympathy for America only
second to that for his own native land. He belonged to a delightful
French officers’ mess at Chaumont, and they immediately made me a kind
of honorary member and in most hospitable fashion invited me to their
Lucullan repasts. As they were all enthusiastic lovers of music, I
endeavored to repay them by pounding out Wagner, their supreme favorite,
to their hearts’ content on an old upright piano placed in a little
sitting-room next to their _salle à manger_.

Lieutenant Weill and I first paid a _visite de cérémonie_ to the _Maire_
of Chaumont and explained to him our desire. The idea of what he called
“_un petit conservatoire de musique pour les Américains_” in Chaumont
appealed to his fancy immensely, and he immediately picked up his
telephone and called up an old friend of his, a fellow citizen and mill
owner. He explained to him the great honor that was about to befall
their town if a proper building could be found, and exhorted him to show
himself as a really patriotic citizen of France and friend of the
Americans by giving the mill which he owned just outside the city and
only a few minutes’ walk from our headquarters for this noble purpose.
We motored to this building and met there an elderly, dignified, and
courteous Frenchman who told us that anything he had was at the disposal
of “les Américains.” We found a huge mill with walls two feet thick, the
machinery in disuse, and with large empty spaces that our army engineers
could easily turn into sleeping-quarters, practising-rooms, and other
needs for a music-school. In one large wing we found a few women and
many children playing about. I said: “Of course, we shall need this wing
also.” “Then I regret,” answered the owner, “but this wing you cannot
have, because I have given it to forty-eight refugees from Verdun with
the promise that they shall occupy it until the end of the war.”
Naturally Lieutenant Weill and I reconsidered, and concluded that a
large tent could be put up in the meadow as an eating-place, and that we
could get along without the extra wing. I then asked the owner what
rental he would demand. “Oh,” he said, “anything that the American army
wishes to pay.” But when Lieutenant Weill informed him that he should
fix a fair price, he asked timidly: “Would the American army consider
five hundred francs a month reasonable?” I tell this to offset the tales
of those people who keep harping on the commercial greed of the French
in anything that concerned the needs of the American soldier.

We returned to general headquarters jubilant, and, after a satisfactory
interview with the officer in charge of building operations, it was
decided to place the school in Chaumont, and I returned to Paris to
complete my plans.

My brother Frank had recognized the lack of good schooling for our army
bands and bandmasters many years before the war, and had very
patriotically placed the entire machinery of his Institute of Musical
Art at the disposal of the secretary of war. An arrangement had
accordingly been made by which a bandmaster’s school at Governor’s
Island, New York, was placed under my brother’s control, and for several
years before the war a small number of bandmasters were graduated from
it who ranked well on a par with those of other countries. But when we
entered the war and our army was organized on a scale of millions these
were but a drop in the bucket, and heroic measures were necessary to
bring some semblance of order into this musical chaos of hundreds of
uneducated bandmasters and thousands of still less educated bandsmen.

During these five weeks in Paris and Chaumont I worked very hard and,
while my life has been crowded with affairs of all kinds relating to my
profession, I cannot recall any time when the work was so constant day
and night or when I was more jubilantly happy in the doing of it. During
the forenoons Casadesus and I would examine the bandmasters, discover
what they could and could not do, give them, so to speak, “first aid to
the wounded” by pointing out their worst failings or their greatest
weaknesses. In the afternoons Lieutenant Weill and I would run around to
the various French government departments on the track of this or that
musician whom we wished to corral as professor for our school. At night
I would sit propped up in bed and work out the entire tuition plan of
the school, down to the minutest details.

My general recommendations to general headquarters, all of which were
subsequently carried out, included classes for the bandmasters’
instruction in the technic of conducting, in harmony, and in
orchestration. These classes were put in charge of M. Francis Casadesus
and M. André Caplet. The latter was later on succeeded by Lieutenant
Albert Stoessel, a highly talented bandmaster in our army, who has
returned to civilian life and has now become my successor as conductor
of the New York Oratorio Society.

Captain Ellacott, of the A. E. F., became the military head of the
school to which he gave most sympathetic assistance.

There were two professors each for oboe, bassoon, French horn, and
flügelhorn, all of whom were graduates and first prizes of the famous
Paris Conservatoire. I also recommended that the beautiful B-flat bugles
of the French army be adopted by us and that a French drum-major,
proficient on this instrument, be appointed as instructor to drill
successive classes of fifty for one month each, the graduates to become
first buglers of our regiments, in order that they might, in turn,
instruct other buglers in their respective drum and bugle corps.

At the examinations I also asked the bandmasters certain questions
regarding their position in their respective regiments, the attitude of
their colonel toward music, their general treatment, and the hours
allowed them for musical practice, and here I came on all kinds of
conditions. Some of the commanding officers had no sympathy with music
or with the bandsmen, and instead of making them practise their six
hours a day, they were put to work as kitchen police and on other
fatigue duties. I therefore urged that the commanding officers be
impressed with the fact that the primary object of the band is not to
fight, but to cheer the fighters, and the better their music, the
greater its beneficial effects upon the spirit of the soldiers, and that
therefore all bandsmen should be compelled to devote at least five or
six hours every day to the practice of their instruments and to
rehearsals, and that other duties should be made subsidiary to their
musical work and should not be of a character to unfit them for a proper
performance on their respective instruments.

I also discovered that there was a terrible wastage as regards musical
instruments and that in several instances, preparatory to going into
action, the instruments had been thrown away or simply left behind,
nevermore to be recovered, and that therefore it might be wise to
appoint a travelling inspector of musical instruments whose duties
should be to attend to the speedy replacement of missing parts, the
repairing of instruments, and the supplying of new music.

A really excellent headquarters band was formed at Chaumont, which
became a source of much gratification to the commander-in-chief and his
staff, accompanying him on many of his ceremonial visits and functions.

One of my most important recommendations for the school was that every
week at least one concert should be given by the professors and such of
the bandsmen as were really competent musicians. The programmes should
be made up only of the great master composers, in order that the
students—many of whom had come from isolated communities in our country
and had had but little opportunity to hear good music—should become
sensitive to the finer and more spiritual qualities of music as an art.
This was carried out in most remarkable fashion during the entire
existence of the school, and the programmes and their performance were
worthy of a place in any highly cultivated musical community.

When I returned to Chaumont on a visit of inspection the following year,
I heard one of these concerts, which included a quintet of Mozart for
oboe and strings and a sonata for violin and piano by César Franck. I
sat in delighted amazement as I saw the happy faces of over a hundred
students in khaki who were listening to this divine music in rapt
silence. What a pity that such a school cannot be founded in every State
in America now that the war is over and our soldiers have returned home!
This would speedily result in an excellent band for every town and lay a
real foundation for the musical development of the people at large.

During these weeks in Paris I also saw a great deal of some of my French
musician colleagues, all of whom had refused to leave Paris in spite of
the Gothas and Berthas.

When I first called on Charles Marie Widor, the famous old organist of
Saint Sulpice, I found him installed, by virtue of his office as
_Secrétaire Perpétuel_ of the _Institut de France_, in a charming Louis
XVI suite of rooms in that building. He showed me a hole in the window
of his workroom and told me that a few days before he had just stooped
down to pick up a musical score from the floor when a shell from the Big
Bertha burst in front of his apartment and a piece of it hurtled through
his window, missing him only because he was in a stooping position.

His Gallic wit and versatility make him a delightful companion, and I am
grateful for the opportunity the war gave me for more intimate
acquaintance and friendship with him. Indeed, this applies to all the
friends made during that eventful summer. The war brought us more
quickly and closely together than would have been possible otherwise,
and as I was an American I reaped the full advantage of all the intense
gratitude which the French felt for us, some of which was hardly
deserved, as our government certainly had shilly-shallied and waited
until it was almost too late before they threw our great weight of men
and treasure into the balance.

I have already spoken of Mlle. Nadia Boulanger, who played the organ for
me at the performance of Saint-Saëns’s “Third Symphony” on July 14.
Among women I have never met her equal in musicianship, and indeed there
are very few men who can compare with her. She is one of the finest
organists of France, an excellent pianist, and the best reader of
orchestral scores that I have ever known. Again and again I have seen
her take up a manuscript orchestral score, sit down with it at the
piano, and brilliantly read it at sight, transcribing it for the piano
as she played along. When we first met, she and her dear mother were in
the greatest grief. A younger sister, Lili, had died only a month before
at twenty-four years of age. Beautiful, exquisite, and marvellously
talented, she had won the much-coveted _Prix de Rome_ three years
before—the first woman to have gained it. A mortal illness had slowly
sapped her strength, and as she had been the idol of her mother and
sister, her loss was to them a tragedy almost beyond endurance. Nadia,
besides keeping up her professional duties—she was substitute organist
at the Madeleine during the war—hurled herself into war work and more
especially the care of the students of the Conservatoire who were at the
front. She knew all their names and the numbers of their organizations
and founded a kind of musical gazette, mimeographed copies of which were
sent out every month to the students. All kinds of musical news and
musical questions were published in it, so that these boys, in the midst
of their military duties or while convalescing from their wounds in the
hospitals, could have something to think about more immediately
connected with their own profession. It is interesting to note that, in
answer to the question, “Should German composers like Brahms and Wagner
be played at our concerts during the war?” out of fifty-eight,
forty-seven answered unequivocally “Yes” for Wagner and Brahms, three
“Yes” for Beethoven and the classics, two were undecided, and six said
“No.” These answers were accompanied in many cases by highly interesting
essays on art and nationality of art, and, altogether, the judgments
thus expressed reflected the high intellectual standard of these young
French artists at the front.

I saw many instances of how keenly the French separate their artistic
from their political convictions. One night my friends of the French
Military Commission at Chaumont had come to Paris and one of them,
Captain Guegnier, invited me to dinner at his apartment. His wife and
the wife of one of his colleagues had come to Paris from the country
especially for the occasion. We sat down, a very jolly party of six, to
a most delicious dinner such as only the French can devise and properly
execute. As all the party were musical we naturally had a good deal of
music after dinner. The ladies sang charmingly and I had to play
excerpts from their beloved Wagner—“Tristan,” “Meistersinger,”
“Parsifal,” and the “Trilogy.” My hostess sang songs of Fauré, Chausson,
and Debussy, and just then the sirens boomed out their disagreeable
message that the Gothas were taking advantage of the moonlit night to
make one of their raids over Paris. At the same moment the taxi-cab man,
who had come to take me back to my hotel, announced that he had arrived.
Would he like to come up-stairs? Oh, no, he would just sit inside the
cab and wait till I got ready. “Then let us have some more music,” said
my hostess, and simply drew the curtain over the windows. And, while the
Gothas were scattering their shells over Paris, she turned to me and
said: “Now let me sing for you this lovely song of Schubert.” There was
my French hostess singing German songs, and it was not until about one
o’clock in the morning that Lieutenant Weill and I turned homeward.

The vast difference in attitude between the French and certain of my
compatriots regarding the proper stand to be taken in time of war toward
the art of an enemy nation was very striking. I had myself decided that
the New York Symphony Orchestra should not play the works of living
German composers, and that the German language should not be sung at our
concerts during the war. There seemed to me good and valid reasons for
such a course. But Beethoven, Mozart, and Wagner I considered as
classics, belonging to us just as much as to Germany, and their divine
message had naught to do with the political and military leaders of
Germany who had plunged the world into this horrible bath of blood.
There was, however, in New York a small but noisy group led by a few
women who sought to demonstrate their “patriotism” by hysterical
outbursts and newspaper protests against the performance of all music
composed by Germans, no matter how many years ago. Some of these women,
through the curious psychosis of war, really thought that they were
serving their country by their protests. In the winter of 1918 the
orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire made a tour through America under
their conductor, André Messager. When I called on him the day after his
arrival he showed me a letter he had just received from one of these
women protesting against his performing a Beethoven Symphony during his
stay in America. He was white with anger, and when I asked him how he
would answer it, he said: “I will answer it as a French artist should.”
I said: “The best way to answer would be to put Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’
Symphony on your first programme.” “I will,” he said; and he did.

The opposition to Wagner was based on very amusing premises. Because
some of his heroes were wont to appear on the stage in very blond wigs
and beards, these lady sleuth-hounds seemed to perceive some evil and
subtle connection between _Siegfried_ in the “Nibelungen Trilogy” and
Nietzsche’s “blond beast,” which, according to his prophecy, was
eventually to control the earth. Their studies of Wagner were too
shallow to enable them to realize that the whole philosophy of life as
expressed by Wagner in the “Nibelungen Trilogy” was in direct contrast
to the desire of the modern militaristic German to rule and control the
world by force. Wagner depicts a prehistoric world in which the gods of
greed, lust, and power rule, carrying, however, the seed of their own
destruction within them because of the materialistic quality of their
desires. As their power wanes and the old gods perish, a new religion is
born, the religion of self-sacrifice through love, as symbolized by
_Brunhilde_ in her self-immolation on the funeral pyre of _Siegfried_.

But all this is already ancient history, and I for one confidently
believe that the racial spirit which created the Germany of Bach,
Beethoven, Goethe, Kant, and Wagner will soon return again to brighten
and ennoble the world.

In five weeks all necessary arrangements for the school were completed
and notices were sent by the General Staff to the bandmasters of the
entire A. E. F. who had not come up to the necessary qualifications
during the examination which I had given them, to report to the Chaumont
School in batches of fifty every eight weeks, beginning on October 1,
and to start their studies. Students for oboe, bassoon, French horn, and
flügelhorn were also selected from the hundreds of applicants. At first
we had great difficulty in finding the necessary instruments for them.
France is famous for its wood-wind instruments, but the various
factories had long since ceased operations, as all the workmen were in
the army. The ever-ready and ingenious Lieutenant Weill, however,
succeeded in scraping together enough oboes and bassoons to start the
classes, and I cannot say enough for the willing assistance which was
accorded me by every United States army officer with whom I came in
contact. From the commander-in-chief down to Lieutenant Kelley, who sat
in the anteroom of General Dawes’s office in the Champs-Élysées, and
whose principal duty seemed to be to ward off disagreeable or tiresome
callers who wished to rob General Dawes of his valuable time, all made
me feel as if the improvement of the army bands was the one thing
necessary to win the war. It was high time for me to leave France and
“get back to earth,” as I no longer walked on anything but air and with
my head projecting far above the clouds.

During my last visit to Chaumont I motored down to Domrémy, the
birthplace of Jeanne d’Arc, and found the little village in just about
the same state it must have been when she was born in the little house
next to the church, both of which have been carefully preserved for the
worshippers of to-day. The open space in front of her house, the trees
surrounding it, and the monument in the centre seemed to me to form a
natural stage on which a peace pageant could well be enacted, and as I
sat there and the bell began to toll from the little church in which
Jeanne had whispered her prayers, I began to dream of a possible peace
celebration in which a company of American soldiers, a company of French
soldiers, an American and a French military band, singers from the Opéra
Comique, and a children’s chorus should take part; the climax to be the
joyous meeting of the military forces around the monument and the
awakening of Jeanne from her sleep of centuries, opening the door of her
little house and standing there looking with astonishment at the
unwonted sight of American soldiers in khaki as brothers of her beloved

On my return to Chaumont I outlined this idea to several officers of the
Staff and of the French Commission, who received it with enthusiasm and
promised every assistance, but, alas, nothing ever came of it. When I
returned to France the following spring the armistice had been arranged
and the Versailles Conference was dragging its weary and dreary
deliberations toward an unsatisfactory conclusion. There did not seem to
be enough illusion or enthusiasm left to celebrate anything
international connected with the war.

On my last visit to Chaumont I gave a little dinner to Colonel Collins,
secretary of the Staff, whose constant interest had been invaluable and
whose mind seemed to be capable at a moment’s notice of turning from the
consideration of some intricate military problem to the great advantages
to be derived from the introduction of the French B-flat bugle into our
army. Over a very good magnum of champagne I rose and made him, Colonel
Boyd, and Lieutenant Weill solemnly swear that for the rest of the war
and as long thereafter as necessary the bandmaster’s school at Chaumont
should be to them as the apple of their eye, and this oath they
faithfully kept. The school flourished from October, 1918, until June,
1919, when it was discontinued owing to the return of our army to
America. The relations between the French professors and our boys, all
living together like a happy family, became so sympathetic and intimate
that the results may truly be said to have been remarkable. The soldiers
realized that they were receiving an education in music equal to that of
the foremost schools of France or America, and the French professors
entered into their duties with an enthusiasm which was touching.
Casadesus told me that many of his pupils worked at their musical
problems twelve hours a day and I urged him, in some way or other, to
continue these pleasant and important international musical relations by
founding a summer school somewhere in France, preferably near Paris, to
which American men and women, already sufficiently advanced in their
study of music, could repair for three months every summer in order to
acquaint themselves with French art and French methods of teaching.
Until the war began, hundreds of American students had gone to Germany
every year, and it seemed a pity that, owing to the Frenchman’s lack of
propaganda for what his country could offer to our students, some of
this stream could not be diverted to France. Our talks eventually led to
the founding of the _Conservatoire Américain_ at Fontainebleau, of which
details are told in another chapter.

By the courtesy of General Pershing I received permission to leave for
home on the army transport _America_. This ship sailed from Brest, and I
was anxious to go there in order to see my daughter, Alice Pennington,
once more. She and her friend, Miss Letty McKim, had been there for a
year and had founded the naval Y. M. C. A., to the great satisfaction of
Admiral Wilson and our navy stationed there. My daughter’s enthusiasm
and vitality, together with that of her equally able friend, had created
an atmosphere which our sailors greatly relished, and I was keen to see
some of her work.

My train was to leave Paris in the evening, and my faithful friend and
companion of the last five weeks, Lieutenant Weill, came to the station
to bid me good-by. There were no regular sleeping-cars on this train but
only what the French call “couchettes”—four bunks in each compartment,
two on each side. The names of the occupants were carefully written on a
slip of paper and pasted on the outside of each door, and Lieutenant
Weill informed me that a French general occupied the lower bunk opposite
mine. Sure enough, a handsome, youngish-looking general presently
appeared and, politely touching his cap, entered our compartment and
seated himself in his bunk. Weill, in French fashion, kissed me good-by
on both cheeks, and as I had still ten minutes to spare, I stood outside
and saw an American naval commander coming toward me with rather
unsteady steps. He told me that he had had thirty-six hours’ leave and
that he and his two aides had decided to spend it by going to Paris. As
the train took twelve hours each way this gave them only twelve hours in
the city of delights and he had evidently taken full advantage of every
minute of it. He told me that his two aides had not yet turned up, that
they had all the tickets and all his money; he also confided to me that
one of them was so rich that he could have bought the entire train. I
finally found his name on the list of our coupé, his bunk being directly
over the French general’s, and as it was getting late, I advised him to
enter. Just at that moment two handsome young naval lieutenants rushed
up, and he received them with enthusiasm, for they had his railroad
tickets. I helped him into our compartment, where he presently sat down
right next to the general, who wrapped his cloak about him and cuddled
up into his own corner. I said to my compatriot: “I think you are in the
French general’s bunk. Yours is the one above.” Whereupon he said: “The
French general can go to hell!” I was frightened out of my wits, as I
expected an immediate international encounter which might have the most
serious consequences. Luckily the general understood no English, and I
finally induced my new naval friend to climb up into his own bunk, but I
made a solemn vow that I would never again try to interfere where the
army and navy of two different countries were concerned.

I turned into my own bunk and slept well until next morning, when I
found the commander also awake and possessed of a thirst which knew no
bounds. There was, of course, no drinking-water on the train, but I
rushed him to the restaurant of the next station where we stopped, and
he seized a carafe of water and put it to his lips with such avidity
that you could almost hear the water sizzle as it passed down his
throat. He turned out to be a delightful fellow. He was commander of a
destroyer and had spent dreary and terrible weeks in his little craft
watching for submarines. The monotony and discomfort of such a life
cannot be imagined, as these ships are so small that their motion is
incessant and they have to go out in the dirtiest of weather. There is
hardly ever a chance to cook meals, and those on board must eat what and
how they can. For weeks and weeks nothing happens, but my commander had
had the good luck on his last trip to get a sub, and had received his
thirty-six hours’ leave in consequence. Small wonder that he and his
colleagues sought some relief in honor of the great event!

At the next station my French general and I got a cup of coffee. Sugar
was at that time taboo, and as, thanks to my army friends, I had my
pockets full of this precious stuff, I offered him some in place of the
awful saccharine, which he accepted gratefully and then told me that he
was going on his first vacation in two years to spend with his family in
a little watering resort this side of Brest. Sure enough at the next
station, as he got out, a charming boy and girl, browned by the sun,
rushed up to him and fairly smothered him with kisses. It looked for all
the world like a scene at a Long Island station in August, when the
various New York fathers commute on a Friday afternoon to spend Saturday
and Sunday with their families by the sea.

I found my daughter Alice waiting for me at the station in Brest, and on
the way to the little apartment which she and Miss McKim occupied
together, she told me that Admiral Wilson wanted to meet me before my
departure on the transport the same evening. She begged me to support
her if he denounced jazz music, against which he had a particular
hatred, for she had always insisted to him that the sailors loved it and
that in time of war they certainly should have anything they wanted.

In the afternoon the admiral’s band gave a concert in the public square,
and I, of course, attended it and met the bandmaster and his players,
who did very good work, several of them having been members of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. They begged me to conduct them in one of the
numbers, and I took up the stick and solemnly played through the
“William Tell Overture” with them. At the end I saw Admiral Wilson on
the balcony of his apartment applauding vociferously, and he presently
came running, bareheaded, across the square to greet me. Almost the
first thing he said was: “Doctor, don’t you think jazz music is
horrible? It destroys all taste for real music.” “Indeed I heartily
agree with you,” I answered. Whereupon my daughter Alice turned on me
and said, “Coward!” implying that as the admiral was the autocrat of
Brest I did not wish to brave his wrath even in order to please my
daughter. But indeed I was thoroughly in accord with him; and I wish
that either some popular substitute could be found for the interminable
jazz that is ravaging not only our country but all Europe, or that a
genius would come along who would pour into this very low form of art
some real emotion which, welling from the very heart of man, might give
life to what is at present but a nervous excitement.

That evening I went on board the transport _America_, and sailed for
home. I found the voyage exceedingly interesting. The ship had been a
Hamburg passenger liner, the _Amerika_, taken over after her internment
by our navy; the “k” having been carefully removed and an American “c”
substituted. Various German signs had been scratched out, but the table
and bed linen, as well as the knives and forks, still bore the mystic
initials, _H. A. P. A. G.—Hamburg Amerika Paketfahrt Actien

I was the proud occupant of a cabin and bathroom of the so-called
“Roosevelt” suite, which the ex-President had occupied during his trip
around the world, and the faucets over the bathtub still bore the signs
“Kalt,” “Warm,” and “Gemischt.” The various luxurious furnishings of the
ship showed the wear and tear of army-transport usage. The marble was
cracked and the electric bells did not ring.

The first-class cabins were occupied by several hundred officers, a
curious mixture of men, some returning on leave or to become instructors
in the officers’ camps, or being mustered out of service, either for ill
health, drunkenness, or incompetence. For days I was pursued, even into
my cabin, by a man from a Western city who had enlisted as a dentist. He
was evidently out of his mind and was to be mustered out of the service
on his return home. He had conceived the mysterious idea that I could
influence the powers that be to have him reinstated, and I finally found
the glitter in his eye so ominous that I reported him to the colonel in
command and he promptly had him put under medical observation. Two days
later his companions in the hospital ward, whom he had already annoyed
and frightened by suddenly grabbing their legs at night, found him in
the bathroom with his throat partly cut by his razor; and I confess that
I was glad when I heard that he had been put into a cabin by himself,
with a soldier guarding the door.

We were, of course, under army regulations and in many respects life was
much stricter than on the passenger liners. We were compelled to wear
life-preservers almost the entire voyage and no lights were permitted
after sundown. We were not told at which American port we were to land,
and I was much astonished one morning to find our ship anchored in
Boston Harbor alongside the old 1812 frigate _Constitution_, whose
broadside-guns looked delightfully picturesque and inefficient compared
with the modern monsters I had seen in France.

During the following winter my wife and I often received visits from
navy officers and sailors bearing greetings from our daughter Alice in
Brest, and I remember one red-cheeked youngster who made so agreeable an
impression on my wife that she invited him to return the following day,
which was Sunday, for luncheon. On that morning the telephone rang. It
was our old friend, Admiral William Rodgers, who asked whether he could
come to luncheon. My wife said we would be delighted, but my youngest
daughter Anita, who was well versed in the etiquette of the navy, called
out: “Oh, we can’t have the admiral lunching with us to-day. An admiral
can’t sit down at the same table with a gob!” My wife repeated this to
the admiral, who insisted that it made no difference and that in war
time everything was possible; that he certainly wanted to come and would
be very glad to meet the “gob” who had brought greetings from Alice, of
whom he was very fond. The sailor boy arrived first, and when we told
him that our other guest was to be an admiral he grew pale as death, but
when Rodgers arrived he was so kind to the boy that luncheon passed off
fairly well, except that the boy became rigid at attention whenever the
admiral spoke to him. During the luncheon Admiral Rodgers said to him:
“You have just seen Mrs. Pennington in Brest?” “Yes, sir.” “And what was
she doing when you saw her?” “She was selling postage-stamps, sir,” was
the answer. And I have no doubt this was true, as Alice in her capacity
of naval “Y” worker not only took the sailors out to picnics with
swimming contests, arranged vaudeville entertainments and concerts, but
in between times sold them chocolate, cigarettes, postage-stamps,
picture postal-cards, lemon-drops, and ginger ale.

After luncheon my daughters discreetly took the young sailor into the
front parlor in order to relieve the tension a little, and Rodgers asked
me about an orchestration of the “Star-Spangled Banner” which I had made
at the beginning of the war and which had aroused some attention. I had
always felt that this good old English tune had a fine ring to it,
provided it was played in the proper tempo, and I had given it an
orchestration which developed into quite a climax on the last two lines
of each verse. I sat down at the piano and played it for him, explaining
the difference between this version and the old one which had been
generally used before the war. He was much interested and wanted to
introduce it in the navy.

The sailor boy finally took his departure, and my daughters came smiling
into the music-room and told us that while they were sitting talking
with the sailor, he suddenly jumped up from his chair and stood at rigid
attention. He had heard the strains of the national anthem coming from
our room and, remembering the admiral, knew his duty! Who shall, after
that, deny the power of music in peace or in war?

 Killed in the St. Mihiel drive, September 18, 1918]


                           THE EUROPEAN TOUR

In the spring of 1919 I received a letter from M. Lafere, then _Ministre
des Beaux Arts_ in France, which interested the directors of the New
York Symphony Society and myself exceedingly. In this letter he referred
to the services of the New York Symphony Orchestra and myself to French
art in America and invited us to make a professional visit to France the
following year. He promised every assistance from the French Government
and assured us of a warm welcome.

Mr. Flagler immediately decided that this invitation must be accepted
inasmuch as it was the first time a foreign government had extended such
a courtesy to an American musical organization. He also thought that our
visit coming so soon after the war and including possibly the countries
of the other allies in the war, such as Belgium, Italy, and England,
would not only make a good impression but would help to establish
musical relations with Europe on a more equal basis. Up till then the
current had been all the other way. European singers and
instrumentalists had been coming to America in a steady stream for many
years, but in the meantime America had developed several orchestras of
her own which could compare favorably with those of Europe; and he was
very proud that the organization of which he was president and supporter
should have been singled out for so great an honor and opportunity.

I sailed for Europe in the spring of 1919 to confer with the Beaux Arts
about arrangements for our visit to Paris and other cities in France,
and at the same time I also received invitations from the governments of
Belgium and Italy to visit their countries with the orchestra. In London
Augustus Littleton, the publisher, head of the old house of Novello &
Co., also received me very cordially and insisted that our visit to
Europe would not be complete if we did not include London. As England,
like our country, has no Ministry of Fine Arts and can therefore take no
official cognizance of musical affairs, he immediately and energetically
set to work to form a committee of invitation, headed by King George and
composed of all the foremost composers and conductors of Great Britain.

Affairs began to shape themselves very favorably, and our manager, Mr.
George Engles, began to map out a tour of seven weeks, during which we
were to visit five countries and play, in all, twenty-seven concerts.
But in the meantime foreign exchange sank lower and lower and reports of
transportation conditions in Europe were so gloomy that I began to be
seriously doubtful of the possibility of the proposed tour in the spring
of 1920. I finally decided in January to send our manager to Europe
personally to look over the ground, and at the same time I expressed my
fears to Mr. Flagler.

I told him that we would have to pay enormous sums for travelling
expenses, the item of steamer passage alone amounting to fifty thousand
dollars, and that while we would have to pay our orchestra salaries in
American dollars, our receipts in Europe would be in francs, lire, etc.
The dollar was then selling for seventeen francs in France and for
twenty-three lire in Italy. I suggested to him to postpone the tour
until a time when war-torn Europe would be economically in a better
condition and when her transportation system would again be more nearly
on a pre-war basis.

Mr. Flagler listened to me and said: “I do not see how we can possibly
postpone the acceptance of these official invitations from four
countries to a later period. Now is the psychological moment to do it.
How much do you think the tour will cost?”

I had made a kind of general calculation and mentioned the amount, which
seemed to me large.

“Isn’t that curious?” he answered. “That is exactly what I thought it
would cost. Go right ahead with your preparations.”

I was naturally delighted at his decision. I knew that American
orchestras had achieved a perfection of ensemble which but few, if any,
European orchestras could equal. I was proud of our organization and
anxious to demonstrate it as a standard of American musical culture.

The members of the orchestra were wild with excitement at the marvellous
news. Many of them had been born in America and had never seen Europe.
It was the wonderland of their imagination. Others had been there as
soldiers during the war, and still others had left Europe years before
to found their fortunes and families in the New World and had not been
back since. They immediately appointed a committee to agree upon a
minimum salary schedule which, while giving them a fair recompense for
their time, would yet make that part of it not too difficult for us. To
this sum, however, Mr. Flagler later added ten dollars a week more for
each player, as he thought that their hotel expenses might be greater
than we had calculated.

The managerial work of constructing the tour was beset with many
difficulties, as the war had disorganized many of the regular concert
organizations in Europe under whose auspices we would have played under
normal conditions. The railroads, also, made much slower time than
formerly. But gradually the tour began to assume shape and the first
concert was scheduled to be given on May 6 at the Grand Opera in Paris,
which the _Ministère des Beaux Arts_ had offered to us, and the last
concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 20. In order that
this tour might be representative in every way of the best in American
music, Mr. Flagler suggested that we take along two young American-born
soloists of distinction—Albert Spalding, violinist, and John Powell,
composer-pianist. I immediately set to work to prepare a series of
appropriate programmes which should serve the double purpose of
demonstrating the fine qualities of our orchestra and soloists, and also
pay proper tribute to the great composers of the countries we proposed
to visit.

We were to open with three concerts in Paris, and as I was conversant
with all the details in connection with Paris especially, I preceded the
orchestra and arrived there April 22. At my hotel, the “France et
Choiseul,” I found a letter from my old friend, Robert Underwood
Johnson, who had just left Paris to go to Rome as American ambassador to
Italy. He said:


    It is pleasant to think that, within a few days, you will be
    occupying the “ambassadorial suite” in which I am writing these
    lines (Davis of London had it also). We leave day after tomorrow
    and shall be very happy to see you all when you come to Rome. We
    are looking forward with pride and agreeable anticipation to the
    invasion of Italy by the Symphony and its director and the
    assisting artists. We have no Embassy, alas! being “all dressed
    up (or nearly so) with no place to go to” and so we shall slum
    it at the Grand Hotel until the money seems to be giving out.

    Don’t let any of your party perish by stumbling over the torn
    carpet at the entrance to this apartment. I have tried to have
    it mended, but my failure shows that I am no diplomat—yet.

                                         Au revoir. Bientôt à Rome.

My first act was to have that carpet mended, and I immediately sent a
telegram to the American Embassy in Rome announcing the important news.
And then the affairs of the tour began to engulf me to such an extent
that until Mr. Engles arrived and relieved me with able hands of a great
deal of that burden, I thought that I was back again in the old days of
the Damrosch Opera Company, when I was owner, director, orchestral
conductor, stage-manager, and prima donna pacificator all in one.

To add to my worries, a railroad strike was announced for May 1, the day
on which the orchestra were to arrive at Le Havre, and not content with
that, the dock workers of Le Havre intended also to lay down their
“tools,” whatever they may be, and stop working on that date. When I
thought of the musical instruments and trunks of my orchestra in the
hold of the steamer _Rochambeau_, which was to arrive on or about May 1,
my heart stopped beating. However, I had been in too many close shaves
on my great Western orchestral tours to be altogether dismayed, for even
if the railroad stopped running there would always be motor-trucks and
airplanes. We had made arrangements with Thomas Cook and Sons to take
care of all transportation matters from the day the orchestra arrived in
France until their sailing for home from England, and they assured me
that, if necessary, they would have camions, such as were used during
the war, to carry my whole orchestra, together with their baggage and
musical instruments, from Le Havre to Paris.

Luckily the ship docked several hours before the dock workers’ strike
began, and double-basses, kettledrums, and innumerable music boxes were
safely landed from the hold of the ship. I had intended to go to Le
Havre to meet the orchestra, but the strike conditions were too
uncertain and I thought it better to remain in Paris and direct
operations from there.

The government was moving several trains, and the telegram that the
orchestra had started for Paris cheered me up considerably. I was at the
station at 3.30 that afternoon, to be met with the news that the train
was delayed and would be in at six. At six there was no sign of it, and,
as is usual at French stations, there was absolutely no one who had any
idea when it might arrive. I stayed there till eight o’clock—no train.
Finally there was a whistle. Every one dashed out. It was a
freight-train, but, like the dove from Noah’s Ark, I saw the “man from
Cook’s,” a little man, attired then and during the entire tour in a very
small derby hat and an exceedingly long double-breasted frock coat,
sitting on top of one of the cars. He was tired, dirty, but triumphant,
for all our musical instruments and music boxes were in these cars. He
had passed the orchestra half-way at Rouen, where they were held up by a
hot box. This sounded like home to me, as I had heard those magic words
only too often when our train, coming through Idaho or Arizona on our
way to or from California, would be held up for hours and we would
wonder whether we could “make” the concert that evening.

The orchestra had rehearsed our repertoire with me so thoroughly before
we sailed that but little more was necessary. I gave them three
rehearsals, however, before our first concert, the first two at the
_Salle du Conservatoire_, to shake them together again after their long
voyage, and the last on the afternoon of the concert, May 6, at the
Opera House in order to accustom them to its acoustics. The orchestra
played so superbly at the two first rehearsals that I was jubilant and
proud of them. The ensemble was perfect and each man played as if the
success of the concert depended on him—which it certainly did. But when
we began rehearsing at the Opera House the tone of the orchestra
suddenly seemed so thin and lifeless that I was nearly beside myself
with anxiety. The orchestra was placed on the stage, but the local
management had not seen fit to provide us with any proper scenic setting
or roof, so that the sound of our large and noble orchestra was
completely dissipated in the flies. When I remonstrated, I was told that
they had a roof for the stage but that it was in the storehouse,
situated beyond the fortifications of Paris, and that this was the first
time in many years the Opera House had been used for a concert. They
finally agreed to have at least half a roof up for our concert and to
set a smaller scene, which would contain the sound and throw it into the
audience-room in more compact fashion. After twenty minutes or so of
rehearsing, I threw down my stick and told the men to call it a day. I
went back to my hotel very depressed, as so much depended on the first
impression which our orchestra would make that evening.

The programme was as follows:

1. Overture, “Benvenuto Cellini”...............................   Berlioz
2. Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”.................................... Beethoven
3. “Istar,” Variations symphoniques............................    d’Indy
4. “Daphnis et Chloe” (Fragments symphoniques).................     Ravel

The reader will notice that we placed on it two works by living French
composers, both of whom were to be at the concert. The house was
completely sold out, and greeted me in very friendly fashion when I came
on the stage.

From the very first chords of the “Eroica” Symphony, I noticed that the
slight improvements in our scenic surroundings, and above all the fact
that the house was filled with people, had acted like magic on the
acoustics. The tone of the orchestra had become full, clear, and
incisive. My spirits rose and I forgot everything except the orchestra
before me and Beethoven’s score. After each movement the applause was
deafening, and at the end of the symphony there was joyous shouting from
the galleries. We seemed to have played our way into their hearts, and
after the first part there was a steady stream of French musicians to my
dressing-room to congratulate me on our marvellous orchestra and its
ensemble, and to express their delight that we had come over on such a
friendly mission. Among them were: Vincent d’Indy, Gabriel Fauré, André
Messager, Gabriel Pierné, Theodore Dubois, Paul Vidal, Nadia Boulanger,
and many others.

As we turned into the French part of our programme the enthusiasm became
still greater, and at the conclusion of “Istar” some of my first violins
discovered the composer, d’Indy, in the audience and, pointing toward
him, stood up to applaud. In a minute not only the whole orchestra but
the audience were on their feet and with loud cries of “Auteur!”
“d’Indy!” the house was in an uproar until d’Indy, his face as red as a
beet, was compelled to rise and acknowledge this tribute.

The programme finished with the marvellous “Daphnis et Chloe,” by Ravel,
in which the luscious tone of the orchestra and its virtuosity
demonstrated themselves so successfully that not only did the concert
come to a tumultuous climax, but several of the French papers announced
afterward that this work had never had such a vivid and perfect
rendering before.

My interpretation of the Beethoven “Eroica” Symphony puzzled some of the
newspaper critics, as it did not conform to their French traditions.
These do not permit such slight occasional modifications of tempo as
modern conductors brought up in the German traditions of Beethoven
believe essential to a proper interpretation of this master. But I was
much pleased and honored to receive a complete approval of my
interpretation, not only verbally from several of my French colleagues,
but also from M. d’Indy in an article which he wrote on our concert and
in which he said:

    Leaving aside everything that Walter Damrosch has done for our
    country and the French musicians, generous acts for which our
    gratitude has often been expressed, I wish mainly to pay my
    tribute to the extremely expressive interpretation at the
    concerts he has given lately at the Opera. Whether it is
    classical, romantic, or modern music, Damrosch first of all
    endeavors to set off and illustrate what we call the “melos,”
    the element of expression, the voice that must rise above all
    the other voices of the orchestra. He knows how to distribute
    the agogic action, the dynamic power, and he is not afraid—even
    in Beethoven’s works and in spite of the surprise this caused to
    our public—to accelerate or slacken the movement when the
    necessities of expression demand it.

The French are a courteous people, and at the end of the concert there
was an even greater crowd of musicians and friends behind the scenes to
express their pleasure at our success.

The programmes of the other two concerts were as follows:

                                  MAY 8
1. Overture, “Le Roi d’Ys”...................................        Lalo
2. Symphony, “From the New World”............................      Dvořák
3. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in B Minor.............. Saint-Saëns
                              MR. SPALDING
4. _a._ “Pélléas et Mélisande” (Fileuse).....................       Fauré
   _b._ Ma Mère L’Oye (Les Pagodes)..........................       Ravel
5. Prelude to “Die Meistersinger”............................      Wagner

                                  MAY 9
1. Symphony in C (Jupiter)...................................      Mozart
2. Poems (d’après Verlaine)..................................    Loeffler
3. Symphony in D Minor.......................................      Franck
4. Negro Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra....................      Powell
                               JOHN POWELL

The two young American artists, Albert Spalding and John Powell, made a
splendid impression, and of the orchestral works the Prelude to the
“Meistersingers” of Wagner and the Mozart and Franck Symphonies received
special acclaim.

It was delightful to hear the half-suppressed “Ah’s” and “Bravos!” so
characteristic of the French audience after the Andante of the Mozart
Symphony. I confess that the more spontaneous approval which European
audiences give in drama, opera, or concert is exceedingly gratifying and
stimulates the artist to the very best that is in him. Every artist who
is worth his salt will always approach an audience with the feeling that
they are as strangers whom through his art he must win over as friends.
This feeling exists whether he makes his first bow as a beginner or
appears for the three thousandth time after twenty years of public work.
It is a wonderful moment for him when, after having done his best and
given all there is in him, his audience show by the intensity of their
approval that the “song which he breathed into the air” has found its
home “in the heart of a friend.”

On Sunday morning, May 9, at eleven, the orchestra of the Conservatoire
gave a great party in our honor as a return courtesy for one that we had
given to the French Orchestra on their arrival in America in 1918. We
all met at the _Salle du Conservatoire_ where M. Leon, representing the
Ministry of Fine Arts, was waiting to receive me. With the Conservatoire
Orchestra were various French masters, including the venerable Gabriel
Fauré, and Messager, the conductor.

After various speeches of welcome, I was presented with a beautiful
engraving of Beethoven and made an honorary member of the Conservatoire
Orchestra. We then marched to the _Taverne du Nègre_, where luncheon was
served. There were so many different kinds of wine-glasses before each
plate that I asked permission to make a short speech in English to my
orchestra. It consisted of the following:

“Gentlemen, remember we have a concert this afternoon, so please mix
your wine with much water.”

Needless to say, in all the speeches the theme of the war was constantly
played upon by the French orators—how much France owed to our
intervention and to the bravery of our soldiers.

It would have been very pleasant to stay on in Paris, where our
orchestra were beginning to feel very much at home, and rest upon our
young laurels, but our tour had only begun and we had to carry on!

In the meantime Mr. Engles and our treasurer, Roger Townsend, had to
smooth out all kinds of new difficulties and complications, among which
the passport nuisance was the greatest. War conditions still prevailed
and passports had to be carefully viséd by the ambassadors of every
country we visited. All our orchestra were practically Americans, but
technically they belonged to America, France, Belgium, Italy, England,
Russia, Germany, Austria, and Czecho-Slovakia. Many of them had had only
their first American papers when the war broke out, and according to war
regulations could not yet obtain their American citizens’ papers. They
were therefore compelled to travel on foreign passports and some of
their visés were exceedingly difficult to obtain, as new countries like
Czecho-Slovakia, for instance, had not yet a properly organized
diplomatic service. Others, like Russia, were not recognized at all and
our Russians had to travel on Kerensky passports issued for them by the
Kerensky ambassador who was still “holding the fort” in Washington.
Through the kindly help of Mr. Grew, councillor at our embassy in Paris,
and other friends in high places, we finally obtained our hundred visés
and left Paris for Bordeaux on May 11, and—in spite of the railroad
strike—with the passage of our train assured as far as Bordeaux.

The only fly in the ointment was a little revolution before we left the
station. Some of the members of the orchestra had brought their wives
and even a few small children to Europe with them. They very naturally
desired to give their families a good time and wanted to have them with
them and in the orchestra cars on the entire trip. As railroad space was
exceedingly limited and the bachelor and straw-widower members of the
orchestra strenuously objected to this addition, I had to veto the plan,
and painted the difficulties of travel, hotels, passports, etc., in such
lurid fashion that I succeeded in preventing their departure from Paris
with us. The husbands promised to leave their families in Paris until
our return, about three weeks later, but as all the wives and children
came to the station to see their respective husbands and fathers off, I
was nervous until the last doors of the car were slammed to and the
whistle of the French locomotive, which always sounds like the shrill
wail of the damned, announced that we were really off.

The orchestra were in a very gay mood and insisted on getting out every
time the train stopped even a second, and then having to be pulled back
as the train started again without any warning. A passport picture of
one unfortunate little second violinist was sent through all the cars,
pasted on a piece of paper with the inscription: “Wanted for bigamy.
Member of the New York Symphony Orchestra. Reward of three francs if
returned dead or alive to George Engles, Manager.” This had been
perpetrated by Willem Willeke, who was not only a master violoncellist
but the master mind behind almost every practical joke indulged in
during the tour.

We arrived in Bordeaux that evening and were welcomed at our hotel by a
typical little hotel manager, with his head entirely bald on top but
beautifully covered with the long hair combed forward from the back of
his head. He also had a full beard neatly parted in the middle, and of
course a long double-breasted frock coat. He rubbed his hands with the
pleasure of welcoming us and assured us that all our rooms were properly
reserved. Actually it took us three-quarters of an hour to get ourselves
and our baggage straightened out in the proper rooms. Our party
consisted of Albert and Mrs. Spalding, John Powell, Mary Flagler, my
daughter Gretchen, and myself, and the highly efficient manager had sent
each one of us at first to the wrong rooms while our bags had still
further gone astray. But a good bath and a delicious dinner at the
famous _Chapon Fin_ put us all in good humor.

The theatre at which we were to play the following evening was directly
opposite to our hotel and its frontal façade is without doubt the most
beautiful I have ever seen. Such examples of the finest architecture of
the eighteenth century stand out in remarkable contrast to their more
modern surroundings and it is difficult to understand how French
architects, with such noble examples to follow and with a school in
Paris which is still considered the best in the world, should have
allowed their art to degenerate to such an extent within the last thirty
years. One has but to compare the noble façade of the Place de la
Concorde with such modern monstrosities as, for instance, the Hotel
Mercedes or the Palais de Justice at Tours, to realize that in their
endeavor to break away completely from their own noblest traditions they
have deliberately courted anarchy, for their architecture rests upon no
laws of beauty or symmetry. Many of our best American architects are
graduates from the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, but they have not
become revolutionaries and have understood how to adapt their
appreciation of the best French traditions to American needs. The
results demonstrate an art of which every American can be proud.

Our concert, which was given under the auspices of the local symphony
society, was received with great favor. The interior of the theatre is
delightfully intimate, and the audience gave the impression of belonging
to an old musical civilization. We were presented with huge bouquets of
flowers tied with the American colors. Albert Spalding’s performance
made a splendid impression, and the “Meistersinger” Overture came in for
special enthusiasm.

But what was my astonishment at suddenly beholding three of the
“orchestra wives,” who were supposed to have remained in Paris, seated
in one of the boxes. I do not know to this day whether they rode on the
bumpers or in one of the baggage-cars. However, they were charming
ladies; and, as a married man, I could not be too angry with them or
their indulgent husbands. We compromised in the matter by permitting
them to continue with us for the rest of the tour, provided that they
and their husbands occupied space elsewhere than that reserved for the
orchestra, and that they looked out for their own passports whenever we
approached the border.

As we returned to our hotel after the concert the smiling hotel manager
stood in the lobby to receive us and to express his congratulations at
the success of a _concert merveilleux_. As we entered the electric lift
to go to our respective rooms, he himself shut the grating on us and
pressed the button to send us slowly upward. (All French lifts move
slowly.) Its almost celestial calmness irresistibly brought the Finale
of Gounod’s “Faust” to my mind, when _Marguerite_ ascends heavenward. I
began to sing the melody of the “_Anges radieux_,” and just as we got up
to the first floor we suddenly heard the voice of the hotel manager, a
vibrant tenor, enthusiastically continuing the trio from below. I gazed
downward and there he was, his face raised ecstatically toward us and
his hand pressed to his double-breasted frock coat—perhaps a poor hotel
manager but certainly an enthusiastic lover of music.

The newspapers of Bordeaux were full of praise about our concert, but
one of them said: “The orchestra played with that dryness characteristic
of all North Americans.” Alack and alas! Had the Eighteenth Amendment,
which went into effect the previous January, already made its dreadful
influence felt?

Lyons was to be the next city on our itinerary, but unfortunately the
railroad strike had completely isolated it and there was no way of
reaching it from Bordeaux. We were therefore very reluctantly compelled
to cancel the concert. Every seat had been sold long before, and as
Lyons ranked next to Paris in musical importance the cancellation was a
great disappointment to us.

The next morning Engles brought me a telegram which he had just received
from our general manager in Paris, to the effect that at Marseilles the
hall in which we were to play had been condemned by the fire department
as unsafe, and that therefore the concert would have to be given at
another theatre and under different management. Engles did not like the
look of things and begged me, as he could not speak French, to go with
him to Marseilles and look over the ground with him. We were to have
played in Marseilles under the auspices and management of the local
symphonic organization, which, however, turned out to be but a small and
not very influential body of musicians, most of whom were amateurs.
Their secretary, who was to attend to the details of management, was a
newspaper man and an amateur double-bass player, of which instrument he
was very proud. When we arrived, only two days before the concert, we
found that absolutely nothing had been done to advertise it. There were
no posters, no advertisements, and the manager of the theatre to which
we had been transferred did not even know before our arrival whether we
were a jazz band of colored people from America or perhaps a troupe of
wandering minstrels.

We were to give two concerts, and at first it seemed as if, under such
disheartening circumstances, it were better to cancel them and proceed
to Monte Carlo and Italy, where already sold-out houses awaited us. The
newspaper man, who was the real delinquent, was nowhere to be found. He
had gone to the country “_pour se reposer_” and was not expected until
the following day. Luckily the theatre manager proved to be of the right
sort. When he saw what our organization really stood for he would not
hear of cancellation, and immediately went around to all the newspaper
offices with Engles. Posters, the principal method of advertising in
Europe, appeared on the street corners as if by magic; and while it was
too late to attract a large audience for the first concert, he assured
us that if this concert were the success which he expected, the theatre,
which held about twenty-four hundred people, would be entirely sold out
for the second concert on Sunday afternoon. His prophecy proved correct.
There were not more than eight hundred people at the first concert, but
as they were real sons of the _Midi_ and as they had never heard a
symphonic organization of such size and importance in their lives, they
went mad. They applauded with their hands, with both feet, with their
canes and umbrellas. They shouted in eight-part harmonies and the
rafters of the theatre trembled in sympathy. After the concert they
lined up at the box-office in a great crowd while the theatre manager,
grinning from ear to ear, said: “Did I not tell you?”

In the meantime the delinquent local secretary-manager turned up and I
was fully prepared to annihilate him for his lack of proper preliminary
advertising for our concert, but as he immediately called me “Cher
maître” and expressed his delight in such eloquent French at the coming
of so notable an organization as ours, he completely spiked my guns and
I found myself unable to get in a word edgewise, much less tell him what
I really thought of him.

I have told before that he was an amateur double-bass player in the
local orchestra, and this was evidently the ruling passion of his life,
although I never could understand why an amateur should choose this
particular instrument for his delectation. After the second concert and
while the hall was still ringing with the shouts of the fiery citizens
of Marseilles, he came into my dressing-room as I thought to add his
tribute of praise, but, alas, all he said was: “Cher maître, I could
hardly hear your double-bass players during the entire concert.” I
presume that at the concerts of his orchestra he was so taken up with
his own double-bass part that as he played he heard nothing of the other
instruments around and about him. He became, so to speak, intoxicated
with the resonance of his own instrument. At our concert, seated in the
audience, he suddenly found, poor man, that the double-bass was not the
only pebble on the orchestral beach, and that occasionally the violins,
the wood winds, or the brasses had also something of importance to
enunciate. It must have been a sad revelation to him, and I do not
wonder that he refused to accept it.

In the meantime the strike fever was spreading in every direction, and
there was not a trolley running through the town of Marseilles nor a
boat leaving the harbor. The effect was a very curious one, as the
streets were filled with great crowds restlessly moving up and down, and
seemingly without work or affairs of any kind to keep them busy. In
several of the streets small bands were playing in roped-off circles
while thirty couples or so were dancing madly around with hundreds of
others outside the ropes watching them. The huge audience who arrived
for our Sunday afternoon concert must have come on foot, as there was
not a wheel turning anywhere.

After we got back to the hotel the great iron doors were suddenly closed
and bolted, for quite a riot started in front of it. The trolley company
was trying to run a car through the city, manned by young mechanics from
the School of Technology, and every once in a while a mob of strikers
would rush at them, break the windows of the car, and pull off the young
strike-breakers. But it was all done in rather an amiable fashion, while
a crowd of men in light straw hats applauded with their hands and
shouted “Bravo,” all as if it were a performance gotten up for their
pleasure. Then a couple of amiable gendarmes would come along and in the
same placid fashion place the young men on the car again, which would
then proceed for another few yards or so. Suddenly, however, this
seeming comedy took a tragic turn. The mob made a vicious lunge; they
were stopped by the police who suddenly acted with great energy, and
soon there were several men seriously hurt. In the meantime the
strike-breakers had again connected their car with the electric wire,
and although the car with its broken windows looked a perfect wreck, it
moved triumphantly along the tracks and the strike was broken. Next
morning every car was running again.

Later that afternoon I received a visit from Morris Tivin, the first
double-bass player of our orchestra. He brought with him a boy of
fifteen, a little Russian Jew, who had a most remarkable history. He had
escaped from a prison in Russia and worked his way to Constantinople. As
he was a violinist of exceptional ability, he had made a meagre living
there playing in the cafés. Having read in some old Paris paper that we
were to give a concert in Marseilles he had quickly made up his mind to
get there and perhaps through our help reach the promised land of
America. He arrived in Marseilles as a stowaway after incredible
hardships, and when he introduced himself to some of his Russian
compatriots in my orchestra, he was literally starving and without a
cent in his pockets. Within a few hours our orchestra had subscribed
enough money to send him to New York with several letters to their
colleagues at the Musical Union, and within a week after his arrival he
was engaged as second concert master at a large salary in one of our
Western orchestras.

The generous spirit displayed by our men, which demonstrated itself in
so quick and practical a fashion, is characteristic of the rank and file
of our profession. I have never known a case of an orchestra musician or
chorus singer in need that his colleagues were not immediately ready to
help, and as their own earnings are comparatively small their generosity
is much greater in proportion than that of many a rich man whose name
figures largely among the subscribers to our charitable organizations.

Our next concert was to be in Monte Carlo, and I motored with my wife
from Marseilles along the Riviera, reaching Monte Carlo on the evening
of May 17. The orchestra had already arrived by train and were to be
found all over the town photographing points of interest, especially the
beautiful statue erected to Hector Berlioz, which we were all glad to
honor. Every orchestra musician adores this great master, who in his
scores has done more than any other to develop new tone combinations in
the symphonic orchestra since Beethoven and before Wagner.

A great many of our men naturally went to the Casino to behold the
world-famous gambling tables, but if I ever had any worries about their
squandering their earnings they quite disappeared. Many only watched at
the outer edge, or else bet one chip very timidly. An aged harpy, who
looked as though she had played at Monte Carlo since the time of
Napoleon III and who kept a note-book of her losses and winnings and
never bet less than a hundred francs at a time, took it upon herself to
teach one of our talented young flute players how to play with one white
chip. She kept him in a state of the most panting thrills, while she
placed his bets for him.

The next morning I found a note from Jean de Reszke telling me that he,
his wife, and Amhurst Webber would motor over from Nice for the concert,
and asking my wife and me to lunch with him at the Grand Hotel de Paris,
where we were staying. It was such a joy to see him again. We had not
met since 1902, when he had been at the Metropolitan at the height of
his fame and I had conducted many a glorious “Tristan” performance with
him in the title rôle. Amhurst Webber, a highly talented English
musician, had then been with him as pianist and I had helped him a
little with his studies in composition and instrumentation. Mme. de
Reszke I had never had the pleasure of meeting before. A great tragedy
had come upon her, as their only son had been killed in the first year
of the war. It was heart-breaking to see her, as her face told the story
of her irreparable loss.

The concert in the afternoon took place in the exquisite little theatre
at the Casino. It seats only about four hundred people and of course
every seat was occupied. Jean de Reszke was in the fifth row of the
parquet, and as I came to the “Prize Song” in the “Meistersinger”
Overture, which he had sung so often and so ravishingly in New York, I
could not help but turn around to look at him. He gave me an immediate
smile, but the tears were running down his face.

At the close of the concert I was solemnly informed by the very polite
little intendant of the theatre that M. Blanc, the principal owner of
the Casino, the opera, the gambling tables, the Hotel de Paris, in fact
everything which draws the hundred-franc notes from the grateful
tourist, had expressed a desire to meet me and to thank me for the
“_concert exquis_.” I was accordingly piloted to another part of the
building, where, in an anteroom, five or six people were waiting as if
in a doctor’s outer office, while flunkies in livery were silently
walking around or delivering whispered messages to this or that man. One
of these approached my little intendant with a message, who turned to me
and, with a face radiant with pride, said: “Think of it! He will see us
first before all the others!”

We followed the flunky into an inner room where I found a tired-looking,
gray-mustached little man whom I had noticed sleeping in one of the
boxes during about half an hour of the concert. He congratulated me on
the “splendid concert and the exquisite playing of the orchestra,” and
as I sat there I marvelled at it all. Here was a man whom we in America
would call a gambling-house keeper, but he is certainly a king among
them. He has provided his gambling tables with a setting so exquisite
that words cannot describe it. Nature in her most charming mood,
beautiful architecture, delightful music, exquisite cooking—all these
so skilfully combined as to create an agreeable atmosphere for the
thousands who come every year with full pockets and generally leave with
empty ones. Incidentally he makes millions by thus cleverly pandering to
the gambling instincts which are inherent in almost every man (and

To me the most delightful feature of the concert, except of course the
visit of Jean de Reszke, was a large audience of seventy-five who sat
behind the scenes as there was no room for them in front. They were the
orchestra of the Monte Carlo Opera, an excellent body of men who
embraced us in true southern fashion between the parts and at the end of
the concert.

The next morning I continued the trip by motor to Genoa. As there had
been no strike of any kind in Monte Carlo I thought that our hoodoo had
lifted, but, lo and behold, at Genoa we found only one old, gray-bearded
portier at our hotel to greet us. All the waiters, porters,
chambermaids, cooks, scullions, in fact everything that could strike in
connection with a hotel, were on strike and the discomfort was
considerable. We had looked forward with pleasurable anticipation to our
first Italian dinner. We had dreamed of fritto misto, spaghetti, and of
delicious Italian ices, but these dreams quickly vanished. There was not
even a crust of bread to be obtained at the hotel. Finally we were
furtively conducted through an alley into the back entrance of a little
restaurant by way of the kitchen, and there we obtained some food, but
of the simplest and poorest variety. The next morning a cup of wretched
coffee and a piece of stale bread at the railroad station made our
breakfast, but luckily for us a kind young American, Mr. Allan, called
on us and whisked us off in his car to his house, where a delicious
luncheon made us forget our deprivations of the night before.

I was again amazed at the cleverness with which the members of our
orchestra adapted themselves to European travelling conditions. They had
all found excellent restaurants and had really fared much better than

We gave our concert at the _Teatro Carlo Felice_, and our first Italian
audience proved to be even more noisy in their demonstrations of
pleasure than the _Midi_. I was very much touched to receive a large
wreath tied with the stars and stripes, from the American
Consul-General, who told me after the concert that he considered such a
cultural mission as we were engaged in of as much importance for cordial
relations between our country and Italy as any business enterprise. He
said that music meant so much to the Italian that he was amazed and
delighted to find that Americans did not only interest themselves in
business but also cultivated the arts. As the Italians had been so
bitterly disillusioned regarding President Wilson, after the
phenomenally enthusiastic acclaim which they had given him on his visit
to Rome only a year before, I was not surprised to have one old
gentleman say to me after the concert: “We do not like your President,
but we love the Americans.”

We left next morning by train for Rome. The highly talented young
composer, Signor Vincenzo Tommasini, had interested himself in our
concerts there and had enlisted the sympathies of the Accademia Santa
Cecilia, under whose auspices we were to play at the Augusteo. The Santa
Cecilia, which is composed of musicians and music lovers, is perhaps the
oldest musical organization in the world, as it was founded by
Palestrina. Under the presidency of Count San Martino it maintains a
symphony orchestra which gives a series of concerts during the winter
under its own conductor, Maestro Molinari, and various guest conductors.

All these concerts are given at the Augusteo, so called because it was
built by Augustus as a tomb for the Cæsars. It is a rotunda built of the
old Roman bricks, but balconies, a stage, and an organ have been added
to it in recent times to adapt it to modern concert needs. It very
likely was an excellent tomb, but its acoustics are hardly suited for an
orchestra. I do not know of any concert-hall built in circular shape
that is satisfactory in that respect. The sound vibrations seem to
travel around and around and great confusion of tones is the result,
especially in such music where changing harmonies succeed each other
rapidly. At our little preliminary rehearsal the hall was empty with the
exception of half a dozen members of the Santa Cecilia, and as we began
to play through a few bars of the symphony I thought I had suddenly
become deaf, as the sound of the orchestra did not reach me where I
stood. But I remembered our first experience at the Grand Opera House in
Paris and trusted to better conditions when the hall was full. This hope
was justified, as the tone of the orchestra was much clearer and better
balanced at the concert.

After the first and second movements of the “Eroica” Symphony there were
great applause and shouts of “Bravo!” from the boxes and parquet, but
this was immediately followed by very disconcerting whistling from the
top gallery, which seemed to develop into a kind of duel between the two
factions. I was somewhat disconcerted at this and thought that perhaps
something in our playing had not pleased the galleries, but my friends
of the Accademia Santa Cecilia assured me that this was nothing but a
characteristic little demonstration which often occurred at their
concerts. If the parquet and boxes approved of some particular
composition or rendition the galleries felt it incumbent upon them to
oppose it. I do not know how true this explanation is, but during the
concert the whistling suddenly ceased and after the “Riccardo Wagner.
Tristan e Isotta, Preludio e Morte di Isotta (Lipsia 1813—Venezia
1883),” as the Italian programme had it, the two factions seemed to have
buried their hatchets completely and were in absolute harmony as far as
their enthusiastic acclaim toward us was concerned.

During the two days following, the Romans overwhelmed us with
hospitalities. The heat was terrific, but the entire orchestra responded
to an invitation to be presented to the mayor and to visit the
Capitoline Museum, where they were offered a private view of its art
treasures, followed by a luncheon given by the municipality in the
adjoining ruins of the Tabolarium.

On the following morning Tommasini, Molinari, and a few others of my
musician colleagues sauntered into my salon and suggested that we go to
a concert given that morning at the Borghese Gardens by the famous Banda
Communale di Roma. The heat was so overwhelming that I shuddered at the
idea of standing under the blazing noonday sun listening to a concert,
especially as I had to conduct our own second concert on that afternoon.

“Please come,” said Tommasini.

“No, indeed,” I said. “It is far too hot and I want to do good work this

“But the concert is given in your honor.”

“Good gracious! Why didn’t you tell me that immediately? Come along!”

I grabbed my hat and we drove to the Borghese Gardens, where a crowd of
several thousand people were gathered around the bandstand and where
Maestro Vecella was conducting his band in a beautiful rendition of the
Prelude to Wagner’s “Parsifal.” It was a wonderful performance. His
clarinets played the opening unison phrase with a vibrant and singing
quality that I have rarely heard equalled, and I was struck by the rapt
silence with which the huge audience of Italians listened to it. I,
unfortunately, arrived too late to hear the rendition of Beethoven’s
“Fifth Symphony,” which Vecella himself had arranged for military band
and which my musicians afterward told me had been beautifully performed.
The concert came to a close with a selection of airs from one of the
popular modern Italian operas. To my astonishment and delight, as the
band began to play this or that air, evidently well known to the
audience, groups of men around the bandstand joined in singing it with
the orchestra _mezza voce_, but with that perfect quality of tone which
is inborn in the Italian race. And then, as the sounds of one group
would die out, another from the other side would take it up, and this
continued until the end of the number. It was a delightful demonstration
of the innate musical genius of the Italian people.

I forgot temporarily that the sun was blazing down with a fierceness
almost unendurable, but after I had thanked Maestro Vecella for this
truly wonderful concert, I begged Molinari and Tommasini to take me back
to my hotel.

“Stay a little while longer,” said Tommasini.

“Impossible!” I answered. “I am melting away and there will be nothing
left of me if I do not get to some shaded spot soon.”

“Oh, but you will,” he said. “The Banda Communale are now going to
present you with the gold medal of the society, with a special

“Why in heaven’s name did you not tell me this sooner?” I said to my
friend, but he simply smiled his inscrutable Italian smile and lit
another cigarette. With the resolve to do or die, I marched along with
them to a private room in a restaurant adjoining the Gardens and there
ices and vermuth were served to the members of the two musical
organizations, and I was presented with the gold Roman medal, which I
treasure very highly as coming from so remarkable a body of players as
the Banda Communale di Roma.

For some years I have been interested in the new musical development
that is going on in Italy. There had been a period when her church music
led the world in the variety and beauty of its form. Later on,
especially in the eighteenth century, she had produced many composers of
distinction in instrumental music, but from then on and until very
recent times, opera had almost completely monopolized her writers. The
splendid opera-houses which are to be found in her smallest towns are
eloquent testimony to the important place which that form of art
occupies in the hearts of the Italian people. Every Italian can sing,
and the critics and lovers of opera are to be found just as much among
the poorer classes as among the aristocracy.

But all the testimony of older musicians with whom I have spoken and who
have travelled through Italy is to the effect that her orchestras
formerly were of a very poor quality. Their playing was slovenly and
rehearsals few and insufficient. Many of the players in the opera-houses
of even the larger cities followed some other calling in the daytime,
and there was many a tailor or shoemaker who played his violin in the
evening at the opera.

Within the last twenty-five years, however, a complete and almost
miraculous change has come over musical conditions throughout Italy. Its
conservatories in Rome, Milan, Bologna, and Naples turn out excellent
players, and several of her conductors rank with the best of other
countries. Signor Mancinelli, for instance, who was my colleague during
the years that I conducted at the Metropolitan for Maurice Grau, was a
first-class musician and conductor, well versed in more than Italian
music. He was a great lover of Mozart and gave beautiful performances of
the “Magic Flute” at the Metropolitan. He envied me my job of conducting
the Wagner operas and later on conducted many of them in Italy and

Toscanini is one of the greatest conductors living to-day. His range
extends to the music of all countries, and I have heard him conduct
Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Verdi’s “Falstaff,” and Wagner’s
“Meistersinger” in one week with equal penetration into their beauties
and, incidentally, without an orchestral score in front of him. He has
made a virtue of necessity, as he is almost blind and has therefore
developed his power of memory to a greater extent than I have ever seen
in any other musician, not even excepting Hans von Bülow.

The result of Italy’s more serious attitude toward instrumental music
shows itself not only in the quality of Italian orchestras, but in a
group of highly talented young composers who devote their principal
efforts to symphonic music, and who are creating works that rank with
the best that other countries are now producing. Several years ago I
produced an orchestral suite written by a boy of sixteen, Victor di
Sabata, which showed remarkable talent and fine orchestral coloring.
Such men as Resphighi, Sinigaglia, Tommasini, Casella, Pizzetti, and
Malipiero have found frequent places on our programmes, and I expect
still further contributions, constantly growing in importance, from this
new development of the musical genius of Italy.

I was much touched by the interest which our ambassador, Mr. Johnson,
constantly showed in our success and well-being. He had invited the
Queen Mother and several of the young Princesses to our concerts, and at
the many official and governmental functions which I had to attend he
was a sympathetic companion and real brother artist. He always responded
very felicitously when occasion demanded, and all my Italian musician
friends loved him.

At a farewell supper which I gave on the last night John Powell, whose
negro Fantasy had interested our Italian audiences greatly, and the
composer, Malipiero, sat next to each other, but as John speaks English
and Malipiero Italian and French, the silence between them for about ten
minutes was deep and profound. Suddenly they broke into the most fluent
conversation and the words burst forth in torrents. They had suddenly
discovered to their mutual delight that the German language was a common

I left Rome very reluctantly. Quite apart from the many personal friends
that I had made there, its eternal beauty again enveloped me and bade me

I cannot imagine any movement or institution better calculated to help
young American artists to further develop and stimulate their creative
abilities than the American Academy in Rome. It has quite recently added
three music fellowships to those for painters, sculptors, architects,
and archæologists, and, as it has done me the honor to elect me as one
of the trustees and the still greater honor of giving my name to one of
the music fellowships, I revisited Rome in the spring of 1922 especially
to observe the workings of our academy. I was amazed and delighted
beyond words. The academy is intended for young artists who have already
acquired the technic of their profession. They are selected by
competition and are given absolute freedom from bread worries for three
years, the first two of which they spend at the home of the academy, the
Villa Aurelia. During the third year they may travel or live anywhere in
Europe where they think their artistic aims can be further advanced.
Rome and its surroundings are so romantic and its art treasures so
unique that the perception of beauty and its crystallization into works
of art cannot fail to be further stimulated in those of our American
boys who have the good fortune to achieve a fellowship.

It is, of course, impossible for any man-made institution to guarantee
that every incumbent will develop into a great genius, but it is certain
that as only the best are chosen, they will become still better through
such happy three years, and if among every two hundred only one real
genius is found and thus encouraged the academy will have justified its

Two of our music fellows had already arrived at the academy, Leo
Sowerby, of Chicago, and Howard Hanson, of San Jose, California, and had
immediately, with characteristic American energy, made themselves part
and parcel of Roman musical life. The Italian musicians had welcomed
them with open arms, and our boys were constantly found at the concerts
and rehearsals of the Santa Cecilia or having some of their Italian
musician friends at the Villa Aurelia for chamber-music, and a cup of
tea in the beautiful gardens surrounding the villa.

America owes a great debt of gratitude to Major Felix Lamond, through
whose single-mindedness of purpose and energy the fund has been
collected which has made the three music fellowships possible. He is now
continuing the work by giving his life to the music department of the
academy, and as its director acts as guide, counsellor, and friend to
its young incumbents. I must confess that during my visit I had the
constant yearning that I might be forty years younger and could spend
three wonderful years in Rome under such ideal conditions.

The last night Major Lamond, his wife, and I dined on the roof of the
Villa Aurelia with Director Stevens, who is in supreme charge of the
entire academy. According to Roman custom dinner began after nine
o’clock. Beneath us and stretching out toward the Campagna was the
entire city of Rome with its electric lights appearing like magic in
every direction. Beyond the Campagna rose the mountains, still visible
in the faint twilight. Opposite to us rose the hill of the Pincio
Gardens, and on the left, just visible over the tree tops, flamed the
cross of Saint Peter’s. The silence was profound until suddenly the
bells of Rome began to vibrate from all directions, and finally, faint
but clear, came the sound of a bugle from the military barracks, blowing
the retreat. By this time I was sunk in a silent ecstasy, but a further
climax was yet in store for me, for as the last notes of the bugle
trembled into silence a nightingale from the bushes directly below us
began to pour forth her song.

Florence came next on our orchestral tour and I looked forward with
eagerness after our crowded days of official receptions and concerts to
a day absolutely free from duties of any kind. We arrived on May 24, and
I hoped to sleep deep and late, but at nine o’clock next morning there
was a knock at my door, and without any further preliminary warning in
walked a young gentleman, who introduced himself as the representative
of the mayor of Florence, who “sends regrets that he cannot be here
himself but wishes me to give Maestro Damrosch the speech of welcome.” I
begged him to excuse me for a few minutes and attired myself so that I
could receive the mayor’s kind welcome in a more fitting garb and room.

Our concert was at the splendid Politeama Theatre, a great amphitheatre
with fine acoustics. Albert Spalding was our soloist, and as he had been
virtually brought up in Florence and the people there had watched his
career with eager interest, his appearance was a real homecoming and the
greeting affectionate in the extreme.

At a charming reception given at the house of Albert’s father after the
concert, I met the historian Ferrero and a delightful acquaintance from
previous visits, Mrs. Janet Ross. She is a daughter of the beautiful
Lady Duff-Gordon, and when she was a child George Meredith had occupied
a cottage on her father’s estate in England. He had adored her and it
was said that she had been his inspiration for _Rose_ in “Evan
Harrington.” I had met her in Florence in 1913, when she already was
well over seventy and a woman of remarkable intellectual power and
physical activity. She lives in a delightful old villa with walls two
feet thick on a hill below Fiesole. Boccaccio had written part of his
“Decameron” there and the house was filled with interesting old Italian
furniture. She made her own olive-oil and vermuth on her farm and sold
large quantities of it to England. When I admired some exquisite
dining-room chairs, she told me she had found them in Pisa and that they
were good eighteenth-century models. She said: “I have a little Italian
carpenter who carves wood very well and if you like I can have these
copied for you and they will cost you very little.” I have these chairs
in my house to-day and value them doubly as having come to me through
the good offices of this interesting lady.

She had also made a remarkable collection of old Italian _stornelli_,
which she had heard through mingling with the Italian peasants and
farmers in Tuscany and elsewhere and had noted down. As this collection
numbers literally hundreds of folk-songs, many of them dating back
centuries, it should prove valuable to the connoisseur.

In Parma, the following day, I visited the Teatro Farnese. It is the
oldest theatre in Italy, and while it is in a somewhat dilapidated
condition and, of course, no longer used for performances, it is
fascinating as a relic, and one can well imagine what splendid pageants
and dramatic cantatas must have been performed there before the great
nobles of that day and their retinue. The Teatro Regio seemed to me the
most beautiful that we had played in. It seated over two thousand people
and we marvelled that so small a town as Parma should be the proud
possessor of such a home for music.

The heat was again intense, but as the audience were in an extremely
receptive and tumultuous mood, we did not mind it, and the orchestra
played superbly. I was sorry therefore to have been compelled to nip in
the bud a little plot which I luckily discovered that evening. Sixteen
adventurous young members of the orchestra had very quietly decided that
they would take a midnight train for Venice, spend a happy day there on
its lagoons, with perhaps even a swim on the Lido, and then take another
night train for Milan, arriving just in time for our concert there.
Milan is an important musical centre, and I did not wish to play there
with an orchestra partly tired out by two night trips, besides the
strong possibility of delayed Italian trains, which operate on the
principle of _chi va piano, va sano, ma non lontano_. I therefore had to
forbid this little excursion, although I sympathized strongly with our
men for wanting to carry it out.

I arrived in Milan two hours ahead of the orchestra and was met at the
station by a committee consisting of Signor Finci, the president of the
Milan Symphony Society, under whose auspices we were to play, Campanari,
brother of my old friend the barytone, and honorary secretary of the
Verdi Home for Aged Musicians, the prefect of the police, and several
others. All had pale and anxious faces, and had come to tell me that
there was not a room to be had in Milan, that several hotels had closed
their doors as there was a restaurant and waiters’ strike, and that they
wanted to consult with me what had better be done. That mischievous
strike devil evidently was to be a permanent member of our organization
on the entire tour. I retired with the committee to the room of the
prefect at the railroad station and discussed various plans, although in
the back of my mind was the firm conviction that my men would find
rooms, beds, and food if they were suddenly dumped in the middle of the
desert of Sahara. I finally asked Campanari if there were any spare
rooms in the Verdi Home for Aged Musicians, and he informed me that the
entire home was empty, as they had not been able to operate it at all
during the war, owing to lack of funds. There were plenty of beds,
blankets, and sheets, but no servants of any kind. This was at least
something, and I thought that my young men would not at all mind
sleeping in beds that were intended for aged musicians and doing their
own chamber work. The prefect also suggested several empty beds in the
city hospital, but this did not look to me so inviting. However, I
finally arranged with them to meet again at the station on the arrival
of the orchestra and I would put the matter before them, and then let
them go forth and fare for themselves. Any one who had not found a bed
should return to the station and report at the office of the prefect,
who would then see that some kind of accommodation was found. This plan
was carried out and my manager reported to me that at the final hour
only two of our orchestra reported at the station, the one to say that
he had found no room and the other that he had two. These two men went
off arm in arm therefore, and my faith in the orchestra was again
abundantly justified, although the hotel strike here was even worse than
in Genoa. I was quartered with my family at the Continental Hotel and,
with the exception of a few toothless old hags, who made a pretense of
taking care of the rooms, there was no service of any kind. The
principal cause of the strike seems to have been a realization on the
part of hotel employees that it was undignified for them to accept tips,
especially as the tipping system produced such unequal results, the
chambermaid on the first floor of a hotel receiving often ten times as
much in tips as the one who officiated on the fourth floor. They
therefore demanded that a tax of ten to fifteen per cent be added to the
bills of travellers, this amount then to be distributed among the
employees according to a certain schedule. In the meantime we sizzled in
the heat and suffered. To add to our discomfort, there was a great
scarcity in the city supply of water, and if one wanted a bath it could
only be obtained at six o’clock in the morning or after ten at night.

But again the discipline of the men and the determination to demonstrate
themselves as an artistic organization manifested itself in a remarkable
way, and both of our concerts were superbly played and enthusiastically
received. We considered Milan one of the most important cities of our
tour. Its opera at the famous La Scala is world-renowned, and of recent
years, especially through the efforts of Maestro Toscanini, a highly
cultivated audience for symphonic music has developed.

Toscanini, whom I had known and often admired in America, was rehearsing
and conducting in Padua. To my surprise and delight he took a night
train from there in order to be present at our Sunday afternoon concert
and to give me a brotherly greeting. After the concert he accompanied me
to the railroad station where he was to take the night train back to
Padua. As we arrived my orchestra, who were already in their respective
sleeping-cars, recognized him and with a great roar of welcome gave him
three American cheers.

Our three days in Milan had been very busy ones. On Friday afternoon the
Ricordi Music Publishing Company gave us a reception, showing the
orchestra through their enormous printing works. The first concert was
given that evening. On Saturday the mayor and commune of Milan gave us a
reception with a visit to the City Museum at the Castello Sforzesco.
This was followed by a concert given for us by the excellent municipal
band in the courtyard, and a “tea” which consisted of all manner of
sandwiches, ices, cakes, and, above all, innumerable bottles of
champagne. We were all glad that there was no concert that evening.

After the Sunday concert a number of motor-buses took the orchestra and
musical instruments quickly to the station, while our Italian friends
stood around and marvelled at what they called “American efficiency,”
and we rolled out of Milan and Italy on our way to Strassbourg,
exceedingly tired, but with a feeling that we had brought Italy and
America many steps nearer to each other by our visit. We had been simply
overwhelmed with demonstrations of affection from the moment we arrived
in Italy, and there is something in the almost childlike manner in which
the Italians demonstrate their feelings that endeared them very quickly
to us. They are seething with vitality, and the very intensity of their
emotions, which to the cooler North American temperament sometimes seems
exaggerated, is a force to be reckoned with in the future of the world.
While their civilization is the oldest in Europe they seem to be the
youngest people of to-day, and in my profession and the kindred arts I
expect great things from the Italian people as soon as the dreadful
aftermath of the World War shall have been cleared away.

I was much interested in Strassbourg and Metz in the curious mixture of
German and French civilization. In Strassbourg we were very cordially
received by the new director of the Conservatory, M. Ropartz, of Nancy,
one of France’s most distinguished musicians.

At Metz the mayor made a speech of welcome and with a group of citizens
gave us a “vin d’honneur” after the concert. Both cities gave us
audiences evidently accustomed to concerts of symphonic music and with a
fine appreciation of what we would offer them.

On the public square in Strassbourg I noticed a group of citizens
excitedly pointing toward a steeple on the opposite side and, lo and
behold, I saw a stork, the first one to get back from his winter sojourn
in Africa to spend the summer in his native haunts. The reader will
wonder that I have not something more exciting to relate, but I confess
that the complete freedom from the official and social engagements after
our hectic weeks in Italy came like a heavenly balm, not to mention the
agreeable change of living again in a hotel with real waiters,
chambermaids, and cooks to minister to one’s comfort.

I looked at that stork and suddenly an old doggerel jumped into my head
that I had sung with other children over fifty years before, and which

          “Storch, Storch, Steiner, mit de langen Beiner”—

and here was perhaps a descendant of the very bird whom we had greeted
so long ago. I was inclined to become sentimental over this interesting
possibility, but the stork flew away without showing any reciprocal
interest and my mood did not last long.

We returned to Paris the following day, and on the morning of June 4
started in a special train to Fontainebleau, where the entire orchestra
were to be guests of the mayor and municipality for the day.

The suggestions which I had made to Francis Casadesus in Paris and
Chaumont during our long talks in 1918, while he and I were examining
the two hundred bandmasters of the A. E. F., had borne quick fruits.
Casadesus had communicated my suggestion of a summer school for American
musicians to his very musical friend, M. Fragnaud, the sous-préfet of
Fontainebleau. He in turn had interested M. Bonnet, the mayor, and in
consequence a quick decision had been reached that the summer school
should be placed at Fontainebleau and housed in an entire wing of the
historic Palais de Fontainebleau, which would be donated for this
purpose by the French Government. I was delighted at this happy outcome,
and, as the people concerned evidently wished to signalize it by some
special fête, I gladly accepted their invitation to give a concert there
with our orchestra and make this, so to speak, the beginning of
relations which will, I hope, help materially to bring France and
America musically closer together for many years to come.

Many French musicians and dignitaries were on the train to take part in
the day’s celebration. There were M. Paul Leon, representing the
Ministère des Beaux Arts; Alfred Cortot, distinguished pianist; Mangeot,
editor of the _Monde Musicale_ and founder of the École Normale de
Musique in Paris; Francis and Henri Casadesus, Mlle. Boulanger, Albert
Bruneau, composer of the opera “Le Rêve”; M. Dumesnil, deputy for
Fontainebleau, and many others.

The whole town had been declared “en fête.” Every shop was closed and
French and American flags, gaily intertwined, festooned all the
principal streets. The street leading to the Mairie was lined on both
sides by French troops, and we all tried to look as if we were delegates
to the Versailles Conference as we marched to the reception of the
mayor, and looked at this martial array.

The luncheon which followed was one of those typical French affairs in
which the gay was charmingly mingled with the more serious and
ceremonial. M. Dumesnil proved himself one of the greatest orators I
have ever heard and played upon every emotion of the human heart,
evoking tears and laughter with the voice and diction of a virtuoso.

He was succeeded by M. Bruneau arising and suddenly addressing me, and
at the close pinning the Legion d’Honneur on my coat, after which, to
the huge delight of my orchestra, he, in true French fashion, kissed me
on both cheeks. It is very agreeable to have one’s orchestra present
while such honors are conferred, as their approval demonstrates itself
in most noisy fashion, and my boys know that this particular decoration
is as much theirs as mine.

As there was no theatre in Fontainebleau large enough to hold the huge
audience, the concert was given in the Ménage d’Artillerie, which had
been hastily converted into a concert hall. It proved excellent for this
purpose, except that as soon as we began playing, hundreds of birds,
which had had undisturbed possession of the rafters and of the musical
privileges of this building for years, were evidently disturbed and
angered by our intrusion. They suddenly flew out from their nests and
burst into shrill songs of protest, which mingled, not without
interesting results, with the harmonies of the “New World Symphony,”
played by special request of the sous-préfet, M. Fragnaud, who is
himself an excellent amateur oboe player.

In the front rows of the audience were hundreds of school-children who
had been dressed “en Américaine,” with enormous bows and sashes composed
of the American stars and stripes. That there were several hundred of
these I can testify, as I had to shake hands with every one of them
after the concert.

The following day, before leaving for Belgium, I received the welcome
news that a rather disagreeable matter concerning our three concerts at
the Paris Opéra had been most amicably settled. The Opera House, which
is the property of the French Government, had been offered to us by the
Ministère des Beaux Arts “free of rent,” but we were to pay for the
actual expenses of light, heat, and service incurred. When I first
arrived in Paris our local manager informed us that the Director of the
Opera, who holds a lease of the building, intended to charge us thirty
thousand francs for his “expenses.” This seemed to me excessive, and I
remonstrated with M. Leon, the Director of the Beaux Arts. The Director
of the Opera, who had lost millions of francs at the opera during the
war, was a man of wealth to whom the opera was more or less of a
personal toy, but he evidently wished to recoup somewhat on us, for he
argued that, inasmuch as he might have given opera performances on the
days and hours when we had our concerts, we should be charged with the
pro-rata expense of his singers, orchestra, chorus, and ballet. This
argument, however, did not seem valid to us, as since time immemorial
there had never been any opera performances on those days of the week. I
presented our case to M. Leon and told him that as I had never had any
dealing or arrangement with the Director of the Opera but only with the
Ministère des Beaux Arts, I was compelled to leave the matter entirely
in their hands. We were their guests, and if they felt that we should
pay thirty thousand francs for “expenses” we would most certainly do so.
The results were most satisfactory, but not entirely unexpected by me,
and the sum which we finally paid was a perfectly fair amount.

We went to Brussels on June 3 by motor, through a great part of the
devastated regions and all the horror and misery of destroyed villages,
field after field pock-marked by shell explosions and dreary remains of
a few stumps of trees where had been acres and acres of forest.

On our arrival we were welcomed with open arms by our ambassador, Brand
Whitlock, and his wife. He told me that but two weeks before he had been
suddenly informed that we could not play at the Théâtre Royal de la
Monnaie because a socialist organization of Brussels claimed the right
to it for an entertainment of their own. There had been a mix-up because
the director of the opera, who had promised us the theatre, had died and
the new incumbent claimed to have no knowledge of our coming. They
intended to place us in a Flemish theatre, which of course did not have
the dignity of the Royal Opera House, and Mr. Whitlock promptly told
them that, as we were there by invitation of the Belgian Government and
as our coming had an international significance, he could not permit us
to be euchred out of our rightful possession of the Théâtre de la
Monnaie, and if we could not have that he would telegraph to me urging
us to cancel the concert. This evidently produced results. The socialist
organization was appealed to, and immediately and courteously said that
it would do anything for an American orchestra.

The same lack of what we would call proper management of concerts seemed
to exist in Brussels as in many cities of France and Italy. Large
advertisements, such as fill the amusement columns of American papers,
are hardly ever used. Two lines inserted only once or twice are the
rule. Reading notices, giving the programme or other information
regarding the concert, are printed only if paid for at so much a line.
Small posters, which are pasted on street corners for a week or two, are
almost the only advertising indulged in.

Transfer companies—such as in our country meet a musical or theatrical
organization at the station with a specified number of trucks to carry
the musical baggage or scenery to the theatre—are not known. We had put
this important part of our tour into the hands of Thomas Cook and Sons,
and their representative, on the arrival of the train, would negotiate
with this or that driver lounging around the station and lazily looking
for jobs. In Italy the porters again and again simply refused to
transport our stuff because the weather was too hot, and they would only
begin at six or seven o’clock in the evening, when thirty little
handcarts, pushed by as many men, would carry the musical instruments to
the theatre. Luckily concerts in Italy begin at nine or nine-thirty, so
we always managed in one way or another to get our instruments
transported. Several times, however, even soldiers and military camions
were bribed into service. This slovenliness, which is maddening to an
American, is so universal in Europe, especially since the war, that one
marvels how anything can be accomplished; and yet with the exception of
places where strikes interfered we got along, even though we were
sometimes wild with anxiety and foolishly furious at what we considered
to be their national characteristics.

Everybody in Belgium, however, seems to read the posters, for the demand
for seats in Brussels was so great that we could have filled the little
opera-house twice over. Its acoustics are marvellous, and the strings
vibrate like an old Cremona violin. They had specially requested that
the concert should be purely symphonic and without any soloist. I
therefore gave them the lovely Mozart “Jupiter” Symphony and the César
Franck D Minor. Franck had been born in Liège, and I wished to
demonstrate to them our love and understanding of this noble musician. I
do not think I have ever played before an audience more sensitive to the
beauties of music. As a special compliment to Brussels we played an
Adagio for strings by Lekeu, a modern, highly talented, young Belgian
composer, who unfortunately had died at the age of twenty-four. The
Adagio is a work of tender, melancholy beauty, and sounded so exquisite
in this building that the players and I were intensely moved by it
during the performance. This emotion was evidently communicated to the
audience, so that at the close their applause could not be quieted, and
I finally had to take the score of the composition from my desk and
point to it in silent pantomime.

After the concert, as I was preparing to leave the theatre, two ladies
came toward me with an old man who proved to be the father of Guillaume
Lekeu. He tried to thank me for our playing of his son’s composition,
but broke down completely as the tears poured down his face.

The following day at Antwerp I saw again to my great delight the famous
old tenor, Van Dyk, with whom I had given many a Wagner opera during our
engagement at the Metropolitan with the Maurice Grau Opera Company. His
villa, near Antwerp, had been occupied by a German general and his staff
during the four years of the war. They had drunk up his entire
wine-cellar, consisting of many hundred bottles of choice vintages, and
had also removed every bit of copper from his door-knobs and kitchen.
Otherwise they had left his house intact, and, with imperturbable good
humor and courage, Van Dyk had taken up again the work of gaining an
existence for his family. Twice a week he went to Brussels, where he had
an interesting class in dramatic singing at the Royal Conservatory, and
besides this he was busily engaged as a director of an insurance

In Antwerp, as well as in Liège and Ghent, we found the same
discriminating and educated audiences as in Brussels.

Hardly anywhere did we see the ravages of war, and what little there
were were being quickly repaired by the industrious inhabitants.

We left Belgium on June 10, to enter Holland, playing at The Hague that
evening and in Amsterdam the day after.

In Holland our American diplomatic representative, William Phillips,
Minister to The Hague, had been active in assuring us a welcome. He was
an old friend and had invited not only the Queen Mother, who is the only
musical member of the royal household, but a distinguished party of
nearly one hundred, including all the diplomatic representatives and the
highest officials of the court and governments, to be his guests at the

After the first part he introduced me to the Queen Mother, who proved to
be very charming and much interested in music, and who also possessed
that delightful royal quality of putting you “at your ease.” This
consists in asking a question and then not waiting for you to answer,
but answering it in all its possibilities and bearings herself.
Conversation is thus made rather one-sided but agreeable, even though
all the brilliant things one might have said remain unuttered.

After the concert the entire distinguished party assembled at the
legation for a delicious supper, at which I met a great many charming
Dutch ladies who, fortunately for me, spoke English or French.

The next day Mr. Phillips motored me to Amsterdam. There the members of
the local orchestra immediately poured into the willing ears of my men
dreadful stories of local jealousy of our coming, that several of the
newspapers had been told to criticise us severely, and that all the
adherents of the local orchestra had ostentatiously decided to absent
themselves from our concert. Very little of this proved to be true. The
huge hall in which we played, the Concertgebow, has a stage perched up
so high that the people in the parquet literally have to strain their
necks to see the performers, and the reverberation of sound is
excessive. The hall seats three thousand people, and there were not more
than fourteen hundred at our concert. However, they certainly made up in
enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers. All previous notions of the
phlegm of the Dutch people were completely dissipated. Not being a prima
donna, I did not keep count of the many times I was recalled after the
“Eroica” Symphony, but, as I had to march down and up a platform of
about fifty steps each time, the exercise in connection with it was
considerable. The newspapers next morning, in spite of all the dark
rumors, were enthusiastic in our praise and generous in their comparison
of our orchestra with their own splendid organization.

London marked the last lap of our musical race through Europe. We stayed
a week and gave five concerts, four at Queens’ Hall on June 14, 15, 16,
and 19, and one on June 20 at the huge Royal Albert Hall. The lucky star
which had accompanied us during the entire tour shone for us with
steadfast light during this last week. The orchestra never played better
and the newspapers heartily echoed the reception we received from the

I had not conducted in London since a concert mentioned elsewhere in
these reminiscences, given at Princes’ Hall by Ovide Musin in 1888, when
I was but twenty-six years of age. Since then great changes have come
over the musical life of England. At that time music was to a great
extent in the hands of foreigners, and one has only to see the old
pictures by Du Maurier in _Punch_ to realize that the musician in
English drawing-rooms was generally a long-haired German or Italian.
Hans Richter was the great popular conductor in London and there were
many foreigners in the British orchestras.

Since then the Anglicization of music had been going on rapidly, thanks
principally to great music-schools such as the Royal College of Music,
under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and Sir Hugh Allen, and the Royal
Academy of Music, under Sir Alexander MacKenzie. These schools educate
great numbers of orchestral musicians, and to-day the personnel of
British orchestras is composed almost entirely of native-born. Many of
us consider Sir Edward Elgar the greatest symphonic composer since
Brahms, and his education has been altogether British. A group of
English conductors, of whom Sir Henry Wood is the dean and Albert Coates
and Eugene Goosens among the most gifted, have made for themselves an
international reputation. England has now the material for a strong
national musical life. With such conductors as she possesses and her
splendid orchestral material, her orchestras would soon rival those of
America if her citizens would give them the same generous support which
our organizations receive, but in this respect the condition of London
is very much what it was in New York preceding and during the first half
of my career.

Her orchestras are to a great extent co-operative. The concerts are
projected and given by the members of the orchestra and they divide the
profits among themselves. These profits are exceedingly small and do not
really pay them for the time given to the rehearsals and concerts. The
London Symphony, for instance, gives only eight concerts during the
winter, and rarely has more than three rehearsals to a concert. In
consequence of this, while the players have developed a great facility
in reading at sight and making the most of the limited rehearsal time,
the results cannot be as finely worked out as is possible in the
generously endowed orchestras of America, which assemble their players
every morning for rehearsal and give more than one hundred symphonic
concerts during a winter.

We lay great stress on unanimity of bowing, for proper phrasing can only
be secured if the sixteen first violins, for instance, who have to play
a phrase in unison, play as one. To the educated ear there is a great
difference in the effect if one or two or more notes are played on the
same bow or if a phrase is begun with an up or a down bow. Generally
speaking, this unanimity in our playing impressed and delighted our
London audiences and critics, but one of the latter was evidently
annoyed by it as he began his analysis of our concert with the
head-line: “Orchestra Too Perfect to be Good.” His eye had evidently
been accustomed to the more “free and easy” bowing at some of their own
concerts, and he thought that a more emotionally inspired effect was
produced if the individual member of the orchestra is not restricted by
too much discipline. It must be acknowledged, however, that a good
conductor must guard himself from the temptation to make a god out of
technic, which should, after all, be merely a means to an end.

Because of our undoubted superiority in orchestras and opera we cannot,
however, claim to be a more musical people than the British. Their love
and cultivation of choral music is far greater than ours and they have a
small group of composers whose work is more important and interesting
than the aggregate we can as yet produce.

Augustus Littleton and his friends arranged many affairs for our
pleasure, among them a ceremonial luncheon at the Mansion House by the
Lord Mayor of London. This luncheon was attended also by the American
ambassador, Mr. Davis, Viscount Bryce, and many of the foremost English
musicians. My orchestra was hugely delighted and impressed with the
quaint mediæval ceremonies, the gorgeous uniforms and liveries, and the
prodigal hospitality displayed by our kind host. As a mark of special
friendliness toward the New York Symphony Orchestra and its first visit
to Great Britain I was made a member of the “Worshipfull Company of
Musicians,” founded by James I in 1604, and was presented with the
silver medal of that ancient organization.

Our ambassador proved himself just as able to discourse eloquently on
the importance of music as on any other theme which might tend to
strengthen cultural bonds between the two nations. Both he and his wife
had evidently endeared themselves to the English people, and many were
the regrets when, with the change of party in Washington, he tendered
his resignation.

Throughout the luncheon Lord Bryce beamed his approval of the
proceedings, as he had given nearly all of his energies during the later
years of his life toward a better understanding between the two
English-speaking countries.

The orchestra sailed for America on the _Olympic_ on the Tuesday
following our last concert, and I bade them good-by with my heart in my
mouth; they had done such honor to our president, Mr. Flagler, to our
country, and to their conductor. During the entire tour of seven weeks
there had not been one lapse from perfect discipline, a discipline
largely self-imposed. Each one had felt his responsibility and had acted
accordingly. Their playing had been at high-water mark continually and
they had borne the inevitable fatigues and annoyances of constant travel
with unfailing good humor. On the other hand, their delights had been
many. They had seen the great art treasures and scenic beauties of five
countries, and with that quick perception which is one of the
characteristics of American life, they had taken full advantage of their
opportunities. If they gave of their best with both hands, Europe
certainly returned with equal prodigality, and there is not one of my
men who would not jump at the chance to repeat our experiences at the
first opportunity, naturally still further extending the tour to include
Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czecho-Slovakia. We are still somewhat shy
of Russia, however, as the reports which my Russian musicians get from
their former country are too dismal and uninviting.


                        WOMEN IN MUSICAL AFFAIRS

In Europe music sprang from the ground and it is the folk-songs and
folk-dances of the peasant that have gradually—refined and developed in
the hands of the great composers—worked their way upward and become the
possession and delight of the cultured classes.

In this country we have no peasantry, and what slight remains of
folk-songs and folk-dances we possess, apart from the music of the
negro, have only recently been dug out of the isolated mountain
fastnesses of Kentucky and Tennessee. These are generally of British
origin and cannot be considered as having been part and parcel of our
national life. As against the rich subsoil of the folk-songs of Germany,
Bohemia, Russia, France, and Scotland we can show but the thinnest
artificial layer of music, and this has been created and carefully
nurtured by a small educated class.

The dreary social life of the early Puritan settlers and their frowning
attitude toward the joys of life further retarded the growth of the arts
among us.

I do not think there has ever been a country whose musical development
has been fostered so almost exclusively by women as America.

Musical education began among the well-to-do classes who could afford to
engage the European musicians who immigrated to America to teach their
daughters—but not, alas, their sons. A strong feeling existed that
music was essentially an effeminate art, and that its cultivation by a
man took away that much from his manliness and, above all, made him
unfit to worship at the most sacred shrine of business. I am speaking
now of fifty years ago. Conditions have improved since that time, but
not sufficiently as yet to produce normal and healthy conditions
regarding the civilization of our people.

Women’s musical clubs began to form in many a village, town, and city,
and these clubs became the active and efficient nucleus of the entire
musical life of the community, but, alas, again principally the feminine
community. It is to these women’s clubs that the managers turn for fat
guarantees for appearances of their artists, and it is before audiences
of whom seventy-five per cent are women that these artists disport

The result of this has been that the cultural life of American women has
often been absolutely a thing apart from their relations with their
men-folk. It has become accepted that of course men do not and need not
share the women’s interest in the arts; and while business does not
perhaps monopolize the American man in quite as unhealthy a fashion as
in former years, the principal change which has been brought about is
the introduction of golf, at least an occupation in which men and women
may share. What a pity that the elusive ball is not composed of a little
Beethoven and Brahms instead of the mysterious mixture of concrete and
gutta-percha, and that family life, which is the very fortress of
civilization, cannot make use of the cultivation of music as one of the
strongest ties to bind husband and wife, sons and daughters together!

Some of us are too prone to look upon modern plumbing, telephones, and
motor-cars as evidences of high civilization or even culture, when they
are really only more or less agreeable conveniences which minister to
our comfort but not to our heart or head.

In Europe men and women share more equally in the love and cultivation
of music, and the emotional and personal attitude of the women is offset
by the more impersonal and mental attitude of the men. The result of
this is shown in audiences in which neither sex predominates and, above
all, in the cultivation of chamber-music at home in which professionals
and amateurs, men and women, participate to their mutual pleasure and
development. Nothing more charming can be imagined than such family
evenings of music, during which the players indulge themselves in the
string quartets and piano trios of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, with
perhaps a small audience of enthusiasts composed of other members of the
family and half a dozen friends who afterward all join in a jolly supper
of bread and cold meats, together with a good bottle of wine or beer.

My father carried this lovely custom into the New World, and I owe
almost my entire education in chamber-music to the Sunday afternoons at
his house, the tranquil and spiritual atmosphere of which is

A few years ago a meeting was held in the mayor’s office at City Hall at
which I had been asked to speak in behalf of good music for the people
on Sunday afternoons and evenings. A clergyman from Brooklyn had made a
tremendous appeal against any Sunday recreations and wanted the aldermen
to revive the old blue laws of two hundred years ago. The room was
crowded with people, and when I spoke of what the chamber-music on
Sunday afternoons at my father’s house had meant to me as a boy, this
audience broke into such enthusiastic applause that there was no
mistaking the general attitude, and my Sunday symphony concerts, which I
was the first to inaugurate in New York, have only once been interfered
with by municipal authorities.

Some American women have realized the false and one-sided condition of
musical culture in our country and have sought to remedy it by
encouraging their sons to take up the study of some musical instrument,
but it has been up-hill work, as the general sentiment of the country
has not yet been sufficiently awakened. Plato considered the study and
appreciation of music an educational necessity for the young Athenian,
but such schools as Groton, Saint Paul’s, and Saint Mark’s, for
instance, have not yet admitted music to their regular curriculum, and
in so far as it is studied there it is considered rather an outside
privilege with which the school course has no official connection. Among
the boys the necessity for excelling in football or baseball is so
carefully and consistently insisted upon that almost the entire time
left from school hours is devoted to these sports, and the boy who wants
to continue the study of a musical instrument, which a fond mother has
perhaps begun with him before he entered the school, is looked upon by
the other boys as a sissy. The standard of personal conduct set in these
schools is high, but the tendency seems to be to make the boys as like
each other as possible. Many of them, if not discouraged, would develop
decided artistic talent, but individuality and independence of thinking,
which should be the end and aim of all teaching, is often frowned upon,
and the results only contribute still further to the monotony of our
social life, in which the courage to be one’s self is submerged in the
desire to be exactly like every one else.

The public schools of our country, however, show a much more intelligent
attitude than formerly; and, while the time allowed for singing and the
study of the beginnings of music is still all too short, music is taught
to the boys as well as to the girls. The singing of the children has
greatly improved, and in many cities school orchestras have been formed,
which the boys and girls enjoy immensely and in many of which music of
good character is studied.

In Los Angeles and Berkeley, California, I heard some excellent school
orchestras, and in Dayton, Ohio, Mrs. Talbot has interested herself
personally in this movement with great enthusiasm and excellent results.

In New York, my brother Frank, while supervisor of music in the public
schools, effected a complete reform in the teaching of the children and
succeeded in interesting the authorities to give music a more important
position. The singing improved immensely and since his retirement Mr.
Gartlan, his successor, has continued the good work. I have several
times used choruses of a thousand school children at the music festivals
of the Oratorio Society in the production of such works as Pierné’s
exquisite “The Crusade of the Children” and “The Children of Bethlehem,”
and the children sang the three-part harmonies of their music with such
purity and exquisite quality of tone as to bring happy tears to the eyes
of the audience.

School orchestras have been formed all over the city, and once a year I
take my entire orchestra to one of the large auditoriums of the public
high schools and for two thousand little would-be orchestra musicians we
play a programme composed of the music they have been studying during
the winter. We never play before a more enthusiastic and delightful

Thirty-one years ago I gave the first orchestral concert for children,
and twenty-five years ago my brother Frank founded the Young People’s
Symphony Concerts, which were designed to introduce the beauties of
orchestral music to children, and in a short explanatory talk to unravel
its mysteries of construction and demonstrate the tone colors of the
different instruments of the orchestra. These concerts have proved an
enormous success and of great importance for the education of the coming
generation. When my brother retired from public work in order to devote
himself exclusively to the direction of the Institute of Musical Art I
took over these concerts, and have since added another course intended
exclusively for little children from seven to twelve years of age. The
audiences are truly remarkable. The faces of the children are aglow with
interest and excitement, and when I sit down at the piano after playing
an overture with the orchestra and, repeating some melodic phrase from
it, ask them, “Which instrument played this melody?” their little voices
ring out from all over the hall in high, shrill accents, like little
pistol-shots, “The oboe! The oboe! The trumpet!” Then I let all those
who think it was the oboe raise their hands, and if they are right great
is their triumph, and if they are wrong equally great is their chagrin.
Generally they are right!

On my orchestral tours I have several times given such children’s
concerts on the afternoon preceding the regular evening symphony, and
while two such concerts in one day are a great exertion, the children’s
especially demanding a great output of vitality in order to keep their
interest, I have felt more than repaid by the results; in many of the
cities my work in this direction has been continued by the local
orchestras or musical clubs (again the women!), and with the happiest

In New York also women devoted to music have greatly contributed toward
its development, but occasionally the result of their efforts has not
been so beneficial. Not so long ago a handsome but incompetent foreign
musician (I will not disclose any name or dates in this story) came to
New York and enlisted the sympathies of a few enthusiastic women. As
many women need some personality on which to centre their devotion to
art, they decided that New York should have this particular gentleman to
direct its symphonic future. The American business man is proverbially
good-natured to his womenkind and ready to pour out money for music
provided he is not compelled to listen to it, and so these ladies
gathered a huge fund with which to give a series of orchestral concerts.
The amount was large enough to maintain a good symphony orchestra in
proper hands for an entire winter, but in this instance was to be
expended on six concerts only. The handsome young foreigner gave his
first concert, which was a failure so complete and dismal—he being not
only without any reputation but with hardly any experience in work of
this kind—that even his little group of adorers became appalled and
proposed to cancel the rest of the concerts. One lady, however, who had
her own special favorite conductor, suggested that a complete disgrace
might be averted if her protégé were invited to conduct the remaining
concerts. As he was an excellent artist and thoroughly routined in the
handling of orchestral players the results were so good and, above all,
such a contrast to the dire tragedy of the first concert that the
enthusiastic lady devotee saw her opportunity and suggested that a new
orchestra should be formed for the following winter, the concerts of
which should be conducted by the man who had saved the situation for
them. New York had already an average during the winter of a hundred and
fifty symphonic concerts by the New York Philharmonic, the New York
Symphony, the Boston Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and it
would seem from this that the symphonic needs of our public were already
more than amply supplied; but an enthusiastic woman, especially when
driven by devotion for some pet artist, refuses to recognize practical
conditions, and so this little group proceeded to gather more funds,
amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in order to put the new
orchestra properly on its feet.

Their first difficulty was to find good players. There are never very
many first-class symphonic players to be found. Not only do the two
old-established New York orchestras employ about a hundred players each,
but the orchestras of other cities come to New York to fill their
vacancies. For years the Philharmonic, the New York Symphony, and other
out-of-town orchestras had a gentleman’s agreement that they would not
steal each other’s players, but this new organization immediately
proceeded to take thirty-seven from the Philharmonic by offering them
immensely higher salaries. They did not take a single player from the
New York Symphony Orchestra because, as they vowed, of their great
personal respect for me, but I think it was partly because we happened
to have a two-year contract with all our men which bound them to us very
effectively for another season. They filled their ranks further from
members of the Boston Orchestra and from other out-of-town
organizations, and then proceeded on their first regular season as a New
York Orchestra with loud protestations that New York at last had an
organization worthy of the metropolis. This orchestra carried on its
existence for two years, at the end of which it came to a dismal close
with an expenditure for the three seasons over and above the receipts of
the box-office of nearly a million dollars, which their surprised and
chagrined men guarantors had to pay. This is but one of several such
irregular ventures, each one of which has swallowed hundreds of
thousands. One would think that the inevitable failure of these efforts
would deter others from undertaking them, but such is not the case. Hope
springs eternal in the breast of the musical woman devotee and I have
just heard of a new orchestra now being formed in order to enable still
another foreigner, whose interpretations will of course be a revelation
to our public, to wield his stick in this country as his own has refused
to accept him at his own valuation.

In recent years chamber-music in New York has received great
encouragement and intelligent support from women. Mrs. Frederick S.
Coolidge has proved a veritable godmother to this lovely branch of
musical art, and every fall the festivals of chamber-music which she
gives in Pittsfield in the Berkshire Hills bring together notable
gatherings of musicians and music lovers as her guests. For several
years she has offered generous prizes in competition for various forms
of chamber-music. But to me the most encouraging thing that she has done
is the commissioning of certain composers to write compositions for
these festivals. Neither string quartets nor violin sonatas can ever
become profitable to the composer in the ordinary way of commerce, as
the number of copies which can be sold of such works is necessarily
limited. Even young American composers must live, and if they are to
devote their time to the creation of serious forms of art they should be
assured of at least some financial recompense for the time they must
give to it.

Mrs. Ralph Pulitzer has entirely maintained an excellent string quartet
for the past three years, and I should like to see such excellent
examples followed by others among our well-to-do, as chamber-music is
essentially written for performance in the home and loses much of its
charm and intimacy if given in a larger hall and before hundreds of

For some time to come the initiative for a more general musical
education of our people will have to come from the women. If American
mothers will demand and obtain for their sons the same musical
privileges and opportunities which their daughters now enjoy America
will speedily become the most musical country in the world.

So much has already been done, but much remains, and I should like to
live a hundred years longer just to watch this development and to
rejoice in its results.



In 1887 I visited Boston for the first time professionally. I had begun
my Wagnerian lecture recitals in New York a year or two before, and they
had spread like wildfire in all directions. The enthusiasm for Wagner,
which had been kindled into a bright flame by my father’s founding of
German opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, had produced a wide-spread
desire for better acquaintance with Wagner’s music and his theories
regarding the music-drama.

I received an invitation from a group of Boston women, including Mrs.
John L. Gardner, Mrs. O. B. Frothingham, Mrs. George Tyson, and Mrs.
Henry Whitman, to give my lecture recitals on the “Nibelungen Trilogy.”

Boston at that time occupied a unique position as the only city in
America which possessed a permanent orchestra, maintained by Major Henry
Lee Higginson, for the cultivation of symphonic music. A small group of
highly educated and socially prominent Bostonians, belonging to the
oldest New England families, made this orchestra almost the focus of
their social life. The weekly concerts were the great events, the
programmes eagerly discussed, and its conductor, Wilhelm Gericke, was
alternately cursed or blessed according to their attitude toward some
novelty which he had just produced.

Among this group I was made heartily welcome. The atmosphere was
intensely local, if not provincial, and as against the searching,
feverish life of a great metropolis like New York, with its many
conflicting interests and racial currents, the tranquillity and purely
American quality of Boston life, as it presented itself to me, was a
complete contrast. I am speaking of Boston of thirty-five years ago and
of conditions that have to a certain extent disappeared, for to-day even
the young descendants of the New Englanders of that era seem to find
their pleasures in different and more restless fashion.

In the group of which I have spoken, Mrs. Gardner was among the most
original and fascinating. She was certainly the leaven in the Boston
lump and sometimes shocked the more staid element by her innovations and
interest in more modern currents in art and literature than had hitherto
rippled its calm Emersonian surface. Boston was at that time perhaps the
best example of that typically American musical culture of which I have
spoken elsewhere, which instead of growing upward from the masses was
carefully introduced and nurtured by an aristocratic and cultivated
community through symphony concerts and lectures on music. Its original
impulse sprang perhaps more from the head than the heart, but it would
not be fair therefore to say that New Englanders approached music only
from the intellectual standpoint. I have seen very emotional outbursts
among Boston audiences, both at my Wagner recitals and years after when
I returned with the Damrosch Opera Company to give the Wagner
music-dramas. While it is possible that they felt heartily ashamed of
these enthusiasms afterward, and exclaimed, “Is this Boston?” the fact
remains that even a Bostonian is human, like other Americans, and needs
only to be encouraged to prove that he too has a heart which can beat
warmly and respond to the emotions kindled by art.

Their capacity for friendship in the finest sense of the word is
wonderful, and I achieved many of my dearest friends at that time. We
have all grown much older since then, with the exception of Mrs.
Gardner, on whom the years leave no imprint and whose enthusiasms for
life and art flame just as brightly to-day as then.

I was certainly very young in those days, and remember, after one of my
lectures, which had gone off with great enthusiasm, walking along
Boylston Street toward my hotel, thinking in my young conceit that I was
evidently a good deal of a personage, when I saw that the street was
filled with crowds of people and the police were making a passage with
difficulty so as to allow an open carriage, drawn by two horses, to pass
through. In it sat a rather stout, smooth-shaven gentleman with a very
shiny high silk hat, and the people were cheering him like mad. “Who is
this?” I asked a bystander. He gave me a contemptuous look and stopped
cheering just long enough to say: “Don’t you know John L. Sullivan when
you see him?” I accepted the rebuke meekly and entered my hotel a much
more modest man than I had left it a few hours before. John L. Sullivan,
“Boston’s greatest citizen,” had just come home from a fight in London,
but I do not know to this day whether he had won or lost.

The Boston orchestra was at that time conducted by Wilhelm Gericke, who
had brought it to a remarkable state of proficiency. I found him to be a
very likable man, a thorough musician, and always gentle and friendly in
his attitude. I used to envy him because, while I had to maintain my
orchestra at that time by my own exertions, he had a great
philanthropist behind him. His orchestra was engaged by the year, played
under no other conductor, and assembled every morning at 9.30, like
clockwork, for rehearsal. Gericke brought the orchestra up to a high
standard of virtuosity. His sense of values was absolute, and under his
training and greatly assisted by Franz Kneisel, his concert master, the
strings soon acquired great unanimity and a ravishing quality of tone.
His readings were always musicianly, although I felt occasionally that
they were too reserved. He had a horror of the exaggeration of the brass
instruments, and perhaps erred on the other side in subduing them too
much; but when he returned, years after, for another five years in
Boston his readings had gained in freedom and elasticity, and the
balance of the different choirs seemed perfectly adjusted. Boston, and
indeed the country, owes him much. He was fortunate in his
opportunities, but he proved himself worthy of them.

Rightly or wrongly, Major Higginson had made it his rule to engage none
but German conductors for his orchestra. He had gained his first
enthusiasm for symphonic music as a young man in Vienna, and had got the
idea firmly in his mind that only Germany could give his orchestra the
leaders which it required. Among the long line of conductors who came
and went, not all, naturally, were of equal worth. A few were distinctly
second-raters, and I remember one whose blustering incompetence and
conceit finally so enraged Major Higginson that, as the gentleman would
not resign when requested because his contract still had another year to
run, Higginson sent him a check for the entire amount and dismissed him.
Curiously enough the impetus which the reputation of having been
conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave was so great that it
landed him in two other American orchestras, one of which he brought to
the very verge of ruin and the other he ruined altogether, so that the
city which had founded it and lavished hundreds of thousands upon it is
now without any symphony orchestra and seems to have lost the courage to
begin again.

But among the conductors of the Boston Orchestra two stand out as among
the best that Europe has sent over. These are Arthur Nikisch and Doctor
Karl Muck. The one died last winter, beloved and mourned by the musical
public of all Europe and of North and South America; the other was sent
from our country back to Germany after the war in deserved disgrace,
after having been interned as prisoner of war at Fort Oglethorpe.

When I first met Arthur Nikisch in 1887 he was conductor at the Leipsig
Opera House. I had gone there to attend an annual meeting and festival
of the Tonkünstler-Verein, an association of which Franz Liszt had
always been the president and which had originally been formed by a
small group of Liszt-Wagner-Berlioz adherents, of whom my father was
one. One of the features of the festival was a stage performance of
Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini,” given in honor of Liszt. The work
fascinated me, and its performance under the young Nikisch delighted me
beyond words. In appearance he already had the same characteristics
which his enemies decried but which among his friends only aroused a
delighted chuckle when he appeared on the platform, and which quickly
changed to a hurricane of enthusiasm after he had demonstrated his
marvellous skill as an interpreter. I refer to the long black lock which
always hung low over his forehead and his still longer white cuffs which
more and more enveloped his little white hands as the performance

Gericke had developed the orchestra into a perfect instrument, and when
Nikisch arrived he played upon it like a virtuoso. I have always
maintained that Nikisch achieved still greater mastery during his years
in America, because until then he had had no such orchestra at his
disposal. The much-vaunted Leipsig Gewandhaus and the Berlin
Philharmonic, which he conducted, suffer from the troubles common to all
co-operative organizations. Their members outstay their period of
usefulness and retain permanent places in the orchestra after they
should give way to younger and better men.

The readings of Nikisch were distinctly personal and therefore, because
they reflected his own nature, so ingratiating that I have often enjoyed
certain of his interpretations although I considered them wrong and
contrary to the intentions of the composer. Nikisch made them convincing
for the moment.

Doctor Muck, who became conductor of the Boston Symphony some years
later, was less personal in his readings. His principal work in Germany
had been the conducting of opera, and occasionally a lack of routine in
symphonic work showed itself in badly combined programmes, but only in
that one respect. As a conductor of the symphonies of Beethoven and
Brahms he was a master, and to me his interpretations of Brahms rank
among the finest that I have heard. It was a tragedy that this man, who
had gained not only the confidence and respect of his patron, Major
Higginson, to a greater degree than any other of the Boston conductors,
who was admired not only in Boston but in every city which the orchestra
visited, and to whom America had given unbounded acclaim, should at the
crucial moment have proved himself a supercilious, arrogant Prussian of
the worst Junker type, ungrateful toward the man to whom he owed his
many successful years in America, and finally even an abject coward and
renegade toward the country to which he owed national allegiance.

The story in its entirety is too unpleasant to be told, but as after
Muck’s return to Germany he saw fit to indulge in the most violent
diatribes against America and its treatment of him, it is justifiable to
tell a little of the truth in these pages.

In order to understand the story properly it is necessary to recall the
excitement which swept through the country when we finally entered the
Great War. Wars arouse prejudice as well as patriotism, and suspicion as
well as faith. One of the curious, almost pathological, results of the
psychosis of war is the spy mania, and this manifested itself in the
years of 1917 and 1918 to a remarkable extent—in America as well as in
Europe. One need only recall the many stories of concrete tennis-courts
which were discovered and vouched for by reputable people as having been
built years before by German army officers, who, disguised as “rich
American financiers” (!) had constructed lavish country places along the
Atlantic seaboard, all of which possessed these remarkable concrete
tennis-courts. These were to support great guns which at the proper
moment were to put the American navy out of existence! There were also
wonderful stories of secret wires discovered in private houses, and of
strange beacon-lights suddenly flaming up at regular intervals along the
coast in order to signal messages to some mysterious German submarine.

It was all like a war novel of Oppenheim, and as some of our ladies
joined the secret-service in an unofficial capacity, they together with
others—who conceived it to be the height of faithlessness to our
country to enjoy a symphony of Beethoven or an opera of Wagner while we
were at war with Germany—had a beautiful time in the happy illusion
that they were doing real war work.

Doctor Muck immediately became a centre of suspicion. He had taken a
cottage at Seal Harbor, Maine, for the summer of 1917, and of course he
was immediately accused of having a wireless outfit and signalling to a
whole fleet of German submarines which were cruising off Mount Desert
Island and whose immediate object was, of course, to capture all the
millionaires of Bar Harbor and hold them captives for huge ransoms.

According to others he had placed a telephone receiver in the cellar of
his house in Boston which skilfully tapped the wire of the telephone of
the lady next door, and she, to her horror, had one morning on lifting
her telephone, in order to call up her butcher, heard his “guttural”
German voice conversing with some mysterious German at the other end
about a shipment of dynamite, which was to be used, of course, to
destroy Faneuil Hall and the birthplace of Henry W. Longfellow in Maine.

There was not a story so wild that it did not gain credence, but it was
not so strange that many of these preposterous rumors should centre
around Doctor Muck. His attitude toward us had become more and more
supercilious. That he should sympathize with his own country was perhaps
natural, but that he should use some tact and reticence in this respect
was equally to be expected. He might have taken example from Fritz
Kreisler who, as an Austrian citizen, served at the beginning of the war
in the Austrian army, but was retired and returned to this country
before we entered the conflict. From then on he acted with such dignity
and tact, giving up all playing in public during that critical period,
that he retained the personal respect and affection of all
right-thinking Americans.

As the war situation became more and more serious, Doctor Muck seemed to
become more and more supercilious. In response to a perfectly natural
impulse, the public demanded that our orchestras begin or end their
concerts with the playing of the national anthem. This had become the
symbol of our patriotism, and as millions of our young men began to
gather in the camps and to be sent abroad in the transports, “The
Star-Spangled Banner” was beginning to awaken in every heart emotions
that were hardly known to our generation before the war. Doctor Muck
refused to play the anthem. Not from Boston nor New York, alas, but from
Providence, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh angry mutterings began to be
heard. These cities insisted that an orchestra which in time of war was
not willing to play our national anthem should not be permitted to play
at all. Doctor Muck’s answer to this, in a newspaper interview, was that
he conducted an artistic institution, that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is
not a work of art, and therefore “only fit to be played by ballroom
orchestras and military bands.”

Up till then I had upheld Doctor Muck in so far as it seemed just as bad
taste for him, as a German, to conduct our national hymn in time of war
with his country as it was for our public to insist that a German should
do so. He could have said: “I am a German; my country is at war with
yours. I am your guest because in 1915 Major Higginson insisted that I
should return to America as he thought that the orchestra could not
exist without me. I am now in an unfortunate position. Let me retire
from conducting here during the war, or at least let your national
anthem be conducted by the concert master.”

But this interview was a flippant evasion of the real point at issue,
and when the reporter of the _New York Tribune_ brought it to me, I
exclaimed that I did not believe Doctor Muck could have said anything so
outrageous, whereupon the reporter told me that his editor had expected
me to say this and had therefore telegraphed to Boston and obtained a
confirmation of the interview. I then expressed myself in very plain
language regarding Doctor Muck’s attitude, but his only answer was a new
interview in which he declared that it was all a mistake, that he was
not a German but a Swiss! This belated claim, which was based on
technicalities and contrary to the facts, was promptly denied by the
Swiss minister in Washington, and then suddenly Doctor Muck proceeded to
conduct “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but in listless fashion, although
half a dozen cities by that time barred their doors to him and the
concerts of the orchestra had to be cancelled.

In the meantime the secret-service men of the government had been
patiently following every rumor and clew regarding Muck’s supposed spy
activities, and while they discovered that his attitude toward us was
absolutely inimical and that he was therefore decidedly _persona non
grata_, there was no foundation of truth in the rumors connecting him
with wires, wireless, beacon-lights, dynamite, or German submarines. The
secret-service men, however, discovered other disagreeable things in
regard to him which had no connection with the war but which made him
liable under the laws of our country. An incriminating package of
letters was shown to him, and on his acknowledgment that he had written
them he was given the choice of internment as a prisoner of war at Fort
Oglethorpe or of being arrested on another charge and brought before the
civil courts for trial. He naturally threw up his hands and accepted the
former as the lesser evil. As he was released after the war on condition
that he return to his own country, I cannot see that he has cause for
anything but gratitude toward this country and its lenient treatment of

The whole affair was a terrible shock to Major Higginson. He was an old
man and the discoveries regarding Doctor Muck, in whom he had placed
such confidence and for whom he had vouched so absolutely, were
unendurable to him. He had expected to continue his support of the
orchestra, and it was generally assumed that he would leave the
organization an endowment sufficient to maintain it after his death.
Instead of this, he announced his determination to withdraw altogether,
and left the decision whether they wished to continue the orchestra with
a group of music lovers whom he had called together. For a time its
future was in great doubt. Thirty of the players were discharged because
of their German nationality, but money was subscribed by various Boston
citizens to rebuild the orchestra, and to-day, under the leadership of
Pierre Monteux, it is fast regaining its old excellence. It will never
again occupy the unique position it held twenty-five years and more ago,
because since then so many other symphony orchestras have been founded
in America on similar lines and with similar generous endowments. But to
Major Higginson will always belong the glory of having blazed the trail.
He set the standard, and America will give his memory loving reverence
and gratitude.



During the winter of 1915 I received a letter from Margaret Anglin, our
distinguished American actress, asking me to compose the incidental
music for two Greek plays which she intended to produce the following
summer at the great open-air Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California. The
plays selected were the “Iphigenia in Aulis” of Euripides and “Medea” of
Sophocles. I was fascinated by the problem involved, as it necessitated
not only the composing of the music but the creation of a form in which
it was to be cast.

We know very little of the music of the ancient Greeks, and if we sought
to imitate that, it would sound so archaic and even unnatural to our
modern ears as to fail in properly supporting the emotions of the drama
for us. While the Greeks had developed the technic of the drama to a
remarkable extent, music as an art was at that time in its infancy,
although its importance was fully recognized by Plato and the great

The problem for me was to write music which should take full advantage
of the modern development of harmony and orchestration, and form an
emotional current on which the drama could float without being in any
way submerged. The treatment of the Greek chorus was another problem for
which I had no precedents. Mendelssohn had written incidental music to
“Antigone,” but this music does not represent Mendelssohn at his best,
as much of it is dry and academic in character.

The Greek choruses usually begin with a recital of some old story of
mythology, with which every Greek in the audience of that era had been
familiar since childhood. Gradually this story is brought into
connection with the situation on the stage and reaches its climax when
the chorus implores the actors to draw their lesson from it. These
choruses I treated in various ways, according to the needs of the
dramatic situation. Some were recited to a soft but expressive
undercurrent of music, others were sung, and still others were a
combination of both. I would have the story of the old Greek legend
recited by the first leader of the chorus. Then the second leader, as he
applied it to the dramatic situation, would burst into song, until, in
the third phase, the entire chorus would join in their impassioned
pleadings or warnings.

In the spring of 1915 I took a little cottage in Setauket, Long Island,
and there within six weeks wrote the entire music for the two plays, the
orchestra parts being copied sheet by sheet as my score was finished. In
June I packed them in my bag and travelled across the continent to meet
Margaret Anglin and take charge of the musical part of the production.

On arriving in San Francisco I found the great World’s Fair already in
full operation. Its Spanish architecture and the luxuriant verdure in
which it was enclosed made it a perfect dream of beauty, but I gave
myself little opportunity to enjoy it, as my real mission was across the
bay at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, where Margaret Anglin and a
company of players were already busily engaged from morning till evening
in rehearsing. They were anxiously awaiting my music in order to make it
fit in properly with the stage arrangements.

The Greek Theatre at the California University is one of the most
remarkable structures of its kind in the world. Built amphitheatrically
against the side of a hill and absolutely on the lines of the old Greek
theatres, its top is fringed by sombre eucalyptus-trees.

A few years before I had seen a performance of the “Bacchante” of
Euripides given by a company of Roman actors at an antique amphitheatre
on the side of a hill overlooking Florence. Much of this performance had
been impressive, but the music was tawdry, and as the play was given
according to old Greek custom in the late afternoon, the cruel sunlight
made the make-up of the actors and the garish colors of their costumes
doubly prosaic. The ancient Greeks had no artificial lighting and were
therefore compelled to give their performances in daylight, although
they sought to temper it so that night would fall at about the end of
the play. Margaret Anglin, with her characteristic genius, perceived
that a much greater glamour and stage illusion could be produced by
giving her performances at night, leaving the audience in darkness and
marking out the stage with great electric lights from above, which could
be heightened or lessened according to the actual needs of the drama.

If the drama in America had been treated as seriously by its cultured
citizens as music has been, Margaret Anglin would perhaps be to-day the
artistic head of an endowed theatre devoted to productions of
Shakespeare, Goethe, Molière, Calderon, Æschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides. These great masters of the stage would form just as important
a part of her repertoire as the symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms make
up an important part of the programmes of the New York Symphony
Orchestra. Margaret Anglin is to-day the greatest tragedienne of the
American stage, and should be acting _Medea_ and _Lady Macbeth_. But
instead of that she has to tour the country, playing “Green Stockings”
and similar piffle, and only indulges her artistic ambitions and ideals
in occasional productions of Greek dramas at her own risk and very much
at her own expense.

I was immensely interested in the rehearsals on the stage of the Greek
Theatre. They began at nine-thirty in the morning and would often
last—with an intermission of an hour or two for lunch—until eight
o’clock at night, but as they were held outdoors in the glorious fresh
air of California there was but little fatigue, and all concerned gave
themselves up enthusiastically to Miss Anglin’s direction and
picturesque conception.

She had hired a bungalow near the theatre and a Japanese butler-cook.
This little Jap would always appear at one o’clock with a basket filled
with the most delicious luncheon dishes, artistically decorated in real
Japanese style by his own deft fingers. He seemed to have a great
penchant for the stage, asserted that he had acted _Hamlet_ in Japan,
and would sit for hours after luncheon watching the rehearsal, with his
little inscrutable eyes fixed on the stage. I have often wondered
whether on his return to Japan he gave performances of the Greek plays
to his own compatriots and whether any great changes or adaptations were
necessary to make them comprehensible to his audiences.

While the general plan of the action and grouping had been carefully
worked out by Miss Anglin, she had an open mind and eye, and would often
change the arrangement completely if an improvement could be effected
thereby. This meant incessant repetitions, during which her patience and
cheerful courtesy never failed her.

A grand piano had been rolled into a corner of the stage, and I was so
fascinated in watching the rehearsals and the gradual evolution of the
stage pictures under her skilful hands, that I insisted on always
playing the incidental music myself, even though some of the scenes were
repeated dozens of times.

Miss Anglin had enlisted the services of fourteen of California
University’s loveliest and most talented coeds to form her Greek chorus.
Beauty seems to flourish naturally on the Pacific coast, and some of
these young ladies were glorious specimens of a truly Greek and
statuesque charm. The recitation of one of the choruses, which was to be
spoken in a kind of elastic rhythm to the music of the orchestra, was
intrusted to one of these Dianas of Berkeley, and as she had no
conception of this, to her, novel combination, Miss Anglin asked me to
give her a separate rehearsal after lunch. I sat down at the piano and
recited the chorus to her while I played the accompanying music. She
stood by my side listening intently and looking like a statue of Diana
of Ephesus. Then, bending her head with stately dignity, she said: “I
get ya!” Alas! the illusion was gone, and her voice brought me back
suddenly from my dream of 400 B. C. to California of 1915. She had not
“got me,” however, and I was finally compelled to give this chorus to
another young lady, less statuesque in form but more clever in achieving
plastic unity between speech and music.

But my real troubles began when I tried to collect an orchestra of fifty
for the performances. At that time there were not many good players in
San Francisco, and even those few were permanently engaged in the big
World’s Fair orchestra. My first rehearsal was truly pathetic—I had
been so spoiled by the many years of association with my lovely New York
Symphony Orchestra. But where there is a will there is a way, and by
stealing a few men from the local theatres and borrowing a few more from
the exposition orchestras, we were enabled to get a fairly good body of
men assembled.

The success of Miss Anglin’s productions was truly remarkable. There
were ten thousand people at each performance, and “Iphigenia in Aulis”
had to be repeated twice. In this work the camp of _Agamemnon_ and its
atmosphere of war were graphically illustrated, and five hundred
Berkeley students, picturesquely attired and well trained, gave a very
vivid picture of the soldier’s camp, especially at the end of the play
when the Oracle has announced that the wind has changed, and these
hundreds of soldiers rushed across the stage in a tumult of joy to board
their ships and sail for Troy.

The “Electra,” for which William Furst had written music for Miss Anglin
years before, was also performed. Eventually I also composed music for
this play, and all three of the dramas were performed in New York a few
years later at the request of Mr. Flagler, on the stage of Carnegie
Hall, which had been skilfully converted for the occasion into a Greek

We all marvelled how vividly modern these plays, written more than two
thousand years ago, seemed as given under the artistic direction of
Margaret Anglin. _Electra_, waiting outside the walls of the palace for
the sound that shall announce to her the death of _Ægisthus_ and
_Clytemnestra_; _Medea_, having entered the palace to kill her own and
_Jason’s_ children in order to punish him for his marriage to the young
Princess, while the chorus, shaking the iron grill of the doors, implore
_Medea_ not to slay her children; _Iphigenia_, youngest daughter of
_Agamemnon_, descending alone the great flight of steps to suffer death
in the sacred grove of the goddess Artemis, that her wrath may be
appeased and favorable winds may send the armies of _Agamemnon_ to
Troy—all these are unforgettable scenes, and I was overjoyed to feel
that the music which I had written was not inappropriate, but formed a
good background for these crucial moments.


                             DEAD COMPOSERS

I have a large library of musical works. It was begun by my father in
1857, and contains many scores of the composers of that period, sent to
him for first performance in Germany. He added to it considerably during
his thirteen years in America as founder and conductor of the Symphony
and Oratorio Societies, and I have still further enlarged it since I
became conductor of these two organizations. My library now virtually
represents the entire symphonic development up to the present time, and
as I look through my catalogue I am amazed at the number of dead
composers which it contains. By this I do not mean those who have passed
away, but those who were once celebrated, were hailed as great, but
whose works are now forgotten and only repose undisturbed on dusty
shelves like mine, for no efforts or housewife’s art will prevent dust
from seeping into the shelves of a New York City library!

To mention a few of these “dead” composers alphabetically: Who now plays
the overtures of Auber’s “La Muette de Portici” and “Fra Diavolo”? Yet
they figured frequently in my popular programmes thirty years ago, and
both operas deserve more than a passing recognition. The first was a
stroke of genius in which the commonplace Auber rose to real heights.
The heroine is a dumb girl, a prima donna without a voice, but very
dramatically portrayed in the orchestra, and the atmosphere of a people
fighting for freedom pervades the entire story. “Fra Diavolo” is a
delightful comic opera. The only trouble is that the music is too good
for the abjectly dull audiences that now frequent our theatres and want
to see a “musical show.” Its plot is delightfully consistent, which is
another reason for looking on it with disfavor to-day; but I have always
regretted the Nemesis which overcomes _Fra Diavolo_ in the last act.
This delightful robber has by that time so endeared himself to us that
he should be allowed at the end to escape, in order that the public may
live in the hope of further pranks and misdeeds from him.

Thirty years ago I gave the first performance in America of a “Symphony
in D Minor,” by Anton Bruckner. He was a man with the brains of a
peasant but the soul of a real musician, and with a marvellous gift for
improvisation, although he was, intellectually, incapable of developing
and balancing his themes properly. A noisy party in Vienna wished, at
the time, to acclaim this disciple of Wagner as a genius, to counteract
the constantly growing admiration for Brahms, and more recently such
eminent conductors as Mahler have tried to popularize Bruckner’s
symphonies, but they have never gained a permanent hold on our public.
Several years after my performance of his “Symphony in D,” I was in
Berlin, and Siegfried Ochs, the conductor of the famous Philharmonic
Choir, brought a little bald-headed man of over seventy years of age to
my table at the Kaiserhof. On my being introduced to him, he suddenly
grabbed my hand, and saying, “You are the Mr. Damrosch who has given my
symphony in America!” he proceeded, to my great embarrassment, to cover
my hand with kisses.

Vienna is full of stories of his childlike gentleness and modesty. Hans
Richter once invited him to conduct one of his own symphonies with the
famous orchestra of the Vienna Society of Friends of Music. At the
rehearsal he stood on the conductor’s platform, stick in his hand, with
a beatific smile on his face. The orchestra were all ready to begin, but
he would not lift his stick to give the signal. Finally Rosé, the
concert master, said to him: “We are quite ready. Begin, Herr Bruckner.”
“Oh, no,” he answered. “After you, gentlemen!”

At that time he was also commanded to appear before the old Emperor
Franz Joseph to receive a decoration. After he had been decorated, the
Emperor turned to him and said very kindly: “Herr Bruckner, is there
anything more I can do for you?” Bruckner answered in a trembling voice:
“Won’t you please speak to Mr. Hanslick (the famous musical critic of
Vienna) that he should not write such nasty criticisms about my

In my father’s time the overture to Cherubini’s “Anacreon” had a
frequent and honored place on his programmes. A modern audience would
vote it too dry and old-fashioned.

The music of Niels W. Gade was quite a favorite with our grandfathers
and grandmothers, but he is unendurable to-day.

A new orchestral composition of Carl Goldmark was eagerly waited for,
forty years ago, and there was great rivalry between my father and
Theodore Thomas as to which should have the privilege of performing it
first. People used to revel in his “exotic and luxuriant orchestration,”
but to-day his colors have faded before the greater glories of Strauss
and Debussy and Ravel, and only his “Rustic Symphony” occasionally
figures on our programmes.

During the second year of the German opera at the Metropolitan,
Goldmark’s “Queen of Sheba” made a success which equalled that of the
Wagner operas. Solomon’s temple, painted in gold, the Jewish rituals,
the Oriental harmonies, and the naïve surprise of the public on seeing
biblical characters upon a modern operatic stage, all combined to make
the work a sensational success. To-day it has disappeared completely
from the repertoire of European and American opera-houses.

The fate of Franz Liszt as a composer is still more tragic because it is
partly undeserved. He created the form of the symphonic poem, but those
who succeeded him have developed it so much farther as to leave his
works somewhat submerged. I still have great admiration for his “Faust”
Symphony, but neither I nor others of my colleagues who share this
admiration have been able to make this work really popular with the
general public. His “Dante” Symphony, “Festklänge,” and “Orpheus”
receive still fewer public performances, and his “Ce qu’on entend sur
les montagnes” has never been performed here to my knowledge. But “Les
Préludes” and the two Piano Concertos, on the contrary, are still played
_ad nauseam_.

The symphonies of Gustav Mahler have never received genuine recognition
here, although he was a very interesting apparition in the musical
field. He was a profound musician and one of the best conductors of
Europe, and it is possible that, in the latter capacity, he occupied
himself so intensely and constantly in analyzing and interpreting the
works of the great masters that he lost the power to develop himself as
composer on original lines. All his life he composed, but his moments of
real beauty are too rare, and the listener has to wade through pages of
dreary emptiness which no artificial connection with philosophic ideas
can fill with real importance. The feverish restlessness characteristic
of the man reflects itself in his music, which is fragmentary in
character and lacks continuity of thought and development. He could
write cleverly in the style of Haydn or Berlioz or Wagner, and without
forgetting Beethoven, but he was never able to write in the style of

Of all the greater composers of the last hundred years no one has been
killed oftener than Mendelssohn, yet he always seems to come back again
with a new renaissance. His music for “Athalie,” his “Reformation”
Symphony, his overtures to “Melusine” and “Ruy Blas” are dead as a
door-nail, but his Violin Concerto is still the most perfect example of
its kind, his “Midsummer Night’s Dream” the best incidental music ever
conceived for a Shakespearean play, his “Elijah” the most dramatic
oratorio ever written, and the Scotch and Italian Symphonies still
possess a delightful and eternal charm.

The works of Meyerbeer, on the contrary, have deservedly disappeared
even from our popular programmes. Those empty “Torchlight Dances” and
the vulgar ballet music from “Le Prophète”! I confess, though, that I
still have a sneaking fondness for the “Coronation March,” perhaps
because I had to conduct it so many times at the Metropolitan, when I
first began conducting the operas there. That the same man who penned
the glorious fourth act of the “Huguenots” could have been satisfied
with the empty drivel which preponderates during the rest of that opera,
is one of the eternal mysteries.

About thirty years ago Moritz Moszkowski was one of the most popular
composers of the day, especially for the piano, but modern ears have but
little use for his delicate, though evanescent, charm, and his
orchestral suites are but rarely heard to-day. He has lived in Paris for
many years, and during the war he suffered greatly. Advancing years and
a long illness had left him very weak, and it seemed almost as if the
musical world in which he had been so popular a figure had forgotten him

But last winter, Ernest Schelling, one of our best American pianists,
and an old friend of Moszkowski’s, conceived the happy idea of giving a
testimonial concert in his honor, which should be thoroughly original in
character. He, together with his distinguished colleague, Harold Bauer,
accordingly enlisted the co-operation of twelve other celebrated
pianists who were in America during the winter. This list, a truly
remarkable one, included Elly Ney, Ignaz Friedman, Ossip Gabrilowitsch,
Rudolph Ganz, Leopold Godowsky, Percy Grainger, Ernest Hutcheson,
Alexander Lambert, Josef Lhevinne, Yolanda Mero, Germaine Schnitzer, and
Sigismond Stojowski.

Mr. Flagler offered the services of our orchestra, but as the stage was
to be completely filled with fourteen grand pianos, there was no room
for an orchestra, and I had to content myself with the possibility of
being taken on as a piano mover, as I longed to take part in the affair
in any capacity. The morning before the concert, however, I received a
hurried S. O. S. telephone call from Ernest Schelling. He said: “Please
come down to Steinway’s immediately and help us out. The fourteen
pianists are all here for rehearsal. We have arranged for several
compositions to be played by all of us, but alas, each one has his own
individual interpretation, and nothing seems to make us play together.
We need a conductor!”

When I arrived at the rehearsal hall the confusion was indeed
indescribable, and it took some time to bring order out of chaos. Here
were fourteen of the world’s greatest pianists, veritable prima donnas
of the piano, but several had never learned to adapt themselves to play
together for a common musical purpose, and when I rapped on my stand for
silence in order to begin the “Spanish Dances” of Moszkowski, at least
five or six continued their infernal improvising, playing of scales, and
pianistic fireworks. By using heroic measures I gradually produced a
semblance of order, and gave the signal for the beginning of the music.
The effect was extraordinary! Several of these pianists had never
followed a conductor’s beat, and after the first ten bars, two of them
rushed over to me, the one violently exclaiming that the tempo was too
fast, and the other insisting with equal vehemence that it was too slow.
Finally I obtained silence, and told my pianistic orchestra that they
were, undoubtedly, the fourteen greatest pianists in the world, and that
the interpretation of each one of them was undoubtedly equally the
greatest in the world, but as they represented fourteen different grades
and shades of interpretation, I intended to take the matter into my own
hands and they would just have to follow my beat whether they liked my
tempo or not. This was greeted with a roar of approval, and we now
settled down to the work of rehearsing as solemnly as if these prima
donnas of the ivories were orchestral musicians and routined members of
the New York Musical Union. Order followed anarchy, and the results
achieved were not without higher artistic interest, especially as I
detailed such accomplished and routined musicians as Harold Bauer,
Ernest Schelling, and Ossip Gabrilowitsch to use their own discretion in
“orchestrating” the “Dances.” Gabrilowitsch, for instance, reserved
himself for the entrance of the “brasses”; Bauer invested some of the
more delicate portions with agile runs of flutes and clarinets, while
Schelling imitated the kettledrums and cymbals with thrilling effect.

Carnegie Hall was jammed and the audience in a gale of happiness at the
highly original proceedings. The stage was so crowded with the fourteen
huge pianos that, after threading my way through them to introduce Mme.
Alma Gluck, who was to auction off one of the programmes, I said that
what this concert evidently needed most was not a conductor but a
traffic policeman.

Perhaps the most artistic feature of the programme was the performance
of Schumann’s “Carnival Scenes,” in which each little movement
represents a separate carnival figure. The fourteen pianists drew lots
as to which was to play which. The introduction was played by all, but
after that, in quick kaleidoscopic succession, the different carnival
figures fairly danced from the stage into the audience, as a pianist on
one side of the stage would begin, followed by one from the other side,
and so on. It was a most remarkable opportunity to compare the
interpretative characteristics of the different pianists.

The receipts were considerably swelled by the auctioning of programmes
and autographed photographs of Moszkowski, and fifteen thousand dollars
was the result of an entertainment truly unique in the history of music.

The most popular modern symphonic composer in the ’70’s was Joachim
Raff. He was a young Swiss who, without a cent in his pocket, had walked
many miles from his little village in order to hear Liszt play at a
concert in Zurich. Liszt became interested in his undoubted talent, and
took him with him to Weimar as musical secretary. Raff, von Bülow, and
my father became great friends. But while every one expected that Raff
would continue as a true disciple of Liszt’s, and write in the
revolutionary style of his master, he gradually turned from him and
leaned more and more on classic models, although in several of his
symphonies he retained the Lisztian idea of programme music. As he grew
older his conservatism became more and more marked. He had great
facility and produced works in every known form of music, and his vanity
gradually made him believe that his string quartets were equal to
Mozart’s, his symphonies to Beethoven’s, and his oratorios to Handel’s
and Mendelssohn’s. His fecundity was astonishing, but his pen too fluent
for real musical depth. There was hardly a winter, however, that
Theodore Thomas or my father did not perform “Im Walde,” or the very
programmatic “Lenore” Symphony. This work, in which the last movement
follows closely and dramatically Burger’s famous ballad, had an enormous
popularity, and is occasionally performed by us to-day, but in general
the name of Raff means but little to modern concertgoers.

But perhaps the greatest tragedy of all was Anton Rubinstein, who
became, after Liszt, the world’s greatest piano virtuoso. The world
fêted him, spoiled him, and sated him with adulation. It all brought him
no satisfaction. He was consumed with the ambition to be considered a
great composer, and wrote incessantly, never criticising what he wrote.
His “Ocean” Symphony had a tremendous popularity in New York fifty years
ago, but to-day no one would listen to it. His “D Minor Concerto” has
been played, _ad nauseam_, by every pianist, but to-day it is threadbare
and frayed at the edges. Only the supreme skill of a Josef Hofmann can
make his “G Major Concerto” endurable and cloak its musical emptiness.
He wrote opera after opera in a feverish desire to eclipse Wagner, whom
he hated, and whose popularity he envied, and after “Parsifal” had been
proclaimed at Bayreuth as a “Sacred Festival Play,” he immediately
proceeded to write an opera on the life of Christ, which is so dull and
unconvincing that it has hardly had a performance anywhere.

His personal popularity was so great that Pollini, the astute manager of
the Hamburg Opera, occasionally used to put on one of his operas on
condition that he himself would come to Hamburg to conduct the opening
performance. His presence would insure a crowded house.

At the last rehearsal of one of these operas Rubinstein was so well
pleased with the work of the orchestra that he turned to them and said:
“Gentlemen, if my opera is a success you must all come to my hotel after
the performance for a champagne supper.” Unfortunately, the opera was a
decided frost and the audience so undemonstrative that Rubinstein, in
absolute disgust, laid down the stick after the second act, and, bidding
the local conductor finish the opera, returned dejectedly to his hotel
and went to bed. At eleven o’clock there was a knock at his door. “Who
is it?” he shouted in great irritation. “It is I, Herr Rubinstein, the
double-bass player from the opera orchestra.” “What do you want?” “I
have come for the champagne supper.” “What nonsense!” raged Rubinstein.
“The opera was a ghastly failure.” “Well, Herr Rubinstein,” answered the
thirsty and undaunted double-bass player, “_I_ liked it!”

The disappearance of Schumann’s symphonies from concert programmes is
due to the fact that he was never at ease in writing for the orchestra.
His instrumentation is so thick and turgid as to be the despair of
conductors. So much of the music is exquisite, but it is like a precious
jewel imbedded in a foreign substance which conductors try in vain to
remove by changing the dynamics of this or that instrument, or by
leaving out an unnecessary doubling up of certain harmonies. All these
devices, however, can do but little. More heroic measures are necessary,
and I was much interested last summer when Sir Edward Elgar asked me
what I would think of his deliberately reorchestrating an entire
symphony of Schumann’s. I heartily applauded such an idea and begged him
to carry it out speedily as there is perhaps no one living to-day who
better understands the colors of the orchestra and knows how to produce
the most subtle shades in the intermingling of the different
instruments. In the meantime Frederick Stock, the noted conductor of the
Chicago Orchestra, has taken the bull by the horns and has written a new
orchestration of Schumann’s “Rhenish Symphony” which I hope to produce
this winter.

Are Sousa’s marches played nowadays? They should be. They are better
than the military marches of Europe of to-day, and while one cannot put
them into the category of higher musical efforts they are the only
American compositions of musical worth that have triumphantly blazed
their way all over the world.

Richard Strauss, who twenty-five years ago was the most interesting star
in the musical firmament, has lived long enough to have outlived a part
of his popularity. He never originated a musical form, but accepted the
symphonic poem of Liszt and the music-drama of Wagner as models. His
workmanship is infinitely greater than Liszt’s, his counterpoint
stupendous in its boldness, and in his treatment of the orchestra he
sometimes transcends even Wagner in the originality of his orchestral
combinations. But his compositions lack the ideality of either of these
masters, and because of this and in spite of his marvellous
paraphernalia, his works seem to carry within them the seeds of their
own decay.

The gods endowed this man at his birth perhaps more richly than any
other musician of our time, but something within him has made him
relinquish the greatest of their gifts and has turned him to less pure
ideals. In the “Sinfonia Domestica” the daily life of husband, wife, and
baby are characterized by an orchestra of one hundred and ten players
with such noisy fury and realistic prose as to give one an altogether
distorted insight into what is supposedly a page from the composer’s
diary. But the music descriptive of the composer who, after these
dreadful domestic squabbles, retires to his workroom, lights his lamp,
and begins to communicate with his muse, is so beautiful as to fill us
with a deep regret that one so winged for flight in the ether should be
so content to walk on the earth.

The instrumental devices, depicting _Don Quixote’s_ adventure with the
sheep and his fight with the windmill, which aroused such astonishment
and admiration when they were first heard, have already lost their
effect and are listened to to-day with hardly a smile. The final scene,
however, depicting the dying of _Don Quixote_, is so beautiful and
tragic in its expression as to bring tears to the listener. The
“Heldenleben” is to me a work of noisy bombastic emptiness from
beginning to end, and one might call it typical of certain German
currents of to-day. It would, however, be manifestly unfair to call it
typically German, as a race that has produced Bach, Mozart, Beethoven,
and Wagner will surely find other men to continue their glorious

A composer’s fame is not affirmed by professional musicians but by the
general public whose judgment in the end is infallible. A great
masterwork that is not destroyed will always eventually be recognized as
such whether, like the “Venus de Milo,” it has lain hidden for centuries
beneath the earth or, like the “Matthew Passion” of Bach, equally hidden
in the dusty shelves of the Royal Library of Berlin, to be rediscovered
by Mendelssohn and pronounced the greatest religious choral work ever

The two works of Strauss which have retained their popularity with the
public are undoubtedly his best, as their requirements do not enlist
such qualities as he does not possess or has not sought to develop. In
“Till Eulenspiegel” Strauss’s talent for mordant realism finds full
expression. The wild pranks of _Eulenspiegel_ follow each other in mad,
cynical humor, and, in the limited form of programme music, the work is

His “Salome” is as perfect a union with Oscar Wilde’s marvellous play as
the “Pélléas” and “Mélisande” of Maeterlinck and Debussy. In both the
composers have so steeped themselves in the spirit of the poem as to
enhance its beauty. But with all my admiration for “Salome” I have never
been able to sit through the final scene without a feeling of disgust,
which sometimes mounted even to physical nausea. When _Salome_ sings her
horrible love music to the head of _John the Baptist_ it has always
seemed to me a parody on the glorious finale of “Tristan and Isolde.”

I have spoken in another chapter of Tschaikowsky’s visit to America in
1891 as a guest of the Symphony Society. For twenty-five years his
popularity was enormous and the mere announcement of his “Symphonie
Pathétique” was sufficient to draw a crowded house. His symphonies
appeared more often on our concert programmes than those of any other
composer. They have a rhythmic and elemental strength which appealed
even to the unmusical, but to-day a distinct lessening of this
popularity is noticeable. There is a lack of real symphonic development
of his themes, and certain crudities of workmanship stand out more
clearly as the works have become better known. Young conductors, anxious
for ready and cheap applause, still choose one of his symphonies for
their début, and the melodic charm of his lighter music, if not heard
too often, will retain its place in the affection of our public for some
time longer.

And now we come to the greatest genius of the nineteenth
century—Richard Wagner. “What!” exclaims my reader. “Do you consider
him dead?” God forbid! The wings of his genius are still soaring aloft
in the ether, but there is no doubt that the attitude of the world of
to-day toward his music is absolutely different from that of fifty or
sixty years ago when he first electrified or infuriated a public, amazed
at his daring innovations. The inevitable has happened—Wagner has
become a “classic.”

I was a boy of fifteen when I heard the first performance of “Lohengrin”
at the old Academy of Music. The opera was sung in Italian with Italo
Campanini as _Lohengrin_, Valeria as _Elsa_, and our own Anne Louise
Cary as _Ortrude_. The conductor was old Luigi Arditi. I sat in the
front row in the family circle, and was so excited by the drama and the
music that at the end of the double male chorus—which accompanies the
approach of _Lohengrin_ in the boat drawn by the swan as the God-sent
deliverer of _Elsa_—the tears rushed down my cheeks. But they were
happy tears and a natural relief from the tension which the music had
created in me.

Each succeeding opera of Wagner’s was a similar revelation. I pored over
the scores of the “Nibelungen Trilogy” during every hour left me from
school work and piano practice. In fact, I often stole time from the
latter and would gladly have given up my entire school if my parents had
not very properly kept me where I belonged. Later on my founding of the
Damrosch Opera Company for the sole purpose of producing Wagner operas
seemed an inner necessity, and I was driven to it by a force stronger
than myself. For years a Wagner programme, whether it was at a symphony
concert in New York, or in Oklahoma on a Western tour, or at the Willow
Grove summer concerts, drew the largest audiences, and the same
orchestral excerpts were repeated by me and other conductors year after
year and received by our public with excited enthusiasm. To-day the
amazement which his music called forth is no longer apparent. He is
admired and loved, but the nerves of the younger generation are not
thrilled by his harmonies as ours were. His works repose upon our
shelves bound in morocco and gold and occupy places of honor, but, alas,
on several of them the dust is beginning to gather and many of the young
people of to-day find “Lohengrin” monotonous, and vote unanimously that
_Tannhäuser’s_ recital of his pilgrimage to Rome is too long.

Time and continued occupation with Wagner’s music may have made me more
critical and analytical, and I am no longer in complete and enthusiastic
accord with some of his theories regarding the music-drama. But much of
his music still sweeps me off my feet, and his “Meistersinger”—which is
so happy and perfect a compromise between the opera and the
music-drama—is to me still the greatest musical work of our times.

I have spoken above of the finality of the judgment of the public
regarding the ultimate vitality of an art work. Conductors have had
their personal convictions and have tried to force them upon our
audiences, but unless these convictions were based on actual worth the
public has in the end consciously or unconsciously rejected them.
Sometimes unworthy composers have had momentary popularity, but they
were born but to dance in the sun for one day and then to die.

My orchestral parts of the symphonies of Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms
are old and worn by many rehearsals and performances, and some of them
have been patched up and pasted together by my librarian so many times
that they have had to be replaced by new ones twice over. I have
performed them for nearly forty years, and the grandchildren of my
audiences of 1885 are now listening to them with equal happiness. A few
years ago I discovered a lovely symphony by Mozart, which had never been
played in New York, and I was as proud of this as if it had been the
fourth dimension.

The works of these masters are lifted above the fashion of the moment,
and their creators smile upon us serenely and eternally from the heavens
in which they dwell as gods among the gods.




These reminiscences were begun in New York in April, 1922, and finished
the following August in Bar Harbor, Maine. My friends had urged me for
some time to write down my experiences because they thought that the
many and varied events in a long musical life would prove interesting to
American musicians and readers generally.

I do not know. On re-reading the foregoing pages in the proof-sheets I
feel that many happenings which seemed of great importance to me may
prove but dull reading to others. But at least I have tried to tell a
truthful tale and to give an honest account of my aspirations and

I have climbed a few hills, but only to see the mountains beyond rising
higher and higher, the path upward often indiscernible through the mists
surrounding the peaks.

I love the people among whom my father settled because he firmly
believed that in America his children would have a greater opportunity
for development than in old Europe.

The musical field in America is certainly wonderful in its
possibilities, and all my life I have reached out with both hands and
have worked incessantly and enthusiastically in my calling. In part at
least I have tried to repay what I owe to my compatriots for their
confidence and help. But the power of the individual is comparatively
small, and while our musicians have already accomplished miracles within
the short period that music has played a part in our civilization, so
much yet remains to be done that I long for at least one hundred more
years of life, partly to continue my work but still more to satisfy my
eager curiosity as to the musical future of our people.

If this book serves to encourage my younger colleagues in their efforts
to increase the love and appreciation of music in our country, it has
not been written in vain.


                       _ff._: and following pages

Abbey, Henry, 104, 106 _ff._, 113, 116, 121 _ff._, 129 _ff._, _et passim_
Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau, 51 _ff._, 72, 113, 116, 121, 130, 133, 182
Abbott, Lawrence, 31
Abt, Franz, 75
Academy of Music, 52, 116, 118, 120
Accademia Santa Cecilia, 295 _ff._
Achenbach, Andreas, 142
“Acis and Galatea” (Handel), 178
Adamowski, Tim and Joe, 149
Æolian Hall, 219
Æschylus, 346
Allan, Mr., 295
Allen, General, 41
Allen, Sir Hugh, 319
Alvary, Frau, 137
Alvary, Max, 63, 109 _ff._, 112, 130, 142 _ff._, 172, 211
Amato, 152
American Academy in Rome, 302 _ff._
“American Friends of Musicians in France,” 221 _ff._, 239, 244
American women and music, 323 _ff._
Andersen, “Fairy Tales,” 5
Anderson, Mary, 51
Anglin, Margaret, 19, 344 _ff._
“Arabian Nights,” 5
Architecture, 285
Arditi, Luigi, 365
Arion Society, 9, 12, 25, 27
Arnold, Matthew, 90
Arnold, Richard, 208 _ff._
Auber, 351
Auer, 2
Augustus Cæsar, 296
Austro-Prussian War, 1866, 1

B——, Madame, 87 _ff._
Bach, 23, 57, 75, 152, 169, 171, 181, 262, 363
Backhaus, Wilhelm, 217
Ballay, Captain, 235
Banda Communale di Roma, 297 _ff._
Bandmaster’s School, 251 _ff._, 311 _ff._
Bandsmen in American army, 233 _ff._, 247 _ff._
Barrère, George, 46, 194 _ff._
Baton, Rhene, 228
Bauer, Harold, 356 _ff._
Bayreuth, 143, _et passim_
Beale, Walker Blaine, 18 _ff._
Beethoven, 9, 33, 40, 75 _ff._, 81, 83 _ff._, 86, 88, 97, 99, 120, 148,
  153, 155, 157, 164, 190, 196, 216 _ff._, 259 _ff._, 262, 278 _ff._, 282,
  292, 298, 324 _ff._, 338, 340, 346, 366, _et passim_
Belcher, Zach, 35
Benedetti, 7, 41
Berlioz, Hector, 23, 27, 31 _ff._, 34, 43, 164, 180, 278, 292, 337
Berthold, Barron, 115
Bible, 5
Bigelow, Doctor Sturgis, 120
Bismarck, 2, 41, 140
Bispham, David, 19, 115, 129, 132, 159 _ff._
Blaine, Emmons, 20 _ff._, 101
Blaine, Harriet, 91
Blaine, James G., 90 _ff._, 95 _ff._, 100 _ff._
Blaine, Mrs. James G., 90 _ff._, 95 _ff._, 101
Blaine, Margaret (later Mrs. Walter Damrosch), 90 _ff._, 97, 100 _ff._,
  103, 118, 121, 129, 291 _ff._
Blaine, Walker, 103
Blanc, M., 293 _ff._
Bliss, Mr. and Mrs. Robert, 241
Boccaccio, 304 _ff._
Boeckelman, 11
Boieldieu, 60
Boito, 144
Bonnet, M., 311
Bonsal, Stephen, 96
Bordeaux concert, 1920, 284 _ff._
Boston musical affairs, 333 _ff._
Boston Symphony Orchestra, 22, 123, 128, 150, 186, 207, 210 _ff._, 236,
  268, 330, 333 _ff._, _et passim_
Boulanger, Mlle. Lili, 258
Boulanger, Mlle. Nadia, 156, 238, 258 _ff._, 279
Bowing, 320
Boyd, Colonel, 264
Brahms, 23, 25 _ff._, 47, 79 _ff._, 86 _ff._, 183, 184, 217, 259, 319, 324
  _ff._, 338, 346, 352, 366
Brandt, Marianne, 53, 60, 65, 73, 140 _ff._, 172
Brema, Marie, 109, 111 _ff._
Brisbane, Arthur, 96
British music, 319 _ff._
Bronsart, Hans von, 7
Brown (coachman), 119
Bruch, 144
Bruckner, Anton, 352 _ff._
Bruneau, Albert, 311 _ff._
Brussels concert, 1920, 314 _ff._
Bryce, Viscount, 321
Bülow, Hans von, 2 _ff._, 6 _ff._, 39, 54, 74 _ff._, 157, 216, 300, 359,
  _et passim_
Bundy, General Omar, 246 _ff._, 249
Burger, 359
Burns, Robert, 94

Calderon, 37, 346
“Caligula Seidenschwanz,” 84 _ff._
Callender, Miss Mary R., 106, 215
Callender, May, 85
Calvé, Madame, 122, 162
Cambridge University, 144 _ff._
Campanari, 306 _ff._
Campanini, Italo, 121, 364
Caplet, André, 255
Carnegie, Andrew, 90 _ff._, 113, 143
Carnegie Hall, 94 _ff._, 143, 179, 183, 219, 349, 358
Carnegie, Louise, 90
Carreno, Madame Teresa, 28, 167
Carter, Ernest, 240, 242
Cary, Anne Louise, 364
Casadesus, Francis, 250, 254 _ff._, 264, 310 _ff._
Casadesus, Henri, 156, 221 _ff._, 238, 240, 311
Casella, 301
Chamber-music in New York, 331 _ff._
Château-Thierry, 231
Chaumont, Band school at, 251 _ff._, 311 _ff._
Chausson, 260
Cherubini, 353
Chicago Orchestra, 204, 211
Chicago, “Tannhäuser” in, 57 _ff._
Chickering Piano Company, 74
Children and music, 326 _ff._
Chopin, 166
Christmas celebrations, 17 _ff._
“Christus” (Liszt), 49 _ff._
Clemenceau, M., 147, 224
Coates, Albert, 319
Collins, Lieutenant-Colonel, 245, 249, 264
Cologne Music Festival, 86 _ff._
Columbia Theatre, Chicago, 58 _ff._
Coman, Miss Wynne, 198 _ff._
Conductors and conducting, 45 _ff._, 64 _ff._, _et passim_
Conried, Heinrich, 173 _ff._
Conservatoire Orchestra, party, 282
Converse College for Women, 192
Cook (Thomas) and Sons, 276 _ff._, 315
Cooke, 19
Coolidge, Mrs. Frederick S., 331
Coppinger, Mrs., 100, 103
Cornelius, Peter, 43, 66, 184
Cortada, 32
Cortot, Alfred, 155, 222, 231, 235, 238, 311
Cowdin, Mr. and Mrs. John E., 147
Cowen, 23
Cravath, Paul, 238 _ff._
Croix Rouge Française, 234
“Cyrano” (Damrosch opera), 150 _ff._

d’Agoult, Countess, 164
d’Albert, Eugene, 40, 187
Damrosch, Alice (later Mrs. Pennington), 19, 238, 265, 267 _ff._, 270
Damrosch, Anita, 270
Damrosch, Clara (Mrs. Mannes), 214
Damrosch-Ellis Opera Company, 123
Damrosch, Frank, 1 _ff._, 10, 58, 102, 179, 182 _ff._, 217, 254, 327 _ff._
Damrosch, Gretchen, (later Mrs. Thomas Finletter) 154, 285
Damrosch, Hans, 1
Damrosch, Doctor Leopold (father of author), 2, 5 _ff._, 10 _ff._, 22
  _ff._, 36, 52 _ff._, 74, 79, 86, 90, 97, 140 _ff._, 149, 169 _ff._, 351,
  _et passim_
Damrosch, Mrs. Leopold (mother of author), 1
Damrosch Opera Company, 16, 67, 69, 104 _ff._, 129, 134, 205, 276, 334,
  365, _et passim_
Damrosch, Mrs. Walter (Margaret Blaine), 90 _ff._, 97, 100 _ff._, 103,
  118, 121, 129, 291 _ff._
Dana, Charles A., 14
David Mannes Music School, 214
Davis, Ambassador, 321
Dawes, General Charles, 243, 262
Debussy, 238, 260, 353, 363
Defoe, “Robinson Crusoe,” 10
de Forest, Miss Caroline, 85, 106, 215
Deis, Karl, 191
de Reszke, Edouard, 129 _ff._, 149
de Reszke, Jean, 129 _ff._, 149, 159, 292 _ff._
de Reszke, Madame Jean, 292 _ff._
de Vere, Madame, 178
Dewey, Admiral, 179 _ff._
di Lasso, Orlando, 184
d’Indy, Vincent, 278 _ff._
di Sabata, Victor, 301
Dodge, Miss (Gail Hamilton), 95, 99
Doll’s theatre, 14 _ff._
Draesecke, Felix, 6
Drew, John, 199
Dubois, Theodore, 279
Duff-Gordon, Lady, 304
Du Maurier, 319
Dumesnil, M., 311 _ff._
Dvořák, Anton, 155, 183

Eaton, Doctor Charles, 95
Elgar, Sir Edward, 183, 319, 361
Ellacott, Captain, 255
Eller, Joseph, 110
Ellis, Charles, 123 _ff._, 128 _ff._
Emma, Queen Mother of Holland, 317
Endicott, Governor, 115
Engelhardt, Frau, 69 _ff._
Engles, George, 200, 273, 276, 282, 284, 287 _ff._
Euripides, 344, 346
European tour, 1920, 272 _ff._

Fairchild, Blair, 244
Fauré, Gabriel, 260, 279, 282
Faversham, Julie, 19
Ferrero, 304
Festival of 1881, 30 _ff._
Finci, Signor, 306
Finletter, Judge, 154
Fischer, Emil, 63, 66, 105, 109, 134 _ff._, 172, 178
Fischer, Mrs. Emil, 135 _ff._
Flagler, Harry Harkness, 136, 186, 210, 218, 222, 239, 272 _ff._, 322,
  349, 356
Flagler, Mrs. Harry Harkness, 218
Flagler, Mary, 285
Florence concert, 1920, 304
Foch, General, 246 _ff._
Folk-music, 323
Fontainebleau concert, 1920, 312
Fontainebleau summer music-school, 311
Fourth of July, Paris, 231 _ff._, 248
Fragnaud, M., 311 _ff._
Franck, César, 43, 74, 155, 238, 257, 281, 316
Franko, Sam, 149
Franz Joseph, Emperor, 353
Franz, Robert, 177
Frederick, Crown Prince, 2
Friedman, Ignaz, 356 _ff._
Frohman, Daniel, 211
Frothingham, Mr. O. B., 333
Furniss, Sophie and Tina, 118 _ff._
Furst, William, 349

Gabrilowitsch, Ossip, 356 _ff._
Gade, Niels W., 353
Gadski, Johanna, 109, 115, 118, 122, 129 _ff._
Ganz, Rudolph, 356 _ff._
_Garde Républicaine_, 235
Gardner, Mrs. John L., 115, 333 _ff._
Gartlan, Mr., 327
Genoa concert, 1920, 294 _ff._
George II, King, 176
George V, King, 273
Gericke, Wilhelm, 333, 335 _ff._
German music during the war, 260 _ff._
German Opera at the Metropolitan, 51 _ff._, _et passim_
Giucciardi, Countess, 164
Gladstone, 92
Gluck, 60
Gluck, Mme. Alma, 358
Godowsky, Leopold, 356 _ff._
Goethe, 37, 49, 262, 346
Goettich, Hans, 71, 200
Goldmark, Carl, 353 _ff._
Goldmark, Leo, 88
Goosens, Eugene, 319
Gounod, 54, 286
Grainger, Percy, 356 _ff._
Grau, Maurice, 104 _ff._, 113, 116, 120, 121 _ff._, 124, 129, 148, 160,
  206, 300, 316
Grau Opera Company, 162, _et passim_
Greek plays, 344 _ff._
Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Calif., 344 _ff._
Grell, Edward, 180 _ff._
Grew, Mr., 283
Grieg, 144
Grimm, “Fairy Tales,” 5
Guegnier, Captain, 259

Haenselt, 2
Hagemann, Mme. de, 29
Halévy, 65
Hamilton, Gail (Miss Dodge), 95, 99
Handel, 23, 33 _ff._, 169 _ff._, 175 _ff._, 181, 183
Hanslick, Mr., 353
Hanson, Howard, 302
Harris, Doctor and Mrs. George, 19
Harrison, Benjamin, 98, 100
Harvard University, 161
Haven, George, 123
Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter,” 114 _ff._, 121, 160
Haydn, 23, 181, 183
Healy, 48
Heimburg, Marie von (Tante), 4, 10, 175
Henderson, William J., 109
Henschel, George, 150
Herbert, Victor, 237
Herty, 152
Hesse, Landgravine, and Prince of, 79 _ff._
Hewitt, 236
Higginson, Major Henry Lee, 22, 150, 186, 205, 207, 333, 336, 338, 341,
Hock, Wilhelm, 54
Hofmann, Josef, 360
Hohenlohe, Cardinal Prince, 48
Holland concerts, 1920, 317 _ff._
Homer, “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” 4
House, Colonel, 147
Hulsen, Baron von, 85
Hutcheson, Ernest, 356 _ff._
Hyde, E. Francis, 208

Institute of Musical Art, 183
Italy, new musical development in, 299 _ff._

Jackson, Schuyler Brinkerhoff, 35
Jazz music, 268
Jeanne (pianist), 166
Jeanne d’Arc, 263
Joachim, 2 _ff._
Johnson, Reber, 236
Johnson, Robert Underwood, 275 _ff._, 301
Joseffy, 187
Joukowski, Baron von, 39, 47 _ff._
Jurgenson, 145

Kalisch, Paul, 66 _ff._
Kant, 262
Kautsky and Briosky, 109
Kelley, Lieutenant, 262
Kerensky, 283
Klafsky, Madame Katherine, 111, 114, 117, 120 _ff._
Knabe Piano Company, 23
Kneisel, Franz, 336
Kochanski, Paul, 149
Kossman, 74
Kraemer, 172
Krauss, Ernst, 138
Kreisler, Fritz, 152, 340
Kubelik, 187

Lafere, M., 272
La Fontaine, 157
Lambert, Alexander, 149, 356 _ff._
Lamond, Major Felix, 303
Lamperti, 142, 160
Lassen, 14, 37 _ff._, 48
Lathrop, George Parsons, 115
Laub, 7
Lorenziti, 238
Lehmann, Lilli, 63 _ff._, 85 _ff._, 111, 122, 130, 132
Lehmann, Marie, 67
Lekeu (the elder), 316
Lekeu, Guillaume, 316
Leon, Paul, 282, 311, 313
Lettelier, 47
Levi, Herman, 42
Lhevinne, Josef, 356 _ff._
Liebling, Max, 28
Lindemann, 47
Liszt, Franz, 2 _ff._, 6, 14, 23, 36 _ff._, 66, 74, 97, 146, 148 _ff._,
  154, 156 _ff._, 164, 181, 337, 354, 359, 362
Littleton, Augustus, 273, 321
Loeb, James, 183
Loeffler, Charles Martin, 149 _ff._
London concerts, 1920, 318 _ff._
_London Telegraph_, 97
_London Times_, 97
Longfellow, Ernest, 49
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 48, 340
Longy, 236
Louise (pianist), 166
Louisville, Southern Exposition, 190 _ff._
Lund, John, 58, 61

MacKenzie, Sir Alexander, 319
Maeterlinck, 151, 363
Mahler, Gustav, 138, 352, 354 _ff._
Malipiero, 301
Mancinelli, Signor, 300
Mangeot, M., 311
“Manila Te Deum,” 179 _ff._
Mannes, David, 214
Mannes, Mrs. David (Clara Damrosch), 214
Mannes (David) Music School, 214
Mantel, M., 154, 228
Mapleson, Colonel, 51 _ff._
Marburg, University of, 81 _ff._
Marseilles concerts, 1920, 287 _ff._
Mary Queen of Scots, 98
Materna, Madame, 53, 55, 59 _ff._, 105, 140
Mathieu, 46
McCormick, Anita, 101
McKim, Miss Letty, 265, 267
McLane, Thomas, 223, 239
Meiningen, Orchestra of Grand Duke of, 77
Melba, Madame Nellie, 123, 129, 155
Mendelssohn, 23, 28, 34, 181, 344, 355, 363
Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto, 171
Meredith, George, 304
Mero, Yolanda, 356 _ff._
Messager, André, 261, 279, 282
“Messiah” (Handel), 175 _ff._
Metropolitan Opera House, New York, 51 _ff._, 55 _ff._, 61 _ff._, 69, 72,
  80, 88, 104 _ff._, 116, 122, 123 _ff._, 129, 134, 136, 142, 148, 160, 170,
  172 _ff._, 183, 206, 292, 300, 316, 355
Metz concert, 1920, 309 _ff._
Meyerbeer, 55, 64 _ff._, 85, 355
Milan concert, 1920, 306 _ff._
Minna (Swedish nurse), 18
Molière, 346
Molinari, Maestro, 296 _ff._
Moltke, 2
Monte Carlo concert, 1920, 291 _ff._
Monteux, Pierre, 343
Morley, John, 92, 95, 100
Moszkowski, Moritz, 355 _ff._
Mozart, 23, 155, 177, 190, 257, 259, 281, 300, 315 _ff._, 325, 366
Muck, Doctor Karl, 225 _ff._, 337 _ff._
Music Festival Association, 30 _ff._
Musical Union, 212
Musin, Ovide, 97, 319

Napoleon III, 8, 29
National Federation of Musicians, 213
Neilson, Mrs. James, 25
Neuendorf, 55
New York Festival Chorus, 32
New York Oratorio Society, 22 _ff._, 30, 32, 35, 43, 57, 80, 92, 143, 169
  _ff._, 217, 255, 327
New York Philharmonic Society, 186 _ff._, 206 _ff._, 330, _et passim_
New York Symphony Orchestra, 27, 46, 80, 143, 186 _ff._, 236, 260, 330,
  346, 349, _et passim_.
  See also Symphony Society of New York
Newark Harmonic Society, 32, 34 _ff._, 171
Ney, Elly, 356 _ff._
Niemann, Albert, 42
Nikisch, Arthur, 337 _ff._
Nilsson, 52
Nordica, Madame Lillian, 72 _ff._, 132 _ff._, 158 _ff._
Notman, John, 208
Novello & Co., 273

Ochs, Siegfried, 352
Oratorio Society of New York, 22 _ff._, 30, 32, 35, 43, 57, 80, 92, 143,
  169 _ff._, 217, 255, 327
Orchestral Conditions, 26
_Outlook_, 31

Paderewski, Ignace, 146 _ff._, 187
Pappenheim, Madame, 55
Paris concerts, 1920, 278 _ff._, 313
Paris Conservatoire, 46 _ff._
Paris in war time, 229 _ff._
Parker, Horatio, 181
Parma concert, 1920, 305 _ff._
“Parsifal,” 44 _ff._, 171 _ff._, _et passim_
Pasdeloup Orchestra, 223, 228
Patti, 52
Peary, 19
Pendennis Club, 190
Pennington, Mrs. (Alice Damrosch), 19, 238, 265, 267 _ff._, 270 _ff._
People’s Choral Union, 183
Pershing, General, 185, 234, 243, 245 _ff._, 251 _ff._, 265
Philadelphia Academy of Music, 121 _ff._
Philadelphia Orchestra, 204, 330, _et passim_
Philharmonic Society of New York, 186 _ff._, 206 _ff._, 330, _et passim_
Phillips, William, 317 _ff._
Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Henry, 95
Piano ensemble for Moszkowski, 356 _ff._
Pichon, M., 224
Pierné, Gabriel, 183, 279, 327
Pinner, Max, 11
Pizzetti, 301
Plato, 326, 344
Pohl, Richard, 7
Polignac, Marquis de, 222
Polish artists, 146 _ff._, 149
Pollain, Captain, 236
Pollini, 360
Popovici, Dimitri, 121
Porges, 14
Powell, John, 275, 281, 285, 301
Preller, Friedrich, 4
Programmes of Paris Concerts, 1920, 278, 281
Pruckner, 11
Pulitzer, Mrs. Ralph, 332
_Punch_, 319

Raff, Joachim, 7, 14, 77, 81, 193, 359
Ravel, 278, 280, 353
Renz, Herr, 85
Resphighi, 301
Richter, Hans, 319, 353
Rieger, William, 178
Rieman, Doctor, 47
Rissland, Rudolf, 196, 200
Roberts, Field-Marshal Lord, 145
Robinson, Adolf, 55
Rodgers, Admiral William, 270 _ff._
Roebbelin, August, 208 _ff._
Rome concert, 1920, 295 _ff._
Roosevelt, Hilborn, 52
Roosevelt, James, 52
Roosevelt, Theodore, 179 _ff._, 223, 269
Ropartz, M., 309
Rosé, 353
Rosebery, Lord, 95
Ross, Mrs. Janet, 304 _ff._
Rubinstein, Anton, 2, 22 _ff._, 33 _ff._, 79, 359 _ff._
Rummel, Mrs. Franz, 88
Russell (librarian), 88 _ff._

Saint-Saëns, Camille, 43, 144, 153 _ff._, 180, 237, 258
San Martino, Count, 296
Sanford, Samuel, 211 _ff._
Sarasate, 187
Sauveur, Doctor, 31 _ff._
Sayn-Wittgenstein, Princess Carolyn, 6
Scaria, 45
“Scarlet Letter, The” (Damrosch opera), 114 _ff._, 121, 160
“Scarlet Letter, The” (Hawthorne), 114 _ff._, 121, 160
Schorn, Fräulein von, 39, 47 _ff._
Scharwenka, Xaver, 138 _ff._
Schelling, Ernest, 356, 358
Schieffelin, Mary, 154
Schiller, Friedrich, 164
Schiller, Lorchen, 165 _ff._
Schirmer, Gustav, Jr., 14 _ff._, 25 _ff._
Schirmer, Gustav, Sr., 13
Schirmer, Rudolph, 14
Schloetzer, Baron von, 29
Schnitzer, Germaine, 356 _ff._
Schoeffel, John, 104
Schools, music in, 326 _ff._
Schott, Anton, 53 _ff._, 105
Schroeder-Hanfstangel, Madame, 54
Schubert, Edward, 9, 22
Schubert, Franz, 10, 11, 75, 260
Schumann, Robert, 10, 43, 75, 358, 361
Schumann, Clara, 2
Schumann-Heink, Madame, 132, 159
Scott, Walter, 98
Sealey, Frank, 35
“Seidenschwanz, Caligula,” 84 _ff._
Seidl, Anton, 54, 63 _ff._, 66, 77, 102, 107, 116, 121, 142, 206
Seidl-Kraus, Madame, 54 _ff._
Seligman, Isaac N., 215
Sembrich, Madame, 52, 149
Shakespeare, 36, 94, 217, 346
Shinkle, 35
Shirk, Lieutenant, 227
Singer, 7
Sinigaglia, 301
Sloane, William, 223, 239
Smith, John Cotton, 32
Smithson, Miss, 164
Society of Musical Art, 184
Sophocles, 344, 346
Sousa, 361
Sowerby, Leo, 302
Spalding, Albert, 155, 275, 281, 284, 286, 304
Spring-Rice, Sir Cecil, 196
Stanford, Sir Charles Villiers, 144, 319
Stanton, Edmund C., 62 _ff._, 66, 102, 134
Staudigl, 55, 61
Steers and Coman, 198 _ff._
Steers, Miss Lois, 198 _ff._
Stehmann, Gerhardt, 137 _ff._
Steinmetz, General, 2
Steinway, William, 107 _ff._, 138
Steinway & Sons, 22, 146
Stevens, Director, 303
Steyl, 81
Stock, Frederick, 204, 361
Stoessel, Albert, 185, 255
Stojowski, Sigismond, 356 _ff._
Stokowski, Leopold, 204
Stone, Melville, 225
Strakosch, Maurice, 28, 75
Strakosh, Max, 53
Strassbourg concert, 1920, 309 _ff._
Strauss, Johann, 190
Strauss, Richard, 33, 353, 361 _ff._
Subscribers to New York Symphony Orchestra Fund, 215 _ff._
Sucher, Rosa, 109 _ff._
“Sulamith” (cantata of L. Damrosch), 47
Sullivan, John L., 335
Sulzer, M., 225 _ff._
_Sun, New York_, 14, 96, 109
Symphony Society of New York, 22 _ff._, 30, 43, 52, 55, 57, 92, 121, 187,
  272 _ff._
  See also New York Symphony Orchestra.

Tafanel, 46
Tagliapietra, 167
Talbot, Mrs., 327
Tardieu, Mr., 222
Taussig, 2 _ff._, 7
Tennyson, 20
Ternina, 111, 114, 120, 129, 132
Thomas, Theodore, 22 _ff._, 34, 53, 186, 201, 204, 206, 353, 359
Thursby, Emma, 75
Tivin, Morris, 290 _ff._
Tommasini, Signor Vincenzo, 295, 297 _ff._, 301
Ton-künstler-Verein, 47
Toscanini, 300, 308
Townsend, Roger, 282
Trebelli, 52
_Tribune, New York_, 342
Tschaikowsky, Peter Iljitsch, 143 _ff._, 364
Tyler, Bandmaster, 248 _ff._
Tyson, Mrs. George, 333

Untermyer, Samuel, 208

Valeria, 364
Van Dyk, 316 _ff._
Vecella, Maestro, 298
Verdi, 34, 64, 188, 300
Versailles Conference, 147, 263
Vidal, Paul, 279
Vitali, 153
Vogt, Jean, 11, 171
Volstead Law, 35
von Bülow, _see_ Bülow, von
von Inten, 11
Voss, translation of Homer, 4

Wagner, Cosima, 42, 75, 132, 143, 173 _ff._
Wagner, Richard, 1 _ff._, 11, 13 _ff._, 34, 36 _ff._, 52, 64, 68, 74, 77,
  86, 92, 99, 102, 104 _ff._, 116 _ff._, 127 _ff._, 140, 143 _ff._, 156,
  164, 171 _ff._, 188, 190, 192, 196, 205 _ff._, 252, 259 _ff._, 281, 292,
  297 _ff._, 300, 316, 333 _ff._, 337, 340, 360, 362, 364 _ff._, _et
  Music dramas, _passim_
Wagner Society, 106
Walter, Bruno, 178
War, the Great, 221 _ff._, 339 _ff._
Ward, Major Cabot, 241
Warren, Mrs. John Hobart, 152
Webber, Amhurst, 292
Weber, Joseph N., 213
Weill, Lieutenant Michel, 252 _ff._, 255, 260, 262, 264 _ff._
Welling, Richard, 121, 215
Wendell, Evart, 245
Wendell, Lieutenant, 245
Wesendonck, Madame, 164
Wharton, Edith, 244 _ff._
Whitlock, Mr. and Mrs. Brand, 314
Whitman, Mrs. Henry, 333
Widor, Charles Marie, 157 _ff._, 238, 257 _ff._
Wieniawski, 22
Wilde, Oscar, 363
Wilhelmj, August, 28 _ff._
Willeke, Willem, 284
William I, Emperor, 2, 7, 41, 79, 86
Wilson, Admiral, 265, 268
Wilson, President, 295
Wolf-Ferrari, 183
Women in musical affairs, 323 _ff._
Wood, Sir Henry, 319
_World, New York_, 96

Y. M. C. A., 222 _ff._, 239 _ff._, 265
Yale University, 212
Young People’s Symphony Concerts, 183, 328
Ysaye, Eugene, 150, 152 _ff._, 187

Zimbalist, Efrem, 193 _ff._, 217
Zimmerman, Mrs., 118

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