set the songs of Shelley to music. With such names as
Shelley, Keats, Poe and Crane must Chopin's name be
linked 53 53
In Chopin's music there is much loose texture; there are
wide-meshed chords, daring leaps and abrupt arpeggios.
These have often been pointed out as faults, but such
harmonious discords are now properly valued, and we
see that Chopin's lapses all had meaning and purpose,
in that they impart a feeling making their appeal to
souls that have suffered souls that know.
More of Chopin's music is sold in America every year
than was sold altogether during the lifetime of the
composer. His name and fame grow with each year.
Everywhere wherever a piano is played on concert
platform, in studio or private parlor, there you will find
the work of Frederic Chopin. That such a widespread
distribution must have a potent and powerful effect
upon the race goes without argument, although the
furthest limit of that influence no man can mark. It is
registered with Infinity alone. And thus does that
modest, mild and gentle revolutionist Frederic Chopin
live again in minds made better.
Beneath these flowers I dream, a silent chord. I can not
wake my own strings to music; but under the hands of
those who comprehend me, I become an eloquent friend.
Wanderer, ere thou goest, try me! The more trouble
thou takest with me, the more lovely will be the tones
with which I shall reward thee.
HAT any man should ever write his
thoughts for other men to read,
seems the very height of egoism S&
Literature never dies, and so the
person who writes constitutes him-
self a rival of Shakespeare and seeks
to lure us from Montaigne, Milton,
Emerson and Carlyle. To write
nothing better than grammatical English, to punctuate
properly, and repeat thoughts in the same sequence that
have been repeated a thousand times, is to do something
icily regular, splendidly null.
To down the demons of syntax and epithet is not
enough. To compose blameless sonatas and produce
symphonies in the accepted style, is not adding an iota
to the world's worth.
The individual who tries to compose either ideas or
harmonious sounds, and hopes for success, must com-
pose because he can not help it. He must place the thing
in a way it has never before been placed ; on the subject
he must throw a new light ; he must carry the standard
forward, and plant it one degree nearer the uncaptured
citadel of the Ideal. And he must remember this: the
very prominence of his position will cause him to be the
target of contumely, abuse and much stupid misunder-
standing. If he complains of these things (as he
probably will), he reveals a rift in the lute and proves
that he is only a half -god, after all.
Men of the highest type of culture those of masterly
talent are not gregarious in their nature. The " jiner "
instinct goes with a man who is a little doubtful, and
so he attaches himself to this society, club or church.
fj[ The very tendency to " jine " is an admission of
weakness it is a getting under cover, a combining
against the supposed enemy. The " jiner " is an ameba
that clings to flotsam, instead of floating free in the
great ocean of life. The lion loves his mate, but prefers
to flock by himself.
The pioneer in art, as in any other field, must be willing
to face deprivations and loneliness and heart-hunger.
He must find companionship with birds and animals,
and be brother to the trees and swift-flying clouds.
When men meet on the desert or in the forest wilds,
how grateful and how gracious is their hand-clasp!
When love and understanding come to those who live
on the border-land of two worlds, how precious and
priceless the boon!
1OBERT SCHUMANN was the son of a book-
publisher of Zwickau. He was a handsome
lad with the flash of genius in his luminous
eyes, and an independence like that of an
Alpine goat. When very young they say he used to
have tantrums. If your child has a tantrum, it is bad
policy for you to imitate him and have one, too.
A tantrum is only one of the little whirlwinds of God
it is misdirected energy, power not yet controlled. When
Robert had a tantrum, his father would shake him
violently to improve his temper, or fall upon him with a
strap that hung handy behind the kitchen-door. Then
the mother, when the father was out of the way, would
take the lad and cry over him, and coddle him, and undo
The best treatment for tantrums is nothing. The more
you let a nervous, impressionable child alone, the better.
<J When the lad was fourteen years old, we find him
setting type in his father's printery. He was working on
a book called, " The World's Celebrities," and his share
of the work dealt with Jean Paul Richter. He grew
interested in the copy and stopped setting type and
read ahead, as printers sometimes will. The more he
read, the more he was fascinated. He fell under the spell
of Jean Paul the Only.
Jean Paul, inspired by Jean Jacques, was the inspirer of
the whole brood of young writers of his time. To him
they looked as to a Deliverer.
Jean Paul the Only ! The largest, gentlest, most generous
heart in all literature! The peculiar mark of Richter's
style is analogy and comparison; everything he saw
reminded him of something else, and then he tells you
of things of which both remind him. He leads and lures
you on, and takes you far from home, but always brings
you safely back. Yet comparison proves us false when
we deal with Richter himself. He stands alone, like
Adam's recollection of his fall, which according to Jean
Paul was the one sweet, unforgetable thing in all the life
of the First Citizen of his time.
Jean Paul seems to have combined in that mighty brain
all feminine as well as masculine attributes. The soul in
which the feminine does not mingle is ripe for wrong,
strife and unreason. "It was mother-love, carried one
step further, that enabled the Savior to embrace a
world," says Carlyle.
The sweep of tender emotion that murmurs and rustles
through the writing of Jean Paul is like the echo of a
lullaby heard in a dream. Perhaps it came from that
long partnership when mother and son held the siege
against poverty, and the kitchen-table served them as a
writing-desk, and the patient old mother was his sole
reviewer, critic, reader and public.
For shams, hypocrisy and pretense Jean Paul had a
cyclone of sarcasm, and the blows he struck were such
as only a son of Anak could give ; but in his heart there
was no hate. He could despise a man's bad habits and
still love the man behind the veneer of folly. So his arms
seem ever extended, welcoming the wanderer home 3$
Dear Jean Paul, big and homely, what an insight you
had into the heart of things, and what a flying-machine
your imagination was! Room for many passengers? Yes,
and children especially, for these you loved most of all,
because you were ever only just a big overgrown boy
yourself. You cried your eyes out before your hair grew
white, and then a child or a woman led you about; and
thus did you supply Victor Hugo a saying that can not
die: " To be blind and to be loved what happier
Yes, Jean Paul used to cry at his work when he wrote
well, and I do, too. I always know when I write par-
ticularly well, for at such times I mop furiously. How-
ever, I seldom mop.
Robert Schumann began to write little essays, and the
essays were as near like Jean Paul's as he could make
them. He read them to his mother, just as Jean Paul
used to write for his mother and call her " my Gentle
Reader " he had but one.
Robert's mother believed in her boy what mother does
not ? But her love was not tempered by reason, and in it
there was a sentimental flavor akin to the maudlin 33
The father wanted the lad to take up his own business,
as German fathers do, but the mother filled the lad's
head with the thought that he was fit for something
higher and better. She was not willing to let the seed
ripen in Nature's way she thought hothouse methods
were an improvement.
Such a mother's ambition centers in her son. She wants
him to do the thing she has never been able to do. She
thirsts for honors, applause, publicity, and all those
things that bring trouble and distress and make men old
before their time.
So we find the boy at eighteen packed off to Heidelberg
to study law, with no special preparation in knowledge
of the world, of men or books. But old father antic, the
law, was not to his taste. Robert liked music and poetry
better. His fine, sensitive, emotional spirit found its
best exercise in music; and at the house of Professor
Carus he used to sing with the professor's wife. This
Professor Carus, by the way, is, I believe, directly related
to our own Doctor Paul Carus, of whom all thinking
people in America have reason to be proud. I am told
that when a boy of eighteen or nineteen mingles his
voice several evenings a week with that of a married
lady aged, say, thirty-five, and they also play "four
hands " an hour or so a day, that the boy is apt to
surprise the married lady by falling very much in love
with her. Boys are quite given to this thing, anyway, of
falling in love with women old enough to be their
mothers I don't know why it is. Sometimes I am rather
inclined to commend the scheme, since it often brings
good results. The fact that the woman's emotions are
well tempered with a sort of maternal regard for her
charge holds folly in check, dispels that tired feeling,
promotes digestion, and stimulates the action of the
It was surely so in this instance, for Madame Carus
taught the youth how to compose, and fired his mind to
excel as a pianist. He wrote and dedicated small songs
to her, and their relationship added cubits to the boy's
stature 53 53
From a boy he became a man at a bound. Just as one
single April day, with its showers and sunshine, will
transform the seemingly lifeless twigs into leafy
branches, so did this young man's intellect ripen in the
sunshine of love.
As for Professor Carus, he was too busy with his
theorems and biological experiments to trouble himself
about so trivial a matter as a youngster falling in love
with his accomplished wife here the Professor's good
sense was shown.
Jean Paul Richter lighted his torch at the flame of Jean
Jacques Rousseau. In a letter to Agnes Carus, Schu-
mann has acknowledged his obligation to Richter, in a
style that is truly Richteresque.
Dear Lady: I read from Jean Paul last night until I
fell asleep and then I dreamed of you. It was at the
torch of Jean Paul that I lighted my tallow dip, and
now he is dead and these eyes shall never look into his,
nor will his voice fall upon my ears. I cry salt tears to
think that Jean Paul never knew you. If I could only
have brought you two together and then looked upon
you, realizing, as I would, that you had both come from
High Olympus! Blissful are the days since I knew you,
for you have brought within my range of vision new
constellations, and into my soul has come the clear,
white light of peace and truth. With you I am purified,
freed from sin, and harmony fills my tired heart. With-
out you why, really I have never dared think about it,
for fear that reason would topple, and my mind forget
its 'customed way let 's talk of music *
Professor Carus kept his ear close to the ground for a
higher call, and when the call came from Leipzig, he
moved there with his family.
It was not many weeks before Robert was writing home,
explaining that lawyers were men who get good people
into trouble, and bad folks out; and as for himself he
had decided to cut the business and fling himself into
the arms of the Muse.
This letter brought his mother down upon him with
tears and pleadings that he would not fail to redeem the
Schumanns by becoming a Great Man. Poetry was
foolishness and all musicians were poor there were a
hundred of them in Zwickau who lived on rye-bread and
wienerwurst 53 3&
The boy promised and the mother went home pacified.
But not many weeks had passed before Robert set out
on a pilgrimage to Bayreuth, to visit the scene of Jean
Paul's romances. On this same tour he went to Munich,
and there met Heinrich Heine, who was from that day
to enter into his heart and jostle Jean Paul for first
place. He was accompanied on this memorable trip by
Gisbert Rosen, who proved his lifelong friend and
confidant. Very naturally Leipzig was the ardently
desired goal of his wanderings. At once on arriving
there, he sought out the home of Professor and Madame
Carus. That his greeting (and mayhap hers) did not
contain all the warmth the boy lover had anticipated is
shown in a letter to Rosen, wherein he says: " This world
is only a huge graveyard of buried dreams, a garden of
cypress and weeping willows, a silent peep-show with
tearful puppets. Alas for our high faith I wonder if
Jean Paul was n't right when he said that love lessens
woman's delicacy, and time and distance dissipate it
like morning dew? "
Yet Madame Carus was kind, for Robert played at
little informal concerts at her house, and she urged him
to abandon law for music; and he refers the matter to
Rosen, asking Rosen's advice and explaining how he
wants to be advised, just as we usually do. Rosen tells
him that no man can succeed at an undertaking unless
his heart is in the work, and so he shifts the responsibility
of deciding on Professor Carus, whom Robert ' ' respects, ' '
but does not exactly admire enough to follow his advice.
<I Robert does not consider the Professor a practical
man, and so leaves the matter to his wife. In the mean-
time songs are written similar to Heine's, and essays
turned off, pinned with the precise synonym, the phrase
exquisite, just like Jean Paul's. Progress in piano-play-
ing goes steadily forward, with practise on the violin,
all under the tutelage of Madame Carus, who one fine
day takes the young man to play for Frederick Wieck,
the best music-teacher in Leipzig.
USICIANS? " said Wieck, " I raise them! "
<J And so he did. He proved the value of his
theories by making great performers of Maria
and Clara, his daughters two sisters more
gifted in a musical way have never been born. Germany
excels in philosophy and music a seeming paradox.
Music is supposed to be a compound of the stuff that
dreams are made of hazy, misty, dim, intangible feel-
ings set to sounds we close our eyes and they take us
captive and carry us away on the wings of melody. And
so it may be true that music is born of moonshine, and
fragrant memories, and hopes too great for earth, and
loves unrealized ; yet its expression is the most exacting
of sciences. A Great Musician has not only to be a poet
and a dreamer, but he must also be a mathematician,
cold as chilled steel, and a philosopher who can follow a
reason to its lair and grapple it to the death. And that
is why Great Musicians are so rare, and that is also why,
perhaps, there are no great women composers. " Women
of genius are men," said the De Goncourts. A Great
Musician is a paradox, a miracle, a multiple-sided man
stern, firm, selfish, proud and unyielding; yet sen-
suous as the ether, tender as a woman, innocent as a
child, and as plastic as potters' clay. And with most of
them, let us frankly admit it, the hand of the Potter
shook. When people write about musicians, they seldom
write moderately. The man is either a selfish rogue or an
angel of light it all depends upon your point of view.
And the curious part is, both sides are right. IJ Wieck
was very fond of his daughters, and like good house-
wives who are proud of their biscuit, he apologized for
them. " He never quite forgave our mother because we
were girls," said Clara once, to Kalkbrenner. Wieck,
the good man, was a philosopher, and he had a notion
that the blood of woman is thinner than that of man
that it contains more white serum and fewer red
corpuscles, and that Nature has designed the body of a
woman to nourish her offspring, but that man's energy
goes to feed his brain. Yet his girls were so much beyond
average mortals that they would set men a pace in spite
of the handicap.
Fortunate it is for me that I do not have to act as the
court of last appeal on this genius business. The man
who decides against woman will forfeit his popularity,
have his reputation ripped into carpet-rags, and his
good name worked up into crazy-quilts by a thousand
But certain it is that women are the inspirers of music.
As critics they are more judicial and more appreciative.
Without women there would be no Symphony Concerts,
any more than there would be churches.
Women take men to the Grand Opera and to Musical
Festivals and I am glad.
LARA WIECK was only ten years old, with
dresses that came to her knees, when Robert
Schumann first began to take lessons of her
father. She was tall for her age, and had a
habit of brushing her hair from her eyes as she played,
that impressed the young man as very funny. She could
not remember a time when she did not play: and she
showed such ease and abandon that her father used to
call her in and have her illustrate his ideas on the key-
board 3$ 33
Robert did n't like the child she was needlessly
talented. She could do, just as a matter of course, the
things that he could scarcely accomplish with great
effort. He did n't like her.
Already Clara had played in various concerts, and was
a great favorite with the local public. Soon her father
planned little tours, when he gave performances assisted
by his two daughters, who could play both violin and
piano. Their fame grew and fortune smiled. Wieck took
a larger house and raised his prices for pupils.
Robert Schumann wandered over to Zwickau to visit his
folks, then went on down the Rhine to Heidelberg to see
Rosen. It was nearly a year before he got back to
Leipzig, resolved to continue his music studies. Wieck
had a front room vacant, and so the young man took
lodgings with his teacher.
It was not so very long before Clara was wearing her
dresses a little longer. She now dressed her hair in two
braids instead of one, and these braids were tied with
ribbons instead of a shoe-string. More concerts were
being arranged, and the attendance was larger people
were saying that Clara Wieck was an Infant Phe-
nomenon 33 33
Robert was progressing, but not so rapidly as he wished.
To aid matters a bit, he invented a brace and extension
to his middle finger. It gave him a farther reach and a
stronger stroke, he thought. In secret he practised for
hours with this " corset " on his finger; he did n't know
that a corset means weakness, not strength. After three
straight hours of practise one day, he took the machine
from his hand and was astonished to see the finger curl
up like a pretzel. He hurried to a physician and was told
that the member was paralyzed. Various forms of treat-
ment were tried, but the tendons were injured, and at
last the doctors told him his brain could never again
telegraph to that hand so it would perfectly obey orders.
He begged that they would cut the finger off, but this
they refused to do, claiming that, even though the
finger was in the way, piano-playing in any event was
not the chief end of man he might try a pick and
shovel 33 33
Clara, who now wore her dress to her shoe-tops,
sympathized with the young man in his distress. She
said, " Never mind, I will play for you you write the
music and I will play it! "
Gradually he became resigned to this, and spent much
of his time composing music for Heine's songs and his
own. Wieck did n't much like these songs, and forbade
his daughter playing such trashy things only a para-
phrase of Schubert's work, anyway, goodness me! 3$
The girl pouted and rebelled, and erelong Robert
Schumann was requested to take lodgings elsewhere.
Moodily he obeyed, but he managed to keep up a secret
correspondence with Clara, through the help of her
sister. Whenever Clara played in public, Robert was
sure to be there, even though the distance were a hun-
dred miles. He had given up playing, and now swung
between composing and literature, having assumed the
editorship of a musical magazine.
When Clara now played in concert, she wore a train,
and her hair was done up on the top of her head.
Schumann's musical magazine was winning its way the
young man had a literary style. Mendelssohn com-
mended the magazine, and its editor in turn commended
Mendelssohn. A new star had been discovered on the
horizon a Pole, Chopin by name. And whenever Clara
Wieck appeared, there were extended notices, lavish in
praise, profuse in prophecy.
Herz had written an article for a rival journal about
Clara Wieck, wherein the statement was made that no
woman trained on, that her playing was intuitive, and
the limit quickly reached marriage was death to a
woman's art, etc.
To this Schumann replied with needless heat, and his
friends began to joke him about his " disinterested-
ness." He was getting moody, and there were times
when he was silent for days. His passion for Clara
Wieck was consuming his life. He resolved to go direct
to Frederick Wieck and have it out.
HEY are always called " the Schumanns "
Robert and Clara. You can not separate
them, any more than you can separate the
great Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett.
' Whomsoever God hath joined together, let no man
put asunder," seems rather a needless injunction, since
we know that man's efforts in the line of separation
have ever but one result: opposition fans the flame 53
Just as Elizabeth Barrett's father forcibly opposed the
mating of his daughter, so did Frederick Wieck oppose
the love of his daughter Clara for Robert Schumann 53
And one can not blame the man so very much he knew
the young man and he knew the girl; and deducting
fifty per cent for paternal pride, he saw that the girl was
much the stronger character of the two. Clara had
already a recognized reputation as a performer; her
playing had made her father rich, and he was sure that
greater things were to come. Beside that, she was only
seventeen years old a mere child.
Robert was twenty-six, with most of his future before
him he was advised to win a name and place for
himself before aspiring to the hand of a great artist : and
so he was bowed out.
He took the matter into the courts, and the decision
was that, as she was now eighteen years old, she had the
right to wed, if she were so minded.
And so they were married ; but Frederick Wieck was not
present at the ceremony to give the bride away.
CHUMANN was essentially feminine in many
ways, as the best men always are. In spite
of his mental independence, he did his best
work when shielded in the shadow of a
stronger personality. Without Clara, Robert would
probably be unknown to us. She gave him the courage
and the confidence that he lacked; and she it was who
interpreted his work to the world.
Heine characterized Meyerbeer's " Les Huguenots " as
" like a Gothic cathedral whose heaven-soaring spire
and colossal cupolas seem to have been planted there
by the sure hand of a giant; whereas the innumerable
features, the rosettes and arabesques that are spread
over it everywhere like a lacework of stone, witness to
the indefatigable patience of a dwarf."
Very different is the work of Robert Schumann, who,
like his master Schubert, knew little of the architectonics
of the Art Divine. But Schubert seems to have been the
first to give us the " lyric cry " the prayer of a heart
bowed down, or the ecstasy of a soul enrapt.
Schumann built on Schubert. Music was to Schumann
the expression of an emotion. He saw in pictures, then
he told in tones, what his inward eye beheld. He even
went so far as to give the names of persons, their
peculiarities and experiences on the keyboard. It is
needless to say that the tension of mind in such experi-
ments is apt to reach the breaking strain. We are under
bonds for the moderate use of every faculty, and he who
misuses any of God's gifts may not hope to go unscathed.