know when virtue has gone out of them.
Perhaps Reinke was playing just to suit himself, and
had purposely put the unappreciative, lazy, sleepy
occupants of the pews out of his thought, all unmindful
that there was one among a thousand, back behind a
pillar, dusty and worn, but now unconsciously refreshed
and oblivious to all save the playing of the great organ.
There stood the boy bathed in sweet sounds, with stream-
ing eyes and responsive heart.
His inward emotions supplemented the outward melody,
for music demands a listener, and at the last is a matter
of soul, not sound: its appeal being a harmony that
dwells within. So played Reinke, and back by the door,
peering from behind a pillar, stood the boy.
EB AST I AN BACH was such a useful member
of the choir at Luneburg that the town
musician from Weimar, who happened to be
going that way, induced him to go home with
him as assistant organist.
This was a definite move in the direction of fame and
fortune. Men who can make themselves useful are
needed there is ever a search for such. They wanted
Bach at Weimar. Johann Sebastian Bach, aged eighteen,
was wanted because he did his work well.
After three or four months at Weimar he made a visit
to Arnstadt, where his uncle had so long been organist.
His name at Arnstadt was a name to conjure with, and
in fact throughout all that part of the country, whenever
a man proved to be a musician of worth and power the
people out of compliment called him a " Bach."
Johann Sebastian was invited to play for the people,
and all were so delighted that they insisted he should
come and fill the place made vacant by the death of the
" Great Bach."
So he came and was duly installed.
And the young man drilled his chorus, wrote cantatas,
and arranged chants and hymns. But he was far from
contented. He was being pushed on by a noble unrest.
It was not so very long before we find him packing off
to Denmark, with little ceremony, to listen to the play-
ing of Buxtehude, the greatest player of his age.
Bach had been quite content to tiptoe into the church
when Reinke played, grateful for the privilege of
listening, half-expecting to be thrust out as an inter-
loper. He had gained confidence since then, and now
introduced himself to Buxtehude and was greeted by
the octogenarian as a brother and an equal, although
sixty years divided them. His visit extended itself from
one week to two, and then to a month or more, and a
message came from his employers that if he expected to
hold his place he had better return.
Bach's visit to Buxtehude formed another white mile-
stone in his career. He came back filled with enthusiasm
and overflowing with ideas and plans that a single life-
time could not materialize. Those who have analyzed
the work of Buxtehude and Bach tell us that there is a
richness of counterpoint, a vigor of style, a fulness of
harmony, and a strong, glowing, daring quality that in
some pieces is identical with both composers. In other
words, Bach admired Buxtehude so much that for a
time he wrote and played just like him, very much as
Turner began by painting as near like Claude Lorraine
as he possibly could. Genius has its prototype, and in all
art there is to be found this apostolic succession. Bach
first built on Reinke; next he transferred his allegiance
to Buxtehude ; from this he gradually developed courage
and self-reliance until he fearlessly trusted himself in
deep water, heedless of danger. And it is this fearless,
self-reliant and self-sufficient quality that marks the
work of every exceptional man in every line of art.
" Here 's to the man who dares," said Disraeli. All
strong men begin by worshiping at a shrine, and if they
continue to grow they shift their allegiance until they
know only one altar and that is the Ideal which dwells
in their own heart.
ND now behold how Heinrich Bach had edu-
cated his people into the belief that there was
only one way to play, and that was as he did
it. It is not at all probable that Heinrich put
forward any claims of perfection, but the people
regarded his playing as high-water mark, and any
variation from his standards was considered fantastic
In all of the old German Protestant churches are records
kept giving the exact history of the church. You can tell
for two hundred years back just when an organist was
hired or dismissed ; when a preacher came and when he
went away, with minute mention as to reasons.
And so we find in the records of the Church at Arnstadt
that the organist, Johann Sebastian Bach, took a vaca-
tion without leave in the year Seventeen Hundred Five,
and further, when he returned his playing was " fan-
tastical." s s$
With the young man's compositions the Consistory
expressed echoing groans of dissatisfaction. A list of
charges was drawn up against him, one of which runs
as follows: " We charge him with a habit of making
surprising variations in the chorales, and intermixing
divers strange sounds, so that thereby the congregation
Bach's answers are filed with the original charges, and
are all very brief and submissive. In some instances he
pleads guilty, not thinking it worth his while, strong
man that he was, to either apologize or explain, tj But
the most damning count brought against him was this :
' We further charge him with introducing into the
choir-loft a Stranger Maiden, who made music." To
this, young Bach makes no reply. Brave boy!
The sequel is shown that in a few weeks he was married
to this " Stranger Maiden," who was his cousin. She was
a Bach, too, a descendant of the merry Hans, and she,
also, played the organ. But great was the horror of the
Arnstadites that a woman should play a church organ.
Mein Gott im Himmel a woman might be occupying
the pulpit next!
Johann Sebastian's indifference to criticism is partially
explained by the fact that he was in correspondence with
the Consistory at Mulhausen, and also with the Duke
Wilhelm Ernest, of Saxe- Weimar. Both Mulhausen and
Weimar wanted his services. Under such conditions men
have ever been known to invite a rupture let us hope
that Johann Sebastian Bach was not quite so human.
ICHELANGELO never married, but Bach
held the average good by marrying twice 5&
He was the father of just twenty children. His
first wife was a woman with well-defined mu-
sical tastes, as was meet in one with such an illustrious
musical pedigree. It was n't fashion then to educate
women, and one biographer expresses a doubt as to
whether Bach's first wife was able to read and write.
To read and write are rather cheap accomplishments,
though. Last year I met several excellent specimens of
manhood in the Tennessee Mountains who could do
neither, yet these men had a goodly hold on the eternal
verities 3$ 3&
We know that Bach's wife had a thorough sympathy
with his work, and that he used to sing or play his
compositions to her, and when the children got big
enough, they tried the new-made hymn tunes, too.
These children sang before they could talk plain, and
the result was that the two elder sons, Wilhelm Friede-
mann and Phillip Emmanuel, became musicians of
marked ability. Half a dozen other sons became
musicians also, but the two named above made some
valuable additions to the music fund of the world.
Haydn has paid personal tribute to Emmanuel Bach,
acknowledging his obligation, and expressing to him the
belief that he was a greater man than his father.
The nine years Bach spent at Weimar, under the
patronage of the Duke Wilhelm Ernest, were years rich
in results. His office was that of Concert Master, and
Leader of the Choir at Ducal Chapel. The duties not
being very exacting, he had plenty of time to foster his
bent. Freed from all apprehension along the line of the
bread-and-butter question he devoted himself untiringly
to his work. It was here he developed that style of
fingering that was to be followed by the players on the
harpsichord, and which further serves as the basis for
our present manner of piano-playing. Bach was the
first man to make use of the thumb in organ-playing,
and I believe it was James Huneker who once said that
" Bach discovered the human hand."
Bach made a complete study of the mechanism of the
organ, invented various arrangements for the better
use of the pedals, and gave his ideas without stint to
the makers, who, it seems, were glad to profit by them.
Even then Weimar was a place of pilgrimage, although
Goethe had not yet come to illumine it with his presence.
But the traditions of Weimar have been musical and
artistic for four hundred years, and this had its weight
with Goethe when he decided to make it his home 3&
In Bach's day, pilgrims from afar used to come to attend
the musical festivals given by the Duke of Saxe- Weimar ;
and these pilgrims would go home and spread the name
of Johann Sebastian Bach. Many invitations used to
come for him to go and play at the installation of a new
organ, or to superintend the construction of an organ, or
to lead a chorus. Gradually his fame grew, and although
he might have lived his life and ended his days there in
the rural and peaceful quiet of Weimar, yet he harkened
to the voice and arose and went forth with his family
into a place that afforded a wider scope for his powers.
*I As Kapellmeister to the Court at Kothen he had the
direction of a large orchestra, and it seems also super-
vised a school of music.
When the Court moved about from place to place it was
the custom to take the orchestra, too, in order to reveal
to the natives along the way what good music really
was. This was all quite on the order of the Duke of
Mantua, who used to travel with a retinue of two hun-
dred servants and attendants.
On one such occasion the Kothen Court went to Carls-
bad. The visit extended itself to six months, when Bach
became impatient to return to his family, and was
allowed to go in advance of the rest of the company. On
reaching home he found his wife had died and been
buried several weeks before.
It was a severe shock to the poor man, but fortunately
there was more philosophy to his nature than romance,
which is a marked trait in the German character. All
this is plainly evidenced by the fact that in many
German churches when a good wife dies, the pastor, at
the funeral, as the best friend of the stricken husband,
casts his eyes over the congregation for a suitable
successor to the deceased. And very often the funeral
baked meats do coldly furnish forth the marriage feast.
Man is made to mourn, but most widowers say but a
year 53 53
The prompt second marriage of Bach was certainly a
compliment to the memory of his first wife, who was a
most amiable helpmeet and friend. No soft sentiment
disturbed the deep immersement of this man in his work.
He was as businesslike a man as Ralph Waldo Emerson,
who arranged his second marriage by correspondence,
and then drove over in a buggy one afternoon to bring
home the promised bride, making notes by the way on
the Over-Soul and man's place in the Universal
Cosmos 53 53
Events proved the wisdom of Johann Sebastian Bach's
choice. His first wife filled his heart, but this one was not
only to do as much, but often to guide his hand and
brain. He was thirty-eight with a brood of nine. Anna
Magdalena was twenty-three, strong, fancy-free, and by
a dozen, lacking one, was to increase the limit.
As the years went by, Bach occasionally would arise in
public places, and with uncovered head thank God for
the blessings He had bestowed upon him, especially in
sending him such a wife.
Anna Magdalena Wulken was a singer of merit, a player
on the harp, and a person of education. She certainly had
no seraglio notions of wanting to be petted and pam-
pered and taken care of, or she would not have assumed
the office of stepmother to that big family and married a
poor man. Bach never had time to make money. Very
soon after their marriage Bach began to dictate music to
his wife. A great many pieces can be seen in Leipzig and
Berlin copied out in her fine, painstaking hand, with an
occasional interlining by the Master. Other pieces
written by him are amended by her, showing plainly
that they worked together.
As proof that this was no honeymoon whim, the col-
laboration continued for over a score of years, in spite of
increasing domestic responsibilities.
From Kothen, Bach was called to Leipzig and electedby
the municipal authorities the Musical Director and
Cantor of the Thomas School. For twenty-seven years
he labored here, doing the work he liked best, and doing
it in his own way. He escaped the pitfalls of petty
jealousies, into which most men of artistic natures fall,
by rising above them all. He accepted no insults; he had
no grievances against either man or fate; earnest,
religious, simple he filled the days with useful effort.
*I He was so well poised that when summoned by
Frederick the Great to come and play before him,
he took a year to finish certain work he had on hand
before he went. Then he would have forgotten the
engagement, had not his son, who was Chamber
Musician to the King, insisted that he come. In the
presence of Frederick it was the King who was abashed,
not he. He knew his kinship to Divinity so well that he
did not even think to assert it. And surely he was one
fit to stand in the presence of kings.
For number, variety and excellence, only two men can
be named as his competitors: these are Mozart and
Handel. But in point of performance, simplicity and
sterling manhood, Bach stands alone.
The correspondence of Goethe and Zelter displeases me.
I always feel out of sorts when I have been reading it.
Do you know that I am making great strides in water-
colors ? Schirmer comes to me every Saturday at eleven,
and paints for two hours at a landscape, which he is
going to make me a present of, because the subject
occurred to him whilst I was playing the little " Rivu-
let " (which you know). It represents a fellow who
saunters out of a dark forest into a sunny little nook;
trees all about, with stems thick and thin; one has
fallen across the rivulet; the ground is carpeted with
soft, deep moss, full of ferns; there are stones garlanded
with blackberry-bushes; it is fine warm weather; the
whole will be charming.
Mendelssohn to Devrient
HIRTY-EIGHT years is not a long
life, but still it is long enough to do
great things. Felix Mendelssohn-
Bartholdy was born in the year
Eighteen Hundred Nine, at Ham-
burg, and died at Leipzig in the year
Eighteen Hundred Forty-seven. His
career was a triumphal march. The
road to success with him was no zigzag journey from
the first he went straight to the front. Whether as a
baby he crowed in key, and cried to a one-two-three
melody, as his old nurse used to aver, is a little doubtful,
possibly. But all agree that he was the most precocious
musical genius that ever lived, excepting Mozart; and
Goethe, who knew them both, declared that Mendels-
sohn's music bore the same relationship to Mozart's as
the talk of a grown-up cultured person to the prattle of
a child S3 53
But then Goethe was not a musician, and sixty years
had passed from the time Goethe saw Mozart before he
met Mendelssohn. Goethe loved the brown-curled
Jewish boy at sight; and whether on meeting Mozart
he ever recovered from the taint of prejudice that most
people feel when a prodigy is introduced, is a question.
fl But who can wonder that the old poet's heart went
out to the youthful Mendelssohn as soon as he saw him!
He was a being to fill a poet's dream such a youth as
the Old Masters used to picture as the Christ when He
confounded the wise men. And then the painters posed
this same type of boy as Daniel in the lions' den; and
back in the days of Pericles, the Greeks were fond of
showing the beautiful youth, just approaching adoles-
cence, in the nude, as the god of Love. When the face
has all the soft beauty of a woman, and the figure, slight,
slender, lithe and graceful, carries only a suggestion of
the masculine strength to come then beauty is at
perihelion. The " Eros " of Phidias was not the helpless,
dumpy cherub " Cupid " he was a slender-limbed boy
of twelve years who showed collar-bone and revealed
Beauty and strength of the highest type are never
complete their lure lies in a certain reserve, and
behind all is a suggestion of unfoldment. Maturity is not
the acme of beauty, because in maturity there is nothing
more to hope for only the uncompleted fills the heart,
for from it we construct the Ideal.
Goethe looked out of his window and seeing Felix
Mendelssohn playing with the children, exclaimed to
Zelter, "He is a Greek god in the germ, and I here
solemnly protest against his wearing clothes."
The words sound singularly like the remark of Doctor
Schneider, made ten years later, when Herr Doctor
removed the sheet that covered the dead body of
Goethe, and gazing upon the full-rounded limbs, the
mighty chest, the columnar neck and the Jove-like head,
exclaimed, " It is the body of a Greek god! " And the
surgeons stood there in silent awe, forgetful of their
task 53 53
Zelter, who introduced Mendelssohn to Goethe, was a
fine old character, nearly as fine a type as Goethe him-
self. Heine once said, " Musicians constitute a third
sex." And that there have been some unsexed, or at
least unmanly men, who were great musicians, need not
be denied. The art of music borders more closely upon
the dim and mystic realms of the inspirational than any
of the other arts. Music refuses to give up its secrets in a
formula and at last eludes the sciolist with his ever-
ready theorem. But still, all musicians are not dreamers.
Zelter, for instance, was a most hard-headed, practical
man: a positivist and mathematician with a turn for
economics, and a Gradgrind for facts. He was a stone-
mason, and worked at his trade at odd times all
through his life, just because he felt it was every man's
duty to work with his hands. Imagine Tolstoy playing
the piano and composing instead of making shoes, and
you have Zelter.
This curious character was bound to the Mendelssohn
family by his love for Moses Mendelssohn, the grand-
father of Felix. Moses Mendel added the " sohn " in
loving recognition of his father, just as " Bartholdy "
was added by the father of Felix in loving token to his
wife. It was the grandfather of Felix who first gave
glory to the name. We sometimes forget that Moses
Mendelssohn was one of the greatest thinkers Germany
has produced the man who summed up in his own
head all the philosophy of the time and gave Spinoza to
the world. This was the man to whom the erratic Zelter
was bound in admiration, and when it was suggested
that he teach musical composition to the grandchild of
his idol, he accepted the post with zest.
But there came a shade of disappointment to the grim
and bearded Zelter when he failed to find a trace of
resemblance between the child and the child's grand-
father. The boy was sprightly, emotional, loving; and
could play the piano from his tenth year better than
Zelter himself. When Goethe teasingly suggested this
fact, Zelter replied, " You mean he plays different, not
better." Goethe apologized.
Yet the boy was not a philosopher, and this grieved
Zelter, who wanted him to be the grandson of his grand-
father, and a musician besides.
The lad's skill in composition, however, soon turned the
old teacher's fears into joy. Such a pupil he had never
had before! And he did not reason it out that no one
else had ever had, either. The child, like Chopin, read
music before he read print, and improvised, merging one
tune with another, bringing harmony out of hopeless
chaos. Zelter followed, fearing success would turn the
boy's head berating, scolding, chiding, encouraging
and all the time admiring and loving. The pretty boy
was not much frightened by the old man's rough ways,
but seized upon such of the instruction as he needed and
filled in the rest with his own peerless soul.
The parents were astounded at such progress. At first
they had wished merely to round out the boy's education
with a proper amount of musical instruction, and now
they reluctantly allowed the old teacher to have his
way the lad must make his career a musical one. The
boy composed a cantata, which was given in the parlors
of his parents' home, with an orchestra secured for the
occasion. Felix stood on a chair and led his band of
musicians with that solemn dignity which was his
through life. Zelter grumbled, ridiculed and criticized
that was the way he showed his interest. The old
musician declared they were making a " Miss Nancy "
of his pupil saturating him with flattery, and he
threatened to resign his office most certainly not
intending to do so.
It was about this time that Zelter threw out the hint
that he was going down to Weimar to see his friend
Goethe would Felix like to go? Felix would be
delighted, and when the boy's father and mother were
interviewed, they were pleased, too, at the prospect of
their boy's making the acquaintance of the greatest poet
of Germany. Felix was duly cautioned about how he
should conduct himself. He promised, of course, and also
agreed to write a letter home every day, recording the
exact language that the author of " Werther " used in
his presence. <J Goethe and the Carlylian Zelter had
been cronies for many years. The poet delighted in the
company of the gruff old stone-mason musician, and
together they laughed at the world over their pipes
and mugs. And sometimes, alas, they hotly argued
and raised their voices in donner-und-blitzen style, as
Germans have been known to do. Yet they were friends,
and the honest Zelter' s yearly visits were as a godsend
to the old poet, who was often pestered to distraction by
visitors who only voiced the conventional, the inconse-
quential and absurd. Here was a man who tried his steel.
fl Now, Zelter had his theories about teaching harmony
theories too finely spun for any one but himself to
grasp. Possibly he himself did not seize them very
firmly, but only argued them in a vain attempt to clear
the matter up in his own mind. The things we are not
quite sure of are those upon which we insist.
Goethe had pooh-poohed and smitten the table with his
" stein " in denial.
And now Zelter, the frank and bold, stealthily and by
concocted plot and plan took his pupil, Felix Mendels-
sohn, with him on a visit to Weimar. He wanted to
confound his antagonist and to reveal by actual proof
the success that could be achieved where correct
methods of instruction were followed.
Jean Jacques had written a novel showing what right
theories, properly followed up, could do for his hero.
Zelter had done better he exhibited the youth.
"A girl in boy's clothes, I do believe," said Goethe, with
his usual banter, in the evening when a little company
had gathered in the parlors. Felix sat on his teacher's
knee, with his arms around the old man's neck, girl-like.
" Does he play? " continued Goethe, going over and
opening the piano.
" Oh, a little! " answered Zelter indifferently.
The ladies insisted they always had music when
Zelter made them a visit.
" Come, make some noise and awaken the spirits that
have so long lain slumbering! " ordered the old poet 3&
Zelter advanced to the piano and played a stiff, formal
little tune of his own.
He arose and motioned to Felix.
" Play that! " said the teacher.
The child sat down, and with an impatient little gesture
and half -smile at the audience, played the piece exactly
as Zelter had played it, with a certain drawling style
that was all Zelter's own. It was so funny that the
listeners burst into shouts of laughter. But the boy
instantly restored order by striking the bass a strong
stroke with both hands, running the scale, and weaving
that simple little air into the most curious variations 3$
For ten minutes he played, bringing in Zelter's little
tune again and again, and then Zelter in a voice of
pretended wrath cried, " Cease that tin-pan drumming