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Voice and Violin
Uniform with the Present Volume
Crown 8vo, art canvas, gilt top, 5s.
Famous Violinists and Fine Violins
By Dr. T. L. Phipson
"In the prettily got up volume before us, Dr. Phipson, himself an amateur
violinist of considerable note, has collected manj' anecdotes of great violinists, to
wliich are added some valuable criticisms of their plaj'iiig, and has told what he has
to say in an extremely entertaining manner. There is scarcely a dry page in the
volume. . . . We can cordially recommend Dr. Phipson's book to amateurs of the
violin, for they :)re certain to fuid much in it to instruct them." — Musical Standard.
"Dr. T. L. Phipson's notes and anecdotes of 'Famous Violinists and Fine
Violins' contain a good many things that will amuse violinists, and many that may
instruct them. A chapter on the early violinists of England is perhaps the most
valuable part of the book." — Times.
" In this nent volume we have one of the brightest and most enjoyably chatty
books yet published on this subject. . . . Something of the kind has been attempted
before, but nothing that has shown so much pains and research, and nothing that
bears such an impress that its compilation was a laliour of love." — Tablet.
"The volume contains chapters on the violinists of the Italian school, on Ole
Bull and Vieuxtemps, cliattily written, and including some anecdotes which are
derived from the author's personal reminiscences. . . . He describes the chief models
of violms, and their respective peculiarities, with the care born of long and affection-
ate study." — Manchester Guardian.
" In a pleasant anecdotical and factful maimer Dr. Phipson gives his readers the
fruit of his extensive reading; and also of his own personal knowledge of famous
performers and instruments. . . . The chapters on 'Secrets of the Cremona Violin
Trade,' and on the qualities wiiich a good violin should possess, will in particular be
found valuable by those who do not know a good fiddle from a bad one." — Newcastle
"The chapters contain much curious and out-of-the-way information, and of
some remarkable peri^onages he has a good deal that is interesting to say ... in
matter enough to entertain and instruct." — Bookman.
"Dr. Phipson, an experienced and elficient violinist himself, has given us in a
handy volume an interesting and fairly detailed account of the old Italian masters
and their instruments." — Literary IVorld.
London : Chatto ^ Windus, 11 1 St. Martin's Lane
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company
Voice and Violin
Sketches, Anecdotes, ana
Reminiscences ^ A •, J ?' '','' H -M i/A
Dr. T. L. Phipson
Formerly President and Violin Solo to the Bohemian
Author of "Scenes from the Reign of Louis XVI."
"Famous Violinists and Fine Violins," etc.
Chatto &^ Windus
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company
^ \ ^
Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &* Co.
At the Ballantyne Press
SENORA ISIDORA MARTINEZ
Formerly of the Italian Operas, London, Berlin ^ New York, ^c.
Professor of Singing at Los Angeles, U.S.
THIS LITTLE VOLUME
IS INSCRIBED IN REMEMBRANCE OF MANY HAPPY DAYS
AND BRILLIANT CONCERT EVENINGS, BY HER
AFFECTIONATE FRIEND AND ADMIRER
The chief objects of the present Httle work are to
amuse and instruct. It is a collection of episodes
and personal reminiscences for which I had not
space in my " Famous Violinists and Fine VioHns."
In addition to what has been given in that work, I
have recorded here a few details connected with
my own career as a violinist, because I believe that
it will tend to facilitate the labours of those whose
livelihood depends upon their music, and of all
amateurs who desire to rise to the rank of artists.
In the present day, for the sake of novelty, there
are many vain attempts to wander from the ro-
mantic and poetic sides of the musical art, and
to sacrifice this art to what is termed the science
of music — to write what pleases the eye and con-
forms to theory, rather than what pleases the ear
and touches the feelings. In other words, there is
considerable negligence of melody and cantabile
(with its fine phrasing and graceful ornaments),
and the production of much noise and cacophonia,
which can never prove practically acceptable to
the world at large, however much it may be con-
genial to individuals of pedantic dispositions.
The little sketches, anecdotes, and reminiscences
in this volume, may, I trust, counteract to some
extent this undesirable state of things, and bring to
the minds of my young fellow-artists many thoughts
which will carry them in the right direction and
help them on the road to success.
Casa Mia, Putney, S.W.
I. ANTOINETTE CLAVEL ....
II. THE MUSIC OF THE " MARSEILLAISE "
III. BRIGITTA BANTI, THE "QUEEN OF SONG "
IV. BELLINI AND HIS OPERA " LA SONNAM
V. THE VIOLINIST OF THE BOULEVARDS
VII. MADEMOISELLE FRERY
VIII. A LESSON IN COMPOSITION
IX. TOMARISSEN AND THE BEY OF TUNIS
X. NEW FEATURES IN THE LIFE OF PAGANINI
XI. " FRA DIAVOLO " AT BRUSSELS .
Xn. THE VOICE AND THE STRINGS .
XIII. A VIOLIN BY BERTOLINI .
XIV. GIOVANNI BOTTESINI AND HIS LAST CONCERT
XV. THE ART OF PLAYING IN TUNE
XVI. A RIVAL OF STRADIVARIUS
XVII. MARIETTA ALBONI ....
XVIII. ST. LEON AND THE '* VIOLON DU DIABLE " I42
XIX. "sunrise on the righi"
XX. VOICE AND VIOLIN ....
XXI. SPAGNOLETTl'S VIOLIN
XXII. SUCCESS BY AN AMATEUR .
XXIII. THE VIOLIN-MAKER TO THE EMPEROR
XXIV. TAMBURINI'S COW ....
XXV. THE BOHEMIAN ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY
XXVI. BIBLIOGRAPHIC GOSSIP
The great German poet, Wolfgang von Goethe,
has told us that ^^ where men sing, there you may
enter without fear." This is very true. Even the
drunken brawlers in the streets at night are much
less dangerous when they sing than the surly, silent,
quarrelsome brutes who have no music in them.
You have only to join in their song to be made one
of them at once — if such should be your desire.
It is needless to repeat here what I have so often
said before about the refining influence of music
upon men's thoughts and doings. Some people
think we have already enough music in the world ;
others say, " Perhaps too much " ; but I have long
been of opinion that its influence for good is so
great, the more we have, the better for every one.
It is, no doubt, a mistake to let the study of music
interfere with the labour demanded by other pro-
fessions on which the livelihood and welfare of a
family depend; but a great amount of pleasure may
be obtained from a moderate proficiency in the art,
without allowing it to impinge too much upon the
daily routine of business. There are two mistakes
often made in this respect. The first is the endeavour
to force one's children to become musicians, because
music and singing happen to be looked upon as
fashionable accomplishments, when they have not
the slightest gift or disposition in that direction.
The other is the labour undertaken by many ama-
teurs in order to vie with professional musicians,
whose entire lives are devoted to the cultivation of
It is well for an amateur to be ambitious, and
strive to excel either in painting or music ; and it
should never be forgotten that an amateur possesses
advantages which the hard-worked professional can
never hope to realise : to the latter music is often a
drudge, whilst to the former it is a pleasure. An
artist must play, or teach, often when he would
rather do anything else ; whereas the amateur only
plays when he or she feels inclined to do so, and
never knows the drudgery of teaching.
Between these two conditions there is all the
difference which exists between pleasure and pain.
In my yoimger days, with the exception of a few
simple ballads for the voice, and some elementary
pieces for the piano or violin, there were no effec-
tive compositions, save such as could only be per-
formed by artists. Now things have entirely changed
in this respect, and musical composition has attained
such a degree of perfection that pieces of every
grade of difficulty^ most of them good enough for
performance in the concert-room, are to be obtained
everywhere. There is no longer any reason for the
amateur to sacrifice his time upon the most elaborate
compositions, which he can rarely or ever conquer,
when we find artists themselves performing in public
certain pieces which the composer intended chiefly
for the amateur.
Good music is one of the greatest blessings which
the Almighty has placed at our disposal ; it will
always charm if delivered in proper style ; but with
bad music the finest style can do nothing.
This question of style is at the root of everything
in music ; it applies not only to composition, but
still more, perhaps, to the performance. Style is
almost everything, and in many cases it is the most
difficult thing to acquire. Let us take an example.
Listen to the same song as heard in the street and
in the drawing-room ; or to an operatic air as sung
by a prima donna before the footlights, and in the
school-room by a young lady just finishing her
I remember one evening in Brussels when my
mother had asked a few friends for a little music,
and among them was a young girl who had just
arrived from London, where Verdi's opera // Tro-
vatore was being given for the first time. In due
course the young lady sat down to the piano and
sang a song. When it was concluded, my good
mother went forward to thank her, saying, ^' I sup-
pose that is the last new EngHsh ballad ? " " Oh !
dear no," replied the girl, '^that is Or che la mortey
from the new opera, // Trovatorey now playing in
An operatic tenor song sung by a girl — and taken
for a new English ballad ! Could anything have
been more ridiculous ?
The best way for young people to acquire a good
style is, perhaps, to attend performances of Itahan
Opera as often as possible, those of Mozart, Rossini,
Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, &c.; and if such be not
possible, to frequent concerts where good artists
As a youth I owed a great deal to Marietta Alboni
(she was my great model), also to Camillo Sivori
and Arthur St. Leon, for the violin. They supplied
what my music master and my books of studies
could not supply.
As a rule, young musicians do not pay sufficient
attention to the / and f marks printed upon the
music before them. They look only at the notes^
then they endeavour to get the time; but as for
accent^ rhythm^ or expression, they rarely or ever give
them a thought. Only the other day I stood near
a young performer on the piano who never once
took the slightest notice of the marks/ and /under
the notes, and so the piece was played at one dead-
level of mezzo-forte all the way through. The notes
were all there, and the time was pretty well kept,
but the piano and forte passages, the staccato^ and
slurSf and crescendoy &c., were all played exactly
The monotony of such playing can only be com-
pared to that of a piano-organ in the street.
In orchestral playing strict attention to these
things is most essential ; and the crescendo in a fine
orchestra is one of the grandest of musical effects.
I remember the conductor of an orchestra with
which I w^as connected for a few years losing his
temper because the performers neglected the pre-
liminary /Z^;?^ passages, so that the crescendo was a
complete failure. ^' Now, my friends," he said, when
his anger had cooled down a little ; ^* now, my dear
friends, if you do not begin piano, how on earth can
you ever produce the/^r/^ — unless you can manage
to ^\'2iy fifty, which nobody ever could."
The distinguished French violinist Habeneck was
once accused of something of the same kind by
^^Now, Habeneck," said the latter, as they were
about to separate, '^when will you give us that
passage of Beethoven as the composer intended
^' Never, as long as I live!" exclaimed the violinist,
irritated at the question.
"Ah, well, then we must wait," rejoined the other,
" but don't let it be long."
A bad-tempered person will rarely be a good
musician ; so much depends on the mind of the
performer (and the same applies equally well to
composers). The greatest artists I have ever known
were all persons of considerable mental culture,
fond of poetry, history, and often of natural history.
They were so good-natured that many have suffered
from extravagant generosity. My father used to
speak of Malibran as one of the most good-natured
young women he ever knew, and though she might
well be proud of her accomplishments, she was
quite devoid of anything approaching to ostenta-
tion. She was one of the few great singers in
whom jealousy of the success of others could never
However, I have not taken up my pen to write a
didactic treatise upon the study of music, but simply
to produce a few pages in which I shall endeavour
to combine amusement and instruction for musi-
cians in particular, and for the public in general.
In doing so I have experienced the pleasure of
recalling to my mind the events of many happy
years, during which musical notes and memoranda
have accumulated around me. Some of these I
now place before my readers, with the conviction
that they also will derive pleasure in perusing
them, trusting that the present work may form
an acceptable companion-volume to my " Famous
Violinists," published a short time ago.
Voice and Violin
I HAVE shown in my '^ Scenes from the Reign of
Louis XVI." how marvellously some musicians
escaped from the deadly shafts of the French Re-
volution. The guillotine that mowed down law-
yers, bankers, politicians, men of science, authors,
and even harmless poets and women, appears to
have respected musicians.
Though some, like the illustrious Cherubini,
suffered both physically and morally during this
terrible period, the theatre and the concert-room
do not figure much in the bloody annals of the
Communists. No doubt, many professional musi-
cians perished in the wholesale massacres at Paris,
Nantes, Lyons, and Marseilles, yet all the great
composers and lyric artists managed to elude the
A curious scene occurred when Phillis, the well-
known guitar player, father of the fascinating
^aidl'le. 'Fliilli's 'who enchanted the audiences of
.'. thfe; xDpera * by. her singing of Gretry's music, was
brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal as a
suspected character, to be tried by these self-
*' What is your real name ? " he was asked.
^' Phillis," replied the musician.
" What do you do ? "
*^ I play the guitar."
^^ What did you do under the tyrant ? " (this
was an allusion to the poor king, who had just
" I played the guitar."
" What are you going to do for the Republic ? "
" I shall play the guitar."
The inquiry did not proceed any further. It
was absolutely impossible to find this man guilty
or dangerous, so he was allowed to go.
But some four years before the actual Revolu-
tion broke out, a truly marvellous occurrence took
place at Marseilles, on the 15th August 1785,
when Antoinette Clavel, then known as Madame
St. Huberty, the celebrated singer, visited that
city. Numerous ladies escorted her in a gondola
to a pavilion, which was surrounded by at least
two hundred little boats crowded with persons
of all classes. She was saluted by a salvo of
artillery, as if she had been some distinguished
general. The Greek ladies of Marseilles presented
ANTOINETTE CLAVEL 3
her with a magnificent costume, which she wore
at this fete. After witnessing a water tournament,
she was escorted to the pavihon, which was illumi-
nated and decorated for the occasion, where a
little allegorical piece, written in her honour, was
performed. Then followed a ball, after which
there was a display of fireworks and a grand
Antoinette Clavel was born, of French parents,
at the little German town of Toul, in 1756. Her
father had been a soldier, but being a good
musician, had embraced the musical profession,
and had succeeded in becoming superintendent
of rehearsals to a French opera company in the
service of the Elector Palatine.
Whilst she was still a mere child, it was ob-
served that little Antoinette had a delicious voice.
But that was all she possessed. It did not appear
that she was likely to become a handsome woman ;
though her countenance was full of intellectual
warmth, and her manners were refined.
She was sixteen years of age when she began
to sing in public ; and though the German public
applauded her efforts, no one would have ima-
gined that a brilliant future was in store for
her. At Manheim, in 1770, her father, with the
troupe to which he belonged, formed an engage-
ment for the opera at Warsaw, in which town
the leader of the orchestra, M. Lemoyne, gave
4 VOICE AND VIOLIN
Antoinette Clavel singing lessons during the four
years that they stayed there, and afterwards brought
her out as 2i prima donna in a Httle opera of his own.
She next sang at Berhn, and then for three years
at Strasburg. At last she reached Paris, and in
September 1777 appeared for the first time on the
French stage in the Arfuide of Gluck, but only in a
She had now ceased to sing under her own
name, and adopted that of '^ Madame St. Huberty."
Nevertheless, at Paris she was scarcely noticed.
She could obtain only secondary characters, her
salary was extremely small, and she lived in a room
at the top of a large house in the Rue du Mail, the
whole of her furniture consisting of a little bed, and
a trunk, which was used as a chair.
In person Antoinette was very different from her
namesake upon the French throne. She was small,
delicate-looking, and fair ; her features were not
finely formed, she had rather a large mouth, but
her countenance was expressive. Her singing was
marred by a hard German accent, and she was very
nervous, both as a singer and an actress.
She attended rehearsal every day most punctually,
generally attired in an old, shabby black dress,
whilst the other singers flaunted around in silks,
laces, and jewellery. They looked down upon the
unfortunate young woman, made fun of the fine
theatrical name she had adopted, and nicknamed
ANTOINETTE CLAVEL 5
her " Madame la Ressource/' in allusion to a
thrifty personage in a play by Regnard.
Gliick, the great composer and friend of Marie
Antoinette, had alone observed the superiority of
Antoinette Clavel's style of singing. He alone
foresaw that she would outstrip all those dazzling
butterflies of mediocre musical talent who never
allowed her the chance of a good part. He alone
encouraged her arduous endeavours to gain a
livelihood by the only means in her power.
One day, in the presence of Gliick, a pert
actress, seeing Antoinette enter the theatre, ex-
claimed, '' Oh ! here comes Madame la Ressource."
This nickname stuck to her for a long time.
*^Yes," said Gliick, *^you may well call her
< Madame la Ressource,' for the day will come
when this girl will be the sole resource of the
His words proved prophetic. She made the
name of Madame St. Huberty celebrated.
Her first undoubted success was on the 12th
May 1778, when she appeared as Angelique in
Piccini's opera of Roland, She gained another
triumph in 1880 in one of Gossec's operas ; and
again in 1782, when a contemporary declared
that '^ never had the expression of tenderness and
passion been so exquisitely delineated on the
I must not omit to mention here a little anec-
6 VOICE AND VIOLIN
dote which brings out the true character of the
composer Gliick. It will be remembered that at
this epoch the war between the *' Gliickists and
Piccinists " was at its height — both composers had
their ardent partisans and admirers. It is not
generally known that the above-mentioned opera
of Rolajtd by Piccini was composed at a time
when Gliick was setting to music the same subject.
But when the latter heard that the poem given to
Piccini was much the finest, he destroyed what he
had already composed of his new opera.
His friends accused him of folly. ^' Why should
you thus destroy a work which might bring you
both fame and fortune ? " they protested.
^' It is a matter of no importance/' replied
'^ But what should you say if Piccini's Roland
happened to prove a failure ? "
'' I should feel extremely sorry."
*' And suppose it obtained a striking success."
^' Ah ! then I would take up the subject and
treat it in my manner."
Six years before the outbreak of the Revolution,
Antoinette Clavel, now universally known as the
celebrated Madame St. Huberty, achieved one of
her greatest triumphs as Didon, in the opera of
that name by Marmontel and Piccini. During
the rehearsals some persons remarked to the
composer that they feared for the success of the
ANTOINETTE CLAVEL 7
work, upon which Piccini replied, " Gentlemen,
pray do not judge Didon till she appears ; " and,
indeed, when Madame St. Huberty performed that
character the success was enormous ; and the
worthy Louis XVI., who did not care very much
for any opera, had it twice performed at Fontaine-
bleau, and awarded to the talented singer a pension
of 1500 francs from the State, adding 500 francs
more from his private purse.
Up to the year 1790, when she retired from the
stage to marry a diplomatist. Count d' Entraigues,
the career of Antoinette Clavel was one continued
Her married life was no less romantic than her
artistic career. The Count d' Entraigues had
served in the French army, and was formerly
a member of the Constituent Assembly. He had
known the charming singer for some time, and
was married to her on the 29th December 1790.
But the marriage was kept a profound secret for
seven years afterwards, during which time we
completely lose sight of her. No one knows
what horrors she may have witnessed, what
anxieties and hardships she may have experienced.
Her lover, or husband, was a diplomatist and
a nobleman ; therefore his life was not safe for
a moment. In 1790, after their marriage, he
emigrated, none too soon. He went to Lausanne,
where his wife joined him, and soon afterwards he
8 VOICE AND VIOLIN
was appointed Secretary to the; French Embassy
at Madrid, and later still, to that of St. Petersburg.
One day, on his way to Vienna, he was arrested
at Trieste, by the orders of young Buonaparte ;
his papers were seized, and he was forced from
his devoted wife, to be thrown into prison in the
citadel of Milan, on a charge of connivance in
the intrigues of General Pichegru.-^ By means
which I have no space to relate here, his wife
managed to procure his escape, and he then
(1797), for the first time, made public his mar-
riage with Antoinette Clavel.
The end of this talented woman, like that of her
illustrious contemporary. Queen Marie Antoinette,
After his escape from Milan the Count entered
into the political service of Russia. He w^as en-
trusted with secret missions, which brought him
in large sums of money, both from the Court
of St. Petersburg and from the English Govern-
ment, under the ministry of Canning. The Count
and Countess d'Entraigues finally came to reside
in England at Barn Elms,^ on the Thames, at
Putney. They were on very intimate terms with
many members of the Government.
This fact attracted the attention of some of
Fouche's agents, and one of the latter bribed
^ See Thiers' "History of the French Revolution," ed. Chatto &
Windus, p. 729 (ii.). ^ Now the Ranelagh Club.
ANTOINETTE CLAVEL 9
a Piedmontese valet of the Count to purloin some
despatches and forward them to Paris. The theft
was discovered almost immediately, and Lorenzo,