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MODERN MUSICIANS




STRAUSS



MODERN
MUSICIANS

A BOOK FOR PLAYERS
SINGERS ^ LISTENERS
BY J. CUTHBERT H ADDEN

AUTHOR OF " MASTER MUSICIANS," ETC.



T. N. FOULIS
LONDON fj" EDINBURGH



T. N. FOULIS l-t 2>

LONDON : 91 Great Russell Street, W.C

EDINBURGH : 15 Frederick Street

BOSTON : 15 Ashburton Place
(Le Kay Phillies, Agenf)

And may also be ordered through the following agencies,

where the work may be examined

AUSTRALASIA : The Oxford University Press, Cathedral Buildings

205 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

CANADA : \V. C. Bell, 25 Richmond Street West, Toronto

DENMARK : Aaboulevard 28, Copenhagen

(Ntrrelrros Boghande[)



First Edition f-uh!ished October 1913

Reprinted July 1914, September 1918

and October 1930



MUSIC LIBRARY

University of California

Berkeley



Printed in Scot in nd by
R. & R. Clark, Ltd., Mdiniurch.



I DEDICATE THIS BOOK

TO MY FRIEND

MISS DOROTHY WARD



470830



PREFACE

This is a companion volume to the writer's Master
Musicians, published in 1909. Like that work, it con-
cerns itself rather with the musicians themselves than
with their compositions or their achievements. It does
not profess to be technical: indeed, it explicitly avoids
the technical, though there is aperhaps excusable sug-
gestion of the technical in the openingchapters. More-
over, the author does not claim to have made a com-
plete, or probably even the best possible selection, of
names. Space is limited; and to have included «// the
namesfamiliarto the musical public, wouldhave meant
the book resolving itself into a series of dictionary
notices. That kind of thing was never in the author's
mind, and is repugnant to him.

Here, in a word, are simply some "chapters" in in-
timate musical biography; written in a popular style,
and meant chiefly for popular reading.

The collecting of materials has naturally been diffi-
cult, since, with one or two exceptions, no books have
been published on the various personalities dealt with.
I am greatly indebted to the musical magazines of the
last ten or twelve years, and, especially as regards
the violinists and 'cellists, to The Strad. I gratefully
mention also the works of the American writer, Mr.
Henry C. Lahee, on Pianists, Singers, and Violinists.

J. C. H.

Edinburgh,

Midsummer 191 3.



THE LIST OF CHAPTERS



I. Modernity in Musical Composition



PAGE 3



COMPOSERS

II. Richard Strauss » 13

III. Claude Debussy 19

iv. Saint-Saens 23

V, Some Modern Continentals . » . . 27

VI. Sir Edward Elgar, O.M 35

VII. Granville Bantock 42





PIANISTS












VIII.


Paderewski 49


IX.


Pachmann










63


X.


Emil Sauer .










69


XI.


Moritz Rosenthal










73


XII.


Mark Hambourg .










77


XIII,


Siloti ....










83


XIV.


D'Albert and Carreno










86


XV.


BUSONI ....










91


XVI.


Backhaus










94


XVII.


Some other Pianists .










97




SINGERS


XVIII.


Melba ......... 109


XIX.


Tetrazzini










116


XX.


Caruso ....










123


XXI.


Clara Butt ...










131


XXII.


Emma Calve .










137


XXIII.


Mme. Kirkby Lunn










. 143


XXIV.


Plunkett Green .










c 146


XXV.


Various Vocalists










, 149



VIOLINISTS AND 'CELLISTS
XXVI. Ysaye i6i



THE LIST OF CHAPTERS



XXVII.


KUBELIK






P\r,K


166


XXVIII.


Franz von Vecsk v




. 172


XXIX.


Marie Hall . . . .








176


XXX.


MiscHA Elman .








184


XXXI.


Jacques Tim baud








190


XXXII.


Krkisler








. '93


XXXIII.


Willy Burmestl;;








«97


XXXIV.


Cksar Thomson .








200


XXXV.


Jean Gerardy .








202


XXXVI.


Pablo ve Casals








205


XXXVII.


Hugo Becker




,




. 20S



CONDUCTORS



xxxviii. About Conducting
xxxix. Arthur Nikisch
xi_ Felix Weingartner
XLi. Sir Henry J. Wood
XLii. Landon Ronald .
XLiii. Safonoff
XLiv. Michael Balling
XLV. Willem Mengelberg
XLVi. Emil Mlynarski



213
224
230
237
243
251
255
262
266



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Strauss

Debussy

Saint Saens.

Granville Bantock

Sir Edward Elgar,

Paderewski

Pachmann

Sauer .

Rosenthal

Melba .

Tetrazzini

Caruso .

Clara Butt

YSAYE .
KUBELIK

Marie Hall
MiscHA Elman
Sir Henry J. Wood
Landon Ronald
Balling
Mlynarski .



O.M



Frontispiece

page 4

24

32

40

56

64

72

88

112

120

128

136

160

168

176

184

240

248

256

264



MODERNITY IN MUSICAL
COMPOSITION



MODERN MUSICIANS .r^ . . js^
CHAPTER ONE MODERlv-

ITY IN MUSICAL COMFOSTTIO:^^

THIS, AS HAS BEEN SAID, IS A COMPANION
volume to Master Musicians. A cynic might be
tempted to play upon the two titles, and to suggest,
in a significant sarcasm, that the " modern " is not
likel}^ to be the " master " musician. And indeed the
idea may serve as an excellent starting point.

Somebody once foolishly asserted that Beethoven
had spoken the last word in music. Other undiscern-
ing persons have insisted that in Brahms we must re-
cognise the last of the classicists. There can be no
such thing as a "last word" in music, any more than
in literature, or science, or invention. Composers
have ever and again arisen who sought to widen the
boundaries of their art; and ever and again such com-
posers will arise. At first the new message is accepted
by a few, but is looked upon with suspicion, and even
hostility, by the majority. That is only natural. When
the course of art is to be altered, those who have been
walking by the river for long, and complacently follow-
ing its flow, generally throw up their arms in protest
and anger. The new genius, with new ways, is most
likely to find his appreciation among younger and
daring spirits.

Musical history offers many striking instances of
the kind. Beethoven himself was not gladly received,
either by critics or public. Nearly all his earlier works
3



: MODERN MUSICIANS

Were louhcIJy abused. When the Seventh Symphony
kppear^dj; We:ber wrote that "the extravagances of
this genius have reached the ne plus ultra, and Beet-
hoven is quite ripe for the madhouse." Wagner, now
the great god of the music-drama, was for many years
deridedasamusical mountebank. "Heis,"saidone,"a
desperate charlatan, endowed with worldly skill and
enough vigorous purpose to persuade a gaping crowd
that the nauseous compound he manufactures has
some precious inner virtue which they must live and
ponder yet ere they perceive." Prosper M^rim^e, the
authorof "Carmen," said hecould compose something
better than " Tannhauser " after hearing his cat walk
over the piano keyboard.

Even Mendelssohn pronounced Schubert's music
difTuse and formless. Wagner put it that Schumann
had only a "tendency" towards greatness. Tschaf-
kowsky, representing an imaginary conversation, said:
"Herr Brahms, I consider you a composer ungif'ted,
pretentious, and bereft of creative power. I by no
means place you aloft, and I look down upon you with
disdain." The works of certain other modern compos-
ers were considered by many of their contemporaries
eccentric, formless, decadent; hopeless attempts to
open up new paths.

That, without further labouring the point, has al-
ways been the attitude of the majority towards any
new genius. After a time, longer or shorter, accord-

4



ON MUSICAL COMPOSITION

ing to the opportunities of becoming familiar with the
new works, the majority diminishes, and finally van-
ishes. Of course, although many great geniuses have
not at once been recognised, it by no means follows
vhat all composers whose procedures are not contem-
porarily approved of are geniuses. But the recollec-
tion of how many of the really great had to fight and
to wait for recognition may well serve us as a warning
not to be too rash in forming a judgment, especially
an adverse one. History teaches us both to be slow to
condemn and slow to extol. Not all innovations live,
not even all the innovations of geniuses. Many innov-
ations admired for a time by enthusiasts disappear
without leaving a trace behind.

Still, one doubts about some of the vaunted living
composers. They are living, but will they live ? " I
wonder what they are all trying to accomplish?" said
Jean de Reszke recently of the modern composers.
"Unless music is ugly and bizarre and tuneless the
modernworlddoesnot seem to want it. Tschalkowsky,
Verdi, Weber, the great symphonists, none of them
are considered anything to-day. As for Bellini, Doni-
zetti, and Rossini, they are looked upon not as men
of talent, but as blots on the world of art. Even
Wagner is getting to be looked upon as old-fashioned,
especially his early works."

Mr. Frederick Delius says that Strauss is dished
up Wagner with twice as much devil and not half the
5



MODERN MUSICIANS

inspiration. " Debussy, Sibelius, and Puccini are not
great: our creative musical product to-day is sick for
want of feeling, full of doubt, dismay, self-distrust,
blatant self-assertion."

There may be some exaggeration in all this, but
there is also much truth. Quite recently there was
heard at Queen's Hall, London, an orchestral com-
position called " Prometheus : a Poem of Fire," by
the Russian composer Scriabine. The composer sol-
emnly announced that the thing had to be heard Jive
times before any one could understand it! It was act-
ually played twice at the same concert, but most of
those who heard it the first time fled before the repe-
tition came on. Here was what a leading critic wrote
about it:

"He begins with 'primordial chaos,' and the im-
pression left on me is that he never gets out of it. The
orchestra snored, groaned, and grunted in a manner
that might have aptly illustrated a hippopotamus en-
joying a mud bath. Anon there were sounds suggest-
ive of an escape of steam, then some perky notes
were shot out by a trumpet with comic effect, and
presently some despairing wails from a solo violin
seemed to be answered by gibes from the pianoforte,
which, with the organ, is also included in the score.
Towards the end the cacophony became unbearable."

If this is modernity in music, obviously we do not
want it. One really begins to wonder whether the writ-
ing of melody is a lost art. A music critic remarked not

6



ON MUSICAL COMPOSITION

long ago, avowedly after a surfeiting dose of Strauss,
Debussy, and Company, that "tunes are despised
nowadays." Tunes are certainly not despised by those
who like to listen to music, but there is some ground
for believing that they are despised by the creators
of what, in these times, is often taken for music.
Scarcely a composer of any standing in Europe would
dream of writing a haunting melody, assuming that he
could write it. Become a mere Gounod, a Balfe, a
Bellini? No,no; positive ugliness were better than that!
And Sir Hubert Parry was never more sane than
when he said that ugliness in musical composition is
chiefly the makeshift of melodic incapacity.

Vincent Wallace, the composer of " Maritana," talk-
ing once to a friend about " rising composers," de-
clared that there was " not the ghost of a tune in the
whole lot." The observation was made sixty years
ago. What would Wallace say about composers risen
and rising now ? After all, Haydn was right. " Let
your air be good," said the old master, "and your
composition, whatever it be, will be so likewise, and
will assuredly delight. It is the soul of music, the life,
the spirit, the essence of a composition. Without it
theorists may succeed in discovering and using the
most singular chords and combinations, but noth-
ing is heard but a laboured sound, which, though it
may please the ears, leaves the head empty and the
heart cold and unaffected by it." He knew what he
7



MODERN MUSICIANS

was talking about, this melodic father of the sym-
pliony, and there is no gainsaying him, even to-day.

Why does such a work as " The Bohemian Girl "
retain its phenomenal popularity with the opera-going
masses? Not because it is in any sense a "great"
work. Its orchestration is thin and feeble, its drama-
tic grip of a rather elementary kind. It has no depth of
thought, no intellectual aim. Nevertheless, a perform-
ance always gives real and abundant pleasure. And
why? Just because of the sheer tunefulness of the
work. It is a string of melodic pearls. Strauss, senior,
called Balfe the "king of melody," and he was right.
These airs of his are pure and natural, written spont-
aneously, without, as it would seem, the slightest effort.
Pedantry may sneer at them, but they have a way of
finding out the tender spots in the human heart.

Well, to return, what of the modern men? Will
they " compel " the heart of the average musical amat-
eur, as Balfe and Wallace and the rest did? Who
can say ? In a letter to a friend, Verdi, the composer of
"II Trovatore" and many another popular opera, once
wrote: "For an artist who addresses himself to the
public, it is good fortune when the press isagainst him.
The artist remains thus independent. He has no need
to lose his time thanking one or the other, or to reflect
on their counsels. Rewrites freely, following the dict-
ates of his mind and heart, and if he has it in hira, he

does something, and he does it well."

8



ON MUSICAL COMPOSITION

What more need be said by way of introduction ?
In recent years two composers especially have pre-
sented us with problems which seem unsolvableatpre-
sent — the German Richard Strauss, and the French-
man Claude Debussy. Let us take these two, then,
as a sort of bridge carrying us over from the "master"
to the "modern" musician. And we may do it with
the more instruction to ourselves that the two men are
in their natures, as well as in their music, like the
poles asunder. Professor Nieckshas emphasized this.
Strauss, a supreme master of all the resources of the
art, to whom the most extraordinary difficulties are
child's play, is a personality of boundless vigour and
fertility. Work after work flows from his pen with
marvellous rapidity, and every new one surpasses its
predecessor in daring and power. Debussy, on the
other hand, a musician of much more limited craft-
manship, is a personality without vigour and fertility.
Although he is two years older, his output is not a
tenth of that of his great contemporary. In short,
whereas Strauss is wide awake and alive, indeed tingl-
ing with energy, Debussy is dreamy and languid.
With Strauss his creations are a white-heat business ;
with Debussy a lukewarm dilettanteism.



COMPOSERS



CHAP. II. RICHARD STRAUSS

SOME CONFUSION EXISTS IN THE POPU-
lar mind as to the identity and relationship of the many
Strausses who have earned distinction in the musical
world. Up to the time when Richard Strauss became
well known, the name of Strauss was associated
chiefly with the family of waltz composers. But
Richard Strauss has no connection with the Johann
Strauss who earned the title of father of the Viennese
waltz, nor with Johanu's more famous son, the so-
called "waltz-king," composer of the haunting " Blue
Danube."

The Strauss in whom we are now interested, bear-
ing, as he does, the same Christian name as Richard
Wagner, is sometimes playfully called Richard II. He
was born at Munich in 1864, where his father was a
horn player in the Court orchestra. He began the pi-
ano at four, and at six wrote a little polka. Before he
went to school, he had composed songs, piano pieces,
and even an overture for orchestra.

Strauss /^r^ did everything possible to foster the
precocious child's talent, but it is curious to remark,
in view of the revolutionary character of Richard's
compositions, that the father was such a conservative
musician as never to get over his early anti- Wagnerian
bias. On one occasion, after he had most exquisitely
performed the first horn part in one of Wagner's
works, the composer facetiously remarked: "I fancy
after all, Strauss, 3'ou can't be such an anti-Wagner-
13



MODERN MUSICIANS

ian as they make out,seeing tliat 3'ou play my music so
beautifully." "What has that to do with it?" growled
the unrelenting hornist.

Strauss got his first music lessons from his mother,
a daughter of Georg Pschorr, the well-known brewer
of Munich beer. But the most effective part of his long
and thorough musical training was received at the
hands of Von Billow and Alexander Ritter, a man of
many and varied accomplishments, who had married
a niece of Wagner. He has told himself that until
1885 he had been brought up in a strictly classical way
— on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven — that only after
1885 did he attain, via Mendelssohn, to Chopin and
Schumann and then to Brahms.

Billow fancied him as a conductor, and in 1885 en-
gaged him as assistant music director of his Meineng-
en Orchestra. Then, when Biilow left Meinengen,
Strauss succeeded him. But this appointment did not
last long. After a tour in Italy Strauss returned to
Munich in 1886, to be made third kapellmeister at the
Opera. That post he held till 1889, when he became as-
sistant kapellmeister at Weimar, under Lassen. Here
he remained until 1894, when he returned to Munich,
this time as first kapellmeister. In 1 898 he left Munich
to take up the post of conductor at the Berlin Royal
Opera. A year before,he paid his first visit to England,
when he conducted two of his own works at Queen's
Hall.

14



RICHARD STRAUSS

Long ere this, he had " found " himself as a com-
poser ; and it is as a composer that we are now chiefly
concerned with him — the composer of "Salome" and
"Eleictra," "Der Rosenkavalier," " Heldenleben,"and
other epoch-making works. What is to be said about
them? Nothing technical here, but something of a
general nature.

Strauss' ideas about music are certainly original
enough. He maintains that the ugly in art is as impor-
tant and legitimate as the beautiful. Music, he says,in
effect, may represent any feature of life. For him there
is no absolute beauty or ugliness in music: whatever
is truly and sincerely felt, and faithfully and properly
reproduced, is beautiful.

In agreement with this opinion, he depicts in " Hel-
denleben" a battle scene by a cacophonous jumble
of unrelated sounds; in "Don Quixote" the hero's
charge of a flock of sheep by an imitation of bleat-
ing and stampeding, realistic rather than musical. In
"Elektra" there are howling steam-whistle effects,and
shrieks of the first order given om\. fortissimo. He even
terminates the score with a dissonance.

In "Salome" we have morbid and degenerate psy-
chological conditions depicted by means between
which and art as understood by the classic masters
there is no connection possible. But perhaps Strauss
is right after all. As he says himself, ideas of beauty
are constantly changing: "the ugly of to-day may be
15



MODERN MUSICIANS

the beautiful often or fifty years hence"; and a creak-
ing hinge or the bray of a donkey be as welcome from
an orchestra as a Beethoven symphony is now.

Strauss can hirasch" play nearly every one of the
orchestral instruments. The complexity of his works
leaves even Wagner behind. He has conducted them
in all the capitals of Europe, and has often quite ex-
hausted his players in his powerful upbuilding of
climaxes. Some interestingthingshave been recorded
about his methods of composing. He is very fond of
playing ball at his Bavarian home, and a friend who
has often enjoyed that pastime with him, reveals the
fact that themes for his " Rosenkavalier " frequently
occurred to him during the game. Every now and
then he would stop suddenly, let the ball fall to the
ground, take out his note-book, and jot down an idea.
Several of the prettiest melodies in the opera came to
him in this way. This authority added that in working
out his ideas later at the piano the composer is very
thorough, often copying or correcting a part half a
dozen times; occasionally, indeed, remodelling prac-
tically the entire composition four or five times.

He himself says : " Wherever I am I compose.
Whether in my quiet country home or in the noisiest
international hotel, in the solitude of my own garden
or in a railway, my note-book is always at hand. As
soon as a suitable motive for the theme which is
occupying my mind occurs to me, it is at once en-

l6



RICHARD STRAUSS

trusted to my faithful companion, my musical note-
book." This reminds one of Beethovenand his sketch-
books, which he always carried about with him. Beet-
hoven had no garden of his own, but deHghted in
solitary wanderings in Nature's great garden.

Strauss is reported as saying that it is only when a
man is free from any thoughts of money matters that
he can give himself completely to his art. Comment-
ing on the vast sums he exacts for the rights of per-
forming his works, a captious writer says it is evident
that Strauss has not yet arrived at that stage !

Some years ago he married an operatic singer,
Pauline de Ahna, daughter of a Bavarian General.
When he wrote his "Domestic Symphony" he wished
it to be regarded in a serious spirit, and was annoyed
by being credited with a desire to be funny and flip-
pant. "What can be more serious than married life?"
he demanded. He has indeed a mordant wit. Asked
about women conductors, he says : " As women are
able to control excellent conductors — namely their
husbands — why should they not be equal to the task
of directing the orchestras which their husbands con-
trol ? " ^

He was dining once with a party of musical friends,

when the conversation turned on the compositions of

the Kaiser. Some of the guests had expressed their

opinions pretty freely, when Herr Strauss put his

finger to his lips and said : " Sh ! sh ! you should never
17 B



MODERN MUSICIANS

run down the compositions of crowned heads in com-
pany. There is no telling who wrote them."

A modest man, he does not like flattery from his ad-
mirers. One insistent sycophant said : " Master, you
are the Budda of modern music." " I don't know
about that," he replied, " but I do know what is the
pest" (Budapest). Naturally, he has little time for
hobbies. Lately, however, he took to aviation, which
seems the right thing for a composer, who, of course,
ought to be an "air" man. Doubtless he will now rise
to greater heights than ever I



CHAPTER III. CLAUDE DEBUSSY

"THE DEBUSSY CULT," SAID A LONDON
musical journal in 1909, "is making great progress
in this country. It has reached that interesting stage
when many people who are really desperately be-
wildered, affect to perceive beauties and wonderful
meanings that have probably entirely escaped the at-
tention of the composer himself. But there is no mis-
taking the depth and width of the influence Debussy
is exerting on the art. His music may be classed as
nebulous, fragile, diaphonous, and so on, but one
cannot resist the languor of the hazy atmosphere with
which it envelopes and mesmerises the listener. What
one appears to miss is the attribute of strength, and
grip, and clearness of purpose. It is nearly always
veiled suggestion and an appeal to imaginativeness."

This, even after the lapse of four years, and when
we have had many more opportunities of judging De-
bussy, seems a very fair estimate. Debussy, by his love
of freedom and endeavour to shake off the "accumul-
ated dust of tradition "is, to a great extent, a law to him-
self. The old forms, the old harmonies subject to the-
oretical laws, the old accepted notion that music ought
to be primarily beautiful — all these things are rejected
by Debussy as they are rejected by Strauss, though
Strauss rejects them in a very different manner.

What strikes one mainly in listening to Debussy's
music is (to be technical for once) a sense of the
dreamy and the languid, of vagueness and mystery
19



MODERN MUSICIANS

and "atmosphere," of the predominance of dissonance
over consonance, and the treatment of dissonance as
not in need of resolution into consonance. An Ameri-
can writer credits him with a lukewarm dilettanteism;
and in his criticism of Debussy's chief work, the opera
or lyrical drama, " Pelleas and Melisande," claims to
characterise the whole man and artist.

He calls the work mooning, mystic and triste, and
speaks of its invertebrate charm, its innocuous sensu-
ousness, its absence of thematic material, its p)erverse
harmonies, its lack of rhythmic variety, and its faded
sweetness, like that evoked by musty tapestry in lan-
guid motion. This is not bad either I Of course there


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