In the Concert Halls
During the season which is now drawing to a close, New York and other cities as well have had an opportunity of hearing the leading conductors of the world. There have been the English Arthur Coates, who came for three concerts of the New York Symphony, and whose presence is promised by the same orchestra for a longer term next year; the Dutch Mengelberg, who has finished his season with the National Symphony, and who will return next season to act as joint conductor with Stransky of the greater Philharmonic; Toscanini, that fiery Italian, who has thrilled his many admirers anew with his masterful handling of the splendid La Scala Orchestra; and last, but by no means the least, we have heard during the month just, past, the great Italian conductor, Leopold Mugnone, who made his first New York appearance under the most disastrous conditions imaginable.
Although Signor Mugnone is reputed in the past to have received numerous flattering offers from impressarios and orchestral societies in this country, he has accepted none of them, and it remained for Signor Salmaggi, of the Italian Lyric Federation, to succeed in bringing the great conductor to our shores. A ten weeks' series of opera at the Lexington was announced, with added performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The season opened with a packed house, largely composed of Italians, to hear Aida.
Sig. Mugnone's reputation has extended to all quarters of the musical world, and there were many on hand to witness this performance under the baton of the man whom Verdi chose as his greatest interpreter, and to whom was intrusted the first performance of Falstaff.
The conductor of this Aida had only two rehearsals with his troupe before the performance (hearken to this, ye Mengelbergs), and though the singers were decidedly inferior, and the orchestra hurriedly assembled from all quarters for the occasion, New York has seldom heard so spirited and so thoroughly musical a performance of Aida. Signor Mugnone was at all times master of the occasion, he held the whip hand, and although an inferior conductor would have been driven to desperation by the almost insurmountable difficulties thrown in his path, Mugnone kept things together and thoroughly earned the honors as "prima donna" of the occasion.
On the following evening Rigoletto was presented, the singing was even more ragged than on the previous night, and the audience smaller. Since then there have been no more performances and it is fairly certain that the project is abandoned. Of one thing can we be assured, however, and that is that Mugnone upheld his reputation in spite of the drawbacks. It is sincerely to be hoped that we will hear him next season under more auspicious circumstances. Maybe his friend Gatti Casazza will engage him for a few performances at the Metropolitan.
The End of the Orchestral Season
Now that the season of the New York Symphony and the Philharmonic are ended, and the visiting orchestras have waved their au revoir for the year, the National Symphony in New York is singing its Swan Song unhindered by competition. When Willem Mengelberg conducted his last concert of the season he received an ovation which was the most sensational that, has been accorded an artist for a long time. Kisses from fair ladies were bestowed in such abundance that the great conductor will be able to bathe in their memories for many months to come.
If he enjoyed the oscillatory deluge every concert he conducts may be announced as a farewell appearance.
Now that his associate has returned to the canals of Holland, Arthur Bodanzky has again taken the baton of the National, and is waving it over a triumphal finish of the orchestra's existence. The concerts have been held weekly, and although the programs have assumed a conventional order, they have been well played and have maintained the interest, of the audiences. Among the soloists have been Rudolph Ganz, who played the Tschaikowsky B flat minor piano concerto with his usual elegance and style, Erno Dohnanyi, who thrilled his hearers with his reverent reading of the Beethoven Emperor concerto, Francis McMillen played (by request) the Goldmark violin concerto, and as we go to press, Julia Glass is scheduled to play the Schumann piano concerto. Miss Glass, together with Mathilda Locus, won last summer's contest to appear with the orchestra as soloist.
In Boston the Symphony Orchestra under Mr. Monteux has been bringing its season to a close with an interesting list of novelties. With the assistance of the Harvard Glee Club and the Radcliffe Choral Society the orchestra gave fragments from Parsifal, which while not, strictly in the novelty class as music, are unusual in this form in the concert, halls. Mr. Monteux introduced to Boston the third Sibelius Symphony, and also unearthed from its resting place Schubert's Third (Tragic) Symphony. Among the new works played have been Vassilenko's "Epic Poem," Kallinikov's Symphony in G minor, and Ravel's "Noble and Sentimental Waltzes." Among the American compositions has been Charles Martin Loeffler's "La Bonne Chanson."
Frederick Stock has been giving his audiences much to delight, them during the closing days of the Chicago Symphony season, and there have been several works new to Chicagoans. Among these were Scriabine's "Poem of Eestacy" which was played earlier in the season by the Boston orchestra, both in Boston and in New York. The Chicago orchestra had the assistance of the Flonzaley quartet in the playing of the Emanuel Moor Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, and the work made the same impression on Chicagoans that it made on New Yorkers when they recently heard it played by the Philadelphia Orchestra with the same quartet as soloist.
Other works that have had a sympathetic performance by Mr. Stock and his men are the Rimsky-Korsakoff Scheherazade, long since graduated from the novelty class, two Indian dances bv Skilton, the Schubert C major Symphony, and Mr. Stock's violin concerto, which has not been heard since Zimbalist first played it in 1916. This time Harry Weisbach earned the applause due the solo part. Another revival was that of Von Reznicek's overture to "Donna Diana," which has been unheard for the past ten years. The orchestra has also played this Spring Debussy's "Iberia" and Glazounow's Sixth Symphony. The soloists of the month have numbered Margaret Matzenauer, who sang with the orchestra works of Beethoven, Tschaikowsky, and Wagner, and Lambert Murphy, who rendered a recitative and aria from Handel's Jephtha and Vaughn Williams' cycle, "On Wenlock Ridge."
The New York Music Festival
To secure better acoustic conditions, extra seating capacity was sacrificed this year by the Oratorio Society in shifting the scene of the annual music festival to the Manhattan Opera House. The change was welcomed by those who were fortunate enough to secure seals; an armory is not adapted to musical functions. The program of this year's festival included in all six performances, embracing the production of Pierne's Children's Crusade," Bach's Passion Music, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, a special Bach-Wagner program, Verdi's Requiem, and Margaret Anglin's performance of Euripides' "Iphigeniia in Aulis" with incidental music by Walter Damrosch, the conductor of the festival. In the singing of the Bach and Wagner works the chorus again had the assistance of the Bach Choir from Bethlehem, and the singing was the finest, choral work heard in New York this season. Bethlehem should become as famous abroad as Ober-Ammergau and Bayreuth have been in this country. The festival marked Mr. Damrosch's last appearance as conductor of the oratorio society.
The late season recitals in New York, while fewer in number than at the height of the year, have been of uniformly high quality, and have been given more by seasoned artists than by debutantes. An interesting feature of the month has been the playing of Harold Morris's sonata, Opus 2, played once by Oliver Denton, and a week or so later by the composer himself. When Mr. Denton played it the American said: "It proved to be a work filled with invention and skillful thematic development." Of Mr. Morris's own interpretation the Tribune said : "Mr. Morris has made good use of indisputable talent." At his own concert, the composer also played his A flat major Sonata, Opus 3, and with Albert Stoessel he played his sonata for violin and piano, Opus 6. Of his work the Brooklyn Standard Union remarked: "Mr. Morris, both as a composer and pianist, discloses individuality and talent. Like many American composers he must keep right on, undeterred by adverse criticism or hectic praise."
Among the leading pianists who have given the month's recitals are Erno Dohnanvi, who included six more of his own compositions at his third recital, and also played two Beethoven sonatas, and the Schumann Symphonic Etudes; Leon Sampaix, the Belgian pianist, who has been associated with our leading music schools, and now heads the Toledo Conservatory; and Ossip Gabrilowitsch, who included in his all-Chopin program the B-flat minor sonata, an etude, a nocturne, a mazurka, the A-flat major Ballade and twelve preludes.
At Fritz Kreisler's March recital the audience packed the galleries, the boxes, the parquet, and the stage, and the program included the Brahms G major Sonata, works of Bach, Couperin, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Walter Kramer's Eklog, the violinist's own Tambourin Chinois, and two of his transcriptions. Sascha Jacobson and Albert Spalding drew largo audiences and charmed their hearers, the one with the much loved Grieg F major sonata, that war horse of students, and a Catholic program selected from all schools, the other with the Beethoven Kreutzer and works ranging from Corelli to Sarasate.
The songsters of the month have included Galli Curci, who crowded the Hippodrome, in her next to the last, recital of the season, Oscar Seagle, Franklin Hiker and Sophie Braslau. Among the debutantes have been Elise Gardner, soprano, who impressed her audience with her pleasant voice and intelligence of interpretation, and Henriette Safonoff, a niece of the great Russian conductor, who made one of the real successes of the season. Her program included Italian, German, American, Knglish and Russian songs, and in them all, her beautiful voice, her intelligence and her musical temperament fascinated her audience. The Telegram said: "There is something very expressive about her voice. It has many tonal colors."
Clara Clemens ambitiously ventured an all-Brahms program, and the responsive audience not. only enjoyed her vocal gifts, but her finely felt appreciation of the lieder as well.
The other cities of the country have been active musically, and the many recitalists who have drawn large audiences wherever they have played or sung, can well feel that this has been a season significant in the musical annals of the country. It seems to be no longer a question of how much music the people of the country will absorb, but rather how much music of the first order can be provided for them.