Music of the Month

Dear Yvonne,

One hardly knows where to begin when it comes to discuss the musical doings of the past month — so many excellent concerts! And frequently it happened that two magnificent programs have been offered on the same afternoon and one has simply suffered agonies of mind in making a decision between the two — such enjoyable orchestral offerings by the New York Symphony, Philharmonic, and Boston Symphony, at the first concert of the New York Symphony given at Carnegie Hall. The atmosphere was much disturbed by the never-ending procession passing the hall; and one couldn’t help feeling that a brass band playing “Over There” and a Symphony Orchestra trying to do justice to a Beethoven Symphony clashed in a most horrible way — and naturally one’s sympathies were with Beethoven — also with Bach — for whilst Harold Bauer gave an exceedingly fine rendering of the Piano Concerto in D minor — the strains of “Good-bye Broadway, Hello France” (from without) made one want to scream. At a later concert Mr. Damrosch featured a very interesting symphony by the veteran composer Dubois (who has just enjoyed his eightieth birthday) absolutely French in character. The Marseillaise was cleverly introduced into the last movement and made a stirring climax.

It was good to find that the “Star-Spangled Banner” friction existed only in the press — and interesting to find that Dr. Muck’s genius almost succeeded in turning into a classic — by a very clever and unique orchestration which gave quite a Wagnerian effect. What a wonderful conductor he is! Surely one of the greatest. His magnetism seems to bring the best out of every member of his orchestra — and what a marvelous result — who can ever forget his memorable rendering of Beethoven’s 5th symphony at the matinée concert? Who has ever heard such pianissimos from an orchestra?

One was also struck by the splendid discipline in his orchestra — a quiet dignity and earnest — such as is exemplified in their conductor — and one couldn’t help contrasting the go as you please attitude of the New York Symphony men — many of whom gaze about bowing and smiling to their friends in the audience. Even during a symphony — whilst counting their bars rest. — This is particularly noticeable amongst the first violins, and might well be called to Mr. Damrosch’s attention.

The Letz Quartette, successor to the famous Kneisels — gave a delightful rendering of Beethoven’s F minor Quartette — also Leo Weiner’s interesting string quartette. This clever young Hungarian has also written for orchestra — and much more must be heard from him. The Letz ensemble is not quite what it should be yet owing to the rearrangement of the quartette, but one feels that in a very short while these four excellent artists will leave nothing to be desired.

The Flonzaleys will play quartettes of Mozart, Dohnany and Haydn on November 27th with their new viola, Louis Bailly — and the Societé des Instruments Anciens, which gave such delightful concerts last season, just arrived from France, will play on November 24th. Of the many song recitals of the month few bear remembering. Evan Williams’ recital was a veritable treat — also Rothier gave much pleasure; but why did Graveure not give us a more varied program? With all deference to Bryce-Trehearne, one group would have sufficed. Mona Honeseu sang with a deal of charm; Christine Miller, Edith Jeanne and Mary Jordan also gave recitals.

Fritz Kreisler was in wonderful form on October 28th at Carnegie Hall, and played Tartini’s Sonata in G minor magnificently. A marvelous man — he has put even Pittsburgh on the map — of abject infamy. Jascha Heifetz, the 18-year-old Russian, has already arrived and is a complete master of the violin — has much poise and dignity, truly remarkable at his age. His playing created a furore on October 27th, and one looks forward to his next recital, December 1st. His appearance with the New York Symphony was a little disappointing in so much as the Brusch D minor concerto didn’t give sufficient opportunity for his exceptional powers. Elman played the Beethoven concerts very beautifully, and has, one is glad to say, lost most of his mannerisms. That wonderful young pianist, Misha Levitzki, played superbly before a very distinguished audience at his recital, many famous artists being present, and again proved himself to be amongst the great pianists of the day. His calm indifference when his chair broke during the appassionata (which he played magnificently) caused much comment.

And what shall be said of the beautiful and instructive program given by Joseph Bonnet, the distinguished organ virtuoso (who is on leave from the French army) at his first organ recital devoted to the forerunners of Johann Sebastian Bach, illustrating the history of organ music from the earliest composers to the present time. The second recital was devoted to Bach; and one looks forward with no small degree of interest to the remaining recitals of this great artist, of which I shall say more in my next letter.

Ever yours,

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