The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800-1930 [Illustrated] 9781783270651

Art and money, culture and commerce, have long been seen as uncomfortable bedfellows. Indeed, the connections between th

158 27 24MB

English Pages 368 [369] Year 2016

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Table of contents :
Frontcover
Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Notes on Contributors
Acknowledgements
A Note on Translations
Bibliographic Abbreviations
Introduction: The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World
Part I Publishers
1 Selling ‘Celebrity’: The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Piano
Arrangements of Rossini’s Military Marches
2 Creating Success and Forming Imaginaries: The Innovative Publicity
Campaign for Puccini’s La bohème
3 Novello, John Stainer and Commercial Opportunities in the Nineteenth-
Century British Amateur Music Market
Part II Personalities
4 Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song and the Relationship between Prima Donna and
Public
5 A German in Paris: Richard Wagner and the Masking of Commodification
Nicholas Vazsonyi
6 Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Nineteenth-Century
Marketplace
Part III Instruments
7 ‘What the Piano[la] Means to the Home’: Advertising of Conventional and
Player Pianos in the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal, 1914–17
8 Art, Commerce and Artisanship: Violin Culture in Britain, c. 1880–1920
Part IV Repertories
9 Read All About It! Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers,
1875–1938
10 Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London
Part V Settings
11 Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and the Consumption of Sacred Music in
Leipzig
12 The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire: A Turn-of-the-Century
Case Study
13 ‘Disguised Publicity’ and the Performativity of Taste: Musical Scores in
French Magazines and Newspapers of the Belle Époque
Index
Recommend Papers

The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800-1930 [Illustrated]
 9781783270651

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

26mm NOTIONAL

COVER DESIGN: JAN MARSHALL

Christina Bashford

Banknotes featuring Claude Debussy and Giuseppe Verdi (photos courtesy of Conrad Marvin) and musical instruments (© Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main).

and

ROBERTA MONTEMORRA MARVIN is Director of the Opera Studies Forum in the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa, where she is also on the faculty.

EDITED BY

CHRISTINA BASHFORD is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois.

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

In this volume, international scholars from musicology and other disciplines address a range of unexplored topics, including the relationship of sacred music with commerce in the mid nineteenth century, the role of music in urban cultural development in the early twentieth, and the marketing of musical repertories, performers and instruments across time and place, to investigate what happened once art music began to be understood as needing to exist within the wider framework of commercially oriented culture. Historical case studies present contrasting topics and themes that not only vary geographically and ideologically but also overlap in significant ways, pushing back the boundaries of the ‘music as commerce’ discussion. Through diverse, multidisciplinary approaches, the volume opens up significant paths for conversation about how musical concepts, practices and products were shaped by interrelationships between culture and commerce.

The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800 -1930

Art and money, culture and commerce, have long been seen as uncomfortable bedfellows. Indeed, the connections between them have tended to resist full investigation, particularly in the musical sphere. The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930, is a collection of essays that present fresh insights into the ways in which art music, i.e., classical music, functioned beyond its newly established aesthetic purpose (art for art’s sake) and intersected with commercial agendas in nineteenth- and early twentiethcentury culture. Understanding how art music was portrayed and perceived in a modernizing marketplace, and how culture and commerce interacted, are the book’s main goals.

Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800 -1930 The

EDITED BY

Christina Bashford and

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930

Idea of Art.indb 1

02/02/2016 15:13

Music in Society and Culture issn 2047-2773

Series Editors vanessa agnew, katharine ellis, jonathan glixon, & david gramit Consulting Editor tim bl anning This series brings history and musicology together in ways that will embed social and cultural questions into the very fabric of music-history writing. Music in Society and Culture approaches music not as a discipline, but as a subject that can be discussed in myriad ways. Those ways are cross-disciplinary, requiring a mastery of more than one mode of enquiry. This series therefore invites research on art and popular music in the Western tradition and in cross-cultural encounters involving Western music, from the early modern period to the twenty-first century. Books in the series will demonstrate how music operates within a particular historical, social, political or institutional context; how and why society and its constituent groups choose their music; how historical, cultural and musical change interrelate; and how, for whom, and why music's value undergoes critical reassessment. Proposals or queries should be sent in the first instance to the series editors or Boydell & Brewer at the addresses shown below.

Dr Vanessa Agnew, University of Duisburg-Essen, Department of Anglophone Studies, r12 s04 h, Universitaetsstr. 12, 45141 Essen, Germany email: [email protected] Professor Katharine Ellis, Department of Music, University of Bristol, Victoria Rooms, Queen’s Road, Clifton, bs8 1sa, UK email: [email protected] Professor Jonathan Glixon, School of Music, 105 Fine Arts Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, ky 40506–0022, USA e-mail: [email protected] Professor David Gramit, Department of Music, University of Alberta, 3–82 Fine Arts Building, Edmonton, Alberta, t6g 2c9, Canada e-mail: [email protected] Boydell & Brewer, PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk, ip12 3df, UK email: [email protected] Previously published titles in the series are listed at the back of this volume.

Idea of Art.indb 2

02/02/2016 15:13

The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930

Edited by Christina Bashford and Roberta Montemorra Marvin

the boydell press

Idea of Art.indb 3

02/02/2016 15:13

© Contributors 2016 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner First published 2016 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge isbn  978 1 78327 065 1 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk ip12 3df, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue, Rochester, ny 14620–2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate This publication is printed on acid-free paper Designed and typeset in Adobe Warnock Pro by David Roberts, Pershore, Worcestershire

Idea of Art.indb 4

02/02/2016 15:13

Contents List of Figures vii List of Tables ix Notes on Contributors x Acknowledgements xiii A Note on Translations xiii Bibliographic Abbreviations xiv introduction The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World Christina Bashford 1

part i  publishers 1 Selling ‘Celebrity’: The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Piano Arrangements of Rossini’s Military Marches Denise Gallo 18 2 Creating Success and Forming Imaginaries: The Innovative Publicity Campaign for Puccini’s La bohème Michela Ronzani 39 3 Novello, John Stainer and Commercial Opportunities in the NineteenthCentury British Amateur Music Market David Wright 60

part ii  personalities 4 Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song and the Relationship between Prima Donna and Public George Biddlecombe 86 5 A German in Paris: Richard Wagner and the Masking of Commodification Nicholas Vazsonyi 114 6 Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Nineteenth-Century Marketplace Fiona M. Palmer 130

v

Idea of Art.indb 5

02/02/2016 15:13

part iii  instruments 7 ‘What the Piano[la] Means to the Home’: Advertising of Conventional and Player Pianos in the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal, 1914–17 Catherine Hennessy Wolter 152 8 Art, Commerce and Artisanship: Violin Culture in Britain, c. 1880–1920 Christina Bashford 178

part iv  repertoires 9 Read All About It! Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers, 1875–1938 Jon Solomon 202 10 Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London Roberta Montemorra Marvin 223

part v  settings 11 Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and the Consumption of Sacred Music in Leipzig Jeffrey S. Sposato 250 12 The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire: A Turn-of-the-Century Case Study David Gramit 274 13 ‘Disguised Publicity’ and the Performativity of Taste: Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers of the Belle Époque Jann Pasler 297 Index 327

vi

Idea of Art.indb 6

02/02/2016 15:13

Figures 1.1 Cover of Schott’s four-hand piano edition of the Marche du Sultan, pl. no. 13296, 1854 (Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division) 35 1.2 Frontispiece for Troupenas’s four-hand piano edition of pas redoublé, no. 1, dedicated to Charlotte de Rothschild, pl. no. T. 351, no. 1, 1837 (Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division)

36

2.1 Ricordi’s poster for La bohème, designed by Adolf Hohenstein, 1895 (Courtesy of MiBACT, Soprintendenza BAEP, for the provinces of Venice, Belluno, Padua and Treviso)

49

2.2 Cover of the Gazzetta musicale di Milano, 13 February 1896, Mimì’s Act I costume, designed by Hohenstein

51

2.3 One of the series of postcards Ricordi printed for La bohème, Mimì and Rodolfo, Act I (Courtesy of Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco, Milan)

53

2.4 Ricordi’s envelope seal, Mimì (from Eufremio Malorzo, Catalogo degli erinnofili italiani, Turin: Edizioni Digitalis, 2006, p. 15)

54

2.5 (a) Cover of The Bohemians, An Opera in Four Acts […] Composed by G. Puccini, New York: Boosey & Co., 1897 (Courtesy of Brown University Library); (b) Cover of La Bohème di G. Puccini – Impressioni di C. Graziani Walter, op. 250, for two mandolins, mandola and guitar, pl. no. 100026, Milan: G. Ricordi & Co., 1911 (Courtesy of Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco, Milan)

55

4.1 Eduard Magnus, replica (c. 1861) of portrait of Jenny Lind (1846) (© National Portrait Gallery, London)

94

4.2 Richard James Lane, lithograph (1847) of Jenny Lind, after Conrad L’Allemand (© National Portrait Gallery, London)

95

4.3 William Kilburn, daguerreotype of Jenny Lind (1848) (Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015)

96

4.4 John Brandard, lithographic title page of ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’, London: C[harles] Jefferys [1849] (The Bodleian Libraries, The University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection)

98

4.5 John Brandard, colour lithographic print of Jenny Lind as Amina in La sonnambula [1848] (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

100

4.6 Daniel Maclise, drawing in pencil of Jenny Lind as Amina in La sonnambula [1848] (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

101

4.7 Napoleon Sarony, lithographic title page of ‘Lonely I Wander’, New York: Firth Pond & Co. / Jollie, 1850 (Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division)

107

vii

Idea of Art.indb 7

02/02/2016 15:13

viii

Figures

4.8 Napoleon Sarony, lithographic title page of ‘Jenny Lind’s Greeting to America’, New York: Firth, Pond & Co. / S. C. Jollie, 1850 (Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division)

108

7.1 Men as active ‘players’ in Saturday Evening Post player-piano advertisements (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): (a) Aeolian Company, ‘We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag’, 13 October 1917; (b) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘The Baldwin Manualo’, 22 April 1916; (c) Hallet & Davis Piano Co., ‘Bring Back Old College Days – At Home Around the Virtuolo’, 27 June 1914

160

7.2 Courtship and the conventional piano in Ladies’ Home Journal advertising: (a) Steinway & Sons, ‘The Music That Brings Back the Dreams’, December 1915 (Courtesy of the University of Chicago Library); (b) Steinway & Sons, ‘When Dreams Come True’, December 1916 (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); (c) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘The Princess Grand’, December 1914 (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

163

7.3 Aeolian Company, ‘We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag’, advertisement for the Aeolian Pianola, Saturday Evening Post, 13 October 1917 (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

165

7.4 Family music-making at the player piano in Saturday Evening Post advertising (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): (a) Gulbransen-Dickinson Company, ‘Nationally Priced’, 31 March 1917; (b) Gulbransen-Dickinson Company, ‘What Should a Truly Fine Player-Piano Cost?’, 13 October 1917; (c) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘Everybody in Your Family was born to play the Baldwin Manualo’, 18 November 1916; (d) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘Your Christmas Spirit in Every Note’, 1 December 1917; (e) Hallet & Davis Piano Co., ‘America’, 21 February 1914 166–7 7.5 Advertisements for the conventional piano in Ladies’ Home Journal (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign): (a) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘For Bungalow or Apartment’, November 1917; (b) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘A New Small Grand’, September 1914; (c) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘A Distinctive Upright’, September 1915

173

7.6 ‘Silent’ conventional pianos in Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal advertising (Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): (a) Aeolian Company, ‘The Passing of the Silent Piano’, Saturday Evening Post, 16 September 1911; (b) Steinway & Sons, ‘Steinway’, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1914; (c) Kranich & Bach, ‘In the Best Homes’, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917174 8.1 Advertisement for J. W. Owen’s violin business, from the programme booklet for the Leeds Bohemian Concerts, 15 March 1905 (Courtesy of Leeds Library and Information Service)

Idea of Art.indb 8

184

02/02/2016 15:13

Figures & Tables

ix

8.2 Advertisement for ‘Cathedral’ strings, a product of British Music Strings, Ltd., from The Violinists’ Gazette, October 1922 (Copyright © The British Library Board, All rights reserved)

195

8.3 Advertisement for John Broadhouse’s book The Art of Fiddle-Making, London: Haynes, 1894, from Strings, July 1894 (Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester)

197

9.1 Display advertisement for the performance of Euripides’s Hecuba, placed by the College of the Holy Cross in the Boston Globe, 14 May 1926 (Courtesy of the College of the Holy Cross)

220

10.1 Scene from Don Carlo at the Royal Italian Opera, Illustrated London News, 13 July 1867 (Courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections)233 10.2 Adelina Patti as Aida at the Royal Italian Opera in 1876, Illustrated London News, 24 May 1879 (Courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections)

241

11.1 Gewandhaus Concert, programme of 2 March 1809 (Courtesy of Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig)

260

11.2 Sample Kirchenmusik listing from the Leipziger Tageblatt (Courtesy of Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, Bibliotheca Albertina)

262

13.1 ‘Qu’avez-vous fait?’, Le Figaro, 29 May 1897 (Courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

319

Tables 3.1 Print runs of selected anthems in Novello’s Octavo Anthems Series 3.2 John Stainer’s royalty earnings from Novello, 1895–1900

82 83–4

11.1 Timeline of Leipzig Thomaskantors and the Kapellmeisters of the city’s leading subscription concert series 253–4 12.1 City of Edmonton population, 1892–1920

279

12.2 Edmonton musicians and music teachers in relation to general population, 1895–1920

280

12.3 City of Edmonton population by sex, 1901–16

283

12.4 Music-business workers in Edmonton, 1895–1920

287

13.1 Composers of sight-reading pieces for the piano exams at the Paris Conservatoire, 1879–1914

321

Idea of Art.indb 9

02/02/2016 15:13

Notes on Contributors Christina Bashford, contributing co-editor of this volume, is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research centres on the cultural history of art music in nineteenth-century Britain, and her publications include The Pursuit of High Culture: John Ella and Chamber Music in Victorian London (Boydell, 2007) and the co-edited volume (with Leanne Langley) Music and British Culture, 1785–1914: Essays in Honour of Cyril Ehrlich (Oxford University Press, 2000). She is currently working on a broad study of violin culture in Britain, 1880–1930. George Biddlecombe is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, London. His research and publications concern British nineteenth-century music and musical life and have ranged from the work of Michael Balfe to the reception of Berlioz in London. He now focuses on the reception of prima donnas, particularly Jenny Lind, in nineteenth-century Britain and is engaged in writing a book on the subject. Denise Gallo is Provincial Archivist for the Daughters of Charity. Prior to that, she was Head of Acquisitions and Processing in the Music Division of the Library of Congress and co-director of Music History at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at the Catholic University of America. Her work on celebrity dedications on published piano arrangements of Rossini’s marches for military bands stems from research into the history of the sources used for her critical edition of the ‘Music for Band’ in the Works of Gioachino Rossini (Bärenreiter, 2010). David Gramit is Professor of Musicology at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is the author of Cultivating Music: The Aspirations, Interests, and Limits of German Musical Culture, 1770–1848 (University of California Press, 2002), editor of Beyond the Art of Finger Dexterity: Reassessing Carl Czerny (University of Rochester Press, 2008) and author of numerous articles on Schubert, the Lied, the social and cultural history of Austro-German music, and musical life in early Edmonton in the context of settler colonialism. Among his recent projects has been serving as guest editor of Nineteenth-Century Music Review for a special issue on music in Canada in the nineteenth century. Roberta Montemorra Marvin, contributing co-editor of this volume, is the author of The Politics of Verdi’s ‘Cantica’ (Royal Musical Association Monographs, Ashgate, 2014) and Verdi the Student – Verdi the Teacher, winner of the Premio Internazionale Giuseppe Verdi (Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani, 2010). She is co-editor of several books, most recently Music in Print and Beyond: Hildegard von Bingen to The Beatles (with Craig Monson, University of Rochester Press, 2013), and editor of the Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia (2013). She is the Director of the Opera Studies Forum at the University of Iowa, where she also serves on the faculty.

x

Idea of Art.indb 10

02/02/2016 15:13

Notes on Contributors

xi

Fiona M. Palmer is Professor of Music at Maynooth University–National University of Ireland Maynooth, where she served as Head of the Department of Music (2007–14). Published by Oxford University Press and Ashgate, respectively, her critical biographies of the double-bassist Domenico Dragonetti and of the church musician, editor and publisher Vincent Novello reflect her interest in socio-economic history and performance practices. Current research projects include a study of the development of conducting in Britain in the long nineteenth century. Jann Pasler, Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego, has published Writing through Music: Essays on Music, Culture, and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2008); Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France (University of California Press, 2009), winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award; and Saint-Saëns and His World (Princeton University Press, 2012) as contributing editor. She is currently editor of AMS Studies in Music (Oxford University Press). Michela Ronzani received her Ph.D. in Italian Studies from Brown University with a dissertation titled ‘Melodramma, Market and Modernity: Opera in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy’ and is Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She holds a B.A. in the History of Visual and Performing Arts from the University of Ferrara and an M.S. in Arts Administration from Bocconi University (Milan). She has worked in Milan as booking agent for classical musicians and orchestras and has taught Italian at Middlebury College, Vermont. Jon Solomon is Professor of Classics, Cinema Studies and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research incorporates a variety of humanistic interests ranging from classical philology to medieval, Renaissance and Baroque adaptations of the classics to contemporary cinema. His early publications on ancient Greek music theory and fragments of extant ancient Greek music culminated with a translation and commentary on Ptolemy’s Harmonics. He published the second edition of The Ancient World in the Cinema in 2001, and he recently published the first volume of the I Tatti edition of Boccaccio’s Genealogy of the Pagan Gods. He is currently completing a booklength project on Ben-Hur as the prototype for American consumerism and synergy between popular art and business. Jeffrey S. Sposato is Associate Professor of Musicology at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. His book The Price of Assimilation: Felix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth-Century Anti-Semitic Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2006) was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2006 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award finalist. Other publications include William Thomas McKinley: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood, 1995), as well as articles and reviews in journals including 19th-Century Music, Music & Letters and The Musical Quarterly, as well as in essay collections. He is finishing a book provisionally titled Leipzig After Bach: Church and Concert Life in a German City, 1743–1847 (Oxford University Press).

Idea of Art.indb 11

02/02/2016 15:13

xii

Notes on Contributors

Nicholas Vazsonyi is Jesse Chapman Alcorn Memorial Professor of Foreign Languages, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina. His book Lukács Reads Goethe (Camden House, 1997) was followed by two edited volumes, one on German national identity formation 1750–1871 (published by Böhlau, 2000) and the other titled Wagner’s ‘Meistersinger’: Performance, History, Representation (University of Rochester Press, 2003). His latest book, Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge University Press, 2010), appeared in German translation as Richard Wagner: Entstehung einer Marke (2012). Recently, he edited the Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia (2013) and became co-editor of the German journal wagnerspectrum. Catherine Hennessy Wolter is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work centres on the rise of mechanical musical instruments and recorded sound around the turn of the twentieth century as captured in print media sources and their advertising, with an emphasis on the cultural advocacy and commercial promotion of player pianos, phonographs and radios. She is currently completing her dissertation, titled ‘Sound Conversations: Print Media, the Player Piano, and Early Radio in the US’. David Wright was formerly Reader in the Social History of Music at the Royal College of Music, London. He has published widely on aspects of the social, cultural and concert life of music in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. Subjects have ranged across the ethos, funding and programming decisions of the London Sinfonietta to the significance exerted on British musical life by the grade examination system in The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music: A Social and Cultural History (Boydell, 2013). He also wrote on the Glock and Ponsonby Proms seasons in The Proms: A New History, a volume he co-edited (Thames & Hudson, 2007). Nineteenth-century topics he has addressed include the historiography of late Victorian British music and the South Kensington Music Schools.

Idea of Art.indb 12

02/02/2016 15:13

Acknowledgements

A

volume such as this one is the fruit of the labours of many people, to   whom the editors wish to express their gratitude. Our contributors, whose invigorating and provocative perspectives on the topic inspired and challenged us, deserve a special thanks for their patience with the editorial process and their spirit of collegiality. Several colleagues generously shared their time and knowledge with us along the way. We extend thanks especially to Gabriele Dotto, Maria Pia Ferraris, James Parakilas and John Peters. We particularly wish to acknowledge Allison McCracken for her willingness to provide us with enlightening context for our study. Among other scholars who supported our endeavour, we would also like to thank Hilary Poriss, Derek Scott and Ruth Solie. Rachel Cowgill, Fabrizio Della Seta, Anna Sivuoja-Kauppala, Conrad Marvin, Roger Parker and John Wagstaff assisted in our search for images for the book. At several stages in the book’s gestation, Catherine Hennessy Wolter gave us research assistance, contextual advice and technological support, for which we are very grateful. A number of institutions worldwide cooperated with authors; they are acknowledged in individual chapters. The University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign’s Research Board supported Christina Bashford’s work through a competitive Humanities Released Time Program. The University of Iowa’s International Programs supported a virtual preparatory seminar with our authors from the United Kingdom; our thanks go especially to Chris Clough for his expert assistance with the technology that made our communications possible. A companion seminar, held in Pittsburgh during the 2013 AMS meeting, was facilitated by James Cassaro, who assisted us in securing a meeting place at the University of Pittsburgh. The team with whom we have worked at the Boydell Press, especially Megan Milan and Michael Middeke, shepherded the project through with patience and efficiency. We also wish to thank editors for the series Music in Society and Culture, Katharine Ellis, Jonathan Glixon and David Gramit, for their interest in the project from its inception.

A Note on Translations The chapters in this volume employ a variety of non-English sources, primarily Italian, German and French. In cases where this material is unpublished, the original text is normally included in the notes. When authors rely on published sources, the original language is not included, but the sources are identified in the notes. Translations are by the authors unless noted.

xiii

Idea of Art.indb 13

02/02/2016 15:13

Bibliographic Abbreviations AMZ

Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung

Bourdieu, Distinction

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1979), trans. Richard Nice (London: Routledge, 1984)

Cooper, The House of Novello

Victoria L. Cooper, The House of Novello: Practice and Policy of a Victorian Music Publisher, 1829–1866 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003)

DN

Daily News (London)

EB

Edmonton Bulletin (Alberta, Canada)

Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain

Cyril Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain since the Eighteenth Century: A Social History (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985)

Ehrlich, The Piano

Cyril Ehrlich, The Piano: A History, rev. edn (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990)

GMM

Gazzetta musicale di Milano

GMO

Grove Music Online

ILN

Illustrated London News (London)

JAMS

Journal of the American Musicological Society

JRMA

Journal of the Royal Musical Association

Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow

Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988)

LHJ

Ladies’ Home Journal

MP

Morning Post (London)

MT

Musical Times (London)

Music and British Culture

Christina Bashford and Leanne Langley, eds., Music and British Culture, 1785–1914: Essays in Honour of Cyril Ehrlich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Music and Performance Culture in NineteenthCentury Britain

Bennett Zon, ed., Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Temperley (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012)

The Musician as Entrepreneur

William Weber, ed., The Musician as Entrepreneur, 1700– 1914: Managers, Charlatans, and Idealists (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004)

MW

Musical World (London)

NCBMS 3

Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies, vol. 3, ed. Peter Horton and Bennett Zon (Farnham: Ashgate, 2003)

xiv

Idea of Art.indb 14

02/02/2016 15:13

Bibliographic Abbreviations

xv

ODNB

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [online resource]

PMG

Pall Mall Gazette (London)

Russell, Popular Music

Dave Russell, Popular Music in England, 1840–1914: A Social History, 2nd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997)

SB

Richard Wagner, Sämtliche Briefe, ed. Gertrud Strobel and Werner Wolf, 22 vols to date, ongoing (Leipzig: Dt. Verlag für Musik, 1967–)

Scott, The Singing Bourgeois Derek B. Scott, The Singing Bourgeois: Songs of the Drawing Room and Parlour, 2nd edn (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001) Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis

Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The NineteenthCentury Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)

SEP

Saturday Evening Post

SR

Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (London)

SSD

Richard Wagner: Sämtliche Schriften und Dichtungen, 16 vols (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, [1911])

Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste

William Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Weber, Music and the Middle Class

William Weber, Music and the Middle Class, 2nd edn (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)

Idea of Art.indb 15

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 16

02/02/2016 15:13

introduction The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World Christina Bashford

I

n 1900, a Chicago-based writer for the Music Trade Review reported that  Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the Polish pianist whose virtuosity and charismatic platform personality on the touring circuit was making him something of a household name from Vienna to New York, had purchased a ‘handsome’ piano from a Connecticut manufacturer. It was to be a gift for the Paderewski Singing Society in Chicago. The writer revelled in the marketplace advantage for any firm that could boast a linkage with such a famous figure, commenting: To have the name of the great pianist, whose earnings in America this season exceeded something over $200,000, associated with any piano is a distinct point gained in favor of that instrument, and the Huntington manufacturers have every reason for feeling elated over the high compliment paid them by the eminent pianist.1

Clearly, Paderewski’s alleged earnings were understood as astronomically high (and to gain perspective here, we might note that average annual wages at the time in the United States amounted to a mere $438).2 They were also a telling articulation of the pianist’s artistic celebrity, which  –  as the writer suggests  –  was poised to be leveraged by others in the marketplace. In this respect, Paderewski was an integral part of music’s modernizing commercial world. That commercial world   –  including the relationship of art, money and performers  –  has become a fairly well-rehearsed topic in musicological literature, and it forms the background for the essays in this book. Yet, as the reader will discover, the essays approach the discussion from new directions to investigate (among other things) how the ideas that became attached to art music in the nineteenth century, and even the very idea of art music per se, were intertwined with the technological advances and socio-economic shifts that were then in train. To bring those changes into focus, we might consider that, even by 1900, Paderewski (born 1860) would have witnessed some remarkable developments in the music business during the course of his career. Those developments had begun in the early nineteenth century and were catalysed by industrialization and the swathe of advances in science, manufacturing and transportation that followed on from it. Over the one hundred years from 1800 to 1900, 1 Music Trade Review, 9 June 1900, p. 13. 2 http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/his/e_prices1.htm [accessed 25 February 2015] (based on Scott Derks, ed., The Value of a Dollar: Prices and Incomes in the United States, 1860–1999 [Lakeville, CT: Grey House, 1999], p. 52 [averaged from standard jobs, including farm labour]).

1

Idea of Art.indb 1

02/02/2016 15:13

2

Christina Bashford

markets for music increased in size and socio-geographic spread, and they diversified; technology improved and enhanced musical goods, from sheet music to instruments; prices fell; new products entered the marketplace, most significantly  –  in the early 1900s  –  with the arrival of recorded sound; and it became possible to transport musical commodities (both people and artefacts, carrying information and ideas) across and between continents with relative ease and affordability. Moreover, support systems for the promotion and advertising of musical goods developed, creating publicity mechanisms that would have been unimaginable in their size or sophistication a century or so earlier. In 1800, Beethoven gave his first benefit concert in Vienna, where he was living, to a socially elite audience that was gathered largely by word of mouth or simple advertising  –  notably playbills in public places, or information in the local court newspaper, the Wiener Zeitung.3 In 1900, news about musical culture moved around widely  –  and with speed  –  like never before; the telegraph and, increasingly, the telephone were becoming staples of commercial life; and more extensive rail and steamship travel networks facilitated mobility. Besides these transformations, the packaging and the advertising of musical goods were ever more striking visually, thanks to advances in printing and photographic reproduction, and to growing awareness of consumer behaviour. Of course, more than a century further on, and to a generation that has grown up with instant global communication and subtle mechanisms for advertising, the sort of infrastructure that Paderewski benefitted from can seem outmoded, even crude. Yet the beginnings of the mass marketing and international dissemination of music that we recognize today in our own media-driven, computer-led culture can also be identified in that world of 1900. Historical continuities are sometimes as striking as differences. Perhaps with such connections in mind, scholars in musicology and other disciplines have found music’s commodification an attractive area of enquiry, especially with regard to the development of popular music and recorded-sound technology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The studies of Tin Pan Alley, cabaret culture, folk and popular music, mechanical pianos, and the nascent recording industry in the United States and Europe by Charles Hamm, Daniel Goldmark, Derek B. Scott, Steven Whiting, Karl Hagstrom Miller, Timothy D. Taylor and James J. Nott are cases in point, as is cultural historian David Suisman’s book Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (2009)  –  an important treatment of the American music industry in the early twentieth century.4 Embracing the commerce of popular song, player pianos 3 On the local press, see Mary Sue Morrow, Concert Life in Haydn’s Vienna: Aspects of a Developing Musical and Social Institution (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1989), pp. 191–9. My thanks to Emily Wuchner for sharing her knowledge of source materials relating to Viennese concert life in 1800. 4 Charles Hamm, Yesterdays: Popular Song in America (New York: Norton, 1979); Daniel Goldmark, ‘Creating Desire on Tin Pan Alley’, Musical Quarterly 90 (2007), 197–229; Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis; Steven Whiting, Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Karl Hagstrom Miller, Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the

Idea of Art.indb 2

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

3

and the phonograph, Suisman crosses nimbly between popular- and art-music domains, thus drawing attention to the many significant intersections between the two.5 On the whole, though, scholars have been slower to probe art music’s identity as a commercial good, both in and before the era of recorded sound. Admittedly several important market-focused histories of art music’s institutions, agents, instrument manufacture, and music publishing have appeared over the last thirty years;6 and there have been studies of art-music performers who fit the paradigm of the mass-market artist, such as Jenny Lind  –  whose tour of the United States was engineered with unprecedented commercial acuity by the businessman P. T. Barnum   –  and Enrico Caruso and Amelita GalliCurci, stars of the early recording era.7 But for a long time, the general idea that commercialization impacts works of art negatively held considerable sway, likely stemming from the trenchant remarks on the subject made by Theodor Adorno and Carl Dahlhaus and expressing their underlying assumptions that music written for sale to large markets (i.e. popular music) could not be of high artistic quality.8 In such a context, art music and money seem to have become Age of Jim Crow (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Timothy D. Taylor, ‘The Commodification of Music at the Dawn of the Era of “Mechanical Music”’, Ethnomusicology 51 (2007), 281–305; James J. Nott, Music for the People: Popular Music and Dance in Interwar Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); and David Suisman, Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012; originally published 2009). 5 A related, important study is Larry Hamberlin, Tin Pan Opera: Operatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 6 Inter alia, Cyril Ehrlich, First Philharmonic: A History of the Royal Philharmonic Society (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995); Christopher Fifield, Ibbs and Tillett: The Rise and Fall of a Musical Empire (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005); Craig H. Roell, The Piano in America, 1890–1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), esp. pp. 139–82 (‘Strategies of Piano Merchandising’); Ehrlich, The Piano; Cooper, The House of Novello; Rupert M. Ridgewell, ‘Artaria’s Music Shop and Boccherini’s Music in Viennese Musical Life’, Early Music 33 (2005), 179–89; and Stefano Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera: Storie di Casa Ricordi (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2011). 7 On Lind, see George Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon: The Case of Jenny Lind’, NCBMS 3, pp. 45–61; Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London’, The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 21–41; and Steve Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale: P. T. Barnum, Jenny Lind, and the Management of the American Crowd’, Arts Marketing: An International Journal 1/2 (2011), 108–20. On Caruso, see Suisman, Selling Sounds, pp. 106–49, and Peter Martland, Recording History: The British Record Industry, 1888–1931 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013), pp. 179–204 and 316–17; on Galli-Curci, see Alexandra Wilson, ‘Galli-Curci Comes to Town: The Prima Donna’s Presence in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, The Arts of the Prima Donna, pp. 328–47. 8 Some of Adorno’s remarks (from a letter to Walter Benjamin in 1936 and his Philosophie der neuen Musik, 1949), along with comment from Dahlhaus (from his Musikästhetik, 1967) are discussed in Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, pp. 4–6. The

Idea of Art.indb 3

02/02/2016 15:13

4

Christina Bashford

uncomfortable bedfellows, as evinced by the frequent avoidance of any serious treatment of economic dimensions in studies of creativity,9 or by the sidelining or explaining-away of serious, hallowed composers, such as Beethoven, publishing novelty works that made considerable money.10 More recently, musicologists and historians have probed the roots of this negative ideology in studies of nineteenth-century European culture, many of which have illuminated the complexities and contradictions that played out when composers began to write art music for aesthetic ends (‘art for art’s sake’) at the very time that popular music and a new commercialism were arriving on the scene. For instance, David Gramit (one of the authors in the current volume) has shown that even by 1800 German composers were embracing the need to market serious music on the one hand, yet denying that such music had a commercial identity on the other; and Simon McVeigh has documented related findings in the workings of nineteenth-century London concert life, where ‘commercial aspirations were submerged under an artistic veneer’.11 Historian T. C. W. Blanning positions the sacralization of high culture, including art music, in nineteenth-century Europe as a reaction against the emerging commercial sphere that was replacing older patronage systems  –  up until then the main means for supporting musical activity  –  and he points up the tension between exclusive high art and mass-market popular culture that the situation created.12 Derek B. Scott’s survey of major nineteenth-century cities as sites of much-cited essay by Walter Benjamin (‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, 1936) concerning an artwork’s loss of its special ‘aura’ when subject to technological duplication may also have added to ideas of the contaminating effects of commercialism on music. 9 There are some notable exceptions, namely Julia Moore, ‘Mozart in the MarketPlace’, JRMA 114 (1989), 18–42; Moore, ‘Beethoven and Inflation’, Beethoven Forum 1 (1992), 191–223; and John Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013). 10 On composers writing for both art and popular music worlds, see Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), pp. 209–10; and for a nuanced case study, see Anthony Newcomb, ‘Schumann and the Marketplace: From Butterflies to Hausmusik’, Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, ed. R. Larry Todd (New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. 258–315. On ways of rationalizing the ‘problem’ of Beethoven writing popular works, see Nicholas Cook, ‘The Other Beethoven: Heroism, the Canon, and the Works of 1813–14’, 19th-Century Music 27 (2003), 3–24, at pp. 3–4. 11 David Gramit, ‘Selling the Serious: The Commodification of Music and Resistance to It in Germany, circa 1800’, The Musician as Entrepreneur, pp. 81–101; and Simon McVeigh, ‘“An Audience for High-Class Music”: Concert Promoters and Entrepreneurs in Late-Nineteenth-Century London’, ibid., pp. 162–82, at p. 170. See also David Gramit, ‘The Circulation of the Lied: The Double Life of an Artwork and a Commodity’, The Cambridge Companion to the Lied, ed. James Parsons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 301–14. 12 T. C. W. Blanning, ‘The Commercialization and Sacralization of European Culture in the Nineteenth Century’, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern Europe, ed. T. C. W. Blanning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 120–47, esp. pp. 120–39.

Idea of Art.indb 4

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

5

the popular music revolution (he calls it ‘the first cultural upheaval of this kind’) complements Blanning’s narrative; his study argues that in this period new styles and genres of music emerged, distinct from those of art music, with the principal goal of providing entertainment commercially.13 Some scholars have dealt with the lengths to which musicians, concert promoters and many others in the music profession would go to disguise their reliance on commerce: perhaps the most extensive treatment of this topic to date is by Nicholas Vazsonyi (another author in the present volume) on Richard Wagner’s tireless efforts to promote a particular image of himself.14 Alongside this research, other new ways of thinking about the nature and function of art music as a commodity have opened up. One important article is Thomas Christensen’s 1999 discussion of how the practice of transcribing music that was conceived for concert hall or opera house into four-hand piano-duet transcriptions intended for performance in the home altered the music’s identity and affected the manner of its reception.15 In a more focused study of similar repertoire for the home piano, Catherine Mayes has unravelled the constructed understanding of eastern Europe that was perpetrated in the many dances, variations and other genres with ‘national flavour’ published for the Viennese drawing room, c. 1800, showing them to have been grounded in a homogenous musical style and based on a collective imaginary of eastern European countries, one that emphasized simplicity, artlessness and primitivism.16 A different and productive tack has been to consider musical performance as a commercial good: there are many models one might cite here but two may suffice to indicate range and potential. Leanne Langley’s essay on the building of a new market (audience) for a new product  –  promenade concerts  –  in late-nineteenth-century London shows, among many other things, the significance of the incipient era of department-store shopping in the development of a successful and distinctive brand of musical experience.17 And Annegret Fauser, in her study of music at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, establishes how the stunt of charging people a tiny sum 13 Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, pp. 3–7. 14 Nicholas Vazsonyi, Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Examples of the masking of economically led decision-making while sacralizing high-serious music can be found in Christina Bashford, The Pursuit of High Culture: John Ella and Chamber Music in Victorian London (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007); see commentary on pp. 3–5 and 355. 15 Thomas Christensen, ‘Four-Hand Piano Transcription and Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Musical Reception’, JAMS 52 (1999), 255–98. See also Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera in the Victorian Parlor’, Fashions and Legacies of Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera, ed. Roberta Montemorra Marvin and Hilary Poriss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 53–75. 16 Catherine Mayes, ‘Eastern European National Music as Concept and Commodity at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century’, Music & Letters 95 (2014), 70–91. 17 Leanne Langley, ‘Building an Orchestra, Creating an Audience: Robert Newman and the Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts, 1895–1926’, The Proms: A New History, ed. Jenny Doctor and David Wright (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007), pp. 32–73.

Idea of Art.indb 5

02/02/2016 15:13

6

Christina Bashford

to listen to live opera performances through telephones (‘Telephonic Auditions’) not only enabled the Société Génerale des Téléphones to test a product that would soon be all the rage, but also created a new type of listening and ‘auditory relationship to space’. 18

T

he present volume of essays takes a similarly nuanced look at the question of music and commercialism. By necessity it discusses the workings of the commerce of music, but it pushes beyond the usual questions of markets and economics that anchor much of the existing scholarship on the history of the music business. Showcasing fresh research into the ways in which art music functioned in tandem with commerce in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Europe and North America, the contributions explore how the idea of art music  –  and its associated culture, including performers, institutions and instruments  –  played out in the modernizing musical marketplace (‘the commercial world’ of this book’s title). The authors thus offer a series of insights into how art music was portrayed and perceived in commercially oriented locations during the era before recorded sound became widely available, often indicating how particular ideas about art music were affected by commercial concerns; they also explore some of the diverse ideas and values that became attached to that music in the process, sometimes unearthing tensions, inconsistencies and fears along the way, particularly regarding how the discrete cultures of commerce and art were intersecting. Unusual topics and nuanced explorations of established subject matter are further features of the book, which aims to challenge some of the reductive explanations of music’s life and identity as a commercial good, explanations that persist in the topic’s historiography. Complexities are indeed ripe for study for, as Suisman points out in Selling Sounds, there are many questions about music’s commodification that need answering, not least because commodification ‘is a social and political process, populated by human actors, and one that includes various dimensions and phases’.19 Much of Suisman’s study is concerned with the recording industry, a point worth making because once technology ushered in the possibility of capturing musical sound  –  and star performers  –  on player piano and (later) wax cylinder, the nature of what a musical commodity was, or could be, changed dramatically, and it became possible to ‘fix’ music in time and to experience it repeatedly. In most of the scenarios and for most of the characters described in The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930, such possibilities were unimagined, or at best in their infancy. To those people, musical sound was inherently transient (unlike most other commercial goods), and music’s principal commodified forms were printed music (the most concrete ‘trace’ of a musical work, as packaged for sale by publishers), or concert or staged live performances for which admission was charged. But there were additional objects and social experiences for sale to help people connect with musical experience or to participate in its creation themselves:

18 Annegret Fauser, Musical Encounters at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2005), pp. 279–97. 19 Suisman, Selling Sounds, p. 9.

Idea of Art.indb 6

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

7

musical magazines, newspapers, books, instruments, lessons, subscriptions to amateur choirs or bands, and so on. Many of these goods, as well as the mechanics of their promotion and advertising, are under discussion in the thirteen essays in this book. A repeated theme is administrative and artistic agency, with many authors highlighting the concepts and practices arising from the interactions  –  of people, venues, institutions, businesses and networks  –  that occurred when musical goods were pushed for sale. This book does not attempt to create a comprehensive history of the complexities of art music’s relationship with commerce, which is in its infancy as a research topic and is not developed to an equal extent for all countries that fall under the book’s umbrella. Rather, it takes a step in a new direction, by presenting case studies of contrasting topics that vary by time and place, yet overlap in terms of themes and ideas in significant ways, in the hope of encouraging broader dialogue and further scholarship. Our historical scope is a long nineteenth century, covering the period from 1800 into the 1930s. This is not to suggest that musical commerce itself was new in the period  –  far from it. The circulation of identical copies of music, for instance, dates back to the Renaissance and gained much momentum in the 1500s after the breakthroughs in printing music from moveable type; there was further growth in the music-publishing industry from around 1700. But, as we have seen, new trends were emerging in the early nineteenth century, affecting both how music was perceived aesthetically and how it interacted with a modernizing commercial world. This book’s essays reflect the gathering momentum and internationalism in commercial musical life, in a cluster of contributions that deal with the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At either end of the historical continuum sit essays that signal pasts and futures in the commerce that attached to art music. The essay by Jeffrey S. Sposato, which considers overlaps between church music and concert repertoire in Leipzig, serves to acknowledge that many of the precedents for commercially driven concert life had been ground out across Europe in the eighteenth century, during which period sacred music was already establishing an identity beyond the spiritual realm. The essay by Catherine Hennessy Wolter, which draws out the subtle messaging that can be detected in American magazine advertising of mechanical player pianos, is emblematic of the era of commercially available sound recording and of modern media techniques that was starting to dawn. Geographically, the essays include both studies of national cultures (Britain, United States, France, Italy) and focused treatments of specific urban centres and adjacent regions (London, Paris, Leipzig, Edmonton). The growth of international markets and the ways in which musical commerce moved across national boundaries are also addressed. Readers may observe a focus on Britain, especially London, which reflects both the size and historical importance of its ‘free’, unrestricted market for musical performances during the nineteenth century, and the current state of research, for many scholars have been working in this area for several years.20 At the same time, the present volume helps contextualize 20 For instance, Simon McVeigh and Cyril Ehrlich, ‘The Modernisation of London Concert Life around 1900’, The Business of Music, ed. Michael Talbot (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002), pp. 96–120. Much of the scholarship that

Idea of Art.indb 7

02/02/2016 15:13

8

Christina Bashford

the overstated view of nineteenth-century Britain’s musical culture as exclusively commercial  –  lacking the extensive state, civic or private subvention that could be found across the Channel  –  and thus an anomaly in European music history. Some of the essays reveal the workings of the marketplace in Europe (a topic often sidelined by scholars emphasizing government or civic subvention), and also in North America: in the United States, at least, market economics acquired a similar centrality in musical life to how things worked in Britain, although with some notable differences, a few of which are teased out in passing by some contributors. The term ‘art music’, as reflected in the volume’s title, is the jumping-off point for the essay topics. However, that very category  –  as it plays out in the culturalhistorical context  –  was not always firm, and the definitions of art music that our authors embrace are necessarily loose. Such flexibility is all to the good, for it allows historical intersections between musical styles, genres and cultures to come into view. So, as much as this volume acknowledges the shift in earlynineteenth-century aesthetics that brought many composers to see themselves as writing ‘serious’ music for the sake of art, and not for commercial ends or worldly function, a couple of the essays consider repertoires of sacred music that were originally conceived for functional ends, albeit for the ‘higher’ purpose of religion. In many instances, this music aspired to the learnedness or erudition that the term ‘art music’ invokes (and Sposato’s essay demonstrates how several such sacred works became melded with art music in the commercial sphere); though, equally, it might strike a populist tone while maintaining appeal as elevating art (as David Wright’s essay on John Stainer’s sacred output shows). In addition, although the volume acknowledges that a perceived dichotomy between an autonomous ‘art music’ and a commercially driven ‘popular music’ started to emerge in the nineteenth century, it insists on the importance of the marketplace for the composition and consumption of art music. (In this respect, the developing national laws of copyright and performing rights for music publication and performance during this period have symbolic significance.) Moreover, the volume recognizes that boundaries between the cultures of art music and popular music were ultimately blurred, creating zones of crossover and interaction that several authors have found productive to interrogate. The essays by George Biddlecombe, Denise Gallo and Jann Pasler discuss works that were written or adapted for use in the domestic parlour: these include ballads, celebrated arias associated with opera singers, and piano transcriptions of waltzes, polkas or military marches. Rather than ‘art music’, such repertoire might equally be designated today as ‘light’ or ‘middlebrow’, or categorized as ‘Hausmusik’ or salon music, to account for its ‘easier’ (less learned) style or the large-scale commercial success it engendered; and it is a measure of the slipperiness of the topic that in the hands of other scholars these works might be discussed in a

has emerged in relation to the consumption of art music in London has been influenced by Ehrlich’s work, which gathered acceptance from the late 1980s (see his ‘Market Themes’, JRMA 114 [1989], 1–5, and the preface to Music and British Culture, pp. v–viii).

Idea of Art.indb 8

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

9

study of nineteenth-century popular music.21 Some of the contributors suggest that, at least historically, both the providers of musical products and their consumers often viewed genres and styles on much more of a continuum. As noted above, several of the contributors to The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930 deal with the culture of art music as opposed to artworks per se, but it is worth reiterating that the book’s overall concern is with the idea of art music and its culture in commercial settings, be that the idea of a specific work, group of works or broader repertoires; of art music in general; of a composer, conductor or singer; or of a musical instrument. To this end, the essays consider not only how commercial culture around music was manifest (e.g. through the development of markets, advertising techniques and strategies, and through consumer activities, especially amateur music-making), but they also probe the ways it intersected with other cultural values and ideologies  –  aesthetic, social, moral, ideological, political or personal  –  since selling the idea of art music often amounted to selling something other than the commodity tout court. The essays demonstrate entanglements with civic identity, national identity, an imagined (or reimagined) past, modernity, home and family, the feminine, and moral character, to name a few. The historiographical and theoretical approaches that the contributors have adopted for their research and interpretation are diverse, extending beyond traditional musicological frameworks. Some authors take their bearings from histories of print, advertising and marketing, while others invoke or adapt concepts from cultural history, art history, sociology, semiotics and cognate disciplines. Unsurprisingly given the overall topic, the use of art music to define taste and social class  –  and the theories of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu  –  surfaces several times. In the first group of essays, authors focus their investigations on the publishing industry. Denise Gallo (‘Selling “Celebrity”: The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Piano Arrangements of Rossini’s Military Marches’) examines how European music publishers in the 1830s and 1850s packaged two- and four-hand piano arrangements of military marches originally composed by Rossini, using new titles as well as dedications (some new) to men and women with significant public roles or reputations. She describes the complex processes by which the pieces made their way into the domestic sphere, arguing that such celebrity repackaging made the marches into desirable and money-making commodities. (Rossini, who by this point had ceased to produce new operas, had little interest in the initiative, but for the firms in question it was a useful way of keeping the composer’s name before the public and making sales.) Gallo’s analysis demonstrates how the idea of celebrity was leveraged to enhance marketability. She shows how the publishers used striking, carefully designed sheet-music covers to foreground the dedicatees  –  Charlotte de Rothschild, the Duc d’Orléans and his bride, and the Sultan Abdul-Medjid   –  and thus entice would-be consumers to buy the marches. It was a savvy ploy, since once purchased and prominently placed on the parlour piano, the marches could endow a household 21 Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, for example, includes as one of his case studies the Viennese waltz, particularly the music of Johann Strauss sr and jr.

Idea of Art.indb 9

02/02/2016 15:13

10

Christina Bashford

with fashionability by association or indicate their owners’ awareness of current affairs. Michela Ronzani’s ‘Creating Success and Forming Imaginaries: The Innovative Publicity Campaign for Puccini’s La bohème’ also deals with an Italian opera composer, albeit one who was active much later in the century. Her study puts the spotlight on the publicity created for the inaugural production of Puccini’s La bohème, exploring a large-scale operation that was carefully orchestrated by the composer’s publisher, Ricordi. Taking full advantage of new techniques from the emerging advertising industry, and having established its own Poster Design and Printing Department, Ricordi ensured that the opera was publicized in a unified, highly visual manner. Posters, postcards and sheet-music covers, as well as magazines, envelope seals and even porcelain plates and bowls, all carried similar graphic art, stemming from the drawings for the opera’s costumes and sets that their designer, Adolf Hohenstein, had created, and which  –  because the images were reprinted for many years  –  rammed the idea of the opera into Italians’ consciousness. Ronzani argues that Ricordi’s marketing initiative was significant in the eventual construction of Puccini as a cultural icon. And yet, as she explains, in the late 1890s, Ricordi’s campaign spawned criticism; many commentators had difficulties reconciling the use of blatant commercialism with the dignified art form of Italian opera and felt that the genre was being sullied in the process. This litany would become a familiar theme in the modernizing world. The agency of music publishers comes under yet more scrutiny from David Wright, whose contribution, ‘Novello, John Stainer and Commercial Opportunities in the Nineteenth-Century British Amateur Music Market’, considers how the firm of Novello shaped compositional output in Britain  –  especially sacred repertoire   –  during the nineteenth century. Aware of the potential for commercial success that Britain’s amateur singing culture presented, and able to craft market-savvy contracts with composers, Novello made low-cost vocal scores for amateur choirs, Anglican churches, and schools the backbone of its catalogue. This music generated extraordinarily large sales (larger, Wright suggests, than has ever been appreciated), and British composers, always dependent on market economics, responded accordingly, writing sacred choral music in seeming perpetuity. The author focuses on John Stainer, one such composer, whose rights and royalty payments from Novello brought him considerable wealth. His cantata The Crucifixion, a knock-out ‘hit’ with the amateur market, demonstrates his ability to craft satisfying, even uplifting, ‘middlebrow’ religious music that sold well over decades. Wright shows that for British composers who were published by Novello, there were not only considerable financial gains to be had from supplying the choral domain with sacred music, but there was also a disincentive to write large-scale symphonic works. In sum, the idea of writing art music was often tempered by the commercial realities of a publishing house that pushed composers towards supplying the sacred-music market. A second group of essays treats personalities, both the universally known and the less familiar: Jenny Lind (George Biddlecombe), Richard Wagner (Nicholas Vazsonyi), and Julius Benedict and Frederic Cowen (Fiona Palmer). The role of

Idea of Art.indb 10

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

11

imagery in promoting an idealized notion of Jenny Lind in Britain and the United States is a significant focus in Biddlecombe’s chapter, ‘Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song and the Relationship between Prima Donna and Public’. What interests him is how constructions of Lind’s persona in sheet music and other material commodities ran counter to cultural associations of prima donnas with women of dubious lifestyles and questionable character. By analysing images of Lind on the sheet-music covers of ballads that she sang publicly, Biddlecombe demonstrates that most of the illustrations were based on two paintings of her that signal femininity, innocence and physical attractiveness. Some of the covers, along with commercially available prints of Lind, also enhanced her body and facial features to create an aura of beauty and unimpeachable morality. Biddlecombe argues that, since sheet music was mostly intended for the middle-class domestic sphere and likely purchased, played and sung by young, often unmarried, women (for whom music-making was an important part of courtship), the Lind products were targeted at this group, in the hope of encouraging consumers to identify with the soprano and even to believe that a famous female singer was endorsing their own domestic space. Moreover, he explores the qualities that attached to the English-language ballads Lind sang in concerts in both Britain and the United States, arguing that this repertoire connoted modesty, domesticity, emotional restraint, and even national character and political values. Her performance of the repertoire created, he suggests, an ideology that further revealed the singer’s ‘internal self ’ and complemented the idea of Lind that was circulating in printed imagery. In ‘A German in Paris: Richard Wagner and the Masking of Commodification’, Nicholas Vazsonyi delves into the deep-rooted contradictions in Richard Wagner’s positioning of himself and his music in the growing commercial environment of mid-nineteenth-century Paris. The backdrop for Vazsonyi’s analysis is both the distinction between lofty art music and the tawdry commercial world (a concept that was already embedded in German thought), and the paradox of Wagner’s insistence on the purity of his music as works of art on the one hand and his denial of his reliance on the marketplace on the other. Vazonsyi’s discussion, like Wright’s, puts significant emphasis on how commerce affected composers, and it takes a critical look at Wagner’s manipulation of the print media and his anti-French (often anti-Semitic) rhetoric, which exploited the idea of the impoverished, morally superior German composer in a moneydriven, artistically moribund French capital. Vazsonyi focuses on two serialized novellas by Wagner that feature penniless German musicians in Paris (‘Une visite à Beethoven’ and ‘Un musicien étranger à Paris’), and he posits that they strongly suggest Wagner was self-identifying with the protagonists while masking the reality of the situation, namely his commitment to finding commercial success with his operas there. Vazsonyi traces continuities in this ‘masking’ rhetoric into the 1880s, a period when Wagner inveighed against the increasingly mass audience for music in the commercial world; at the same time, the composer was cannily manipulating markets in his creation of an exclusive aura around his last opera, Parsifal. Fiona Palmer (‘Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British NineteenthCentury Marketplace’) also studies conscious manipulation of self-image, here

Idea of Art.indb 11

02/02/2016 15:13

12

Christina Bashford

in relation to two conductors in Britain, and at a time when the notion of the conductor as a leadership figure endowed with celebrity was only just emerging. Her subjects, Julius Benedict and Frederic Cowen, were no Linds or Wagners. They led what she dubs ‘portfolio’ careers, mixing orchestral conducting with other activities in a marketplace that still set greater store by European-born musicians than it did by native British ones. Each man learned to promote his own value and individuality, emphasizing, with varying degrees of success, a different set of attributes. These included international connections, service to Empire, championship of British music, association with the social elite, and alignment with the pantheon of ‘great’ (European) composers of the immediate past. Palmer compares and contrasts the two careers, demonstrating how each man constructed a professional image  –  and an idea of himself as a British conductor  –  through commercial outlets. She shows that writing and publishing, as well as concert programming, interviews with journalists, and posed photographs, proved vital tools  –  as did a more subtle management of the press, the use of the power of association, and the manipulation of social connections. Of the two men, Cowen (who was the younger) appears to have had greater agency in the process of reputation-building; he also took an outspoken position on the marketplace’s discrimination against native conductors and called for high artistic standards on the podium, perhaps contributing to eventual shifts in thinking in British culture about its own conductors. Two essays focus on cultural constructions of musical instruments in the commercial world. Catherine Hennessy Wolter’s ‘“ What the Piano[la] Means to the Home”: Advertising of Conventional and Player Pianos in the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal, 1914–17’ addresses the connotations of the player piano in American advertising  –  an important topic in the literature on music and commodity  –  and offers fresh interpretations and a nuanced understanding of the instrument’s commercial identity. Her analysis zeroes in on the mid 1910s, when the player piano was finding its place in the market and its technology was still in flux, and she sets the instrument beside the conventional piano, which was still being widely purchased and used, though clearly entering a period of change in regard to its cultural position. The nature and placement of a wide variety of highly visual ads from two mass-circulating periodicals with complementary profiles, the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies’ Home Journal, are at the heart of Wolter’s work, and she untangles a tight, sometimes contradictory, knot of ideas in her sources around piano ownership, gender, class and family, through her close observation of the ads’ iconography for both types of instrument. Selling the modernity of the player piano or the value of the conventional piano as furniture are among several ideas that the ads reference. Wolter further shows how ads accentuate ways in which player-piano operators could make an active contribution to the music that the instrument emitted (through levers, pedals etc.) to imply that this was no mere machine, but had expressive and artistic potential and could give the consumer agency in his or her experience of music. At root, the varied ideas of the player piano and the conventional piano that she uncovers in this newspaper advertising seem linked to changing concepts of music-making in American life in the 1910s. In ‘Art, Commerce and Artisanship: Violin Culture in Britain, c. 1880–1920’,

Idea of Art.indb 12

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

13

Christina Bashford looks at a less-studied area: the development of a craze for playing instruments of the violin family in late-nineteenth-century Britain and its intersections with the commercial sphere. She shows that from the outset, the industrialization of supply and the availability of inexpensive ‘factory fiddles’ fuelled the phenomenon, bringing the instrument into the reach of many new socio-demographic groups, including working-class adults and schoolchildren. Meanwhile, a web of products and commercially driven activities emerged, including violin magazines with advertising potential, and they established a strong infrastructure for violin-playing. This in turn whipped up demand among middle-class women, for whom the long-seated cultural taboos (some psychosexual) that had barred them from playing the instrument were now crumbling. The principal issue underpinning Bashford’s study is the paradox of the popularity of an ‘organic’ instrument made of wood and (traditionally at least) constructed by hand in an era that celebrated instruments that were associated with industrial manufacture, technological advances and the modernizing world. She notes that commerce sometimes cannily masked the debt to the machine age when promoting factory-produced violins. Moreover, she argues that an intertwining cultural ideology that linked the instrument with a lost artisan past (itself established by many scholars as a tenet of Englishness) was a strong driver for the craze and was exploited in advertising, thus perpetrating a particular, almost nostalgic, idea of the violin. A further two essays treat repertoires in specific contexts. Jon Solomon’s ‘Read All About It! Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers, 1875–1938’, on the emergence and commercialization of ‘ancient Greek music’ in the United States, places emphasis on the role of the newspaper press, both nationally and locally, in creating and stoking market demand for a new repertoire. An interest in what the music of the Greeks might have amounted to was fuelled initially by the findings of scholars, and it led to some contemporary composers writing incidental music for Greek tragedies that was informed by a sense of history, and thence to performances of those plays (some of them commercial productions). These in turn gained considerable attention from the press, which Solomon documents. In addition, news of recovered fragments of notation circulated in newspapers, and some of the music was even transcribed and marketed. The discovered ‘Hymn to Apollo’, for example, was published in book form in 1894, and recordings of it by Victor were sold from 1912, including as part of a home-study course (‘educational commerce’ is the term that Solomon uses for this corner of the marketplace). The broader context for these developments was growing international interest in ancient Greek culture, which enabled those with commercial acumen in the United States to capitalize on the craze, aiding the process of popularization and demonstrating that many American consumers with musical interests were willing to buy into the idea of antiquity. In ‘Selling a “False Verdi” in Victorian London’, Roberta Montemorra Marvin unravels the complex interaction of aesthetic ideas and commercial forces in the London operatic marketplace. She demonstrates that, for Verdi’s operas, spin-off products (among them ‘Englished’ operatic excerpts published as sheet music, and comic adaptations of works in English translation staged in venues beyond the opera house  –  both features prominent in the 1840s and 1850s) and critical

Idea of Art.indb 13

02/02/2016 15:13

14

Christina Bashford

commentary (newspaper previews of works not yet heard and reviews of actual performances) educated the English public about the composer’s output, creating expectations of what a new work by Verdi ‘should be’. Her essay explores how those expectations both shaped and were shaped by critical opinion, and how they affected notions of marketability and actual market demand for Don Carlos (in 1867) and Aida (in 1876)  –  operas in different styles from Verdi’s previous works. Marvin argues that in the case of Don Carlos, Verdi’s French grand opera, which transferred from Paris within a matter of weeks of its world premiere (to be performed in Italian translation), there was not only little time for audiences to become adequately prepared for the work, but also the press pushed the idea that the work was problematic. With Aida, however, there was ample time for audience demand to be stoked by journalists, who reiterated the opera’s success abroad and its distinctive qualities (including its Egyptian-ness) while acknowledging the music’s modern (German) flavour. In revealing much about the English reception of Italian opera as exemplified by Verdi’s works, Marvin unmasks important complexities in the relationship between ideas about the art form of Italian opera and its commercial aspects in Victorian London. The final three essays in the volume all treat interrelationships of musical activities, cultural ideas and commercial concerns in specific settings. Jeffrey S. Sposato (‘Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and the Consumption of Sacred Music in Leipzig’) provides a surprising twist to the collection by revealing the shifting interactions in early-nineteenth-century Leipzig between the city’s commercial concert institutions and its churches. After a long period (beginning in the 1700s) when sacred music, such as motets, masses and cantatas, strongly infiltrated concert programming, the church began including in its services some of the sacred works chosen for the concert hall, in a bid to attract the archetypal art-music consumer into the church (attendance was dwindling). Sposato shows that close ties between the Gewandhaus Concerts and some Leipzig churches were significant factors in this cultural exchange, as was the agency of individuals who were involved professionally in both domains – most notably, Johann Gottfried Schicht, Felix Mendelssohn and Moritz Hauptmann. In an era of increasing secularization, Schicht, as Thomaskantor, successfully used the tested techniques of the commercial world (press announcements of the music for forthcoming services; long works ‘serialized’ over a number of weeks; and the programming of music known to be popular in concerts) in his endeavours to increase church attendance. Hauptmann, in the same job in the 1830s and 1840s, imitated the sophisticated repertoire choices and programming formats favoured by Mendelssohn, the Gewandhaus director (who had been instrumental in Hauptmann’s appointment). Sposato explores not only how the church became influenced by the way the commercial world worked for art music, but also how the sacred and the secular spheres became closely intertwined. Civic culture is the focus of David Gramit’s ‘The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire: A Turn-of-the-Century Case Study’ too, though here the setting is Edmonton in Canada during the period from the 1890s into the 1920s. Gramit’s interest is in how music was used in the building of ‘settler colonial cities’, where life was strongly tied to the commercial and where culture was a powerful tool for asserting modernity. Piecing together the workings and diversity

Idea of Art.indb 14

02/02/2016 15:13

Introduction

15

of Edmonton’s growing musical culture, he shows how the dynamics of boom and bust affected not only the music retail business but also the provision of art music and professional musicians, noting that with greater material prosperity in the early twentieth century came a growth in both the demand for ‘high-class music’ and its supply. These trends are contextualized against the city’s use of art music to symbolize its new identity as a sophisticated metropolis, as opposed to its previous life as a frontier trading town. Gramit offers thoughts on how the idea of art music was framed in this environment, emphasizing less any polarization with popular traditions and more the use of both art and popular musics as symbols of ‘metropolitan legitimacy’. As part of this legitimization, the older music of the local indigenous culture was deliberately distanced, he says. In addition, he argues that, as much as musical culture contributed to Edmonton’s economic growth, it could also be presented as a corrective to the mercantile and as a civilizing influence on the population. Yet, although settler cities were playing a significant role in building nations and empire, in Britain there was little willingness to recognize that fact; instead, there was a tendency within the musical press to insist on Edmonton’s peripheral and inconsequential cultural status. In a similarly wide-ranging discussion, Jann Pasler (‘“Disguised Publicity” and the Performativity of Taste: Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers of the Belle Époque’) unearths an array of commercial and cultural meanings that were signalled by the phenomenon of publishing music in French newspapers and magazines from the 1870s into the 1920s. She shows that the issuing of pieces that could be played on the home piano was not only a keen marketing strategy for music publishers who were eager to generate future sales and stoke demand, but also a form of ‘disguised publicity’ for other stakeholders in the music business, such as theatres, concert societies, composers and performers, whose current activities were often referenced in the newsprint that accompanied the musical notation. Moreover, the practice itself, Pasler argues, played a role in the ‘production and circulation of taste’, and she goes on to show the astonishing range and amount of music  –  from ‘highbrow’ grand opera to popular song  –  that was regularly issued in newspapers that, taken together, served a broad crosssection of society. What emerges is a remarkable fluidity of musical genres and styles circulating across class boundaries: art music was issued in the populist press and popular song appeared in elite newspapers. These findings challenge existing assumptions about the alignment of class and taste in France. Pasler also discusses in depth Le Figaro’s patterns of music provision, suggesting that particular score selections  –  aided by visual layout on the page  –  referenced French politics, current affairs, intellectual fashions, national identity, foreign cultures and more. She goes on to suggest that readers were equally being led to a new understanding of contemporary French art music, including its expanded tonalities, its use of dances from the Ancien Régime, and the significance of works by women composers.

A

book of this size and scope could never adequately address every country, musical genre or topic that the subject matter suggests. As has already been stated, the picture that the new research in The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800–1930 presents is inevitably limited, and its conclusions

Idea of Art.indb 15

02/02/2016 15:13

16

Christina Bashford

preliminary, but the hope is that its mosaic of information and insights will spark the reader to see patterns and connections of his or her own. Whatever gaps may be identified in the present collection, its range of topics and approaches lays groundwork for future investigations into this area of study. By providing a fresh understanding of how the very idea of art music and its culture was forged and renewed in an evolving commercial world, the volume aims to precipitate a broader and sophisticated discussion in musicology about the nature of the commercializing world’s impact on music in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As we open up the field in this way, we may even begin to lay to rest those residual, but powerful, taboos around the discussion of art music and money.

Idea of Art.indb 16

02/02/2016 15:13

Part I Publishers

Idea of Art.indb 17

02/02/2016 15:13

1 Selling ‘Celebrity’: The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Piano Arrangements of Rossini’s Military Marches Denise Gallo

B

y the mid nineteenth century, every European household that could boast   knowledge of culture owned a piano. Purposefully placed in the salons and parlours that were sites of ritual evening musicales, these instruments created an artistic environment that Thomas Christensen has described as ‘bourgeois banality’.1 Dedicated domestic dilettantes and their audiences quickly wearied of repeated repertoire, whether solo renditions or four-hand duets, and created a classic case of economic ‘demand’. Music publishers were only too willing to comply, generating a stream of sheet music for piano in much the same way that internet music services in the early twenty-first century inundate their markets with downloads. At the centre of a network that included composers at one end of the production process and shop owners at the other, publishers explored approaches to increase their catalogue offerings and to promote sales. The surest strategy was to feature music that consumers had actually heard, or at the very least that they had heard of. Some of the most popular piano arrangements were excerpts from famous symphonic works and, pandering to the public’s desire to be au courant, from the latest operas. Advertisements in sales catalogues and editorial puffery in publisher-owned journals heralded these new pieces, often by composers of international repute but also by well-known (but now-forgotten) local and regional personalities. Publishers also resorted to less transparent measures that extended beyond an appeal to their customers’ musical taste and acumen. As businessmen, they acknowledged that sheet music was a ‘product’ that required ‘packaging’, so effort went into its design, particularly of the first page that would attract a buyer  –  the cover. Some frontispieces bore engravings, often as elaborate or colourful

Sincere thanks to Prof. Charles Brauner, Prof. James Parsons, Patricia B. Brauner, Caitlin Miller, Elizabeth Parker, Loras Schissel and Claudio Vellutini for their kind assistance with this research. 1 Thomas Christensen, ‘Four-Hand Piano Transcription and Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Musical Reception’, JAMS 52 (1999), 255–98, at p. 256.

18

Idea of Art.indb 18

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

19

as the artwork hanging in one’s home.2 Strategically left unopened on the piano, these richly decorative pieces graced both the instrument and the room in which it sat.3 Even covers without images could entice the eye with ornamented text set in varied fonts, types and letter cases. Beyond visual elements, sheetmusic covers might also display something with powerful subliminal appeal: a ‘celebrity’ dedication. Appearing within or near the title, such declarations either stated outright or at least implied that the very music that customers held in their hands had been written expressly for a noble or person of elevated social status; possessing a copy was proof that its owner was among the cognoscenti. In essence, whether a piece had musical merit or not, its dedication triggered elitism, affording Christensen’s bourgeois a link to a social class to which they could otherwise only aspire.4 Consumers who brought home ‘celebrity’ to display on their pianos made as much of a statement about their awareness of who or what was à la mode as about their ability to perform the piece itself. The sales strategy of placing notable names on sheet-music covers perfectly illustrates how music publishers marketed piano arrangements of what were then (and still are) Gioachino Rossini’s least familiar works: his military marches. Originally composed as gifts for nobles for exclusive use by their court military bands, the marches later came into the hands of publishers who had them transcribed into two- and four-hand piano arrangements. In all but one case, the compositions were stripped of their original dedications and retitled with others that spotlighted personalities whose names resonated with the broader public. For his part, Rossini appears to have shown little interest in this activity. Nevertheless, the rationale behind his publishers’ eagerness to market these arrangements can be intuited easily. After the success of Guillaume Tell in 1829, rumours flew that Rossini had abandoned not only the stage but also his creative life as a composer, a myth that survived well into the twentieth century. If there were to be no more operas from which publishers could cull selections for sheet music, offering any ‘new’ Rossini music was good business. Even though Rossini’s name had been associated with march selections from his stage works, the public would not have known of these pieces for military bands, all of which had been 2 A celebrity performer’s image or name was often a selling point for vocal selections, but that does not seem to have been the case for piano music. 3 Christensen (‘Four-Hand Piano Transcription’, pp. 276–9) mentions this seamless flux between the worlds of art and music. 4 Hans Lenneberg has described a growing number of lower middle- and workingclass customers for music shops as well as for sheet music lending libraries, but Anita Breckbill and Carole Goebes’s more recent work speaks against this class shift. In France, for example, a lending library subscription, or abonnement de musique, cost more than the average working-class annual salary. See Lenneberg’s ‘Music Publishing and Dissemination in the Early Nineteenth Century: Some Vignettes’, Journal of Musicology 2 (1983), 174–83, at p. 182, and Breckbill and Goebes’s ‘Music Circulating Libraries in France: An Overview and a Preliminary List’, Notes, second series, 63 (2007), 761–97, at p. 782. The label on the cover of the Sultan’s March in Figure 1.1 (p. 35 below) indicates that this sheet music was part of W. C. de Vletter’s music lending library in Rotterdam.

Idea of Art.indb 19

02/02/2016 15:13

20

Denise Gallo

composed as private gifts. So publishers took advantage of marketing them as piano sheet music to fill what was perceived as a gap. By creating an illusion of activity, publishers could keep the composer’s name before the buying public and, by extension, maintain interest in Rossini arrangements already in their sales catalogues. The simple addition of a ‘celebrity’ dedication to this ‘new’ sheet music lured customers even more. Of course, Rossini did continue to compose after Tell, working   –  albeit sporadically and never producing another opera  –  up to 1868, the year of his death, and the four marches discussed below come from this period.5 Since they are virtually unknown today outside of the arena of marching-band music, a brief outline of the composer’s life helps to frame their narrative. During the 1830s, Rossini spent most of his time travelling between France and Italy, enjoying the fame garnered from his operas, many of which were still produced on stages throughout Europe. In 1837, he decided to settle in Bologna, the city that had nurtured him musically as a student. It was here in this political hotbed, however, that his life took a decidedly difficult turn. He soon found himself at the middle of the city’s Risorgimento machinations. His attempts to appear cordial to both radicals and conservatives failed, and he quickly became a political lightning rod, claimed (and conversely attacked) by both sides. As fears for his personal safety redoubled, his health, already aggravated by ongoing symptoms arising from gonorrhoea, continued to deteriorate. Despite fleeing to Florence and trying a series of fruitless spa cures, he continued to plummet into severe physical decline and depression. Only after returning to France in 1855 did he improve. It is through this biographical filter that one must consider the piano arrangements of the military marches, all of which were published between 1836 and 1854. At his lowest ebb physically and psychologically, Rossini appears to have shown no interest in his publishers’ efforts to make these rather ordinary pieces into extraordinary commercial successes.

5 This article deals with marches published before Rossini’s death, hence it does not include La corona d’Italia, sent to King Vittorio Emanuele II in recognition of his having named the composer a Grand Knight in the Order of the Crown of Italy (La corona d’Italia) in 1868. Nor does it include the Fanfare modelled on La corona sent to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico three years earlier. See my ‘Rossini’s Fanfare for Maximilian of Mexico: A Mysterious Self-Borrowing’, Historic Brass Society Journal 23 (2001), 89–102. A complete history of Rossini’s music for band appears in the Preface (pp. xii–l in English and Italian) and the Critical Commentary in Gioachino Rossini, Music for Band / Musica per Banda, ed. Denise Gallo, in Works of Gioachino Rossini / Opere di Gioachino Rossini (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2010). The volume’s main contents and appendices include transcriptions of all the original band pieces as well as piano arrangements of the marches dedicated to the Duc d’Orléans and Charlotte de Rothschild discussed in the present chapter.

Idea of Art.indb 20

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

21

On Military Marches Before addressing Rossini’s marches, it is useful to understand military music in general and how it served as a source both for piano arrangements and for music that employed the march as a compositional model. In its earliest form, military ‘music’ meant trumpets and bugles signalling charges and retreats, and drums setting the pace for marches and attacks.6 With the inception of national standing armies in the seventeenth century, military musicians were assimilated into regiments and trained to play on the march, becoming the crucial units that kept regular troops in step on parade grounds and battlefields.7 Unlike orchestras that employed specific numbers of musicians for each section, military bands were forced to rely on those who agreed to enlist.8 Thus when Rossini and others offered such hommages to noble dedicatees, they created scores for generic ensembles of portable winds, brass and percussion. It then fell to the bandmaster, generally the first clarinettist, to tailor parts for the specific instruments available to him. Composers like Rossini were used to working in this fashion whenever they included stage bands in their operas, since these band parts generally were played by military musicians on loan to theatre orchestras.9 The term ‘march’  –  Marsch, marche or marcia  –  mimicked the action it described, but specific types of marches took their names from the tempos at 6 Ludwig van Beethoven demonstrated the use of instruments in battle in ‘Wellington’s Victory’ (op. 91, 1813). Using drum cadences and national melodies to introduce the arrival of French and British troops, the work celebrates the Duke of Wellington’s triumph at the Battle of Victoria on 2 June 1813. Many military music histories offer full treatments of musicians on the battlefield. Military music histories include Henry George Farmer, The Rise & Development of Military Music (London: William Reeves, 1912), and David Whitwell, The Nineteenth-Century Wind Band and Wind Ensembles in Western Europe, The History and Literature of the Wind Band and Wind Ensemble 5, 2nd edn (Austin, TX: Whitwell Publishing, 2012). 7 On the importance of rhythm in marches, see August Kalkbrenner, ‘Über Marschmusik im allgemeinen und auf dem Paradefelde im besondern’, reprinted from Militär-Wochenblatt (1884) in Musikalische Studien und Skizzen: Gesammelte ausgewählte Aufsätze über militärmusikalische und allgemeine fachwissenschaftliche Themas (Berlin: Arthur Parrhysius, 1908), pp. 81–7, at p. 81. 8 Military ensembles varied radically in size, often totalling as few as fourteen or sixteen men, the average size of the first violin section in a contemporary orchestra. 9 See the letter dated 12 January 1819 from the (unidentified) Lieutenant General of regimental bands to Giovanni Carafa, Superintendent of Naples’s theatres, writing about a collaboration with Rossini at the Teatro San Carlo, in Lettere e documenti / Gioachino Rossini, ed. Bruno Cagli and Sergio Ragni, 2 vols (Pesaro: Fondazione Rossini, 1992), vol. 1, p. 352. Rossini used military musicians both in the orchestra pit and as stage bands in Semiramide, Maometto II and Le siège de Corinthe. See Philip Gossett, ‘Musicologi e musicisti: Intorno a una rappresentazione di Semiramide’, Italian trans. by Paolo Fabbri, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi 32 (1992), 17–31.

Idea of Art.indb 21

02/02/2016 15:13

22

Denise Gallo

which troops were to move when they were played. The grande marche or pas ordinaire, for instance, was a slow, majestic ceremonial piece that maintained a pace of roughly seventy-five steps a minute.10 The most common march, though, amply reflected in the titles of band pieces and compositions inspired by military music, was the pas redoublé or passo doppio, indicating a ‘double time’ gait of 108 to 118 steps per minute. Although amateur pianists may not have understood the tempo significance of these designations, they would have recognized these familiar march terms from sheet-music arrangements. Leipzig publisher Friedrich Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte, a catalogue published from 1829 to 1900 (accessible online since 2004), records some 810 items as ‘marche’ and 172 more as ‘marcia’ . Another twenty-five compositions were specifically marked ‘pas redoublé’ and seventy-nine were labelled ‘grand marche’; among these were twoand four-hand arrangements of the four Rossini marches under consideration. A general search of the Monatsberichte yields some interesting statistics. Of the catalogue’s 330,000 entries, some 145,450 (just under 44%) are arrangements for piano alone or for piano in a variety of vocal and instrumental combinations, demonstrating the remarkable popularity of piano sheet music.11 Included in this number are piano arrangements of Rossini’s music, the majority excerpts from his operas and from the Stabat mater. Yet from the catalogue’s inception in 1829 (the year of Tell’s premiere) to 1868 (the year of the composer’s death), Hofmeister recorded only 131 new piano arrangements of Rossini’s music.12 By comparison, sheet music for piano arranged from works of Rossini’s opera contemporaries Gaetano Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini totalled 481 and 334, respectively;13 the latter’s total seems especially imposing in contrast to Rossini’s, since Bellini was active professionally for only eight years before his death in 1835.

10 The funeral march was even slower. Rossini used one in the Act II finale of La gazza ladra; other composers who exploited the drama of the funeral march included Beethoven, Berlioz, Liszt and, of course, Chopin. 11 Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte tracked music and music books published primarily (but not exclusively) in German-speaking countries, even though all publishers and all music in that arena do not appear. The music generally was published eight weeks before it appeared in the catalogue. This rich resource is available as a searchable database, Hofmeister XIX (http://www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), maintained by the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London [accessed 14 July 2015]. The number of piano pieces was calculated by doing a ‘free search’ on the mutually exclusive terms ‘piano’, ‘pianoforte’ and ‘pfte’ (http://www. hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk/2008/content/database/search/free_text.html). 12 The database was searched on ‘Rossini’ and the terms ‘pianoforte’, ‘piano’ and ‘pfte’, using ‘and’ but ‘not’ to eliminate duplicate phrases such as ‘Pfte à 4 Mains’. Marches arranged for full band, on the contrary, are classified in the database as ‘musique militaire’ . 13 Similar searches on the terms cited in n. 12 produced 1,141 records for Mozart and 1,078 for Beethoven.

Idea of Art.indb 22

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

23

The Original Marches and their Dedicatees Rossini had a cordial relationship with Tsar Alexander I, whom he met at the Congress of Verona,14 but had never encountered his brother and successor, Nicolas I. Yet in 1834, the composer sent the latter a set of marches, Trois Marches militaires: a grande marche and two pas redoublés, designating each as ‘Composed and Dedicated / to His Majesty Nicolas I / Emperor of all the Russias’. 15 These scores  –  the only marches written entirely in the composer’s hand  –  are bound in one volume in the following order: a grande marche and two pas redoublés (hereafter GM, PR1 and PR2). More intriguing than the gift are the marches’ titles, for each memorialized a victory of Nicolas’s army.16 ‘Passage du Balcan’ (GM) recalled the Russians crossing the Balkans in 1828, nearly annihilating the Turks.17 ‘Prise d’Erivan’ (PR1) commemorated the capture of territory during the previous year’s Russo-Persian War. ‘Assaut de Varsovie’ (PR2) is the most curious since it could have been interpreted as an expression of approval of one of Nicolas’s most highly criticized actions, the brutal overthrow of Warsaw in 1830. (In the end, the Russian court took little account of Rossini’s gesture; the marches were placed in storage, where they remained until they were resurrected in 1913 and arranged for use by regimental bands in Nicolas II’s army.)18 Within the passage of two years, Rossini resorted once again to his habit of self-borrowing, ‘re-gifting’ Nicolas’s two pas redoublés by having them rescored for a larger ensemble, by an unidentified arranger clearly familiar with the rapid developments in band instruments.19 Each bearing autograph title pages with 14 The Congress of Verona (1822) was a meeting at which leaders from Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom and France addressed the balance of power among European nations after the Napoleonic Wars (ended 1815). As a gesture of friendship, the composer sent Alexander a march the following year. See Rossini’s letter to Clemens von Metternich, dated 19 February 1823, in Lettere e documenti, vol. 2, p. 121. 15 ‘Composé et Dédié / A S.M. Nicolas I.re / Empereur de toutes les Russies’. In addition to signing the marches, Rossini also labelled each of them ‘Paris ce 28 J.ier 1834’. The bound manuscript is now held by Rossijskij Institut Istorii Iskusstv, St Petersburg, Russia. 16 Galina Kopytova proposed that the entire project was suggested by the Tsar’s emissary Count Karl Osipovič Pozzo di Borgo in the hope of easing public opinion for Nicolas’s military assaults. See ‘Rossini in Russia’, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi 42 (2002), 45–53, at p. 51. 17 W. Bruce Lincoln, Nicolas I, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), pp. 127–8. 18 In an e-mail to the author dated 25 October 2010, Kopytova shared her discovery that Rossini’s marches were employed in a project to improve the quality of Nicolas II’s military music. 19 The instrumentation for the Tsar’s marches comprised nineteen parts; the Oscar/ Leopold scores contained ten extra parts for PR2 and thirteen for PR1. The additions included newer instruments such as cornets with pistons, and valved

Idea of Art.indb 23

02/02/2016 15:13

24

Denise Gallo

new dedications, manuscripts of both marches were given to Oscar Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden and Norway, and Leopold I, King of the Belgians.20 Repurposing the pieces, now ordered in each set as PR2 and PR1, actually proved quite simple since their lilting musical themes reflected nothing of the fierce military actions for which they had originally been named. Rossini’s relationship with Oscar is unclear, although the young prince was also among the attendees at the Congress of Verona.21 It is likely, though, that these two pas redoublés were those mentioned in an undated draft of a letter Rossini wrote to an unknown recipient mentioning a ‘Prince’.22 The composer’s friendship with Leopold, on the other hand, is well documented, going back a decade to Leopold’s years as widower of Princess Charlotte Augusta, when Rossini and his first wife, Isabella Colbran, were guests at his weekly musicales in London.23 Although the scores sent to Oscar are dated ‘February 1836’, Leopold’s bear no such notation. Since the two manuscripts are identical, it is safe to posit that they are coetaneous.24 Sixteen years passed before Rossini was asked to compose the fourth march, a piece for the military band of Sultan Abdul-Medjid, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. In reality, the principals in this narrative are Giuseppe Donizetti, brother of Gaetano Donizetti, and Rossini’s musician friend Domenico Liverani. Since assuming his position in 1828 as head of the musical establishment in the Sultan’s Constantinople court, the lesser-known Donizetti had worked to

bugles. Replacing the older serpent were more modern bass winds. The number of parts, however, does not signify the number of musicians; for example, multiple clarinettists could have been assigned to play the clarinet part. Only by studying the records of a military ensemble can its size be determined. 20 Oscar’s manuscript is at the Husgerådskammaren, Bernadottebiblioteket, Stockholm, and Leopold’s at the Glinka Museum, Moscow. 21 See Lettere e documenti, vol. 2, p. 64 n. 4, for a list of some of the political illuminati the composer might have encountered in Verona. 22 After explaining that he was sending two ‘Pas Redoublés’ and a song, Rossini wrote that he hoped ‘the Prince’ would be happy with him. This letter resides in Sergio Ragni’s private collection of Rossini correspondence. 23 Alexis-Jacob Azevedo described these musicales in G. Rossini: Sa vie et ses œuvres (Paris: Heugel, 1864), p. 197. Leopold is listed as one of Rossini’s students in Giuseppe Radiciotti, Gioacchino Rossini: Vita documentata, opere ed influenza su l’arte, 3 vols (Tivoli: Arti Grafiche Majella di A. Chicca, 1927–29), vol. 2, p. 36 n. 2. 24 Rossini may have delivered the marches to Leopold as he passed through Brussels in June 1836 on the way to Lionel Rothschild’s wedding. As thanks, Leopold may have made his friend a ‘cavaliere dell’Ordine Belga’. See Radiciotti, Gioacchino Rossini, vol. 1, p. 194. Rossini also garnered decorations from others to whom he dedicated marches: Crown Prince Oscar’s father, King Karl XIV Johan; Sultan Abdul-Medjid; Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico; and Vittorio Emanuele II. See Daniele Diotallevi, ‘Le “miserie” cavalleresche di Rossini’, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi 37 (1997), 69–119.

Idea of Art.indb 24

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

25

develop a Western-style military ensemble.25 Having obtained a march from his brother, Giuseppe wrote to request one from Rossini as well. By 1852, though, the composer was suffering the effects of illness and depression, so he shunted the appeal off on Liverani, suggesting that he could easily make a march out of the instrumental accompaniment he had arranged for the composer’s Coro per la Guardia Civica, performed in Bologna in 1848.26 On 4 March 1852, Rossini wrote to Liverani: P.S. Might you still have that Chorus that you arranged so masterfully in the Time of those Political Assassins? Could you not remove the voices and make a Passo doppio for Band? Write me about it, I would like to make happy an employee of the great Sultan who won’t let me live [in peace] until he gets this thing.27 Seven days later, an impatient Rossini addressed the issue once more in the postscript to a letter to their mutual friend, the tenor Nicola Ivanoff: P.S. Tell my Dear Liverani that I thank him not only for the sweet sentiments in his Note, but again for dear Urgency’s sake [tell him] in order to make happy the Impatient employee of the Great Sultan, will he be able to use this piece of music [the original chorus] for a Passo doppio? / write me a reply.28 Rossini knew this transformation would be effortless since the Coro had been conceived as a passo doppio (or pas redoublé). The manuscript sent to Donizetti has not been located, so it is unclear whether Rossini signed it with a personal dedication as he had done for those sent to Nicolas, Oscar and Leopold.29 The Sultan, however, acknowledged the gift, awarding Rossini a medal and the rank of ‘Commander’ in the newly instated Order of Medjid.30 The history of the Sultan’s march and those sent to the other three dedicatees can be traced quite easily; their journey into published sheet music, however, raises more questions than answers.

25 Emre Araci, ‘Giuseppe Donizetti at the Ottoman Court: A Levantine Life’, MT 143 (autumn 2002), 49–56, at p. 50. 26 The Coro used ‘Segna Iddio ne’ suoi confine’, a text by F. Martinelli. 27 Letter in Paolo Fabbri, Rossini nelle raccolte Piancastelli di Forlì (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 2001), p. 136. Rossini’s comment about ‘Political Assassins’ refers to the above-cited difficulties in which he found himself in Bologna. 28 Ibid., p. 137. 29 According to Araci (‘Giuseppe Donizetti’, p. 54), the remainder of Donizetti’s music is housed at the Topkapi Palace Museum Library in Istanbul. No manuscript or band parts for the march could be located, however. 30 The Sultan’s march was sent in 1852. In a letter to Marchesa Eleonora Conti the following July, Rossini’s wife, Olympe, bragged about the honour: see Fabbri, Rossini nelle raccolte Piancastelli, p. 153.

Idea of Art.indb 25

02/02/2016 15:13

26

Denise Gallo

From Parade Ground to Publisher A brief explanation of the musical characteristics of marches demonstrates how straightforward it was to reduce multiple band parts into an arrangement for piano. Despite the number of musicians in a military band, march instrumentation could be reduced to simple four-part harmony (soprano-altotenor-bass), since multiple instruments did little more than double each other’s musical lines in different octaves. Furthermore, many nineteenth-century brass and wind instruments were constructed in specific keys such as Eb and Bb and thus were unable to sound all of the pitches in a normal scale. As a result, military marches generally featured simple melodies with unadventurous harmonies. When transcribed into piano arrangements, therefore, the marches were entertaining but not particularly difficult. To offer more of a challenge, four-hand pieces were often arranged so that the two pianists sitting side by side had to cross hands and play in each other’s part of the keyboard. What march arrangements did offer, however, was an opportunity to exploit the full expanse of the piano’s keyboard to replicate the band’s broad range from the highest sopranino of the piccolos to the monumental depths of an extraordinary variety of bass brasses. Without overly embellished melodies and complex harmonic shifts, piano arrangements could stress the march’s most critical musical characteristic: rhythm. Playing at a steady tempo, two or four hands could keep time as easily as hundreds of feet could be regulated on the parade ground. Second in importance to rhythm was a march’s predictable structure. Often opening with an introduction of several measures or with a drumroll, the first section would explore one or two repeated themes, each with two endings.31 The ensuing trio section returned via da capo or dal segno directions to one or both of the earlier themes, after which the piece would end  –  at least on paper. For marching ensembles, this sectional structure offered critical flexibility. For example, if the length of the marching area or the duration of the ceremony required, the bandmaster had only to signal the repeat of any of the sections, or their elimination. Pianists, however, free of the spatial or temporal constraints that came with tailoring a performance on the field, simply followed instructions (da capo, dal segno, etc.), playing all of the sections in the score as directed, from beginning to end. Knowing the names of the arrangers of Rossini’s piano marches could help to fill in some of the gaps in constructing the history of these pieces. On the other hand, arrangers’ anonymity is not all that surprising since such work was given to unknown musicians and composers in need of income.32 Although it appears 31 PR1 opens with a two-measure drumroll played as a bass-clef octave roulade in the piano arrangements. Franz Schubert employed a melodic introduction in the first of his three Marches militaires, to be discussed later; see p. 27 below. 32 While in Paris, Richard Wagner was employed by French publisher Maurice Schlesinger to do ‘menial work as a copyist and arranger’. See Nicholas Vazsonyi, Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 31.

Idea of Art.indb 26

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

27

that Rossini was not interested in these arrangements, other composers worked closely with publishers, understanding that money could be made from sheetmusic sales. Early in his career, Beethoven frequently negotiated with publishers, even on occasion offering to arrange his own works. As his fame grew, however, his works were given to freelance arrangers, such as Carl Czerny whose speed and accuracy Beethoven particularly appreciated.33 Rossini dealt with publishers as well, even during the early 1840s when his health was declining, but his interactions were about what he may have considered a more important issue, the publication rights for the Stabat mater, which garnered him 6,000 francs.34 In contrast, piano arrangements of marches in which he had never really invested much time must have seemed insignificant. His publishers, on the other hand, saw these ‘new’ Rossini compositions as money-makers. One final distinction needs to be made: not all marches for piano derived from arrangements of military music. Some, like Schubert’s Marches militaires (see n. 31 above), were composed for piano in imitation of band pieces.35 So perfectly did Schubert adopt the military model, in fact, that the first of these marches  –  perhaps the most famous of the set  –  was arranged for band. Furthermore, marches found their way into the art-music repertoire via the musical stage and the concert hall. Termed ‘higher forms of the March’ by band historian J. A. Kappey, these compositions parodied military music  –  as did the march at the close of the overture of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, and Frédéric Chopin’s ‘Marche funèbre’. 36 These pieces were built of rhythmic, melodic, harmonic and structural complexities that music composed for military ensembles precluded. Moreover, pieces that only alluded to marches allowed for artistic interpretation. Dana Gooley has considered how a dramatist like Franz Liszt could take the decidedly prescriptive performance of a military march and transform it into a cultural narrative, creating an imaginary battlefield at the keyboard.37 An apt example for the present discussion is Liszt’s Grande paraphrase de la marche pour Sa Majesté le sultan Abdul Medjid-Khan (1847). The model, a march composed by Giuseppe Donizetti for the Ottoman military band, demonstrates all of the characteristics a military march required. Liszt’s extremely stylized interpretation transforms

33 See Beethoven’s letter to Czerny dated 8 October 1824 in Myron Schwager, ‘Some Observations on Beethoven as an Arranger’, The Musical Quarterly 60 (1974), 80–93, at p. 88. 34 See B. Schofield, ‘Rossini’s “Stabat Mater”’, British Museum Quarterly 10 (1936), 109–10, at p. 110. 35 Schubert understood the popularity of the military march, frequently employing it for piano duets. In addition to the Marches militaires were his six Grandes marches (D. 819), three Marches héroïques (D. 602) and two Marches charactèristiques (D. 886), all published during his lifetime. See Eric Sams, ‘Schubert’s Piano Duets’, MT 117 (February 1976), 120–1, at p. 121. 36 J[acob] A[dam] Kappey, Military Music: A History of Wind-Instrumental Bands (London: Boosey and Co., 1894), p. 69. 37 See Dana Gooley, ‘Warhorses: Liszt, Weber’s “Konzertstück”, and the Cult of Napoléon’, 19th-Century Music 24 (2000), 62–88.

Idea of Art.indb 27

02/02/2016 15:13

28

Denise Gallo

the original into a vehicle for his pianistic virtuosity.38 When marches such as Liszt’s and Chopin’s were destined for performance on the parlour piano, such interpretation would have been encouraged. In contrast, a march performed by a military band was dramatic in its spectacle, pure and simple  –  what can only be called ‘Gebrauchsmusik’, music with a specific function. When military marches like Rossini’s were arranged and sold as sheet music, they were repurposed as ‘Hausmusik’, genteel parlour entertainment.

From Publisher to Parlour In 1837, five music publishers obtained copies of GM, PR1 and PR2. Stripped of their dedications to Nicolas, Oscar, and Leopold, the marches were arranged for piano and published in a new sequence (PR1, PR2 and GM). Two of the firms, Troupenas (Paris) and Mori & Lavenu (London), issued four-hand arrangements with a dedication to Mademoiselle Charlotte de Rothschild; the other three, Breitkopf & Härtel (Leipzig), Ricordi (Milan) and Girard (Naples), published two- and four-hand piano transcriptions in commemoration of the wedding of Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans to Helene von Mecklenburg-Schwerin.39 Slight variations in rhythm and ornamentation suggest that the Rothschild arrangements were based on the Russian originals, while the Orléans marches clearly were modelled on those sent to Oscar and Leopold.40 Since the GM was present only in the set sent to the Tsar, Rossini  –  or those acting on his behalf  –  passed that along to the publishers as well. One tantalizing clue suggests that the marches had gone first to Eugène Troupenas. In a letter dated 6 February 1838, Heinrich Albert Probst, Breitkopf & Härtel’s agent in Paris, assured his employers of Troupenas’s honesty in authenticating Rossini’s authorship of a set of marches: ‘Troupenas assures [us] that he himself got the marches from Rossini and that the royalties were assigned to a certain Sig. Calegard.41 Why wouldn’t the marches be by him [Rossini]? 38 Performances of both Donizetti’s original and Liszt’s paraphrase can be found on YouTube. 39 Some publishers worked in ‘unions’ or collaborations with others, which allowed them to issue parallel editions within their respective markets. In such an agreement were Troupenas, Breitkopf & Härtel, Ricordi and C. Pozzi (Mendrisio). Thanks to Prof. Jeffrey Kallberg for sharing this information. 40 The Rothschild arrangement of PR1 begins with the single eighth-note downbeat found in the Tsar’s march, while the thirty-second-note turn figure at the corresponding place in the Oscar/Leopold set is replicated in the Duc’s arrangement. 41 ‘Calegard’ was most surely the band arranger ‘Calegari’ with whom Rossini had worked in Naples. My thanks to Prof. Kallberg for recalling mention of Calegari in Philip Gossett, ‘Rossini in Naples: Some Major Works Recovered’, The Musical Quarterly 54 (1968), 316–40. Rossini’s dependence on Calegari in Naples is documented most clearly in his note on p. 46 of the autograph of this 1819 cantata in which he identifies ‘Sig. Calegare’ [sic] as band arranger. See

Idea of Art.indb 28

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

29

Trou[penas] is too proud to stoop to such antics.’42 The question then was whether Rossini had actually signed away royalties or whether said ‘Calegard’ was actually the composer. Not only proud of his professional relationship with the Leipzig firm, Troupenas also defended his close friend, Rossini.43 Since Breitkopf & Härtel was the entity paying the royalties, the letter must reference their full-band arrangement and first piano versions of the Orléans marches listed in the Monatsberichte in 1836. What is interesting is that Troupenas also published piano arrangements of the three marches as well. As part of a reciprocal agreement with Breitkopf & Härtel, he would have been allowed to publish the same Breitkopf & Härtel arrangements in Paris (where, it might seem, the Orléans dedication would have had resonance). Yet Troupenas published his arrangements of the three marches with a dedication to Charlotte de Rothschild (the set in which PR1 derives from the Tsar’s model). Could Troupenas as Rossini’s agent have been behind the publication of two distinct sets of the three marches, each with a different dedication? Troupenas’s four-hand arrangements, published in Paris in 1837, were sold as separate pieces of sheet music, each with the same title page, ‘deux pas Redoublés / et / une Marche Militaire / Composés pour / piano à quatre mains / et dédiés / à Mademoiselle Charlotte de Rotschild’ (an unfortunate misspelling of the dedicatée’s surname). The publication of the exact same arrangements in London by Mori & Lavenu might seem to indicate cross-Channel piracy, but a tacit agreement probably existed between the English firm and Troupenas’s associate Breitkopf & Härtel since both handled the Mendelssohn repertoire for their respective markets.44 Also publishing the marches as three separate Stefano Castelvecchi’s Prefazione in Tre cantate napoletane, ed. Ilaria Narici, Marco Beghelli and Stefano Castelvecchi, vol. 4 of Edizione critica delle opere di Gioachino Rossini (Pesaro: Fondazione Gioachino Rossini, 1999), pp. xiii–xlviii, at p. xlvii. 42 See Wilhelm Hitzig, comp., ‘“ Pariser Briefe”: Ein Beitrag zur Arbeit des deutschen Musikverlags aus den Jahren 1833–1840’, Der Bär: Jahrbuch von Breitkopf & Härtel auf die Jahre 1929/1930 (Leipzig, 1930), pp. 27–73, at p. 50. Dr Thekla Kluttig of the Sachsische Staatsarchiv, Leipzig, provided scans from the 1838 correspondence in the Breitkopf & Härtel Kopierbücher. No other references to Rossini’s marches were found. 43 Troupenas, who published Rossini’s Moïse (1827), Le comte Ory (1828) and Guillaume Tell (1830), often gave the composer credit for his firm’s success. In fact, the first Troupenas piece appearing in the Monatsberichte was Rossini’s Ouv. de Guillaume Tell p. pfte., registered jointly with Schott and Artaria in September/October 1829; see Hofmeister XIX (http://www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), 1829, p. 78. For more on Troupenas and Rossini, see Anik Devriès’s comments in Dictionnaire des éditeurs de musique français, vol. 2: De 1820 à 1914, ed. Anik Devriès and François Lesure (Geneva: Minkoff, 1988), p. 418. Kallberg has written on Troupenas’s negotiations with Artaria on behalf of Rossini at an earlier point in the composer’s career. See ‘Marketing Rossini: Sei lettere di Troupenas ad Artaria’, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi nos. 1–3 (1980), 41–63. 44 The author thanks Prof. Kallberg for information on these publishers shared in e-mails in 2009.

Idea of Art.indb 29

02/02/2016 15:13

30

Denise Gallo

selections, Mori & Lavenu employed the identical title page for PR1 and PR2, while GM, now labelled a ‘marche militaire’, had a different one; all three, however, noted that the pieces were ‘Composés et Dédiés à / Mademoiselle Charlotte de Rothschild’. 45 In addition to Rossini’s name, which resonated because of his international reputation, the elitist appeal of ‘Rothschild’ was an attraction. With branches of their banking dynasty in Paris and in London (Troupenas’s and Mori & Lavenu’s respective markets) as well as in Frankfurt, Vienna and Naples, the family wielded legendary power, which was even satirized by Byron in Don Juan: Who had the balance of the world? Who reign O’er Congress, whether royalist or liberal? Who rouse the shirtless patriots of Spain? (That make old Europe’s journals squeak and gibber all.) Who keep the world, both old and new, in pain Or pleasure? Who make politics run gibber all? The shade of Buonaparte’s noble daring?  –  Jew Rothschild, and his fellow-Christian Baring.46 At the time the pieces were published, there were three Charlottes in the Rothschild family, but the only Charlotte still a ‘Mademoiselle’ was the daughter of James, patriarch of the Parisian branch. Although the bankers’ surname laces liberally throughout Rossini biographies, it was James with whom the composer had his longest, most intimate friendship after taking up residence in Paris in 1824.47 When Rossini returned there in 1856, after the years of illness and depression in Italy, James was one of the few visitors he admitted. (The two remained close in death, Rossini dying on 13 November 1868 and Rothschild two days later.) The Rothschild Archive, which holds detailed information on all aspects of the dynasty’s reflection in contemporary culture, not only has no copies of the piano arrangements but also claims no knowledge of their publication.48 In July 1837, the Monatsberichte registered the Breitkopf & Härtel arrangements mentioned in Probst’s letter. Published as ‘Mariage de S.A.R. le Duc d’Orléans / 3 Marche Militaire’, PR1 was sold separately in an arrangement for four hands while a set of all three (PR1, PR2 and GM) was issued for solo piano. 45 Troupenas’s plate numbers date from the 1837 cotage; see Devriès and Lesure, Dictionnaire des éditeurs, vol. 2, p. 77. Mori & Lavenu plate numbers allow for the more precise dating of August 1837; see O[liver] W. Neighbour and Alan Tyson, English Music Publishers’ Plate Numbers in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), p. 35. 46 Canto XII, verse 5, of George Gordon, Lord Byron, Don Juan in Sixteen Cantos (New York: Frederick Campe and Co, 1832), p. 328. Referenced at the end of the quotation is Rothschild’s fellow banker, Edward Charles Baring. 47 Radiciotti (Gioacchino Rossini, vol. 2, p. 525) notes that the Rothschilds helped the composer accumulate a fair-sized estate. 48 In e-mail correspondence with the author in 2008, Charlotte de Rothschild also claimed no knowledge of the Mori & Lavenu arrangements.

Idea of Art.indb 30

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

31

Four-hand arrangements of PR2 and GM were registered the following month.49 Since the Duc’s official engagement was confirmed only on 5 April, with the wedding following quickly on 30 May, the publishers clearly timed the release of the first scores to follow immediately on the nuptials.50 Publication of these pieces may seem precipitous unless considered in the context of an account of the betrothal. Duc Ferdinand-Philippe was extraordinarily popular, having distanced himself from the dishonourable image of his father, King Louis-Philippe. As revenge, his father disinherited him, forcing him to depend on a government stipend, which only made Ferdinand-Philippe more popular with the bourgeoisie.51 Despite the Duc’s finances, marriage to him still came with the throne and a powerful alliance. The search for a suitable match lasted through 1836 until the following April, when a proposal was offered to the least likely (but most eager) candidate  –  Helene von Mecklenburg-Schwerin.52 She quickly assumed the French ‘Hélène’ and, once married, she and her husband became one of Europe’s most popular royal couples.53 Had Rossini heard while in Brussels from Leopold that his wife’s brother, the Duc, was seeking a bride, giving the composer the idea of arranging something for the wedding? More speaks against than for this theory. If the marches were a gift, there should have been a presentation manuscript (none has been located). Moreover, living outside of France during these years, Rossini had no relationship with the Orléans monarchy, nor any reason to cultivate one. More likely, savvy music publishers simply kept their fingers on society’s pulse and, once a bride was identified, they quickly published the marches in hommage. Although a publisher in Weimar may have beaten the competition by issuing a song in late April dedicated specifically to Helene as ‘Der Herzogin von Orleans’,54 Breitkopf & Härtel could cleverly have had their arrangements engraved well in anticipation

49 The second and third marches scored for four hands bore the subtitle ‘Trois Marches militaires’. The entries are, respectively, Hofmeister XIX (http://www. hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), July 1837, pp. 85 and 89, and August 1837, p. 100. 50 (J.) Rossini, Mariage de S.A.R. le Duc d’Orléans: 3 Morceaux de musique militaire, published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel. Hofmeister XIX (http://www. hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), July 1837, p. 82. 51 Jo Burr Margadant, ‘Gender, Vice, and the Political Imaginary in Postrevolutionary France’, American Historical Review 104 (1999), 1461–96, at p. 1483. 52 The story of Ferdinand-Philippe and Helene’s engagement and marriage is outlined by Joëlle Hureau, L’espoir brisé: Le Duc d’Orléans, 1810–1842 (Paris: Perrin, 1995), pp. 272–93. 53 Other music marketed several months after the wedding celebrated the occasion. See, for example, Jean-Baptiste Tolbeque’s Souvenir du 30 mai: Quadrille militaire p. pfte. (exécuté ou [sic] bal offert par la Garde nationale de Paris à le Duc et la Duchesse d’Orléans), published in Vienna by Mechetti. Hofmeister XIX (http:// www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), November and December 1837, p. 137. 54 Carl Eberwein’s Nachruf von Weimar: Der Herzogin von Orleans Helene, geb. Herzogin von Mecklenburg-Schwerin gewiht (Du kamst noch einmal), published by Voigt (Kassel). Hofmeister XIX (http://www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), June 1837, p. 77.

Idea of Art.indb 31

02/02/2016 15:13

32

Denise Gallo

of any engagement announcement since theirs were titled in commemoration of the event rather than of the bride and groom. In contrast to the Rothschild and Orléans arrangements, the publication history of the Sultan’s march seems straightforward. Three publishers subsequently issued both two- and four-hand piano arrangements of the march for Abdul-Medjid: Ricordi (Milan), Schott (Mainz) and Brandus (Paris), the last having bought the Troupenas catalogue after the owner’s death in 1850. Ricordi titled the work ‘marcia / (Pas redoublé) / composta per / s.m. imperiale / il sultano / abdul-medjid / da / gioachino rossini’. Brandus’s title was in French: ‘Marche / du Sultan / abdul medjid / pour le / piano / par / g. rossini’. Schott used French as well but eliminated the Sultan’s name from the title, placing it instead below his image on the cover, as will be discussed below. Musically, all three sets of marches are identical save for editing particulars such as beaming, with the Ricordi and the Schott four-hand arrangements being the most alike.

Marketing the Arrangements Logic might suggest that the best market for the arrangements of the Duc’s marches would have been Paris, but, as has been seen, Troupenas opted instead to sell the Rothschild marches to that audience. Girard and Ricordi were able to advertise their sheet music of the Duc’s marches to the Italian market as compositions by Rossini, at that point Italy’s most famous ‘native son’, who, as it happened, had recently returned home to Bologna. The main sales market, however, was in German-speaking lands served by Breitkopf & Härtel and their publishing affiliates, where the Duc’s new bride would be the ‘celebrity’ focus. Helene was linked, through family ties, to a broad and complex network of German duchies, including her home Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Hessen-Darmstadt and Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg; she was also a cousin of the Prussian Queen, Augusta of Saxe-Weimar, and a niece of Prussia’s King Frederick Wilhelm III (said to be the link that had attracted the French proposal). Belgium’s Leopold I, her new husband’s brother-in-law, was a paternal cousin. She may not have been named specifically in the music’s dedication, but her accession to the role of French Crown Princess was a well-known political alliance. Even more intriguing than titles and dedications were the press announcements publicizing the Rossini arrangements. Not only did they capitalize on his international name, but they also attempted to raise the stature of these unfamiliar compositions, as did the anonymous review in Breitkopf & Härtel’s house publication, the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Ignoring the band partiture that the firm had also published, the comments were aimed at the market of amateur pianists who made up the largest group of consumers for sheet-music sales. Crafting a lofty musical analysis, the author applauded Rossini’s ability to write so well for ‘French’ tastes: ‘Moreover he has in his refined view of life the gift of acutely observing and quickly and surely adopting the changes suitable to altered times and people, which he especially demonstrated in his Tell, where he knew how to unite the Italian with the French most

Idea of Art.indb 32

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

33

closely.’ 55 Rossini’s harmonies, he continued, are ‘vaguely in the style of Auber’ (‘ungefähr in der Auber’schen Manier’). With a single and non-specific reference to the marriage, he urged the purchase of the marches because they were not only easy to perform but also diplomatically correct (the bride, after all, linked the Germans to the French).56 Such verbiage would have appealed to pretentious consumers. Perhaps no one, not even Troupenas, knew the entire history of the marches, including their Russian origins, but for the purposes of marketing them, their past was irrelevant. It was more important to connect them to present tastes, employing hyperbole to draw comparisons to learned compositional styles. Schott’s treatment of the Sultan’s march suggests another marketing strategy. The arrangements were registered in the June 1854 edition of the Monatsberichte, suggesting publication in May,57 a date substantiated by the firm’s advertisement for both the solo and the four-hand sheet music in the Neue Berliner Musikzeitung of 17 May.58 In retrospect, it may seem irreverent to include Rossini’s name in a list with Friedrich Burgmüller, Ferdinand Beyer, Félix Godefroid, Henri Herz, Giuseppe Concone and Louis Lacombe; seen another way, Schott was including Rossini with some of the firm’s most popular (and productive) composers, burying what had become the stigma of inactivity. Ricordi addressed this issue forcefully when announcing its arrangement of the Sultan’s march in the January 1854 Gazzetta musicale di Milano. The anonymous author not only dissected Rossini’s career and style but also attacked the commonly held opinion that ‘after [Guillaume Tell ], the master of masters did not compose even two notes’.59 Insisting that he was bolstered by the composer’s own assurances, the author defended Rossini against accusations of selfborrowing  –  ironically the very cornerstone of the history of all of his military marches: [Rossini] affirms earnestly that he wrote such and such piece, for example, today, and why must we persist in claiming that he wrote them yesterday? Who before today has seen them? Who has heard them? Here is a Marcia (Pas-redoublé), a beautiful march, a new march by Rossini. And the march was written a few months ago: in May 1853, or shortly before. The maestro himself assures us of this. And we would be foolish and indelicate to doubt him.60

55 AMZ 39, no. 44 (1837), pp. 712–13, at p. 712. 56 Ibid., p. 713. 57 G. Rossini, Marche du Sultan Abdul-Medjid; see Hofmeister XIX (http://www. hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), four-hand piano, June 1854, p. 561, and solo piano, June 1854, p. 565. Schott plate numbers are in Otto Deutsch, Musikverlags Nummern: Eine Auswahl von 40 datierten Listen, 1710–1900 (Berlin: Verlag Merseburger, 1961), pp. 23–4, at p. 23. 58 ‘Novasendung, No. 7. von B. Schott’s Söhnen in Mainz’, Neue Berliner Musikzeitung, 17 May 1854, p. 160. 59 GMM, 15 January 1854, pp. 17–18, at p. 17. 60 Ibid., p. 18.

Idea of Art.indb 33

02/02/2016 15:13

34

Denise Gallo

In light of the critical state of Rossini’s physical and psychological health in 1854, if the Gazzetta musicale’s writer had contact with anyone, it would have surely been with Liverani, acting, as Troupenas had almost twenty years earlier, on Rossini’s behalf. For our purposes, though, this public-relations puffery perfectly demonstrates the extent to which publishers created their own ‘truth’ to sell music. It is noteworthy that the Gazzetta musicale’s writer questioned who might have heard Rossini’s march. Although the Bologna Coro from which the march was derived had never been published, anyone who had been present for its successful performance in the Piazza Maggiore on 21 June 1848 might have recognized the piece since its seventy-one-measure banda introduction equates without change to the entire first section of the Sultan’s march. Almost daring the reader to be ‘foolish’ or ‘indelicate’ enough to doubt the ‘maestro’ (and the publisher who was marketing the piece as ‘new’), the writer suggested that the focus be on the arrival in music shops of arrangements, available ‘within a few days’ (‘entro pochissimi giorni’).61 As in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung commentary on the Orléans marches (noted above, pp. 32–3), the commentator linked this work to Rossini’s last internationally recognized composition, suggesting that the Trio of the Sultan’s march ‘was perhaps reminiscent of another March in C from Guillaume Tell  ’.62 Lest musical commentary were not enough of a selling point, the Ricordi author then resorted to promoting the aesthetics of the sheet music itself: ‘Each piece has a different cover, richly decorated with designs in an oriental style, superbly executed in chromolithography.’ 63 In the end, sheet-music cover art may have been the deciding factor in a purchase. Ricordi’s edition of the Sultan’s march was indeed a work of art, featuring a richly coloured cover with green lettering embellished by decorative swirls and images in salmon, dark blue and gold. Even more of a marketing lure, though, was the cover used by Schott: a lithograph of the Sultan himself (Fig. 1.1). One finger hooks inside his tunic, some inches below a decorative medal.64 Cultural objects such as the jinn, the oil lamp recognizable from Turkish culture, appear on both sides of the page just above the Sultan’s head: two shield-like elements with horsetails and the characteristic crescent suggest the ‘johnny jingle’, a percussion instrument found in Ottoman marching bands. With his neatly trimmed hair and a beard, the Sultan engages the viewer with a straightforward gaze, matching one contemporary author’s description of him as ‘gentle and benevolent’. 65 Although 61 The Ricordi editions did not appear in the Monatsberichte. 62 GMM, 15 January 1854, p. 18. The marches in C major are N. 3, Marche, Récitatif, et Chœur or N. 14, Marche et Chœur. 63 Ibid. 64 The image of Abdul-Medjid is nearly identical to a popular Viennese lithograph by one Paterno, available online: http://www.altekunst-vienna.com/ebusiness/ filesharing/gallerypics/1698/big/c_Portrait_lito_Sultan_Abd-Ul-Medjid_close_ up_1.jpg [accessed 18 November 2014]. 65 Adrian Gilson, The Czar and the Sultan, or Nicholas and Abdul Medjid: Their Private Lives and Public Actions (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1853), p. 92.

Idea of Art.indb 34

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

35

Figure 1.1 Cover of Schott’s four-hand piano edition of the Marche du Sultan, pl. no. 13296, 1854 [Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division]. The label over the publisher’s name and address indicates that this sheet music was part of the collection of W. C. de Vletter’s music lending library in Rotterdam. (For information on sheet music libraries, see n. 4.)

the Sultan wears a fez, his uniform is decidedly ‘Western’. Europeans were intrigued by Abdul-Medjid, who, as many writers pointed out, was very much like they were, enjoying Molière, promoting public education and striving for a solid economy. The best explanation for the success of using the Sultan for a ‘celebrity’ dedication is perhaps that he was recognized and applauded as Europe’s ally against Nicolas I during the Crimean War.66 Indeed, 1854, the publication date of all of the piano arrangements, gains significance as it fell in the very midst of this conflict. Displaying sheet music with the image of Abdul-Medjid on its cover on the parlour piano made both musical and political statements. 66 Ibid., pp. 84–9.

Idea of Art.indb 35

02/02/2016 15:13

36

Denise Gallo

Figure 1.2  Frontispiece for Troupenas’s four-hand piano edition of pas redoublé, no. 1, dedicated to Charlotte de Rothschild, pl. no. T. 351, no. 1, 1837 [Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division]. Music sellers often placed their own labels over the publisher’s information; seen on this sheet music is a label for Lodewijk Plattner’s shop in Rotterdam.

Idea of Art.indb 36

02/02/2016 15:13

The Role of the Dedication in Marketing Rossini’s Military Marches

37

Although plain in contrast, sheet-music covers with no colour or images could still engage a buyer. The frontispiece shared by all three of Troupenas’s arrangements of the Rothschild marches serves as an example (Fig.  1.2). Ornamented only by decorative swirls forming a border around the words, the cover draws the eye first to the most prominent text, Rossini’s name, in upper-case letters in an elaborate font near the bottom of the text block. The genres (‘deux pas Redoublés et une Marche Militaire’) and Rothschild’s name (misspelled as ‘Rotschild’) seem of almost equal size, but the heavier script used for the types of arrangements pulls the eye up, then allows it to descend to the more feminine script used for her name.67 At the very centre of the text block, one sees that this arrangement is for four-hand piano, but the other phrases (‘Composés pour’ [composed for], ‘et dédiés’ [and dedicated] and ‘par’ [by]) fade into the background, along with the sheet-music prices (‘Chaque 6.f ’ [each six francs]) just below the composer’s name. The titles of the marches, the actual focus of the cover, nonetheless share the same size lettering as the Rothschild name. Combining the names ‘Rossini’ and ‘Rothschild’ may well have gained the arrangement pride of place on the parlour piano. The previously cited excerpts from publishing-house newspapers demonstrate the extent to which the histories of the piano arrangements were misrepresented. No more truthful were the descriptions on some of the sheet-music covers themselves. One wonders, for example, how many people caught the trickery in the Rothschild titles. The marches had not actually been composed for or dedicated to her; rather, only the arrangements had been named in her honour, as the Troupenas cover clearly states: ‘Composés pour / piano à quatre mains / et dédiés / à Mademoiselle Charlotte de Rotschild’. Moreover, just as the marches sent to Nicolas had reflected nothing of the military encounters for which they were named, there were no musical or thematic links to the Orléans nuptials. In point of fact, any high-profile event that resonated with society (and those who followed it from the sidelines) would have sufficed just as well. After all, one need only remember that the Rothschild and Orléans marches were in essence the same pieces of music.68

The Business of Sheet Music Although publishers’ catalogues and advertisements offer information about what music was published, there appear to be no extant sources that provide statistics on how many copies of sheet-music arrangements, such as those of Rossini’s marches, were actually sold. Libraries rarely collected sheet music with any consistency, relying instead on donations of personal collections. Even then, for space purposes, only one or two copies of a single piece would have been 67 The differences in types are best seen in the letters M and R. 68 Changing ‘celebrity’ dedication, by the way, is not a thing of the past. One need only remember that Elton John repurposed Marilyn Monroe’s anthem ‘Candle in the Wind’ (1973) for the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.

Idea of Art.indb 37

02/02/2016 15:13

38

Denise Gallo

retained. The best source of information would be ledgers and correspondence of publishing firms, but in most cases extant records from the nineteenth century are inaccessible, boxed up in archives or storage; others are not sufficiently catalogued to be searchable with any exactitude. So, in the end, we are left with far more questions than answers. Because of the paucity of details about the Rothschild marches, one might assume that these were not on the market for long. The Sultan’s march, too, seems to have had a short life in the amateur piano repertoire but remains to this day a staple in the marching-band repertoire.69 Only the Orléans marches fared well, even inspiring derivative arrangements like the ‘Rondeau brillant sur la marche du mariage du Duc d’Orléans de Rossini’ for piano (1838) by Czerny.70 That the original two- and four-hand piano arrangements issued in 1837 could still be found in the Breitkopf & Härtel catalogue as late as 1903 demonstrates that, after outliving their original connection to the Orléans nuptials, they became popular in their own right.71 This narrative serves as a case study of one way in which music publishers responded to a burgeoning demand for piano arrangements. They clearly recognized the financial advantage of marketing pieces based on Rossini’s works, especially since his health had taken him out of their stable of active composers whose music was available for purchase. Either Rossini or someone working on his behalf had offered up his military marches, out of which publishers concocted ‘new’ pieces. Meanwhile, the composer’s lack of interest in what was happening gave the publishers virtual carte blanche to create multiple editions of the same marches. Yet while managing to create a repertoire of two- and fourhand arrangements, the publishers also were shrewd enough to anticipate their consumers’ confusion that this major opera composer would be associated with such an unusual genre. So instead of ‘selling’ the arrangements using his name only, they added a ‘celebrity’ name or image to encourage sales. Ironically, though, the celebrity dedication functioned as a buffer of sorts, in essence distancing the marches from the composer almost as much as he himself did by his apparent disinterest in the entire process. Nevertheless, in the end, the inclusion of ‘celebrity’ proved to be a savvy business decision made by marketeers who knew very well that sheet music that made its way home from the shop was meant to be seen on top of the parlour piano as much as it was to be heard at an evening’s amateur musicale.

69 YouTube features a variety of band performances of the Sultan’s march. 70 Hofmeister XIX (http://www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk), April 1838, p. 55. 71 Copy of ‘Verzeichnis des Musikalien-Verlages von Breitkopf & Härtel’ (Leipzig, 1903), p. 888, provided to the author by Dr Andreas Sopart of the Breitkopf & Härtel Reading Department/Archives.

Idea of Art.indb 38

02/02/2016 15:13

2 Creating Success and Forming Imaginaries: The Innovative Publicity Campaign for Puccini’s La bohème Michela Ronzani Even when one writes a masterpiece, one runs the risk of being either unheard or pitied. The best thing to do is to wait and see, as a spectator, how this colossal comedy will end, a comedy in which entire nations act like puppets shaken by the strings of publicity. Alfredo Catalani (1892)1

P

uccini’s La bohème, on a libretto adapted from Henri Murger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème, premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin on 1 February 1896. The opera was preceded and accompanied by a publicity campaign, organized by the opera’s publisher Ricordi, which was unprecedented in the history of Italian advertising. To my knowledge, the campaign was not only the first of its kind of such magnitude, but it is also the one for which materials are most accessible today. It also exemplifies Ricordi’s marketing efforts in support of Puccini and provides evidence of the firm’s experience with advertising campaigns and of its general perceptions of what would attract audiences. Ricordi utilized, in innovative ways, a great variety of new advertising tools: posters, postcards, reproductions of costumes and set designs in the periodical press, envelope seals (‘bolli chiudilettera’) and even a set of porcelain plates, as well as sheet music and scores. Turn-of-the-century Italy was a particularly good environment for developing new marketing techniques and for actively attempting to attract a larger and more diverse audience: Italian opera was going through a period of ideological and economic crisis, and the social, economic and political changes of the time were contributing to a widening of the existing opera audience.2 There 1 Letter from Catalani to Giuseppe Depanis, 19 November 1892, in Alfredo Catalani, Lettere di Alfredo Catalani a Giuseppe Depanis, ed. Carlo Gatti (Milan: Istituto di Alta Cultura, 1946), p. 147. 2 In nineteenth-century Italy, opera-house audiences had always included a wide array of classes, from nobles and aristocrats to merchants and servants. Following Unification, there was, however, increased attention to opera from the lower and middle classes as well as from intellectuals and the wealthy classes. For more information, see, for example, John Rosselli, The Opera Industry in Italy from Cimarosa to Verdi: The Role of the Impresario (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 39–45; Rosselli, Music and Musicians in Nineteenth-Century Italy (Portland, OR: Amadeus, 1991), pp. 56–64; and Carlotta Sorba, Teatri: L’Italia del

39

Idea of Art.indb 39

02/02/2016 15:13

40

Michela Ronzani

were strong prospects for rejuvenating the image of Italian opera while targeting a previously underexploited revenue stream. Ricordi, the main Italian music publisher of the time, was in an especially privileged position for exploring such opportunities, since the firm owned publishing and performing rights to the music that it published and also served as an agent (in the modern sense) for the composers it had under contract. For these reasons, the publisher was invested both in promoting the genre of opera and in selling its own related products. Ricordi’s efforts to apply a modern commercial sales logic to artistic works raised fundamental questions about the roles of author and of audience, as well as concerns that ‘commerce’ would be detrimental to ‘art’. In the fast-growing industrial economy of the era, commerce and marketing were becoming increasingly important, and the emergence of associated practices triggered worries about the commodification of culture and the relationship between culture’s ideal aesthetic value and its necessary commercial value. With the words cited at the opening of this essay, Alfredo Catalani, composer of the operas Loreley (1890) and La Wally (1892), also published by Ricordi, not only expressed concern for the importance attributed to advertising, but, more precisely, he complained about Ricordi’s disproportional marketing of Puccini’s operas as compared to his own. One might say  –  and certainly Catalani would have  –  that the relative lack of publicity for his works is perhaps the reason why his name and his operas are now almost forgotten. Beyond being an expression of the grudge Catalani held toward his publisher, the opening quotation articulates an increasingly widespread negative view of advertising as detrimental to art. Such concerns were just beginning to burgeon at the time of the creation of La bohème, but they would become fundamental in modernism. I consider the advertising campaign for La bohème as a case study for exploring the relationship between art and commerce in the opera world of fin-de-siècle Italy. The campaign exemplifies the ways in which Ricordi took advantage of opportunities created by modernization, social change, and artistic and economic crises to develop marketing tools that contributed to the success of composers in general and to the mythicization of Puccini in particular. A systematic study of Ricordi’s marketing strategies in general has not been undertaken, despite the fundamental importance of publicity in elucidating the role of music publishers in Italy, especially with regard to creating a cultural iconography and to shaping the relationship between opera institutions and audiences. Although opera was central to Italian culture and to Italy’s economy, the history of the opera industry has never been put into dialogue with the history of advertising.3 Yet, studying publicity campaigns reveals an integrated melodramma nell’età del Risorgimento (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2001), esp. chapters 1 and 2. 3 Some scholars have attended to related topics that are essential to reconstructing the relationship between opera and its market in fin-de-siècle Italy: on Ricordi’s role in the Italian music world, Stefano Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera: Storie di Casa Ricordi (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2011); on the firm’s role in the Italian culture industry, Fausto Colombo, La cultura sottile: Media e industria culturale in Italia dall’Ottocento agli Anni Novanta (Milan: Bompiani, 1998), pp. 87–9; on

Idea of Art.indb 40

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

41

system behind opera production: an interrelation between various agents, moments and processes from the ideation of an opera to its performance and dissemination. Ricordi’s publicity campaign for La bohème and the views of Italian intellectuals of the day toward that campaign expose the complicated dynamics between art and its market, and the peculiar entanglement of the world of opera with that of advertising. More specifically, the campaign for La bohème suggests that through advertising the music publisher created ubiquitous symbols that contributed to constructing the longlasting success of Puccini’s opera. This chapter begins with a concise overview of the status of Italian opera and of the Italian economy in the late nineteenth century, supplemented by a brief introduction to the history of the Ricordi firm and its influence on the development of advertising and graphic design; the latter discussion underlines the relationship between the world of opera and that of advertising, and the central role that Ricordi played in both spheres. This serves as a backdrop for an analysis of the components of the publicity campaign that Ricordi designed for La bohème, which focuses in particular on the repetition of certain visual themes and on the specific function and intent of each advertising medium. A concluding discussion of the campaign’s effectiveness in relation to the context of operatic crisis and the reception of Puccini’s opera highlights the negative reception of Ricordi’s marketing practices in a time of growing difficulties in reconciling art and the market.4

Ricordi’s Image Industry: Opera, Economy and Advertising At the time of La bohème’s premiere, Italy had been a unified, independent nation for only thirty-five years. After independence in 1861, the new nation faced enormous political difficulties that partially hindered economic growth. By the 1890s, however, poverty had declined, as industrial production, especially in the north of Italy, grew exponentially; industrialization led to decreased financial inequality among social classes, a higher gross domestic product and increased consumer expenditure. One consequence was that more people could afford to go to the opera.5 Moreover, traditionally, theatres were owned, supported and attended by the aristocracy and tightly controlled by local governments. Following independence, a lack of patronage or other financial support (for the reception of Puccini’s operas, Alexandra Wilson, The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism and Modernity, Cambridge Studies in Opera (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); on the history of the opera industry and its production systems, Rosselli, The Opera Industry in Italy. For a broad perspective on opera in this period, see Alan Mallach, The Autumn of Italian Opera from Verismo to Modernism, 1890–1915 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2007). 4 The market for opera included more than just those who attended performance; it included constitutencies who never entered an opera house but for whom opera was a national art and a symbol of cultural knowingness. 5 Gianni Toniolo, ‘An Overview’, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy since Unification, ed. Gianni Toniolo (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 3–36, at pp. 16–17.

Idea of Art.indb 41

02/02/2016 15:13

42

Michela Ronzani

example, by a prince or the state) forced many theatre managements to consider more broadly issues of financing, production costs, ticket sales, and marketing when putting together an opera season.6 Some opera houses were forced to close because of competition from other forms of entertainment (such as prose theatre and café chantant) and increased production costs. Beginning in the 1860s, in part as a consequence of the successful introduction of foreign opera and in part because of new copyright law (that encouraged a fixed repertoire), fewer new operas were being written.7 Intellectuals (and some critics) began to lament modern and foreign threats to the Italian operatic tradition; and, by the end of the century, many commentators came to the conclusion that no composer seemed a suitable successor to Verdi in writing operas worthy of the great Italian tradition. This period of a perceived crisis in Italian opera or a decline in Italian melodrama undermined opera’s ideological status as a national art and Italy’s supremacy in the genre.8 The situation, for many years, had suggested a need for musical innovation, as well as a ‘rebranding’ of the existing institution of opera, to generate renewed enthusiasm for the art form. The two main Italian music publishers of the time, Sonzogno and Ricordi, had the means, the power and the motivation to meet the challenge. Together, the two firms owned the publishing and performing rights in Italy to nearly all of the operatic music performed in Italian opera houses, or were the Italian 6 For further information on the economic and social history of Italian opera houses in the second half of the nineteenth century, see, for instance, Mallach, The Autumn of Italian Opera, pp. 14–20; Fiamma Nicolodi, ‘Opera Production from Italian Unification to the Present’, Opera Production and its Resources, ed. Lorenzo Bianconi and Giorgio Pestelli (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 165–7; John Rosselli, Sull’ali dorate: Il mondo musicale italiano dell’Ottocento (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1992), pp. 151–4; Marco Santoro, ‘Imprenditoria culturale nella Milano di fine Ottocento: Toscanini, La Scala e la riforma dell’opera’, Scene di fine Ottocento: L’Italia fin de siècle a Teatro, ed. Carlotta Sorba (Rome: Carrocci, 2004), pp. 101–45; and Sorba, Teatri, pp. 227–58. 7 The first Italian copyright law was enacted in 1865; it required permission from an author or publisher, as well as compensation to the author or his/her heirs, for every reproduction of any artistic or literary work for eighty years from its creation. Although the law was not enforced for a good part of the late nineteenth century, its principles resulted in a shift from one-time commissions from individual impresarios to long-term and controlled use of scores by publishers with regard to opera production. On the rights situation before 1865, see Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera , pp. 62–82; on application of the law, see Irene Piazzoni, Spettacolo, istituzioni e società nell’Italia postunitaria (1860–1882) (Roma: Archivio Guido Izzi, 2001), pp. 224–78; on how the law affected Ricordi in particular, see Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera, pp. 82–95. 8 I refer here to the effective and insightful summaries of the so-called crisis of Italian opera in Rosselli, Sull’ali dorate, pp. 151–69; Santoro, ‘Imprenditoria culturale’, pp. 109–15; and Wilson, The Puccini Problem, pp. 13–22. For a more extensive treatment of the issue, see Mallach, The Autumn of Italian Opera; and Jay Nicolaisen, Italian Opera in Transition, 1871–1893 (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1980).

Idea of Art.indb 42

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

43

representatives for its composers; they thus formed a duopoly that had the power to influence the opera seasons of every theatre in Italy. Both companies also owned and managed music periodicals and were involved in theatre management at various times and in various cities.9 Since music publishers had access to the most advanced printing technologies, various forms of printed media (such as brochures, posters and so on) and the press industry, they were a link between the worlds of opera and of mass communication. Given opera’s connections with such important players in the publishing industry, it is not surprising that pioneering efforts in music advertising took root in the genre. The authority of these publishers over theatres and repertoire, combined with their involvement in mass communication and publishing more broadly, placed them in a privileged and powerful position from which they could play a role in the ways opera was represented and promoted within Italian culture. Through marketing, these music publishers helped rescue opera from its perceived crisis; and they contributed to the burgeoning process of distinction between elite art and popular entertainment. Ricordi, in particular, took advantage of the opportunities offered by advertising techniques and new technologies to enhance the commercial value of operas and to promote the composers the company represented. A brief review of the history of the advertising techniques available in turnof-the-century Italy sheds light on the complex relationship between music and market at a time when socio-economic and political developments made marketing beneficial for opera. As noted above, the use of advertising increased dramatically in the second half of the nineteenth century, in conjunction with general economic and industrial progress and the consequent increase in the production of consumer goods. In Italy, such developments were particularly significant in the industrialized, wealthier northern regions of the peninsula. The last decades of the century saw the creation of the first Italian industries, as well as technological advances such as the first electrical plant (1883) and the Gotthard railway tunnel through the Alps, connecting Italy and Switzerland (1882). Technical innovations and industrialization, combined with the consequent urbanization, opportunities for employment, country-to-town population migration, and distribution of wealth, as well as a generalized ideal of national 9 Sonzogno founded and owned the daily newspaper Il secolo (which in the 1890s had a circulation of 200,000 copies), managed the music journal Il trovatore and owned the music periodical Il teatro illustrato (later Il teatro illustrato e la musica popolare until 1892, when it merged with Il secolo). The firm also issued periodicals for the general public and had substantial literary publishing activity. See Silvia Valisa, ‘Casa Editrice Sonzogno: Mediazione culturale, circuiti del sapere ed innovazione tecnologica nell’Italia unificata (1861–1900)’, The Printed Media in Fin-de-siècle Italy: Publishers, Writers, and Readers, ed. Ann Hallamore Caesar, Gabriella Romani and Jennifer Burns (Oxford: Legenda, 2011), pp. 90–106. From the 1870s, Sonzogno also managed opera seasons throughout Italy, and in 1894, he opened his own theatres, the Teatro Lirico Internazionale in Milan and the Teatro Mercadante in Naples. See Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera, p. 160. On Ricordi’s journals, see n. 14 below.

Idea of Art.indb 43

02/02/2016 15:13

44

Michela Ronzani

and personal progress, led to increased production of consumer goods. The competition that emerged from an abundance of goods and an increased number of potential buyers brought with it a need for producers to cater to their markets, to differentiate their wares and to develop new economic strategies.10 The new marketing strategies encompassed industrial design (more captivating retail spaces; eyecatching product packaging, brochures and catalogues; installations of attractive storefront signs to project a specific impression of a business; and so on) and commercial advertising. Most of these undertakings were aided by technological advances in printing and communication, and by the recent wider dissemination of printed media including periodicals, almanacs and newspapers, which were all boosted by increased literacy levels. This allowed advertising to reach a greater number of potential consumers at low cost.11 Advertisements in the press were among the first types to appear, and by the 1880s, most newspapers printed at least one full page of advertisements in each issue. With growing urbanization, streets and various public spaces became crucial for advertising as well: billboards and posters, both on walls of city buildings and in public transport vehicles, could be visible to an entire urban population, regardless of class. Simple and textual at first, eventually these types of advertisements exploited the powers of visual communication by way of images that had a seductive and immediate effect. The advertising industries devised new ways of perceiving consumer goods, ways in which appearance played a role equal or superior to functionality. Therefore, visual appeal became an integral feature of the advertisements (and of the products). This development went hand in hand with new ways of presenting consumer goods: department stores, display windows and illustrated catalogues.12 10 On the industrial and economic history of northern Italy and, in particular, of Lombardy, see Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy; Duccio Bigazzi and Marco Meriggi, La Lombardia (Turin: Einaudi, 2001); Dario Cimorelli, Giovanna Ginex et al., eds, Storia della comunicazione dell’industria Lombarda (Milan: Mediocredito Lombardo, 1997). 11 Inventions such as chromolithography, the high-speed printing press and photographic printing became available in Italy only around the 1860s, when machinery and technicians were imported from Germany, and the technologies became cost-effective only in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. In the 1870s, more than half of the Italian population was still illiterate; the percentage was lower in the northwest, where the illiteracy rate dropped below 15% by the turn of the century. On literacy and the history of the press, see Giuseppe Farinelli, Storia del giornalismo italiano: Dalle origini a oggi (Turin: UTET, 2004), esp. p. 212; and Giovanni Vigo, Istruzione e sviluppo economico in Italia nel secolo XIX (Turin: ILTE, 1971), pp. 121–30. 12 This brief summary of early Italian advertising relies on Antonio Valeri, Pubblicità italiana: Storia, protagonisti e tendenze di cento anni di comunicazione (Milan: Edizioni del Sole 24 Ore, 1986); Gian Luigi Falabrino, Effimera e bella: Storia della pubblicità italiana (Turin: Gutenberg, 2000); Alberto Abruzzese and Fausto Colombo, Dizionario della pubblicità: Storia, tecniche, personaggi (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1994); and Gian Paolo Ceserani, Storia della pubblicità in Italia (Bari: Laterza, 1988).

Idea of Art.indb 44

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

45

Access to printing technology, combined with an understanding of the democratic impact of images, led to the creation of powerful tools for spreading ideas and creating myths and imaginaries; the Ricordi firm grasped this concept to the full extent. Giulio Ricordi, the firm’s manager (from 1888 until his death in 1912), understood the potential of new forms of visual advertising as early as 1889, when he created the Sezione Creazione e Stampa Manifesti (Poster Design and Printing Department) within its Officine Grafiche (Graphic Workshop). Both departments were exemplary in their technical modernity: they were completely electrified and equipped with the most modern printing machinery available (for chromolithography, which was the main technique used starting in 1891, chromotypography, engraving, tachygraphy, etc.); and they were staffed (in 1894) by more than 200 employees.13 The activity of the Graphic Workshop included designing and printing all of Ricordi’s products: sheet music and scores, librettos, music periodicals (including the Gazzetta musicale di Milano),14 sketches for sets and costumes, and publicity materials. Under the direction of graphic, scenic and costume designer Adolf Hohenstein (1854–1928), the Poster Design and Printing Department thrived in its production of advertising matter for Ricordi’s products. Most of these goods were distributed to Ricordi’s (and doubtless other) shops throughout Europe and to theatres around the world.15 From 1896, after the successful publicity campaign for La bohème, the Poster Design and Printing Department functioned as an advertising agency, designing and printing material for other companies that entrusted their marketing campaigns to Ricordi’s modern machinery and skilled graphic designers.16 In 13 Information on employees pertains to those employed in 1894 at the 4,000 square metre Nuovo Opificio Ricordi (New Ricordi Factory) at Viale di Porta Vittoria 21 (Maria Pia Ferraris, ‘Graphics at Casa Ricordi’, Music, Musicians, Publishing: 175 Years of Casa Ricordi, 1808–1983, ed. Francesco Degrada [Milan: Ricordi, 1983], pp. 192–5, at p. 192). According to Claudio Sartori (Casa Ricordi, 1808–1958: Profilo storico [Milan: Ricordi, 1958]), in 1884 the plant had the potential to produce 2,500,000 (A1-size, 70 × 100 cm) music sheets (representing an unknown number of pages of music), 100,000 posters and 2,000,000 other sheets of coated and plain paper (pp. 49–50); by 1910 the production potential had grown to 25,000,000 music sheets and 50,000,000 illustrated postcards, as well as deluxe lithographic works, catalogues and other printed materials (p. 72). 14 The Gazzetta musicale di Milano was published 1842–62 and 1866–1902; it was followed by Musica e musicisti (1902–05) and Ars e Labor (1906–12); other titles included Rivista minima (1871–78), Musica d’oggi (1919–42) and Ricordiana (1951– 57); see http://www.ricordicompany.it/en/page/25 [accessed 28 October 2014]. 15 Ricordi owned and managed stores in Milan, Florence, Naples, Rome, Palermo and other Italian cities, as well as in London, Paris, and locations in North and South America. 16 In 1895, Ricordi had occasionally done work on commission from other companies, more specifically for the E. & A. Mele Department Stores in Naples and for the Olympia Circus in London (see letter from Tito Ricordi to Giulio Ricordi, 6 October 1894, vol. 6, no. 168, copialettere for fiscal year 1894/5, Archivio Storico Ricordi, housed in the Biblioteca Braidense in Milan, hereafter I-Mb, ASR). On

Idea of Art.indb 45

02/02/2016 15:13

46

Michela Ronzani

fact, the Graphic Workshop trained or employed many men who would later become the most famous graphic designers and illustrators in Italy and the major exponents of Stile Liberty (Italian art nouveau): in addition to Hohenstein, they included Leopoldo Metlicovitz (1868–1944), Marcello Dudovich (1878–1962), Franz Laskoff (1869–1918/21), Achille Beltrame (1871–1945) and Leonetto Capiello (1875–1942). All of these pioneers of Italian graphic art designed stage sets and costumes (for opera and ballet), magazine covers, title pages for music scores and opera librettos, illustrations for other musical products and, most famously, posters.

Advertising La bohème In a time of incipient mass culture, the ‘culture industry’ (‘Kulturindustrie’)17 of turn-of-the-century Italy succeeded in developing highly advanced marketing techniques to appeal to a widening consumer base. As Italian sociologist Fausto Colombo has argued, Ricordi was at the centre of the new Italian culture industry in its prominent use of the techniques and the tricks of advertising, its mastery of the fine art of advertisement, and its contribution to the birth of an advertising ‘image industry’ (‘l’industria dell’immagine’).18 My work draws on and supplements Colombo’s claim by suggesting that Ricordi’s contribution was, in addition, both influential for the history of Italian music and representative of the new, inevitable intersection between commerce and art that characterized the period. Ricordi’s ‘image industry’ was also indicative of the increasing role that marketing played in the system of opera production. For various reasons, mostly related to competitive marketing or a composer’s popularity and stature, Ricordi organized small-scale publicity campaigns for several newly composed operas produced between 1896 and circa 1906. Between 1906 and 1914, for the premieres of some new operas and for new productions of some existing operas, the firm might produce a new poster and, for selected works, might also prepare flyers, postcards and mementos. To date, given the relative lack of detailed attention to this aspect of the opera industry and the evidence I have thus far uncovered, it appears that the only elaborate and comprehensive campaigns that Ricordi organized in Italy were for three of Puccini’s operas  –  La bohème (premiere advertising for other companies starting in 1896, see Cimorelli, Ginex et al., Storia della comunicazione, pp. 35–44; Ferraris, ‘Graphics’, pp. 192–3; and Giorgio Fioravanti, Leonardo Passarelli et al., La grafica in Italia (Milan: Leonardo Arte, 1997), p. 18. 17 The term was coined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, ‘Kulturindustrie: Aufklärung als Massenbetrug’, Philosophische Fragmente: Dialektik der Aufklärung (1944); trans. as ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), pp. 120–67; it refers to the commercial marketing of culture, specifically the branch that deals with the production of culture that is in opposition to true culture. 18 Colombo, La cultura sottile, p. 89. By ‘image industry’ Colombo means the production of images that themselves are the cultural product, instead of illustrations accompanying another cultural product.

Idea of Art.indb 46

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

47

in 1896), Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1904)  –  Pietro Mascagni’s Iris (1898), and Alberto Franchetti’s Germania (1902) and La figlia di Iorio (1906). In addition to the general publicity for its operas, Ricordi often designed and printed advertising material commissioned by opera houses for specific productions. The campaign for La bohème seems to have been without precedent with regard to its visual dimension. The publicity featuring images ranged across seven different formats: large posters, playbills, postcards, envelope seals, porcelain plates, periodicals (in particular the Gazzetta musicale) and the covers of musical scores.19 The campaign’s iconography was centred on Hohenstein’s sketches for the staging and costumes designed for the premiere. Characters in the same outfits that could be seen on the opera stage were reproduced in almost all of the publicity material. One is tempted to suggest that this reiteration of the imagery of the staging may have been part of an integrated strategy for making La bohème memorable and its composer iconic for the rebirth and the future of Italian opera. The poster designed for La bohème was a decisive step forward for Italy both in poster art and in the conception of publicity. Posters combined the straightforward, informational format of playbills20 with illustrative techniques of panorama and diorama, and with the efficacy and popular appeal of character drawings. The first colour lithographic Italian poster, printed in 1863 for an Italian production of Gounod’s Faust (which had its Italian premiere at the Teatro alla Scala on 11 November 1862), may have been a prototype for those intended as advertisements (rather than for announcements and notices).21 It was followed twenty-six years later, in 1889, by Ricordi’s poster for Puccini’s first opera, Edgar. (To date, no similar posters for the intervening period have come to light.) These 19 Although for other operas, this also included librettos, I have found no evidence of a libretto for La bohème with the pictorial themes found in the other publicity materials. 20 Playbills, widely used beginning in the seventeenth century, differ from posters in their smaller size, denser text and relative lack of visually striking components (imagery, if present, is simple and purely decorative in purpose). Their primary purpose is to inform through words. Conversely, a poster’s purpose is to draw attention first through dramatic graphic elements which also should convey a message to the ‘reader’ and only secondarily through a supplemental verbal message. See Harold Hutchinson, The Poster: An Illustrated History from 1860 (London: Studio Vista, 1968), p. 9; Ervine Metzl, The Poster: Its History and its Art (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1963), p. 18. 21 The poster was labelled ‘Lit[ography] Rossetti’ and dated ‘Milan, 18 November 1862’. It is reproduced in Max Gallo, The Poster in History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002), p. 49, incorrectly labelled ‘A . Rossetti’; see also Mario Monteverdi, La Scala: 400 Years of Stage Designs from the Museo Teatrale alla Scala, Milan (London: International Exhibitions Foundation, 1971), pp. 14 and 77; and Falabrino, Effimera e bella, p. 58. A variant of this poster was printed in Paris in 1875 for a revival of the opera at the Académie Royale de Musique. It is possible that the scene was based on sketches by Pierre-Auguste Lamy, who provided set designs for the opera’s premiere in 1859 at the Théâtre Lyrique. Monteverdi (La Scala, p. 14) mentions the possibility that this was a prototype; Falabrino (Effimera e bella, p. 58) labels it the first, although no other source confirms that.

Idea of Art.indb 47

02/02/2016 15:13

48

Michela Ronzani

posters still relied heavily on the format of the playbill and replicated the layout of covers for sheet music and piano-vocal scores: the lettering, centred visually, carried most of the information, and any imagery served simply as decoration around the text. Although the poster for Edgar evinced an incisive choice of imagery and colours, to communicate basic information it relied almost solely on words, which occupied most of the space. With the posters designed by Hohenstein for Verdi’s Falstaff in 1893 and for Puccini’s La bohème in 1895, images acquired greater significance, occupying more surface space and ‘interacting’ with the lettering (see below), which was superimposed on the image instead of being below or next to it as in the Faust and Edgar posters respectively. Henceforth, the titles of the operas became typographically more elaborate, acquiring a pictorial aspect that complements the style of the image. Poster design is founded on immediacy of communication and on the suggestive value of the visual elements. The poster for La bohème (Fig. 2.1) was the first Italian manifestation of these concepts, achieved using models developed in France. Poster art had begun there in the 1850s, with artists such as Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfons Mucha, who were interested in new forms of democratic artistic communication. Developments in photographic techniques also affected poster design, particularly in the way images were framed. The style most widely used for the Italian posters of the period under consideration here was, as for other European posters of the time, Stile Liberty, i.e. Art Nouveau in France (Jugendstil in Germany).22 The poster for La bohème was inspired by Chéret’s and Toulouse-Lautrec’s work and was constructed around a visually captivating interplay of text and image. It was printed in colour (predominantly deep reds, taupes and greens) and in various sizes, the largest being 102 × 67 cm; and it used, for the opera’s title, a font that was somewhat ornate yet large and simple enough to be read from a distance, demonstrating that Ricordi’s Poster Design and Printing Department was beginning to understand the poster concept  –  in the modern sense. It also used a plain font, printed in varying sizes, to convey information about the work (‘quattro quadri’ [four scenes]), the librettists (‘G[iuseppe] Giacosa e L[uigi] Illica’), the composer (‘G. Puccini’) and the publisher (‘G. Ricordi & C editori’), but it lacked details about performances  –  such as dates and venues  –  which one would expect to find on a poster today. The name of the author of the opera’s source, ‘Henry [sic Henri] Murger’, also appears, in a banner embedded in a decorative band in the upper portion of the poster. The information on the poster was generic owing to economic considerations: the poster could thus have been used for multiple productions, and its design could have been adapted for various purposes. Sketches of the opera’s characters emerge from an imaginary space ‘behind’ the poster, climb over the decorative band at the top, cascade between the words ‘La’ and ‘bohème’ and almost dreamily proceed, one after the other, towards the bottom of the poster, displaying relationships that define them in the opera. There are, starting from the bottom of the poster, Mimì and Rodolfo in a romantic embrace in their Act I costumes; then the painter Marcello and the 22 Hutchinson, The Poster, pp. 14–25; Metzl, The Poster, p. 37; Roger Sainton, Art Nouveau: Posters & Graphics (New York: Rizzoli, 1977).

Idea of Art.indb 48

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

49

Figure  2.1  Ricordi’s poster for La bohème, designed by Adolf Hohenstein, 1895, chromolithography, Inv. N. 13400, Treviso, Collezione Salce [Courtesy of MiBACT, Soprintendenza BAEP, for the provinces of Venice, Belluno, Padua and Treviso]

Idea of Art.indb 49

02/02/2016 15:13

50

Michela Ronzani

coquette Musetta in their Act II costumes, also in an embrace (albeit a seemingly less passionate one); then Rodolfo’s companions (and roommates), the musician Schaunard and the philosopher Colline; and finally, at the top of the poster, the toy vendor (from the Café Momus), Parpignol, with his toys, still in the process of climbing out from behind the decorative band. Behind the decorative band, and not fully ‘sketched’, are four additional figures: Benoit, the artists’ landlord; the much-touted drum major from the Christmas Eve parade; a female figure in profile (probably representing the townsfolk); and Alcindoro, Musetta’s jilted sugar daddy, who is waving her shoe. A small but important detail, positioned in the lower left corner, is Mimì’s extinguished candle; the catalyst for the entire story, it is also associated with Mimì in most of Ricordi’s other publicity material, including the sketches reproduced in the Gazzetta musicale di Milano, the music covers and the envelope seals (discussed further below). The poster was printed in 1895 (most likely towards the end of the year); it would thus have probably been circulated before the opera’s February 1896 premiere and, therefore, at least a portion of the audience had been exposed to the iconography beforehand. Because the poster was based on costume sketches, it portrayed the same imagery that spectators would eventually see in the production. In addition to seeing the characters in public spaces and on the stage, readers of Ricordi’s Gazzetta musicale could have seen them on the periodical’s cover.23 As proclaimed in the 13 February 1896 issue: ‘With today’s issue we begin publishing costume sketches for La bohème.’24 By mentioning ‘Adolfo Hohenstein, the eminent artist who designed the costumes and the sets’, the journal underlined the importance of the artistic quality of the visual aspects of the performance. The weekly periodical featured one sketch per issue (each also labelled as ‘by A. Hohenstein’) through 20 August 1896: for example, Mimì in Act I (13 February, Fig. 2.2), Act II (20 February), Act III (27 February), Act IV (5 March); Musetta, Act II (12 March), Act III (19 March) and Act IV (26 March); but also, later in the run, minor and generic characters, especially from the Café Momus scene in Act II, including, for example, Alcindoro (28 May), Parpignol (4 June) and La Rappezzatrice (9 July). During this time, the Gazzetta musicale also regularly included a prominent advertisement for La bohème’s piano-vocal excerpts, scores and libretto, along with the general advertisements for musical products that the periodical commonly printed at the time.25 23 The opera was not performed in Milan, the city where most of the readers of the GMM resided, until March 1897. 24 The 13 February announcement was accompanied by three sketches from Act II: the ‘Venditore di immagine’, ‘Un borghese’ and ‘Studente’. This issue also announced a special treat: ‘Readers will certainly appreciate the musical novelty that we offer in this issue. It is a selection from Puccini’s triumphant La bohème, Musetta’s Waltz (‘Quando me’n vò soletta per la via’) from the opera’s second act, a number already destined to be popular because of its graceful, flowing and immediately effective melody.’ 25 GMM, 13 February 1896, p. 3. The special advertisement was for the piano-vocal score, the piano score and the libretto, and it reported the prices for each at 15, 8 and 1 francs/lire, respectively.

Idea of Art.indb 50

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

51

Figure 2.2 Cover of the Gazzetta musicale di Milano, 13 February 1896, Mimì’s Act I costume, designed by Hohenstein

The principles of serialization, collectability and repetition embedded in the advertising for La bohème in the Gazzetta musicale were even more evident with regard to the postcards that Ricordi printed for the opera. Postcards, then as now, serve multiple purposes: they have an intrinsic practical function for long-distance communication; if associated with a company or a product, they can become advertisements;26 they provide a ‘souvenir’, a symbolic means for conveying memories of a shared experience; and, since they often come in series (several postcards with different images on a specific theme), they can be collected. Collectability allowed Ricordi’s advertisements (in the form of postcards, as for other collectable items) to become aesthetically autonomous and acquire a symbolic quality of nostalgia and memory. As collectibles, the postcards reached the domestic sphere to become part of people’s homes, lives and hobbies. The collectability and the functionality of postcards made them very popular in the nineteenth century and allowed for a constant sharing, showing and exchanging of the images, thereby creating a powerful marketing tool. 26 The reverse of the cards sometimes contained an advertisement for the publisher or for an opera house and its season.

Idea of Art.indb 51

02/02/2016 15:13

52

Michela Ronzani

Around the time of La bohème’s premiere, illustrated postcards became widely produced and used, primarily as touristic souvenirs, in Italy.27 They were credited with serious artistic value when the first Esposizione Internazionale di Cartoline (International Postcard Exposition) was held in Venice in 1899 (organized in conjunction with the third Venice Biennale).28 Because of their diverse uses, communication purpose and affordability, postcards (like mass media today29) have high and delocalized communicative and marketing power owing to the possibility of sharing them by mail. When postcards come in series, like those Ricordi produced for La bohème, these characteristics are enhanced. Postcards with operatic subjects were widely available. Sold primarily in opera houses on performance nights, they were an important source of revenue for the theatres and exceedingly desirable objects for audiences. It is highly likely that both the opera house in Turin and Ricordi’s shops in Italy (and probably elsewhere) also sold postcards for La bohème before (and after) the opera’s premiere.30 The Ricordi firm was a pioneer in postcard production and sales. The firm’s Graphic Workshop designed and printed various types of postcards in substantial quantities, and the firm was one of if not the first to print postcards in thematic series.31 Two other publishers who printed postcards  –  Alterocca in Terni (Umbria) and C. A. Pini in Bologna  –  subsequently imitated Ricordi in producing series of postcards for La bohème; with black-and-white photographs (Alterocca) or ‘realistic’ (photograph-like) drawings (Pini) of singers, often groups of them (especially Alterocca), in action on stage, these postcards attempted to capture moments of the theatrical experience.32 Both Alterocca and Pini, in fact, 27 Sergio Coradeschi, ed., Collezionismo italiano, 4 vols (Milan: Compagnia Generale Editoriale, 1979), vol. 1, p. 34. 28 See ibid., vol. 1, p. 5. Renowned artists such as Dudovich, Umberto Boccioni and Mario Sironi designed postcards. 29 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 6. 30 There were no ‘shops’ in the theatres as there are today. Discussion of sales activity by the administrators of the Teatro alla Scala (Milan, Associazione Culturale Duca Marcello Visconti di Modrone per lo Studio della Storia dell’Industria Archive, Società Anonima, registro 7, La Scala Board of Directors meeting minutes from 9 December 1899) suggests that the selling of postcards was a common and widespread practice. Before a season opened, the theatre administration decided who would be in charge of postcard sales, the costs involved, and where and when the postcards should be sold. Proceeds from these sales figured in a season’s final budget. Board-meeting minutes indicate that postcards were also sold inside the theatre building throughout the evening and in the adjacent outside area during the day. It is likely that the process was similar in Turin. 31 Ricordi participated in the postcard exposition of 1899 with about seventy different postcards (Colombo, La cultura sottile, p. 88). There is no specific information about the earlier years, but that in 1910 alone Ricordi printed 50 million postcards gives an idea of the volume of production. See Coradeschi, Collezionismo italiano, vol. 1, p. 10; Sartori, Casa Ricordi, p. 72; and Ferraris, ‘Graphics’, pp. 194–5. 32 Many of these cards also reproduced a measure or two of Puccini’s music, in what appears to be an attempt to imitate Puccini’s hand, thus lending an air of authority

Idea of Art.indb 52

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

53

Figure 2.3  One of the series of postcards Ricordi printed for La bohème, Mimì and Rodolfo, Act I [Courtesy of Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco, Milan]

specialized in photographic postcards; Ricordi, on the other hand, used mainly chromolithography and reproduced sketches for the sets or artistic renditions of the scenes. Ricordi’s series for La bohème consisted of eight postcards. Each one reproduced Hohenstein’s sketches of scenes, all but one with characters, from the opera, but they did not feature individual characters out of context as in the Gazzetta musicale. Figure 2.3 provides an example, illustrating the scene immediately following Mimì and Rodolfo’s first meeting.33 The scene occupied the left side of the postcard, the right side being blank and often used by the sender to write a message. The names of the scene’s characters were printed beneath the scene, along with a relevant verse from the libretto. Some of the postcards featured black-and-white sketched cameo-like portraits of Puccini and his librettists along the top edge. The watercolours of the main images simulated those of the actual sketches, so that the postcards looked as if they had been hand-painted. The same imagery  –  the costume sketches or the stage scenes  –  appeared also on envelope seals, porcelain plates and bowls, and covers of various publications and authenticity to the cards. Alterocca’s cards also often carry a facsimile of Puccini’s signature. 33 Aldo Maggiori, in the October 1899 issue of Emporium: Rivista mensile illustrata d’arte letteratura scienze e varietà, attributed the design of the postcards to Hohenstein’s protégé Metlicovitz; cited in Ferraris, ‘Graphics’, p. 194. All of the postcards can be seen at http://www.historicopera.com/xitalian/hohensteinboheme.htm [accessed 21 February 2015].

Idea of Art.indb 53

02/02/2016 15:13

54

Michela Ronzani

Figure 2.4 Ricordi’s envelope seal, Mimì [from Eufremio Malorzo, Catalogo degli erinnofili italiani, Turin: Edizioni Digitalis, 2006, p. 15]

of music from the opera, which were sold in Ricordi’s shops in Italy and by his representatives internationally. Although, despite extensive searching, I have found only one exemplar of an envelope seal (Fig. 2.4), it is possible that there was a series of these as well. Judging from the Mimì example, each seal would have reproduced a single character figure, labelled with the opera’s title, as well as the names of the composer and his librettists.34 They were probably sold in Ricordi’s shops. The porcelain dinner plates, small plates, and bowls were manufactured by the renowned Società Ceramica Richard-Ginori and sold in sets of six. They were handmade and hand-painted with selected scenes similar to those on the postcards or with pairs of characters as depicted on the poster. Considering the cost and prestige of Richard-Ginori’s products, it seems likely that only a few sets of these wares would have been produced and for a limited consumer base, perhaps even at a specific client’s request.35 Ricordi also used imagery based on the set and costume sketches for the covers of piano-vocal scores, excerpts, transcriptions and arrangements of the music of La bohème. Many vocal scores issued for foreign markets (German, French and English), printed in 1897, reproduced a scene reminiscent of Act III with Mimì and Rodolfo in the foreground and Marcello and Musetta in the background among the snowy trees and benches that were part of Hohenstein’s 34 Reproduced also in Coradeschi, Collezionismo italiano, vol. 1, p. 259. 35 Richard of Milan and Ginori of Doccia (Florence) merged in 1896; although the plates for La bohème have the label of the joint company, they were most likely made at Richard’s Milan plant, which was destroyed during World War II, along with records pertaining to past products. At I-Mb, ASR, most of Ricordi’s documents and all of the letters from fiscal year 1895/6 are missing. The plates were displayed at an exhibit in Lucca in 2006: http://www.loschermo.it/articoli/ view/28521 [accessed 21 February 2015].

Idea of Art.indb 54

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

55

Figure 2.5  (a, left ) Cover of The Bohemians, An Opera in Four Acts […] Composed by G. Puccini (New York: Boosey & Co., 1897) [Courtesy of Brown University Library]; (b, right) Cover of La Bohème di G. Puccini – Impressioni di C. Graziani Walter, op. 250, for two mandolins, mandola and guitar, pl. no. 100026 (Milan: G. Ricordi & Co., 1911) [Courtesy of Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco, Milan]

set design for this act (Fig. 2.5a). Various excerpts and transcriptions, printed in 1904 and 1911 (and probably other years), featured Mimì in her Act I costume in shades of blue, holding her candle (Fig. 2.5b). In 1911, Ricordi also printed a cover with a collage of the main characters in costumes designed by Hohenstein for various acts, for Corazzata Sicilia: Marcia d’Ordinanza dall’Opera La Bohème di G. Puccini.36 Although I have found no evidence of specially decorated scores published before 1904 for the Italian market, that does not necessarily mean that they were not printed. In company correspondence, Giulio and Tito Ricordi commented regularly on how the appearance of covers reflected the cachet of an edition; Tito’s comments to Giulio about ‘luxury’ versions and covers/title pages that were ‘plain’ or ‘elegant’ suggest that there were various cover designs, some of which doubtless would have reproduced the same imagery as in the publicity materials.37 Ricordi continued to use imagery drawn from Hohenstein’s sketches in various ways for music covers until recently. 36 ‘Riduzione per pianoforte di Carmelo Bizzozero’, new edn, pl. no, 100934 (Milan: Ricordi, 1911); reproduced in Sartori, Casa Ricordi, appendix Tav. XVII. 37 Letter of 6 October 1894, vol. 6, no. 168, copialettere for fiscal year 1894/5, I-Mb, ASR. Another letter, from Giulio Ricordi to the Administration of the Graphic Workshop, dated 30 March 1897, vol. 18, no. 148, copialettere for fiscal year 1896/7, I-Mb, ASR, mentions luxury editions and elaborate covers for other operas.

Idea of Art.indb 55

02/02/2016 15:13

56

Michela Ronzani

The selection of images reproduced on the items discussed above makes it clear that the publicity campaign was based on an emphasis on and repetition of imagery and on visual, rather than verbal, communication. In none of the artefacts described above was there a verbal message that related the imagery to a specific performance; the campaign therefore did not have the explicit purpose of attracting an audience to a particular production or opera house. Rather, it advertised the presence of opera in urban life, showing that, despite the perceived ‘crisis’ in Italian opera, new works were being written and performed, and Italian composers were continuing the artistic tradition of the nation. Ricordi seems to have been partially responsible for this. The repetition of imagery contributed to creating a fixed repertoire of iconography for La bohème.38 As Colombo put it, the iconography in the campaigns ‘functioned as programmed imaginary, with the twofold meaning of “constructed as a programme” and also of “generated as a stereotypical form of vision”’. 39 Ricordi used, repeated and recycled La bohème iconography for collectors and opera enthusiasts for many years, on various products and in various printed mediums. The designs still have the power to evoke a memory of a glorious and glamorous operatic past and, outside of Italy, to suggest a stereotypical idea of Italian culture.40 Along with the emphasis on visual communication and the repetition of iconography, the choice of sketch images may explain much about the success of the marketing campaign. There was a strong connection to the ‘bohemian’ atmosphere of the opera’s story and staging. Although La bohème is rich in highly dramatic moments, what distinguishes this opera from other popular Italian operas of the time, such as Giordano’s Andrea Chénier (premiere, Milan, 28 March 1896), Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (Rome, 17 May 1890) or Verdi’s Falstaff (Milan, 9 February 1893), is the story’s setting. In the choice of iconography, Ricordi did not select the most melodramatic episodes, but rather focused on scenes of local colour: Mimì ‘at home’ with her candle, Parpignol and his toys, Musetta’s antics at Café Momus, Benoit the landlord demanding rent, and the four friends dancing to celebrate a stroke of good fortune for one of their group. Hohenstein’s sketches recreated the simple, domestic atmosphere of the 38 Other operas for which Ricordi prepared an extensive publicity campaign do not present the same consistency of imagery. Two very different posters were made for Madama Butterfly, and the imagery for the well-known Tosca poster (Tosca with Scarpia’s body) was not repeated on the postcards, which have a very different style. The poster for Mascagni’s Iris is colourful and depicts a woman running across a field, while the postcard series reproduces scenes from the opera, and the covers of the librettos and scores are decorated simply with iris flowers. On the function of the iconography for La bohème, see Colombo, La cultura sottile, p. 88. 39 Ibid. 40 Ricordi’s designs for La bohème’s advertisements and sets are now reproduced on various types of mementos, such as magnets, bags, notebooks, T-shirts and so on, which can be purchased in Italy. Ricordi recently reprinted the La bohème poster, along with those for other Puccini operas. The original designs for the postcards have not survived (Ferraris, ‘Graphics’, p. 195), so today the original postcards are highly valuable collectors’ items.

Idea of Art.indb 56

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

57

opera, and Ricordi chose those sketches that highlighted the intimate, localized atmosphere of the group of friends and their environs in Paris. Ricordi’s ability to assemble an imaginary and to keep Puccini’s name in the limelight allowed this campaign to assist in the construction of a cultural and musical icon. Modern-day scholars have often referred to Puccini having been ‘constructed’ or ‘created’ as a great master. Baia Curioni defines ‘the “creation” of the genius’ as ‘the constant work of accompaniment, support, stimulus and guidance by Giulio Ricordi to the benefit of Puccini’, while Alexandra Wilson calls it, more powerfully, ‘inventing an Italian composer’ and ‘making a maestro’, emphasizing ‘the weight lent to him by his publishing house’. 41 Ricordi’s promotional campaigns  –  not only for La bohème but also for Tosca and Madama Butterfly  –  were only one aspect of the ‘construction’ of Puccini as an icon. Ricordi also curated Puccini’s career and image in a way similar to that of a modern agent or public-relations and press office. Moreover, surviving correspondence shows that Giulio and Tito Ricordi dedicated special attention to Puccini, helping him find suitable librettos, motivating him, assisting with the production of his operas and organizing interviews with the press.42 As we learned at the beginning of this essay, Catalani feared for his future as a composer on Ricordi’s roster; in a subsequent letter, he complained further: Ricordi ‘doesn’t want to hear talk of anyone but Puccini […] if he helps me somewhat, he does a hundred times that for Puccini’. 43 Catalani may have been exaggerating the magnitude of the problem, but the stature of the Ricordi firm in the music world gave the publisher power to influence  –  according to his desires and interests  –  how an opera house shaped its season. In a letter to Puccini, Giulio Ricordi remarked that he had ‘promoted La bohème’ and that his efforts had cost ‘considerable material (and for [him personally] also moral) sacrifices’. 44 (Part of the motivation behind such strong publicity was competition from the composer Ruggero Leoncavallo, who, simultaneously with Puccini, was writing an opera on the same subject and with the same title for rival music publisher Sonzogno.)45 Ricordi’s use of diplomacy, creativity and technology (not only for 41 Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera, p. 177; and Wilson, The Puccini Problem, pp. 11, 25 and 23, respectively. 42 For more details about the personal involvement of Ricordi in the professional development of Puccini and the productions of Puccini’s operas, see Baia Curioni, Mercanti dell’opera, pp. 168–80; and Wilson, The Puccini Problem, pp. 34–9. Most publications on Puccini mention the composer’s close relationship with the Ricordi family, but they do not explore it from a marketing perspective. 43 Alfredo Catalani, letter of 1 June 1892 to Giuseppe Depanis, in Richard M. Berrong, The Politics of Opera in Turn-of-the-Century Italy: As Seen through the Letters of Alfredo Catalani (Lewiston, NY: Edward Mellen, 1992), p. 106. 44 ‘Ma ora che, con ingenti sacrifici materiali (e per me anche morali) si è data la spinta alla Bohème, bisogna subirne le conseguenze’, in reference to Puccini’s refusal to go abroad for a staging of La bohème; letter from Giulio Ricordi to Puccini, 1 June 1897, vol. 28, no. 22, copialettere of fiscal year 1896/7, I-Mb, ASR. 45 Leoncavallo’s opera had its premiere at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice on 6 May 1897.

Idea of Art.indb 57

02/02/2016 15:13

58

Michela Ronzani

publicity, but also in staging, casting and so on) seems to have contributed to La bohème’s immediate success and its enduring place in the repertoire, and to have helped create a perception of Puccini as the long-awaited and much hoped for successor to Verdi. The power and the effectiveness of the dissemination of the idea of Puccini as icon are perhaps best attested by the enduring presence of the composer’s works on the stages of the world today.

Conclusions Catalani was not the only one to view the marketing of opera negatively. Some intellectuals and critics condemned marketing’s influence as detrimental to the artistic progress of the nation and to the quality of opera programming. A commentator in one early ‘scholarly’ Italian music journal, Rivista musicale italiana, decried these commercial practices, insisting that music publishers, through base marketing techniques, actually ‘imposed’ a repertoire on the audience according to a ‘recipe for success’ and not according to aesthetic principles, thus turning operatic theatre into a commercial enterprise.46 The well-known critic Leone Fortis, writing in Ricordi’s Gazzetta musicale, blamed publicity for the death of critical thought, because it created expectations, both positive and negative, for audiences and thus conditioned the reception of a work or a performance.47 The practices of advertising within the music world drew disapproval from many towards the end of the nineteenth century: in 1883, a critic for Il teatro illustrato complained that the practice of putting advertisements on theatre curtains was ‘horrible’;48 the 1900 edition of Petrocchi’s Nuovo dizionario universale della lingua italiana defined ‘advertisement’ as ‘a notice, often quackish, to attract people’s attention to commercial things, to make a name for oneself ’;49 and in 1909, one journalist labelled advertising an ‘aberration’.50 Slowly, however, advertising practices acquired artistic standing, as collaborations with great artists, application of international artistic developments, 46 Giovanni Ferrero, ‘Crisi teatrale: Appunti sul Teatro Regio di Torino’, Rivista musicale italiana 6 (1899), 604–34, at p. 608. 47 Leone Fortis, ‘La critica e i critici’, GMM, 24 June 1891, p. 383. 48 Vincenzo Valle, ‘I sipari réclame dei teatri’, Il teatro illustrato, 31 July 1883, p. 110, observed that it was a widespread custom to decorate theatre curtains with advertisements. The practice was especially common at the Milanese Teatro dal Verme. Valle also reported that other periodicals too had complained about such practices and had suggested that audiences rebel against such ‘profit-driven invasions in the temples of the gentle art’, which distract from music and are ‘anti-artistic’. 49 Policarpo Petrocchi, Nuovo dizionario universale della lingua italiana (Milan: Fratelli Treves, 1900); cited in Colombo, La cultura sottile, p. 84. See also Abruzzese and Colombo, Dizionario, p. 381. 50 In a 1909 article in the graphic arts professional magazine Emporium, advertising was still defined as an ‘aberration’ that ‘offends aesthetic principles and wears down patience’; quoted in Fioravanti, Passarelli et al., La grafica in Italia, p. 7.

Idea of Art.indb 58

02/02/2016 15:13

The Innovative Publicity Campaign for ‘La bohème’

59

and the longlasting branding power of graphic designs dignified their status.51 Ricordi contributed to increasing the aesthetic value of such advertisements by creating beautiful, high-quality artefacts. In contrast, it was becoming increasingly difficult for some people to reconcile advertising with cultural products. Some intellectuals identified successful, crowd-pleasing operas as lacking artistic and cultural value.52 In the case of La bohème, its commercial success was viewed as negatively as the main reason for that success, i.e. its ‘atmosphere’. One writer for Fanfulla della domenica noted regarding La bohème: ‘Opera should not simply depict atmosphere; it should represent man’s strongest affections, like love, hate and jealousy, not the insignificant psychological expressions of everyday life.’53 As I have described above, it was precisely the atmosphere of daily life that was at the centre of the publicity. Although Ricordi’s campaign most likely contributed to La bohème’s longlasting commercial success and popularity, it may also have contributed to intellectuals’ negative reception of Puccini.

51 The attention to the development of the graphic arts is attested by the 1894 Esposizioni Riunite in Milan, which for the first time included a section for graphic design, and the 1899 Esposizione Artistica di Reclame in Genoa (Valeri, Pubblicità italiana, p. 32). Boccioni, Fortunato Depero, Dudovich and Sironi are some of the famous names of ‘high’ art who worked in early advertisement. 52 The negative connotation of ‘commercial’  –  as used by the critic for Rivista musicale italiana, mentioned above  –  relates to the ongoing shift in the role of opera from entertainment to art, the hierarchical distinctions of genres and venues, issues of public funding and educational purpose for theatre, and modernist distance between artists and masses, and therefore it would be too complex to be tackled here. However, it is useful to mention such matters to contextualize the accusations of vulgarity and crowd-pleasing that were directed towards La bohème and that remain partially attached to Puccini’s commercial success to this day. As Wilson points out (The Puccini Problem, pp. 4 and 108, respectively), ‘contemporary intellectuals opposed Puccini’s music as the embodiment of the vulgar, “feminized” bourgeois culture’ represented by Giolitti, and Puccini’s operas as ‘mass produced commodities’. 53 ‘Diapason’, Fanfulla della domenica, 9 February 1896; cited from the translation in Wilson, The Puccini Problem, p. 44.

Idea of Art.indb 59

02/02/2016 15:13

3 Novello, John Stainer and Commercial Opportunities in the Nineteenth-Century British Amateur Music Market David Wright When the present writer was in his teens, the price of music was more than twenty times what it now is. The first guinea that he recollects having been given to him, in 1837, was expended in a pianoforte score of The Messiah which is now published at a shilling. George Grove, 18871

J

ames Raven concludes his historical survey of the cultural, social and commercial development of the English book trade by stating, ‘For many it is no longer sufficient to study literature without considering larger publishing strategies, professional networks, and the manner in which booksellers put the work of writers into print and created a literary market.’2 Raven argues that the factors which determine a book’s availability (i.e. the motivation of the publisher) and its acquisition (i.e. the motivation of the purchaser and/or reader) cast their own interpretative light on the way these texts were consumed and received by those who encountered them. Raven’s historiography of books and other printed sources has considerable relevance for the distribution and acquisition of music’s materials.3 The present chapter focuses on aspects of the output of the London music publisher Novello in the late nineteenth century, using the case of the composer John Stainer and his oratorio The Crucifixion, to illustrate how a strategic approach to culture and commerce could be calculated to profitable effect by composer and publisher alike. I am grateful to Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections for permission to quote from material in the Stainer Archive. I greatly appreciate the kind help shown me by the staffs at Durham and the British Library. I am also indebted to Leanne Langley for her valuable comments and observations.

1 George Grove, Preface to [Joseph Bennett], A Short History of Cheap Music (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1887), p. vii. 2 James Raven, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade, 1450–1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 378. 3 An invaluable, pioneering study that relates cultural formation to the books people actually read, as opposed to those salient texts familiar to us today which they were often assumed to have read, is William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

60

Idea of Art.indb 60

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

61

The chapter shows that Novello’s publishing decisions were strongly determined by the commercial realities of the markets it supplied. Nineteenthcentury British music publishers enjoyed relatively little latitude because income was so sales dependent, trading on the number of copies of works in their catalogues that were purchased by consumers. Thus, profitability for Novello was effectively no different from commercial success in most other tradable commodities: it resulted from the ability to stimulate and satisfy customer demand at acceptable prices. Novello used market-savvy to encourage its most successful composers to produce more of what its musical consumers wanted and would continue to buy. And what is striking about the huge Novello catalogue (yet inevitable, given the scale of the firm’s profitability) is that so much of what it published was simply utilitarian, whether sacred or secular in purpose. The publishing firm of Novello occupies a pre-eminent position in British musical life. Founded by the organist, editor and music antiquarian Vincent Novello (1781–1861), the firm had a catalogue that grew out of Vincent’s privately printed editions of church and choral music, including a series of masses by Haydn and Mozart and five volumes of Purcell’s sacred music. Vincent’s son Alfred established the firm on a fully commercial basis in 1829, and Alfred’s retirement in 1857 paved the way for his manager Henry Littleton to assume sole ownership in 1866. Under Littleton’s astute commercial direction and effective business management the Novello firm prospered very considerably; on his retirement in 1887, control of the firm passed to his sons and relatives by marriage.4 What generated Novello’s success under Littleton’s direction was a coherent publishing strategy based on maximizing the financial potential of amateur music-making in Britain. Singing was the most direct, easily achieved and cheapest form of musical activity, and, as the nineteenth century progressed, with people gaining more leisure time, so there was an enormous growth in the numbers of participants singing in choral societies and Anglican church choirs. Choral societies were essentially local activities  –  the available forms of personal transport did not permit otherwise  –  and with the spreading enthusiasm for choral singing these societies, considerably varied in size and musical capacity, proliferated across the country.5 Singing was the musical standby of schools, and most schoolchildren experienced some form of class singing. In 1873, singing 4 The firm’s history is set down by Cooper, The House of Novello; and Michael Hurd, Vincent Novello  –  and Company (London: Granada, 1981). 5 Although there are several histories of individual choral societies, there has been little work done on the choral society as a social and musical movement. Russell discusses the issues in his Popular Music, pp. 248–71. For individual societies, see George F. Sewell, A History of the Bradford Festival Choral Society: From its Formation in 1856 to its Jubilee in 1906 (Bradford: G. F. Sewell, 1907); R. A. Edwards, And the Glory: A History in Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Huddersfield Choral Society (Leeds: Maney, 1985). I offer a wider context in my ‘Music and Musical Performance: Histories in Disjunction?’, The Cambridge History of Musical Performance, ed. Colin Lawson and Robin Stowell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 169–206. For a fascinating perspective on

Idea of Art.indb 61

02/02/2016 15:13

62

David Wright

was included in the ‘payment by results’ system, meaning that a bonus was paid to those publicly funded elementary schools whose classes demonstrated proficiency in the singing of songs at the annual inspection.6 Songs featuring patriotic and historical themes were a staple of school singing classes, and these were encouraged as a way of inculcating a sense of national and historical identity.7 All this helped to create a market for school songs, both at the elementary and at the secondary level of the private British (‘public’) schools favoured by the higher social classes, as well as in the grammar schools catering for the expansion in numbers of middle-class children. Added to this was a growing demand for musical primers and methods to support instrumental and vocal teaching, together with theory and harmony.8 An obvious consequence of this proliferation of those involved in choral societies, Anglican church choirs, schools and the learning of music was the opportunity for volume sales of printed material, and Novello set about realizing the commercial potential of this situation by developing the strength and size of its catalogue in each of these fields. In Victorian Britain, a music publisher’s income essentially came from the revenue generated by the sales of printed material. Optimally, a publisher’s catalogue would consist of a mixture of strong and steadily selling works; the income from these would enable the investment involved in new publications while also covering the costs of market failures. The revenue streams from performance, recording and broadcasting rights which would transform the economics of music publishing still lay well into the future, certainly as far as Britain was concerned. The situation in France was very different. The performing right on musical works had been levied by the collecting society, SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique), since 1851. In 1880, SACEM established a London agent to collect fees on performances of its members’ works. But even when the British collection agency, the Performing Right Society, was formed in 1914, the major publishers, including Boosey and Novello, delayed joining it: Boosey did so in 1926, and Novello only as late as 1936. The need to provincial musical life, see Reginald Nettel, Music in the Five Towns, 1840–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1944). 6 Bernarr Rainbow and Gordon Cox, Music in Educational Thought and Practice (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006), p. 233. Elementary education was made compulsory in England following the 1870 Elementary Education Act, which introduced secular elementary schools administered by local-government-appointed School Boards and financed though the rates. Previously much elementary education had been undertaken by local church schools. 7 As exemplified by Charles Stanford’s editing of A Song Book for Schools (1884), a ‘graduated collection’ of sixty-four unison, two- and three-part songs which was also set in Tonic Sol-fa notation by William McNaught. This was the precursor of the famous The National Song Book (1906), ‘a complete collection of the folk songs, carols and rounds suggested by the Board of Education’ (in other words it carried the seal of official approval), also edited by Stanford and published by Boosey. 8 For an interesting overview, see David Golby, Instrumental Teaching in NineteenthCentury Britain (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

Idea of Art.indb 62

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

63

focus on the revenue from sheet-music sales had a determining effect on the musical economics of the time, shaping the nature of nineteenth- and earlytwentieth-century British composition, as will be discussed later in more detail. The adage ‘fine words butter no parsnips’ has relevance for this musical situation: the most favourable of high-minded critical responses to a piece of music could not influence its value as a commercial proposition unless it translated directly into sales. Therefore, before the era of collecting fees from broadcasting, recording and performance, the British publisher depended upon the market for oratorios, church and popular music because these were the genres that held the potential for volume sales. By contrast, income from sales of serious orchestral music was at such a low level that rarely might a publisher expect to recoup the costs of printing-up scores and performance materials. Novello, along with other British music publishers, worked on the basis that its financial interest in its publications was protected under the 1842 Copyright Act and that the purchase of sheet music conferred the right of performance without any further payment. Thus the only secondary income from a work came through the hire of additional performance materials, such as orchestral parts. The Musical Copyright Act of 1882 made it possible for the copyright holder to reserve the right to a work’s public performance  –  and effectively to charge for granting permission  –  by stating so on the title page. However, this was not a development that British music publishers welcomed because their market model was to maximize sheet-music sales and so to place no constraint whatsoever on performances. This meant that a composer’s income from published works could come only from selling the copyright directly to the publisher, through the publisher making royalty payments on copies sold, or by some combination of these practices. The sales expectations of a composer would vary according to the music’s idiom or genre. One publisher working in the ballad market defined a ‘hit’ in terms of sales of 200,000 copies and above.9 If that figure was truly indicative, then the sales and print runs of some of Novello’s church anthems and oratorios show that such exuberance was not solely the preserve of the popular ballad market, as it has previously been assumed. Novello’s success in the domains of the choral society, the Anglican church choir and the educational sphere came by the assemblage of a substantial catalogue for each, followed by effective marketing and dissemination. The firm’s commercial domination in all of these areas gave it a considerable de facto influence over British musical taste, because the reputation of Novello’s publications shaped what was generally esteemed, bought and performed. And because these particular amateur markets were so significant for the economic livelihood of most British composers, the type of music that Novello chose to publish prompted what many of them wrote. As we shall see, Novello Archive evidence points to the symbiosis between Novello’s business success and a particular type of British musical life, which, in turn, had a determining effect upon a great deal of compositional activity. 9 Frederick Day, managing director of Francis, Day and Hunter Ltd, quoted in Alan Peacock and Ronald Weir, The Composer in the Market Place (London: Faber & Faber, 1975), p. 42.

Idea of Art.indb 63

02/02/2016 15:13

64

David Wright

A case in point is The Crucifixion by John Stainer (discussed in detail on pp. 74–7 below). Its vocal practicality and a not-too-demanding organ accompaniment, all couched in a straightforward musical idiom laced with occasional melodramatic and sentimental moments, gave it a longlasting appeal and continuing sales estimated at well over a million vocal scores, despite the strongly adverse opinions about its musical quality that were held in art-music circles. The Crucifixion is a striking product of Novello’s publishing strategy. One of the stable of Novello’s oratorio and cantata ‘hits’, it illustrates how the firm moulded British compositional output in a way that exercised more direct influence on composers than has ever really been appreciated.10 Composing for choral societies or church choirs, or writing instructional primers or school songs, was likely to prompt Novello to consider you and not necessarily to employ much critical discrimination in the process. And if you wanted the dignity of being a published composer to improve your musical and professional status  –  perhaps as the means of securing a more prestigious appointment, attracting better pupils, charging higher teaching fees, or even in the hope of making some additional money  –  then writing for Novello’s primary markets made good sense.11 As will be shown, Novello was prepared to publish some symphonic music by its successful choral composers, but at the penalty to them of hugely disadvantageous terms.

10 In eulogistic mode, the author of A Short History of Cheap Music [Joseph Bennett] wrote (p. 142): ‘English music itself owes a debt of gratitude to the house of Novello, as the position it has now gained would have been retarded many years had it not been for [Novello’s] efforts.’ But what Bennett was referring to was being generated by the amateur, participative market of church choirs and choral societies. The production of symphonic and serious orchestral music in Britain suffered because of the commercial emphasis on choral music. Before the advent of recording/broadcasting/performing right income, such orchestral genres earned pitifully small amounts for two reasons. First, British audiences preferred concerts of orchestral works by Continental composers (concerts featuring British music were not well patronized); and, second, this lack of concert take-up meant that performance materials and scores sold hardly at all, and so the costs of production were most unlikely to be recouped. 11 In fact, these amateur music markets continued to be important revenue earners for Novello until the fracturing of the traditional patterns of much of British social and musical life in the 1960s. The shift in the economics of music publishing away from dependence on the sale of printed materials happened when publishers recognized the revenue potential of the royalty income streams (Performing Right, Mechanical Right and Broadcasting fees) invested in the music they published. This complicated history is set out in Peacock and Weir, The Composer in the Market Place, and Cyril Ehrlich, Harmonious Alliance: A History of the Performing Right Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).

Idea of Art.indb 64

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

65

The Business of Publishing: Novello and the Amateur Music Market Four elements were key to Novello’s success in the amateur music market: first, its discerning of the volume sales potential of the choral-society repertoire, church music and educational materials (self-help primers and school songs); second, its embracing of new print technology whereby cheaper processes and high production levels reduced unit costs; third, its canny use of house journals, the Musical Times and the School Music Review, for publicity and taste-forming purposes; fourth, its unsentimental approach to business. There was no wider ‘cultural agenda’, as we should term it today, shaping Novello’s strategy; instead the company’s approach showed a shrewd and pragmatic assessment of the British musical environment, its market needs and commercial opportunity  –  something very much in keeping with the prevailing national ‘ideology’ of free trade.12 Everything, though, rested upon Novello’s ability to supply. That meant making its publications available in convenient formats and priced cheaply enough to make personal ownership a realistic proposition for musicians of different social classes and economic means. Novello’s achievement in supplying music cheaply enough for ordinary people to be able to purchase it was precisely what Grove was celebrating in the passage from his preface to A Short History of Cheap Music cited at the beginning of this chapter. And what was viable for the individual was also feasible for Church of England parish churches up and down the land. Novello’s church-music pricing made it affordable to buy complete choir sets of service music and anthems, and also economical to replace damaged copies as necessary. Functionality motivated the launch of Novello’s Octavo Anthems in 1871: ‘The preference shown by the musical public for the small Scores over the separate vocal parts, has been so marked as to warrant the publishers in anticipating a more than usually large circulation for the Edition.’ 13 These easy-to-handle octavo-sized scores were convenient in rehearsal and performance; they were priced according to the length of the work (which put decision-making in purchasers’ hands); the series covered all the church seasons and a wide range of musical circumstances; the publication schedule pumped out new additions at incredible speed, building a huge catalogue very quickly; and purchasing options included a collected volume of these anthems (a more robust format) published every half year. By 1912, the series had reached 1,015 anthems. There were a few anthems by Britain’s favourite Continental composers, such as Mendelssohn and Gounod, but mainly the Octavo Anthems consisted of settings by Anglican cathedral organists (regardless of any actual compositional merit), a strategy that cemented Novello’s image as the national church-music publisher. It is indicative of the church-music market that an astonishing 2,884,250 copies of the first hundred Octavo Anthems should have been printed in the twenty-seven years between the series’s inception in 1871 and 1898, with only 12 Frank Trentman, Free Trade Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 2. 13 MT, February 1871, p. 798.

Idea of Art.indb 65

02/02/2016 15:13

66

David Wright

forty-nine of these anthems having a print run of fewer than 10,000 copies each. Stainer’s ‘What are these’ had the largest printing, of 329,000 copies  –  a number that would certainly make it a ‘hit’ in popular-music terms.14 Table 3.1 (see Appendix, p. 82) shows the contemporary popularity of Stainer’s anthems in relation to those of other composers. These enormous (and economical) print runs were made feasible by the new print technology of stereotyping. Stereotyping, as its name suggests, enables multiple plates to be created from one forme of type; it was the key to producing music cheaply.15 But the success of the Novello operation also relied upon the highest possible utilization of its printing works. Owning and operating its own London printing plant (deliberately manned by non-union labour) enabled Novello to take in contract printing and finishing for other publishers to fill any production slack. Such efficiencies helped push down the unit costs of the firm’s own publications. Novello realized that commercial success also came from stirring up demand. Selling oratorios by canonical composers such as Handel was relatively easy because the name on the title page did the marketing. What really gave Novello’s vocal scores the commercial edge over rivals was their practicality. They were downright user-friendly: clearly printed, their octavo format made them handleable, they employed only treble and bass clefs (no challenging C clefs) and they had the additional convenience of accompaniments arranged for piano  –  ideal also for domestic music-making. This winning combination of affordability, readability and general musical convenience made Novello’s vocal scores the staple commodity of choral societies the length and breadth of the country. But Novello had to generate purchasers for the contemporary compositions it was publishing in such vast numbers. It used its monthly publication, the Musical Times, to communicate directly with a gamut of potential consumers, influencing opinion and shaping musical taste by means of its editorials, reviews and ‘pushing’ of Novello publications.16 The Musical Times’s advertising enfolded the magazine’s editorial content, and these extensive front and back sections remain an invaluable source of knowledge about contemporary repertoire, attitudes and employment opportunities. In addition, each issue of the Musical Times included a free sample of a Novello publication presented as a musical supplement. The 14 See p. 64 above. 15 See Miriam Miller, ‘The Early Novello Octavo Editions’, Music and Bibliography: Essays in Honour of Alec Hyatt King, ed. Oliver Neighbour (London: Clive Bingley, 1980), pp. 160–9. 16 The Musical Times began as Mainzer’s Musical Times and Singing Circular (1842) which J. Alfred Novello took over in 1844, realizing the opportunity it offered for engagement with music teachers and the amateur musical market. For an account of Novello’s early editorial approach, see Cooper, The House of Novello, pp. 121–48. According to the information presented in Deacon’s Newspaper Handbook and Advertiser’s Guide (London: Samuel Deacon and Company) for the years 1881 to 1895, the Musical Times had a certified circulation that held steadily at 15,000 (as an indicative comparison, the Daily Telegraph’s circulation was 217,500, Sporting Life’s was 102,000 and the British Medical Journal’s was 8,750). I am grateful to Christina Bashford for these figures.

Idea of Art.indb 66

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

67

Musical Times’s articles played to the journal’s intended audience by keeping close to the (usually British) musical subjects likely to interest church and amateur musicians in general, thereby considerably circumscribing its coverage.17 Novello’s success was down to really understanding its market. Two pieces of financial evidence indicate that the firm was a flourishing enterprise. The first of these is the £50,000 that Littleton paid for ownership by buying out the Novello family, a sum that approximates to £3,830,000 in today’s terms, using the Retail Price Index (RPI) calculator.18 The original purchase contract drawn up in 1861 stipulated twenty half-yearly instalments of £2,500, with an option to pay more per instalment should the profit surplus for that period exceed £500. The business was making such good returns that Littleton completed his purchase in 1866  –  half the specified time.19 The second piece of evidence is the accounts prepared for the public flotation of Novello as a Limited Company in April 1898; these put the firm’s value at £270,000 (£24,700,000 today) and certified that the previous five annual profits had averaged over £20,000 (or some £1,830,000 now).20 An above five-fold increase in the firm’s valuation over nearly forty years, plus the level of its annual profits, represents sustained growth born of effective trading and knowledge of the marketplace. Littleton’s Novello was a tightly run commercial operation that accrued a patina of artistic discernment because it published much of the emerging canonical choral repertoire. (Novello employed skilled music editors to advise and cover the technical aspects, including Joseph Barnby, then Stainer, who was very quickly succeeded by Berthold Tours [from 1877] and August Jaeger [from 1890], but there is no indication that they had much influence on the business side.)21 Our modern-day image of Novello comes from its publishing successes, such as Elgar, plus the opinions of many contemporary commentators who also had a vested interest in shaping its reputation  –  while its failures (some illustrated later, see p. 72) have long been forgotten. But this is where the British Library’s acquisition of the Novello Business Archive represents something of a game-changer for Victorian music studies.22 The enormous amount of data in this deposit casts significant new light on the nineteenth-century British musical 17 See Percy Scholes, The Mirror of Music, 1844–1944: A Century of Musical Life in Britain as Reflected in the Pages of the ‘Musical Times’, 2 vols (London: Novello and Oxford University Press, 1947). 18 For an explanation and the comparators used, see Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, ‘Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present’, MeasuringWorth, 2014; http://www.measuringworth. com/ukcompare [accessed 15 March 2014]. All subsequent conversions to today’s monetary value are calculated from this website. 19 The contracts are transcribed in Cooper, The House of Novello, Appendices 1 & 2. 20 British Library, London [hereafter GB-Lbl], Add. MS 69595. 21 Hurd, Vincent Novello, p. 70. 22 Novello and Company Business Archive, Financial and printing records of the music publishers Novello and Co. and associated companies; 1809–c. 1976, GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69516–69792; for a summary description of the Archive, see Chris Banks, ‘The Music Publisher as a Research Source’, Information Sources in

Idea of Art.indb 67

02/02/2016 15:13

68

David Wright

context. We discover the Novello repertoire that people were actually purchasing, and in what quantities; we learn how many copies of a work were being printed in anticipation of demand; and we see how much composers were paid. The Novello Archive is treasure on an enormous scale, but presents some difficulties in its use and interpretation.23 The information it contains was gathered departmentally, and consequently there are duplications and inconsistencies that are typical of such working documents. At the core of the Archive are the Commission Books, a sequence of royalty payments and sales from 1840 to 1974. The Commission Books (laid out in column format) record the contracted terms and business statistics for each publication: the retail price, composer’s royalty and any special payment terms; total sales and complimentary copies for each accounting period; the royalties earned and the stock availability. The evidence of the Novello archive thus offers a corrective to the usual portrayal of nineteenth-century British music.24 Before the emergence of more revisionist treatments of this repertoire,25 standard musicological representations of the Victorian and Edwardian situation had conveyed musical scarcity and cultural impoverishment. These had overlooked the vitality of the British music market, in which composers were catering to the demands of enthusiastic amateurs. Instead, they constructed a sad monody, lamenting the dearth of symphonic or heavyweight concert repertoire from all but a few British composers. Typical was Frank Howes’s declaration that ‘Church music and the music of sociability […] play a small part in social history but no part in our

Music, ed. Lewis Foreman (Munich: K. G. Saur, 2003), pp. 302–24, here Appendix, pp. 312–24. 23 John Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013) came to me for review while I was completing my research for this chapter. My focus was on Novello’s strategy during Stainer’s time with the firm as revealed by the production, sales and financial records for Novello’s Primers, choral-society and church-music publications generally, for Stainer himself but also for a wider range of individuals such as A. R. Gaul, Sterndale Bennett, Coleridge-Taylor, Parry and Stanford. It was therefore interesting to read Drysdale’s contextualizing of Novello’s business history and to discover that his interpretation of the Novello operation essentially matched my own conclusions. As Drysdale’s detailed financial analyses show, Elgar’s and Stainer’s experiences were very different  –  not least because Stainer did not stray beyond Novello’s favoured publishing genres. 24 However, Judith Blezzard cautions that the very easily accessible information about Novello’s publishing output in the Musical Times has made for too Novello-centric a view of late-nineteenth-century publications. She offers a corrective in ‘What Choirs Also Sang: Aspects of Provincial Music Publishing in Late-NineteenthCentury England’, The Business of Music, ed. Michael Talbot (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002), pp. 62–95. A snapshot of the many late-nineteenthcentury British music publishers and the diversity of what they were issuing is given by The Music Publishers’ Association ‘Catalogue’, a summary list of British publications, included in MT (1884), 113–19, 305–11, 488–95, and 665–71. 25 For example, The Athlone History of Music in Britain, vol. 5: The Romantic Age, 1800–1914, ed. Nicholas Temperley (London: Athlone, 1981).

Idea of Art.indb 68

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

69

recent musical history’. 26 Yet the Novello Business Archive shows the enormous significance church and choral music played in shaping the actuality of British musical life. Before fees from broadcasting and performance, or the public subsidy of the arts (which began during the Second World War), and absent a patron or financial self-sufficiency, the majority of composers wrote directly for the musical market which in Britain effectively meant the amateur market. And in the areas of British musical life offering the best chance of volume sales  –  i.e. providing music for choral societies and churches, and materials for educational purposes (as opposed to the more speculative field and elusive successes of the popular music spheres)  –  it was Novello publications that dominated. With this sort of clout, Novello was, understandably, the publisher of choice for many British composers and its market dominance put it in an extremely powerful position to dictate to its composers.27 It was therefore all the more unfortunate that key aspects of Novello’s commercial strategy worked directly against them. The firm’s position was that, having bought the music, its customers were entitled to perform their Novello purchases as and when they liked, without further fee. Accordingly, the company saw charging performing right fees as a strong disincentive to sales of print music to the amateur market and thus did not welcome the opportunity to do so.28 On the eve of the 1882 Musical Copyright Act (which enabled the copyright holder to reserve the right of public performance by stating so on the title page), the Musical Opinion reported the publisher John Boosey’s contention that by purchasing the printed work one ‘purchases the performing rights automatically’, even though that was not going to be the exact legal position, thus making it very clear where the publishers stood.29 Indeed, because of the sensitivities about levying performing right fees in any of its key amateur markets, and to prevent any of its composers from undermining its position by attempting to do so, Novello changed its standard publishing contract so that the performing right for a work was automatically assigned to the firm. Thus when buying the copyright to Stainer’s oratorio St Mary Magdalen (1883), Novello stipulated in the contract that doing so represented its ‘absolute purchase of the copyright and right of publication, representation and performance and all other rights’. In this way, Novello prevented the performing 26 Frank Howes, The English Musical Renaissance (London: Secker & Warburg, 1966), p. 23. 27 As Krummel described London’s publishing situation: ‘Novello favoured serious music while Chappell favoured popular music, especially after 1850; Augener and Boosey, Metzler and Cramer had something of a mixture in their catalogues.’ D. W. Krummel, ‘Music Publishing’, The Romantic Age, 1800–1914, ed. Nicholas Temperley, pp. 46–59, at p. 58; for names of other Victorian music publishers, see D. W. Krummel and Stanley Sadie, eds, Music Printing and Publishing (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990), p. 120. 28 Under the Musical Copyright Act of 1882: see Thomas Edward Scrutton, The Law of Copyright, 4th edn (London: Clowes, 1903), pp. 99–100; see also Ehrlich, Harmonious Alliance, pp. 1–21; and Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings, pp. 42–9. 29 James Coover, Music Publishing, Copyright and Piracy in Victorian England (London: Mansell, 1985), p. 12.

Idea of Art.indb 69

02/02/2016 15:13

70

David Wright

right from being asserted by the composer, so ensuring the situation for the amateur consumer/performer remained unchanged.30 Novello’s position over performance rights represented a significant obstacle to serious orchestral composition. Effectively, it confined the earning potential of this type of music in Britain to the sale or hire of what was typically a minuscule number of scores and sets of orchestral parts  –  the antithesis of the fruitful vocalscore market. We can better appreciate the financial contradictions of these two British musical markets by contrasting their respective compositional economics. By 1887, the Novello catalogue had some 10,550 choral works in octavo format, retailing at between 1d and 4s, and 10,236 publications remaining in the old-fashioned folio format.31 But its catalogue of serious contemporary British orchestral compositions was meagre, with fewer than fifty works available in full score. It is revealing that Bennett’s A Short History of Cheap Music approvingly describes this tally as ‘a very large number of works […] a list unprecedented in the annals of publishing in England’.32 Yet this was paucity compared with what was being issued by continental European publishing houses.33 The imbalance between the choral and the orchestral persisted, a clear indication that Novello saw the field of serious orchestral music more as a nuisance than as a viable, let alone a money-making, enterprise. For, twenty-five years later, in 1912, the Novello Catalogue had a section headed ‘Orchestral works by British composers’ which lists 200 works, only ninety-nine of which have full scores printed up for sale.34 Of these, only nine symphonic compositions were on sale in printed full-score format, plus three in manuscript that were available for hire. Further evidence of the dearth of published British symphonies comes in the listing of only twelve British symphonies in a 1902 compendium of orchestral music.35 In terms of the British musical public’s taste, it is revealing that Novello published a larger number of symphonies by Continental composers, such as Mendelssohn and Dvořák, for which there was evidently greater enthusiasm. In fact, Novello’s British orchestral catalogue consisted mainly of a variety of lighter suites and 30 Durham University Library, Special Collections, Stainer Archive (GB-0033-STA) [hereafter GB-DRu], STA1/2/4. The documents quoted from the Stainer Archive here and on pp. 78–9 and 81 are reproduced by permission of Durham University Library from material in the Stainer Archive donated by Michael Newsom and John Newsom, as descendants of John Frederick Randall Stainer. All of this evidence supports Derek Scott’s comment (Sounds of the Metropolis, p. 32) that publishers were much more concerned about piracy than performing rights. 31 [Bennett], A Short History of Cheap Music, p. 141. 32 Ibid. 33 The most comprehensive single bibliographical listing of music publications for this period is the Monatsbericht issued by the Leipzig publisher Friedrich Hofmeister. An online version of Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte for the years 1829–1900 can be found at www.hofmeister.rhul.ac.uk [accessed 19 July 2015]. 34 Novello Catalogue, No. 3, 1912, pp. 96–7. 35 A. Rosenkranz, comp. and ed., Novello’s Catalogue of Orchestral Music: A Manual of the Orchestral Literature of All Countries (London: Novello, 1902); despite its title, this was not a catalogue of Novello publications.

Idea of Art.indb 70

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

71

character pieces by Edward German, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Frederic H. Cowen (whose topical 1902 Coronation March had its copyright purchased for £52)36 and Alexander Mackenzie; the nature of these threw into relief the few weightier orchestral works, such as Hamish MacCunn’s The Land of the Mountain and the Flood. What this publishing situation does is to reinforce the point that without the potential for volume sales of printed material, the economics of orchestral music in Britain was heavily disadvantageous and so represented a major disincentive to British composers. The most likely rationale for the small amount of heavyweight orchestral music Novello did publish was to keep such symphonic ‘wannabes’ as Stanford, Parry and Elgar on its books: first, because they obviously still had the capacity to write more of the income-generating choral and church music which had helped them to make their reputations; and, second, to stop them from transferring this potential to another publisher. However, Novello penalized composers whose serious chamber music and symphonic materials it did publish by offering them only the most nominal of copyright payments. The Commission Books show how Novello’s values operated. Parry received one guinea in 1909 for the copyright on his Symphony in C Major (‘The English’), but £42 for his 1912 set of Seven Chorale Preludes for organ. (Stainer received approximately £52 for his first book of six organ pieces in December 1897, and another £52 for his second [collectively titled Twelve Pieces for the Organ] in August 1900.) Stanford sold the copyright of his Suite for Violin and Orchestra and his Symphony No. 4 in F Major for one shilling, and he exchanged the costs of publishing his Piano Trio No. 1 in Eb Major for the copyright on his Morning and Communion Service in A.37 As John Drysdale effectively demonstrated, Novello’s refusal to implement performance fees on every one of Elgar’s orchestral compositions meant that the composer could never achieve anything near his music’s income-generating potential.38 The paltry single guinea paid for the copyright of the Enigma Variations is a striking illustration of the imbalance of power in this relationship.39 The sales of parish church music, choral-society works and instructional primers recorded in the Commission Books illustrate the scale of Novello’s markets. The parish church choir offered huge commercial potential. The 1890 Novello Catalogue has twenty-one pages of church service music.40 Liturgical commodities, such as hymnals and psalters, needed to be purchased by most churches. Just one type of psalter, Dr Monks’s Psalter with Proper Psalms (old 36 GB-Lbl, Ms. Mus. 817, fol. 136. 37 Ibid., fols 544, 104, 306. 38 Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings, especially chapter 7, ‘Elgar’s Performing Fees and George Bernard Shaw’, pp. 152–76. 39 GB-Lbl, Ms. Mus. 817, fol. 521. The evidence of the Novello Archive adds robustness to Scott’s belief (Sounds of the Metropolis, p. 32) that (at least as far as the British ones were concerned) ‘publishers were exploiting most British and American composers in the nineteenth century’. 40 To give a sense of what this means, a typical single page, such as page 58, has seventy-one separate canticle entries by thirty-five composers.

Idea of Art.indb 71

02/02/2016 15:13

72

David Wright

edition), sold nearly 35,000 copies from 1884 to 1888, earning Dr Monks over £1,000.41 The Commission Books record a profusion of canticle settings for the Anglican services of Evensong, Matins and Holy Communion; Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings were especially popular.42 Most canticles from this time are long forgotten despite their original popularity, as, for example, the Evening Service in F by a Norwich organist, Edward Bunnett (1834–1923). Bunnett enjoyed a strong local reputation as conductor of the Norwich Musical Union (1872) and Borough Organist (1880), and this Evening Service (retailing at 3d) sold 158,089 copies between 1878 and 1893,43 earning him around £1,257 (£114,000) in royalties. Some very high-selling church anthems were extracted from choralsociety favourites. One was ‘God is a Spirit’ from The Woman of Samaria (1867) by William Sterndale Bennett: ‘God is a Spirit’ sold over 10,000 copies at the beginning of the 1880s, and this was on top of the work in its original form which continued to sell over 1,000 copies a year in the early part of the decade.44 But there were many flops for Novello too. These included H. T. Welch’s Preces and Responses which between 1892 and 1896 sold only thirteen copies;45 the Rev. H. J. Sheppard’s Plainsong Service No. 2 (an idiom that admittedly would have limited its appeal) which sold under 500 copies from 1885 to 1898; and the Rev. W. Rayson’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in E which sold under 2,000 copies from 1882 to 1903.46 Given the Victorian vogue for Tallis,47 a good market was anticipated for the Versicles and Responses […] with the Festival Harmonies after Tallis and accordingly 2,015 copies were printed to meet the demand; however, between 1889 and 1902 only some 200 were sold, and most were eventually pulped.48 But the level of demand for church music meant that Novello’s scattergun approach  –  of publishing many titles as cheaply as possible  –  virtually guaranteed some financial return. The choral-society market was well supplied by contemporary composers. Alfred Gaul (1837–1913) was organist of St Augustine’s, Edgbaston (an area in the city of Birmingham), and conductor of several local choral societies, which positioned him well to have his works performed in Birmingham and the Midlands. His dozen cantatas, such as Ruth and The Holy City, enjoyed considerable popularity.49 Gaul calculated his appeal shrewdly: he did not sell the copyright of his works, but instead paid Novello the production costs of his music 41 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69521, fol. 357. 42 The 1912 Novello catalogue lists over 200 Evensong settings for the ‘Parish Choir Book’ series alone. 43 GB-Lbl, Add. MSS 69520, fol. 162, and 69522, fol. 726. 44 GB-Lbl, Add. MSS 69520, fol. 405, and 69521, fol. 639. 45 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69523, fol. 363. 46 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69521, fols 464 and 49. 47 See Suzanne Cole, Thomas Tallis and his Music in Victorian England (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2008). 48 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69522, fol. 773. 49 Ibid. For examples of contemporary press enthusiasm regarding The Holy City and Ruth, see MT, August 1884, p. 485.

Idea of Art.indb 72

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

73

in return for much larger royalties on sales.50 This approach (with the composer, rather than the business, taking the financial risk) had obvious advantages for Novello, except in such as Gaul’s case where sales were very high. The vocal score of Ruth (1881), retailing in paperback at 2s, paid Gaul royalties of 1s 4d on each one sold and between 1881 and 1890 there were over 11,000 sales in this format.51 Gaul’s most popular work, The Holy City (1882), sold over 16,000 copies in paperback between 1883 and 1887 (2s. 6d. retail, 1s. 8d. royalty), and some 162,000 copies by Gaul’s death in 1913.52 In 1920, and with demand evidently continuing, Novello paid Gaul’s estate some £1,685 for the copyright and plates of his cantatas and five part songs.53 John Henry Maunder’s cantata Olivet to Calvary (1904) turned out to be a vogue work often paired with Stainer’s immensely popular The Crucifixion, but this time Novello secured the copyright, paying Maunder £100 plus a royalty of 3d per copy on sales above 8,000.54 In the light of the cantata’s success, Novello improved its royalty for Maunder’s Bethlehem (1910), increasing it to 4d after 6,000 sales.55 These sorts of works often inspired great affection, with annual performances becoming something of a church’s local musical tradition.56 This could give them surprising longevity as commercial propositions. The instruction-primer market provided music publishers with significant opportunities too. The self-improvement aspect of Victorian music culture has received comparatively little attention, and the professional benefit to musicians themselves  –  which was one result of the more systematic teaching of music prompted by grade exams  –  has been largely overlooked.57 What was important about Novello’s involvement in this field was that it had the resources to build up a wide-ranging series of educational texts, commissioning or encouraging submissions from authoritative figures. In 1877 (about the time Stainer was apparently music advisor), it began its series of ‘Novello Primers’. They appeared under Stainer’s editorial supervision, retailing at either 1s or 2s, and their sales demonstrate considerable demand. Between 1879 and 1889, Ernst Pauer’s Piano (2s) sold 44,335 copies in the UK and William H. Cumming’s Rudiments (1s) sold 66,533.58 The large sale of Rudiments was not surprising in a very literate age 50 Michael Hurd describes this ‘author’s property’ scheme in Vincent Novello, p. 106. 51 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69520, fol. 461; Add. MS 69522, fol. 279. 52 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69521, fol. 153/4; Add. MS 69522, fol. 658. 53 GB-Lbl, Ms. Mus. 817, fol. 405. 54 GB-Lbl, Ms. Mus. 817, fol. 453. 55 Ibid. 56 In my student days in the late 1970s, I remember being grateful for the fees from accompanying Stainer’s The Crucifixion and Maunder’s Olivet to Calvary on such occasions. 57 I outline the social and professional transformation of the music teacher within the wider Victorian context in The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music: A Social and Cultural History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013). 58 Pauer’s royalties were £345 and Cumming’s were £258. Novello enforced the customary practice of trade discount called ‘thirteen as twelve’, so paying royalty on only twelve of the thirteen copies supplied. The Commission Books indicate

Idea of Art.indb 73

02/02/2016 15:13

74

David Wright

when mastering the conventions of written notation was considered a necessary proficiency to be learned in tandem with serious practical study (initially, some practical grade exams  –  begun by Trinity College, London, from 1878 and the ABRSM in 1890  –  had passes in rudiment tests as a prerequisite). The Violin primer, written by Berthold Tours, sold 72,962 copies and generated royalties of £560 between 1880 and 1890. Stainer’s own Harmony primer sold 166,721 copies between 1877 and 1901, and his Organ primer sold 86,077 between 1879 and 1901  –  surprisingly high numbers attesting to Stainer’s reputation amongst organists.59 The limited appeal of H. [Harry] Brett’s Cornet (selling between 17 and 156 copies annually) reveals as much about the wider musical environment as does the success of other primers: brass bands trained their own players using their own materials, which suggests that Brett’s market was restricted to publicschool corps bands.60 This brief outline of Novello’s publishing strategies and its target markets sets the context for Stainer’s involvement with the firm and explains why Novello was triply fortunate in securing him. Stainer’s position as Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral made him a desirable contributor to the firm’s church-music catalogue. His cantata The Daughter of Jairus was successful in the choral-society repertoire. And when Stainer was appointed Her Majesty’s Inspector of Music in Schools and Training Colleges (1882), this national profile enhanced the prestige of his involvement as general editor of the Novello Primer series. Stainer and Novello were ideally matched.

An Equivocal Legacy: The Stainer Problem Had Stainer been born a Parisian or a Viennese his facile melodic gift and command of harmony could have made him a witty rival to Offenbach, Johann Strauss, Lecocq or Planquette. Look again at such ‘ariettes’ as ‘King ever glorious’ in The Crucifixion and note the theatre orchestra (woodwind triplets, pizzicato basses, trombone choruses and so on) implicit in the organ accompaniment, and the operetta-like nature of the vocal line. […] [If we] imagine this ‘devotion’ to be theatre music, we shall recognise it as attractive and inventive in place after place. Arthur Hutchings, 196761 Arthur Hutchings’s trenchant and idiosyncratic perspective on nineteenthcentury church music is something of a surplice-ripper compared with other, more sober, assessments of the field. But however colourfully or provocatively that the ‘thirteen as twelve’ terms were applied by Novello on the annual gross numbers of copies distributed, regardless of whether any individual retailer had actually ordered a dozen at any one time. This (sharp) practice really bit composers whose works sold in large numbers. 59 With royalties of £936 19s 8d for Harmony and £661 4s 2d for Organ. 60 GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69526, fol. 28. 61 Arthur Hutchings, Church Music in the Nineteenth Century (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1967), p. 127.

Idea of Art.indb 74

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

75

expressed, Hutchings’s assessments have critical acuity. The fact remains that for over a century and a quarter Stainer’s The Crucifixion (1887) has  –  despite all the derision thrown at it by commentators of the high-art tradition  –  maintained a place in the church-music repertoire. The focus of Hutchings’s aperçu helps us to understand more clearly just why a work saddled with epithets like ‘squalid music’ and ‘banal and sentimental’ should yet continue to hold an appeal for performers and audiences.62 Although in its musical character The Crucifixion seems ‘middlebrow’ at best, the work’s specifically religious purpose  –  couched in an idiom of congenially emotional harmonies spiced by the occasional melodramatic tang  –  conveyed a certain aura that elevated it in the ears of many church choirs and congregations onto a higher artistic sphere.63 Hutchings’s analogy explains The Crucifixion’s attractiveness  –  and its staying power. The prerequisite for success in the amateur market is music that satisfies its performers and is pleasurable to audiences. And as Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy operas amply demonstrated, there was a huge ‘middlebrow’ market for operetta. When, as in The Crucifixion’s case, the devotional libretto also had moments of drama, the result (a form of amateur operatics but so much easier to stage) satisfied generations of volunteer church musicians.64 The appeal of Stainer’s music meant that his service music and church oratorios sold in enormous quantities, attesting to its considerable popularity. A contemporary review of Stainer’s ‘O Clap your Hands’, although in some ways a typical Musical 62 An early attack on Stainer’s compositional character was Ernest Walker’s celebrated dismissal of the pervasive sentimentality (‘cheaply sugary harmony and palsied part-writing’) characteristic of a type of Anglican church music, which he saw as a consequence of the corrupting influence of Gounod (‘a foreigner attached to another creed’): ‘To Dykes, Barnby, and Stainer, Gounod, whether they fully recognized the fact or not, was an influence incomparably greater than Sebastian Wesley or Goss.’ See Ernest Walker, A History of Music in England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1907), pp. 307–8. For a while, Gounod’s Messe Solennelle, Redemption and Nazareth were popular with British choral societies. It was indicative of Gounod’s standing that his anthem ‘Come unto Him’ initiated the Novello Octavo Anthems series. For an outline of Stainer’s controversial reputation, see Nicholas Temperley, ‘Cathedral Music’, The Romantic Age, 1800–1914, ed. Temperley, pp. 199–210. 63 For a helpful discussion of the British ‘middlebrow’ audience and its eclectic basis, see Ross McKibbin, Classes and Cultures: England, 1918–1951 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 417–18. 64 Recently there has been a move to deal more objectively with Stainer, as in the biography by Jeremy Dibble, John Stainer: A Life in Music (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007). There is a balanced reassessment in Nicholas Temperley, ‘Ancient and Modern in the Work of Sir John Stainer’, NCBMS 3, pp. 103–18. Stephen Banfield, ‘What Do You Think of Stainer’s Crucifixion?: Current Victorian Musicology’, Journal of Victorian Culture 15 (2010), 119–29, sets the problem of Stainer’s The Crucifixion in the context of recent musicological treatments of Victorian music. For the British enthusiasm for amateur opera performance, see John Lowerson, Amateur Operatics: A Social and Cultural History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005).

Idea of Art.indb 75

02/02/2016 15:13

76

David Wright

Times ‘puff ’, identifies its appeal as both practical (with the organ providing safety in its support of the voices) and attractive: The harmonies are for the most part simple, though coloured occasionally with so much of the chromatic element as gives them life, and strength, and variety; and they are so distributed for the voices as to produce a full and sonorous body of tone. There is so much of interest in the part-writing as to make the music attractive to the singers, which is a sure means of effect upon an audience. The organ part extensively amplifies the vocal score, and enriches, without obscuring, the sounds to be poured forth by the singers.65 More recently, William Gatens has argued that Stainer’s High Victorian idiom steers a way between secular theatricality, on one hand, and, on the other, the dispassionate coldness (or, as Stainer expressed it, the ‘danger of fanciful counterpoint’) which characterized the contrapuntal writing of composers such as Tallis.66 For Nicholas Temperley, Stainer’s music was welcomed by parish congregations because they ‘looked to their choir music not for intellectual challenge but for beauty, consolation and reassurance. […] Stainer’s emphasis on pleasant, regular melody and rich harmony was not due to ignorance or bad taste […] but was a principled acceptance […] for the needs of the contemporary church’. 67 As we have seen, catering for the Anglican liturgy offered Novello considerable opportunity. The outcomes of the nineteenth-century Anglican revival, and particularly the Tractarian movement, benefitted church music generally, although the importance accorded to music in the worship of individual parishes was determined by their style of churchmanship.68 Some major parish churches (Leeds is a celebrated example) maintained a full choral tradition, while many smaller ones would have (at least) an anthem sung at each main Sunday service.69 After the initial purchase of a choir set of each anthem, there would be the need for ongoing renewal: buying new copies to replace worn or damaged stock of canticles and responses for Matins and Evensong and Communion settings (all likely to be regularly sung once in the repertoire) or maintaining sets of occasional anthems whose texts were appropriate only to a particular church festival. This process of continuing renewal (easily accommodated for anthems whose unit cost was deliberately kept low) could be extended almost indefinitely 65 MT, March 1874, p. 418. 66 William J. Gatens, Victorian Cathedral Music in Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 172; John Stainer, The Present State of Music in England (Oxford: Hart, 1889), p. 11. 67 Temperley, ‘Ancient and Modern’, p. 118. 68 See Nicholas Temperley, The Music of the English Parish Church, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), and Gatens, Victorian Cathedral Music. 69 Peter Horton gives a very helpful sense of the Leeds context in ‘Samuel Sebastian Wesley at Leeds: A Victorian Church Musician Reflects on his Craft’, The Lost Chord: Essays on Victorian Music, ed. Nicholas Temperley (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), pp. 89–101.

Idea of Art.indb 76

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

77

if the music in question had become an established favourite or was seen as part of the musical tradition of a particular church. Stainer’s considerable annual income from royalties on the vocal scores of The Crucifixion (see Appendix, Table 3.2, pp. 83–4) illustrates how this combination of liturgical cycle and musical popularity fuelled sales, even at a more substantial two-shilling cost. This is a classic hare and tortoise situation: Stainer would never match the phenomenal profit in the sheet-music sales of ballads, such as Sullivan’s The Lost Chord (which sold some half-million copies between 1877 and 1902) and The Holy City (which at its high point sold some 50,000 copies a year by the 1890s).70 Rather, Stainer’s commercial value lay in the slower, but steadier, income that accrued from success in niche amateur markets. And in these the composer enjoyed considerable popularity.

Stainer, Novello and Publishing Success Music is now performed, studied and listened to by a much larger number of persons, and in a more serious spirit, than was the case in any previous period of our history. George Grove, 187971 Stainer’s income from Novello can be categorized under three headings: money from the outright sale of his musical copyrights to the firm for minor pieces, such as psalm or hymn tunes and anthems; royalty income for his oratorios and primers; and occasional fees for editing the primers and for other sundry, unspecified work. It seems that Novello’s practice was to offer copyrightpurchase terms for miscellaneous or small items, and royalty terms only to selected composers on larger works published as vocal scores. It was clearly to Novello’s advantage if its composers sold their interests outright, which explains why a composer’s standing with the firm determined the possibility of royalty terms. If Novello offered a composer the choice to sell the copyright or to opt for royalties (effectively banking on the work’s longer-term success), then that composer’s decision was just as likely to be of a contingent nature (such as reflecting his need for cash at the time) as it was anything more considered. And several composers made decisions that went disastrously against their financial interests.72 The series of copyright payments that Stainer received between 1890 and 1901 varied between 5 guineas for a carol (‘There was silence in Bethlehem’s fields’), 10 guineas for a chorus (‘God so loved the world’ from The Crucifixion, as a Musical Times supplement), 15 guineas for an anthem (‘Lo! Summer comes again’) and £52 10s each for the two sets of Six Pieces for Organ.73 Copyright cheques, bundled together, produced large payments of £262 10s in September 70 Ehrlich, The Piano, p. 96. 71 George Grove, ed., A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1879), editor’s preface. 72 An example of the pitiable consequences of getting this decision wrong was in the case of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; see Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings, pp. 71–3. 73 GB-Lbl, Ms. Mus. 817, fols 103–4 and 563.

Idea of Art.indb 77

02/02/2016 15:13

78

David Wright

1899 and £157 in August 1900, the latter to ‘Include all his works up to this date not previously accounted for’. 74 There are also three ‘by services’ payments for sundry work, each of about £100. Altogether, these entries for 1890 to 1901 (the year of Stainer’s death), total £1,170 15s (or some £104,000 on the RPI in today’s terms). We know from the accounts that Henry Clayton (Novello’s Company Secretary) prepared for the family after Stainer’s death in April 1901 that the royalties generated by his works from 1895 to 1900 totalled some £1,542.75 The Stainer Archive contains a document, prepared by Stainer’s eldest son, John Frederick Randall, who inherited all the royalties accruing from his father’s works, which attempts to reconstruct Stainer’s royalty earnings from 1880.76 Even though Randall’s figures are indicative, rather than definitive, they suggest that from 1888, Stainer’s annual royalties never dipped below £200 and came closer to averaging £250. The total of Stainer’s known royalties for the period 1890 to 1900 (the years for which the copyright payments are available) comes to £2,794. Combining this royalty total with the £1,170 15s of copyright and fees earned for the same period produces for Stainer a Novello income amounting to some £3,965 (or some £352,000 today) for 1890 to 1901. Table 3.2 (in the Appendix) reproduces the accounts prepared by Clayton. They show the scale of royalties Stainer was receiving and the variety of formats Novello used to maximize the income generated by single works,77 such as congregational materials and scores in Tonic Sol-fa notation, despite scanty take-up. (Presumably the firm felt that not producing Tonic Sol-fa editions would prevent the take-up of works in those parts of the country where that notational system was still heavily used.)78 We see that there were small sales for the Twelve Old Carols and for Stainer’s songs, which underlines the point that a composer who did not write works for choral societies was unlikely to see much royalty income. Such circumstances could make selling the copyright a more economically rational decision. On the other hand, The Daughter of Jairus continued to be popular with choral societies, regularly selling between 3,000 and 4,000 copies up to Stainer’s death and earning him some £695 in royalties (or nearly £62,000 in today’s terms). Up to Stainer’s death, The Crucifixion brought him some £1,000 (around £89,000). However, Stainer’s income from Novello falls very far short of the £34,525 probate value of his estate in 1901.79 In the absence of a biographer’s explanation 74 Ibid. The Stainer Archive lists some 192 copyrighted works seemingly with Novello, together with a considerable number of tunes in hymnbooks with other publishers (GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/19). 75 Compiled in the Appendix to this chapter as Table 3.2 (GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/64). 76 GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/63. 77 Surprisingly, the Boards’ editions for The Crucifixion and The Daughter of Jairus, which retailed at 2s carrying a 2d royalty, are not mentioned by Clayton. 78 See Nettel, Music in the Five Towns, pp. 3–11. 79 Jeremy Dibble, ‘Stainer, Sir John (1840–1901)’, ODNB; the figure for wealth at death was added by ODNB.

Idea of Art.indb 78

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

79

of Stainer’s finances, and there being no paternal family wealth, it at first appeared that he must have earned it.80 But as further research in the Novello Archive revealed the extent of the gap between assessable income and the probate, another explanation was required. In fact, there was very substantial family money, but it came from Stainer’s father-in-law, Thomas Randall (1805– 87). One-time mayor of Oxford, Randall had a hatter and hosier shop in the High Street and may have been the model for the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.81 Probate on Randall’s estate was £115,118 (or some £10.5 million today). Randall’s will indicates that he had previously settled a substantial financial gift on his son-in-law (independently of his daughter, Elizabeth, Stainer’s wife), presumably to ensure the Stainer family’s comfort at a level well above the £200 income Stainer was paid as Magdalen College’s organist.82 It seems most unlikely therefore that Stainer’s move to St Paul’s Cathedral was motivated by financial reasons,83 though possibly his economic circumstances following Randall’s death, as well as health issues, may have influenced his decision to resign that post in 1888.84 The financial success that Stainer enjoyed from his compositions was in consequence of confining them to remunerative musical markets. There is no orchestral work, substantial or otherwise, and only an early, unpublished, string quartet. One possible explanation for Stainer’s lack of wider compositional ambition may simply have been a justifiable wish to maximize his income and provide for his family, while at the same time demonstrating to his father-in-law his own substantial earning capacity and financial independence. If so, then Randall’s fortune may have been something of a goad when it came to Stainer’s relationship with Novello. Although Stainer’s income did not represent wealth in Randall’s terms, it was still impressive. Earning some £3,965 from the royalties and copyrights of his music in around a dozen years was an achievement that few composers of his day could claim to have matched. As is observed in the preface to this volume, there has long been something of a taboo about viewing classical music as an economic good and discussing how it trades as a market commodity. Traditionally, music scholars have eschewed contextualizing the economics of music in their biographical studies of composers. Often referred to as ‘life and works’ treatments, these types of biographies usually treat the musical œuvre as a freestanding, self-referential 80 See my ‘Situating Stainer’, MT, Summer 2008, pp. 95–103. 81 For a biography of Thomas Randall, see http://www.oxfordhistory.org.uk/ mayors/1836_1962/randall_thomas_1859.html [accessed 8 February 2014]; see also Mark Davies, ‘The Real Mad Hatter?’, Times Literary Supplement, 15 May 2013. 82 In an undated letter to his sister, Annie, Stainer writes, ‘Our engagement is now announced. […] Mr R[andall] goes this morning to see about a house.!!! Don’t laugh. It looks like business doesn’t it?’ GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/1/56. 83 Suggested by Dibble, John Stainer, p. 138. 84 Despite this underlying financial security, Stainer continued to work himself so hard as to feel ‘literally “squashed” by overweight of work’ (letter from Stainer to Frederick G. Edwards, 26 November 1894, GB-Lbl, Egerton MS 3092, fo1. 1r.), which indicates he had an immensely strong personal work ethic.

Idea of Art.indb 79

02/02/2016 15:13

80

David Wright

aspect, set apart from commercial interactions. The orthodoxy that a work of art exists autonomously and that its worth can be measured only in terms of its aesthetic value has encouraged music scholars to be reticent  –  even squeamish  –  about discussing consumption because of the conflicting perspectives this introduces.85 Not surprisingly, therefore, those who have pioneered studies of music’s economics have been economists with a strong enthusiasm for music, such as Cyril Ehrlich and Alan Peacock, rather than musicologists.86 After all, part and parcel of what economists do is unsentimental investigation of any sort of commodity that represents a tangible good or service, the econometrics of its production and its market performance. Music’s existence as an economic good is indisputable. Its direct monetary significance is evident in the demonstrable economic relationship between composer, publisher and purchaser, as this chapter has argued. Concert tickets are economic transactions between performer and audience (via their respective agencies), and most performers have to face the reality of programme-building with works that are likely to attract an audience. And there are many other economic relationships that play their part in music’s trajectory from composer to consumers. Howard Becker’s Art Worlds presents a sociological model of the production of artworks. Its valuable insights help demystify the relationship between composer, publisher and purchaser/user by identifying the interdependence of the multiplicity of contributors who make music practices ‘work’. From Becker’s perspective, works of art ‘are not the products of individual makers […] [but] joint products of all the people who cooperate via an art world’s characteristic conventions to bring works like that into existence’. Thus the individual art world ‘exists in the cooperative activity of those people, not as a structure of organization’. 87 Sociological and economic viewpoints underline just what an intertwined commercial and cultural process music publishing is. Interpreting this intricacy requires a frame that is broad enough to study the very different types of contexts 85 For a discussion of these issues in classical music practice, see Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works, rev. edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). 86 In addition to the Ehrlich and Peacock/Weir books (cited above in nn. 11 and 9, respectively), see, inter alia, Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, and Ehrlich, The Piano; Alan Peacock, Paying the Piper: Culture, Music and Money (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993); Frederic M. Scherer, Quarter Notes and Bank Notes: The Economics of Music Composition in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); and Ruth Towse, A Textbook of Cultural Economics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Cyril Ehrlich was a prime mover of the Royal Musical Association 1988 Annual Conference, ‘Music in the Market-Place’, and papers from that conference, introduced by Ehrlich, were published in JRMA 114, no. 1 (1989). 87 Howard S. Becker, Art Worlds (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), p. 35; for further elaboration of ideas of cultural production based around Becker, see Peter J. Martin, Music and the Sociological Gaze: Art Worlds and Cultural Production (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006).

Idea of Art.indb 80

02/02/2016 15:13

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market

81

that make music practices ‘work’. When, for example, we examine the Stainer– Novello success story, we can explain aspects of it in terms of the retail world and product dissemination  –  you need to shift stuff, regardless. But that is an axiom which does not slot easily into musicology’s preoccupation with quality and aesthetic value. Baldly stated, Stainer composed art music of low aesthetic quality but high economic value. Its popularity gave Stainer commercial significance, and his marketability was enhanced by his professional appointments and general standing in the musical world as a scholar of early music as well as a player, choir trainer and educator. We remember Stainer now primarily for The Crucifixion because it has retained a place in the repertoire and in people’s affections.88 But The Crucifixion’s staying power requires a sociological as well as a musicological explanation. As Becker suggests, ‘If you define your work as done to meet someone else’s practical needs, then function, defined as external to the work’s intrinsic character, is an important ideological and aesthetic consideration.’ 89 Stainer’s parish church music reflected his strongly personal religious attitude. His ‘mission’ was to provide straightforward, technically undemanding settings that as performed by an average choir would enhance, rather than detract from, the liturgy. The Crucifixion exemplifies this ambition. It holds its place because it is effective in meeting the needs of a social context (that of a church congregation and its choir at a solemn point of the liturgical year), and because it does so in a way that makes it seem like ‘great music’ to many. It is clear from the longevity The Crucifixion has enjoyed that its functional, or utilitarian, achievement (to which its appealing musical manner is an essential ingredient) has counted for rather more than the aesthetic criterion of art for art’s sake that formed the basis of earlier criticism of Stainer’s compositions.90 There was an intrinsic part of The Crucifixion’s success  –  its clear and convenient printed format, its price, its advertising and its efficient dissemination  –  that lay with Novello. The commercial realities of this period of British publishing meant that when it came to functionality, there was effectively nothing to distinguish between the sacred and the secular spheres. Certainly we see in both kinds of music considerable overlap in musical construction and sometimes even in manner, as Hutchings’s critique of The Crucifixion identifies, and as is evident from the idiom of commercial ballads, such as Stephen Adams’s The Holy City, Arthur Sullivan’s The Lost Chord and Frederic Cowen’s The Better Land.91 In a 88 The Crucifixion continued to sell, generating royalties of £6,532 6s 6d between 1901 and 1938 (GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/65). Between 1904 and 1907, 58,279 scores were sold, but between 1924 and 1927 this rose to 75,621 (Drysdale, Elgar’s Earnings, p. 76). Its royalties for these periods were £548 and £1,084, out of Stainer’s total royalties of some £1,129 and £1,776, which shows that other works too held their appeal (GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/65). Hurd (Vincent Novello, p. 85) suggests that 1.25 million copies of The Crucifixion were sold up to 1980. 89 Becker, Art Worlds, pp. 274–5. 90 See, for example, Ernest Walker’s condemnation discussed in n. 62 above. 91 For a discussion of the texts and the musical idioms of such ‘crossover’ ballads, see Scott, The Singing Bourgeois.

Idea of Art.indb 81

02/02/2016 15:13

82

David Wright

period when publishing revenue depended on the sale of actual copies (and not receipts from such as performing rights or broadcasting), the essential quality a commercial publisher was looking for was utility, or fitness for purpose, as it is often described today. The evidence of the Novello Archive indicates that, as far as contemporary compositions were concerned (rather than canonical oratorios and choral works), the firm made its publishing decisions very much on the basis of the functionality or utility of the music it was offered. And what is clear from the firm’s prosperity is that Novello traded very well by understanding the commercial opportunities that the amateur music market presented.

Appendix Table 3.1  Print runs of selected anthems in Novello’s Octavo Anthems Series Series Composer no.

Anthem

Cost

Copies printed to 1898

1

Charles Gounod

‘Come unto Him’

2d

73,000

3

(Sir) Arthur Sullivan ‘O love the Lord’

2d

56,500

7

Felix Mendelssohn

‘Judge me, O God’

4d

70,500

8

(Sir) John Goss

‘O taste and see’

3d

301,750

15

Samuel Sebastian Wesley

‘Blessed be the God and Father’

4d

112,000

23

Mendelssohn

‘Why rage fiercely the heathen’

6d

9,500

34

Arthur Sullivan

‘O God, Thou art worthy’

4d

9,000

36

Gounod

‘Sing praises unto the Lord’

6d

30,500

37

(Sir) John Stainer

‘Lead, kindly Light’

4d

48,000

51

Gounod

‘O saving Victim’

4d

9,000

56

Stainer

‘Awake, awake put on’

6d

24,000

57

Stainer

‘What are these that are arrayed?’

3d

329,000

62

Wesley

‘Thou, O God, art praised in Sion’

3d

1,000

67

Franz Schubert

‘The Lord is my Shepherd’

4d

15,000

81

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

‘Plead Thou my cause’

6d

37,000

82

Stainer

‘O clap your hands’

6d

29,000

86

Stainer

‘The morning stars sang together’

6d

15,500

99

Mendelssohn

‘Sing unto the Lord’

3d

8,000

Source: GB-Lbl, Add. MS 69568 Note: These print runs show the appeal of Stainer’s anthems in relation to the works of other popular British and Continental composers represented in the series.

Idea of Art.indb 82

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 83

1 0

2 0

2 0

2 0

2 0

Organ Primer (No. 3)

Harmony Primer (No. 8)

Composition Primer (No. 20)

Choral Society Vocalisation (No. 50)

2

St Mary Magdalen v.s.

St Mary Magdalen Sol-fa

9

Daughter of Jairus Sol-fa

2d

2d

2d

2d

1½d

3d

1d

2d

20s per 1,000

2

1 6

20s per 1,000

2

Crucifixion Words and Hymn Tunes Crucifixion Words and Hymn Tunes Sol-fa (pub. Feb 1899) Daughter of Jairus v.s.

1d

2d

9

1 6

Crucifixion v.s.

Royalty

Crucifixion Sol-fa

Price s d

Work

4

6

n/a

0

0

0

0

4

6

0

nil

4

6

5

8

5 1½

£3 11

£8

£64

£34

£2

£2 10

£29

d

6 10

£48 10

£3

£73

1895 £ s

6

n/a

0

8

£9

£8

£57

1

0

5

£31 19

nil

£4 16

£2 14

£34

£19

£3

£68 16

1896 £ s

6

4

5

7

3

0

8

0

0

0

d

d

1

3

nil

7

7

0

0

8

6

0

£6

6

7

£8 13 10

£60 14 11

£33

£4

£3 10

£36

n/a

£20 10

£3 13

£88 10 10

1897 £ s

3

n/a

0

3

2

0

4

1

0

4

0

0

0

d

£4 18

3

£6 17 11

£59

£32 16

nil

£5 14

£3 11

£39

£19

£3

£58 12

1898 £ s

Table 3.2  John Stainer’s royalty earnings from Novello, 1895–1900

nil

0

9

2

6

£5

£8

£57

6

2

7

£31 19

£5

£2

£32 14

£22

£3 18

£86 16

1899 £ s

0

3

0

6

0

0

6

0

0

0

0

d

nil

0

£2

£6

1

0

0

0

d

9

0

0

8 11

7

3 11

nil

8

9 0½

£52 14

£29

£5

£2

£34 18

£21

£3 19

£76 14

1900 £ s

9

6

0

0 6½

9

0

5

8

3

£31

£46

3

7

£351 10

£193

9

8

9

4

7

0

£27 13 2½

£17

£206

nil

£150

£21

£452 15

total £ s d

Novello, John Stainer and the Amateur Music Market 83

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 84

2 0

2 6

Two Italian Songs

Six Italian Songs

3d £278

0

£1

9

6

6

0

0

0

d

£5

0

1

0

0

d

18

2

1

19

nil

7

£4 16

£3

£2 14

1897 £ s

6 10 £278 11

nil

nil

9

nil

3

3

nil

4

nil

1896 £ s

6 7½ £245

nil

nil

7

1

4

6

2

£2

£5

nil

1895 £ s

9

5

3

2

12

nil

7

£1 10

£3

10

1898 £ s

7 £239 18

0

0

6

3

8

0

6

9

d

12

4

4

nil

2

14

nil

£1 16

6

1899 £ s

0 £259 19

0

0

0

6

7

0

6

6

d

£3

0

0

0

0

d

4

nil

4

nil

9

0

2 11

15

1

0

12

1900 £ s

3

7

£7

2

£1 11

£1 12

6

£1 12

£5

7

£21 17

£4

Source: GB-DRu, Stainer Archive, STA 1/2/64. (Reproduced by permission of Durham University Library from material in the Stainer Archive donated by Michael Newsom and John Newsom, as descendants of John Frederick Randall Stainer.) The original document is an official statement of account to the Stainer family and carries the declaration ‘Signed off for Novello by Henry Clayton, 18 April 1901’.

1

9

6

3

3

1

0

0

0

3

total £ s d

1 £239 1511½ £1,541 18

0

6

0

4

0

0

0

d

In this table, ‘n/a’ indicates that the work was not yet published; ‘nil’ is used when sales of a published work were insufficient to produce royalties. v.s. = vocal score ¾d = 3 farthings

column totals

1d

1 0 3d

½d

6

Twelve Old Carols (Tonic Sol-fa) Seven Songs

1d per 12

1

1d

1 0

Twelve Old Carols (Words)

1d

1 0

1s

7 6

Music in its Relation [1892 essay] Twelve Old Carols

¾d

1 6

Exercises for Female Voices (No. 50a) Theory of Harmony

Royalty

Price s d

Work

Table 3.2 continued

84 David Wright

02/02/2016 15:13

Part II Personalities

Idea of Art.indb 85

02/02/2016 15:13

4 Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song and the Relationship between Prima Donna and Public George Biddlecombe

W

hen, in his 1888 book The Prima Donna, Henry Sutherland Edwards played on longstanding assumptions that prima donnas paid scant respect to the mores of the British public and pursued lifestyles marked by vast incomes and dubious morals, all compounded by their foreignness, he was accentuating a gulf between the singers’ world and that of the population at large.1 This characterization of the relationship between prima donnas and society should not be accepted unquestioningly, however, for it overlooks an important factor: the cultivation of a perception of major female singers as, on the contrary, espousing respectable social and cultural values. To explore this issue, the present chapter focuses on the case of the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind (1820–87) to investigate the role of imagery, as used by the sheet-music and print-producing industries, in promoting the notion of the archetypal prima donna as endowed with admirable personal qualities in addition to feminine attractiveness. It also considers Lind’s choice of repertoire for performance beyond the opera house  –  a means by which famous singers engaged with society on a broad scale. Here the discussion will concentrate on the ballad, a major genre of English-language song, in relation to her performances in Britain and America. Having begun her career in her native Stockholm, Lind established an international reputation in Berlin and Vienna before making her London debut at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 4 May 1847. Two years later she withdrew from the stage  –  a decision attributed to anti-theatrical religious sentiment  –  and turned exclusively to concert and oratorio performances. She undertook a concert tour of the United States from 1850 to 1852, later settling in Britain. Lind was of a generation able to benefit from a number of important developments that had occurred in the fields of image-making and marketing since 1806, when the etchings that marked the London debut of Angelica Catalani, the outstanding soprano of the early years of the nineteenth century, were created and disseminated.2 Particular advances dated from the 1820s to the

1 Henry Sutherland Edwards, The Prima Donna: Her History and Surroundings from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols (London: Remington, 1888); see, for example, the implications in his account of Pauline Lucca’s personal life (vol. 2, pp. 125–34). 2 As one example, see the hand-coloured etchings ‘Madame Catalani in Semiramide’ by Robert Dighton, which he published in December 1806 (National Portrait Gallery, London, D2026–2031; D13420–13421; D15939; D106689).

86

Idea of Art.indb 86

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

87

1840s. Print production increased greatly; indeed, Rodney K. Engen has referred to these decades as having seen a ‘boom in the print industry’.3 The same period saw crucial developments in music publishing, which has been described by Derek B. Scott as ‘[a]longside the promotion of public performances, […] the most important musical money-making enterprise of the new commercial age’.4 Distribution was aided by another major feature of the era: the growth in the railway network. Advances in lithography and colouring techniques transformed the practi­ calities of imagery.5 By the 1830s, illustrations large enough to accom­modate eyecatching portraits of singers had colonized much of the space on the title pages of numerous sheet-music publications, in addition to appearing in magazines and prints (a term that for present purposes denotes freestanding reproductions of existing works). To whatever extent the loss of ‘aura’ (the unique quality of an artwork highlighted by Walter Benjamin in his 1936 essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’) was felt in the nineteenth century when a work of art was duplicated, for many people the process facilitated increased access to celebrated artworks (albeit through the medium of copies), while for others it held obvious practical benefits. In the case of images in sheet music, illustrators, printers, composers, versifiers, those having vested interests in the music publishing industry, and the many others falling into Bourdieu’s category of ‘cultural intermediaries’ all stood to gain in ways ranging from individual employment to increased prosperity accruing from their various enterprises.6 The effects of this for singers will be considered below.

Sales, Prices and the Purchasing Public Information concerning sales of prints of singers is elusive, though it is reasonable to assume that they would have been commensurate with the general consumption of prints, which, Brenda Rix notes, by the 1850s was sufficient to support ‘a flourishing trade’ in print-selling.7 Some insight into the underlying commercial arrangements emerges from the personal papers of the leading London lithographer Richard Lane. In 1835, Lane produced a series of lithographs of opera and ballet stars for the publisher and bookseller John Mitchell for a fee 3 Rodney K. Engen, Victorian Engraving, ed. Hilary Beck (London: Academy Editions, 1975), p. 8. William Ivins (Prints and Visual Communication [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953], p. 93) estimated that more printed pictures were produced between 1800 and 1901 than the total that had been produced previously. 4 Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, p. 24. I am grateful to Derek Scott for further information regarding the music publishing industry. 5 Scott, The Singing Bourgeois, pp. 52–4. 6 Regarding ‘cultural intermediaries’, see, for example, Bourdieu, Distinction, p. 359. 7 Brenda Rix, ‘Branding the Vision: William Holman Hunt and the Victorian Art Market’, The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London, 1850–1939, ed. Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 237–56, at p. 247.

Idea of Art.indb 87

02/02/2016 15:13

88

George Biddlecombe

of £14 14s (14 guineas) each. In 1847, working, he noted, from a ‘German print’  –  originating from a portrait by the portraitist L’ Allemand, as we shall later see  –  he received £10 for a lithograph of Lind, important as the basis of a number of subsequent illustrations.8 It is difficult to place these figures in a context as regards Lane’s own profession, due to a lack of information. Some sense of comparison may be gained, however, by noting that in 1838 and 1841 the London music publisher Novello proposed payments of £10 and £15 to Mendelssohn for two psalm settings.9 A broader comparative perspective will emerge during the following discussion. It is clear that sales of ballads could be very substantial. Apparently, more than 80,000 copies of Michael Balfe’s ‘When Other Lips and Other Hearts’  –  marketed without an image, as was normal for items originally published as a component of an English opera (in this case The Bohemian Girl of 1843)  –  were sold within a year following the premiere, generating over £8,000.10 The levels of public demand and profits to be made from song publications are further demonstrated by the high premiums publishers were willing to pay. In 1840, an author could receive £100 for writing a theatrical farce and £30 for merely the words of a song,11 while the publishers Cramer, Beale, & Co. paid Balfe 100 guineas for the copyright of ‘The Lonely Rose’, the ballad sung by Jenny Lind at the composer’s concert at Exeter Hall, London, on 29 January 1849.12 Here the packed audience, which paid 10s 6d for an unreserved seat or twice this for a reserved seat (the tickets were sold by the publishers, acting as ticket agents avant la lettre), generated over £1,600 in receipts, which, since this was a benefit concert, Balfe would have received in full. Handsome receipts from Lind’s concerts, not least for charities, 8 National Portrait Gallery, London, MS 61–63: R. J. Lane Account Books 1825–1872 (3 vols), vol. 2, entries for 11 September to 21 December 1835. Included were the singers Antonio Rubini, Antonio Tamburini, Luigi Lablache and Giulia Grisi, plus the ballerina Marie Taglioni. Regarding the lithograph of Lind, see vol. 3, entry for 8 February 1847. Regarding currency, twelve pence (12d) equalled 1 shilling (1s); 20 shillings equalled £1; and £1 1s (i.e. 21 shillings) equalled 1 guinea. The lower payment that Lane received for the image of Lind would reflect the fact that here he was copying an existing work rather than creating a new one, calling for less expenditure of labour and time. 9 Cooper, The House of Novello, p. 101. 10 Basil Walsh, Michael W. Balfe: A Unique Victorian Composer (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2008), pp. 93–4. 11 George Biddlecombe, English Opera from 1834 to 1864 with Particular Reference to the Works of Michael Balfe (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), p. 37. 12 Lind also sang extracts from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Bellini’s Norma and Meyerbeer’s Ein Feldlager in Schlesien, and the duet ‘Con pazienza sopportiamo’ from Valentino Fioravanti’s opera Il fanatico per la musica with the bass Lablache. See MW, 3 February 1849, pp. 69–70 (this includes reference to the receipts); Times (London), 30 January 1849; ILN, 3 February 1849. Regarding the copyright of ‘The Lonely Rose’, see MW, 27 January 1849, p. 62. For pre-performance advertisements including information on the purchase of tickets, see Times, 19 January 1849.

Idea of Art.indb 88

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

89

were normal: those for the Brompton Hospital, London, in 1848 generated over £1,766, and those for the Southern (Toxteth) Hospital in Liverpool, in 1849, raised £1,400.13 Lind’s support for charities, both here and later in America, safeguarded her, at least partially, from the accusations of avarice often levelled at other prima donnas. Such receipts from concert attendance suggest that significant numbers of the Victorian population were able to afford sheet music and music-related prints, and that they were enthusiastic about the music and about obtaining it. Even so, when Cramer, Beale, & Co. set the purchase price of ‘The Lonely Rose’ at 2s (requiring sales of over a thousand copies merely to meet Balfe’s copyright fee)14 rather than raising the price to capitalize on the extra appeal of Lind’s fame, the firm was maintaining the standard price for five-page ballad publications (a title page plus four pages of music). Market forces were at work: this pricing was applied regardless of voice types or associations with individual performers, and whether or not an illustration was included.15 Cramer, Beale, & Co. did not include an image of Lind on the title page of ‘The Lonely Rose’; the song had the cachet of being premiered by her, and the firm could advertise it as one of the only two ‘English ballads sung by Mlle. Lind’ (the other being Julius Benedict’s ‘Take This Lute’  –  likewise Cramer, Beale, & Co.’s publication, and with words by the same author, Edward Fitzball, a further specific beneficiary of the song industry).16 Two shillings compared well to costs for other domestic commodities: it was about the same price as five issues of the Times newspaper, half a pound of tea, or  –  a particular sign of the epoch  –  a pound of good-quality bed feathers,17 and was cheaper than, for example, a copy of Mendelssohn’s six ‘Original Melodies’ (the Songs without Words) (4s) and Novello’s oblong edition of Messiah (6s),18 though these were physically more substantial than the standard song sheet. Pianos themselves  –  a sine qua non of domestic musicmaking  –  were available from 25 guineas to above 120, depending on size and type.19 Prints embodying portraits of celebrities also varied in cost: higher-quality 13 Henry Scott Holland and W. S. Rockstro, Memoir of Madame Jenny LindGoldschmidt: Her Early Art-Life and Dramatic Career, 1820–1851, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1891), vol. 2, p. 263. 14 Walsh, Michael W. Balfe, p. 130. The ballad was published in two versions, in F major and D major, doubtless to appeal to a broader market. 15 The lowest price for vocal sheet music relating to Lind that I have found is 1s 6d, charged by Leoni Lee & Coxhead for arrangements of Italian operatic items in 1849. 16 For the advertisement, see ILN, 7 April 1849. Cramer, Beale, & Co. frequently relied solely on verbal title pages to market their products. For an example of their use of illustration for a sheet-music cover, see Henry W. Godban, Gems of Maritana (London: Cramer, Beale, & Co., [1846]). 17 The Times cost 5d. For the prices of tea and bed feathers, see advertisements in the ILN, 8 May 1847, and 10 February 1849. 18 Regarding the cost of Novello’s publications, see Cooper, The House of Novello, pp. 11–13. 19 See ILN, 10 February 1849, p. 95; Ehrlich, The Piano, p. 39.

Idea of Art.indb 89

02/02/2016 15:13

90

George Biddlecombe

examples seem to have been more expensive than illustrated song publications.20 In practice, an illustrated sheet-music cover was a more versatile object. A print of a prima donna was a static portrait that functioned as an object of gaze; an image of the same singer on a sheet-music cover could be viewed in the same way, but it was inextricably linked to the accompanying music and therefore would especially be seen when a song was selected for performance by a singer and pianist (doubtless sometimes one and the same person) or chosen by another member of a domestic gathering. Then it would often be left in full view on the piano while a further selection was performed. These prices suggest that the largest portion of the purchasing public was from the middle classes. This group is notoriously difficult to define; however, for present purposes we may accept the views of Geoffrey Best and William Weber that the minimum middle-class annual income was £150 and ‘the threshold of the upper-middle class’ lay at £1,000 (putting into stark relief the £10,000 Lind earned merely from her tour of Britain in 1848). Given additional information collated by Victoria Cooper, it is apparent that while frequent expenditures on sheet music and other musical pursuits would have been beyond the means of a schoolmaster (earning £81 2s 2d in 1851), they would have been well within the reach of families such as those of an engineer (having an income of £479 that year), and even more so for higher income groups such as barristers (£1,837 10s 0d).21 The success of sheet-music publication as a whole reflects the acumen with which it was tailored to the cultural desiderata of its consumership. Moreover, within the ‘domestic sphere’ characteristic of middle-class culture, with its feminized ethos, music arguably had special significance for women, including as an indicator of a woman’s ‘cultural capital’ and, as Phyllis Weliver and Jodi Lustig have observed, facilitating courtship.22 I suggest, therefore, that sheet-music 20 Purchase prices appear not to have been stated on prints themselves. In 1854, prices for an engraved portrait of the American author Harriet Beecher Stowe were advertised as ‘10s. 6d.  –  Artists’ Proofs, Two Guineas  –  Proofs, with fac-simile Autograph, One Guinea’. See the advertisement in the front matter of vol. 1 of her Sunny Memories, 2 vols (London: Sampson Low, Son, & Co., 1854). 21 Geoffrey Best, Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851–1875 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971), p. 82; Cooper, The House of Novello, pp. 10–13; Weber, Music and the Middle Class, p. 28. Cooper gave sums of money in decimal format (£ p); for consistency with other references to monetary values in the present discussion, I have converted these to the pre-decimalization format of pounds, shillings and pence (£ s d). Weber’s distinction between ‘the modest middle class and the bourgeois elite’ is a reminder of the complexity of the term ‘middle class’ (Music and the Middle Class, p. 28). For Lind’s earnings during her 1848 tour, see Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 2, p. 237. As a comparison, in 1840 the leader of the Philharmonic Society Orchestra received £52 10s for participating in eight concerts and nine rehearsals (see Deborah Rohr, The Careers of British Musicians, 1750–1850 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001], p. 126). 22 On cultural capital, see Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, ed. Randal Johnson (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), p. 7. Regarding the appeal of publications of operatic extracts and the place of music

Idea of Art.indb 90

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

91

illustrations of prima donnas had a particular resonance for women. Having, it would appear, agreed to allow a representation of herself to enter a woman’s private world and therefore suggest her presence in it, the famous female singer could be perceived as further legitimizing and endorsing that world, not only recognizing its importance and wishing to contribute to it but also, through implying a sharing of the concerns of women, expressing a sense of symbolic kinship with womanhood in the private sphere. I also suspect that women  –  particularly, given the importance of music for courtship, the young unmarried members of Victorian households  –  would have been important as purchasers of the music.23 In general, images of women in sheet-music illustrations, whether of real persons such as Lind or of figures created by an illustrator’s imagination, suggest an identification with women who had yet to achieve society’s goal of marriage: wedding rings are absent, and the milieu is rarely domestic. Meanwhile, the idealized female appearances captured in the images, drawing the gaze of men and women alike, would have contributed to an atmosphere focusing attention on potential courtship. They would also, of course, have attracted purchasers in music shops. On a commercial level, Lind’s agreement with Cramer, Beale, & Co. that, at least in the 1849 season, the only new ballads she would sing were those published by them was significant. It was probably unprecedented as a case of an international prima donna overtly associating herself with one British publishing house. Undoubtedly Lind was in a position to demand a substantial fee for the use of her name for such purposes. Since there is no evidence that she received payment, it is impossible to know how far she was instrumental in establishing a precedent for the later practice whereby stars received a fee from publishers for programming what were known as ‘royalty ballads’ in their concerts. Nevertheless, the knowledge that she had given her seal of approval to the notion of an exclusive agreement with a publisher surely gave a sense of empowerment to later generations of professional female musicians to follow suit.24 within the Victorian home, see Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera in the Victorian Parlor’, Fashions and Legacies of Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera, ed. Roberta Montemorra Marvin and Hilary Poriss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 53–75, at pp. 55–7. On music and courtship, see Phyllis Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900: Representations of Music, Science and Gender in the Leisured Home (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), p. 33; and Jodi Lustig, ‘The Piano’s Progress: The Piano at Play in the Victorian Novel’, The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction, ed. Sophie Fuller and Nicky Losseff (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 83–104, at p. 88. 23 The place of buying sheet music within the purchasing practices of women as a whole in the nineteenth century cannot be investigated here, but Elizabeth Barry’s comment that ‘[t]he female is firmly the consumer of publicity’ in this period sheds relevant light (‘Celebrity, Cultural Production and Public Life’, International Journal of Cultural Studies 11 [2008], 251–8, at p. 255). 24 Probably in the months following the agreement with Lind, Cramer, Beale, & Co. entered into a contract with the Irish soprano Catherine Hayes, who arrived in London in March 1849. It appears that this contract identified the firm not only as

Idea of Art.indb 91

02/02/2016 15:13

92

George Biddlecombe

Imagery of Jenny Lind Turning to issues concerning imagery, as the art historian Gill Perry has noted in connection with eighteenth-century actresses, illustrations and other artefacts relating to performers give us a special insight into the construction of their public identities.25 Some research has been directed towards musical illustrations in the Illustrated London News, the world’s first illustrated weekly paper (founded in 1842), and to sheet-music illustrations and related images of singers, but the field remains somewhat neglected.26 publishers of Hayes’s ballads but also as her concert agents. Regarding contractual arrangements concerning the publication of ballads, although Hayes was an admired performer, knowledge of her contract is unlikely to have had the same degree of impact on the public and on the music profession as Lind’s agreement with the firm, given Lind’s extraordinary reputation. In 1851, while Lind was in America, Cramer, Beale, & Co. published an advertisement for the ‘only English ballads’ performed by both her and Hayes. According to this advertisement, Lind had added a third such ballad to her repertoire, ‘Oh, Summer Morn’, alongside those by Balfe and Benedict. That the new ballad was attributed to Meyerbeer, yet was defined as ‘English’, indicates the publisher’s willingness to finesse matters of national definition for the sake of commercial benefit. See Basil Walsh, Catherine Hayes, 1818–1861: The Hibernian Prima Donna (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2000), pp. 115, 170; MW, 11 January, 1851, p. 32. Regarding the ‘royalty ballad’, see Scott, The Singing Bourgeois, pp. 127–8; Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, pp. 26, 32, 34–7; and Biddlecombe, English Opera, pp. 37–8. On publishers’ methods of promoting music associated with an instrumentalist, see Therese Ellsworth, ‘Victorian Pianists as Concert Artists: The Case of Arabella Goddard (1836–1922)’, The Piano in Nineteenth-Century British Culture: Instruments, Performers and Repertoire, ed. Therese Ellsworth and Susan Wollenberg (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), pp. 149–69, at p. 160. 25 Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West, The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons (London: National Portrait Gallery, 2011), pp. 21–7. Regarding imagery of operatic performers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, see ibid., pp. 77–102, at pp. 88–93; Michael Burden, ‘Imaging Mandane: Character, Costume, Monument’, Music in Art 34 (2009), 107–35. 26 On illustrations in the ILN, see Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London’, The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 21–41. I am indebted to Annemarie McAllister for further information on the representation of opera in the ILN. On sheet-music illustrations, see Thomas L. Christensen, ‘Four-Hand Piano Transcription and Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Musical Reception’, JAMS 52 (1999), 255–98; Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera in the Victorian Parlor’; Lynda Nead, Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century London (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 109–46; Ronald Pearsall, Victorian Sheet Music Covers (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1972); Scott, The Singing Bourgeois, pp. 54–5; Steve Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale: P. T. Barnum, Jenny Lind, and the Management of the American Crowd’, Arts Marketing: An International Journal 1/2 (2011), 108–20, at pp. 110–11.

Idea of Art.indb 92

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

93

Whether leading performers were able to influence an illustrator’s work is unclear.27 Certainly, imagery, such as in sheet-music illustrations, was more than simply confirmation that they had achieved a certain level of impact upon the public: it was a legitimate form of self-promotion, contributing to the enhancement of their reputation, professional status and what is now called ‘visibility’.28 Images of Lind appeared not only in sheet-music illustrations but also in a range of other media, including an engraving in the Illustrated London News showing her in a scene in her British operatic debut, cartoons in the periodical Punch, fantasy illustrations for a booklet of adulatory poems, and commodities such as ceramic figurines.29 However, the sheet-music illustrations have particular importance because, as far as I know, they represent the earliest large corpus of such images focusing on a particular performer. Dating from the late 1840s and 1850s, the period of Lind’s British and American triumphs, the majority derive from two German portraits, one by Eduard Magnus (Fig. 4.1), a leading Berlin artist who also painted Mendelssohn and his wife, and the other by Conrad L’  Allemand, likewise a prominent portraitist (Fig. 4.2). Magnus’s portrait was completed in 1846; Lind herself commissioned it, passing it as a gift to a friend. Evidently she was highly pleased by it, for in 1861, her husband, Otto Goldschmidt, commissioned Magnus to make a copy.30 Her attitude 27 Regarding this point, see Marvin, ‘Idealizing the Prima Donna’, esp. pp. 27–8. 28 On visibility, see Irving Rein, Philip Kotler and Martin Stoller, High Visibility: The Making and Marketing of Professionals into Celebrities (Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books, 1997), quoted in Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader, ed. Sean Redmond and Su Holmes (Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2007), p. 5. Pauline Viardot maintained that demand for images also reflected the success of a particular opera production: see her letter to George Sand of 7 August 1849 in Lettres inédites de George Sand et de Pauline Viardot (1839–1849), ed. Thérèse Marix-Spire (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1959), p. 286. 29 For the image of Lind’s debut performance in an Italian-language version of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable (all operas were produced in Italian at Her Majesty’s Theatre), see ILN, 8 May 1847. This illustration was probably modelled on the vignette incorporated in the title page of the vocal score of the opera published in Paris by Maurice Schlesinger [1831]. For the cartoons in Punch, see, for example, 10 July 1847, p. 10; 5 August 1848, p. 52. For the fantasy illustrations, see F. W. N. Bayley, The Souvenir of the Season. The Wake of Extacy, A Memory of Jenny Lind (London: Willoughby, 1848). For ceramic figurines based upon the above ILN illustration, see Victoria & Albert Museum C.87-1928, and National Trust Inventory Numbers 341485 and 341486. Other reflections of the excitement surrounding Lind were W. H. C. West’s comic song ‘The Jenny Lind Mania’ (London: B. Williams [1847?]), and the naming after her of products as diverse as handkerchiefs and a new design of railway engine (see George Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon: The Case of Jenny Lind’, NCBMS 3, pp. 45–61, at p. 45). Also named after her, later, were a hospital in Norwich and an area of Glasgow. I am obliged to Roberta Montemorra Marvin for further information on items named after Lind. 30 Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 1, pp. 362–3. The original is now in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the copy is in the National Gallery, London. The ring

Idea of Art.indb 93

02/02/2016 15:13

94

George Biddlecombe

Figure 4.1 Eduard Magnus, replica (c. 1861) of portrait of Jenny Lind (1846), oil on canvas [© National Portrait Gallery, London]

towards L’ Allemand’s portrait is less clear. The history of the painting is not known, though it too probably dates from 1846.31 As noted above, it was this that provided the model used by Lane in London, but since the original cannot be located, it is not possible to say how much Lane may have altered it when producing his version (in Fig. 4.2). (For clarity, however, this image will hereafter be referred to as L’ Allemand’s.) Although the portraits show Lind in different dresses and postures (light material and sitting position in the Magnus, darker material and standing posture in the L’ Allemand), the more telling distinctions between the two works shown in the Magnus portrait would not have been confused with a wedding ring, conventionally of different breadth. I am grateful to Aileen Ribeiro for information about Lind’s ring shown here and for other information regarding nineteenthcentury fashion, and to Carolin Marie Kreutzfeldt of the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, for information about the original painting. 31 I am indebted to Alheidis von Rohr for information regarding L’ Allemand.

Idea of Art.indb 94

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

95

Figure 4.2 Richard James Lane, lithograph (1847) of Jenny Lind, after Conrad L’ Allemand [© National Portrait Gallery, London]

are their differences in balance between focus on character and on physical attractiveness. While Magnus signalled femininity by means of bare shoulders and arms, a striking mouth (befitting a singer) and a narrow waist, plus floral hair decoration, the dominant feature of his portrait is facial expression. Large blue eyes contribute to an impression of a transparent, steady, clear-sighted character, confirmed by a broad, open face that suggests a combination of innocence and sincerity. Such factors would certainly have been ‘read’ in Britain: Thomas Woolnoth, historical engraver to Queen Victoria, surely represented received opinion in calling expression ‘the very soul of the body’, ‘the complexionary portraiture of the mind’. The elevated forehead denoted intellect.32 In a culture

32 Thomas Woolnoth, Facts and Faces: Being an Enquiry into the Connection between Linear and Mental Portraiture, with a Dissertation on Personal and Relative Beauty, 2nd edn (London: published by the author [and] G. Willis, 1854), pp. 182–6, 205, 226. See also Marvin, ‘Idealizing the Prima Donna’, pp. 29–31.

Idea of Art.indb 95

02/02/2016 15:13

96

George Biddlecombe

Figure 4.3  William Kilburn, daguerreotype of Jenny Lind (1848) [Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]

Idea of Art.indb 96

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

97

where physiognomy was highly regarded, the external was conceived as encoding the internal, and the illustrations purported to represent this.33 L’ Allemand’s portrait shows Lind wearing a more dramatic dress, again off the shoulder, and to which she has added a ‘bertha’, a decorative low collar. The style was fashionable in Berlin and London. However, a comparison with a London daguerreotype of Lind of 1848 by Kilburn (Fig. 4.3)  –  instantiating the parallel expansion of the photographic industry  –  reveals that what the public saw in L’ Allemand’s image represents the equivalent of today’s digitized manipulation. In reality, Lind’s face was plain; here it was made more oval, and her nose was narrowed. This further reflected contemporary desiderata of female beauty: Woolnoth extolled an oval face and straight nose. Additionally, Lind’s neck and hands were slimmed, and the improbably small waist was made far more noticeable than in the Magnus.34 As has been mentioned, Cramer, Beale, & Co. did not include an illustration in ‘The Lonely Rose’. But rival firms utilized images of the ‘Swedish Nightingale’ in their sheet music with avidity, varying the presentations to succeed in a competitive market.35 Stressing Lind’s admirable character and her physical attractiveness  –  the two factors central to the Magnus and L’ Allemand portraits  –  was a major objective. Examples produced by the publishing house of Charles Jefferys show how an enterprising firm adapted the German models to this end. The L’ Allemand image was used for Jefferys’s product ‘Jenny Lind’s Song: Farewell My Fatherland (Lebe wohl mein Vaterland)’ by ‘Felix Gantier’  –  the title capitalizing on Lind, loyalty to homeland and an overlapping of her Swedish nationality with contemporary Germanophilia  –  but with an enlargement of the eyes to achieve further facial enhancement and emphasis on expression. Conversely, for the publication of Stephen Glover’s duet ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’, the major illustrator John Brandard took the Magnus as his basis, but developed it in a considerably different manner (Fig. 4.4). Lind is shown standing and holding music as if performing in concert alongside another outstanding female singer, the contralto Marietta Alboni. However, I have yet to come across evidence that they sang together; moreover, the image ‘airbrushed’ the physically large Alboni and placed her in a subservient position to Lind. As regards Lind herself, in addition to the predictable enhancement of the rest of her body (slim waist, delicate arms and hands), her face and expression intensify the effect created by the Magnus image to the point where she seems endowed with a 33 Sharrona Pearl (About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010], p. 7) argues that ‘[d]uring the first half of the nineteenth century, physiognomy had become a widely understood visual language, a means of procuring immediate character details’. 34 Examples of the distortion that could result appeared in various genres of illustration: see, for instance, the depiction of Queen Victoria in the ILN, 3 February 1849. 35 Mitchell published Lane’s lithograph of the L’ Allemand portrait, now richly coloured, on 16 February 1847, two months in advance of Lind’s arrival in London on 16 April. The earliest version of the Magnus portrait produced in Britain may have been a print published in July 1847.

Idea of Art.indb 97

02/02/2016 15:13

98

George Biddlecombe

Figure 4.4 John Brandard, lithographic title page of ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’, duet by Stephen Glover (London: C[harles] Jefferys, [1849]) [The Bodleian Libraries, The University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection: Music Titles 2 (98)]

vision of an ethereal realm  –  an elevated capacity that would tally with her famed personal morality.36 Here, I propose, Brandard welded the Magnus model with a tradition of St Cecilia iconography, marked by this distant ‘gaze’ and a musical artefact, that can be traced back at least to Raphael’s painting of the saint.37 Not 36 Belief in Lind’s exemplary moral rectitude was unbounded. To cite only two statements instantiating this, in 1847 Henry Chorley, the music critic of the Athenaeum, declared that ‘Mdlle. Lind’s character stands high before the curtain for delicacy, modesty and innocent undervaluation of her own genius  –  in short, for goodness unprecedented’ (Athenaeum, 11 December 1847), while in a public speech given in 1849 the politician Benjamin Disraeli described her as ‘a youthful maiden, innocent and benignant […] a great artist, sustained by virtue, upheld by self-respect’ (quoted by Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 2, pp. 232–3). See also Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon’, pp. 51–5. 37 A noteworthy precedent is Reynolds’s portrait of the late-eighteenth-century soprano Mrs Billington. Brandard used a similar facial expression for Lind, though

Idea of Art.indb 98

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

99

all purchasers of the duet would have been aware of this artistic element, but the image would still have contributed to Lind’s quasi-sanctification.38 Besides this, other devices seem mundane. One, used by T. Boosey & Co. for their publication of Anton Wallerstein’s ‘Jenny Lind’s Favorite [sic] Polka’ (an example of the use of Lind’s image to sell piano music), was to reverse L’ Allemand’s direction of Lind’s face so she now looks towards the viewer’s right, a technique that, as we shall see, was later used in America. Another ploy, an attempt to join the Magnus head to the L’ Allemand body in D’Almaine & Co.’s publication of George Alexander Hodson’s ‘My Home, My Happy Home’, foundered on a strikingly inadequate level of artistic expertise. Illustrations showing Lind as an operatic heroine brought further issues into play. Gill Perry has argued that because portrayals of actresses enacting a role are ‘representations of a staged or pseudo-event, translated through the conventions and aesthetic preferences of the artist, [they are] in a sense twice removed from the supposedly “real” person’.39 This opinion is supported by imagery of Lind in operatic performance. In part it was imposed by the illustrators’ need to find a distinctive presentation of what in effect was a standardized heroine. In the case of Donizetti’s La figlia del reggimento the problem lay in the uniformity of her obligatory soldier’s outfit; for Bellini’s La sonnambula (another of Lind’s popular roles) it arose from the requirement to show the eponymous heroine in a sleepwalking scene. The usual solution for illustrators was to incorporate a novel posture or variant of the face, but with the latter, again, shaped by concepts of attractiveness, and regardless of how far it deviated from verisimilitude. Thus, images of Lind in La sonnambula varied from relatively close versions of the L’ Allemand model to others slimming her face to a striking degree, frequently with prominent eyes now ostensibly justified by the notion of the open-eyed sleepwalker.40 The most egregious example of distortion of which I am aware is a print by the versatile Brandard, which so rejoiced in exaggeration of features of face, arms, shoulders and waist that the ‘real’ Lind has virtually disappeared; without including a musical item, in a print that was duplicated for D’Almaine’s publication Songs from the Note Book of Jenny Lind, probably produced in 1848. A likely basis for the image of Alboni in ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’ is the print of her published in London in December 1847 by E. Sidebetham. The British Library catalogue proposes 1849 as the year of publication of the duet. The illustrator for ‘Farewell My Fatherland (Lebe wohl mein Vaterland)’ was F. Sexton. ‘Gantier’ was probably Charles William Glover. 38 Concerning this process, see Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon’, pp. 47, 55–6. 39 Perry, The First Actresses, p. 27. 40 For an example of an illustration showing Lind as Maria in Donizetti’s opera, see Charles Jefferys’s publication of The Songs in La Figlia del Reggimento (London: C. Jefferys, [1848]). This also exemplifies an approach to the issue of language: it included words in both Italian and English. According to the title page, the Italian version was as sung by Lind, while the English version was produced by Jefferys and was sung by the English soprano Miss Rebecca Isaacs. No doubt Jefferys viewed this as a further means of appealing to the purchasing public.

Idea of Art.indb 99

02/02/2016 15:13

100

George Biddlecombe

Figure 4.5 John Brandard, colour lithographic print of Jenny Lind as Amina in La sonnambula [1848] [© Victoria and Albert Museum, London]

she has become subsumed into a multiple fictionalization that constitutes a new construction of her, recognizable only as a refashioning of a previous level of fictionalization (Fig. 4.5). That Brandard went to such lengths is itself a measure of the competition that he faced. The Victoria and Albert Collection, for example, has eleven commercial images of Lind in La sonnambula, including piano music as well as prints and vocal publications. When taken with his images of ballet dancers, such as Carlotta Grisi (1844), Brandard’s idealizations of physical appearance may have been viewed as models of bodily perfection that many women sought to emulate. Only those able to see Lind close-up in the flesh would have been able to assess the stark contrast with reality, more truthfully pictured in a small pencilled drawing, probably a private sketch, by the leading artist Daniel Maclise. In a view apparently taken from the wings of the opera stage, Lind is shown in her La sonnambula costume (Fig. 4.6). The large, wide-spread eyes, sizeable nose and round chin confirm that, of the numerous portraits in

Idea of Art.indb 100

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

101

Figure 4.6  Daniel Maclise, drawing in pencil of Jenny Lind as Amina in La sonnambula [1848] [© Victoria and Albert Museum, London]

circulation, Magnus’s was closest to the truth.41 In sum, the variety of approaches adopted by illustrators of the ‘Swedish Nightingale’ highlights the extent to which images of Lind had become a locus classicus of the coexisting priorities of ‘high-art’ portraitists and commercial artists, and of their decisions to stress indications of personal character or physical appeal.

The Role of the Ballad in Lind’s Concert Repertoire The role of the ballad in Lind’s concert repertoire calls for particular attention. The point has already been made that this genre held a special place among vocal music using English-language texts. Fundamental to its appeal was its compositional style.42 Cast within the ambit of amateur performers, it was characterized by gently contoured melodic lyricism delivered at a moderate pace, in a major key, and shaped by regular melodic rhythm and phrase structure. The accompaniment contributed unobtrusively propulsive harmonic movement that allowed moments of piquancy but kept these within careful 41 The conductor shown here is doubtless Balfe. The presence of the prompter is another interesting point. 42 For discussions of the ballad see, for example, Biddlecombe, English Opera, pp. 36–42, 111–14; Derek B. Scott, ‘Music, Morality and Rational Amusement at the Victorian Middle-Class Soirée’, Music and Performance Culture in NineteenthCentury Britain, pp. 83–101.

Idea of Art.indb 101

02/02/2016 15:13

102

George Biddlecombe

bounds. The nature of the music would have ruled out extravagant gestures during performance; instead, it behoved the performer to make manifest the emotion of the song without overt attention-seeking. Metaphorically, here was a statement of a cultural ideal. The genre epitomized the esteem given to the expression of emotion perceived as all the more genuine because it combined personal restraint with an acceptance of convention. Exaggeration was eschewed in favour of decorum. Clearly this was in stark contrast to the illustrations on numerous title pages, prone, as we have seen, to embellishment. Yet, far from being considered incongruous, the two elements of imagery and music were evidently regarded as compatible. Indeed, they were in a symbiotic relationship, for the aura of heightened feminine attractiveness in the one was complemented by the expression of rectitude of character in the other. There was a significant inference to be drawn: behind great beauty could lie admirable personal qualities. Here was a counterbalance to suspicions that female attractiveness could be mere meretricious glitter, deployed to ensnare the unwary male. The textual tone of the ballad was crucial for its effect. The subject matter dealt with issues dear to the heart of the middle classes.43 These included the prizing of middle-class domesticity over aristocratic surroundings and wealth (‘Home Sweet Home’; ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’); empathy for those demonstrating loyalty in love (‘When Other Lips’); or, as in ‘The Lonely Rose’, sadness on account of a young future bride whose life is cut short  –  which cannot have been an infrequent occurrence. Given the references made above to this particular ballad, its text may be quoted as an example. The avoidance of histrionic resource increases the reflective, restrained, emotional charge, while the allusions to a village environment (far from the bustle of a great city: again, a potent idealization) and pure Nature conjure up a life of quiet dignity and impeccable morality: A rose gaz’d from her bower green upon the summer light And never had creation seen a flow’r so fair and bright. Her modest form so soft so meek with morning radiance dy’d Beam’d like the lovely blushing cheek of some young village bride. But soon a storm, dark o’er the vale, its mournful fury shed And shrouded in the twilight pale the lonely rose lay dead. 43 Compare the English versions of extracts of Verdi operas, discussed in Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera in the Victorian Parlor’, pp. 57–67. Scott (‘Music, Morality and Rational Amusement’, p. 83) argues that ‘The quality that makes the nineteenthcentury domestic ballad distinctive arises from its moral concerns and not from sentimental self-indulgence or a love of the maudlin, as some people mistakenly suppose.’

Idea of Art.indb 102

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

103

And so it is a gentle mind sinks under sorrow’s dart The storm may pass but leaves behind too oft a blighted heart.44 In Britain the ballad had further levels of cultural importance. It was considered one of the few home-grown musical genres capable of counteracting a sense of inferiority in the face of Continental compositions and indeed was regarded as specifically ‘English’, as Cramer, Beale, & Co.’s description of the genre (seen on p. 89 above) testifies, and on occasion as ‘national’.45 The factor of simplicity  –  embodying the antithesis of what came to be associated with the phrase ‘prima donna’  –  had special significance. Whereas complexity  –  which, in musical terms, included virtuosity  –  could mask insincerity or paucity of character,46 simplicity bespoke honesty and transparency of expression. Moreover, overriding gender, it accommodated a sense of dignified masculinity as applicable to Nelsonian tars as to nineteenth-century aristocrats and thereby could easily be identified as a socially inclusive British trait of which all could be proud.47 In 1837, the Musical World praised the ‘native simplicity and strength’ found in the work of the poet Thomas Moore; simplicity was a feature for which ‘The Lonely Rose’ was specially praised at its premiere; and in January 1849, the same month that this premiere took place, there appeared the short story ‘Memoir of a Song’, 44 The genre could accommodate lighter-hearted elements. Desmond Ryan’s text for Balfe’s ‘The First Kiss’, published by Boosey & Sons in 1856 with an illustrated title page showing two lovers in a moonlit setting (apparently Mediterranean), relays the male lover’s recollection of his beloved’s words, which include the memorable phrase ‘If mama could only see me, Holy saint, what would she say.’ 45 See MW 25, 12 January 1850, p. 22. That this required a sidestepping of issues of national identity (emphasized by the fact that Balfe and Moore were Irish) itself highlights the importance of the nationalist factor. Scots could point to their own repertoire of ‘national’ songs; the Scottish melody ‘Comin Through the Rye’, with words by Robert Burns, was described by a Scottish critic as ‘one of our most popular national ditties’ (MW, 19 January 1850, pp. 41–2). A different category of songs written by British composers, published in The British Vocal Album between 1841 and 1851 and ‘surely intended to emulate the German “Lied”’, is discussed by Peter Horton in ‘The British Vocal Album and the Struggle for National Music’, Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain, pp. 195–219, at p. 195. 46 Regarding vocal virtuosity, see, for example, Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, The Two Friends, 3 vols (London: Saunders and Otley, 1835), vol. 1, p. 87; Weliver, Women Musicians, pp. 34–6. See also Simon McVeigh, Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 144–8. 47 Two examples are Dibdin’s enduringly popular song ‘Tom Bowling’ and the description of Lord Heatherfield in the Countess of Blessington’s novel The Two Friends, vol. 1, p. 29. See also John Tosh, ‘Gentlemanly Politeness and Manly Simplicity in Victorian England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, sixth series, 12 (2002), 455–72. I am grateful to Alice Jenkins for further information regarding simplicity within Victorian culture.

Idea of Art.indb 103

02/02/2016 15:13

104

George Biddlecombe

whose anonymous author fused simplicity with sincerity and national character when lauding ‘an English ballad’ as ‘breathing of simple, pure affections, and all that language of the heart which touches in prose or poetry’.48 Even when measured against her performances of other repertoires, the reception Lind gained from singing ballads was extraordinary. In London, according to the Musical World, it was her performance of ‘The Lonely Rose’ that most excited the capacity audience attending Balfe’s 1849 Exeter Hall concert (‘the sensation she produced exceeded that of any of her previous efforts [in the concert]’); and the Times reviewer explained that this was due to the sense of unaffected sincerity generated by her rendition. Indeed, the critic remarked on this before referring to her technique: ‘Nothing could be more perfect than Mademoiselle Lind’s singing of this ballad: there was thorough intensity of feeling, without one particle of exaggerated sentiment, and a purity of intonation that was absolutely enchanting.’ 49 Among the ballads sung by Lind, and, indeed, by many other singers both amateur and professional, Sir Henry Bishop’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ deserves special comment. No song was a more effective expression of the contemporary reverence for domesticity and family. The anecdotal possibility that Donizetti obtained the melody, which he incorporated into Anna Bolena, from an English aristocratic lady (via the prima donna Giuditta Pasta) not only reinforces its extraordinary status in the history of song; by pointing to its reception in a wide range of cultural habitus it highlights the fact that the ballad genre straddled boundaries of class as well as of nationality.50

Lind in America: Imagery and Song The furore surrounding Lind’s arrival in the United States in September 1850, so astutely engineered by the formidable manager Phineas Taylor Barnum, was a boon for American music publishing.51 The industry was spread over a far wider geographical area than its London-centric British counterpart, and Lind’s 48 Regarding Moore, see MW, 3 November 1837, p. 128. Regarding ‘The Lonely Rose’, see n. 12 above. Regarding ‘Memoir of a Song’, see Fraser’s Magazine 39 (January 1849), 17–28; for a commentary and transcription, see Hilary Poriss, Changing the Score: Arias, Prima Donnas, and the Authority of Performance (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 169–203; p. 200 for the quotations here. 49 See citations in n. 12 above. 50 See William Ashbrook, Donizetti and his Operas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 693–4. One of many examples of instrumentalists’ exploitation of the ballad is Sigismond Thalberg’s Home, Sweet Home, Air Anglais, Varié pour le Piano, Op. 72 (London: Cramer, Beale & Chappell, [1857]). Regarding ‘habitus’, see, for example, Bourdieu, Distinction, pp. 165–7. 51 Regarding Barnum, see, for instance, Struggles and Triumphs, or, Forty Years’ Recollections of P. T. Barnum (Buffalo, NY: Courier, 1888); W. Porter Ware and Thaddeus C. Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents Jenny Lind: The American Tour of the Swedish Nightingale (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980);

Idea of Art.indb 104

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

105

tours doubtless boosted sales for publishers in various locations. Genres of illustration embraced, again, commodity labels (such as for ‘Boggs & Gregory’s Jenny Lind free cut cavendish’ tobacco), prints, and images for sheet-music publications.52 The sheet music was primarily targeted at an Anglophone audience; commensurately, although her appeal would have been felt among a range of communities, with her Swedish compatriots being a major group, a report from New Orleans indicates that her English-language music generated greatest applause in her concerts.53 It is difficult to imagine that, in selecting her repertoire, Lind did not pay heed to whatever advice Barnum may have offered in advance regarding the type of music that would be well received by American audiences. Likewise, given his concentration on increasing the éclat that accompanied her, it was probably with his encouragement that, soon after her arrival, Lind added to the stock of her images by sitting for a daguerreotype produced in Mathew Brady’s photographic studio. In the light of the contemporary esteem for an oval face, it is noteworthy that in this photograph her face seems to be slimmer than in Kilburn’s London photographic image taken a few years previously (see Fig. 4.3, p.96 above).54 Perhaps clever positioning and lighting played a role  –  or perhaps she had simply lost weight. Several authors have drawn attention to the tactics adopted by American publishing houses whereby William Hall & Son’s ‘correct editions of the Swedish Melodies, Ballads, and Operatic Songs of Jenny Lind’ were opposed to the ‘Authorized Edition of Jenny Lind Music’ published by Jollie in association with Firth, Pond & Co. (For present purposes we may note Hall & Son’s specific categorization of ballads.) In view of Lind’s London association with Cramer, Beale, & Co., it is significant that the letter assigning to Jollie ‘the full and exclusive right to all the music sung by M’lle. Jenny Lind, in America’ was signed by the composer and conductor Julius Benedict (born in Germany, but domiciled in London) and the Italian baritone Giovanni Belletti, both of whom toured with Lind. What business transactions occurred, what role Lind played in the discussions, and why she did not sign the letter are further questions. (A possible answer to the last is that, since it was probably foreseen that the document would be published, omitting her name avoided associating her with a business enterprise, seemingly left to her male colleagues.)55 Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale’. I am grateful to Albrecht Götz von Olenhusen for further information regarding Barnum and Lind. 52 Regarding the commodities named after Lind during her American tour, see Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, pp. 9, 11, 53; Keith S. Hambrick, ‘The Swedish Nightingale in New Orleans: Jenny Lind’s Visit of 1851’, Louisiana History 22 (1981), 387–417, at pp. 397–8. 53 See Hambrick, ‘The Swedish Nightingale’, p. 406. 54 Regarding Lind’s attitude towards what they termed Barnum’s ‘superb salesmanship’, Porter Ware and Lockard (P. T. Barnum Presents, pp. 11–12) maintained that ‘although Jenny Lind would privately object to some of his publicity methods[,] […] she found it wise to acquiesce in them’. 55 Benedict and Belletti also assigned to Jollie the additional right to ‘all the Music composed or sung by us during our sojourn in the United States’. They did not

Idea of Art.indb 105

02/02/2016 15:13

106

George Biddlecombe

For American publishers drawing on London products there was often good reason to reuse illustrations of Lind with little or no alteration. Examples include operatic scenes on sheet-music covers (Lind was, of course, never seen in opera in America); Hall & Son straightforwardly duplicated Jefferys’s publication of Glover’s ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’; and another publishing group, Fiot (Philadelphia) and Dubois (New York), probably took a hint from Gantier’s ‘Farewell My Fatherland’ when using L’ Allemand’s image for Karl Mueller’s ‘I Dream of my Fatherland’, one of a number of items the firms labelled ‘Jenny Lind’s Songs’. Although the image’s element of nostalgia for homeland would have had special appeal for immigrant communities, its enhancement of Lind’s appearance testifies to a widespread sharing of criteria of beauty. The publication cost 25 cents, which we may compare with the average of $6.38 paid for tickets for Lind’s first concert in America, on 11 September 1850 in New York, once the initial auction for tickets had been completed (during which the first ticket was bought for $225 – a sum, Porter Ware and Lockard remarked, that was ‘totally eclipsed’ by the $625 paid in Boston). Given a contemporary exchange rate of £1 to $5, at 2s Gantier’s piece in London was twice as expensive as Mueller’s song in New York.56 In other instances, images were adapted to the American context. A print using the Magnus image (reversed, and with an unhappy attempt to slim the face) titled ‘The Cheerful Giver’ reinforced Barnum’s trumpeting of Lind’s bountiful philanthropy,57 while Firth, Pond & Co. and Jollie combined the reversed Magnus with portraits of Belletti and Benedict for a cover that they used for a number of musical publications. The design made Lind’s domination of the musical scene abundantly clear: her portrait dwarfs those of the two male musicians (Fig. 4.7). (As with Alboni in ‘Gently Sighs the Breeze’, there was little the other musicians could do about it; they did, after all, gain in all but amour propre.) Independence from British models was most strikingly asserted in the sheet-music illustration for a new composition, ‘Jenny Lind’s Greeting to America’, a setting by Benedict of words by Bayard Taylor, which gained a publicity-attracting prize from Barnum. This song was sufficiently popular for Firth, Pond & Co. / Jollie to reissue it, with a different illustration for each issue. One of these portrays Lind as in a concert neglect their own personal interests. See ibid., pp. 9–11, and Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale’, p. 111. 56 See Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, pp. 20 and 31. The exchange rate is as used by Barnum in his contract with Lind dated 9 January 1850 (ibid., p. 179). To investigate the broader implications of this difference in prices would involve a study of further comparative economic factors lying beyond the scope of the present chapter. 57 See Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale’, p. 118; Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, p. 20. Regarding Lind’s charitable donations in America, see Charles G. Rosenberg, Jenny Lind in America (New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1851; reprinted, Boat of Garten, Invernessshire: Read Books Design, 2011), pp. 79, 102, 189, 211, 223. According to Barnum’s calculations, Lind received $176,675.09 from the ninety-five concerts she gave while in association with him, and he gained $535,486.25 (Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, p. 185).

Idea of Art.indb 106

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

107

Figure 4.7 Napoleon Sarony, lithographic title page of ‘Lonely I Wander’ (New York: Firth Pond & Co. / Jollie, 1850), showing Jenny Lind, the baritone Giovanni Belletti (top left) and the composer and pianist Julius Benedict (top right) [Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division]

performance, with familiar exaggerations of her personal appearance; the other locates her beneath American icons such as the starry flag, broken chains and a female figure holding a liberty pole topped by a Phrygian cap (Fig. 4.8). The implication of Lind’s allegiance to declarations of republicanism and freedom is unmistakable  –  a matter to which I shall return. On one level, the image marks a specifically American contribution to Lind iconography; on another, it reveals the avenues into which a prima donna could be drawn by national dynamics. Concert audiences facing Lind in America differed significantly from their British counterparts. In New York in 1850, they comprised potentially clashing social groups still conscious of the previous year’s Astor Place Riot, which had been stirred by conflicts over American versus non-American performers and by deep social tensions.58 Against this background, the broad appeal of Lind’s song repertoire would have played a socially cohesive role especially powerful in the 58 The riot occurred on 10 May 1849 at Astor Opera House; the deadliest municipal disturbance to date in New York, it left at least twenty-five people dead and dozens

Idea of Art.indb 107

02/02/2016 15:13

108

George Biddlecombe

Figure 4.8 Napoleon Sarony, lithographic title page of ‘Jenny Lind’s Greeting to America’, song by Julius Benedict (New York: Firth Pond & Co. / S. C. Jollie, 1850) [Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Music Division]

American context.59 Even so, certain American responses to her performances of ballads had elements in common with British reactions. Lawrence Levine’s observation that Lind’s programming of ‘such popular American [sic] songs as “Home Sweet Home”’ helped to pre-empt ‘an aura of exclusiveness’ would have chimed with British experience,60 as would the reaction of one American reviewer, who, after having heard her perform this ballad, found that it had been: injured. See Nigel Cliff, The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Random House, 2007). 59 Waksman, ‘Selling the Nightingale’, pp. 116, 109, 114–15, and Levine, Highbrow/ Lowbrow, p. 108. The Astor Place Riot had generated claims that there were deep social antagonisms between ‘the aristocrats of this city [New York] against [sic] the working classes’ (cited in ibid, p. 65). For a list of songs with which Lind was associated, see Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, pp. 53–4. 60 Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow, p. 108. Presumably Levine’s justification for the description of ‘Home Sweet Home’ as ‘American’ was that the text of the song was

Idea of Art.indb 108

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

109

sung only as Jenny Lind can sing it. It was inimitable. We have heard this melody on many occasions, but never before as it ought to be given. It was, of course, encored. There was a degree of soul thrown into it, such as we never before listened to. It was soul itself embodied in song.61 Here is an instance, in Susan Rutherford’s words, of the ‘notion that women’s singing was an almost infallible guide to their internal selves’. We may also note that, whether or not this view could be applied to male singers, here it intertwined a coded statement of Lind’s moral superiority over other vocalists (the corollary was that the better the performance, the better the person) with an implied further justification for the esteem accorded to the ballad, as a genre, by contemporary society: it shared with Magnus’s portrait the capacity to facilitate the revealing of an individual’s character.62 But, comparably with Lind’s imagery, a distinctively American dimension arose from songs she selected for concert performance that had a strongly nationalist cachet. In addition to Benedict’s ‘Jenny Lind’s Greeting to America’ (set in far more militaristic style than would suit a ballad)63 came ‘Hail Columbia’, which Lind first sang in Washington, D.C., in a concert attended by President Millard Fillmore, on 18 December 1850.64 Such apparent support for American ideology was seized upon by the upholders of anti-European nationalism. Prima donnas had long paid respect to a host nation by singing what may be termed national anthems. In Britain, Lind herself had sung ‘God Save the Queen’  –  all the more telling at a time when Europe was recoiling from deep political turmoil  –  but now an American critic, writing for the Washington newspaper the Daily Union, identified the soprano as the representative in Europe of republican virtues. Titled vice has felt abashed before their pure lustre; and hereditary rank, tricked off with garters and ribands, has been made to give place to a superior nobility.65 In London, the Musical World denounced these lines as written by a ‘swaggering booby’ and angrily rejected claims to the moral highground from a nation in which slavery was still practised. Strikingly avoided is the question of how written by the American John Howard Payne during the time he spent in London. 61 Baltimore Sun, 12 December 1850, quoted in MW, 4 January 1851, p. 9. 62 See Susan Rutherford, The Prima Donna and Opera, 1815–1930 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 54. As Rutherford notes, the aesthetic argument was influenced by the work of the Swiss physiognomist Johann Lavater. 63 The performance direction ‘Allegro marziale con spirito’ leaves no doubt as to Benedict’s appraisal of the American public mood. William Hall & Son’s rival publication was ‘Jenny Lind’s Salutation to America’, with music by the conductor Maurice Strakosch, later the brother-in-law and mentor of the soprano Adelina Patti. 64 The programme also included ballads: ‘Home Sweet Home’ and Benedict’s ‘Take This Lute’. See Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, p. 54. 65 Daily Union, 17 [?] December 1850, quoted in MW, 11 January 1851, p. 22. The writer evidently linked ‘pure lustre’ and ‘nobility’ with ‘republican virtues’.

Idea of Art.indb 109

02/02/2016 15:13

110

George Biddlecombe

conscious Lind was that her actions might have been utilized for ideological purposes. In Britain, she was probably shielded from charges of complicity by the affection that she had already garnered thanks to her well-publicized identification with British values.66 We should remember that in neither country was Lind the only singer to include ballads in concert programmes. In 1850, others ranged from Anna Bishop (the estranged wife of Sir Henry Bishop, ironically the composer of ‘Home Sweet Home’), then also appearing in America, to the ‘pretty foreign warbler’ Jetty Treffz, from Vienna, touring Britain that year.67 However, we should not overlook the complicating case of Lind’s great Italian rival, Giulia Grisi. Intensely admired as a performer, Grisi was at least reported as philanthropic, and criticism of her chequered private life was countered by staunch support from many admirers, including Queen Victoria.68 But while she was named and illustrated on English publications of Italian operatic items, and therefore had a certain presence in the domestic ethos, she was never, as far as I am aware, linked to publications of English-language song. Indeed, it appears that she avoided performing the genre for much of her career.69 This is a reminder of the complexity of public attitudes towards prima donnas, but it also suggests a particular consequence: combined 66 MW, 11 January 1851, p. 23. Regarding Lind’s singing ‘God Save the Queen’, see, for example, Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 2, pp. 264–5. On the recruitment of the figure of Lind for pro-American ideology, see Parke Godwin, Vala: A Mythological Tale (New York: George P. Putnam, 1851), particularly sections VII and VIII; Lowell Gallagher, ‘Jenny Lind and the Voice of America’, En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera, ed. Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pp. 190–215, especially pp. 204–11. 67 Treffz was praised in Scotland for the ‘sympathy’ (for which we may read fellowfeeling) and ‘compliment to our nationality’ that she demonstrated in mastering ‘our Scottish melody and dialect’ when singing ‘Comin Through the Rye’ in addition to ballads including ‘Home Sweet Home’. See MW, 19 January 1850, pp. 41–2. Treffz also sang German-language songs, making this her individual ‘signature’ repertoire  –  the equivalent of Lind’s Scandinavian songs. Treffz’s general success again reflects the importance of a shrewd manager, in this case the French conductor Louis-Antoine Jullien, who spent much of his career in Britain. 68 In 1838, Grisi became the subject of considerable publicity when a duel was fought in London between her husband Gérard de Melcy and the English aristocrat Viscount Castlereagh. Grisi separated from de Melcy and later gave birth to Castlereagh’s son. In 1841, she began a life-long relationship with the tenor Giovanni Mario; they never married, but had three children together. 69 Possibly Grisi felt the songs were beneath her dignity. Her change of heart, late in her career, may have been a reaction to the popularity garnered by her new rival, the young Adelina Patti, who included ‘Home Sweet Home’ in her repertoire with gusto. Grisi’s song repertoire appears to have consisted of ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘The Minstrel Boy’, a setting of words by Thomas Moore. According to Mrs. E. M. Ward (Memories of Ninety Years [London: Hutchinson, [1924]], p. 213), certainly her performance of the latter was highly acclaimed, which suggests mastery of ‘singing’ English.

Idea of Art.indb 110

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

111

with the ‘foreignness’ of her operatic repertoire, the sense of distance from society arising from Grisi’s disconnection from all that the English song repertoire symbolized may have contributed to her being considered a ‘diva’, with its implication of separateness. By contrast, I have not found the term ‘diva’ applied to Lind. Thus the use of this concept may have been at least partially linked to the issues here under discussion.70 Lind’s espousal of English-language song had special impact as a consequence of her immense general reputation. We may now see the importance of this repertoire in cementing that esteem. That its role has been allowed to fall from sight may be attributed to the stance of her Victorian hagiographers Holland and Rockstro, for whom finessing anything they considered not befitting the lofty ‘Art-Life’ of an ‘Artist’ was a priority when writing their influential biography of 1891. They insisted that ‘the long-enduring love [sic]’ felt for Lind ‘was won in the concert room, and at the Oratorio’, and that it was by means of the repertoire she selected for such purposes that ‘the beloved “Swedish Nightingale” sang her way into the great heart of the British people’. In this they accorded an important place to her Swedish songs,71 with their charm of untroubling foreignness plus their ability to convey a sense of her loyalty to her homeland and its people; but they completely omitted English song from the record.72 The reason probably lies in the fall in critical estimation of the mid-century ballad style, regarded by the time of the biography, as unduly sentimental. Yet it is surely evident that Lind’s performances of this body of music were also key to the extraordinarily widespread affection that was felt for her. Here was proof of her wish to enter, and put herself on a plane with, the musical world of the Victorian public at large. Likewise, the use of the English language was more than a means of direct communication: it was another sign of her wish to integrate into British society.73 70 Marvin (‘Idealizing the Prima Donna’, p. 36) and Rutherford (The Prima Donna and Opera, pp. 31–2) have likewise drawn attention to the complexity inherent in Grisi’s reputation. Regarding Grisi as a ‘diva’, see Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss, ‘Introduction’, and James Q. Davies, ‘Gautier’s “Diva”: The First French Uses of the Word’, both in The Arts of the Prima Donna, pp. xxxii–xxxiii and pp. 123–46 (at pp. 131–8), respectively. Perry discusses prior use of the term in The First Actresses, pp. 87–93. 71 Lind had been associated with Swedish song from shortly after her arrival in Britain on 17 April 1847: an illustrated biographical article published in the ILN, 24 April 1847 (p. 272), incorporated what purported to be a Swedish song composed by her. (This had previously appeared in a Viennese publication; see Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon’, n. 6.) She frequently included Swedish songs and at least one Norwegian song in her concerts, accompanying herself at the piano. See, for example, Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 2, pp. 152, 153, 163, 167, 421–2; and pp. 21–4 of ‘Appendix of Music’, where the ‘Norwegian Echo Song’ is described as ‘a wild original piece of National Music’. 72 Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, title page; vol. 2, pp. 106, 155. They made no reference to ‘The Lonely Rose’. Indeed, they referred to Balfe, as a composer, solely as having written an Italian operatic aria for Lind (vol. 2, p. 166). 73 A sign of the importance of her singing in English is that an ‘unfavourable impression’ was created when she sang an aria from Haydn’s Creation in German

Idea of Art.indb 111

02/02/2016 15:13

112

George Biddlecombe

Clearly the latter points also applied to Scottish songs that she sang, such as ‘Comin Through the Rye’ and ‘John Anderson, My Jo’. But the ballad occupied a different cultural place than the Scottish repertoire as a result of all that was signified by its musical style, the tone of its texts and, in England, its nationalist overtones. Just as oratorio provided Lind with a means of expressing a religious conviction shared by many, her ballad performances could be taken as a shared profession of faith in prized cultural tenets. In Britain, by identifying herself with the simplicity  –  equated with sincerity  –  of the genre, she also identified herself with a source of national pride, strengthened by the belief that performance revealed the character of the performer. In America, this perception, along with suitably adapted imagery, was co-opted to link her with a contrasting national pride that recruited her for a different nationalist cause. Whether, or how far, Lind here compromised her own political views is unknown. She was well aware of the cautionary example of the German soprano Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, who encountered strident opprobrium due to her unpopular political stance in Germany in 1849, and she would have seen strong reason to avoid bringing similar antagonism upon herself.74 Sheet music (and its illustrations) was another subject Holland and Rockstro avoided, though they did reproduce Magnus’s portrait and various prints, under the watchful eye of Lind’s husband, Otto Goldschmidt.75 Sheet music involved as opposed to English (ibid., vol. 2, p. 166). Holland and Rockstro considered that her ‘singing’ English was better than her spoken English (ibid., vol. 2, p. 246n.). See also the praise for her pronunciation in the Times’s review of her performance of ‘The Lonely Rose’ (cited in n. 12 above). Lind’s wish to involve herself in British society became clear during her first years in the country. In addition to giving support to various charitable organizations (including, from 1848 onwards, the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation), she developed strong links with prominent personalities ranging from, for example, the Bishop of Norwich to Harriet Grote, the wife of the politician and historian George Grote. In 1858, Lind and her husband, Otto Goldschmidt, whom she had married in 1852, established their home in London, and in 1861, Goldschmidt became a naturalized British subject, by virtue of which Lind, too, became a British subject. Their three children were raised in Britain. Lind continued to enjoy the support of Queen Victoria after she withdrew from the stage in 1849: for example, in 1863 she sang during the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Regarding Lind’s and Goldschmidt’s social and musical standing and the later status of their children, see George Biddlecombe, ‘Secret Letters and a Missing Memorandum: New Light on the Personal Relationship between Felix Mendelssohn and Jenny Lind’, JRMA 138 (2013), 47–83, at pp. 73, 75, 77, 80. 74 On 14 July 1849, Lind wrote from Schlangenbad to her friend Charlotte BirchPfeiffer that Schröder-Devrient ‘has left an unenviable reputation here, for people claim that she gave a very disagreeable political speech, after which she had to leave’; see Porter Ware and Lockard, P. T. Barnum Presents, p. 169. 75 See Holland and Rockstro, Memoir, vol. 1, frontispiece, and vol. 2, pp. 25, 72, 95, 198. Holland and Rockstro did not, for instance, mention sheet-music imagery when alluding to commercial illustrations of Lind. A reason for this, and likewise for their decision to draw a veil over Lind’s singing ballads, may

Idea of Art.indb 112

02/02/2016 15:13

Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song

113

the ballad, now artistically suspect, as well as the commercialism from which the authors strove to disassociate Lind. But in the United Kingdom and in the United States sheet-music illustrations had played an important role in presenting her as an embodiment of the ‘ideals both of femininity and cultural nationalism’, to borrow a phrase from Deborah Rohr.76 Just as her philanthropy helped to counter the notion that prima donnas, untouched by magnanimity, were fixated on amassing grand fortunes, her imagery promoted acceptance of the principle that outstanding artistic ability, identification with cultural values, unimpeachable morality, and physical attractiveness were all compatible in contemporary domestic womanhood. Thus, along with her espousal of the ballad, with its strong implicit support for culturally important values, not only did Lind’s imagery encourage the development of a positive attitude towards prima donnas as a group; it represented a significant contribution to Victorian and, indeed, later British and American society.

have been a perception that such imagery and music would not appeal to the aesthetic judgment of ‘the cultivated mind […] the man of taste […] the artist’, categories within which they clearly placed themselves, Otto Goldschmidt and, by implication, their readership. (They referred to one example of ephemera expressing acclaim for Lind as ‘execrable nonsense’. ) See ibid., vol. 2, pp. 81–2, 111, 112. Separately, their lack of reference to L’ Allemand’s portrait, as opposed to their discussions of Magnus’s, suggests that Lind preferred the latter (as noted above, it was Magnus’s, not L’ Allemand’s, that Goldschmidt had copied: see pp. 93–4). Regarding Goldschmidt’s influence over Holland and Rockstro’s biography, see Biddlecombe, ‘Secret Letters’, p. 78. 76 Rohr, The Careers of British Musicians, p. 12.

Idea of Art.indb 113

02/02/2016 15:13

5 A German in Paris: Richard Wagner and the Masking of Commodification Nicholas Vazsonyi

I

n one of his most famous essays about Richard Wagner, Ernst Bloch notes  the ways in which Wagner’s works are filled with paradox.1 For example, Beckmesser, the character in Die Meistersinger we are supposed to root against, has the most progressive music. Commenting on Beckmesser’s corruption of Walther’s Preislied text, Bloch remarks: ‘Much of it reminds one of what the philistine likes to call “degenerate”. […] It is presented with disdain by Wagner, and yet it is like a preview of Dadaism.’2 Talking about the things that ‘surprise’ in Wagner, elsewhere Bloch writes: we find right next to Walther’s Prize Song […] nothing less than the music of Beckmesser […] above all the music for his pantomime […] which is one of the finest and most daring parts of the Mastersingers. […] It is significantly more ‘modern’ and is swimming significantly more against the traditional current than is Walther’s Prize Song. This is a mistake from a dramaturgical angle, but musically it is a decided paradox.3

In other words, Wagner, who billed himself as the progressive creator of the ‘artwork of the future’, casts his vote against Beckmesser, the character in the opera who is discursively the conservative but aesthetically the progressive. Hans Mayer echoes Bloch with similarly paradoxical examples from Wagner’s biography: ‘With the late Wagner everything is still simultaneous: Young German enthusiast of a liberated sensuality and chaste knight of the Grail; destroyer of all bourgeois institutions and their beneficiary; Friend of Bakunin in unquenchable admiration and apparent friend of Ludwig II; denouncer of the ownership of palaces and lord of Wahnfried.’4 Wagner had railed against animal cruelty when

1 Ernst Bloch, ‘Über Beckmessers Preislied-Text’ (1961)’, in his Literarische Aufsätze, vol. 9 of Gesamtausgabe, 16 vols (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965), pp. 208–14, at p. 211. 2 Ibid., pp. 212–13. All translations are mine, unless otherwise noted. 3 Bloch, ‘Paradoxa und Pastorale bei Wagner’, ibid., pp. 294–332, at p. 300; published in English as ‘Paradoxes and the Pastorale in Wagner’s Music’, Essays on the Philosophy of Music, trans. Peter Palmer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 146–82, at pp. 151–2. 4 Hans Mayer, ‘Wir Wagnerianer’, Richard Wagner: Mitwelt und Nachwelt (Stuttgart: Belser, 1978), pp. 9–28, at p. 14.

114

Idea of Art.indb 114

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

115

he saw a goose liver pâté for sale in a shop window, but then bought one as a birthday gift for his Bayreuth banker friend Friedrich Feustel. A similar paradox seems to involve the ways in which Wagner responded to the newly changing circumstances of musical composition and performance in the early to mid nineteenth century. On the one hand, as I have argued in detail elsewhere, he marketed himself as a celebrity and branded his works as products that were in a category of their own; that is, under no circumstances were they ‘operas’ or to be referred to as such.5 At the same time, he viciously attacked any and all of his contemporaries who were similarly engaged in marketing, especially if he could accuse them of being overtly in concert with the requirements of what he, already in 1841, had termed the music ‘industry’. 6 At different stages in his career, this included Meyerbeer, Halévy, Rossini, Mendelssohn, Berlioz and even his later stalwart champion and financial supporter, Franz Liszt. At odds here, or at least, seemingly at odds, were two diametrically opposed tendencies. One was grounded in the development of what economists call the free market, which presumes a large consumer base and offers products for purchase with a view to maximising profit. In the field of music production, this is a shift that becomes especially noticeable in the nineteenth century. This gradually replaced the earlier practice of what I will call the single consumer  –  i.e. a wealthy and usually aristocratic patron, or an institution like the Church  –  who would commission the composition and arrange for the performance of a musical work, or, more efficiently, simply have the composer/performer on the payroll. In the nineteenth century, consumers  –  plural  –  anonymous and individually with lesser financial resources, but as a group displaying enormous purchasing power, would eventually replace the old model. In the twentieth century, this practice would grow into the phenomenon that cultural theorists would term mass culture, which is not any single cultural phenomenon in particular, with the exception that, from a fiscal point of view, it deals in artistic products that are profitable for the producers, distributors and others on the supply side of the economic divide. Of course not all art is profitable, and that is as it should be. In fact, artworks that do not cater to the whims of the masses and to the cold calculation of the marketplace might be even more worthwhile. At least, this is the argument that came to be formulated already in the eighteenth century in response to the exploding book industry. As Martha Woodmansee argued twenty years ago, the idea of the ‘autonomous artwork’  –  meaning the artwork that is not beholden to meta-artistic considerations, such as politics, ideology or economics  –  was a concept formulated by German thinkers and in the first place as a response

5 See Nicholas Vazsonyi, Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 6 Richard Wagner, ‘Halévy und die Königin von Cypern’, Der junge Wagner: Dichtungen, Aufsätze, Entwürfe, 1832–1849, ed. Julius Kapp (Berlin: Schuster & Loeffler, 1910), pp. 271–306, at p. 274: ‘kunstindustrielle Anstalten’. A different version, originally printed in the Abend-Zeitung (Dresden), was reprinted as ‘Bericht über eine neue Pariser Oper (La Reine der Chypre von Halévy)’ in SSD, vol. 1, pp. 241–57.

Idea of Art.indb 115

02/02/2016 15:13

116

Nicholas Vazsonyi

to the new primacy of the marketplace.7 Indeed, as she argues, these authors needed to devise a means of justifying why their works did not sell. Either way, they claimed that true art, genuine art, was not created with a view to profit. In a reverse argument, popular hence profitable art was a sure sign of its aesthetic inferiority, its creation based on economic calculation and catering to the lowest common denominator. This rhetorical position, theorized most powerfully by Immanuel Kant, brought serious, disinterested art (except music) into proximity with religion.8 More recently, James Garratt has revisited the issue of the autonomous art discourse in nineteenth-century Europe.9 Garratt is motivated by the seeming paradox that the practitioners of aesthetic autonomy  –  defined as ‘art’s detachment from social and political concerns’  –  nevertheless devoted ‘so much attention to social reform’. 10 In the end, Garratt’s exploration of the discourse of aesthetic autonomy covers much more ground, but his essential argument is that the supposed incompatibility between aesthetic autonomy and an art that is socially engaged is based on a false dichotomy. Garratt is right to warn against false dichotomies, as Andreas Huyssen argued persuasively in 1986, when he showed not only that the boundaries of the supposed ‘great divide’ between high and low culture are extremely difficult to define, but also that the concept itself is little more than a rhetorical strategy.11 Similarly, Garratt indicts previous scholarship which has tended to view the ‘musical culture and discourse of nineteenth-century Germany […] through the lens of an all-pervading binary’.12 Instead, he proposes to examine how aesthetic autonomy ‘represents a single solution to a set of overlapping problems’.13 Garratt does fleetingly mention the theories of aesthetic autonomy which ‘seek to justify and safeguard art’s right to independence from extrinsic forces, whether absolutist control or the demands of the market’, 14 but he never again mentions the mass music market and instead remains trapped inside a limited and limiting academic discourse.15 7 Martha Woodmansee, The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). 8 Celia Applegate traces a similar development in eighteenth-century Germany, but with specific focus on the discourse of music aesthetics; see her Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn’s Revival of the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005), chapter 2. 9 James Garratt, Music, Culture and Social Reform in the Age of Wagner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 10 Ibid., p. 1. 11 Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986). 12 Garratt, Music, Culture and Social Reform, p. 9. 13 Ibid., p. 11. 14 Ibid. 15 I dwell, perhaps somewhat unfairly, on Garratt’s study because it is symptomatic of the continuing approach to issues of music discourse in the nineteenth century. While Garratt rightly takes issue with ‘our received idea of a mainstream regulated

Idea of Art.indb 116

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

117

More to the point, while Garratt warns us about indulging too readily in (false) binaries, Richard Wagner does nothing less than construct his persona based on one. However, it is not the binary that Garratt proposes to overcome, nor is it even simply the ‘high/low’ divide that Huyssen challenges. Rather, it is a balancing act that Wagner undertakes between two radically different yet contemporaneous discourses, both of which are central to Wagner’s project and, I would suggest, to anyone in the last 200 years attempting to ‘make it’ in the world of ‘serious music’. Even if  –  as I have argued in my book  –  Wagner presents a special, if not unique, case because of the variety of means he used to further his cause and the persistence he displayed in doing so, he was also in many respects a man of his time and did little that others around him and even before him had not already undertaken.16 Wagner, like his nemesis Meyerbeer, not to mention Paganini and Liszt, all of whom were in Paris, was keenly aware of the changing economics of musical composition and performance in post-revolutionary Europe at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Gradually replacing the patronage system of ecclesiastical or aristocratic sponsors, the general public now had to be courted because its financial support was increasingly needed for composers to flourish or even survive. Reaching this public required new strategies which meant, then as now, using the media. In the nineteenth century, this included print media in all its different forms: newspapers, journals, posters, flyers, in some cases even correspondence and telegrams. Today, we use the term ‘publicity’ and there are agencies with staff specially trained in the art. In the nineteenth century, this branch of the music and entertainment business was still in its infancy and those composers who were successful managed their own publicity in most instances. Wagner did not invent any strategies, but he made himself visible in the media with a greater variety of materials, with greater consistency, and over a longer period of time than any of his contemporaries. He was the subject of countless articles, reviews and opinion pieces, especially after 1850, which are so numerous that Helmut Kirchmeyer’s multi-decade project to catalogue them all remains incomplete. In other words, Wagner was the progenitor of most of the noise about him. This noise began around 1840 in Paris, continued for the rest of his life and arguably has still not abated, although the content of that noise has shifted with time. Wagner’s published writings included music criticism and performance reviews, short stories, theoretical tracts and books, open letters, pamphlets and flyers. The subjects he covered included music aesthetics, cultural history, politics, religion and philosophy. Wagner also wrote autobiographies, a new one approximately every ten years, starting in 1842 when he was not yet

by the norms of autonomous aesthetics’, he remains beholden to its discursive parameters, focused on an internecine squabble within a minuscule group of music practitioners and thinkers. Any thought of ‘mainstream’ in such a context is misguided, indeed one wonders what ‘mainstream’ even is. So much for Garratt’s intention of describing ‘every-day music-making’. 16 The uniqueness of the situation is that Wagner marketed art as though it were a commercial object but he denied doing so, maintaining that the artistic sphere must be kept separate from the commercial.

Idea of Art.indb 117

02/02/2016 15:13

118

Nicholas Vazsonyi

thirty.17 The impact of this perpetual form of self-narration was that Wagner, through sheer repetition, not only wrote and rewrote his life story as he wanted it understood, he also managed to control the discourse about his person, a factor in and a cause for prejudicial colouring of events  –  and downright falsities  –  that linger even today in Wagner scholarship when ideas find themselves perpetuated often unwittingly by scholars unaware of the original source of the (mis)information. Wagner also seemed to understand that there was no such thing as ‘bad’ publicity. So, although he often grumbled and complained about the bad press he received off and on, he was also the person who fuelled much of the controversy by making his own highly inflammatory remarks about other composers or about entire races: that is, his anti-Semitism, which even in the nineteenth century struck some as being over the top. But Wagner was also different from most of his contemporaries for another reason. While Paganini, Meyerbeer and the young Liszt  –  who were masters at self-promotion  –  made no effort to pretend that they were not seeking success and fame, Wagner was always conscious of the danger that the seriousness of his project was compromised by the smell of overly overt public relations. At odds were two sets of competing practices: one of them, a theoretical or even an ideological discourse that was set against a system of increasingly successful practices based on the principles of free enterprise. By the mid nineteenth century, there was already a well-established ‘primary market’ of professional performances of opera, as well as the ‘secondary market’ of sheet-music sales targeted to middle-class households with increasing amounts of disposable income, leisure time and the ability to play musical instruments with moderate technical aptitude. These markets were different both in kind and scale from anything that had come before, but closely related in ways that anticipated the kinds of joint marketing ventures we see today, where products are placed in big-budget films, or films are released together with products and toys in stores, each feeding off the other. Already in the nineteenth-century context, no pretence was made that sales and profit were not actively sought. At approximately the same historical moment, and emerging in the first place from Germany, was a conceptualization of art that was similarly responding to the new emphasis on its potential for monetary success and reward. Rather than embracing these new economics of the art marketplace, however, this discourse  –  possibly also prompted by a combination of the immense success of the natural sciences and the tangible technological benefits they produced, together with the waning authority of the Church  –  argued that true art was an expression of humanity’s highest aspirations, offering experiences of religious intensity, transcendental in its reach, and unconcerned with earthly and transitory considerations of profit and success. Indeed, any artwork whose creation was geared towards an appeal to the masses and to financial gain was deemed ipso facto unworthy, its creator despised. This discourse, already well established by the infancy of German romanticism around 1800, had become a mainstay among 17 The main ones are ‘Autobiographical Sketch’ (1842/43), ‘A Communication to My Friends’ (1853) and My Life (begun 1865), with autobiographical elements inserted into many of his occasional writings.

Idea of Art.indb 118

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

119

the intellectual elite throughout Europe by mid-century and reflected an attitude perhaps best summed up by the term ‘Kunstreligion’ (‘religion of art’ / ‘art as religion’), a term coined by 1800.18 This attitude lingers still today in the West and especially in Europe, even if the rhetoric of transcendence and salvation has been toned down. Richard Wagner was affected both by the realities of the marketplace and by the ideological and rhetorical implications of the anti-profit discourse, especially as a ‘German’ living in ‘Paris’. In this respect, he was no different from his contemporaries in the ‘art-music’ business who, as David Gramit showed ten years ago, understood ‘the need to market serious music and the need to deny that that music was marketed’.19 The ways in which Wagner responded are also not unusual. However, the distinct combination that he came up with was his and his alone. In many respects, the dichotomy of the ‘German’ in ‘Paris’ was one that, arguably, haunted Wagner lifelong and accompanied him wherever he went. It was not by accident that Nietzsche quipped on more than one occasion that Wagner ‘belongs in Paris’,20 which was another way of saying that ‘Wagner sums up modernity’. 21 In his early essays, written in part to stave off starvation in Paris as he awaited his big operatic breakthrough, Wagner thematized precisely this distinction between ‘German’ and ‘Parisian’. Already the title of one of his essays, ‘The Disastrousness of Being German in Paris’ (‘Pariser Fatalitäten für Deutsche’ [1841]), published in August Lewald’s journal Europa, proclaims this dichotomy. It is not just about his national pride, regained in the foreign capital, but about the feeling of being torn between two conflicting attitudes to art, in other words: the idea of art music in a commercial world. Wagner is rather blunt about it: ‘In Paris, Germans learn renewed appreciation of their mother tongue. […] Their often weakened patriotism gains new strength here.’ 22 He even repeats this sentiment retrospectively ten years later in his 18 See, e.g., Albert Meier, Alessandro Costazza and Gérard Laudin, eds, Kunstreligion: Ein ästhetisches Konzept der Moderne in seiner historischen Entfaltung, Band 1: Der Ursprung des Konzepts um 1800 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011). 19 David Gramit, ‘Selling the Serious: The Commodification of Music and Resistance to It in Germany, circa 1800’, The Musician as Entrepreneur, pp. 81–101, at p. 82. Later in the essay (p. 90), Gramit formulates this idea even more pointedly when he talks of ‘the entrepreneurial promotion of the anti-entrepreneurial, of the marketing of resistance to the market’. See also Celia Applegate, ‘How German Is It? Nationalism and the Idea of Serious Music in the Early Nineteenth Century’, 19th-Century Music 21 (1998), 274–96; and David Gramit, Cultivating Music: The Aspirations, Interests, and Limits of German Musical Culture, 1770–1848 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). 20 Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Nietzsche contra Wagner’, Der Fall Wagner: Schriften, Aufzeichnungen, Briefe, ed. Dieter Borchmeyer (Frankfurt: Insel, 1983), pp. 130–49, at p. 139; and Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, section 5, Der Fall Wagner, p. 241. 21 Nietzsche, Der Fall Wagner, Vorwort; English from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1967), p. 156. 22 Richard Wagner, ‘Pariser Fatalitäten für Deutsche’, SSD, vol. 12, pp. 44–62, at p. 59.

Idea of Art.indb 119

02/02/2016 15:13

120

Nicholas Vazsonyi

autobiographical ‘Communication to My Friends’, transforming the earlier generic statement into a personal confession: ‘It was the feeling of homelessness in Paris that awakened the longing for my German homeland.’ 23 Being German for Wagner was not just a question of nationality, in fact not a question of nationality at all, since there was no such political entity as Germany. Instead ‘German’ is a signifier for a set of cultural beliefs and behaviours that go to the heart of the distinction between ‘art music’ and the ‘commercial world’. One of the beliefs to which Wagner always returns is the issue of money: ‘The greatest, most authentic Germans are poor.’ 24 Germans are quasi-genetically predestined to fail in the money-centred world of French society, most evident in the corrupt metropolis: ‘In Paris being German is truly the most irksome’. 25 Germans in Paris are victims, their inescapable poverty proof of an intact integrity and an honesty, which, in turn, become markers for true Germanness: ‘Poverty is the greatest vice in Paris’, consequently: ‘a German and a dumb, wretched  –  meaning honest and poor  –  person have come to mean one and the same.’26 Being poor takes on an almost Christian halo of moral superiority, which will be translated into aesthetic superiority. Already Beethoven had drawn this distinction in the Heiligenstadt Testament (1802), where he coupled ‘Tugend’ (virtue) with ‘Kunst’ (art) as the antithesis of ‘Geld’ (money).27 Given the discourse of money as an agent of evil, it should come as no surprise that Wagner here, a decade before his essay ‘Jewishness in Music’ (1850), gives voice to his anti-Semitism. Although perhaps not yet as virulent, it is the necessary component that completes his anti-French and anti-English rhetoric which rejects the modern market, international cosmopolitanism, even modernity itself, thus providing the foil for his dichotomy of German ‘self ’ and non-German ‘other’. It is not by chance that the nemesis that Wagner creates in his short-story ‘A Pilgrimage to Beethoven’ (discussed further below) is an Englishman. As the poverty-stricken German hero of the story sets out on foot to find his idol, Beethoven, he is constantly dogged by a wealthy English amateur who is simply making the rounds of European masters. Next on his list after meeting Beethoven is Rossini, of all people. But it is the French and ultimately the Jews who come in for the most sustained attacks from Wagner’s pen. His antipathy for the ‘Parisian intrigue and con racket’ (‘Pariser Intrigen- und Schwindelsystem’)28 extends to the music industry, ‘prostituted’ to the dictates of (Jewish) money (Banquier-Musikhurerei).29 Financial backing is essential to success in the new industry: ‘Only as a banker can one become an influential 23 SSD, vol. 4, p. 268. 24 SSD, vol. 12, p. 59. 25 Ibid., p. 44. 26 Ibid., p. 45. 27 Anton Würz und Reinhold Schimkat, comps, Ludwig van Beethoven: In Briefen und Lebensdokumenten (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1961), pp. 34–7, at p. 36. 28 ‘Pariser Fatalitäten’, SSD, vol. 12, p. 57. See also Dieter Borchmeyer, Richard Wagner: Ahasvers Wandlungen (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 2002), p. 377. 29 Letter to Ferdinand Heine, 14 September 1850, in SB, vol. 3, p. 408.

Idea of Art.indb 120

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

121

composer of Grand Opera, like Meyerbeer, because a banker can do everything in Paris, even compose and perform operas.’30 Success is for sale; sufficient capital guarantees access to the media, and it oils the publicity machine. From Wagner’s perspective, Jews were at the hub of this nexus, which he later expanded to include journalism, Jewish-controlled naturally.31 If he couldn’t become a part of it, he wanted to condemn it and separate himself entirely. The case of Meyerbeer and also of Maurice Schlesinger, publisher of the leading music journal, La revue et gazette musicale de Paris, is instructive. Wagner benefitted from his relationships with both men  –  receiving direct loans as well as commissions from the latter, and making connections through the former  –  and, yet, in his writings he turned the facts on their head, by claiming that he had been exploited by Schlesinger and betrayed by Meyerbeer. The point was that it was vital for his image that he not be seen to be cooperating with, or far less benefitting from, these two exemplars of the new music industry: there is perhaps no clearer example of the way in which he masked his true activities with the rhetorical veneer of its opposite. Both Schlesinger and Meyerbeer, German Jews inordinately successful in Paris, helped Wagner, but became morally unfit to be considered German precisely because of their financial success. Like Rothschild in banking, each of them becomes ‘more international Jew than German’. 32 Meyerbeer and Schlesinger are cosmopolitans like ‘German bankers’ who ‘don’t count as Germans anymore; they transcend nationality; they belong to the world and the Paris stock exchange’. 33 The Schlesinger episode also exposes the anti-Semitism that pervades much of Wagner studies, illustrating both Wagner’s control of the discourse about his person and the often unreflected work of his biographers. Initially, Schlesinger employed Wagner to copy parts and make piano arrangements of operas by other currently popular composers, such as Halévy and Donizetti. Admittedly, although a staple form of income for musicians in the nineteenth century, this was poorly paid, exhausting work and maybe a waste of time for someone with Wagner’s abilities (as he saw himself ), and biographers have rarely missed the opportunity to describe how degrading such work was, thus reproducing Wagner’s own correspondence and autobiographical spin on his plight at the hands of mercantile Jews.34 Such commentaries often exceed even Wagner’s own inflammatory account in My Life, where he describes the relationship with Schlesinger as a ‘monstrous acquaintance’ (‘monströsen Bekanntschaft’), twice 30 SSD, vol. 12, p. 58. 31 See, e.g., his essay ‘Modern’ (1878); cited in n. 57 below. 32 ‘Pariser Fatalitäten’, SSD, vol. 12, p. 59. 33 Ibid., pp. 58–9. 34 See, e.g., Bryan Magee, The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), pp. 344–6. But such examples are abundant, starting with Glasenapp’s multi-volume Wagner biography, which describes his work for Schlesinger as ‘compulsory labor’ (‘Frondienst’), a tendentious word conveying the sense of feudal bondage; Carl Friedrich Glasenapp, Das Leben Richard Wagners, 4th edn, 6 vols (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1905), vol. 1, p. 388.

Idea of Art.indb 121

02/02/2016 15:13

122

Nicholas Vazsonyi

specifically mentioning his Jewishness, first in an encounter most likely from 1841, followed by Wagner’s report of a brief Paris visit in June 1849 when he met Schlesinger’s ‘even more Jewish’ successor.35 Wagner lifelong reiterated the claim that he was the misunderstood, slandered victim of a Jewish-controlled press, fuelling an antagonistic relationship with its roots in Paris. But to portray Wagner as a victim is at best only half the story. He also used the press masterfully, exploiting it for his purposes and to his advantage. By his own admission this, too, began in Paris. From the outset of Wagner’s journalistic work in the French capital, the relationship between money and art functions as a leitmotif in his assessment of aesthetic quality and moral virtue: ‘One can thus judge how dangerous a virtue honesty is in Paris.’ 36 The issue of money becomes the yardstick against which composers are measured, for instance in the way Wagner distinguishes Berlioz from Liszt. Albeit aesthetic ‘brothers’  –  given their admiration of Beethoven  –  they are morally poles apart: ‘Liszt makes money without having any expenses, whereas Berlioz has expenses and earns nothing.’ 37 Wagner condemns Liszt as an immoral profiteer, a virtuoso who sells out by ‘playing the part of the fool’. 38 Berlioz (like Wagner) is a loser in what Wagner, a century before Theodor Adorno and the Frankfurt School, denounces as ‘the art industry’ (‘die Kunstindustrie’), where ‘losing’ denotes a moral victory.39 So, even though Wagner would turn against Berlioz in the 1850s, in the 1840s he sees his French counterpart as a comrade in arms against the music industry. Here, as elsewhere, Wagner’s association of artistic disinterestedness with an almost genetic national virtue is not his own invention but rather synthesizes discourses deeply embedded in the Christian–German traditions. The link between Christianity and Germanness, established in the Middle Ages with the so-called ‘Reichsmythos’ (‘myth of the Empire’), was based on the claim that the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was the rightful successor to the Roman Empire, meaning that it was now the guarantor of Christianity. Disinterest in money seemed common to both the Germanic and the Christian traditions. The Biblical admonition that ‘it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God’40 glorifies the poor and damns the wealthy. Independently, Tacitus’s Germania (A.D. 98) thematizes ignorance of gold and silver among Germanic tribes as an indication of their wholesomeness and uses this as a foil to critique the more decadent, corrupt Romans. These two discursive lines merged with the rediscovery in 1455 of Tacitus’s text and with Martin Luther’s protest in 1517 against Papal fiscal abuses. 35 Richard Wagner, Mein Leben, ed. Martin Gregor-Dellin (Munich: List, 1963), p. 184. See also ibid., p. 219 and p. 431. 36 Ibid., p. 45. 37 Wagner, Der junge Wagner, p. 185. 38 See, e.g., Wagner’s letter to Robert Schumann, 3 January [recte: February] 1842 ; SB, vol. 1, pp. 573–9. 39 Wagner, Der junge Wagner, p. 274. 40 Gospel According to Matthew, 19.24.

Idea of Art.indb 122

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

123

Luther lived what he preached. He condemned publishers for profiting from the sale of books and presented himself as the model of disinterestedness, selflessly proclaiming, with regard to his idea, in his ‘Warning to Publishers’ (1541): ‘I received it for nothing, gave it away for nothing, and seek nothing for it, Christ my Lord has repaid me for it many hundred thousand times over.’41 Luther’s status as exemplary German seemed to confirm Tacitus’s observations about the virtues of the Germanic folk, observations that became crucial in the extended effort to (re)construct a German national identity during the eighteenth century. Luther’s status as an iconic figure who did not seek to profit from his creative work was no less influential. Although Wagner would surely reap any monetary compensation for his works that he could  –  in the case of Der Ring des Nibelungen even selling the rights on multiple occasions to multiple buyers  –  his writings perpetuate the national discourse of disinterest.42 This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in his pair of novellas originally published in French in Schlesinger’s journal. Initially titled ‘Une visite à Beethoven, épisode de la vie d’un musicien allemand’ (1840), the first novella consists solely of a first-person account by a German musician living in Paris named ‘R’. Its apparent success prompted Schlesinger to offer another commission.43 The second novella, titled ‘Un musicien étranger à Paris’, again features R but is narrated by yet another unnamed German musician living in Paris, who has befriended R. The story recounts R’s final days and includes an emotional deathbed scene at which the Narrator is present.44 Although the title ‘Un musicien étranger à Paris’ alludes to R, the presence of the Narrator means that there are now two German musicians in Paris. Even though it is not wise to identify fictional characters too closely with their authors, aspects of Wagner are present in both characters. This was neither the only time Wagner would present an aestheticized version of himself, nor the only time he would divide himself between two characters: the most notable example being the pairing of the elderly and experienced Hans Sachs with the youthful and naturally gifted Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The novellas ‘helped me considerably in becoming known and noticed in Paris’, Wagner admits shortly thereafter in 41 ‘Warnung an die Drucker von 1541’, Martin Luther, Vermischte deutsche Schriften, ed. Johann Konrad Irmscher (Frankfurt: Heyder & Zimmer, 1854), vol. 11, p. 6. 42 On a side note, it is interesting to what extent one does not encounter references to this discourse when reading Meyerbeer’s correspondence or diaries. Given that he was from Berlin where much of this ideology was generated, was it that he didn’t think it applied to him, or was he simply not concerned with such issues? 43 On this novella, see Nicholas Vazsonyi, ‘Beethoven Instrumentalized: Richard Wagner’s Self-Marketing and Media Image’, Music & Letters 89 (2008), 195–211. 44 In 1841, a few months after the French publication, the German original of both novellas appeared together in the Abend-Zeitung (Dresden), under the collected title ‘Zwei Epochen aus dem Leben eines deutschen Musikers’ (‘Two Episodes from the Life of a German Musician’). The first piece, with the religiously loaded title ‘Eine Pilgerfahrt zu Beethoven’ (‘A Pilgrimage to Beethoven’), was augmented with an introductory note by the fictitious Narrator, who presents the ‘Pilgrimage’ as one of the writings found among the papers of the recently deceased R.

Idea of Art.indb 123

02/02/2016 15:13

124

Nicholas Vazsonyi

his ‘Autobiographical Sketch’ (1842/3), clearly aware of their public-relations value.45 Three decades later, Wagner included both novellas in volume one of his Gesammelte Schriften and combined them with five additional essays, most of which had been printed separately in French in La revue et gazette musicale de Paris between 1840 and 1841. Now presented as ‘posthumous works by R’, assembled and published by his friend, the Narrator, they appeared in the Gesammelte Schriften collectively as Ein deutscher Musiker in Paris: Novellen und Aufsätze (‘A German Musician in Paris: Novellas and Essays’). The transfer of authorship from Wagner to the fictitious R invites the question of the multiple identities of R, Narrator and Wagner, as well as the relationship between these three and the unifying theme of the essays: the person and works of Ludwig van Beethoven. The self-identification between Wagner and R becomes more complex in the second novella; its German title ‘Ein Ende in Paris’ (‘A Death in Paris’) points directly to R’s death as opposed to the generic ‘Un musicien étranger à Paris’, which refers both to R and to the Narrator. Like Wagner, R is the dreamer who comes to Paris hoping in vain for fame and success. Unlike Wagner, R dies penniless, unrecognised, in a dingy Montmartre flat, the address itself emblematic of his martyrdom.46 Meanwhile, the Narrator, no less a German musician, appears more practical, having understood the realities of the Paris scene well enough to survive  –  like Wagner. Moments before his death, R receives a visit from the Narrator, who performs the role of father confessor. R’s lengthy credo begins quite shockingly with the declaration: ‘I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven, and also in their disciples and apostles;  –  I believe in the Holy Ghost and in the truth of one indivisible Art.’ 47 Echoing Grillparzer’s funeral oration of Beethoven and E. T. A. Hoffmann’s famous review of the Fifth Symphony, these words suggest that musical experience has a sacred power; the greatest composers  –  Germans, of course  –  are on a par with God.48 But Wagner remaps Grillparzer’s divine succession, which had originally ended with Beethoven, and alters Hoffmann’s ‘progressive triumvirate’ of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, which functioned as a ‘closed system’, with ‘no room for a fourth composer’.49 Instead, Wagner removes 45 SSD, vol. 1, p. 17. 46 Ibid., p. 133. 47 Ibid., p. 135. 48 ‘Grillparzer’s Grabrede 29. März 1827’, Würz und Schimkat, Ludwig van Beethoven, pp. 212–14, at p. 212. Grillparzer places Beethoven at the end of a succession beginning with Handel, Bach, Haydn and Mozart. See also E. T. A. Hoffmann, ‘Beethovens Instrumental-Musik’, in his Kreisleriana: Phantasiestücke in Callots Manier (1. Teil), Sämtliche Werke, ed. Hartmut Steinecke and Wulf Segebrecht, 6 vols (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker, 1993), vol. 2, part 1, p. 52, where he declares music to be the ‘most romantic of all art forms’ and then goes on to create a new form of music criticism, describing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in sonic and emotional rather than technical-theoretical terms. 49 Mark Evan Bonds, After Beethoven: Imperatives of Originality in the Symphony (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 22–3.

Idea of Art.indb 124

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

125

Haydn and opens up a future beyond Beethoven. Rather than being the end of the line, Mozart and Beethoven now become founders of a new ‘church’, the (s)elect, charged with receiving and spreading the Holy Spirit of Music. Like Christ clearing the money-lenders from the temple, R condemns those who commodify and thus prostitute music, who dare ‘to profit from lofty chaste art, which they would defile and dishonour’. 50 R dies, a victim of the newly commercialized, market-driven middle-class musical culture, martyred for his faith in the new religion of the German romantics  –  Music. Deeply moved, the Narrator beholds the transfigured expression on the face of his now deceased friend, and ‘prays to God for a similar death’. Read autobiographically, the novella suggests that Wagner the idealist died in Paris, leaving only the realist. But this is not autobiography. Wagner the idealist did not die in Paris; he was created there. Recall that Wagner came to Paris as a seeker of fame and fortune, not as a believer in Mozart and Beethoven, but instead wanting to satisfy French taste to secure his success. R  –  the literary creation  –  dies on the printed page but is resurrected as Wagner’s public persona. This is the mask behind which Wagner scripts and narrates the drama that became his public life  –  a persona designed to elicit sympathy, to achieve moral victory, to proclaim a cause, but all the while engaging actively in the realities of the new commercial world, first by engineering an almost permanent media presence, and ultimately by creating an edifice and annual event exclusively dedicated to his art. In his autobiography, Wagner presents his novelistic work lightheartedly, as if to suggest that it was of little consequence, at most an opportunity to take ‘revenge’ both against specific persons and against an entire establishment and system of practices that denied him even the chance at entry.51 But these works are much more than an exposé of superficial Parisian life or a mere exercise in short-term revenge. If we take Wagner’s confession seriously, revenge is the motivation for his entire subsequent endeavour. As Katharine Ellis and Matthias Brzoska point out, of those who failed in Paris, Wagner ‘remains the only one who made a career by constructing his little Paris [‘petit Paris’] outside of France but nevertheless peopled by the Parisian elite’. 52 A true, yet misleading, statement. Wagner’s ‘little Paris’, i.e. Bayreuth, was designed to stand for the opposite of Paris: far from being a ‘little Paris’, Bayreuth is its inverse. But the ongoing image of Wagner’s ‘failure in Paris’ is perhaps another misleading mainstay of the Wagner story. According to Ernest Newman,

50 SSD, vol. 1, p. 135. 51 Wagner, Mein Leben, p. 201; and, for its echo in biographies, see, e.g., Curt von Westernhagen, Wagner (Zurich: Atlantis, 1968), p. 67. 52 Katharine Ellis and Matthias Brzoska, ‘Avant-propos méthodologique’, in Von Wagner zum Wagnérisme: Musik, Literatur, Kunst, Politik, ed. Annegret Fauser and Manuela Schwartz (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 1999), pp. 35–7, at p. 36. The Parisian elite who went to Bayreuth included Catulle Mendès, Jules Champfleury, Édouard Schuré, Judith Gautier, Romain Rolland and others.

Idea of Art.indb 125

02/02/2016 15:13

126

Nicholas Vazsonyi

Wagner failed in Paris because he ‘forgot that there was a business side to art’,53 a rationale many Wagner biographers echo. But I think Newman gets it exactly wrong, since Wagner went to Paris explicitly for business reasons: ‘money was his goal’.54 Money and profit were the primary motivators for Wagner’s journey to Paris. He had long hoped that in Paris he would achieve his big break as a composer, become ‘rich and famous’ and ‘no longer be a German philistine’, dreams he unabashedly announced to his friend Theodor Apel in 1834.55 If Wagner launched his mature career in 1840–41 with a series of writings on the largely German struggle to preserve and further the cause of true art against its impoverishment in the French capital under the aegis of popularity, commerce, money  –  primarily that of expatriate German Jewish bankers  –  and profit, he would return to exactly these themes again at the end of his life. In the interim, he had gone from being an unknown, struggling artist to being the most discussed German composer since Beethoven and creator of the monumental Ring des Nibelungen, performed at the specially constructed Festival Theatre in Bayreuth in 1876. This was surely the musical event of the century, a century filled with musical ‘events’. While Wagner was admittedly still beset by financial woes, after 1876 he was settled in his villa Wahnfried, a figure of the establishment and personally funded by Ludwig II.56 If revenge had been a motivator in 1840– 41, this could hardly have been the reason for the reanimated series of attacks following 1876. Instead, in the years since 1840, the significance and the reach of the commercial world  –  including its musical dimension  –  had only grown, endangering the very notion of art music (not unlike the constant reminders nowadays that the Humanities as such are imperilled). Wagner was angry. In the essay ‘Modern’, published in 1878 in one of the first issues of his house journal, the Bayreuther Blätter, Wagner inveighs with redoubled forces against the ‘modern’, by which he means ‘a very shady thing, most perilous to us Germans in particular’.57 Again, it is about people who ‘went to Paris’ and were ‘well supported by the power of the purse’, which, later, Wagner refers to as ‘the modern Jew-world’s victory’, resulting from the combination of the primacy of money and what Wagner calls ‘the perpetual contagion of Jewish journalism’. The ‘Frenchman can call himself “modern” with a peculiar pride, for he makes the Mode, and thereby rules the whole world’s exterior.’58 While ‘Modern’ inveighs 53 Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner, 4 vols (London: Cassell, 1976), vol. 1, p. 269. 54 Robert Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968), p. 69. 55 Letter to Theodor Apel, 27 October 1834, SB, vol. 1, pp. 167–8. 56 I will not discuss here the details of Wagner’s own efforts, and the efforts of his closest allies, to brand and market his works between 1840 and 1876, since this is the topic of my 2010 book, Richard Wagner, see n. 5 above. 57 Richard Wagner, ‘Modern’, Richard Wagner’s Prose Works, trans. William Ashton Ellis, 8 vols (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1892–99), vol. 6, pp. 43–9, at p. 46. 58 Ibid.

Idea of Art.indb 126

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

127

against ‘modernity’ in general with the French and the Jews both as culprits and as profiteers, Wagner’s next essay, ‘Public and Popularity’ (‘Publikum und Popularität’, 1878), which appeared in three instalments in the Bayreuther Blätter, takes much sharper aim at the entertainment industry. Wagner mentions music only in passing, because his main target is how the machinery of the culture industry (my term, not his) functions to steer the public towards mediocrity. The prime culprit this time is journalism which, interestingly, is no longer the product of Jewish interests, but rather a Europe-wide development, afflicting culture as much in Germany as in France. In this sense, here Wagner is much more on target in his understanding of the pervasiveness of modernity and modern processes as inter- and transnational, though he does not miss the opportunity to besmirch both the French and Rossini as successful peddlers of mediocrity. Wagner’s essential question is this: how do we go about defining what is meant by the ‘public’ and assessing what is ‘popular’? He starts out by conceding that sheer numbers provide a powerful argument for defining these concepts given the exigencies of the new economic imperative: his example is the hugely popular German-language journal Die Gartenlaube with its half million subscribers  –  in German nineteenth-century terms, a massive circulation. But then he offers individual examples of Die Gartenlaube readers who have written letters to him or whom he knows personally, and whose responses to his work differ from those presented in the journal. These, as well as other personal anecdotes, suggest that while numbers can convey a general impression, they are unable to pinpoint responses to culture on the level of actual people. Wagner quotes the editors of Die Gartenlaube explaining their decisions to print and not to print certain material ‘in the interests of their public’, in other words based on assumptions about what their readership will and will not want to read  –  a number-crunching and commercially oriented mentality that has become the norm but that Wagner wants to resist, at least rhetorically. On the face of it, Wagner’s response to the advent of a mass culture in the second half of the nineteenth century was to retreat even further into the splendid and exclusive isolation of Bayreuth. While the theatre and its festival had originally been designed for performances of the Ring cycle, Wagner had in the meantime allowed the Ring to be performed elsewhere, an opportunity seized with tremendous entrepreneurial energy and imagination by the singer and impresario Angelo Neumann who, after bringing the work to Leipzig in 1878 and Berlin in 1881, formed a touring ‘Richard Wagner Theatre’ with conductor Anton Seidl, an orchestra of sixty to seventy, two casts, chorus, technical staff and the original Bayreuth decor that Wagner had been willing to sell. Between September 1882 and June 1883, the company performed twenty-nine Ring cycles in twentyfive cities across Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and AustroHungary, as well as individual operas and promotional concerts. With Parsifal, the situation was to be entirely different. Composed with the unique and now tested acoustics of the Bayreuth theatre in mind, Parsifal, it is no exaggeration to argue, is indeed like no other work composed for the operatic stage. The idea of exclusivity accompanied Parsifal from the beginning. Hans von Wolzogen, writing in the Bayreuther Blätter of 1879, announced his hopes that Parsifal would serve to form a ‘permanent community’ (‘bleibenden

Idea of Art.indb 127

02/02/2016 15:13

128

Nicholas Vazsonyi

Genossenschaft’) representing ‘pure and German art’ (‘die reine und deutsche Kunst’) that would ‘survive the death of the composer and take on a life of its own’. 59 Wagner is even clearer in his 1 December 1880 message to the Patrons of the Bayreuth Festival: ‘I have decided to limit my newest work exclusively and solely for performances on the Stage Festival Theatre of Bayreuth.’60 And, he emphasizes: ‘in the future, Parsifal will be performed only in Bayreuth.’ 61 Why? Wagner delivers a rather detailed explanation in his 28 September 1880 letter to King Ludwig II. In it, he rails once again against the theatres of his day and against the public that frequents such establishments. It is a complaint once again with its roots in the Paris stay of 1839–42, but now with the added proof of a lifetime’s worth of abuse and under-appreciation  –  as far as Wagner was concerned. Now, Wagner must ask himself, ‘whether I should not at least rescue this latest and most sacred of my works from […] a common operatic career’. 62 Wagner talks about the ‘sacred’ (‘heilig’) nature of Parsifal and argues that profane and ‘frivolous’ works are also not performed in churches, which is why he has titled his work a Stage Consecration Festival Play (‘Bühnenweihfestspiel’): ‘and so I must now try to consecrate a stage for it, and this can be only my solitary festival theatre in Bayreuth. There, and there alone, may Parsifal be presented now and always: never shall Parsifal be offered in any other theatre as an amusement for its audience.’ 63 In other words, the sacred Parsifal cannot be performed on a stage contaminated by immoral and profane works, defined as such in part because their creation and their performance are predicated on the desire for success, meaning financial gain.64 On the face of it, Wagner’s move can be seen as the quintessential expression of ‘Kunstreligion’: a work of art is treated as a religious object and reserved for performance solely on consecrated ground. As Wagner wrote in the oft-quoted first line of his famous late essay on ‘Religion and Art’ (1880): ‘One might say that where Religion becomes artificial, it is reserved for Art to save the spirit of Religion by recognizing the figurative value of the mythic symbols which the former would have us believe in their literal sense, and revealing their deep and hidden truth through an ideal presentation.’65 Rhetorically speaking, Wagner’s 59 Hans von Wolzogen, ‘Im neuen Jahre’, Bayreuther Blätter 1 (January 1879), pp. 1–11, at pp. 10–11. 60 SSD, vol. 10, p. 32, in ‘Zur Mittheilung an die geerhten Patrone der Bühnenfestspiele in Bayreuth’. 61 Ibid., pp. 32–3. 62 Wagner to King Ludwig II, 28 September 1880, SSD, vol. 16, p. 128; English in Richard Wagner, Selected Letters of Richard Wagner, trans. and ed. Stewart Spencer and Barry Millington (New York: Norton, 1987), pp. 902–3. 63 Ibid. 64 One can see how easily such an argument can be transferred onto the racial sphere, as many have suggested, in the case of Parsifal as a work in which anti-Semitism is embedded in its fabric. 65 Wagner, ‘Religion und Kunst’, SSD, vol. 10, p. 211; English from Ellis, Richard Wagner’s Prose Works, vol. 6, p. 211.

Idea of Art.indb 128

02/02/2016 15:13

Wagner and the Masking of Commodification

129

solution to the encroachment of the commercial world is for art music to become hyper-sacralized and retreat into a sanctuary erected and tended for the purpose. But, commercially speaking, this was surely also a shrewd business move. By reserving Parsifal for a limited number of performances on a single stage during a span of only a few weeks each year, he would be guaranteeing a future audience for the Bayreuth festival in perpetuity. It is an elementary lesson in microeconomics: limiting the supply increases the demand. This is also the way in which other high-priced, exclusive items function: one does not have to cater to the masses to be successful and profitable. Even though the tickets to the Bayreuth festival were not inordinately expensive, undertaking the journey to Bayreuth and paying for living expenses ensured that only a dedicated and affluent audience would be present. From his time in Paris, Wagner had been exposed to and had responded to the problems and issues associated with the idea of art music in a commercial world. He was surely not the only one of his generation to find himself in this situation, nor was he the only one who attempted to navigate the new economic model in ways that would ensure his survival. But Wagner does stand out for his skill at presenting himself rhetorically to the public  –  offering a carefully crafted image of self-sacrifice in the service of art as a higher calling while choreographing a publicity campaign that created the maximum noise in the crowded marketplace. Was Wagner being duplicitous or just savvy? Nowhere is this question more pressing that with his final gesture to declare his last opera too good for the regular stage. Unprecedented though this gesture was, it was really nothing more than an extreme version of what he had been preaching since his first extended visit to Paris: the religious experience of pure German art against the frivolous and immoral fare of the Parisian metropolis. But, if I may be forgiven the analogy with the successful business practices of the Catholic Church during some periods in its history: guaranteed entry into heaven is limited and comes with a steep price tag.

Idea of Art.indb 129

02/02/2016 15:13

6 Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Nineteenth-Century Marketplace Fiona M. Palmer

T

oday, serving the globalized and media-driven society of our time, major orchestral institutions strategically control commercial ‘message-making’ on behalf of their conductors. Now the function of conductor is synonymous with leadership, celebrity, power and the embodiment of interpretative wisdom  –  a change of image that came about in continental Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century following the deaths of Wagner and Brahms.1 In Britain, however, it was only as recently as the twentieth century that this personalitydriven and centralized concept of the conductor’s role became normalized. This chapter focuses on two previously underexplored individuals and examines the commercial aspects surrounding conductors and their roles as mediators of art music during this time of change. It probes the ways in which two prominent musicians in Britain, Julius Benedict (1804–85) and Frederic Cowen (1852–1935), exploited, valued and promoted the function of conductor within their careers, thereby revealing a clearer sense of the extent to which they led and shaped their own progress as conductors. The ways in which their overall contributions mirrored current traditions, while also contributing to the genesis of the function itself within the scope of the commercial marketplace in which they operated, provide insights into the changing status of conducting as an art. Prior to World War I, conductors in Britain generally promoted their own careers and depended heavily on perceptions of musical pedigree, productive networks, projected personality and, in some cases, showmanship to do so.2 John

1 See José Antonio Bowen and Raymond Holden, ‘The Central European Tradition’, The Cambridge Companion to Conducting, ed. José Antonio Bowen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 114–33, at p. 114; see also Jeremy Siepmann, ‘The History of Direction and Conducting’, The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra, ed. Colin Lawson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 112–25. 2 Only in 1915 were Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir Henry Wood enrolled as contracted stars by Columbia UK; David Patmore, ‘Selling Sounds: Recordings and the Record Business’, The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music, ed. Nicholas Cook, Eric Clarke and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 120–39, at p. 125. For the particular circumstances of the promotion and development of orchestral concerts at the Queen’s Hall (1893–), including Henry Wood’s role as conductor and the later establishment of the London Symphony Orchestra (1904) and Beecham Symphony Orchestra (1909),

130

Idea of Art.indb 130

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

131

Spitzer has shown that similar trends prevailed in the context of nineteenthcentury America, where, for orchestras, ‘selling the conductor’ was not a common marketing strategy.3 The agency of the recording industry came to play a vital role in the commodification of conductors. However, not until 1913 was the ‘first celebrity orchestral recording’ produced;4 and, as Robert Philip has shown, not until the late 1920s did the orchestral recording industry blossom.5 In Victorian Britain, the notion of the conductor as a focal and high-status artistic leader emerged gradually. The practices and expectations of visiting European composer-conductors in London (including Weber, Spohr, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Wagner, Strauss and Mahler) broadened horizons. Stretching across the mid century and into the 1900s, the significant contributions of conductors including Michael Costa (1808–84), Charles Hallé (1819–95), August Manns (1825– 1907) and Hans Richter (1843–1916) have been the subject of detailed research and evaluation.6 Each of these men was intimately connected to established institutions and benefited from the increased autonomy this afforded them. Yet there were many other individuals in Britain whose portfolios of work included high-profile conducting engagements.7 Both Benedict and Cowen forged portfolio careers within which their work and status as conductors constituted a substantial element. Although celebrated in their day, their involvement in this aspect of see Leanne Langley, ‘Joining Up the Dots: Cross-Channel Models in the Shaping of London Orchestral Culture, 1895–1914’, Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain, pp. 37–58. 3 John Spitzer shows that American conductors were also mainly generalists in this period in ‘Marketing the American Orchestra’, American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century, ed. John Spitzer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), pp. 219–24, at p. 221. 4 The recording featured the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Artur Nikisch, performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Jerome F. Weber, ‘7. Repertory and Marketing’, in Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume, et al. ‘Recorded Sound’, GMO [accessed 8 July 2014]. 5 Robert Philip, ‘Historical Recordings of Orchestras’, The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra, pp. 203–17, at p. 206. 6 Examples include Robert Beale, Charles Hallé: A Musical Life (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007); Christopher Fifield, True Artist and True Friend: A Biography of Hans Richter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); John Goulden, Michael Costa, England’s First Conductor: The Revolution in Musical Performance in England, 1830–1880 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015); Stephen Johnson, ‘The English Tradition’, The Cambridge Companion to Conducting, pp. 178–90; Michael Kennedy, The Hallé Tradition: A Century of Music (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1960); Kennedy, The Autobiography of Charles Hallé, with Correspondence and Diaries (London: Paul Elek, 1972); Kennedy, The Hallé 1858–1983: A History of the Orchestra (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1982); and Michael Musgrave, ‘Changing Values in Nineteenth-Century Performance: The Work of Michael Costa and August Manns’, Music and British Culture, pp. 169–91. 7 As one example, Duncan Barker has examined the conducting activities of Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (1847–1935) in ‘Another String to his Bow: The Composer Conducts’, NCBMS 3, pp. 195–205.

Idea of Art.indb 131

02/02/2016 15:13

132

Fiona M. Palmer

musical life has now been largely forgotten. Both men lived into their eighties and had long careers, which taken together spanned the period from Queen Victoria’s accession (in 1837) to World War I; the demands of sustaining a profile into old age can be traced in each case. Exploring the approaches these men took to selfpromotion and examining the synergies between their conducting and other musical undertakings sheds new light on the internal and external factors that underpinned the musical marketplace in Britain. German-born (Sir) Julius Benedict became a naturalized Englishman whose activities encompassed metropolitan and regional conducting engagements in opera house and concert hall. A composer of large-scale works, he also produced biographical writings on his esteemed associates Weber and Mendelssohn and edited Beethoven’s piano music and Weber’s operas. One of Benedict’s pupils, the second subject of this discussion, was the widely travelled English virtuoso pianist and composer (Sir) Frederic Hymen Cowen, who forged multiple and important associations with key institutions as conductor. He too wrote biographies of ‘great composers’ but also appealed to a wider market through his popular ballads. His engagements included conducting roles for the London Philharmonic Society and Promenade Concerts, Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra and Liverpool’s Philharmonic Society. Neither of these musicians can be categorized as what Spitzer has termed an ‘entrepreneur conductor’ of an ‘enterprise orchestra’.8 In Spitzer’s definition, ‘entrepreneur conductors’, many of whom were also composers, operated in Europe and the United States taking the responsibility and the risk for the financial underpinning of their orchestras. Enjoying their heyday between the 1840s and the 1880s, these enterprise orchestras were those ‘created, led and managed by a single man’ and were box-office dependent. In a marketplace within which the consumption of orchestral music was tethered to social aspiration, the contrastingly composite nature of the work of those I term ‘portfolio conductors’ (such as Benedict and Cowen, for example) affords evidence of an awareness of the need for personal ‘branding’. Each of these musicians serviced Britain’s concert life during a period of transition in orchestral activities.9 Their successive careers provide a sense of the evolving experiences of portfolio conductors, men whose profiles and earnings emanated from multiple aspects of their careers as musicians and connected them with myriad events, societies and other 8 John Spitzer, ‘The Entrepreneur-Conductors and their Orchestras’, NineteenthCentury Music Review 1 (2008), 3–24. 9 Orchestral standards were problematic due to scarcity of training provision, limited rehearsal time and pervasive deputizing practices. One reason for this was, as David Wright has shown, that Britain lagged behind its Continental neighbours and lacked established orchestras populated by players trained within a national conservatoire system; David Wright, ‘The South Kensington Music Schools and the Development of the British Conservatoire in the Late Nineteenth Century’, JRMA 130 (2005), 236–82, at pp. 267–9. In 1855 and 1877 alike, Wagner found his attempts to glean expressive, interpreted performances from the London Philharmonic Society unsatisfactory; see, for example, Johnson, ‘The English Tradition’, pp. 181–2.

Idea of Art.indb 132

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

133

institutions. Without the benefit of a permanent set of handpicked players with whom to develop an enduring rapport, how constrained were Benedict and Cowen, as peripatetic part-time conductors, in defining and maintaining their value and popularity and what methods did they use to that end? To what extent did they depend on the projection of their individuality? The ways in which they chose to maintain a presence as conductors via a portfolio of work in London and the provinces reveals much about the availability of opportunity and the dynamics of supply and demand.

Conductors and Orchestras in the Marketplace From the 1820s onwards in Britain, when baton-led conducting began to develop, the craft of interpretation was on a slow burn. Dazzling instrumental showmanship, increasing numbers of concert-giving institutions, the advent of larger concert halls and the intensified technical demands of the repertoire saw control and virtuosity transfer from the keyboard-player and lead violinist into the hands of the conductor. José Antonio Bowen and Raymond Holden have traced the evolution of conducting within the coherent central European tradition, attributing the trigger for the shift from composer-conductor to virtuoso conductor to the deaths of Wagner and Brahms.10 In Britain this transferral of control was piecemeal. This lack of homogeneity stemmed from the limited and generally closed nature of high-profile conducting opportunities in Britain. Orchestral life in Britain orbited around London with opportunities for conductors elsewhere available via seasonal provincial festivals and institutions, such as the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (founded 1840) and, after Hallé’s death, the Hallé Concerts Society (founded 1858). In terms of conductor supply, the field of able candidates available to philharmonic societies, such as those in London and Liverpool, was limited, and the jobs often went to musicians of status whose conducting credentials were secondary considerations. In Britain, the lack of systematized training for conductors contributed to the continued reliance on foreigners, some of whom took up permanent residence. The British preference for conductors with explicit foreign connections was a provocative issue, which presented an obstacle to native aspirants. At mid century the British concert marketplace was dominated by immigrant and visiting musicians of central European origin. The superior value placed on German musical training and culture cascaded through the activities of both immigrant and Continentally trained British practitioners. Two Germans, the woodwind- and string-player Manns (who, from 1855, was based 10 Bowen and Holden, ‘The Central European Tradition’, p. 114; and Raymond Holden, The Virtuoso Conductors: The Central European Tradition from Wagner to Karajan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005). In discussing the significance of Wagner’s conducting practices and ideologies, Holden profiles the careers of Von Bülow, Nikisch, Felix Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan.

Idea of Art.indb 133

02/02/2016 15:13

134

Fiona M. Palmer

with the orchestra at London’s Crystal Palace, with its honed structures and carefully enforced standards) and the pianist Hallé (who, from 1849, dominated Manchester’s musical life), exploited the opportunities offered by their relatively stable institutions, to raise standards. Between 1846 and 1854, another continental European, the Italian conductor Costa, pioneered new understandings of the conductor’s sphere of control, with a particular emphasis on disciplinary matters. His autocratic management style encompassed enforcement of contractual demands and alterations to orchestral layouts and rehearsal structures.11 A number of examples dating from the final decades of the century provide evidence of the direct prejudice in the press with regard to native origin and intrinsic merit. In 1880, Benedict’s successor as conductor in Liverpool was the German composer Max Bruch. He had gained more votes from the Society’s directors than Cowen, who was also shortlisted for the post. The public backlash against the appointment of Bruch  –  a foreigner rather than a native musician  –  stressed Benedict’s nearly fifty years of contributions to English musical life and his consequent acceptance as a ‘naturalized Englishman’. 12 That same year, when on the retirement of Costa the Leeds Music Festival Committee appointed the thirty-eight-year-old native Englishman Sir Arthur Sullivan as conductor, the press expressed strong approval.13 Issues of xenophobia also revealed themselves at the time of Hallé’s sudden death in 1895. His unexpected demise raised particular issues of succession planning for his eponymous Manchester orchestra, and the Bristol Mercury attempted to settle the score. The newspaper stated that Hallé’s career advantages stemmed from his German origins and asserted that the free-market approach to recruiting conductors could lead to deliberate exclusion of talented local practitioners.14 It was against this complex tapestry of values, prejudices and inequity of opportunity that the conducting profession evolved in Britain.

Forging Careers Today, Benedict is mainly remembered for his biographies of Mendelssohn (1850) and Weber (1881), for his opera The Lily of Killarney (1862) and for his association with Jenny Lind.15 This summary alone embeds direct connections with idols of the British musical imagination and with ideals associated with purity and rational recreation (via Lind, Mendelssohn and oratorio).16 A Stuttgart-born 11 Costa’s influence with regard to revised practices has been reassessed in detail in Goulden, Michael Costa. 12 ‘Music at Liverpool’, MW, 17 April 1880, p. 248. 13 P. Teazle, ‘An Englishman at Home’, MW, 21 February 1880, pp. 121–2. 14 ‘Sir Charles Hallé’ [editorial], Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, 28 October 1895. 15 The main secondary sources for Benedict’s life and career are Nicholas Temperley, ‘Benedict, Sir Julius’, GMO [accessed 22 August 2013]; and Clive Brown, ‘Benedict, Sir Julius (1804–1885)’, ODNB [accessed 22 August 2013]. 16 For further context see, for example, George Biddlecombe, ‘The Construction of a Cultural Icon: The Case of Jenny Lind’, NCBMS 3, pp. 45–61; Biddlecombe, ‘Secret

Idea of Art.indb 134

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

135

Jewish banker’s son, knighted in 1871, Benedict was a sought-after pianist, composer, teacher, conductor, editor and author. During the course of his lengthy career his Continental origins came to be absorbed into a perception of him as one of England’s own. Yet, paradoxically, his lasting presence was founded on his formative connections  –  the authority of the past and the veneration of his German origins  –  and these provided him with a special niche in the British musical world. Prior to his arrival in London in 1835, Benedict had conducted in opera houses in Vienna and Naples. As with his contemporary Costa, Benedict’s formative conducting activities in London centred on work in opera houses. In 1836 he conducted opera buffa at the Lyceum Theatre, and between 1838 and 1848 he was musical director at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The veteran conductor and impresario Sir George Smart praised Benedict, on behalf of the Mendelssohn Scholarship Committee, for his role as conductor of Jenny Lind’s debut performance in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the Exeter Hall in December 1848.17 Benedict was now ideally positioned to assume his subsequent role as accompanist and ‘fixer’ (‘contractor’) for Lind’s American tour. After directing most of the concerts in her tour (1850/1), he returned to London. From November 1852, he was naturalized and enjoyed the full rights of citizenship. Visible connections with eminent performers, conductors and composers elevated Benedict’s status. In 1852, he became conductor at Her Majesty’s Theatre; in 1855, he founded his Vocal Association conducting its concerts at the Crystal Palace for ten years. The provincial festival was a primary feature in his diary and between 1845 and 1878 he conducted every Norwich festival.18 Between 1867 and 1880, he conducted the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. In the combined roles of conductor-composer he produced oratorios and cantatas commissioned by and featured at music festivals. These included his cantatas Undine (1860) and the Legend of St Cecilia (1866) for Norwich and his oratorio St Peter (1870) and cantata Graziella (1882) for Birmingham. Overall, Benedict’s profile was that of a well-connected and distinguished generalist. Reviews of his conducting suggest

Letters and a Missing Memorandum: New Light on the Personal Relationship between Felix Mendelssohn and Jenny Lind’, JRMA 138 (2013), 47–83; Colin Eatock, Mendelssohn and Victorian England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009); and James Garratt, ‘Britain and Ireland’, Nineteenth-Century Choral Music, ed. Donna di Grazia (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2013), pp. 335–67. 17 Royal Academy of Music, London [GB-Lam], McCann Collection 2004.1446, Box S06, copy of resolution from Smart (22 December 1848) on behalf of the Mendelssohn Scholarship Committee; includes: ‘[...] that he [Benedict] be requested to accept the Committee’s congratulations on the success of this Performance, in which he so ably filled the duties appertaining to his important position’. Smart’s status and contribution is evaluated in John Carnelley, ‘Sir George Smart and the Evolution of British Musical Culture 1800–1840’, Ph.D. diss., Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2008. 18 This festival was founded in 1824. Benedict followed Smart and was succeeded by Alberto Randegger and then by Wood.

Idea of Art.indb 135

02/02/2016 15:13

136

Fiona M. Palmer

that he continued the tradition of understated control, implying economical gestures and unobtrusive body language.19 Cowen, like Benedict, was an accomplished all-round musician. Born into a Jewish family in Kingston, Jamaica, Cowen was based in England from the age of four until his death.20 His integration into London’s musical society was facilitated by family connections: Cowen’s father held positions as treasurer to Her Majesty’s Theatre, and later at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and as Private Secretary to William Ward (1817–85; who became the first Earl of Dudley). Cowen’s prodigious talent as juvenile composer and pianist was showcased via performances and publications; he took lessons with Benedict (piano), John Goss (harmony and organ) and Tiplady Carrodus (violin)  –  associations that cemented his credentials. His establishment as a significant performer and composer took place during his teenage years when he was packaged through the advocacy of high-status musical connections and Ward’s aristocratic patronage.21 During Cowen’s early teenage years his study in Leipzig (where his teachers included Ignaz Moscheles, Carl Reinecke and Moritz Hauptmann) and in Berlin (where he studied with Friedrich Kiel, Wilhelm Taubert and Carl Tausig) enabled him to capitalize on the British predilection for Continental connections and training.22 Nursing hopes of becoming an opera conductor, he had served his apprenticeship in the opera house, overseen by Costa, primarily working as maestro al piano and accompanist for James Henry Mapleson’s touring opera company and at Her Majesty’s Theatre. His connection with star performers, such as the French mezzo-soprano Madame Zélia Trebelli-Bettini (with whom he toured Scandinavia in 1876 and 1877), further embedded his image as an accomplished pianist. Cowen’s image and popularity were enhanced by his work internationally  –  experience which indicated that he was sought after and able to compete in the larger arena of continental Europe and the British Empire using his specialist knowledge to enhance British musical life. The 1870s included trips to 19 The details of the manner of his conducting remain reliant on scraps from contemporary criticism, which are all too often opaque in meaning  –  a frustrating example is ‘Benedict conducted with all his usual ability’, stated within the review ‘Liverpool Philharmonic Society’s Concert’, Liverpool Mercury, 29 January 1873, p. 6. 20 The most thorough source of information on Cowen, drawing on the main secondary biographical sources and focusing on his compositional output, is Christopher J. Parker, ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen (1852–1935): A Critical Study’, 2 vols, Ph.D. diss., University of Durham, 2007. 21 See Charles Willeby, Masters of English Music (London: Osgood, 1893), pp. 214–15, for a comment on the relationship between Ward and Cowen. 22 The main secondary sources of information on Cowen’s life and music are George Biddlecombe, ‘Cowen, Sir Frederic Hymen (1852–1935)’ ODNB [accessed 22 August 2013]; Audley C. Chambers, ‘Frederic Hymen Cowen: Analysis and Reception History of his Songs for Voice and Piano’, Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 2007; Frederic Cowen, My Art and My Friends (London: Edward Arnold, 1913); Jeremy Dibble and Jennifer Spencer, ‘Cowen, Sir Frederic Hymen’, GMO [accessed 22 August 2013]; and Parker, ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen’.

Idea of Art.indb 136

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

137

France, Germany, Italy, America and Scandinavia.23 He emphasized his Nordic associations in his successful Symphony No. 3 ‘Scandinavian’ (1880), a work that was performed to great acclaim across Europe and in New York and that took Cowen to Germany, Hungary and Austria in the early 1880s.24 Further to his success in Australia in the late 1880s he impressed audiences at the Vienna Exhibition in 1892 with his ability to gain a nuanced interpretation of the colours of his music from the resident orchestra.25 As Christopher Parker has highlighted, Cowen’s compositional output ranged from hundreds of the lighter-end popular ballads, pantomime, ballet, comedietta and operetta to art songs, (six) symphonies, operas, cantatas, oratorios, piano concertos and chamber works.26 Notwithstanding the extensive travelling he undertook championing his compositions, his native profile constrained his opportunities at home, including his conducting. A key example of Cowen’s astute exploitation of demand for his conducting services is found in his engagement by the Victoria Government of Australia between August 1888 and March 1889 as director of 263 concerts for the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition (with the explicitly stated high payment of £5,000). (The opportunity made him unavailable to adjudicate for the Welsh Eisteddfod and for his Philharmonic Society engagements too.) The Illustrated London News for 15 September 1888 carried depictions of the sumptuous and densely populated opening of the Melbourne Exhibition, including one of Cowen conducting musicians to the rear of the stage.27 The ways in which his role was publicized, both in Australia and at home, provide a key example of his awareness and exploitation of the commercial value of his skills.28 On his return to London, 23 An example of the promulgation of his spreading fame is found in a paragraph in MW, 18 January 1879, p. 41, titled ‘Mr F. H. Cowen at Angers’, reproduced from the Maine-et-Loire Journal d’Angers and reporting on the twelfth popular concert in Angers. Here Cowen is described as a remarkable conductor, accompanist for Mapleson’s troupe, and the already famous author of the five-act opera Pauline, the performance of which was greeted with unanimous shouts of ‘bravo’ by the French audience. 24 Cowen spoke of the inspiration for his third symphony in 1898: ‘It was an effort to produce in music the ideas and emotions suggested by the stern mountains and gloomy forests, the silent fjords and sounding shores of Scandinavia; as viewed not merely in their physical aspects, but also in the light of the heroic traditions, and fantastic legends which make that country so attractive to men of our kindred race’; ‘A Chat with Mr Frederic Cowen’, Musical Opinion and Music Trade Review, June 1898, p. 607. 25 ‘This Morning’s News’, DN, 27 June 1892, p. 7. 26 Parker, ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen’, vol. 2, Appendix 3: ‘A Catalogue of Works of Frederic Hymen Cowen 1852–1935’, pp. 351–504. 27 ‘Opening of the Melbourne Exhibition’, ILN, 15 September 1888, p. 303. 28 For a study of the marketing of Cowen prior to and during his work in Australia, see Jennifer Royle, ‘Preparing to Exhibit: Frederick [sic] Cowen in the Public Press Preceding Melbourne’s Centennial International Exhibition, 1888–89’, Context: Journal of Music Research 14 (1998), 53–62.

Idea of Art.indb 137

02/02/2016 15:13

138

Fiona M. Palmer

the rumour mill included the front-page suggestion that Cowen would be knighted in 1889 for his services to the British Empire.29 His conducting work was enduring and international, but his mode of negotiation and his artistic agendas ruffled feathers. Cowen sought to champion British music through his conducting engagements nationwide. At the London Philharmonic Society he was dedicated to including ‘one work from an English pen’ in every concert,30 a campaigning mentality which may have stymied his advancement as an interpreter of the central European repertoire.31 His non-specialist profile meant that men such as Hans Richter and Henry Wood (1869–1944), who focused solely on conducting (i.e. as ‘career conductors’), upstaged him. From the 1880s onwards, Cowen’s orchestral conducting career began to gather momentum; he remained a key figure in the conducting business until around 1914; and thereafter he was at the helm for the grandiose Handel Festivals.32 Cowen deliberately fought to ensure that conducting activities did not fill his calendar entirely, however  –  his vocation as composer was vital to him.33 In succeeding Sullivan in 1880 as conductor of the London Promenade Concerts, Cowen’s emergence as a genuine contender in the field of orchestral conducting was unambiguous. While as conductor Benedict had not been strongly attached to London’s core orchestral activities, Cowen was now gaining acceptance among influential circles. In June 1880 the Athenaeum proclaimed that Cowen was ‘well-known as a thoroughly qualified conductor’.34 His subsequent conducting engagements included the (London) Philharmonic Society (1888–92 and 1900–07), the Hallé Orchestra (1895–99) until he was replaced by Richter, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (1896–1913), the Bradford Festival Choral Society (1897–1915) and Bradford Permanent Orchestra (1899–1902); he also conducted the Scottish Orchestra for a decade (1900–10) and was conductor of festivals including Scarborough (1899), and the triennial Cardiff (1902–10) and Handel festivals (1902–23). On Cowen’s death in 1935 the Musical Times obituary observed, ‘Had Cowen never played or written a note, he would deserve to be remembered as one of the most hard-working conductors of his time. It was he alone who stood out against the supremacy of the foreigner.’ 35 This is in stark contrast to the analysis of the 29 ‘Our Kith and Kin’, PMG, 1 March 1889, p. 1. 30 London, British Library [GB-Lbl], RPS MS 288, Directors’ Minute Book 1887–92, fols 36r–37r. 31 Parker emphasizes this point in ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen’, vol. 1, pp. 293–4. 32 Parker makes the point that Cowen’s conducting career was highly significant in its day and that it is underestimated by posterity in ibid., vol. 1, chapters 1 and 7. 33 Cowen, My Art, pp. 283–4. 34 ‘Musical Gossip’, Athenaeum, 26 June 1880, pp. 833–4. The reference to Cowen was made in relation to the prospectus for the Saturday Evening Orchestral Concerts in St James’s Hall (November–December). 35 ‘Frederic Hymen Cowen / January 29, 1852–October 6, 1935’, MT, November 1935, p. 1008.

Idea of Art.indb 138

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

139

generalist nature of Benedict’s contribution to British musical life in the two-page article in the Musical Times on 1 July 1885, just twenty-seven days after Benedict died. Emphasizing his distinction in multiple branches of the profession including conducting, teaching and composing, and as a solo pianist and an accompanist,36 the obituary imparts a strong sense that, by 1885, conductors were expected to be more focused on and identifiably competent within their role than Benedict, deeply entrenched in past practices, had been. Fifty years later, Cowen’s career moved much closer to these expectations and demonstrated attachment to and authority in the art of conducting through institutional and repertorial ties and through his publication of pedagogical views of the conductor’s art. In their shrewd negotiation of useful networks and publicity, both Benedict and Cowen worked to maximize their individual statuses and profiles. It is to their selfpromotion, and the particular impact this had on their reception as conductors, that we now turn.

The Power of Association In the furtherance of success, a demonstrable network of close associations with persons of high standing and influence was a vital tool. Obvious patronage by monarchy, aristocracy, and merchant classes needed to be combined with constructive relationships with journalists, which could allow personal image, authority and importance to be reinforced. In exploring the manner in which Benedict and Cowen negotiated their press profiles, it is important to examine how each of them underlined and exploited explicit links with central Europe and the ‘great composers’ through programming, music publishing, insightful biographies and interviews.

Benedict Authority automatically stemmed from Benedict’s oft-touted connections with past masters. His musical pedigree was replete with links to revered German composers: he was known to have been a pupil of Hummel (in whose company he met Beethoven in October 1823), to have been Weber’s first student, and to have met with Mendelssohn on many occasions, enjoying his approbation. Making this lineage publicly known did not happen by accident but stemmed from careful promotion of Benedict’s illustrious background. The British concert public’s reverence for Hummel, Beethoven, Weber and Mendelssohn rubbed off positively 36 ‘Sir Julius Benedict’, MT, 1 July 1885, pp. 385–6. This obituary includes such statements as: ‘But it would be hard to say in which department Benedict gained most of his reputation. He made essays in all, and in all he won distinction. Perhaps it cannot be said that he was ever a great conductor, but he would scarcely have been suffered to wield the baton for so many years at the Norwich Festival and the Liverpool Philharmonic Society had he not proved himself competent to discharge the duties appertaining to his office in these undertakings’ (p. 385); and: ‘Here again we note the many-sided nature of his powers’ (p. 386).

Idea of Art.indb 139

02/02/2016 15:13

140

Fiona M. Palmer

onto Benedict’s image, transferring wisdom and status by positive association and breeding confidence in Benedict’s authority to conduct the music of these composers. The book-length biographies that Benedict chose to write recorded his perspectives on two of these figures. In the aftermath of Mendelssohn’s death, Benedict gave lectures at the Camberwell Literary Institution (1849), and these became the basis for his Sketch of the Life and Works of the Late Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1850).37 Striking while the iron was hot, in this Sketch, by describing his intimate friendship with Mendelssohn, Benedict articulated his ownership of special status. A decade later, his selection and arrangement of recitatives and pieces by Weber for the librettist James Robinson Planché’s Oberon at Her Majesty’s Theatre was highlighted in an advertisement in the published libretto: Deeply as it is to be regretted that the gifted composer [Weber] has not lived to superintend the revival of his work in England,  –  the country for which it was originally composed, and in which it was produced under his personal direction,  –  the musical world will admit that the task could not have been confided to a more competent substitute than Jules Benedict, his favourite pupil and affectionate friend. By such hands it was sure to be performed as reverently as efficiently.38 Again, the message that Benedict had unique connections and had enjoyed the admiration of canonized Continental musicians was reinforced. In 1881, when the publishing firm Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington issued Benedict’s substantial biography of Weber as part of The Great Musicians series, the sense that Weber’s kindly hand was on Benedict’s shoulder was established more strongly still.39 Describing his first meeting with Weber (which took place at the beginning of February 1821), Benedict recalled his tricky ascent of the staircase to the third floor of Weber’s house in Dresden’s old marketplace  –  creating a metaphor of struggling upwards to reach an exalted domain.40 As a pioneering conductor and composer whose tragically premature demise had taken place in

37 Jules Benedict, Sketch of the Life and Works of the Late Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Being the Substance of a Lecture delivered at the Camberwell Literary Institution in December 1849 (London: John Murray, 1850). 38 GB-Lbl, Norcott 292(i), [Libretto] Oberon / An Opera in Four Acts / By J.R. Planché / The Music Composed by / Carl Maria von Weber / The Recitatives and Additional Pieces Selected and Arranged from the Works of the Same Composer / By Jules Benedict / As Represented at Her Majesty’s Theatre (London: J. Miles & Co.). For a re-evaluation of the mixed reception of Planché’s English libretto for Oberon and of his professional fortunes, see Alan Fischler, ‘Oberon and Odium: The Career and Crucifixion of J. R. Planché’, Opera Quarterly 21 (1995), 5–26. 39 Sir Julius Benedict, The Great Musicians: Weber, series ed. Francis Hueffer (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1881). Benedict dedicated the volume to Queen Victoria. 40 Ibid., p. 77.

Idea of Art.indb 140

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

141

the London home of Sir George Smart, Weber provided another vital association within Benedict’s web of connections with the past. The patterns of programming during Benedict’s popular conductorship of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (1867–80) reveal that he did not use his role to over-promote his own compositions. The works of Beethoven (symphonies and overtures), Weber, Mozart and Handel are present in abundance. Programming of operatic material by Auber, Donizetti, Rossini, Mozart, Bellini, Verdi and Wagner provide another pronounced thread. Elsewhere in his portfolio of activities, Benedict’s Annual Grand Evening Concerts featured in London’s concert schedule for fifty years. To take one example (from around mid century) of the style and content of these long-established concerts, the programme for 21 May 1856 at Exeter Hall shows that Weber’s Jubilee overture opened the concert, followed by items by J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Spohr, Meyerbeer, and Benedict’s own compositions; Jenny Lind topped the bill of star performers, which included Heinrich Ernst, Alfredo Piatti, Pauline Viardot and Giovanni Belletti, directed by Benedict whose role encompassed conductor and pianist. The patronage of the Queen and the Prince Consort, together with that of the Duchesses of Kent, Gloucester and Cambridge, was trumpeted in the concert’s book of words.41 The Morning Post review of the concert asserted: ‘It were strange indeed if Mr. Benedict’s annual concert lacked patronage, for no artist has a larger connection, and a man more popular in society, or in the profession he follows, does not exist.’ 42 In a wise act of self-promotion, Benedict’s Century Magazine feature on Jenny Lind, published in 1881, served to remind readers, well after the fact, of his illustrious connection to the star vocalist.43 Benedict ensured that his network of patrons was influential, and evidence of his success in this regard is particularly abundant in the 1870s and 1880s. At Windsor Castle on 24 March 1871 he was dubbed a ‘Knight Bachelor’ alongside fellow musicians William Sterndale Bennett and George Elvey and the Director of the National Gallery at Windsor Castle, William Boxall.44 Knighthoods conferred advantage and access to the top tables of high society and were, as yet, rarely awarded to musicians. Although Benedict did not hold a doctorate in music, he was now upgraded from ‘Esquire’ to ‘Sir’.45 Such connections can have only enhanced Benedict’s ranking in the music business and increased his attractiveness to an upper-class clientele within his teaching practice in Manchester Square. Benedict’s enjoyment of Queen Victoria’s patronage indicates that his value as a musician and his effectiveness as a networker were recognized 41 Book of the Words of M. Benedict’s Annual Grand Evening Concert on Wednesday May 21st, 1856 (London: W. Golbourn, 1856). 42 ‘Mr Benedict’s Concert’, MP, 23 May 1856, p. 5. 43 Julius Benedict, ‘Jenny Lind’, Century Magazine, May 1881, pp. 120–32. 44 See ‘The Court’, DN, 25 March 1871; and William A. Shaw, The Knights of England, 2 vols (London: Sherratt & Hughes, 1906; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2004), vol. 2, p. 363. 45 William C. Lubenow, Liberal Intellectuals and Public Culture in Modern Britain, 1815–1914: Making Words Flesh (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010), p. 62.

Idea of Art.indb 141

02/02/2016 15:13

142

Fiona M. Palmer

in her circles.46 Further evidence of his leverage and profile within society’s higher echelons is apparent from occasions such as the afternoon of 20 May 1875 when the sumptuous Dudley House in London’s Park Lane was the venue for a testimonial to him, hosted by the Earl of Dudley and attended by royal and artistic subscribers.47 Those assembled gave Benedict a ‘massive service of plate’ and the Earl delivered a speech, punctuated by applause, emphasizing gratitude for Benedict’s forty years of great devotion to the ‘cause of musical art in this country’. His royal connections again featured in the press in 1883 when the Pall Mall Gazette provided a listing of guests at a dinner party he attended, given by the Prince of Wales at Marlborough House on 8 May.48 So it was that, in view of substantial losses in failed undertakings in which he had been ‘induced’ to invest, a financial testimonial was mounted in June 1884 to assist him in achieving fiscal equilibrium.49

Cowen Cowen too wrote books and articles; dating from the twentieth century they span a broad spectrum mirroring that found in his compositional output. Like Benedict, he wrote monographs on ‘great composers’: his four short studies of Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Rossini appeared in the Masterpieces of Music series, published by T. C. & E. C. Jack in 1912. Regardless of the biting criticism in the Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, which described his contributions on Haydn and Rossini as ‘slipshod’, Cowen’s biographies 46 He valued what he considered to be the genuine interest of gentlemen such as the Earl of Westmorland, Lord Falmouth, the Duke of Cambridge and Sir Andrew Barnard; see Thomas Willert Beale, The Enterprising Impresario by Walter Maynard (London: Bradbury, Evans, 1867), p. 311. 47 ‘Testimonial to Sir Julius Benedict’, Era, 23 May 1875, p. 10. William Ward, first Earl of Dudley (1817–85), known as ‘The Lord Ward’ (1835–60), was a British landowner and benefactor; Cowen’s father was his secretary. 48 PMG, 9 May 1883, p. 7, ‘Dinner Party at Marlborough House’, reported that guests included the high-status musicians Sir Julius Benedict, Mr Joseph Barnby, Mr Thomas Chappell, Mr William G. Cusins, Mr Otto Goldschmidt, Dr George Grove, Professor George A. Macfarren, Dr John Stainer and Sir Arthur Sullivan; others at the royal table included the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl Granville, Rt Hon. Lyon Playfair, Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, Sir Thomas Gladstone and so on. 49 The details of the nature of Benedict’s investments are not provided in the various newspaper and periodical accounts of the genesis and enactment of the testimonial. At the February meeting convened to establish the nature of the testimonial, it was reported by the chairman, Mr Alderman de Keyser, that ‘the testimonial should be a substantial one. “The money was wanted to make good losses that were not in any way attributable to extravagance, to thriftlessness, to neglect of prudential duties and obligations. […] [Benedict] had suffered reverses which no recklessness of expenditure had brought upon himself. He had been induced, no doubt by well-meaning friends, to invest his money, saved from the fruit of a life’s toil, in undertakings which had failed.”’ ‘The Benedict Testimonial’, MT, 1 June 1884, pp. 330–1.

Idea of Art.indb 142

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

143

confirmed his specialist knowledge of these oft-programmed composers, thereby enhancing his authority on the podium, and they connected him with fellow authors, including Stanford (who wrote the volume on Brahms).50 His other publications ranged from a lighthearted look at long-haired musicians of note (1907) and his tongue-in-cheek (yet barbed) musical definitions in Music as She is Wrote (1915), to his serious efforts to codify the conductor’s role and approach within his articles for the Musical Times, for example, in ‘Hints on Conducting’ (1900), and for The Musical Educator in ‘The Art of Conducting’ (1910).51 In his sardonic glossary in Music as She is Wrote, Cowen’s biting description of the role of conductor reads: conductor (Modern Style) Any musician of foreign nationality who conducts, and can interpret the work in some entirely new way that the composer never dreamt of. The less he thinks about the composer and the more about himself the finer conductor he is. The modern conductor is a great athlete, and changes his underclothing after every piece.52 Notwithstanding the jocular tone adopted, Cowen’s message was that the emergence of an egocentric, athletic approach to the role was a disservice to the music and that British musicians were automatically overlooked and consistently unsupported. Here, and elsewhere, he openly lamented the reality of negative discrimination against British conductors in the marketplace. His mission to reinforce and develop high artistic standards was a sustained feature of his years as conductor. Cowen’s two serious articles on conducting confirmed his awareness and support of the changing understandings of the qualities and remit of the role of the conductor. By providing practical guidance to budding conductors he showed mentorship and initiative in an as yet limited field of discourse, exhibiting common sense and considerable experience. As the role of conductor evolved, Cowen’s urging for increased rehearsal time, including its careful distribution to ensure the continued reinterpretation of standard works, was an important aspect of his efforts. 50 ‘“ Masterpieces of Music”: Haydn and Rossini by Frederic H. Cowen; ‘Schubert’ by George H. Clutsam; ‘Brahms’ by Charles V. Stanford. London and Edinburgh: Jack, 1912. 1s 6d each’, SR, 4 January 1913, p. 23. 51 Frederic H. Cowen, Music as She is Wrote, being a Glossary of Musical Terms Very Much up to Date (London: Mills and Boon, 1915). Some of the definitions had featured in the MT. Examples of the style adopted include (p. 10): ‘acceler ando (al Fine) “Get to the end as quickly as possible.” This is often as much desired by the audience as it is by the composer. accent Used mostly by foreign Conductors when trying to speak English to the orchestra.’ Frederic Cowen, ‘Long Hair and Music’, The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly 33 (January–June 1907), 89–94; Cowen, ‘Hints on Conducting’, MT, 1 May 1900, pp. 307–9; Cowen, ‘The Art of Conducting’, The Musical Educator: A Library of Musical Instruction by Eminent Specialists, ed. John Greig, 5 vols (London: Caxton, 1910), vol. 5, pp. v–xii. 52 Cowen, Music as She is Wrote, p. 43.

Idea of Art.indb 143

02/02/2016 15:13

144

Fiona M. Palmer

Managing the Press Benedict was keenly aware of the need to foster positive relationships with the press. His well-known difficulties in working with Henry Chorley of the Athenaeum (his untalented librettist for his oratorio St Peter of 1870) caused the Musical Times commentator Joseph Bennett to remark retrospectively on Benedict’s careful approach to maintaining good terms with influential men.53 In 1880, a frisson of speculation had surrounded seventy-five-year-old Benedict’s second marriage to the Indian-born Miss Mary Comber Fortey, aged ‘two and twenty’, one of his Crystal Palace piano pupils.54 The Liverpool Mercury helpfully transferred the youthfulness of his new wife onto Benedict: Sir Julius Benedict has not ceased to produce musical works. A composer who marries at 76 is not likely to rest. Sir Julius is writing a musical cantata. […] At 77 Sir Julius Benedict comes into the concert room and asks who can rival him on his own ground. Sir Julius is in fact still, to all appearances, a young man. I heard him play the other day, and he had such a firmness of touch, and so complete a possession of the instrument that he might have been 17 instead of 77.55 Demonstrating the value placed on elders with undiminished work ethic, in 1883 the Pall Mall Gazette featured a profile of Benedict, which cleverly crafted an image of him, now seventy-nine, as youthful, influential and generous, and as a conduit between past and present. A London Herald correspondent, who visited Sir Julius at his residence in Manchester Square in London’s cultural centre,56 published Benedict’s comments on his career, his travels, his perceptions of the relative successes and personal preferences within his own music, and his wistfulness in relation to the untapped potential of a much-requested lecture tour of America.57 The article provided a snapshot of Benedict’s status and schedule in old age and underlined his continuing role as an agent and advisor to singers, reconfirming the strength of his formative associations. Cowen’s private life does not appear to have provided a source of notoriety. He remained a bachelor until 1908 and did not marry into exclusive circles. The recipient of a doctorate in music from Cambridge University in 1900, he did not gain a knighthood until 1911 (aged fifty-nine)  –  too late for this badge of acceptance 53 Joseph Bennett, ‘Some Recollections: VII, An Amazing Transaction’, MT, 1 March 1899, pp. 158–60, at p. 159. 54 ‘Multum in Parvo’, Newcastle Courant, 2 January 1880, p. 2: ‘Sir Julius Benedict, the eminent musician and composer, has been married in London to Miss Fortey. Sir Julius is in his 75th year, and his wife is two and twenty.’ Mary Comber Fortey was the daughter of Madras-born Henry Fortey. Benedict had been widowed in 1852. His first wife, Therese Margaret Adeline Jean (1815–51/2), bore three daughters and two sons. 55 ‘Our London Correspondence’, Liverpool Mercury, 28 December 1880, p. 5. 56 In ‘A Visit to Sir Julius Benedict’, PMG, 9 May 1883, p. 11. 57 The tour was in demand by Americans who wanted to hear more about his connections to the great composers.

Idea of Art.indb 144

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

145

to enhance his progress during the central period of his career. Through his strong sense of justice, Cowen was given to involvement in public controversies and disputes. Examples include his lobbying of the London Philharmonic Society (to his own detriment) over rehearsal time and programming licence in 189258 and his protracted wrangles with the Hallé executive in 1898 over questions of permanency in the post of conductor. He trod a dangerous tightrope in his candidness with the press and in his negotiations with institutional directors, and public tumbles were the consequence.59 It is clearly the case that Cowen did not shy away from publicity, either good or bad.60 Features on Cowen, some incorporating illustrations including posed photographs, that appeared in many publications during the 1890s (a turbulent decade for him) reveal strategic self-promotion and advocacy of his musical outlook.61 The photographs did not include musical props but rather showed Cowen, smartly attired, seated and gazing seriously into the distance. As Lewis Foreman explains in his discussion of kinds of illustrations used by Elgar and his contemporaries, conductors rarely posed with a baton until after World War I.62 In Cowen’s case, the professional demeanour of these portraits had the double purpose of serving his image as conductor and composer. That the articles proliferated following his Philharmonic Society demise in 1892 cannot have been coincidental. In January 1893, the Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly briefly profiled Cowen (including pictures of him aged 3, 11, 16, 24 and 41), emphasizing his precocity of early talent and the popularity of his works.63 That same year, in reinforcement of his status, he was included alongside Alexander Mackenzie, Hubert Parry, Stanford and Sullivan in Charles Willeby’s Masters of English Music. Here Cowen’s early talent, humour, ambition, experiences through much travelling, and profile as composer and conductor were emphasized.64 In March 1894, featuring a commissioned photograph of him on the front cover, The Minim included a short appreciation of Cowen in which his ability to connect with and appeal to a wide spectrum of musical interests  –  a kind of ‘musical

58 ‘Leeds Musical Society’, Yorkshire Gazette, 1 October 1892, p. 5; ‘Current Notes’, The Lute, 1 September 1892, p. 218. For Cowen’s comments on this incident, see Cowen, My Art, pp. 227–8. 59 See, for example, Michael Kennedy’s account of the controversy over Cowen’s position at the Hallé Concerts in 1898 in The Hallé Tradition, chapter 10. 60 For a different view, see Parker, ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen’, vol. 1, p. 302, who asserts that Cowen was reticent. 61 For examples of Cowen’s profile not covered here, see Parker, ‘The Music of Sir Frederic H. Cowen’. 62 Lewis Foreman, ‘Picturing Elgar and his Contemporaries as Conductors: Elgar Conducts at Leeds’, Elgar Society Journal 15, no. 6 (November 2008), 30–46, at p. 35. 63 ‘Portraits of Celebrities’, The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly 5 (January 1893), p. 161. 64 Willeby, Masters of English Music, pp. 173–256.

Idea of Art.indb 145

02/02/2016 15:13

146

Fiona M. Palmer

classlessness’  –  was underlined.65 Subsequently, John Evans Woolacott’s 1895 Strand Musical Magazine feature on Cowen, as one of a series of ‘interviews with eminent musicians’ (thus in a question-and-answer format), is particularly interesting for its concern with not just Cowen’s compositions but also his views on the dissemination of the wider appreciation of ‘good [i.e. art] music’. In answering, Cowen used the opportunity to emphasize the agency needed in promoting British music.66 The main non-composition-related messages in this feature stressed Cowen’s urging for the standard provision of increased orchestral rehearsal time and for the state subsidy of music (in the form of opera and training school provision). The publication of Frederick George Edwards’s detailed profile of Cowen in the Musical Times in November 1898 was no accident.67 Cowen was embroiled in the final throes of a very public and divisive debate over his conductorship of the Hallé Orchestra that was to culminate in Richter’s appointment as his successor.68 An article titled ‘Conductors – Native or Foreign?’ (appearing just a handful of pages later) made a balanced assessment of the Hallé-Richter-Cowen debacle before proceeding to debate the problems in the promotion of progress within British music if foreigners always pipped native musicians to the post by dint of assumed automatic authority.69 It recommended that the conservatoires consider remedying the lack of training for conductors. The preceding, highly strategic profile of Cowen was designed to assert his well-travelled education and career, fluency in four languages, literary interests and networks, innate and prodigious gifts as pianist, composer and conductor (allowing him to avoid teaching) at a time when his ongoing Hallé tenancy was overshadowed by rumours of Richter’s availability. Here, Edwards, with Cowen’s full support, chimed in with the Zeitgeist created by Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee celebrations by taking a colonial angle as the prelude to the biography. With illustrations and music examples, packaging Cowen as a product of the colonies whose career had made him ‘one of our representative British musicians’, Edwards’s seven-page article amply retold the story of Cowen’s precocious early progress and subsequent successes, highlighting his birth in ‘one of our’ West Indian islands, while in

65 ‘Mr Frederic H. Cowen’, The Minim, March 1894, pp. 80–1. The photograph was taken in Cowen’s study by Messrs Wayland and Company of Blackheath and Streatham. 66 J. E. Woolacott, ‘Interviews with Eminent Musicians: No. 4. Mr Frederic H. Cowen’, The Strand Musical Magazine: A Musical Monthly 1 (April 1895), pp. 249–52. Woolacott asked Cowen if he thought ‘that the love of good music is spreading in England’. In his response Cowen focused solely on English music, noting that more of it was performed than in the past, and he outlined the particular economics attached to composition and performance in England. 67 F. G. Edwards, ‘Frederic Hymen Cowen’, MT, 1 November 1898, pp. 713–19. 68 Richter was appointed as conductor of the Hallé concerts from the beginning of the 1899/1900 season. For an evaluation of the circumstances leading to Cowen’s loss of the conductorship, see Kennedy, The Hallé Tradition, chapter 10. 69 ‘Conductors – Native or Foreign?’, MT, 1 November 1898, pp. 723–4.

Idea of Art.indb 146

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

147

conclusion expressing the hope that he would continue to compose to the advantage of native (English) music. Making play of his studentship at Berlin’s Stern Conservatorium with its opportunities for training in the art of conducting  –  as Edwards pointed out, no such education was available in Britain at the time  –  the author stated Cowen’s advocacy for the introduction of such training: ‘but so important and eminently practical a matter as conducting, as well as that of accompanying, is left to the student to find out and pick up for himself; whereas a regular course of training in both these subjects would be of incalculable benefit to him as part of his professional equipment.’ Edwards was careful to ignore the 1892 rumpus with the London Philharmonic Society. (Cowen had scandalized directors, players and press alike at the final concert of the season, by apologizing in advance to the audience for the deficiencies he expected from the ensuing performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 citing lack of rehearsal time; his preemptive action backfired and he lost his conductorship of the Society for a period.)70 Instead, Edwards underlined Cowen’s ‘acknowledged gifts as orchestral conductor’. Letters from Ferdinand Hiller and Hans von Bülow were incorporated into the article, thereby reinforcing Cowen’s high-status networks. Four days after the profile was issued, Cowen wrote to Edwards saying that he thought ‘the article had turned out capitally’ and thanking him warmly for ‘all the trouble’ he had taken over it.71 Evidence of Cowen’s awareness of the commercial value of his art as conductor and his efforts to exploit that value during his career is found in his autobiography, My Art and My Friends (1913). In fifteen chapters, Cowen painted a candid picture of himself as a man for whom commercial gain was secondary to the pursuit of high artistic standards.72 He mocked his own failure to develop the commercial potential either of his ubiquitous ballad, ‘The Better Land’ (instead allowing Boosey full rights to it), or of the mounting of his own Saturday evening

70 For Cowen’s retrospective account of this furore, see Cowen, My Art, pp. 223–4. For the minutes of the relevant Directors’ Meetings, see GB-Lbl, RPS MS 288, 20 June 1892–15 July 1892, fols 165v–72r. 71 GB-Lbl, Egerton MS 3095, fol. 120r, letter from Cowen to F. G. Edwards, 5 November 1898. Cowen enclosed a song album at Edwards’s request. In 1899, Isabel Brooke Alder furnished a profile of Cowen in The Minim (May 1899, ‘Frederic H. Cowen’, p. 194), in which his ceaseless work, reliability, connections and determination were highlighted: ‘As a conductor, Frederic Cowen has won the esteem of the highest authorities in matters musical, and the devotion to the interests of his associates has ever testified to their true regard for his sterling merits and unsurpassable qualifications.’ 72 In 1894, his lack of financial cushion left him, for example, unable to invest personally in the Queen’s Hall project managed by Robert Newman; Cowen, My Art, pp. 234–5; and see also Leanne Langley, ‘Building an Orchestra, Creating an Audience: Robert Newman and the Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts, 1895–1926’, The Proms: A New History, ed. Jenny Doctor and David Wright (London: Thames and Hudson, 2007), pp. 32–73, at p. 289 n. 11.

Idea of Art.indb 147

02/02/2016 15:13

148

Fiona M. Palmer

orchestral concerts in 1880 (which were a financial flop).73 Cowen considered that it was in 1880 that he began his genuine attempt to take my art and career more in earnest and to endeavour to establish myself, as far as lay in my power, as a composer of serious purpose, if nothing more. Besides this, the opportunity  –  long sought for  –  came to me of making a real start in that other branch of the art to which I have since devoted a considerable portion of my life  –  namely, that of conducting.74 He understood the prestige of his election to the conductorship of the Philharmonic Society in 1888 and was frank in describing the 1892 ‘rupture’ created by frustrations relating to programming, rehearsal time, deputies and foreign composer-conductors.75 His re-evaluation of this incident shows his pragmatic take, some twenty years later, on what he now described as his ‘own indiscretion’. His retelling of the process of gaining the prestigious period of work in Melbourne is self-effacingly coy  –  he stated that he named a prohibitive fee, which they then all but offered him, and he clarified that this exorbitant sum was indeed £5,000 (£472,000 in today’s money).76 Overall, My Art and My Friends confirms Cowen’s ongoing sense of being at odds with the status quo within British concert life. His tales of negotiation, amelioration and conflict, and some evidence of improvements shaped by his arbitration form a thread throughout his account of his conducting career. His view of his Britishness in Britain (he placed no emphasis in his autobiography on his colonial origins) was that it had automatically handicapped his progress.

Conclusions By the end of the nineteenth century in Britain the expectation of specialist concentration on conducting as a profession was developing apace. Both Benedict and Cowen, their deaths separated by fifty years, gained from self-promotion of explicit connections with continental European traditions despite having had to work around anti-British prejudice. Through his assorted associations, including the triangulation of conducting work in London, Norwich and Liverpool, Benedict occupied a cherished position in the musical life of the nation. Institutional representatives as well as artists whose lives he had touched attended his Kensal Green (London) burial in June 1885.77 Benedict’s skills as a conductor were secondary to the perception that in him was vested a unique 73 Cowen, My Art, pp. 53 and 103. 74 Ibid., p. 97. 75 Ibid., pp. 145 and 223–4. 76 Cowen reported that he undertook more than 260 performances for this payment (roughly equating to £1,850 per occasion); ibid., pp. 151–2. The value of the payments in today’s money is drawn from the calculations for the Retail Price Index available at http://www.measuringworth.com. 77 ‘Funeral of Sir Julius Benedict’, Birmingham Daily Post, 10 June 1885, p. 8.

Idea of Art.indb 148

02/02/2016 15:13

Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Marketplace

149

understanding of the music of the great masters. His elevated, gentlemanly, elderstatesman-like and paternalistic approach was in stark contrast to Cowen’s sense of agency on behalf of his art. When Cowen’s core period of conducting activity drew to a close in 1914, the country was at war. A well-read, talented musician and opinionated individual, whose compositions were overshadowed by those of Sullivan and Elgar, Cowen was less circumspect than Benedict, and timing and competition were often against him. His was a dual profile (composer and conductor), which thus differed from Benedict’s generalized one. Press furores over his departures from the London Philharmonic Society and from the Hallé Orchestra added up to many thousands of words. Generating controversy, partly through a tendency to be governed by entrenched convictions, meant that Cowen personified the vexed issues facing conductors as mediators of art music in Britain. Both men had demonstrated a keen awareness of reputation-building through the powers of association, the value of connections, and the embodiment of wisdom and specialist knowledge, as well as of management of the written word. Their experiences, opportunities, choices and influence contributed to the development of the expectations and status of the orchestral conductor’s role in Britain. The opportunities available to Benedict and Cowen  –  as British conductors of art music in a commercial world  –  were limited by others’ monopoly of core institutional conductorships. Yet both men enjoyed some success and popularity as conductors. They accomplished this by following convention and, in Cowen’s case, by leading change via assertive imposition of requirements and expectations drawn from first-hand experience of Continental practices. Cowen, operating in a period of transition, held principled convictions that were significant both in his shaping of concepts of the role and in his capacity to execute it. Cowen responded to the demands of a musical public that was becoming ever more familiar with Continental standards of interpretation at the hands of crowddrawing conductors, such as Richter, Richard Strauss, Charles Lamoureux and the image-conscious Wood.78 Career conductors, such as Richter and Wood, recognized the importance of a dedicated, carefully packaged profile in satisfying audiences in a competitive marketplace. Cowen and Benedict were productive portfolio conductors, and there is no question but that their experiences, though they differed, mirrored the process of adaptation that was taking place.

78 For a discussion of Richter’s role in what Johnson describes as ‘the development of the conductor as a quasi-religious figure in Britain’, see Johnson, ‘The English Tradition’, pp. 182–3. See also Langley, ‘Joining Up the Dots’.

Idea of Art.indb 149

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 150

02/02/2016 15:13

Part III Instruments

Idea of Art.indb 151

02/02/2016 15:13

7 ‘What the Piano[la] Means to the Home’: Advertising of Conventional and Player Pianos in the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal, 1914–17 Catherine Hennessy Wolter

W

hile thumbing through the Saturday Evening Post in mid September 1917, the average American reader might have stumbled upon the following from a full-page account by the fictive John Smith, Merchant and Pianist: While I was enjoying an after-dinner cigar and a magazine article the other evening, Mother took up my evening paper as usual. Presently she spoke. ‘John’, she said, ‘don’t you want to give us a little music?’ ‘Surely’, I said, going over to the music cabinet. ‘What shall I play? Classical, popular, or what?’ ‘Oh, play anything’, she answered, ‘I like it all.’ So I selected my program and carried the rolls over to the piano. Two pieces of Nevin’s: ‘A Venetian Love Song’ and the ‘Gondolier’. Chopin’s ‘Ballade in A Flat’, Liszt’s ‘12th Hungarian Rhapsodie’, Beethoven’s ‘Sonata Pathètique’ [sic] (the Andante Movement), a ‘Romance’ by Pascal, a Medley of Popular Broadway Hits, and a rattling new fox-trot by Ted Eastwood. I adjusted the first roll  –  the ‘Venetian Love Song’  –  put my feet on the treadles, my hands on the expression levers and  –  lo! The music had me.1

Paragraphs later, after extolling the expressive possibilities of the Pianola-brand player piano, spokesman Smith urged readers to ‘Trade in your old, silent piano’ and take up active music-making at the mechanical player piano. However, even as the advertisement’s domestic tableau was promoting the new music commodity, its messaging was alternately embracing and throwing into question deep-seated cultural norms around the conventional (hand-played) ‘old, silent piano’, an instrument still widely purchased, played and displayed in upper-, middle- and (increasingly) working-class homes. Much existing scholarship on the mechanical piano comments on its advertising, frequently highlighting the strategic ways in which its earlytwentieth-century promotion piggybacked on the conventional piano’s accepted

1 Aeolian Company, ‘A Story of an Evening with the Pianola, The great modern pianoforte that all can play’, advertisement, SEP, 22 September 1917, p. 78.

152

Idea of Art.indb 152

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

153

place in the American parlour.2 In point of fact, the often-cited themes linking the two instruments’ identities, including ‘middle-classness’, family (with the noted addition of men in the case of mechanical pianos) and music appreciation, are readily evident in the Pianola ad referenced above.3 At the same time, the mechanical piano is commonly implicated for its catalytic role in broad changes that we now (often negatively) link to the accelerated commodification of music in early-twentieth-century American musical life, including the shift away from amateur music-making and towards passive music listening and mass-produced, consumption-based musical experiences.4 Less audible in these discussions are considerations of the conventional piano, the knot of gendered Victorian-era associations that continued to linger around it, and its extra-musical history as an object of status in American homes. This chapter argues that the cultural meaning and commodity status connected to each instrument  –  especially as they related to one another  –  was far more complex than current conversations suggest. This comparison of how conventional and mechanical pianos were presented in the years before the height of the latter’s popularity in the early to mid 1920s offers a glimpse into both instruments’ commercial identities at a historical moment when nineteenthcentury notions of music and gender, display, learning and performance were in a state of flux.5 The study addresses press ads and content, 1914–17, through a sampling of years leading up to the player piano’s breakout success,6 and it draws from two mainstream magazines, the monthly women’s magazine Ladies’ Home Journal and weekly family-friendly Saturday Evening Post, whose phenomenal 2 Dating back at least as early as Alfred Dolge’s 1911 Pianos and their Makers (Covina, CA: Covina Publishing Company; reprint, New York: Dover, 1972), the role advertising played in bringing the mechanical piano into mainstream acceptance has been a regular part of its historiography (see Dolge, esp. pp. 150 and 330). See also Timothy D. Taylor, ‘The Commodification of Music at the Dawn of the Era of “Mechanical Music”’, Ethnomusicology 51 (2007), 281–305, at p. 286, and Ehrlich, The Piano, p. 135. 3 According to Craig H. Roell (The Piano in America, 1890–1940 [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989], p. 154), shared themes between conventional- and mechanical-piano advertising included ‘Victorian notions of home, family life, and the benefits of music education’, along with celebrity endorsements and the instruments’ social cachet. 4 For example, recent works by David Suisman (Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009], pp. 92–101) and Taylor (‘Commodification of Music’, p. 301) locate the player piano as a critical pivot instrument between Victorian-era producer ethics and twentieth-century consumer ethics. 5 This chapter deals primarily with how mechanical and conventional pianos were promoted and regretfully leaves aside questions of repertoire (including music written specifically for the mechanical piano, as well as ragtime and other popular musics associated with it). 6 My larger study begins in 1910 and extends through 1918, the year before Edward Bok retired from Ladies’ Home Journal and the magazine assumed new leadership (the cut-off date of the present essay is unrelated to World War I).

Idea of Art.indb 153

02/02/2016 15:13

154

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

early-twentieth-century popularity was managed by the Curtis Publishing Company. After giving brief background on mechanical pianos and the two periodicals, I explore and compare specific commercial strategies for conventional and mechanical brands featured in each publication in relation to marketing ideas generated within Curtis’s groundbreaking Division of Commercial Research. What results is a snapshot of both instruments and of the competing ideas about music connected to them within a larger confluence of cultural and commercial agendas that the two mass magazines, their editors and publisher, and their advertisers promoted.

Instruments and Magazines Piano terminology was far from standardized in the 1910s, a feature that has carried through to the present day. This chapter adopts ‘mechanical piano’ as an umbrella term to cover a range of related technologies (beyond the conventional piano). The common term ‘player piano’ (as well as the brand name Pianola) is sometimes used similarly; however, here it is reserved for the most popular category of mechanical pianos sold from the 1910s into the mid 1920s. Player pianos featured mechanical actions built directly into their cases and were limited in what they could achieve in terms of musical performances independent of a human operator.7 Models were often equipped with a combination of foot pedals and hand levers that allowed performers (such as John Smith in the opening ad) to add their own nuances of tempo and dynamics to musical instructions found on perforated paper rolls.8 Distinguished from player pianos are ‘reproducing pianos’, a category of far more sophisticated (and far more costly) instruments with automatic music-making capacities far surpassing those of ordinary player pianos. These instruments, first manufactured in Germany in 1904, were famed for their ability to ‘reproduce’, on their own, nuanced pre-recorded performances by contemporary stars, such as Ignacy Paderewski and Artur Rubinstein. The popular reign of mechanical pianos comprises a short  –  yet dynamic  –  chapter in American musical life. The breakout success of Aeolian Company’s ‘Pianola’ around 1900 signals a turning point in public and industry acceptance 7 The first popular mechanical-piano models were designed to wheel up to freestanding conventional pianos, and for this reason they are commonly referred to as ‘push-up’ or ‘cabinet’ models, or simply as ‘piano-players’. Quite cumbersome, these external models waned in popularity around 1905 and were replaced by instruments with mechanisms built into their casings. Edmond T. Johnson, ‘Player piano’, GMO [accessed 5 November 2014]. 8 The design of player pianos and their rolls evolved over time and varied widely between manufacturers. Some innovations, such as the inclusion of printed dynamic and expression instructions onto piano rolls, sought to engage the performer to a greater degree, while others aimed at increasing the player piano’s automatic musical capacity. Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume’s works provide organological descriptions of this era’s innumerable mechanical-piano types and their respective player mechanisms; see, for example, his Pianola: The History of the Self-Playing Piano (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1984).

Idea of Art.indb 154

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

155

of the technology, which in its most basic form had existed many decades previously.9 The conventional-piano industry heartily embraced the commercial potential of mechanical pianos and unveiled a vast assortment of instruments of varying sophistication, design and cost.10 Some manufacturers borrowed the euphonious appeal of Aeolian’s ‘Pianola’, selling their mechanized pianos under labels such as ‘Technola’, ‘Aeriola’, ‘Interiola’ and ‘Symphonola’.11 Mechanicalpiano (especially player-piano) popularity soared through the 1910s and early 1920s, even outpacing conventional-piano production beginning around 1919; however, the instruments fell sharply out of favour a decade later, losing ground to the phonograph and  –  increasingly  –  to the radio during the later 1920s.12 The value of mechanical-piano technologies has been a subject of debate, then and now. Standing on the other side of John Philip Sousa’s famed 1906 diatribe against ‘The Menace of Mechanical Music’ were various advocates, who praised mechanical pianos as an antidote to the parlour noise of musical amateurs, as an aid to conventional-piano study and as a genuine means of accessing (and in fact making) music.13 In the years since the rise and fall of mechanical pianos, a knot of critical associations has shaped scholarly discussions around them, including the faddish quality of their popularity, distrustful perceptions of their marketing and entrance into the mainstream American parlour, and the widespread decline in conventional-piano sales that occurred alongside those of mechanical pianos in the later 1920s.14 In the mid 1910s, cultural cues about pianos  –  conventional and mechanical  –  were embedded in any number of sources, including mass-circulating periodicals. The spectacularly popular Ladies’ Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post led the pack in these years, and while the Journal was the first American magazine to claim over one million subscribers (in 1903), both periodicals reached the astounding 2 million mark by 1919.15 Ads for musical instruments and sheet music appeared across the pages of both publications, but music advocacy more 9 For a detailed chronology of the development of mechanical pianos through the first decade of the twentieth century, see Dolge, Pianos, pp. 131–62. 10 Ehrlich (The Piano, p. 134) counts over forty types of mechanical pianos on the market by 1904. 11 Harvey N. Roehl, Player Piano Treasury (Vestal, NY: Vestal, 1961), discusses a range of long-forgotten player-piano models; see esp. p. 19. 12 Ehrlich (The Piano, p. 134) and Roehl (Player Piano Treasury, p. 43) point to the year 1919. 13 John Philip Sousa, ‘The Menace of Mechanical Music’, Appleton’s Magazine, September 1906, pp. 278–84. Roell (The Piano, pp. 53–9) describes several contemporaneous positions on mechanical music. 14 For example, see Ehrlich, The Piano, pp. 134–5; Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954; reprint, New York: Dover, 1990), pp. 581–6; Roell, The Piano, pp. 154–60; and Suisman, Selling Sounds, pp. 90–124. 15 John Tebbel and Mary Ellen Zuckerman (The Magazine in America, 1741–1990 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1991], pp. 68, 79 and 96) discuss circulation figures.

Idea of Art.indb 155

02/02/2016 15:13

156

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

obviously pervaded the Journal. The piano was of central interest, a point made evident in 1907 by the start of famed Polish-American pianist Josef Hofmann’s tenure as a music editor and of ultimately what would be a ten-year run of his full-page column addressing Journal readers’ piano questions.16 Dorothy Vogel’s study of the musical content that appeared in the Journal between 1890 and 1919 found over 200 music and music-education articles, in addition to hundreds of sheet-music inserts.17 Dominated by songs with piano accompaniment and dances written for the piano, such short musical selections were standard across many American magazines through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.18 Characteristically, this music was marked by technical simplicity, homophonic textures and tonal melodies, and it was often pragmatically arranged in space-saving da capo or strophic forms.19 In addition, the Journal followed in the cultural footsteps of the popular nineteenth-century American women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, by frequently offering amateur women composers a national platform for their music compositions.20 Readers of the Journal in 1910, for example, might have noticed a piano-vocal score, attributed to amateur Miriam Graham, titled, ‘The Life-Road: A Marriage Song’, in addition to works by professional male composers Edward Elgar and Ethelbert Nevin.21 Advertisements framed these monthly testaments to music’s importance and implied special relevance to the Journal’s largely female readership. While plenty of piano advertising from the period broadly promoted a given manufacturer’s brand name, rather than advertising its conventional- or mechanical-piano lines specifically, a majority of ads in the Post and Journal (from the early 1910s through 16 Bonny H. Miller (‘The Josef Hofmann Years at the Ladies’ Home Journal’, Piano Quarterly 38 [Spring 1990], 25–35, at pp. 25–6) counts over sixty columns running in this ten-year span. Josef Hofmann, along with many renowned pianists of his era, participated in the promotion of mechanical pianos through testimonial-style advertising and through roll creation; see, for example, Aeolian Company, ‘Pianola Piano’, advertisement, LHJ, 1 November 1910, p. 58. 17 Dorothy Vogel, ‘“ To Put Beauty Into the World”: Music Education Resources in The Ladies’ Home Journal, 1890–1919’, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education 34 (April 2013), 119–36, at p. 119. 18 Bonny H. Miller states that it was unusual for music found in American magazines in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to exceed two or three pages in length; see her ‘Ladies’ Companion, Ladies’ Canon? Women Composers in American Magazines from Godey’s to the Ladies’ Home Journal’, Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music, ed. Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), pp. 156–82, at pp. 159–60. As a particularly interesting example from the Journal, January, February and March issues in 1915 each featured a new social dance illustrated step-by-step by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Each dance appears paired with original sheet music. 19 Ibid., p. 160. 20 Ibid., p. 159. 21 Miriam Graham, ‘The Life-Road: A Marriage Song’, LHJ, 1 October 1910, p. 31; Edward Elgar, ‘Elgar’s Beautiful “Salute of Love”’, LHJ, April 1910, p. 23; Ethelbert Nevin, ‘At Night’ (words by Mary Baldwin), LHJ, June 1910, p. 35.

Idea of Art.indb 156

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

157

1918) clearly highlighted one or the other piano type.22 Commonly, a combination of iconography and text worked together to suggest a scenario depicting the advertised instrument’s use or function. Against this backdrop, it is possible to consider a peculiar detail relevant to the analysis at hand: although manufacturers favoured the Journal when placing conventional-piano advertisements during the 1914–17 period, beginning in earnest around 1911 for mechanical-piano (mostly player-piano) ads they strongly tended towards the Post as the chosen medium.23 During this time, piano companies Ivers & Pond and Steinway routinely placed ads focusing on their conventional pianos in the Journal, as did Hallet & Davis and Kranich & Bach beginning in 1916 and 1917, respectively. Mechanical pianos routinely advertised in the Post in these years included Hallet & Davis’s ‘Virtuolo’ and Baldwin’s ‘Manualo’ player-piano lines, as well as a handful of advertisements in 1917 for Gulbransen-Dickinson’s player piano (advertised without a catchy name) and Aeolian’s ‘Pianola’ player piano. Additional details around both periodicals hint at wider contexts (and possible explanations) for their commercial and non-commercial music content, and particularly their piano-ad placement trends. In the early decades of the 1900s, the Journal and the Post were mutually managed by industry giant Curtis Publishing Company, and although both periodicals targeted the white middle class, each of them, under the heavy hand of its respective editor, promulgated divergent gendered cultural ideologies to distinct gendered audiences. Mid-1910s issues of editor George Horace Lorimer’s family-friendly Post displayed a forward-looking stance on matters such as women’s higher education, suffrage and workplace rights. Editor Edward Bok’s didactic Journal stood at a marked  –  though far from consistent   –  ideological distance from the Post, assuming progressive positions on key reform matters such as temperance and public education, while characteristically taking a negative or ambivalent stance on the sorts of social change that might upset normative gender roles for men and women.24 A chasm separated the two editors’ perceptions of their middle-class 22 In these cases, it was not uncommon for mechanical-piano ads to mention playing the instrument ‘by hand’, or for ads emphasizing a manufacturer’s conventional models to mention its player line. Also, Kranich & Bach’s conventional-piano ads in the Journal routinely listed their slogan: ‘Kranich & Bach Ultra-Quality Pianos and Player Pianos’. One exception to this is the Packard Company, which ran ads in the LHJ and the SEP (concentrated in 1911 and 1912) that promoted its brand name in a more ambiguous fashion. 23 I explore nuances of piano advertising in the Curtis publications spanning 1910 to 1918 in my Ph.D. dissertation: ‘Sound Conversations: Print Media, the Player Piano, and Early Radio in the US’, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in progress. 24 Commenting specifically on the Journal’s perspectives on women’s paid work, Jennifer Scalon (Inarticulate Longings: The ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’, Gender, and the Promises of Consumer Culture [New York: Routledge, 1995], p. 80) observes that the publication ‘provided a forum for all sides’ of the debate, but ultimately ‘favoured’ paid work only as a ‘prelude to marriage’; she also analyses Journal coverage of women’s suffrage in detail (esp. pp. 109–36). Helen Damon-Moore

Idea of Art.indb 157

02/02/2016 15:13

158

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

female audiences. Lorimer (at an internal Curtis advertising conference in 1915) described typical female Post readers as young women employed outside of the home, in addition to ‘here and there a woman who is alive and who wants something up-to-date’. He later more emphatically stated that ‘these are vital women who are interested in live things’. Bok, when queried about possible changes to the ideal Journal reader, replied, ‘the only type is the home-loving type.’25 The cultural-language barrier distancing the two periodicals lessened dramatically when it came to advertising, and in the mid 1910s, a reader would have found largely the same sorts of products featured across an ever-increasing percentage of the Journal and the Post. Many such ads, regardless of their magazine placement, targeted women, following the industry axiom that ‘women should consume, men should earn’.26 Advertising design and placement were no casual matter in Curtis publications, however, as signalled by the growing presence and importance of its trailblazing, in-house Division of Commercial Research, founded in 1911.27 Curtis Publishing established this cutting-edge unit as a means of differentiating itself from its competition and of presenting its magazines as ideal advertising vehicles.28 Systematically studying consumption, the Division collected enormous amounts of data on topics ranging from the electrical industry, to women’s influence in auto sales, to how to market to rural farmers. These data were then compiled into volumes  –  some spanning hundreds of pages  –  and made available not only to Curtis Company employees but also to advertising agencies and manufacturers.29 (Magazines for the Millions: Gender and Commerce in the ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ and the ‘Saturday Evening Post’, 1880–1910 [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994], esp. pp. 145–88) offers valuable comparisons between the two Curtis publications and their respective editors, in her seminal study. 25 ‘Condensed Report of Advertising Conference, 1915’, typescript, pp. 5, 21 and 30, Curtis Publishing Company records, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania [hereafter CP], Box 18. According to Salme Harju Steinberg (Reformer in the Marketplace [Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979], pp. xviii, 143), Bok’s ideas were increasingly at odds with American trends through the 1910s, and it is thought that his retirement at the end of 1919 followed his refusal of a request issued by Curtis founder Cyrus Curtis  –  Bok’s boss and father-in-law  –  that he ‘modernize the magazine’. 26 Damon-Moore (Magazines for the Millions, pp. 155 and 182) highlights nuances of early-twentieth-century gendered commerce as they appear in the two Curtis publications. 27 For an in-depth look at Curtis Publishing’s role within the development of market research, see Douglas B. Ward, A New Brand of Business: Charles Coolidge Parlin, Curtis Publishing Company, and the Origins of Market Research (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010). 28 Ibid., p. 8. The Division was managed by Charles Coolidge Parlin, a figure whose work in time would greatly influence the emerging field of market research. 29 Ibid., pp. 6 and 75.

Idea of Art.indb 158

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

159

Thus far, there is little evidence of significant discussion within Curtis pertaining to piano advertising across its periodicals, with the exception of occasional passing references and one notable 1913 research paper (to be discussed presently). This is unsurprising given the fact that piano ads made up a comparably small portion of overall advertising in the Curtis publications. In addition to vacillating ad volume year to year, ads for mechanical and conventional pianos were often entirely absent from issues of both periodicals during summer months.30 Nor was the trend of manufacturers towards placing conventional-piano ads in the Journal and mechanical-piano ads in the Post absolute: Hallet & Davis and Lyon & Healy occasionally placed conventionalpiano ads in the Post in these years, and likewise, a chance player-piano ad appeared in the Journal from time to time. Following the public unveiling, in late 1916, of its mechanical reproducing-piano line ‘Ampico’, the American Piano Company placed a series of ads for the expensive instrument in both the Journal and the Post. However, the broad significance of where conventional-piano and player-piano ads tended to be placed comes into view with further analysis of how the various selling strategies for both kinds of instruments compared to one another, as well as of how these details related to discussions taking place around pianos within Curtis’s Division of Commercial Research.

Men, Women and Families In the opening scene with John Smith at the Pianola player piano, Smith’s wife (‘Mother’) requests a musical performance, nonchalantly offering that, with regard to music, she ‘likes it all’; while Smith himself has a transportive, emotional musical experience. That domestic music-making, long associated with women, expanded to include men, alongside the rise of mechanical music (including the phonograph), is a point well agreed upon; it is usually attributed to the elimination of required musical training and the addition of ‘machine’ status that came along with the instruments.31 Manufacturers advertising player pianos in the Post frequently positioned men  –  particularly businessmen  –  as potential player-pianists in both iconography and text of their ads. Figure 7.1 shows three scenes of music-making, including one (7.1c) of male camaraderie around the player piano. Commenting on historical depictions of music scenes in fine art, Richard Leppert implores us to consider that representation ‘visually was not intended only as the mirror of that which is, but as the indicator of that which is and is 30 For example, while I found fewer than ten player-piano ads per year across the SEP in 1914 and 1915, I located more than twice that number per year across 1916 and 1917 issues. In the LHJ, I found between twelve and twenty-one conventional-piano ads per year between 1914 and 1917. 31 On men, music technology, and domestic music-making, see Mark Katz, Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, rev. edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), pp. 66–8; Roell, The Piano, p. 154; and Taylor, ‘Commodification of Music’, pp. 286–8.

Idea of Art.indb 159

02/02/2016 15:13

160

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

Figure 7.1 Men as active ‘players’ in Saturday Evening Post player-piano advertisements (iconography only) [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] (a, top) Aeolian Company, ‘We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag’, 13 October 1917, p. 123 (for Aeolian Pianola); (b, middle) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘The Baldwin Manualo’, 22 April 1916, p. 34 (for Baldwin Manualo) (c, bottom) Hallet & Davis Piano Co., ‘Bring Back Old College Days – At Home Around the Virtuolo’, 27 June 1914, p. 37 (for Hallet & Davis Virtuolo)

Idea of Art.indb 160

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

161

to be’, a notion that, especially when applied to the special case of advertising, must take into account the image-makers’ goals, their ideas about music and the ways their decisions would in turn  –  in the words of advertising historian Roland Marchand  –  influence the ‘community of discourse’ around advertised products.32 A 1913 research paper titled ‘Pianos, Organs and Player Pianos’, prepared within Curtis’s Division of Commercial Research, makes clear that Curtis and its advertisers were paying attention to questions concerning gender, the piano and marketing. Within the portion of the paper detailing interviews with manufacturers, advertising agencies and piano retailers, the advertising agency used by Hallet & Davis shared how written inquiries generated by the manufacturer’s recent ad campaign for the Virtuolo player piano were unevenly divided along gender lines, with 35% sent by women and 65% by men.33 These comments reveal the sorts of questions the manufacturer was asking about the emerging player-piano market, and statements from the paper’s author, N. W. Emerson, likewise betray strategic interest in capitalizing on gender and piano marketing: Whether or not the woman is a more important factor than the man in the purchase of a piano is open to question. Undoubtedly such is the case in the purchase of a straight [conventional] piano because more women than men have the ability to play. It would seem that there is a good opportunity to use exclusively women’s periodicals[,] for this field [advertising conventional/player pianos in women’s periodicals] has been more or less neglected.34 Here, while Emerson seems unsure about the appropriate marketing of player pianos, he argues strongly that women’s periodicals (such as the Journal) were the best fit for a greater portion of conventional-piano (‘straight’-piano) advertising based on a common-sense notion that men were less likely than their female counterparts to receive musical training. Emerson’s matter-of-fact assessment of women’s greater ‘ability to play’ belies the complicated nexus of American Victorian gendered ideas around piano ownership and class, as well as proper decorum that had kept women and girls

32 Emphasis in original. Richard Leppert, Music and Image: Domesticity, Ideology and Socio-Cultural Formation in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 1–3; and Roland Marchand, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920–1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. xx, for the idea of ‘community of discourse’. 33 N. W. Emerson, ‘Pianos, Organs and Player Pianos’, in ‘Research Papers’, typescript, January 1913, p. 79, CP Box 27. Emerson wrote this internal paper while a member of the Curtis School, in 1913, under the guidance of Charles Coolidge Parlin. 34 Ibid., pp. 61 and 63. One of Emerson’s points was that women’s periodicals generally warranted more piano advertising. In terms of counting advertising ‘lines’, the weekly SEP carried more piano (including conventional and player) advertising than did the LHJ at the time Emerson undertook this study. Emerson’s data is based on periodicals published during 1911 and 1912.

Idea of Art.indb 161

02/02/2016 15:13

162

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

disproportionately rooted at their piano benches.35 These ideas were reinforced by a massive glut of circulating piano iconography so central to depicting middleand upper-class girlhood in the nineteenth century that Ruth Solie has termed it a ‘primary repository of cultural myth’.36 The courtship scenes in Figure 7.2, from conventional-piano ads in the Journal, capture the continuity of this cultural myth in advertising discourse, presenting a link between a girl’s musicality and the larger effort to ‘[make] her femininity convincing’37 and demonstrating that nineteenth-century iconography held meaning even as the realities of the early twentieth century were in flux. These ads suggest that men, as the necessary ‘other’ to this display of femininity, were, in fact, critical to parlour-scene tableaux, and their common standing or ‘leaning in and over’ pose communicates  –  in my interpretation  –  their implied greater social authority. Although not performing musically, their role is active (contrasted against the visible passivity of the seated woman and child listening in Fig. 7.2a).38 Several other visual details in the ads in Figure 7.2 point to the continued cultural currency of older, conventional-piano mythology. The similarly young age of the girls featured, the fine surroundings in which they play and the suggestion of courtship all speak to ways in which the piano as a physical instrument and a girl’s presence at it stood for her own girlhood accomplishments, her family’s status and her increased odds for making a good marital match.39 As an advertising strategy, Steinway’s channelling of the nineteenth-century ‘“ woman at the piano” motif ’, with all its implications of class and tradition, dovetails with the manufacturer’s aim to distinguish itself as an established luxury brand, a strategy evident also in its testimonial-style ads.40 Men appear only rarely in ads of the Journal’s most faithful piano advertiser in these years, Ivers & Pond, and then (as in Fig. 7.2c) in a page-turning capacity.41 35 James Parakilas (‘A History of Lessons and Practicing’, in Piano Roles: Three Hundred Years of Life with the Piano, ed. James Parakilas [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999], pp. 135–52) sums up the situation pithily (p. 144): ‘learning the piano has been like learning to cook: girls did it as a matter of course, whereas the relatively few boys who did it got the jobs and the glory.’ 36 Ruth A. Solie, ‘“Girling” at the Parlor Piano’, in her Music in Other Words (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), pp. 85–117, at p. 89. 37 Ibid., p. 95. 38 I interpret the standing man on the left in Figure 7.2a as a father figure, who plays a meaningful role in the courtship scene. That he is ‘standing’ gives him a more active role than the seated woman and child. 39 Solie (‘“Girling” at the Parlor Piano’) focuses on the complexities of these extramusical meanings. 40 For more on the ‘“ woman at the piano” motif ’, see Charlotte N. Eyerman, ‘Piano Playing in Nineteenth-Century French Visual Culture’, Piano Roles, pp. 216–35, at p. 216. For discussion of Steinway’s advertising strategies, see Cynthia Adams Hoover, ‘Promoting the Piano’, Piano Roles, pp. 60–7, at pp. 66–7. 41 Solie argues that domestic piano-playing by females (particularly girls) in the nineteenth century served ‘as an expression of leisure’, which in turn signalled a father’s ability to support the family materially, and at the same time served ‘as a form of moral and emotional labor’, in counterbalance with his work outside the

Idea of Art.indb 162

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

163

Figure 7.2  Courtship and the conventional piano in Ladies’ Home Journal advertising (iconography only): (a, above left ) Steinway & Sons, ‘The Music That Brings Back the Dreams’, December 1915, p. 74 [Courtesy of the University of Chicago Library]; (b, above right ) Steinway & Sons, ‘When Dreams Come True’, December 1916, p. 68 [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]; (c, left ) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘The Princess Grand’, December 1914, p. 67 [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]

The advertising strategies evident in Figure 7.2 may, for good reason, strike today’s reader as anachronistic representations of early-twentieth-century musical life. In fact, beginning around 1910, the attentive Journal reader may have noticed the declining presence of printed sheet music in the publication, a trend that would further accelerate in the 1920s following the end of Hofmann’s ‘Piano Questions’ column (in 1917) and Bok’s retirement (in 1919).42 Bonny H. Miller notes a similar decline in the 1910s across a range of American periodicals, home (‘“Girling” at the Parlor Piano’, p. 95). Although men’s musical roles appear limited in the LHJ ads, there is an implication that men provided the means for pianos and music lessons and  –  following Solie’s argument  –  stood to benefit morally and emotionally from women’s and girls’ domestic piano-playing. 42 Vogel (‘To Put Beauty Into the World’, p. 127) and Miller (‘The Josef Hofmann Years’, p. 27) discuss the declining presence of sheet music in the Journal.

Idea of Art.indb 163

02/02/2016 15:13

164

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

interpreting the falloff in sheet music as a sign of waning interest in home musicmaking and attributing it to rising interest in the player piano and phonograph.43 It is difficult to quantify the frequency with which girls were taking pianos lessons in the 1910s as compared with generations past; however, Judith Tick frames the situation around the turn of the twentieth century as a cultural changing of the guard, as ‘the piano girl slowly gave way to, or at least found a strong competitor in, the “new woman”.’44 Even as emphasis on girls’ amateur music-making began to lessen, as Tick showcases, professional opportunities for those women with genuine interest in various types of musical study expanded.45 These changes fit within the ongoing American music-appreciation revolution, where amateur music-making lost ground against preferences for professional (often European art-music) performance. According to Mark Katz, mechanical instruments came to be seen as the panacea to the country’s sprawling geography problem and consequent limited access to professional performances of ‘good’ European music.46 Although cultural markers in the ads in Figure 7.2 may appear out of step with early-twentieth-century life, the manner in which such gender norms attached to the conventional piano resurface in player-piano advertising speaks to their continued relevance in the 1910s. Player-piano ads capture the strategic effort involved in creating cultural space for everybody at the instrument, and selling this discourse of ‘something for everyone’ sometimes involved presenting new suggestions about music-making with mechanical instruments under the guise of familiar gender constructs.47 For example, one full-page Aeolian Pianola ad in a wartime Post issue (Fig. 7.3) prominently features images of an all-male military band on either side of the caption: ‘“ We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag”[.] How the message of higher patriotism was brought home to us by the music of The Pianola’. The ad’s text contains a prolonged first-person account by its male protagonist, who takes the reader through his emotional experiences, as well as those of his (mixed-gender) audience, as he plays through a compilation roll titled ‘Bugle Calls and War Songs’. The man confesses, at the roll’s conclusion, that he is ‘unashamed’ of his ‘choked breath and moist eyes’. His emotional response to 43 Bonny H. Miller, ‘Household Periodicals: An Unstudied Source of American Music’, Fontes Artis Musicae 42 (1995), 311–19, at pp. 313–14. 44 Judith Tick, ‘Passed Away Is the Piano Girl: Changes in American Musical Life, 1870–1900’, Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150–1950, ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), pp. 325–48, at p. 344. 45 Tick (ibid.) discusses the growing range of musical instruments deemed acceptable for women to play, as well as the expanding array of professional musical roles women successfully pursued in the late nineteenth century (including in performance and composition). 46 Katz, Capturing Sound, pp. 58–9. 47 Katz analyses gender and early phonograph advertising and discourse in ibid., pp. 66–8, and in ‘Introduction to Part I: Sound Recording’, Music, Sound, and Technology in America, ed. Timothy D. Taylor, Mark Katz and Tony Grajeda (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), pp. 11–28, at pp. 20–2.

Idea of Art.indb 164

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

165

Figure 7.3 Aeolian Company, ‘We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag’, advertisement for Aeolian Pianola, Saturday Evening Post, 13 October 1917, p. 123 (iconography only) [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]

making domestic music at the player piano appears legitimized, literally under a banner of patriotism and within culturally acceptable modes of male musicmaking.48 A handful of player-piano ads also evoke a rather traditional perception of femininity. One Baldwin Manualo ad (with text only) provocatively titled ‘The Mother who had to Give up her Practice’ reads: In her youth her friends said that she was destined for a musical career. But she chose the far greater vocation of marriage and soon the care of family and home left her little time for practice. Now her fingers have lost their cunning, but her musical feeling, ripened and sweetened by the trials and triumphs of wife and mother, is more insistent for expression than ever. […] She must have an instrument that is as plastic to her subtlest wishes as her own piano was in the years gone by.49 The association of conventional-piano-playing with girlhood, the elevation of motherhood and domesticity, and even the subject’s rejection of a professional musical life for the sake of her family all fit neatly within a gendered conventional-piano discourse; but now, these ideas are positioned to do the work of promoting (with the help of an imaginative simile) the twentieth-century player piano. Emphasis on access to music for the whole family pervaded the Post and Journal. ‘You can search the whole world over and not find another gift that will bring so much pleasure to every member of the family’ declared a 1914 Victrola phonograph ad in the Journal, while a 1917 advertisement for inexpensive Century Edition sheet music in the Post framed its budget product with the slogan:

48 Aeolian Company, ‘We’ll Rally ’Round The Flag’, SEP, 13 October 1917, p. 123. 49 Baldwin Piano Company, ‘The Mother who had to Give up her Practice’, advertisement, SEP, 12 May 1917, p. 58.

Idea of Art.indb 165

02/02/2016 15:13

166

Catherine Hennessy Wolter (a)

(b)

(c)

Idea of Art.indb 166

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

167 (d)

(e)

Figure 7.4  Family music-making at the player piano in Saturday Evening Post advertising (iconography only) [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] (a) Gulbransen-Dickinson Company, ‘Nationally Priced’, 31 March 1917, p. 70 (b) Gulbransen-Dickinson Company, ‘What Should a Truly Fine Player-Piano Cost?’, 13 October 1917, p. 48 (for Gulbransen-Dickinson ‘White House’ model) (c) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘Everybody in Your Family was born to play the Baldwin Manualo’, 18 November 1916, p. 56 (for Baldwin Manualo) (d) Baldwin Piano Company, ‘Your Christmas Spirit in Every Note’, 1 December 1917, p. 76 (for Baldwin Manualo) (e) Hallet & Davis Piano Co., ‘America’, 21 February 1914, p. 35 (for Hallet & Davis Virtuolo)

Idea of Art.indb 167

02/02/2016 15:13

168

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

‘Good Music Is Meant For All.’ 50 Player-piano ads focusing on the entire family (Fig. 7.4) also show a link between commercial goals and the music-appreciation emphasis on democratic access. Gulbransen-Dickinson’s iconic image of a baby operating the foot pedals of its player-piano model (Fig. 7.4a) visualizes its claims for effortless technical operation. In addition to communicating technological accessibility, text from a Baldwin Manualo player-piano ad (Fig. 7.4c) broadly appeals to each family member in turn, validating the social prescriptions keeping each  –  for distinct and clichéd reasons  –  from spending arduous time practising music ‘by hand’ at the conventional piano: Matter-of-fact father who never has been accused of possessing musical talent, musical mother who gave up her practice because of family cares, fun-loving youngsters who rebel at taking lessons, and dear old grandparents who think they are past the age for musical activity. […] Everybody in your family was born to play the Manualo in the same sense that the virtuoso was born to play the piano. Playing the conventional piano is the domain of the virtuoso, but the Manualo is the domain of the whole family equally; this ad thus distances the everyday amateur from music-making at the conventional piano while emphasizing the level playing field offered by the player piano. Men and families were central to conventional-piano mythology in the American Victorian parlour, participating as audience, moral and social beneficiary, and critical ‘other’ to young people, (mostly) women, at pianos (as in the ads in Fig. 7.2). In contrast, images of music-making at the player piano in the Post (Fig. 7.4) present performance opportunities without regard to age or gender, with Figures 7.4b, 7.4d and 7.4e specifically preserving key hallmarks of middleclass status central to the conventional piano’s cultural identity. This relationship between conventional-piano and player-piano advertising iconography on one level supports Roell’s argument that player-piano marketing depicted how everyone (and men in particular) could ‘intimately share the accompanying mythology’ that surrounded the nineteenth-century Victorian (conventional) piano.51 However, images and text in Post player-piano advertisements show how, rather than simply extending this ‘accompanying mythology’, the use, repurposing and shuffling of established stereotypes and gender norms in player-piano advertising sometimes significantly altered the dynamics depicted 50 Victor Talking Machine Company, ‘Will there be a Victrola in your home this Christmas?’ advertisement, LHJ, December 1914, end matter; and Century Music Publishing Co., ‘Good Music Is Meant For All’, advertisement, SEP, 10 November 1917, p. 41. As Vogel (‘To Put Beauty Into the World’, pp. 128–30) discusses, this discourse also links to ‘child-centred’ music content in the Journal in the early 1900s, which included music and dance selections aimed at children and articles describing age-appropriate approaches to teaching music fundamentals. Although not discussed in this chapter, piano manufacturer Hallet & Davis sometimes featured children in its 1910s conventional-piano advertising placed in the LHJ as well as in the SEP. 51 Roell, The Piano, p. 154.

Idea of Art.indb 168

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

169

in music-making scenes. This can be seen keenly when comparing iconography in Figures 7.4e and 7.2a: both depict scenes of families, but they contradict each other in their divergent portrayals of musical and social relations within those families. While in Figure 7.4e the mother, child and father all appear raptly focused on the father’s player-piano performance, in Figure 7.2a mother and child appear as onlookers of a courtship scene in progress, a scene that centres on the appropriately accomplished daughter at the conventional piano, her suitor and her father.

Music as Activity, Music as Object Along with ushering men and the musically untrained into the parlour, the player piano is often credited for its role in changing perceptions of musical experience and of musicality itself. Within their respective analyses of the process of music commodification, David Suisman and Timothy Taylor frame the instrument as a pivot point between Victorian modes of music production and twentiethcentury modes of music consumption, a transition Taylor neatly defines as: ‘the conversion of music from music as something that people made themselves to a commodified and reified “music” that people bought’.52 The technologically sophisticated reproducing piano, with its capacity to ‘reproduce’ professional musical performances, can be made to fit Taylor’s narrative of transition towards a braver new world of repeatable musical experience, masked human labour and, ‘the transformation of the musical experience into an object of consumption’.53 This leaves hindsight to cast the more common player piano as a mere technological stepping stone, and claims for the music-making associated with it as ‘spurious’ (to cite one scholar).54 Discussions of player-piano advertising often disregard descriptions of personal music-making in the ads as rhetorical bait and switch, designed to draw in credulous consumers by promising experiences of nuanced, rewarding music-making, when, in reality, the experiences delivered something far narrower and closer to musical listening.55 However, within this narrative there is room for consideration of how active music-making at the player piano was marketed, and how that marketing connected with contemporary cultural opinions on ‘playing’ the player piano. Active pedal-operated music-making formed the strategic cornerstone of the Post’s most frequently advertised player-piano line during these years, Baldwin’s Manualo: the ads for this instrument drew elaborate links between pedalling and 52 Taylor, ‘Commodification of Music’, p. 293. Suisman (Selling Sounds, pp. 9–17) provides an intricate overview of the intersecting changes experienced by musicmakers, composers, producers and sellers. 53 Taylor, ‘Commodification of Music,’ p. 291. 54 Ehrlich, The Piano, p. 135. 55 For example, Ehrlich (ibid.) presents a string of mechanical-piano advertising slogans before stating his opinion that, ‘In truth the pianola required no operative skill save a steady foot on the bellows.’

Idea of Art.indb 169

02/02/2016 15:13

170

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

instinct, authenticity, the self, and equivalencies to ‘hand-playing’. Although such claims likely strike today’s reader as mostly advertising puff, they resonate with advice commonly doled out by player-piano advocates in the 1910s. In addition to powering the instruments, pedalling typically allowed player-piano operators considerable additional control over volume and attack, so much so that, in his 1910 player-piano manual, William Braid White referred to pedalling as ‘the corner stone and foundation of player-piano interpretation’.56 Careful pedalling was also central to industry-insider Alfred Dolge’s vision of nuanced player-piano performances: Teachers must be trained to give instructions on the player piano just as manual piano playing is taught at present. It not only requires practice, but earnest and intelligent study to learn the use of the expression and accentuating devices, and more especially to master the pedaling. […] The ‘touch,’ this all-controlling factor in producing the various shades of tone on the piano, is controlled by the pedals almost entirely.57 Dolge and White both argued that, with some practice, pedalling could facilitate personalized musical experiences at the player piano, a view that casts a less specious light on the emphasis on pedalling found in sample excerpts from two Baldwin Manualo ads: In Manualo music, the volume, the accent, the light, the shade, the very style of playing, are controlled from the one place where you are in constant contact with the instrument and where your musical feeling is naturally expressed  –  the pedals. Every particle of feeling which you instinctively put into the pedaling is instantly and exactly pictured in the music.58 The Manualo is responsive to the natural musical feeling that is born in all of us. Just the instinctive expression of this feeling through the pedals enables you to play the Manualo with the same satisfaction as one who brings to hand-playing especially talented fingers and years of practice.59 Such grand claims for artistic, pedal-driven performances resonate discursively with the words of White and Dolge. Similarly, by positioning the desire to make music as a natural one, and by locating musicality somewhere other than in years of rigorous practice, Baldwin’s campaign dovetailed with the changing winds of music appreciation while clearly promoting the Manualo as an instrument one could actually play. Still, the excerpts from Manualo’s ad copy gloss over the work of learning to manipulate the player piano  –  a necessity well articulated by Dolge’s call for player-piano instruction  –  sweeping the reader up in sensational dramatizations 56 William Braid White, The Player-Pianist (New York: Edward Lyman Bill, 1910), p. 58. 57 Dolge, Pianos, p. 160. 58 Baldwin Piano Company, ‘As Instinctive as the Song of the Nightingale’, advertisement, SEP, 30 October 1915, p. 31. 59 Baldwin Piano Company, ‘The Manualo: The Instrument You Were Born to Play’, advertisement, SEP, 17 March 1917, p. 53.

Idea of Art.indb 170

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

171

of musical experiences at the instrument. This sort of engaging, theatrical ad-copy style matches that used to place John Smith or ‘The Mother who had to Give up her Practice’ at the player-piano bench. In ‘Pianos, Organs and Player Pianos’, Emerson framed novel strategies in such player-piano ads as notable progress over the continued use of other methods, highlighting in particular the dominant emphasis on ‘terms’ of purchase and on ‘superlatives’ in piano ad copy.60 In contrast, Emerson praised copy used by several advertisers, including Post playerpiano advertisers Baldwin, Hallet & Davis, and Aeolian, and firmly stated that ‘the best copy has been confined to the player line’.61 Hallet & Davis emphasized the intrinsic nature of musicality in ad copy for its Virtuolo, which it promoted as ‘The Instinctive Player Piano’. Links, suggested by the ad’s text, between the corporeal dimension of playing the Virtuolo and control over the resulting music underpin Hallet & Davis’s broader claim of true musicmaking at the player piano in the following ad text (emphasis in original): With the Virtuolo you close the sliding panel in front of the roll; shut your eyes; give full sway to your imagination, and play by Instinct, as you can only do on the Virtuolo. This invention enables you to feel when to play fast, when slow, when to touch the simple Acsolo buttons which emphasize the air you are playing, when to press the singing pedal button, etc. Don’t you see the difference between this instinctive playing on the Virtuolo, and the conscious method of playing, whereby the instructions on the roll require your fixed attention?62 As Taylor argues, emphasis on self-expression in player-piano ads aimed at convincing consumers that they were actually making music, but to this might be added the practical observation that, since individual brands were competing against one another, technological emphasis paired with elaborate talk of selfexpression served to showcase how the advertised player-piano model was the best among its competition at facilitating genuine musical experiences.63 As shown in the above ad text, Hallet & Davis contrasted the instinctual way one might play its Virtuolo against other less ‘instinctive’ models that required ‘conscious’ playing.64 The ad suggests that on other models player-piano operators 60 Emerson, ‘Pianos, Organs and Player Pianos’, p. 63. 61 Emerson (ibid.) particularly applauded what he termed the ‘live’ quality of certain piano ads. Although Emerson did not define precisely what he meant by ‘live’ copy, the striking appeal to the senses found in Baldwin’s, Hallet & Davis’s, and Aeolian’s ad copy is in keeping with select early-twentieth-century advertisers’ deliberate use of emotionally evocative copy. Psychologist Walter Dill Scott’s seminal 1903 publication The Theory of Advertising is commonly cited as introducing this line of thinking to the advertising world; for example, in Marchand, Advertising, p. 69. 62 Hallet & Davis Piano Co., ‘The Toreador’s Song’, advertisement, SEP, 3 October 1914, p. 45. 63 Taylor, ‘Commodification of Music’, p. 291. 64 Curtis Publishing Company policy was to censor ads that took this type of comparative ad copy too far. For example, the company’s 1914 Advertising Code specifically forbade ‘“ knocking” copy’  –  an advertising industry term  –  which the

Idea of Art.indb 171

02/02/2016 15:13

172

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

would need to refer to the accompanying musical suggestions (such as tempo indications) sometimes printed on piano rolls that were designed to play in all types of basic player pianos, while Virtuolo players could close their instruments’ front panels, ignore the rolls and their instructions, and rely on instinct to guide their musical expression. Another central strategy for selling the player piano in the mid 1910s, especially to a middle-class market increasingly saturated with conventional pianos, included framing difference and improvement: in many ads the player piano appears as a democratic, active and modern solution to the silent and antiquated conventional Victorian piano.65 Strategies playing up equal access for the entire family  –  such as that in one Baldwin ad titled ‘Like Christmas, this gift appeals to everybody’  –  created tacit juxtapositions with the conventional piano, while Post advertisers Gulbransen-Dickinson and Aeolian implored readers directly to ‘“trade in” your playerless piano’ or your ‘old, silent piano’.66 (See Fig. 7.6a for iconography from a 1911 Aeolian Pianola player-piano ad in the Post emphasising this suggestion.) Disparagement of the unplayed conventional piano within player-piano ads articulates broad doubts, which were being voiced in the popular press, about the conventional piano’s central significance as a treasured object. A 1913 article in Atlantic Monthly characterized the conventional Victorian piano as ‘silent, majestic, like an inanimate footman, testifying with polished rosewood to the opulence and taste of its possessor’.67 In a similar vein, Gustav Kobbé located a prevalent disconnect between piano ownership and piano use in his 1907 player-piano guidebook, stating: ‘Practically no household that makes claim to refinement is without one [a conventional piano]. Only too often […] it is merely an article of drawing room furniture.’68 The cultural currency of the piano-as-object theme also comes through in the conventional piano’s regular appearance as background iconography and reference point in ads for other products across the Post and Journal  –  such as the promise of securing ‘that exquisite “piano” finish’ with the purchase of Wizard-brand furniture polish, or Monroe Refrigerator Co.’s entreaty that consumers ‘Select a Refrigerator As You Would a Piano’.69

company defined as ‘copy which points out the inferiority of competitors’ goods, in contrast with the superiority of the advertiser’s’. ‘The Curtis Advertising Code’, p. 12, CP Box 152, Folder 132. 65 See Katz, Capturing Sound, p. 4, for a discussion of the relationship between ‘existing technologies’ and those that attempt to replace them. 66 Gulbransen-Dickinson Company, ‘What Should a Truly Fine Player-Piano Cost?’, SEP, 13 October 1917, p. 48; Aeolian Company, ‘A Story of an Evening with the Pianola’. 67 ‘Music Ex Machina’, Atlantic Monthly, November 1913, pp. 714–16, at p. 714, also cited in Roell, The Piano, p. 37. 68 Gustav Kobbé, The Pianolist (New York: Moffat, Yard, 1907), p. 18. 69 Wizard Products Co., ‘It’s Kind To Fine Furniture’, advertisement, LHJ, August 1915, p. 47; Monroe Refrigerator Co., ‘Select a Refrigerator As You Would a Piano’, advertisement, LHJ, March 1916, p. 94.

Idea of Art.indb 172

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

173

Figure 7.5  Advertisements for the conventional piano in Ladies’ Home Journal [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] (a, left ) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘For Bungalow or Apartment’, November 1917, p. 107 (b, centre ) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘A New Small Grand’, September 1914, p. 80 (c, right ) Ivers & Pond Piano Co., ‘A Distinctive Upright’, September 1915, p. 55

For faithful readers of the Journal, reminders of the conventional piano’s object status came nearly monthly within ads placed by mid-level manufacturer Ivers & Pond. This company’s ads consistently featured a rotating set of conventionalpiano models accompanied by picturesque young women, emphasizing the visual display (of pianos and women) over music-making (see Fig. 7.5). Although sometimes women are shown actually playing the piano in the Ivers & Pond ads, often they are not, and the occasional omissions of benches (as in Fig. 7.5b) present the pictured female models as complementary, pretty objects more than as music-makers. Superlative-heavy text accompanying these and other Ivers & Pond ads emphasizes craftsmanship and reputation, with vague references to ‘tone’ and sometimes allusion to how the month’s featured model might physically fit into a given space (see Fig. 7.5a).

Idea of Art.indb 173

02/02/2016 15:13

174

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

Figure 7.6  ‘Silent’ conventional pianos in Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal advertising (iconography only) [Courtesy of The University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] (a, above) Aeolian Company, ‘The Passing of the Silent Piano’, Saturday Evening Post, 16 September 1911, front matter (for Aeolian Pianola) (b, right ) Steinway & Sons, ‘Steinway’, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1914, p. 62 (c, below) Kranich & Bach, ‘In the Best Homes’, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917, p. 125 (for Kranich & Bach ‘Grandette’ model)

Idea of Art.indb 174

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

175

For certain piano manufacturers, the piano-as-object marketing angle had close ties with a brand’s image. In his statement about superlative-heavy advertising, Emerson made a specific exception for what he labelled the effective ‘prestige’ strategy employed by high-end manufacturer Steinway, whose ads in mid-1910s Journal issues sometimes promoted piano ownership by evoking the Victorian parlour and its association with displaying a family’s finest objects to the outside world. ‘[C]onsider what a Steinway would mean in your home’, poses one Steinway ad, with accompanying iconography featuring a luxurious large room with a noticeably unoccupied (and benchless) grand piano (Fig. 7.6b). Also a luxury brand, Kranich & Bach favoured the same strategy in its 1917 Journal ads, in one ad asking magazine readers, ‘Why not add to your home the final touch of refinement that only a grand piano can give?’ (Fig. 7.6c).70 Advertisements in Figure 7.6 frame the conventional piano’s commercial identity as a commodified musical object tied to the display-oriented Victorian parlour, a representation that appears particularly glaring against scenarios depicted in the player-piano ads discussed here. Whereas the act of music-making often forms a key component of commercial strategies found in ads for player pianos, in the ads discussed here for conventional pianos, music-making often appears as just one aspect of the instrument’s identity rather than the chief reason one might purchase an instrument.

Conclusions The primary goal of advertisements placed in the Ladies’ Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post was to sell products, and final speculation about how and where piano ads appeared in the Curtis publications must consider how piano manufacturers and ad agencies likely perceived the two periodicals and their readerships in relation to the products they sought to advertise. The numerous studies by Curtis’s Division of Commercial Research help us understand how the publisher presented its magazines to manufacturers, while the interviews, which played a key role in some of those studies, offer valuable first-hand insights into manufacturers’ and merchants’ perspectives on the two magazines (albeit, filtered through the Division). In particular, interview excerpts from a 1916 study titled ‘Attitude Toward The Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post as Advertising Mediums’ provide a sense of how merchants perceived the magazines.71 Examples of merchants doubting the value of placing ads in the Journal, scattered among the predominantly positive comments, highlight viewpoints potentially shared by piano advertisers. Particularly compelling, especially given the family focus commonly found in player-piano advertising, are repeated declarations of the Post’s superior advertising potential  –  since the magazine would likely reach all adult members of the family. One enthusiastic 70 In his ‘Pianos, Organs and Player Pianos’ (p. 71), Emerson ranked Steinway and Kranich & Bach alike as ‘high grade’ piano manufacturers. 71 ‘Attitude Toward The Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post as Advertising Mediums’, typescript, 1916, CP Box 45.

Idea of Art.indb 175

02/02/2016 15:13

176

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

respondent’s own estimate that ‘75% of the women who read the Journal [also] read the Post’ led him to declare the Post the more logical, farthest reaching mode of advertising.72 Speculations might also be drawn from opinions on automobile advertising, a sector of advertising disproportionately represented in the Post despite the Division’s efforts to convince manufacturers of a women’s market.73 Tucked between several affirmative views in the 1916 study is one auto-dealer’s suspicion that a man would ‘be prejudiced against what he sees advertised in a woman’s paper’. 74 Another respondent proclaimed that the Post ‘reaches the majority of people [i.e. men] who will buy machines’.75 Both of these comments speak to the logic that may have led piano manufacturers to avoid using Bok’s conservative women’s magazine for their player-piano lines, especially as the broad appeal of their products depended on overcoming associations between women, the piano and domestic music-making. The contents of the Journal in the 1910s show the player piano in uncertain terrain, complicated by changing views of domestic music-making at the conventional piano. The diminishing presence of sheet music in the magazine suggests a steady decline in amateur music-making taking place across American parlours, a decline that was evidenced in part by falling conventional-piano sales across the 1910s and 1920s.76 Within 1912, the Journal ran an editorial and an article in support of mechanical music, even as Hofmann later spoke in his column against ragtime (which player pianos helped popularize) and playing by ear.77 That there was concern at Curtis over the future place of pianos in the women’s magazine is clear, and when questioned on this point at Curtis’s 1915 advertising conference, editor Bok explained that an inquiry by a Journal music editor (perhaps Hofmann himself ) showed an upswing in piano interest ‘in 72 Ibid., p. 64. In fact, overlap in circulation was something Curtis’s Division of Commercial Research studied. See esp. ‘Tenth Annual Conference of the Advertising Department of the Curtis Publishing Company’, typescript, 29–31 October 1913, p. 33, CP Box 17. 73 According to its own internal studies of leading American periodicals, nearly 95% of Curtis’s overall 59% market share of automobile advertising in 1915 was placed in the Post. ‘Advertising Charts, 1919–1924’, p. 18, CP Box 125. 74 ‘Attitude Toward The Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post’, p. 6. 75 Ibid., p. 23. 76 Commenting on the conventional piano’s declining presence and causes for that decline, Ehrlich (The Piano, pp. 184–7) wrote: ‘The piano industry was crippled by alternative sources of entertainment, erosion of the instrument’s social status, and by the crash and depression of the 1930s. It must be emphasized that the blows came in that order’. He specifically argues that competition from automobiles and phonographs was central to the conventional piano’s cultural, and then economic, decline. 77 Edward Bok, ‘The Piano that Found a Voice’, editorial, LHJ, February 1912, p. 5; and Karleton Hackett, ‘Is “Canned Music” Worth While?’, LHJ, November 1912, p. 56. Bok and Hackett also frame the phonograph positively within these writings. On Josef Hofmann and ragtime, see ‘Piano Questions’, LHJ, March 1914, p. 26; for Hoffman’s opinions on playing ‘by ear’, see ‘Piano Questions’, LHJ, October 1914, p. 35.

Idea of Art.indb 176

02/02/2016 15:13

Advertising Conventional and Player Pianos

177

spite of the prevalence of mechanical music’.78 More broadly than this, however, is the more subtle, sustained image of the Journal as a periodical that favoured normative roles for women and that continued to present the conventional piano as a cultural marker specifically relevant to women’s lives. Piano manufacturers and ad agencies may have considered any of these ideas when choosing the family-friendly Post for their player lines. Although playerpiano promotion clearly borrowed from conventional-piano mythology so familiar to the Journal, several of its key tenets were challenged by the influence of musical democratization, the shifted locus of musicality and the changing purpose behind piano ownership promoted in these advertisements. A changing idea of music and music-making tied to the player piano looms large, obscured by a combination of cultural references to the conventional piano and the declaration  –  achieved by images and text  –  that player-piano performances had the potential to be visceral, personal and artistic. Sitting down with the latest edition of the Post in early December 1917, the eyes of an average reader might have been drawn to the heading ‘What the Pianola Means to the Home’ in a full-page ad for the Aeolian Pianola player piano. Although the turn of phrase referenced values bound up in nineteenth-century conventional-piano mythology, the text following it continued in a decidedly twentieth-century manner, grandly promising: ‘And you will play  –  you will have the sense of playing, feel the fascination of it. You will shortly become in a way an artist yourself.’ 79

78 ‘Condensed Report of Advertising Conference’, p. 12. 79 Emphasis in original. Aeolian Company, ‘The World-Famous Pianola’, advertisement, SEP, 1 December 1917, p. 60.

Idea of Art.indb 177

02/02/2016 15:13

8 Art, Commerce and Artisanship: Violin Culture in Britain, c. 1880–1920 Christina Bashford

B

ritish music history has long acknowledged the centrality of pianos, brass bands and choral singing to Victorian life. But the significance of a ‘perfect craze for learning the fiddle’, as the music educator and writer Frederick Corder put it (in 1922), and its intersections with the world of commerce are relatively unexplored, despite important recent work on specific aspects of the topic.1 It must be said straightaway that the word ‘fiddle’ has long been used in Britain as an affectionate synonym for the classical violin, and not merely to distinguish a folk instrument. So what is under discussion here  –  and what Corder was referring to  –  is the playing of the classical violin, the instrument that has taken an intrinsic role in art music’s repertoires and traditions.2 The main facts are as follows. During the 1880s and 1890s, a new interest in the instruments of the violin family emerged among a wide slice of the British population. The surge in activity, which lasted at least into the 1920s, broke longstanding barriers of gender and class;3 it was underpinned by changing social and cultural values; and it was articulated and supported by a growing commercial infrastructure. In sum, violins, and to a lesser extent cellos and violas (and double basses)  –  instruments with notable expressive potential and great beauty as objects  –  became all the rage.

1 Frederick Corder, A History of the Royal Academy of Music from 1822 to 1922 (London: F. Corder, 1922), p. 84, speaking of the 1890s. The most notable discussions, to which this essay is indebted, are Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, pp. 156–61; Paula Gillett, Musical Women in England, 1870–1914: ‘Encroaching on All Man’s Privileges’ (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 77–140; Brian W. Harvey, The Violin Family and its Makers in the British Isles: An Illustrated History and Directory (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995); David J. Golby, Instrumental Teaching in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); and Simon McVeigh, ‘“As the sand on the sea shore”: Women Violinists in London’s Concert Life around 1900’, Essays on the History of English Music in Honour of John Caldwell: Sources, Style, Performance, Historiography, ed. Emma Hornby and David Maw (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010), pp. 232–58. 2 ‘Fiddle’ could also carry derogatory social and musical connotations; see Golby, Instrumental Teaching, pp. 146–7. 3 Corder (A History, p. 84), however, considered the craze had lasted only ‘about ten years’.

178

Idea of Art.indb 178

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

179

What seems remarkable is the speed with which this ‘violin culture’4 took off, and the change in musical life that it embodied, at both professional and amateur levels. Contemporaries commented often on the novelty and pervasiveness of the new craze, as ever more people were spotted out and about with their instruments. The writer Gerard Eliot Hodgkin had this to say in the Strad magazine in 1894: During the last dozen years London has changed its appearance in many ways; not only in the fashion of its streets but also in the aspect of those who throng them. It is not merely that the clothes of 1894 differ considerably from the clothes of 1880  –  there is also a difference in the footpassengers’ articles of portable property. Especially notable is the enormous increase in the number of music portfolios and fiddle-cases carried.5 Another journalist (in the Literary World) noted ‘the number of coffin-shaped boxes one is privileged to knock one’s knees against now-a-days when travelling up and down on suburban [railway] lines’.6 However, as Hodgkin recognized, for all that the ranks of professional string-players were increasing steadily, the centre of growth was, as he put it, ‘en amateur’. 7 Observers also remarked, often at length, that much of the expansion involved middle-class women. Up to this point their domestic music-making had been restricted to piano-playing or singing, and string-playing had been a masculine activity, undertaken unobtrusively as a leisure pursuit in Britain only by wealthy men, and as a job of work by men mostly on the cusp of the lower and middle classes.8 Yet, as Paula Gillett has shown, from the 1870s, as social and cultural taboos governing the gendering of string instruments crumbled, the violin world became inhabited by both men and women.9 Similar developments took hold in other parts of Europe and North America around the same time, to judge from existing research in women’s music history. Judith Tick’s title for her 1986 essay ‘Passed Away Is the Piano Girl’ neatly evokes some of the cultural change that 4 My discussion of what I term ‘violin culture’ embraces the entire family of instruments. Inevitably, there is emphasis on the violin, but much of what I explore in connection with that instrument can be extended to the viola and cello. 5 Gerard Eliot Hodgkin, ‘Chamber Music and the Piano’, Strad, February 1894, 255–6, at p. 255. 6 Report reprinted in Strings, April 1894, p. 56. 7 Hodgkin, ‘Chamber Music’, p. 255. On the increase in professional musicians in England and Wales in the nineteenth century (including as a proportion of the population), see Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, pp. 51–2 and 100, and Tables I and II. How many were professional violinists is not discernable; however, as Ehrlich explains, evidence from trade directories suggests large numbers were string-players. 8 On gender and the string chamber music tradition, see Christina Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in NineteenthCentury Britain’, JAMS 63 (2010), 291–359. 9 These topics are explored in her Musical Women in England, pp. 77–108, and later in this essay.

Idea of Art.indb 179

02/02/2016 15:13

180

Christina Bashford

the violin ushered into the United States, while Margaret Myers’s findings about Damenorchestern in German-speaking central Europe from c. 1870 into the 1940s suggest that the acceptability of middle-class women playing the violin was a general European phenomenon.10 The new violinists in Britain  –  probably elsewhere too  –  included learners from working-class backgrounds. Among the labouring classes, men seem to have been especially eager to play: Manchester-based pianist and conductor Charles Hallé remarked in 1890 that ‘in Sheffield alone over five hundred working men are students of the violin.’11 There was also significant involvement by stateschool children (male and female), including some from working-class families.12 By 1907, William McNaught, who had served the government for several years as assistant inspector of music education in schools, reported an estimated 10% of English pupils were receiving violin tuition in elementary state schools.13 That would have meant at least 400,000 child learners, many from lower-income brackets.14 Yet as social historian Dave Russell points out, citing McNaught, working-class pupils were typically drawn from the middle and upper bands of the labouring classes, given the costs involved, and ‘the poorest were excluded’.15

10 Judith Tick, ‘Passed Away Is the Piano Girl: Changes in American Musical Life, 1870–1900’, Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150–1950, ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), pp. 325–48; Margaret Myers, ‘Searching for Data about European Ladies’ Orchestras, 1870– 1950’, Music and Gender, ed. Pirkko Moisala and Beverley Diamond (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 189–213. 11 Hallé quoted in T. H. Hardman, ‘The Violin Collection of G. Haddock’, Appendix I in Haddock’s Some Early Musical Recollections of G. Haddock, 3rd edn (London: Schott, 1906), pp. 131–55, at p. 131. The essay reprints material that Haddock says was written ‘for one of the journals issued in 1890’. 12 For readers who are unfamiliar with the British education system and its history, private, independently run schools (where education was paid for) are referred to also as ‘public’ schools. Education that was financed by the government took place in what are called ‘state’ schools (not public schools). 13 Russell, Popular Music, p. 54, citing material in School Music Review, 1 July 1907, p. 21. These statistics are also stated in School Music Review, 1 May 1909, p. 253. For a useful assessment of McNaught, see David Wright, ‘The Music Exams of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, 1859–1919’, Music and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Britain, ed. Paul Rodmell (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 161–80, at pp. 174–5. 14 This figure (stated in the reports in School Music Review, cited above) is borne out by my own calculations, using 1911 population statistics for children in England and Wales aged 5–11 (5.1 million; information from Office for National Statistics, based on the Census for England and Wales, 1911; vol. 7, table 1). The figure of 400,000 would equate to 10% of 4 million English children (a deliberately conservative total that eliminates Welsh children from the calculation and allows for some distortions in the data). 15 Russell, Popular Music, p. 55. The topic of state-school tuition is discussed in greater depth on pp. 186–7 below.

Idea of Art.indb 180

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

181

T

he growth of violin-playing has been examined from various angles in the historiography. The topic is treated within the landmark social history of the British music profession by Cyril Ehrlich, and an important perspective from women’s history is revealed in the work of Gillett (particularly on how female violinists were constructed in fiction and art); there is also a substantial organological literature on violin-makers, valuable scholarship on nineteenthcentury violin pedagogy by David Golby, and a recent study of female recital soloists by Simon McVeigh.16 But to date there have been only limited attempts to map violin culture in its entirety, let alone to contextualize it in terms of its working-class and commercial dimensions, or to consider broad historical and ideological questions.17 Moreover, scholars of British music have tended to investigate trends in instrument-playing and commerce that gel more readily with received ideas about nineteenth-century Britain being in the vanguard of technological advancement, commercialization and the social spread of musicmaking; put another way, their focus has been on brass instruments and pianos.18 In this essay I begin to articulate the development of violin culture in Britain from the 1880s until the early 1920s, with reference to the economic realities of learning a string instrument.19 The first part of the discussion outlines the ways in which that culture unfolded and delineates the commercial markets and social structures that arose around the violin family. With that overview in place, in part two I consider why playing the violin seems to have had such appeal to Victorians. I explore how British culture, and especially commerce, constructed the idea of the violin, and I probe the paradox of the popularity of a fragile, wooden instrument  –  historically crafted by hand and aesthetically pleasing  –  in an era that more usually celebrated musical instruments’ connection with industrial innovation, mechanization and the modernizing world.

16 Cited in n. 1 above. 17 Notably Harvey, in The Violin Family. At the time of writing, Tom Wilder is completing a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Cambridge (‘The Forging of an Icon: The Violin in Nineteenth-Century London’), which promises to extend the breadth and depth of the discussion considerably and to offer overlaps with this essay. 18 Inter alia, Trevor Herbert, ed., The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Russell, Popular Music; Ehrlich, The Piano and Scott, The Singing Bourgeois. 19 The craze for violin-playing, which I see as a late Victorian phenomenon, was coalescing into a vibrant commercial culture by the early 1880s, when violin magazines started to hit the marketplace. That culture continued beyond Queen Victoria’s reign, with salient characteristics  –  as laid down in the 1880s and 1890s  –  flourishing well into the early 1920s.

Idea of Art.indb 181

02/02/2016 15:13

182

Christina Bashford

Mapping the Culture The development of violin culture was supported, and to a large extent driven, by a growing commercial infrastructure for learning and playing.20 First and foremost on the supply side were instruments, the prices of which dropped gradually from 1860, the year Britain attempted to stimulate its retail trade by removing the tariffs levied on imports; as a result, cheap newly made ‘factory fiddles’ from Germany and France began to flood the marketplace.21 Most of them came from Mittenwald and Markneukirchen in Germany and Mirecourt in France, the main centres for mass production. By the 1890s, coarsely constructed but reasonable-sounding instruments could be bought from violin dealers throughout Britain for under 5s.22 That sum represents a minute fraction (less than 0.3%) of a skilled tradesman’s annual earnings, which would have been around £90,23 and a small amount when compared with the contemporary costs of other instruments: a fairly modest piano could be bought new for £15 (sixty times as much as an inexpensive violin); and the least expensive brass instruments cost around £2 (eight times as much).24 Such evidence supports the assessment that Leopold Auer, the renowned violinist and pedagogue, made in 1921 that ‘[i]n the case of the poor, or those of slender means, the violin, as a rule, is the instrument favoured, because it may be bought so cheaply.’25 At the same time, there was a lively market for older Italian or French violins, which offered far superior tone-quality and were bought by professional players and serious-minded amateurs. Plus, good instruments were being built by British makers, even though most of them made their money from restoration work and selling.26 Amounts paid for instruments are notoriously hard to ascertain, but 20 This narrative expands on the introductory section of my ‘Hidden Agendas and the Creation of Community: The Violin Press in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain, pp. 11–35. 21 For further discussion of the impact of free trade on instrument provision, see Harvey, The Violin Family, p. 128, and Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, pp. 100–2. 22 Edward Heron-Allen, ‘Violin Family’, Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. J. A. Fuller Maitland, 2nd edn (London and New York: Macmillan, 1904–10), vol. 5, p. 308, citing a statement made in the early 1880s by the maker ThibouvilleLamy (of Mirecourt, Paris and London) regarding the itemized cost and profit margin of one of his cheapest violins. 23 Based on the nominal wage for a skilled textile worker in 1891; in Jeffrey G. Williamson, ‘The Structure of Pay in Britain, 1710–1911’, Research in Economic History 7 (1982), 1–54, at p. 48. 24 Amounts based on prices stated in Ehrlich, The Piano, p. 91, and Herbert, The British Brass Band, p. 309. 25 Leopold Auer, Violin Playing as I Teach it (London: Duckworth, 1921), p. 6. The book was also published in New York, but it appears that Auer’s comments are mostly drawn from his experiences in Europe. He visited London many times. 26 On the varied facets of running a violin business, see John Dilworth, Andrew Fairfax and John Milnes, The Voller Brothers: Victorian Violin Makers (Oxford: British Violin Making Association, 2006).

Idea of Art.indb 182

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

183

it seems that by 1900, decent-quality violins  –  whether new or second hand  –  typically came with price tags from about £4 to £15.27 Exquisite old instruments, such as Strads and Amatis, retailed for considerably more, though nothing like the astronomical prices paid today.28 Among the buyers of old violins were wealthy (male) collectors, some of whom fetishized them as objects for display, ensuring such instruments were rarely if ever sounded.29 The violin trade flourished across Britain, in towns large and small. London had its celebrated community of luthiers in Soho, but there was much commerce in other parts of the capital and beyond it, as a snapshot of violin-making and  -selling in the northern industrial city of Leeds suggests. Of the eleven makers and retailers known to have advertised their services in Kelly’s trade directory for Leeds between 1880 and 1920, six had significant national reputations: Joseph Wade, Dearlove & Sons, James W. Briggs, J. W. Owen, Albert E. Warrick and L. P. Balmforth; the other five were, it seems, small-time makers, doubtless servicing the lower end of the market with repair work and the sale of cheap imported instruments.30 Owen advertised in local newspapers and even some concert programmes, in the manner associated with piano dealers, suggesting much about the nature and the pervasiveness of the new culture.31 The advertisement in Figure 8.1 is from a 1905 chamber-concert programme booklet; it promotes Owen’s instruments as a blend of superior quality, antiqueness, costliness and exclusivity. Meanwhile, laced into the trade was a culture of fraudulent practices, stemming from demand for old instruments being high and supply sorely limited. Many makers produced copies of old Italian violins or built composite instruments and passed them off 27 Data assembled from the ‘exchange and mart’ columns and classified advertisements in the Strad. On the problems in ascertaining prices charged for instruments (as opposed to prices advertised), see Harvey, The Violin Family, pp. 129–35. Issues include inflation, economies of scale and changes in real value over time. 28 According to Heron-Allen (‘Violin Family’, p. 309), prices for fine violins increased hugely even between the first two editions of Grove’s dictionary (1889 and 1910). He claimed an Amati could, in 1910, have a market value of £50– £1,000; a Strad, £600– c. £2,000. 29 H[ugh] R[eginald] Haweis, Old Violins and Violin Lore (London: William Reeves, [1923]), p. 11. Like Haweis, Haddock did not object to the instruments and bows being used, and he even loaned them to great players (see Hardman, ‘The Violin Collection’, pp. 131–44). 30 Several of the makers are listed in Harvey, The Violin Family, p. 403 and directory entries. The less significant operators were J. K. Heaps, S. B. Wilkinson, Alfred Priestley, L. T. Chambers and Alfred Warrick (son of A. E. Warrick). Information taken from extant volumes of Kelly’s Directory in Leeds Central Library; a complete run was not available for inspection. The picture is far from comprehensive, since some makers classified themselves as musical-instrument makers or dealers, not violin-makers per se; and general instrument-sellers probably carried cheap violins too. 31 For instance, in the Yorkshire Post, 8 March 1913: here Owen advertises as a ‘Repairer and Dealer’. Repair work was clearly a significant tranche of a business, as Owen’s (and others’) advertisements in the Strad further indicate.

Idea of Art.indb 183

02/02/2016 15:13

184

Christina Bashford

Figure 8.1 Advertisement for J. W. Owen’s violin business, from the programme booklet for the Leeds Bohemian Concerts, 15 March 1905 [Courtesy of Leeds Library and Information Service]. These chamber concerts probably attracted many well-heeled music aficionados.

as originals by inserting fake labels inside them, and then offered them for sale at high prices. Such goings-on were causes for concern among buyers, generating heated public discussion and a need for consumer advice.32 Another crucial aspect of ‘supply’ was tuition, delivered either in an institutional setting or a private studio. The ‘public’ (i.e. in Britain, private, often boarding) schools started offering lessons on the violin (and to a lesser extent, the cello) in the second half of the nineteenth century.33 These learners were, selfevidently, children from privileged backgrounds, and in boys’ schools they were 32 For further discussion, see Brian W. Harvey and Carla J. Shapreau, Violin Fraud: Deception, Forgery, Theft and Lawsuits in England and America, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), pp. 3–100. 33 Lessons were typically given to children individually in such schools (see School Music Review, 1 March 1907, p. 177), on an elective basis. (It seems likely that parents paid additional fees for such tuition, but more research is needed to be certain.) With the teaching of the cello, it became possible for school string orchestras to be formed. More advanced violinists probably learned to double on the viola, as was common practice within the music profession.

Idea of Art.indb 184

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

185

small in number.34 Middle-class girls, on the other hand, comprised a significant proportion of the newcomer pupils for the violin and cello, especially in ‘public’ schools and private studios, with the most accomplished proceeding to advanced conservatoire training. The Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in London, and the Manchester and Leeds music colleges, were soughtafter destinations for the better young players. Admission was selective, but if accepted, students might well study with a first-rank violinist: at Manchester, string quartet and orchestral classes were led by such well-esteemed figures as Willy Hess, Adolf Brodsky, Rawdon Briggs, Carl Fuchs and Brodsky’s ex-pupil Edith Robinson.35 After college, many female graduates set up as private teachers or took positions in schools. The more esteemed ‘public’ schools hired the better professional players: Lily Simms, for example, one of the leading quartet-players around Leeds and Manchester, and a former student of Robinson, was appointed violin mistress at Leeds Girls’ High School in 1906.36 So, with opportunities for instruction at a range of levels, aspirations to learn to play increased and the number of teachers and pupils swelled continually. Some women, once trained, also played professionally. A few of them, such as Marie Hall, Nora Clench and May Mukle, achieved significant careers as soloists or in string quartets. But, if they were to earn money from playing, most women were destined for employment in a modest restaurant or department-store ensemble, or in a cinema band, and almost nobody escaped teaching altogether. The major symphony orchestras were generally ‘no-go’ areas for women, despite some notable breakthroughs in hiring practices having been achieved by 1913.37 Affordable group lessons in working-class institutes in metropolitan areas were a further site for learning, and one that opened up string-playing to less privileged social groups. For a small fee, adults could take evening classes in elementary violin, renting instruments, if needed, at a nominal charge. There were such classes (costing 1d) at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in the 1880s, instruction at the Roby Schools in Manchester in the 1890s (2d), and, in London, tuition at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, which had been holding violin classes as early as 1839 and which, by the 1880s, was 34 For instance, Charterhouse, Harrow and Uppingham. Golby (Instrumental Teaching, pp. 261–3) discusses the limited role of instrumental lessons in boys’ public schools, drawing attention to Paul David’s pioneering string-teaching at Uppingham. He points out that an education in piano, harp and voice was an established part of the curriculum in most private [i.e. ‘public’] girls’ schools and implies that violin lessons became integrated into female education more quickly. By 1895, to judge from Gillett (Musical Women, p. 210), violin mistresses were becoming commonplace in this arena. 35 On the costs of attending music college, see David Wright, ‘The South Kensington Music Schools and the Development of the British Conservatoire in the Late Nineteenth Century’, JRMA 130 (2005), 236–82, esp. pp. 246–8 and 263–4. 36 Yorkshire Evening News, 9 June 1909. Sims played viola in the Edith Robinson Quartet. 37 Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, p. 161.

Idea of Art.indb 185

02/02/2016 15:13

186

Christina Bashford

offering group lessons for a range of students, from beginners to advanced pupils.38 However, contrary to what one might think given Birkbeck’s origins as a mechanics’ institute, many of its students were probably from the lower middle class as opposed to being working-class people.39 Doubtless, learning environments such as Birkbeck’s were rife with musical and pedagogical limitations, especially as regards the attention that could be paid to individual students and the compromised conditions for listening to sound production and intonation that class-teaching created; yet many learners probably persevered with lessons simply because of the mutual encouragement the group setting engendered.40 Other glimpses into the growing popularity of both group learning and the violin’s wide social appeal can be found in the development of a violin class at the British-run internment camp in Ballykinlar, Ireland, during the AngloIrish War, 1919–21.41 The internees spanned many social and professional groups, from lawyers to labourers; and learning the violin was one of several recreational activities that the camp officials tolerated, even encouraged. Meanwhile, commerce was playing a significant role in the introduction of violin lessons in state schools, thanks to the London music publisher and instrument dealer J. G. Murdoch. In 1897, his firm established a package of instrument provision and elementary group tuition that could be purchased relatively inexpensively. Hire-purchase plans in particular helped less well-off families acquire instruments (cheap imported violins), accessories and bespoke pedagogic literature.42 In 1909, the School Music Review reported that Murdoch’s 38 For more information, see K. Adams, ‘Violin Classes: Their Part in English Adult Education’, Strad, April 1960, pp. 440–3; May 1960, pp. 15–19; and June 1960, pp. 73–9. 39 Birkbeck’s classes cost more than those in Manchester and Birmingham, suggesting that they attracted people with more disposable income. In the 1890s, lessons at Birkbeck were paid for termly, at a fee of 5s for twelve weekly evening lessons for members; non-members paid more (7s); information from the calendar of the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution for 1896/7, in the Archives of Birkbeck College, University of London. On Birkbeck students’ socio-economic profiles, see C. Delisle Burns, A Short History of Birkbeck College (London: University of London Press, 1924), pp. 41–2. 40 For contemporary criticism of group learning, see ‘Violin Classes’, The Fiddler, 15 March 1887, pp. 21–2. 41 The teachers were Martin Walton, a classical violinist and professional musician, and the celebrated folk fiddler Frank O’Higgins. The topic was explored in a paper I read at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, ‘“ If I practice I can make a fair show”: The Power of the Violin in the Ballykinlar Internment Camp during the Anglo-Irish War (1919–21)’. 42 See Robin K. Deverich, ‘The Maidstone Movement  –  Influential British Precursor of American Public School Instrumental Classes’, Journal of Research in Music Education 35 (1987), 39–55, and Russell, Popular Music, p. 54. Deverich dates the start-up at 1897; Russell gives 1898. See also the commentary in School Music Review, 1 May 1909, p. 253, and 1 July 1909, p. 177. Pupils were taught outside of normal classes, typically in the lunchtime recess. Tuition was mostly on the violin; there were calls for the viola and cello to be more widely taught.

Idea of Art.indb 186

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

187

‘Maidstone Scheme’ (so named after the town in Kent that first supported the experiment in its schools) had supplied materials for over eleven years to some 400,000 boys and girls in more than 5,000 elementary schools.43 The instruments were sold with a ‘Maidstone’ label, and accessories were branded accordingly. More generally, the music publishing and retail trade was a core component of violin culture, and most publishers carried string music and tuition material in their catalogues. Further, some firms issued materials to meet the consumer needs that were created by the new, commercially run examination boards. A unique feature of British musical life from the late nineteenth century, exam boards sold the certified testing of instrumental skills and in practice categorized the practical attainment of pupils and the competencies of teachers across the country. It should come as no surprise, given the growing numbers of string students, that the violin loomed large in the boards’ syllabi and that exams were highly popular  –  or that an important byproduct of the initiative was the standardization of learning and repertoire for generations of students (or at least those whose families could afford for them to take the tests). The most widespread exam schemes were allied to the conservatoires, notably those run from London by Trinity College of Music (which offered practical exams  –  violin was one of the instruments offered for testing  –  from 1879) and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (from 1890); their cultural significance is, as David Wright has demonstrated, hard to overstate.44 Violin exams were also conducted by the Royal Society of Arts, which had a much more artisan and working-class clientele, and the College of Violinists.45 The latter was established in 1890 as a national examining body, not a training academy, and was initially concerned with certifying string teachers (a pressing concern, given the growth of demand). In the marketplace the College, which has been described as functioning as a ‘friendly society’ and making little profit,46 claimed the moral high ground by guaranteeing all its examiners were violinists. This feature sat in contradistinction to what was offered by the other exam schemes, where breadth of ‘product’ (in terms of the instruments for which they sold examinations) and the logistics of national exams with travelling examiners had led to situations whereby a violin student might be tested by a musician without string-playing expertise. Like all the exam boards, the College provided a ladder of exams, increasing in difficulty and cost, up to diploma level  –  at which point a violinist was deemed to have the technical proficiency of a professional player

43 School Music Review, 1 May 1909, p. 253; reported in Russell, Popular Music, p. 54 (with some errors). The violins were probably half- and three-quarter-sized instruments, appropriate for children. For photographs of such violin groups, see Russell, plate section, fig. 8, and Christina Bashford, ‘Class of 1890’, Strad, May 2010, pp. 26–9, at p. 26. 44 On the Associated Board and competitor exams, see David C. H. Wright, The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music: A Social and Cultural History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013). 45 On the Royal Society of Arts exams specifically, see Wright, ‘The Music Exams’. 46 Wright, The Associated Board, p. 57.

Idea of Art.indb 187

02/02/2016 15:13

188

Christina Bashford

and to be equipped to teach the instrument.47 In addition, the boards marketed publications at their candidates; materials issued by the College included scale books, studies and exam hints.48 The supply of instruments, music and exams thus serviced, even stimulated, violin culture. Yet other parts of the music business encouraged it too, commercial concerts especially. With concert life abuzz in major cities in the 1890s, there were regular and sometimes inexpensive opportunities for musiclovers to hear distinguished artists and chamber ensembles perform the classical and romantic sonatas, concertos and string quartets that were established as core professional repertoire. What Simon McVeigh considers a new breed of concert violinist  –  soloists such as Jan Kubelik who boasted ‘a larger tone and a more thrusting presence’  –  may well have contributed to the growth of commercial violin culture, simply by offering inspirational experiences that could lead amateurs to take up instruments or, when more skilled, to try more difficult repertoire.49 In addition, the few women violinists on the concert circuit  –  Lady Hallé and Marie Hall in particular  –  may have served as role models (or an ‘acoustic mirror’, as one musicologist has described it) for potential female learners, who, in an epiphanic moment, began to identify themselves with the on-stage musicians.50 From c. 1902, the fledgling gramophone industry offered amateur string musicians an additional means of fomenting their interests in learning to play, through the purchase of recordings, although it would be some time before recorded sound became a widespread substitute for concert-going.51 Growing opportunities for collaborative amateur music-making constituted another sustaining force for violin culture, with orchestras, especially string 47 Diplomas were offered by the other exam boards; for more on their market positions and credibility, see Wright, The Associated Board, pp. 55–60. On the College of Violinists’ relationships with the principal violin magazines, see Bashford, ‘Hidden Agendas’, pp. 19–33. 48 For instance, Eugène Polonaski, Violin Scales & Arpeggi for Candidates Preparing for the College of Violinists’ Examinations (London: St Cecilia Music Publishing Co., [1892]); J. Harold Henry and E. M. Barber, The Violin: A Few Facts for the Use of Students Preparing for the Examinations of the College of Violinists (Derby: Bewley & Roe, 1893); and Basil Althaus, 36 Violin Studies, ‘Written Expressly for Students Preparing for the Junior Grades of the College of Violinists, London’, op. 78 (London: Schott, [1905]). 49 McVeigh, ‘“As the sand”’, p. 232. 50 On Lady Hallé (Wilma Norman Neruda) as a catalyst for changing attitudes, see Gillett’s thoughtful argument in Musical Women, pp. 79–82 and 98. The idea of the acoustic mirror (alluding to the use of Jacques Lacan’s concepts in cinema studies) is posited in Nancy Newman’s discussion of Jenny Lind and Camilla Urso as soloists in American concert life: ‘Gender and the Germanians: “Art-Loving Ladies” in Nineteenth-Century Concert Life’, American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century, ed. John Spitzer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), pp. 289–309, at pp. 299–300. 51 On musical life before recordings, see Robert Philip, Performing Music in the Age of Recording (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), pp. 4–12.

Idea of Art.indb 188

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

189

bands for women, a striking part of the middle-class landscape. Elgar tried out his Serenade for strings (1892) with his Ladies Orchestral Class in Worcester,52 and Parry wrote Lady Radnor’s Suite (1894) for Lady Radnor’s amateur ladies’ string band. Some groups mixed men and women, increasingly so in the early 1900s, and they often levied a membership subscription to hire a conductor. Also, according to Russell, there was ‘a far greater working-class presence in amateur orchestras than has [traditionally] been assumed’; his examples include the Rothwell Orchestral Society, ‘centred on a pit village south-east of Leeds’, which in 1896 comprised thirteen miners, seven of whom were in the string section.53 Violinists seeking information about concerts, examinations, amateur activities and professional openings could, and certainly did, turn to the magazines that were published for string-players. Nine titles came onto the market from 1884 to 1914, seemingly more than for any other specialist area of music-making at that time, including piano; three of them, retailing at 2d an issue, enjoyed some longevity: The Strad (1890–; still published today), The Violin Times (1893–1913) and The Gazette of the College of Violinists (1914–39; from March 1921 titled The Violinists’ Gazette: The Official Organ of the College of Violinists). Content ranged from tips on playing, buying and collecting instruments, as well as on identifying fake ones, to substantial features addressed to amateur and professional players; yet also central to reader appeal and economic viability was the printing of advertisements for goods, events and services. By 1910, the Strad was awash with ads large and small for dealers and repairers, as well as for many ‘branded’ accessories  –  strings, pegs, chin-rests, bridges and other paraphernalia (often endorsed by famous artists)  –  along with tutor books, music, lessons and exam schemes.54 Considerable book publishing about violins, much of it from the press of William Reeves, supplemented the magazine industry, with some titles being further serialized in periodicals.55 Taken together, the number and the diversity of commercial goods underpinning and feeding violin culture were nothing short of remarkable, as was the speed with which they had arrived on the musical scene in Britain. It should also be said that as a means of documenting these markets, violin magazines are a particularly illuminating and crucial resource.

52 See Christopher Hogwood, Introduction to Elgar: Serenade for Strings / für Streicher, Op. 20 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2010), p. iii. 53 For fuller discussion, see Russell, Popular Music, pp. 241–3. 54 On the workings of the violin periodical trade, see Bashford, ‘Hidden Agendas’. 55 The family firm of William Reeves was well known for a wide range of book, pamphlet and periodical publishing, including works of radical politics and philosophy. It also issued a number of books on music and a handful of music magazines. For a short time, William Reeves published the Strad and the Violin Times. For more on Reeves, see James B. Coover, ‘William Reeves, Booksellers/ Publishers, 1825–’, Music Publishing & Collecting: Essays in Honor of Donald W. Krummel, ed. David Hunter ([Urbana]: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, 1994), pp. 39–67; on Reeves’s publishing of violin magazines, see Bashford ‘Hidden Agendas’, pp. 21–2 and 31–4.

Idea of Art.indb 189

02/02/2016 15:13

190

Christina Bashford

Interpreting the Culture If the availability of affordable string instruments and of the goods associated with them constituted one root cause of why many novices started to play the violin, there were nevertheless other factors feeding this cultural shift, several of which intersected with the commerce around the instrument. One explanation was the dramatic spread of participatory music-making across sections of Victorian society whose members had ‘time to spare’. The phenomenon itself is well known and was bound up with the importance ascribed to classical music’s civilizing power in a culture that viewed leisure as having the capacity to be inherently instructional   –  complicating distinctions between work and play, particularly from a present-day perspective. Historians have depicted such driven beliefs about the improving or rational aspect of particular types of recreation  –  depictions that can seem awkwardly moralizing to modern eyes  –  as reflecting anxieties in the upper swathe of society about the potential threats to ‘public order and industrial efficiency’ that would emerge if working people abused their new-found free time.56 The establishment of industrially supported bands for factory workers, the sight-singing movement, and (of particular relevance to this essay) the development of group classes in the violin or of amateur orchestras in working-class communities (such as those described in the previous section) are all connected to this ideology. Commercial realities became entwined with these activities, and sales opportunities were quickly seized by those who supplied resources (music, instruments, etc.) to such groups  –  notably by the publishers Novello and Curwen. In larger cities, inexpensive and sometimes free concerts complemented the agenda for serious recreation by providing workers with opportunities to hear classical music in their leisure hours. For example, Sunday concerts, replete with informative, cheap programme notes to enhance appreciation, became regular events around London towards the end of the nineteenth century.57 But lest this description implies a wholly top-down explanation of classical music activities within the labouring classes, it should be remembered that this arm of Victorian culture found willing participants in the thousands of working-class individuals who sought a share in intellectual and artistic treasures and who took the initiative to achieve them, autodidactically or collectively.58 Besides, the idea of linking recreation to the elevation of the individual permeated middle- and upper-class culture.59 In these worlds too, consuming music   –  whether through so-called passive listening or through active 56 John Lowerson and John Myerscough, Time to Spare in Victorian England (Hassocks: Harvester, 1977), p. 16. 57 See, for example, Alan Bartley, Far from the Fashionable Crowd: The People’s Concert Society and Music in London’s Suburbs ([n.p.]: Whimbrel Publishing, 2009), pp. 3–146. 58 For general discussion, see Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001). 59 On such domestic recreation, see Lowerson and Myerscough, Time to Spare, pp. 47–58.

Idea of Art.indb 190

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

191

participation   –  was understood as contributing to a person’s self-growth. Particularly relevant here are the Monday and Saturday Pops, London’s longlived, renowned concerts of chamber music at which repertoire by Beethoven, Brahms and other ‘high-serious’ composers was performed by top-calibre performers. The concerts attracted large audiences, ranging from clerks to members of high society, and, as with counterpart events in working-class culture, explanatory programme notes were available (though at the Pops the notes were more expensive and the reading material was more substantial).60 Since chamber music, by definition, tended to appeal to string-players, it seems reasonable to assume that many amateur violinists absorbed high culture in this vicarious manner. That said, to make music oneself was to absorb more directly the civilizing values deemed inherent in art music; or, put in Victorian terms, to gain ‘a wider and more intimate acquaintance with the best music of the great composers’. 61 Joining an amateur orchestra  –  which almost always needed stringplayers  –  offered violinists a unique, exciting way of getting to know ‘through the fingers’ an elevating repertoire of art music that would otherwise have been encountered only through contemplation in the concert hall. One contemporary writer, articulating why middle-class girls should take up the violin, considered that it would allow them to develop a deeper musicianship than the piano could and to form the capacity to become ‘the noblest interpreters of human feeling’. 62 As noted earlier, changing social values affected the acceptability for women to play string instruments and contributed hugely to the vitality of the fiddle craze. Gillett, pinpointing several reasons this shift came about, argues for the following (in addition to the ‘role model’ function of female concert artists we have already encountered): altered assumptions about women’s role in society, which led to the lifting of barriers on middle-class women entering the workplace and reforms in female education; a heightened interest in playing chamber music in the home, which was considered a healthy means of strengthening family ties, especially for women; and (indirectly) more liberal attitudes towards, and a popularization of, the paranormal, which tempered the long-held negative association of the violin with the devil, while also encouraging a mysterious, quasi-dangerous mythology to develop around female violinists.63 Such an allure 60 On the Pops audience, see Therese Ellsworth, ‘“Caviare to the Multitude”: Instrumental Music at the Monday Popular Concerts, London’, Instrumental Music and the Industrial Revolution, ed. Roberto Illiano and Luca Sala (Bologna: Ut Orpheus, 2010), pp. 121–42; but note also Paula Gillett, ‘Ambivalent Friendships: Music-Lovers, Amateurs, and Professional Musicians in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Music and British Culture, pp. 321–40, at p. 340. On programme notes, see Christina Bashford, ‘Not Just “G.” : Towards a History of the Programme Note’, George Grove, Music and Victorian Culture, ed. Michael Musgrave (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), pp. 115–42. 61 ‘The Guild of Violinists and Institute of Stringed-Instrument Players’, Strings, January 1894, p. 98. 62 Louis Lombard, ‘Why Should Girls Play the Violin?’, Violin Times, June 1895, p. 123. 63 Gillett, Musical Women, pp. 87–90 and 98–103.

Idea of Art.indb 191

02/02/2016 15:13

192

Christina Bashford

was strengthened by the erotic overtones of women playing an instrument that clearly mimics the shape of the female body.64 Gillett also considers that, as pianos became more affordable by the lower orders, a new musical marker of social status was needed for middle-class women, with the result that the violin offered ‘nice girls’ a way of asserting social difference.65 This state of affairs may have been the case for a while, but string-playing would soon become a cheap enough hobby to be taken up by the more middling and working classes, bringing into question the extent to which the violin family offered well-heeled women a means of better expressing distinctive social identities. (That said, emphases in high-end trade advertising of the importance of obtaining ‘high-class’ instruments testify to the violin’s potential as a conduit to upward mobility.) We might add that string-playing in amateur ensembles was one means, other than being in a choir, by which a leisured woman could break away from the solitude of the piano and participate in a sizeable musical recreation that mixed the sexes. As for the popularity of string-playing as a leisure pursuit among middleclass men, this too had taken a stride forward; some men were now willing to be public about their violin- and cello-playing, and to challenge the stereotypes of effeminacy that had long attached to being a string-player in respectable society. In 1871, H. R. Haweis wrote about hours of quartet-playing with other men ‘at the back of a good house’ and the social and musical camaraderie the activity engendered.66 Well-off men also collected fine, old instruments, usually in the spirit of connoisseurship, displaying them for friends and thus asserting ‘cultural capital’.67 It is easy to imagine men such as George Haddock scouring advertisements or poring over features addressed to collectors in violin magazines, thus demonstrating the Victorian obsession with collecting in general (be it of books, moths or stamps) or the interest in old, rare artefacts in particular. Leon Rosenstein, in his compelling history of antiques, has linked the nineteenthcentury desire to possess unique art objects from the past not only to a need among the growing middle classes to celebrate their wealth, domesticity and identity through the acquisition of special ‘valued’ goods (in practice usually those with a high price tag), but also to a broader reaction against industrialization and mass production that led people to seek a soothing escape 64 For more, see ibid., pp. 78–85 and 103. 65 Ibid., p. 99. That said, the extent that working-class women, as opposed to girls in state schools, took up the violin was likely limited. 66 H[ugh] R[eginald] Haweis, Music and Morals (New York: Harper Brothers, 1872; first published, London, 1871), pp. 446–7, 448; for further discussion, see Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics’, pp. 332–5. 67 On violin collectors, see Harvey, The Violin Family, pp. 217–22. On the barriers to women being active, and taken seriously, as collectors of art, see Dianne Sachko Macleod, Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 28–30. The notion of ‘cultural capital’ as a marker of social distinction comes, of course, from the French sociologist Bourdieu (Distinction) and is frequently used in histories of audiences for art music.

Idea of Art.indb 192

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

193

from the brutality of the present by creating an imagined historical realm.68 Although he does not discuss musical instruments, he detects, in the fin-de-siècle middle-class desire to own old, hand-produced objects, a decadent pleasure in having and handling material things of beauty from everyday life. He also suggests that these activities were a means by which collectors could romanticize their own social origins in the labouring world.69 This last point about romanticizing the artisan may conceivably extend beyond the arena of violin collecting and touch on the playing craze and its commerce too, helping explain why many people developed a desire to purchase and learn string instruments, both the cheap and the expensive, and what ideology they were tapping into when they did. Further, it may shed light on the conundrum stated earlier: the popularity of an instrument that was understood as having been painstakingly crafted out of wood by one highly skilled artisan, in times when so many amateurs were buying and playing instruments that obviously evinced and even celebrated technological advance and industrialization: massproduced metal-framed pianos and valved brass instruments. The picture here is complicated because not all violins were created in traditional, artisanal ways, though they were nevertheless advertised in the press as if they had been. In parts of Europe, as we have seen, some making had opened up to manufacturing processes; this was especially so for the student instruments that stoked the violin craze. The violin enthusiast Edward Heron-Allen wrote in 1910 that he had seen in a factory abroad ‘backs and bellies pressed into shape under heat, […] the better instruments gouged inside and out by rotary carving tools, [and] ribs bent a dozen at a time by machinery’.70 He made these observations after a trip to Mirecourt, Mittenwald and Markneukirchen. By 1900, according to Brian Harvey, these centres (which had roots in craft practices) were producing about 90% of the world’s supply of trade fiddles.71 Some of the final assembly was done by hand, but much of the process was conceived industrially, and the commercial benefits of division of labour, machinery and a production line  –  and, in turn, economies of scale resulting in falling prices  –  were evident. And yet the violin dealer Haynes, of London, who billed his ‘School Violin Outfits’ prominently in advertising, described such cheap instruments as ‘hand wrought, and examined and adjusted in our own workshops’, 72 nimbly concealing the extent of the debt to industrial processes. 68 Leon Rosenstein, Antiques: The History of an Idea (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), esp. pp. 123–32. See also his definition of an antique as something of beauty and rarity, as well as of age (ibid., p. 26). 69 Crafted objects were thus a means for people to imagine their ancestors in a wholesome, sanitized and ultimately valuable light. See Rosenstein, Antiques, pp. 125–8. 70 Heron-Allen, ‘Violin Family’, p. 308. 71 Harvey, The Violin Family, p. 124. David Schoenbaum (The Violin: A Social History of the World’s Most Versatile Instrument [New York: W. W. Norton, 2013], p. 75) states that Mittenwald was producing 25,000–30,000 instruments annually, around 1900. 72 Strad, January 1904, p. 258.

Idea of Art.indb 193

02/02/2016 15:13

194

Christina Bashford

Meanwhile, most of the dealers who advertised in the violin press had professional players and collectors in their sights, and highlighted the high end of their operations, either the importing of older (foreign) violins or the making by hand and selling of their own new ones. Most instruments, whether genuine or fake, were promoted as superior models, and many a wealthy learner was probably tempted to buy a pricey ‘older’ instrument in the hope that it would improve his or her playing. It is striking too that when expensive instruments were at stake, the tendency was to mask the ‘dirty’ commercial dimension, avoiding mention of price altogether (allowing scope for negotiation between buyer and seller), thus establishing a sense of exclusivity around the goods.73 Furthermore, by emphasizing the quality of construction and an instrument’s rarity and age, advertising created for these instruments a distinctive character, one that mass-produced products, in comparison, so glaringly lacked. To these ends, most copywriters showcased the aesthetic value, in terms of sound, that traditional high-status craftsmanship embodied. Connection to a mastermaker (name recognition was a signal part of the process) was also well worth vaunting: Paul Bailly, a London maker, advertised as a pupil of G. B. [i.e., JeanBaptiste] Vuillaume (a significant French maker), boldly guaranteeing the sonority of his instruments.74 Restoration work was likewise hyped as done to the best craftsman’s standards. Thomas Hesketh in Manchester, for example, promoted his specialism as ‘Repairing Old Instruments in the most careful manner’.75 In the case of new, hand-built instruments, contemporary makers often spotlighted their adoption of tools or techniques used by master craftsmen. For instance, varnishes made to old Cremona recipes were said to ensure a pure and rich tone (Atkinson of London), ‘Sound-post and Bridge Fittings [were said to be] done by an Original Superior Method’ (Owen of Leeds), and one maker (George Buckman of Dover) insisted that all his instruments were ‘hand made from choice old wood’ [emphasis in original].76 In other words, makers positioned themselves in the historical continuum of master craftsmen, even though the instruments they made were never exact replicas of old Strads or Amatis, inasmuch as they took on design modifications that had since come into being in pursuit of a more powerful, brighter sound: changes to neck and fingerboard length and design, increased string tension, heavier bass bars and so on.77 Thus, 73 Some issues of price and value in antique goods are covered in Rosenstein, Antiques, pp. 186–8; also relevant here is what Christopher Herbert describes as the Victorians’ ‘panicky dread of indelicate references to money matters’ in his wide-ranging analysis in ‘Filthy Lucre: Victorian Ideas of Money’, Victorian Studies 44 (2002), 185–213, at p. 199. 74 Strad, September 1890, p. 105. 75 Strad, January 1893, p. 162. 76 Strad, May 1893, p. 15, and October 1892, pp. 101 and 102. 77 See Harvey, The Violin Family, pp. 62–5. The modern ‘Tourte’ bow was part of the revolution. Note that older violins were adapted to bring them in line with modern design (David D. Boyden and Peter Walls, ‘Violin, I, 4: History and Repertory, 1600–1820’, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edn, ed. Stanley Sadie [London: Macmillan, 2001]; vol. 26, p. 715).

Idea of Art.indb 194

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

195

Figure 8.2  Advertisement for ‘Cathedral’ strings, a product of British Music Strings, Ltd., from The Violinists’ Gazette, October 1922 [Copyright © The British Library Board, All rights reserved, General Reference Collection, P. P. 1946 Gab]

anyone purchasing a cheap factory fiddle or accessories from a violin shop (and notably many reputable dealers carried trade fiddles as well as fine violins) was being invited to buy into the antique-cum-artisan aura that was being created around the instrument. The selling of strings gives another sense of how these principles worked in practice, although here the paradoxes are lessened, since this part of the industry had not bowed to mechanical processes to the same extent that the violin had.78 A 1922 advertisement for gut strings (Fig. 8.2) projects the idea of the British master craftsman who has spent a lifetime at his job; he is pictured in an apron, albeit clasping a manufactured paper packet containing a string.79 Here we also see the patriotic card being played, though not in such an overtly anti-German way as it had been during World War I by the British ViolinMakers’ Guild, which actively promoted the use of raw materials from home markets, to prevent ‘the Hun’ from ‘restor[ing  …] his commerce and the next great opportunity of Prussianising the world’.80 78 On string manufacturing processes, see W. Meredith Morris, British Violin Makers, 2nd edn (London: Robert Scott, 1920), pp. 41–7. 79 By c. 1880, metal-covered gut was widely used for the violin G string (its lowest); but now emerging were an entirely metal and more reliable E (top) string, and silk as an alternative for gut. 80 Strad, January 1916, p. 55.

Idea of Art.indb 195

02/02/2016 15:13

196

Christina Bashford

Part of the backdrop to the advertising strategies outlined here is the emergence of violin-making as a hobby for men. Despite the seemingly daunting task of producing such a delicate, intricate instrument entirely on one’s own, this after-hours endeavour was fairly popular, the quest being to fashion instruments according to older Italian principles. As Russell points out, quite a few commercial violin-makers  –  including Owen of Leeds, and William Atkinson from east London  –  began as hobbyists.81 The publication of detailed handbooks and magazine features supported this corner of the culture, providing a sense of the seriousness and precision that attached to it. Books, such as John Broadhouse’s invitingly titled How to Make a Violin (1892; serialized in the Strad) and Walter Mayson’s comprehensive Violin Making (1909), present the same rejoicing in the artisan’s skill, dedication and lifestyle, and in the beauty of what he might produce from natural materials, that we see in commerce around the violin. This sensibility was redolent, in some respects, of the practices, principles and anti-industrial attitudes of the contemporary Arts and Crafts movement, which decried the coarse ugliness of mass-produced, manufactured goods and the dehumanizing effect that the processes had on workers. The advertisement from Strings magazine in Figure 8.3, for another Broadhouse book (The Art of FiddleMaking, 1894), speaks to this growing idealization of the traditional craft of violinmaking and, in turn, of the violin. A bespectacled, seasoned maker is focused intently on his woodworking task, his sleeves rolled up and his hands plying a saw; his simple workshop  –  itself, seemingly, a wooden, ‘organic’ construction  –  is bedecked by tools and violin body parts. The image draws attention not only to the slow, intricate precision of the traditional instrument-building process, but to its humanity as well. The same year, Heron-Allen and his wife published the pertinently named Arts and Crafts Book of the Worshipful Guild of Violin-makers of Markneukirchen from the Year 1677 to the Year 1772, a translation of a German text that nostalgically portrayed the artisanship (or ‘artistic handicraft’) of violinmaking in one of the Saxony towns that had become a significant site for factory violin production in the days before industrialization.82 This is not to suggest that all British makers were ‘signed up’ to the Arts and Crafts movement’s organizational structures or aesthetic principles, or that everyone who took up the violin or cello was fixated on the instruments’ craftsmanship, or supported the campaign.83 One imagines that most stringplayers developed only a passing interest in their instrument’s construction, and in any case certain tenets of Arts and Crafts philosophy (for instance, the desire to create objects of beauty for functional use in the home) cannot be applied to 81 Russell, Popular Music, p. 282. 82 Authored by Richard Petong; published in Heron-Allen’s series De Fidiculis Opuscula (London: The Author, 1894). 83 A linkage with Arts and Crafts was far more typical of builders of instruments who attached more obviously to the early-music revival. Arnold Dolmetsch, for instance, was a member of the Art Workers’ Guild (established 1884). He was known mostly as a builder of keyboard instruments, lutes and viols, but also made a few violins (documented in Harvey, The Violin Family, p. 334).

Idea of Art.indb 196

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

197

Figure 8.3  Advertisement for John Broadhouse’s book The Art of Fiddle-Making (London: Haynes, 1894), from Strings, July 1894, p. 159 [Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester]

Idea of Art.indb 197

02/02/2016 15:13

198

Christina Bashford

violins.84 Yet the connections are suggestive, especially as they play out in the commercial arena, where the image of the violin family functions in various ways: for instance, this image emphasizes the instruments’ materiality and origins in the working world; it toys with the notion of the traditional craftsman; and it stresses links to the past and the high quality of the product. Such a take is hardly surprising given the nature of violin construction, and it aligns with the general turn-of-the century tendency to revere antique goods. But it also chimes suggestively with Arts and Crafts ideals. Also, we know the violin craze was much fuelled by the retailing of instruments with origins in factory processes; yet around the idea of the violin a general ideology emerged that downplayed the instrument’s commercial dimension and ignored its debt to the machine age, suggesting tensions and contradictions similar to those that art historians have noted in British Arts and Crafts culture. The movement’s leader William Morris  –  despite his belief that capitalism’s use of machinery oppressed and dehumanized workers’ lives  –  had his wallpapers printed by machines and used photography to aid textile design, facts he surely kept quiet about.85 Further, although the movement idealized rural craftsmanship, most Arts and Crafts people were based in cities, not the countryside. The same could be said of many violin-makers.86 Although these ideological undercurrents are compelling in their own terms, they may also help explicate the growth of violin culture. For it may well be that, in choosing to purchase and pursue string instruments over instruments such as pianos or brass  –  which were emblematic of industrialization  –  many would-be musicians were tuning in, on some level (maybe subliminally), to a triangle of art, craft and nostalgic pastness that commerce around the violin family perpetrated. That is not to deny that the instruments’ unique timbral qualities and heightened potential to touch emotions were always likely to have been among the more overt reasons why the violin family held such a strong attraction for learners. But what is striking is that for a student of the violin (especially) to attain a technique that could produce even a half-respectable sound took far more time and toil than it did for a student of any other instrument, and many learners never 84 For a helpful overview of the history of the movement in Britain, see Alan Crawford, ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’, Oxford Art Online (www.oxfordartonline. com) [accessed 24 January 2015]. The connection between the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain and the growth of violin-making in the Victorian period is mentioned, but not developed, in Harvey, The Violin Family, pp. 250 and 255. It will be a focus in Wilder’s Ph.D. dissertation; see n. 17 above. 85 See Linda Parry, ‘Arts and Crafts Textiles’, International Arts and Crafts, ed. Karen Livingstone and Linda Parry (London: V[ictoria] & A[lbert Museum], 2005), pp. 62–81, at p. 69; also Graeme Shankland, ‘William Morris  –  Designer’, William Morris: Selected Writings and Designs, ed. Asa Briggs (Baltimore: Penguin, 1962), unnumbered insert, following p. 160. It was not machinery per se that Morris objected to, but the uses it was put to in the capitalist system: ‘[W]e should be masters of our machines and not their slaves.’ 86 See Alan Crawford, ‘The Importance of the City’, International Arts and Crafts, pp. 218–37, at p. 218; see also Harvey, The Violin Family, pp. 401–6, for lists of British makers and the locations in which they worked.

Idea of Art.indb 198

02/02/2016 15:13

Violin Culture in Britain

199

came anywhere near achieving these goals. That challenge makes it all the more astonishing that so many people persevered with string instruments, aiming for the visceral and sensual thrill of creating sound through wood  –  a sound made with an aesthetically pleasing, handmade object. That they did so, and in such numbers, was due in no small part to changes in social attitudes and economic structures in late Victorian Britain that opened up the violin market and its associated commerce. However, the phenomenon seems also indicative of both a world that  –  perhaps fearful of its future  –  was questioning the legacy of ‘progress’ through industrial manufacturing, and a society that was increasingly imagining a lost artisanal past (ideas that are viewed by many scholars as indicative of Englishness).87 In the sphere of music, these values were reflected in, and may even have been propelled by, how British culture and commerce chose to construct and promote the idea of the violin. That idea, moreover, may help explain something of the intensity of the craze for playing instruments of the violin family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It may also account for the rapid social and demographic expansion of violin culture to extend, as one magazine trumpeted in 1884, from ‘the most exalted in the land to the humblest dweller in the cottage’. 88

87 On the idealization of the past and the pastoral, see Jan Marsh, Back to the Land: The Pastoral Impulse in England, from 1880 to 1914 (London: Quartet Books, 1982), and Martin J. Wiener, English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850–1980 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). 88 Editorial, The Fiddler, April 1884, p. [1].

Idea of Art.indb 199

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 200

02/02/2016 15:13

Part I V Repertoires

Idea of Art.indb 201

02/02/2016 15:13

9 Read All About It! Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers, 1875–1938 Jon Solomon

T

he process of popularizing and commercializing ancient Greek music in the United States began in the 1870s, and by the late 1920s and 1930s, a number of publications as well as theatrical and radio performances had made a limited but credible impact on popular culture. What makes this process particularly interesting is that within the parameters of the history of Western music, ancient Greek music had until 1893 remained stubbornly arcane and widely misunderstood and misrepresented. That ultimately by the end of our period of study there were a number of public performances and commercial applications of ancient Greek music testifies to the powerful economic and commercial forces that accelerated during the latter third of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth. But the recovery, study and publication of several ancient Greek musical texts had provided a new impetus for scholars to share their findings with fellow academics in both print and performance venues, and then the press found these to be inherently fascinating and continued to report developments to the public at large in national and local newspapers around the country, thereby helping to create the market for commercialization. Because newspaper reports, announcements and reviews were so instrumental in creating and sustaining this small, unique market, the bulk of the data mined for this study required a search that would have been relatively difficult until a few years ago. The development of Proquest’s digitized newspaper database has made focused searches of major American (and English) newspaper archives much more practicable within research library networks, as has the Library of Congress’s website Chronicling America (www.chroniclingamerica.loc. gov). The emergence of publicly marketed, online newspaper archives like newspaperarchive.com and genealogybank.com has made available a variety of corpora containing searchable local newspapers. Together these contemporary resources allow scholars researching popular culture to delve into a period that produced and preserved sufficient amounts of traditional newspaper coverage to support the chronological survey presented in this study, which therefore claims to be neither comprehensive nor complete. Perhaps resources in the near and distant future will yield richer details about individual performances. The roles music played in second-millennium-BC Greece probably represented, as in most ancient cultures, a number of different subgroups and social purposes. But as Greek civilization progressed over the next millennium, the representative tunings associated with different ethnic groups, whose names  –  Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian  –  still echo in Western ears, were consolidated into 202

Idea of Art.indb 202

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

203

a single system devised by Aristoxenus in around 300 BC and represented in correlating notation schemes recorded by the otherwise obscure Alypius. The technical aspects of ancient Greek tuning, and harmonics that reach back to the sixth-century-BC Pythagoras and continue to develop for more than six centuries to Ptolemy, along with ethical analyses by the fourth-century-BC Plato and Aristotle, permanently established the study of Greek music within the mathematical and philosophical traditions, diminishing the importance of its compositional and performance aspects for centuries. In the Renaissance, ancient Greek music was one of the last of the Greek arts to receive full attention. Poliziano developed pastoral drama from the Greek Idylls of Theocritus and integrated passages from Vergil’s Georgics and Ovid’s Metamorphoses into his Orfeo, Ficino reinterpreted the works of Plato, and Botticelli allegorized the gods of Greco-Roman mythology already in latefourteenth-century Florence; but as late as the middle of the sixteenth century, treatises on ancient Greek music theory, preserved in comprehensive but neglected codices, were still undergoing the preliminary work of collection and Latin translation by northern Italian scholars like Franchino Gaffurio, Giorgio Valla, Carlo Valgulio, Gioseffo Zarlino and Antonio Gogava.1 Even then, the few hymnal fragments that were available in manuscript form were not effectively transcribed, nor were the notational treatises of Alypius properly applied. Such scholarly work led to Girolamo Mei’s history of Greek music, De modis musicis, in 1573. Mei in turn inspired Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Bardi, Jacopo Peri, Giulio Caccini and others to recreate the ancient Greek monodic style of the sort used for the performances of Dafne and Euridice in Florence in 1598 and 1600, respectively. Ultimately, however, their ‘new music’ (nuova musica) did not attempt to recreate authentic-sounding ancient Greek music. Designed to follow primarily the dictates of Aristotle (Poetics) and the Aristotelian corpus (Problems), these Florentine musical/theatrical creations would eventually develop into opera, but the music written for the thousands of subsequent operatic compositions bore even less resemblance to ancient Greek music, despite any residual similarities between ancient Greek monody, the Florentine stile rappresentativo and dramatic recitative.2 In addition, Greek tragedy was soon forgotten as the exemplar. The horrific stories of incest and intra-familial murders associated with ancient Greek tragedies did not find favour with Baroque operatic patrons or audiences, and even the mid-eighteenthcentury ‘reform’ operas relied for the most part on the most untragic of Greek tragedies, Euripides’s Alcestis and his Iphigenia plays. This brings us to October 1841 and the ground-breaking Potsdam production of Sophocles’s Antigone, the first serious attempt at mounting a Greek tragedy on stage in several centuries. At the beginning of the process of composing the incidental music, Felix Mendelssohn made a conscious decision to compose 1 For more details, see Claude V. Palisca, Music and Ideas in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2006), pp. 6–7. 2 See Robert C. Ketterer, ‘Why Early Opera is Roman and Not Greek’, Cambridge Opera Journal 15 (2003), 1–14.

Idea of Art.indb 203

02/02/2016 15:13

204

Jon Solomon

in current nineteenth-century idiom. His friend Johann Droysen, representing contemporary opinion about ancient Greek music, insisted that ‘neither the composer nor anyone else knows what it sounded like’.3 Mendelssohn, who in his youth had studied the ancient Greek language, considered composing the choruses in ancient Greek monodic style and employing only those instruments that he believed would reproduce a historical authenticity, e.g. modern equivalents of the aulos, salpinx and lyre.4 According to Mendelssohn’s longtime correspondent, Eduard Devrient: The musical treatment of the choruses was much discussed between us. […] The first suggestion was to set the chorus in unison throughout, and to recitative interspersed with solos; as nearly as possible to intone or recite the words, with accompaniment of such instruments only as may be supposed in character with the time of Sophocles, flutes, tubas, and harps in the absence of lyres. I opposed this plan that the voice parts would be intolerably monotonous, without the compensatory clearness of the text being attained. […] Verbal distinctness then being unattainable by a chorus, no musical feature ought to be sacrificed for the sake of it. Nevertheless Felix made the attempt to carry out this view, but after a few days he confessed to me that it was impracticable; […] that the chanting of a chorus would be vexatiously monotonous, tedious and unmusical; and that accompaniments for so few instruments would give so little scope for variety of expression, that it would make the whole appear as a mere puerile imitation of the ancient music, about which after all we knew nothing.5 Mendelssohn did, however, decide to limit the choral passages to syllabic renderings of the text, and he collaborated with the classical scholar August Böckh so he could approximate Sophocles’s original metrical scheme.6 He rendered the prosodic rhythms of the ancient Greek choral metres by following their long and short syllables, differentiated anapests from traditional dance metres and even inserted uneven phrases to reflect the irregular colometry of the Greek original.7 In doing so, Mendelssohn respected the philological elements of 3 Quoted from Jason Geary, ‘Reinventing the Past: Mendelssohn’s Antigone and the Creation of an Ancient Greek Musical Language’, Journal of Musicology 23 (2006), 187–226, at p. 191. 4 Eduard Devrient, My Recollections of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and His Letters to Me, trans. Natalia MacFarren (London: Richard Bentley, 1869), p. 8; German in Meine Erinnerungen an Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy und seine Briefe an mich, 2nd edn (Leipzig: J. J. Weber, 1872), p. 14. 5 Devrient, My Recollections, pp. 224–6; Meine Erinnerungen, pp. 218–19. 6 R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn: A Life in Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 418–25. 7 Douglass Seaton, ‘Mendelssohn’s Dramatic Music’, The Mendelssohn Companion, ed. Douglass Seaton (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001), pp. 192–204; Jason Geary, The Politics of Appropriation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 53–63.

Idea of Art.indb 204

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

205

Greek tragic poetry while still conveying to his audience intervals and melodic contours they could easily recognize. This Prussian production was singularly influential for re-establishing ancient Greek tragedy in the modern theatrical repertoire.8 Even before the Potsdam production of Sophocles’s Oedipus at Colonus in 1845, the Antigone production had been exported to the Paris Odéon and then was reproduced at London’s Covent Garden.9 Mendelssohn’s music was roundly criticized in the Times for being ‘too modern and at the same time not modern enough’, adding for comparison that Berlin, a university town, had ‘a particularly learned public’. 10 The anonymous review also noted that the audience actually hissed at the singing of the chorus, although this was in part due to poor execution of the music.11 Even so, it concluded that the audience was left with the impression ‘that they had witnessed a great work, new to them from its extreme simplicity, and striking by its deep solemnity’. Looking at this review in retrospect, we observe several themes that will persist for decades: the novelty of experiencing recreations of ancient Greek music; the association between ancient Greek music and drama; and the persistent rebalancing between authenticity and modernity. Even in the American Midwest, and even as late as 1879, newspapers were circulating the statement that Mendelssohn’s attempt at adapting the Antigone choruses to his conception of Greek music ‘proved to be a harsh jargon’.12 On the other hand, later that same year, Midwestern newspapers circulated a syndicated report about an article published by Charles Lévêque in the January Journal des savants.13 It described Louis Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray’s extensive ‘ethnomusicological’ survey of contemporary Greek ecclesiastical and folk music. He reportedly had reconstructed ‘melodies which he attributed to the epochs of Socrates and Phidias’. The syndicated American article concludes by reporting Lévêque’s suggestion that modern music would be much enhanced by borrowing from the ancient Greeks the simplicity of their melodies, the diversity of their rhythms and the multiplicity of their modes, along with a more liberal use of the 8 See Fiona Macintosh, ‘Tragedy in Performance: Nineteenth- and TwentiethCentury Productions’, The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, ed. P. E. Easterling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 284–323, at p. 286; and Hellmut Flashar, Inszenierung der Antike: Das griechische Drama auf der Bühne der Neuzeit 1585–1990, 2nd edn (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2009), pp. 67–74. 9 Frank Jones, ‘Scenes from the Life of Antigone’, Yale French Studies 6 (1950), 91–100, at p. 95. 10 ‘Covent Garden Theatre: The Antigone of Sophocles’, Times (London), 3 January 1845, p. 6D. 11 In DN (London), 21 March 1868, p. 6, the choruses warranted praise in concert suite form. 12 Tripod (Evanston, Illinois), 18 April 1879, p. 6. 13 Charles Lévêque, ‘Les mélodies grecques’, Journal des savants, January 1879, pp. 33–40; Journal officiel de la République Française, 1 May 1879, p. 3624; Daily Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), 17 August 1879, p. 7; and Sioux County Herald (Iowa), 21 August 1879, p. 7.

Idea of Art.indb 205

02/02/2016 15:13

206

Jon Solomon

chromatic mode. (Following this, not much of note was happening in Europe with regard to Greek music until the 1870s.) Ancient Greek music found a permanent home in American academia in 1875. When the Harvard Advocate proposed that the following year’s inaugural production at the Sanders Theatre in Memorial Hall should ‘attempt to reproduce as exactly as possible the “Antigone” of Sophocles, as it was represented at Athens’, a Boston Globe article immediately targeted the issue of Mendelssohn’s music: ‘The Greek music, which is not to be had, [the Advocate] thinks may be happily substituted by the music of Mendelssohn, written for these choruses.’14 Although the Advocate pointed out that the Potsdam production was criticized by all the leading European newspapers, the paper nonetheless suggested that, despite the potential criticism, a Harvard production would attract the attention of scholars from all over the country and be ‘a great honor to the College’. That same year, Harvard professor John Knowles Paine, the pioneering American symphonist and choral composer, was including the study of ancient Greek music in his History of Music class.15 His exam of February 1875 asked broad historical questions about the periods, musicians and ‘general character’ of Greek music and technical questions about ‘the different kinds of tetrachords and their combinations and the diatonic modes’. 16 He also asked the students to describe ‘the ancient styles of singing’, which included the ‘musical recitative’ of dramatic dialogue and choral ‘intonation’ of Greek tragedy and more generally ‘sonorous declamation’. 17 The Harvard production of Paine’s Oedipus Tyrannus in May 1881 marks the first of many American college productions of Greek tragedies in the original language and with incidental music.18 Like Mendelssohn, Paine, according to Washington’s National Republican, ‘abandoned at the outset all notions of attempting to reproduce, or to imitate Greek music because no one has anything but theories as to what that music was, and there is a doubt if they had any music at all, as we moderns understand it’. 19 According to the Burlington Free Press, the music he composed in contemporary idiom for a male chorus of fifteen, a supplementary chorus of fifty and full orchestra of thirty-two was worthy of high praise but the delivery too powerful for the concept: ‘That any music ever heard in Athens was as rich, full, and expressive as that composed by Mr. Paine for the choruses of the Oedipus, is quite improbable.’ 20 A report in the [New York] Sun 14 Boston Globe (citing the Advocate), 6 November 1875, p. 8. The article refers also to a performance in modern Athens in honour of the wedding of King George I and Olga Constantinova [in 1867]. 15 Harvard University Catalogue, 1875–76 (Cambridge, MA: Charles W. Sever, 1875), p. 259. 16 Ibid., p. 260. 17 New York World, 4 December 1878, p. 6. 18 Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), 24 May 1881, p. 4. 19 National Republican (Washington, DC), 13 May 1881, p. 1. 20 Burlington Free Press (Vermont), 27 May 1881, p. 2; cf. Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 18 May 1881, p. 2.

Idea of Art.indb 206

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

207

praised Paine’s ability in avoiding the ‘severity and barrenness’ of ancient Greek music.21 Later, the Prelude to Oedipus was excerpted for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1894 (just after the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ had been discovered), Paine’s score was published and reissued several times, and the play was revived by Boston’s Apollo Club in 1895, but the work never became part of the standard repertoire.22 The music for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts revival of Sophocles’s Electra in New York in 1889 was composed by Laura Sedgwick Collins, an 1886 graduate of the Academy.23 Although she introduced modern harmonies, the New York Tribune said she made ‘a commendable effort to adhere to what little is known of the form of ancient Greek music’.24 This was just one of a number of subsequent amateur and commercial American productions of Greek tragedies that have been identified and studied in several recent books. None of the earliest productions, most notably Paine’s Oedipus, Collins’s Electra, and B. C. Blodgett’s Electra at Smith in 1889 (and Amherst in 1895), incorporated the harmonic signatures of ancient Greek music.25 The discovery in 1893 of a poem with musical notation inscribed on marble blocks from the Athenian Treasury at Delphi was the watershed event that would replace the general assumption that nothing was known about ancient Greek music with frequent live realizations and attempts at integrating it into academic, public and commercial presentations.26 Notices about the discovery of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ began to appear in American newspapers in November 1893. Henry Edward Krehbiel, music editor of the New York Tribune, was already anticipating the importance of the discovery:

21 Sun (New York), 15 May 1881, p. 5. 22 M. A. deWolfe Howe, ‘John Knowles Paine’, The Musical Quarterly 25 (1939), 256–67, at pp. 262–3; John Knowles Paine, Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles (Boston: Arthur P. Schmidt, 1881, 1895 and 1908); Boston Daily Advertiser, 30 November 1895, p. 8. 23 New York Tribune, 12 March 1889, p. 6; American Academy of Dramatic Arts: Twentieth Annual Catalogue, 1903–1904 (New York: American Academy of Dramatic Arts, 1902), p. 73. 24 See Helene P. Foley, Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 239; E. Teresa Choate, Electra USA: American Stagings of Sophocles’ Tragedy (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009), pp. 42–3; and Karelisa Hartigan, Greek Tragedy on the American Stage: Ancient Drama in the Commercial Theater, 1882–1994 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995), p. 36 n. 1. 25 Northwestern (Evanston, Illinois), 21 February 1895, p. 10; cf. Henry M. Tyler, A Greek Play and its Presentation (Northampton, MA: Henry M. Tyler, 1891), pp. 56–61; and the sources in n. 24 above. 26 See Egert Pöhlmann and Martin L. West, eds, Documents of Ancient Greek Music (Oxford: Clarendon, 2001), pp. 92–115 [documents #24–31]. Cf. Jon Solomon, ‘The Reception of Ancient Greek Music in the Late Nineteenth Century’, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 17 (2010), 497–525, at pp. 501–2.

Idea of Art.indb 207

02/02/2016 15:13

208

Jon Solomon

Music has hitherto been regarded as one of the lost arts of Greece. While there are plenty of records as to the part it played in the history of that nation, nothing was known of its character. The new-found Hymn of Apollo may therefore be regarded as a key wherewith to unlock a closed page in the history of ancient Greece.27 Some American papers carried a piece from the Standard of London, surmising that the ‘key’ required further collaborative study by both classicists and music scholars: It has been suggested that this may prove a key to the music of ancient Greece, but it would be premature at present to encourage the enthusiasm of scholars in this direction. […] The best of Grecians will practically be out of court if he have not a musical scholar’s knowledge of the musical art; while, on the other hand, the musician who has no Greek will be at a disadvantage in arguing on the work of reconstruction. Collaboration will doubtless succeed in the end, but the end will not be near.28 A few other examples of ancient Greek music had already been preserved or discovered, like the Renaissance manuscript copies of several Mesomedes hymns, the Seikilos inscription unearthed in 1883 and a papyrus fragment from Euripides’s Orestes, published in 1890.29 Almost immediately after the publication of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, these, too, began to be mentioned in newspaper accounts. Among the miscellany on its music page, Chicago’s Inter Ocean reprinted a report from the New York Musical Courier in listing Mesomedes’s ‘Hymn to Calliope’ and the Orestes papyrus as parallels for the new Delphic hymn.30 Some of these entries were fairly detailed. The New Orleans TimesPicayune, for instance, not only mentioned the Euripidean fragment but even pointed out that Otto Crusius had published it in the erudite European scholarly journal Philologus.31 The New York World quoted a scholarly analysis of SaintSaëns’s attempt at authenticity in his 1894 score for Antigone: [His] orchestra plays for the most part in unison with the voices, but at times it is divided, and then one portion executes a counterpoint to the melody. In a short preface, M. Saint-Saëns justifies this proceeding on the authority of M. [François Auguste] Gevaert; but it is obvious that he has

27 New York Tribune, 18 November 1893, p. 5; cf. Charleston News and Courier (South Carolina), 1 February 1894, p. 4. 28 For example, Themis (Sacramento, California), 24 February 1894, p. 5; and Charleston News and Courier (South Carolina), 1 February 1894, p. 4. 29 Pöhlmann and West, Documents, pp. 92–115 [documents #24–28], 88–91 [#23] and 12–17 [#3]. 30 Inter Ocean, 10 December 1893, p. 31. 31 Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 30 December 1893, p. 2. Cf. Otto Crusius, ‘Zu neuentdeckten antiken Musikresten’, Philologus 52 (1893), 160–200. See also Crusius, ‘Die delphischen Hymnen: Untersuchungen über Texte und Melodien’, Philologus 53, Ergänzungsheft (1894), 1–146.

Idea of Art.indb 208

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

209

gone far beyond the ‘rudimentary polyphony’ which the learned Belgian theorist had in view when writing of Greek attempts in this direction.32 In Baltimore, the Sun delved into the scalar and rhythmic features of the piece: ‘The composition is in the Hypo-Dorian mode and, like most ancient musical compositions, in a minor key. It is in a peculiar time, with five crotchets to the bar.’ 33 In the same week, Krehbiel, who would now become a leading proponent for the acceptance of ancient Greek music, published a lengthy feature on ancient music in the New York Tribune in which he detailed the story of the Delphi discovery, narrated a brief history of Greek music, mentioned Pindar’s First Pythian Ode fragment [‘discovered’ by Athanasius Kircher in the seventeenth century but later deemed spurious], and included both a facsimile and a modern transcription of Mesomedes’s second-century ‘Hymn to Nemesis’ as well as a table of Alypian notations.34 In late March 1894, the New York Herald carried the report of a performance at the French Archaeological School in Athens for members of the Greek royal family, diplomats and scholars.35 Within a month, a syndicated report added that the performance was introduced by Théophile Homolle, the director of the Delphi excavations, arranged by the young Greek composer Nicholas and sung by four Greek amateurs.36 By the next month, Théodore Reinach, the editor of Revue des études grecques, had edited the fragments, published a transcription and prepared a performance version of the ‘Hymne à Apollon’ with accompaniment by Gabriel Fauré.37 Reinach oversaw academic presentations in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere, most of which were reported in American newspapers.38 It was Reinach who arranged for the first commercial publication of the hymn in the Almanach Hachette,39 while C. F. Abdy Williams of Bradfield College almost immediately assumed the same role in England and provided an English translation. This version of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ was circulated in June 1894 as an ‘Extra Supplement’ to the Musical Times,40 and a round of newspaper

32 For example, New York World, 25 February 1894, p. 1; cf. also San Francisco Call, 8 March 1894, p. 6. For Saint-Saëns’s Antigone, see Solomon, ‘The Reception of Ancient Greek Music’, pp. 503–4. 33 Sun (Baltimore), 11 April 1894, p. 4. In 1893, Tchaikovsky had composed the second movement of his final symphony in 5/4. 34 New York Tribune, 8 April 1894, p. 22. Cf. New York Tribune, 16 April 1894, p. 4. 35 New York Herald, 30 March 1894, p. 11. 36 Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), 21 April 1894, p. 8. 37 Théodore Reinach, ‘La musique des hymnes de Delphes’, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 17 (1893), 584–610, and 18 (1894), 363–89. Cf. Reinach, ‘Une page de musique grecque’, La revue de Paris 1, June 1894, p. 207. 38 For example, Boston Herald, 29 April 1894, p. 16; San Francisco Call, 24 June 1894, p. 16; Worcester Daily Spy (Masschusetts), 13 January 1895, p. 5. 39 ‘L’Hymne à Apollon: Le plus ancien specimen de musique du monde’, Almanach Hachette 1 (1895), 302. 40 Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, 1 June 1894, suppl., pp. 1–8.

Idea of Art.indb 209

02/02/2016 15:13

210

Jon Solomon

announcements and features blanketed the island.41 Within two weeks the Times reported that the piece had been sung at the Cambridge Musical Club and was being played nightly at the well-established Willis’ Rooms Restaurant in London (formerly part of Almack’s Assembly Rooms, a social club) as a violin solo, with rests to signify the lacunae in the inscription.42 The same month at Queen’s Hall, Abdy Williams and W. H. Wing gave a lecture performance that featured five fragments of ancient Greek music.43 And for popular consumption in both London and New York, Abdy Williams published the lyrics and music of the Pindaric fragment, Mesomedes’s hymns to Calliope, the Sun and Nemesis, the Seikilos inscription and the Delphic Hymn in book form.44 The publication was advertised in American newspapers well into the autumn.45 When Swinburne penned a new translation of the hymn, it appeared in the August 1894 issue of the British magazine Nineteenth Century and in the Boston Herald.46 July 1894 brought a transcription of the Delphic hymn that circulated in major American newspapers.47 The next month, Krehbiel’s two-column review of Abdy Williams’s book argued that the medieval exclusivity of the Greek diatonic system had made modern listeners incapable of hearing, let alone singing, quarter-tones.48 In fact, the microtones of the ancient Greek enharmonic genus would only rarely penetrate American popular culture. Greater interest would be generated by presenting ancient Greek music not as odd-sounding intervals and irregular scalar systems but as discrete scalar segments of Aristoxenus’s diatonic system. This would ultimately allow it to escape academic discussions and satisfy paying audiences.49 But despite the intellectual and historical interest in recovering fragments of ancient Greek music, there remained as well an enculturated dislike for the single vocal line of ancient Greek monody and its 41 For example, Worcester Journal, 30 June 1894, p. 6; Western Times (Devon), 26 June 1894, p. 6; and Glasgow Herald, 26 June 1894, pp. 7–8. 42 Times (London), 12 June 1894, p. 4F. 43 Observer, 24 June 1894, p. 6; MP, 25 June 1894, p. 6. For Wing, cf. Cambridge Review, 23 November 1881, p. 91. 44 The Music of the Ancient Greeks (London: Novello, Ewer, 1894). Cf. Théodore Reinach, Hymne à Apollon (London: Novello, Ewer, 1894). 45 For example, Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), 14 October 1894, p. 11. 46 Nineteenth Century 210, August 1894, pp. 315–16; Boston Herald, 12 August 1894, p. 25. Cf. Observer, 19 August 1894, p. 1; and Charles Algernon Swinburne, The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 vols (London: Chatto & Windus, 1904), vol. 6, pp. 372–3. 47 For example, Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 July 1894, p. 12; New York Herald, 29 July 1894, p. 13; and Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 August 1894, p. 22. Cf. Boston Herald, 11 July 1894, p. 7. 48 New York Tribune, 26 August 1894, p. 20. 49 The Guardian, 13 January 1895, p. 6, mentions ‘a most interesting experiment’, a lecture/performance by Abdy Williams and Wing at the Royal Academy of Music (London) that would ‘centre on the effect produced on modern ears by the Greek tuning’. Broadwood and Sons tuned several pianos ‘in accordance with the scales as described by Aristoxenus’.

Idea of Art.indb 210

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

211

lack of instrumental diversity, particularly in the late romantic era of the mid 1890s. Even Reinach embellished the hymn with Fauré’s harmonized instrumental accompaniment. Typical of the 1890s were the comments by the anonymous New York Times reviewer of Saint-Saëns’s Antigone, who declared his adaptation of ancient Greek idiom to be ‘tedious’ and ‘monotonous’.50 Similarly, the Boston Herald proposed: ‘It is hard to believe that the ancient Greeks, who brought the practice of the other arts to so high a point of perfection, could have produced nothing better than the dry and unimpressive jargon that has resulted from the efforts to decipher the few remains of Hellenic music that have come down to us.’51 In 1895, the Boston Daily Advertiser review of Paine’s score for Oedipus Tyrannus labelled it an ‘American masterpiece’ and suggested: ‘Prof. Paine would have found himself obliged, had he followed the lead of the strict historian or antiquarian, to have written his magnum opus either in unison passages or with a bagpipe drone accompaniment, and either horn of the dilemma would have gored him severely.’ 52 The New York Tribune reported that after giving a popular lecture on ancient music and performing the Delphic hymn in a manner ‘particularly devoid of expression’, Hannah Smith remarked that ancient Greek music was ‘very much below the other arts of the Grecian people’. 53 Nonetheless, the ancient Greek hymn and modern electric (or gas-lamp) technology generated at least one remarkable example of an American Gesamtkuntswerk. On 29 March 1895, Reverend S. J. Barrows gave a public lecture illustrated with stereopticon slides at Boston’s Winthrop Hall. The Boston Journal and the Boston Globe both reported that Barrows displayed views of Greek shrines and then showed ‘a picture of the stone containing the hymn’. The lights in the hall were turned down, a view of Delphi and Parnassus was shown on the screen and a dozen chorus members sang the hymn in unison to flute and piano accompaniment. The Globe paid particular attention to the technical aspects of the ‘weird’ melody: ‘The effect was deeply impressive. The Greeks did not object to putting a joyful hymn of thanksgiving in a minor key. The five-eight rhythm gave a peculiar effect when combined with the weird melody.’54 On the same day, reports appeared in the metropolitan Tribune and Inter Ocean about the final evening of the Ann Arbor Classical Conference attended by 350 delegates from nearly a dozen states.55 Benjamin D’Ooge, the longserving professor at Michigan State Normal School, described the discovery, and then Gardner Lamson of the School of Music sang the hymn (‘for the first time in this country’), with his colleague Albert A. Stanley playing the Henry Frieze [‘Columbian’] Organ in Hill Auditorium. Here, too, the report in the Detroit Free Press included some technical analysis: 50 ‘The Antigone in Opera’, New York Times, 24 December 1893, p. 19. 51 Boston Herald, 14 October 1894, p. 16. 52 Boston Daily Advertiser, 20 November 1895, p. 8. 53 New York Tribune, 17 November 1898, p. 5. 54 Boston Journal, 29 March 1895, p. 4; Boston Globe, 29 March 1895, p. 12. 55 Inter Ocean, 29 March 1895, p. 7; New York Tribune, 3 April 1895, p. 12.

Idea of Art.indb 211

02/02/2016 15:13

212

Jon Solomon

The words are accompanied by a musical notation so complete as to afford us a better knowledge of Greek music than we have been able to gain thus far from any other source. A portion of the hymn is written in the chromatic scale, the very existence of which in ancient Greek has until now been called in question. The main part of the hymn is written in the Phrygian diatonic mode, which was peculiarly well fitted to the choral lyric composed for celebrating the worship of Apollo. The melody has been harmonized in modern style.56 The New York Times issued a follow-up note in early April, challenging William Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra, and Carl Venth, conductor of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, ‘to present this hymn before an American audience’. 57 But the Delphic Hymn had for the most part already been relegated to smaller ensembles, even in New York, where its first performance, sung by Ada L. Latimer, was at The Women’s University Club, an association comprised of many of the city’s ‘college women’. 58 Even so, the event’s ‘good attendance’ was reported in the Atlanta Constitution as well as the Illinois State Register.59 By August, Americans were reading that the 1895 season of the French excavations at Delphi had identified a ‘Second Delphic Hymn’.60 This new discovery continued to be reported in American newspapers well into 1897, but because it failed to generate the same enthusiasm, it would rarely be performed in public.61 Nonetheless, the unearthing and promulgation of the ‘first’ hymn had already realized the initial hope expressed by Krehbiel in 1893 that the discovery would provide the key to unlocking the mysteries of ancient Greek music. Over the next four decades numerous public lecture-recitals along with not just amateur and academic but also benefit and for-profit performances continued to engage the public. Most performances presented only the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, but some included additional fragments. For instance, the final evening programme of a 1898 meeting of educators in Ann Arbor heard Gardner Lamson sing the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ along with Miss Bailey’s renditions of the hymns to Nemesis and Calliope.62 Also at the University of Michigan, but thirteen years later, Stanley, who would become the most prolific composer of music in the ancient Greek style, accompanied performances of the hymns to Calliope, Nemesis and

56 Detroit Free Press, 29 March 1895, p. 1. 57 New York Times, 7 April 1895, p. 29; cf. ibid., 29 April 1894, p. 12. 58 New York Tribune, 25 October 1895, p. 10; cf. Boston Daily Advertiser, 21 October 1895, p. 4. 59 Atlanta Constitution, 27 October 1895, p. 8; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 9 February 1896, p. 11. 60 Boston Daily Advertiser, 12 August 1895, p. 5; Inter Ocean, 8 September 1895, p. 13. 61 For example, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 18 January 1896, p. 4; Washington Post, 23 May 1897, p. 12; Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 May 1897, p. 13. 62 Detroit Free Press, 2 April 1898, p. 3.

Idea of Art.indb 212

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

213

Apollo, as well as the Pindar and Seikilos pieces.63 In New York, Frank Damrosch prepared a public concert of not just the Delphic hymn but also the Euripidean Orestes fragment, employing the modern accompaniment and supplements recently published by Andreas Thierfelder in Germany.64 The Delphic hymn was often inserted into different types of Greek-related productions, and women often played a significant role.65 In May 1896, Rockford College in Illinois boasted of being the first western American women’s college to produce a Greek tragedy, for which Miss Caroline Radecke sang the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ as a prelude.66 The hymn served as the opening number in Mabel Hay Barrows’s 1897 play, The Return of Odysseus, performed at Radcliffe and Brown for the benefit of their Women’s Colleges and then for more general audiences at Chicago’s Hull House and Fine Arts Building.67 And six young women from Miss [Clara] Baur’s Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati sang the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ at an open meeting of the Greek Circle of the local Woman’s Club in 1906.68 Krehbiel left us a careful delineation of Frank Taft’s arrangement sung by New York’s Madrigal Singers sponsored by the piano firm Chickering & Sons in the winter of 1899: Mr. Taft’s setting of the Greek hymn, which is far and away the most interesting specimen of ancient music which the world possesses, proved to be extremely effective. He gave it a tripartite form by setting a portion of the second part for baritone solo, with a sparing use of harp chords, and then repeating the first part (which had been sung without accompaniment) with harp arpeggios added. Dr. Dufft sang the solo and won admiration for the justness of his intonation in spite of its many strange and awkward intervals.69 Ancient Greek music, and especially the Delphic hymn, often provided what we might today identify as ‘info-tainment’. In 1900, for instance, the Detroit Archaeological Society sponsored ‘An Evening With Greek Music’ at the Museum of Art.70 For this reason, background material on the hymn remained a sine qua 63 Ann Arbor News (Michigan), 30 March 1911, p. 10. Cf. Albert A. Stanley, Greek Themes in Modern Musical Settings (New York: Macmillan, 1924), pp. 217–25. 64 New York Tribune, 30 October 1898, p. B8; Andreas Thierfelder, ed., Altgriechische Musik (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1896–99); Record-Union (Sacramento, California), 25 June 1899, p. 9. Cf. Yakima Herald (Washington state), 25 October 1905, p. 11; Boston Herald, 22 April 1906, p. 30. 65 For women and the revival of Greek tragedy, see Foley, Reimagining Greek Tragedy, pp. 35–44. 66 Daily Register Gazette (Rockford, Illinois), 9 May 1896, p. 6. 67 New York Tribune, 6 December 1897, p. 9; Chicago Tribune, 9 December 1899, p. 5, and 17 May 1900, p. 2. 68 Cincinnati Enquirer, 18 March 1906, p. 88. 69 New York Tribune, 1 February 1899, p. 6; Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), 12 February 1899, p. 15. 70 Detroit Free Press, 10 March 1900, p. 12.

Idea of Art.indb 213

02/02/2016 15:13

214

Jon Solomon

non in announcements and reviews. One third of the local newspaper review of the Rockford College Medea focused on the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, its discovery at Delphi, its Hellenistic date, its 5/4 rhythm, its alphabetic notation and its triumphant theme expressed in Apollo’s victory over the Python. Almost the entire announcement for Colorado College’s performance of The Return of Odysseus addressed the background of the ‘Delphic Hymn to Apollo’. 71 Beginning in 1908, a feature on the history of the popular Christmas carol ‘Adeste Fideles’ entered multi-year syndication in small-town newspapers, and everywhere it cited the antiquity of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ as evidence that the words and music of ‘the oldest Christian hymn known to the world’ could also be of ancient origin.72 Newspaper copy was perpetuated. For a 1909 lecture/recital, the Duluth News-Tribune said the hymn was ‘recently discovered by the French archeological society’. 73 But the fascination resurfaced periodically. In 1912, several papers ran a syndicated, illustrated, two-page, Sunday magazine feature, ‘A Magic Song 3000 Years Old’, that included the history, text and modern transcription of the hymn along with the original Greek notation.74 It is probably no coincidence that the master for the earliest recording of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ was made, on 30 October 1912, just weeks after this Sunday magazine feature. The artists were contralto Elsie Baker and harpist Emma Rous, and the recording was issued on a 12" disc [Victor #35279].75 The following year, the Educational Department of the Victor Talking Machine Company published a companion Music History and Appreciation home-study course. Lesson II, ‘The Music of the Greeks’, made reference to a detailed historical description of the hymn as well as the Abdy Williams translation.76 The home course was still in use a decade later, demonstrating clearly that the hymn had successfully transitioned into the world of educational commerce.77 Even though the music from Mendelssohn’s Antigone was now being used for American theatrical revivals and movie-theatre musical accompaniment, the proliferation of lectures and performances of authentic ancient Greek music was, by the 1910s, inspiring a number of composers to develop more appropriate

71 Denver Rocky Mountain News, 29 January 1900, p. 2. 72 For example, Albuquerque Citizen (New Mexico), 26 December 1908, p. 7; Willmar Tribune (Minnesota), 22 December 1909, p. 7; The Beaver Herald (Oklahoma), 17 February 1910, p. 7. 73 Duluth News-Tribune (Minnesota), 28 February 1909, section 3, p. 4. 74 Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), 22 September 1912, pp. 3–4; Seattle Times, 29 September 1912, pp. 1 and 53. 75 Available online: http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/2912 [accessed 28 July 2014]. 76 Anne Shaw Faulkner, A Course of Study in Music History and Appreciation for Use in the Home, 4th edn (Camden, NJ: Victor Talking Machine Company, 1921), pp. 70, 303–4 and 411. 77 Music Trades 66, December 1923, p. 48. Cf. Lethbridge Herald (Alberta, British Columbia), 16 February 1923, p. 13.

Idea of Art.indb 214

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

215

formulations.78 For Berkeley’s Greek Theater performance of Sophocles’s Ajax, Willys Peck Kent studied the ancient fragments and then composed a unison chorus accompanied by a quartet of clarinets.79 Confronting the same tradition in composing the choruses for the 1906 Agamemnon at Harvard, performed at its cavernous stadium and reported across the country, John Ellerton Lodge (son of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge) decided ‘to stick to the Greek music so far as it would not be monotonous to a modern audience’, avoiding unison singing by arranging the formal stasima (choral odes) in harmony and adding three clarinets and a bassoon to replace the ‘usual’ single flute or harp.80 To dedicate their new home in 1910, the Bohemian Club of San Francisco commissioned Humphrey John Stewart to compose the music for Peter Robertson’s play, The Oracle.81 Just three months earlier, the director/producer Margaret Anglin had used Mendelssohn’s score for her production of Antigone at Berkeley’s Greek Theater, so Stewart followed Mendelssohn’s lead by composing unison choruses with an orchestral accompaniment free from ornamentation ‘in classical simplicity […] to reproduce a suggestion of the origin of the inspiration of the work’. 82 The following year at Berkeley, Anglin engaged the Broadway composer William Furst to write the music for an Electra, which he scored for only woodwinds and brass, ‘a mode of orchestral interpretation rarely used’. 83 For her 1915 Berkeley production of Iphigenia in Aulis, Anglin had Walter Damrosch compose in an entirely modern idiom, albeit scored predominantly for flutes, clarinets and harps.84 Damrosch was very clear about his intent, and his ideas reverberated as his music was performed in Washington, DC, and Omaha the next year: [He] endeavored to reproduce the spirit of the Greek tragedy by using freely the resources of modern musical art, rather than to imitate narrowly the letter of primitive Greek music. Marvelous as were the achievements of the Greeks in drama as in all branches of literature, their music was exceedingly crude  –  practically nothing but a unison chant, without harmony. Instead of reverting to these barren beginnings of music, it has been the composer’s aim to express in a modern way the conflicting emotions of the Euripidean text. He has not, therefore used the peculiar ‘modes’ or scales in which the Greek music was written, except where a ceremonial or ritual scene in the

78 For example, Rockford Morning Star (Illinois), 16 January 1914, p. 12, for the Festival of Apollo; and Aberdeen Herald (South Dakota), 8 July 1912, p. 3, for a programme that included Giuseppe de Liguoro’s Homer’s Odyssey. 79 San Francisco Chronicle, 2 October 1904, p. 4. 80 New York Tribune, 11 March 1906, p. 2; Sun (New York), 3 June 1906, p. 7; Rock Island Argus (Illinois), 16 June 1906, p. 9. 81 San Francisco Call, 30 October 1910, p. 41. 82 Cf. San Francisco Chronicle, 12 June 1910, p. 74. 83 University Missourian (Columbia, Missouri), 25 November 1913, p. 1; Tacoma Times (Washington state), 23 July 1913, p. 4. Cf. Herald and News (Newberry, South Carolina), 8 May 1914, p. 8. Cf. Choate, Electra USA, pp. 152–6. 84 New York Tribune, 18 December 1915, p. 13; Sun (New York), 18 December 1915, p. 7.

Idea of Art.indb 215

02/02/2016 15:13

216

Jon Solomon

drama seemed to call for their suggestion of local color. […] Thus for the […] sacrifice of Iphigenia […] he has used the Hyperlydian mode.85 Others developed their own strategies for recreating a functional ancient Greek musical idiom. David Stanley Smith, who ultimately replaced Horatio Parker at Yale, reportedly derived his melodies for Harley Granville Barker’s 1915 productions of Iphigenia in Tauris and The Trojan Women from the ancient fragments, but he nonetheless used medieval modes and scored a number of passages for violins.86 For the 1912 Smith College production of Euripides’s Iphigenia at Aulis, all three types of choruses scored by Jane Peers [Newhall] followed the rhythm of the Greek text and ranged only a single octave, E–e. However, although one type used the Lydian ‘mode’, the others used E major and minor.87 More ‘authentic’ was the music University of Michigan Professor Albert A. Stanley composed for Alcestis and then Iphigenia in Tauris.88 In 1917, the Classical Weekly described the result as an aesthetic triumph: In the Iphigenia in Tauris the Greek rhythms were closely followed, as they were in Mendelssohn’s music, but here for the first time the Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian modes were freely employed by a master hand and modern harmonies were avoided. The music was rendered by a small choir of skilled singers behind the scenes, to the accompaniment of two flutes, two clarinets, a harp and a small piano, sufficiently suggestive of ancient instruments, and, as it interpreted the varied feelings of chorus and spectators alike, its charming rhythmical surprises, its curious felicity and simple dignity, and above all its prevailing religious tone, now reminiscent of the Delphic Hymn to Apollo, now suggestive of a Church chorale, provided a new and vivid emotional experience. It proved, what many have always believed, that Greek music, like the other Greek arts, must have always been a thing of beauty, even judged by modern standards, and that the choral parts must always have been the chief feature of Greek tragedy.89 Representing renewed interest in the book trade, Macmillan, in 1924, published Stanley’s Greek Themes in Modern Musical Settings, which included his

85 Omaha World Herald (Nebraska), 19 March 1916, p. 33. Cf. Washington Times, 25 February 1916, p. 6; Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia), 27 October 1917, p. 13; and New York Tribune, 17 January 1918, p. 3. 86 New York Tribune, 16 May 1915, pp. B3 and B7, and 22 June 1919, p. 2. Cf. Edith Hall and Fiona Macintosh, Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre, 1660–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 508–11. 87 Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), 20 May 1912, p. 11. Cf. Jane Peers Newhall, The Lyric Portions of Two Dramas of Euripides (Northampton, MA: C. W. Thompson, 1924) [=Smith College Classical Studies 5 (June 1924)]. 88 Stanley, Greek Themes, pp. 69–214. 89 Classical Weekly 10, 7 May 1917, p. 1.

Idea of Art.indb 216

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

217

incidental music to Percy MacKaye’s 1907 drama, Sappho and Phaon. That same year Jane Peers Newhall published her two settings of Euripides.90 Purely commercial applications celebrated both the exotic and the inherently dignified aspects of ancient Greek music. Representing the former was Edgar Stillman Kelley’s incidental music for Ben-Hur. In 1899, Kelley, who was then at New York University (and in 1901 temporarily replaced Parker at Yale), was called upon to compose the incidental music for Klaw & Erlanger’s theatrical adaptation of Lew Wallace’s novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.91 Recognized as an authority on ‘Oriental Music’, Kelley incorporated Dorian and Phrygian scales, ancient Greek tetrachordal ranges and a simulated aulos into the scenes set in the grove of Daphne, which, like Delphi, is a Hellenic sanctuary of Apollo.92 Newspapers from coast to coast repeatedly explained this to the masses.93 Of all the ancient-style productions mentioned in this chapter, this was by far the most commercially successful, playing nationwide from 1899 until 1920, earning at least $10 million and witnessed by some 12 million spectators.94 Representing these ancient-style productions were the applications of ancient Greek music to several types of dance performances. In 1904, the Omaha Daily Bee printed a cablegram reporting from Berlin that Isadora Duncan had developed sixty ancient Greek poses and dance movements, accompanied by eight youths ‘playing and singing ancient Greek music specially composed’. 95 Eleven years later in New York, Duncan opened her brother Augustus’s version of Oedipus with a rendition of the Delphic hymn, and she employed Edward Falk to direct choruses ‘from several old Greek odes, with one excerpt from Gluck’. 96 Her other brother, Raymond, who was married to a Greek (Penelope Sikelianos) and opened Platonic-like Academies in Athens, London and Paris, returned to the United States and in 1910, bedecked in his customary ancient Greek chlamys (cloak), tunic and sandals, advocated the curative properties of ancient Greek music.97 He showed diagrams of ancient Greek musical systems and had Penelope sing various microtones to demonstrate their actuality. In 1914, Diana Watts published The Renaissance of the Greek Ideal, a book designed to instil physical wellbeing through balance and movement by recreating the positions of

90 Newhall, The Lyric Portions, cit. in n. 87 above. 91 For more detail, see Jon Solomon, ‘The Music of Ben-Hur’, Syllecta Classica 23 (2012), 153–78. 92 Worcester Daily Spy (Massachusetts), 19 February 1902, p. 7, used the term ‘oriental’ to include Chinese, Saracenic and ancient Greek music. 93 Indianapolis Journal (Indiana), 22 November 1902, p. 3; Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 16 April 1905, p. 9. 94 New York Times, 7 January 1923, p. SM4. 95 Omaha Daily Bee (Nebraska), 10 January 1904, p. 12. 96 New York Tribune, 17 April 1915, p. 9. On contemporary interest in Gluck, see Simon Goldhill, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), pp. 87–124. 97 Sun (New York), 7 January 1910, p. 4. Cf. New York Tribune, 10 February 1910, p. 7.

Idea of Art.indb 217

02/02/2016 15:13

218

Jon Solomon

ancient Greek statuary.98 On 21 April 1914 at New York’s Booth Theatre, dressed in a silk Grecian tunic and sandals, she illustrated her lecture, ‘The Movement of Greek Statues’, by doing a gymnastic dance to the music of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ accompanied by harp, flute and cello.99 Similarly, ancient Greek music was also claimed by an alternative but popular esoteric group that promised a better understanding of one’s soul and the universe. Theosophist Katherine Tingley incorporated a rendition of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ along with ‘music in the old Greek modes’ into The Aroma of Athens, a play set in Periclean Athens. It was performed before a full house on New Year’s night 1918.100 In 1922, similar music was used for the performance of Aeschylus’s Eumenides at Point Loma, California, and this popular production was revived in 1923, twice in 1924, and again in 1925 and 1927.101 The commercial viability of the production was further enhanced by advertising tickets under the newspaper headline, ‘Seats Selling Rapidly For Greek Play’. A San Diego Union announcement described the ‘Special Music’ promised in the headline: ‘Music will be a special feature. […] It is based on the old Greek modes. In addition, the ancient “Hymn to Apollo” from an authentic piece of Greek music dating from the fourth century, and found at Delphi, where the opening scene of “The Eumenides” is laid, will be sung.’ Some newspaper announcements were in essence advertisements, and some were quite specific about ticket sales and/or beneficiaries. In 1908, tickets for ‘old and modern Greek music’, performed on the White House lawn ‘through the courtesy of Mrs. Roosevelt […] for the Washington Playground Association’, were said to be on sale at a nearby store.102 The ‘Hymn to Apollo’ performed at the Daphnephoria festival in Washington, DC, in the spring of 1910 was for the benefit of the Neighborhood House.103 As part of the pre-Olympic festivities in Los Angeles in 1932, tenor Tom Nassos sang the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ for the benefit of the State Home Building Fund of the American War Mothers, and ticket sales were handled by the Veterans’ Prosperity Organization.104 Some performances were funded through both civic sponsorship and ticket sales. Washington’s ‘Children’s Concerts for Adults’ in 1938, for instance, were jointly sponsored 98 Diana Watts, The Renaissance of the Greek Ideal (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1914). 99 New York Times, 19 April 1914, p. X5, and 22 April 1914, p. 15; New York Tribune, 22 April 1914, p. 9. Cf. Washington Post, 16 March 1914, p. 5, and 2 May 1914, p. 4; Perrysburg Journal (Ohio), 13 August 1914, p. 3; and Musical America 19, 25 April 1914, p. 27. Admission was charged for the lecture. 100 Evening Tribune (San Diego), 27 December 1917, p. 3; San Diego Union, 3 January 1918, p. 2. 101 San Diego Union, 3 September 1922, p. 30, and 3 June 1923, p. 10; Evening Tribune (San Diego), 14 March 1924, p. 2, and 2 June 1924, p. 8; San Diego Union, 5 May 1925, p. 13; Evening Tribune (San Diego), 10 September 1927, p. 14. 102 Washington Times, 4 October 1908, p. 34, and 10 October 1908, p. 4; National Tribune, 15 October 1908, p. 5. 103 Washington Post, 24 May 1910, p. 3. 104 Los Angeles Times, 11 July 1932, p. A9, and 18 July 1932, p. A6.

Idea of Art.indb 218

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

219

by the music committee of the Junior Board of Commerce and the Community Center Department, while ticket sales were under the supervision of the National Symphony box office.105 The first of these programmes, ‘Poetry in Music’, used the ‘Hymn to Apollo’ as ‘illustrative material’. The 1920s and 1930s would bring recorded music and radio to millions of new consumers. As an attraction ancient Greek music hardly rivalled John Philip Sousa, Enrico Caruso or Bing Crosby, but now more people could hear a sampling of recreated ancient Greek music than at any point in history. Victor produced two new recordings of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’.106 The first [BE-35851] was recorded on 3 September 1926, by the Victor Mixed Chorus of two sopranos, a tenor, a baritone and two basses under the direction of Clifford Cairns. They were accompanied by a single flute and harp. A second master [#20896] was recorded on 11 July 1927, by the Palestrina Choir under the direction of Nicola A. Montani. According to the Victor ledgers, this choir consisted of fourteen sopranos, eleven altos, ten tenors and eleven basses, accompanied by flute. The latter recording was released in December as a 10" disc [BVE-39520] and was said to be ‘of special interest’ by Phonograph Monthly Review.107 Although the former appears not to have been issued, the latter was recommended in English Journal in 1932 and was still being recommended for its educational value in Scribner’s Magazine in 1936.108 In 1931, Parlophone issued an educational recording of the Seikilos piece and Mesomedes’s ‘Hymn to the Sun’ as part of Curt Sachs’s historical anthology, ‘Two Thousand Years of Music’. 109 It was also in this period that Greek music was played on the radio, reaching an even larger potential audience. Across the Atlantic, Dublin heard a programme of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens and other Greek-themed works.110 The BBC advertised its broadcast of the hymn as a ‘new discovery’ because they had recently found a neglected copy of the inscription in the British Museum.111 In the United States in 1926, arrangements were made for Boston’s WBZ radio to broadcast the College of the Holy Cross’s highly publicized production of Euripides’s Hecuba ‘to bring home to thousands the beauty of the melodies’ (Fig. 9.1).112 An English version preceded a Greek  –  so the audience 105 Washington Post, 13 February 1938, p. TS4. 106 and [both accessed 28 July 2014]. 107 Phonograph Monthly Review 2, March 1928, p. 237. 108 English Journal 21, December 1932, p. 837; Scribner’s Magazine 100, October 1936, pp. 98–9; American Music Lover 2, September 1936, p. 150. 109 New York Times, 3 January 1932, p. X10. 110 Irish Times, 25 October 1926, p. 9. 111 Manchester Guardian, 9 April 1932, p. 12; A Guide to the Exhibition Illustrating Greek and Roman Life (London: British Museum, 1908), pp. 220–1. 112 Boston Globe, 3 April 1926, p. A18. Cf. Aberdeen Daily News (South Dakota), 16 May 1926, p. 17; Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), 31 May 1926, p. 1; Los Angeles Times, 29 May 1926, p. 4; New York Times, 31 May 1926, p. 19.

Idea of Art.indb 219

02/02/2016 15:13

220

Jon Solomon

Figure 9.1 Display advertisement for the performance of Euripides’s Hecuba, placed by the College of the Holy Cross in the Boston Globe, 14 May 1926, p. 19 [Courtesy of the College of the Holy Cross]

would better comprehend the latter  –  and WBZ agreed to broadcast both. The music was arranged by Professor of Music John B. Marshall of the College of the Holy Cross and Boston University, and it was ‘based on the notation found inscribed on the ancient “Ode to Apollo”’. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Marshall said: ‘I have undertaken to rearrange the melody of the hymn and fit it to the metre of Euripides’ tragedy. We will attempt to arrange unison melodies to the various sung choruses in Hecuba.’ 113 This production (on 30 May 1926) sold so many advance tickets that the venue was moved from Boston College’s Fenwick Hall all the way to Worcester’s Fitton Field stadium, nearly 50 miles away. Using an array of modern technologies, sound was amplified in the stadium under the guidance of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company so that as many as 5,000 spectators could hear clearly.114 These included President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, William Cardinal O’Connell of the Boston archdiocese and Charalambos Simopoulos, the Greek Minister to the United States.115 I have not yet found evidence that the performance was indeed broadcast, but an announcement in a 1932 issue of Wireless World says that ‘the oldest piece of music ever transmitted by wireless’ would be broadcast in May of that year.116 Meanwhile, in January 1930, Damrosch’s ‘Iphigenia’s Farewell’ (presumably from his Iphigenie in Aulis mentioned above) was broadcast coast to coast from WGY in Schenectady.117 Lastly here, Damrosch wrote the forward for Hazel Kinscella’s Music on the Air, a book-length guide to radio listening that included a full-page 113 Boston Herald, 25 March 1926, p. 16. 114 Boston Herald, 30 May 1926, p. 99. 115 Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), 31 May 1926, p. 11. Attendance of the Greek Minister was de rigueur; Coolidge was from Massachusetts. 116 Wireless World 30 (13 April 1932), 381. 117 Schenectady Gazette (New York), 31 January 1930, p. 12.

Idea of Art.indb 220

02/02/2016 15:13

Ancient Greek Music Hits American Newspapers

221

chronological time-line of Greek music ranging from Orpheus, Homer and Terpander to Pythagoras, Plato and the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, as well as a chapter on ‘From Greek Drama to Radio Drama’. 118 In the 1930s, the Italian composer Rosario Scalero scored renditions of the ‘Hymn to Apollo’, Seikilos inscription and ‘Hymn to the Muse’ for the carillon at Florida’s Bok Tower (in Lake Wales), sponsored by the founder of the Curtis Institute.119 In the classical realm, the incidental music Carlos Chavez composed for a Mexican production of Jean Cocteau’s Antigone made use of ‘elements essential to the early theory of Greek music’.120 The music was later reconfigured as Sinfonia de Antigona and performed by several American orchestras. And, inspired by the commercial success of musical festivals in Salzburg, Greece began attracting well-heeled tourists to its triennial dramatic festival at Delphi. For the production of Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound at the 1930 festival, Constantine Psachos’s musical accompaniment was ‘based on the Hymn to Apollo and on the Byzantine liturgy’.121 Press coverage in the New York Herald Tribune, now several years after Krehbiel’s death, emphasized the magnificent effect of the authentic ancient Delphic hymn integrated into the dramatic setting just above the mystical crevice that had inspired the sacred oracle three millennia earlier: They began with musical sounds which came from somewhere underground, from some unseen crevice, and the mystical contact with the Delphi which we have known in our imaginations was established. The sounds also were mystical, not alone because they came from an unseen source, not alone because of the millennial ghostly and spiritual memories hovering about the place. They were tones, so it seemed to the Western ear, from another world. Not the rhythm of a Western overture. Not the musical tumult of a stadium. Out through the invisible crevice flowed notes like organ peals, utterly strange to our musical scores. It was the ‘Hymn to Apollo’. The psychological preparation for what was to follow was eminently successful. It had captured the spectators and led them with a gentle hand into the spiritual atmosphere of Delphi. The Greek inhabitants of Chicago responded by including a rendition of the Delphic hymn and the Pindaric fragment during the Greek National Days at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, attended by Minister Simopoulos and by well over 100,000 people daily.122 Chicago also produced the Byzantine Sextet, a vocal group that was part of the larger singing and dancing ensemble, which performed 118 Hazel Gertrude Kinscella, Music on the Air (Garden City, NJ: Garden City Publishing, 1934), pp. 38–42 and 246. 119 Rosario Scalero, Three Ancient Greek Songs: For a Singing Tower, 1932, signed holograph, Special Collections, Curtis Institute of Music Library, Philadelphia, PA. 120 Boston Herald, 5 April 1936, p. 52; New York Herald Tribune, 17 February 1937, p. F6. 121 New York Herald Tribune, 28 September 1930, p. G2; cf. New York Times, 23 August 1931, p. X7. 122 Chicago Tribune, 9 September 1933, p. 4.

Idea of Art.indb 221

02/02/2016 15:13

222

Jon Solomon

the Delphic hymn at its first concert. The announcement in the Chicago Tribune on 28 August 1932 clearly laid out their commercial intent and provides an appropriate conclusion to our survey: ‘The ancient Greek modes, Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian […] are due to emerge from their confines in the text books and become definite items in music-making when the Byzantine Sextet steps out into its professional career this season.’ 123 Eighty years later, after the recovery of more than four dozen additional fragments of ancient Greek music and the production of several more comprehensive recordings, one must still claim that ancient Greek music is less represented than most other genres of Greek art. But clearly the discovery of the first Delphic hymn in 1893 enabled a more enlightened public to access a respectable number of commercialized performances, adaptations, recordings and broadcasts over the next four decades. In the 1890s, newspaper reports rapidly turned scholarly discoveries and research in ancient Greek music into items of public interest, and in the early days of American consumerism, educational performances of such an unfamiliar type of music representing such a highly respected culture gradually attracted a considerable amount of commercial exploitation. Later, public demand for tickets became strong enough to move the venue for a performance of Euripides’s Hecuba from a college auditorium to a football stadium, where thousands of paying customers and even the president of the United States looked on. The movement was powerful enough to gradually lure ancient Greek music out of college and university venues into recording studios and radio broadcasts. However, to make its way into and as a result of the popularizing and commercialization processes, the music itself was almost always adapted for modern taste. The monodic style, its inherent lack of harmony and the limited palette of instrumental sounds, as well as the extremely limited amount of extant ancient Greek music samples, led composers, for the most part, to reject the simple recreation of ancient Greek music and substitute compositions of their own, often incorporating only one or two features intended to reflect an ancient Greek musical sound. Of course, similar refinements were applied to other ancient Greek arts in Neoclassical sculpture and architecture, but there the extant remains were not nearly so precious or underappreciated.

123 Chicago Tribune, 28 August 1932, p. F1.

Idea of Art.indb 222

02/02/2016 15:13

10 Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London Roberta Montemorra Marvin

V

erdi’s operas were money-makers for opera-house managers in Victorian London. Despite the operas’ frequently mixed critical reception, the public often flocked to hear Verdi’s works, making many of them lucrative ventures for London’s opera companies. The English capital became the first city outside Italy to hear a world premiere of one of Verdi’s operas: I masnadieri, written expressly for Her Majesty’s Theatre and manager Benjamin Lumley in 1847.1 Although over the years Verdi’s operas curried favour unevenly with various theatre managers and critics in England, public demand sometimes encouraged multiple productions of a work staged in a single season in various London venues, later in the century by both resident and visiting companies. Il trovatore, La traviata and Luisa Miller were among the Verdi operas that made it to the London stage in English translation: as The Gipsy’s Vengeance (24 March 1856, Theatre Royal Drury Lane), La traviata, or The Blighted One (8 June 1857, Surrey Theatre) and Louisa Miller or Love and Intrigue (3 June 1858, Sadler’s Wells Theatre).2 Verdi’s works burst onto the London scene in the mid nineteenth century, around the time when the cultural geography of opera began shifting.3 Such shifts I wish to express my thanks to colleagues at the University of Iowa, Anna Barker, Jennifer Iverson, Robert Ketterer, Nathan Platte and Downing Thomas, who offered insightful comments and probing questions on a preliminary version of this chapter. 1 See Giuseppe Verdi: I masnadieri, ed. Roberta Montemorra Marvin, The Works of Giuseppe Verdi (Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Milan: Ricordi, 2000), Historical Introduction; and Marvin, ‘The Censorship of I masnadieri in London’, Verdi Newsletter 25 (1998), 20–3. 2 On La traviata in London, see Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘The Victorian Violetta: The Social Messages of Verdi’s La traviata’, Art and Ideology in European Opera, ed. Rachel Cowgill, Clive Brown and David Cooper (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010), pp. 224–40; Susan Rutherford, ‘La traviata, or the “willing grisette”: Male Critics and Female Performance in the 1850s’, Verdi 2001: Atti del Convegno Internazionale, ed. Fabrizio Della Seta, Roberta Montemorra Marvin and Marco Marica, 2 vols (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2003), vol. 2, pp. 585–600; and Heather Wiebe, ‘Spectacles of Sin and Suffering: La traviata in Victorian London’, Repercussions 9/2 (2001), 33–67. 3 ‘Cultural geography’ is a well-known and widely applied concept; here I use it in reference to the study of cultural products and practices and how they relate to venues and locations, with a focus on how cultural phenomena, specifically here the arts, vary or not as they ‘travel’ across time, space, and even class. On the term more generally, see Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov, Mona Domosh and Lester Rowntree,

223

Idea of Art.indb 223

02/02/2016 15:13

224

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

were helped along by increased mobilities  –  of people and goods, of knowledge and information  –  made possible by new technologies, which characterized the nineteenth century, thereby helping to create the first great era of consumerism.4 These mobilities affected the dissemination, the understanding, the experiences and the practices of music, as well as the very nature of ideas about music in general and about opera in particular. The traditional, mainly aristocratic and upper-class, audience for opera continued expanding in London throughout the century as a result of these mobilities and, in large part, of continuing renegotiations of class boundaries, the consequence of economic prosperity and social ambition among the classes.5 With this broadened audience came an extended market for operatic music beyond the theatre, and Verdi’s operas produced commodities serving various constituencies outside the opera house in varying ways. Public concerts in various venues featured opera excerpts.6 Often these were sung by star singers who were currently performing with one of London’s two resident opera companies; the musical selections thus served dual duty commercially, disseminating and popularizing an opera and also promoting a company. Well-known selections from foreign operas also formed part of the repertoire in London’s music halls, where they were programmed to lend an air of respectability to the establishment and its entertainments.7 In addition, operatic music was performed in instrumental arrangements for orchestras and military bands, and it served as the basis for countless potpourris, fantasias, quadrilles, paraphrases and similar genres published for piano (which could be performed in public or in private). In addition, as part of the street music repertoire, opera even reached London’s poor, thereby presenting a challenge to established class-based definitions of music.8

The Human Mosaic: A Thematic Introduction to Cultural Geography (New York: Harper & Row, 1986). 4 ‘Mobilities’, a contemporary concept in the social sciences, deals with the interdependent movements of people, ideas, images and objects, as well as the broad social implications and consequences of those movements. See John Urry, Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-First Century (London: Routledge, 2000); and Mimi Scheller and John Urry, ‘The New Mobilities Paradigm’, Environment and Planning A 1/38 (2006), 207–26. 5 Opera audiences in Britain are discussed in detail in Jennifer Hall-Witt, Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780–1880 (Durham: University of New Hampshire Press, 2007). 6 Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste, pp. 273–300, discusses public performance of vocal music; on concerts of operatic music, see esp. pp. 278–81. See also Weber, Music and the Middle Class. 7 Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste, pp. 288–93; and Dagmar Kift, The Victorian Music Hall: Culture, Class and Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 53–4. 8 John M. Picker, Victorian Soundscapes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 63.

Idea of Art.indb 224

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

225

Beyond these more or less usual means of disseminating Verdi’s music were the transformations of operas both as domesticated (‘Englished’) sheet-music publications and as comic stage adaptations. These ‘spinoff industries’ (the first primarily of the 1840s and 1850s, the second lasting into the 1880s) served multiple purposes. London music publishers increasingly capitalized on opera’s appeal through issuing arrangements, especially for voice with piano accompaniment, of individual numbers from the most widely known works. In mid-century London published excerpts were often issued with English verses only, many of which were not translations of the original, but rather newly written and virtually always tailored in their pure sentiments and noble meanings to Victorian sensibilities. The ‘Englishing’ was a particularly widespread practice with regard to numbers from several Verdi operas, especially La traviata, Il trovatore and Rigoletto. Published with cleansed poetry conveying messages about healthy attitudes or moral lifestyles, such sheet-music excerpts became commodities that, by upholding Victorian decorum and pretences, facilitated acquisition of the cultural object of opera, making it accessible, familiar and acceptable in both practical and philosophical ways. Sheet music supplied a consumer product that educated Victorian opera enthusiasts, offering the advantage of getting to know the music in private spaces before attending the theatre, or the privilege of becoming better acquainted with a favourite tune after having heard it in performance. For some Victorians, the sheet music did not complement an opera-house experience but rather proffered their only exposure to operatic works. Facilitating for new classes of socially ambitious users participation in (or at least imitation of ) the more genteel activities of society, these transformed and transplanted songs went a long way toward ‘selling’ the idea of Italian opera  –  a genre largely defined in mid and late century by Verdi’s operas  –  within the realm of mass culture in mid-Victorian England.9 In addition, the more widely performed, popular and/or controversial Verdian works  –  above all, Il trovatore and La traviata, but also Ernani and Rigoletto  –  were transformed (multiple times) into burlesques (and, in some instances, farces), which were staged in theatrical venues very different from the opera house. Given the differing codes and expectations of various sectors of the socially mixed-class audiences for these establishments, operatic burlesque seems to have provided a means for bridging class boundaries and cultural differences by translating an artificial high-art genre into an ‘earthy’ low-art form. Moreover, the genre created common ground for audience members from all classes, who would have shared certain sensitivities to contemporary political, economic or social matters, which were evident in the burlesques’ real-life details and satirical

9 These excerpts are discussed in detail in Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera in the Victorian Parlor’, Fashions and Legacies of Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera, ed. Roberta Montemorra Marvin and Hilary Poriss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 53–75. See also Scott, The Singing Bourgeois, and J[acqueline]. S. Bratton, The Victorian Popular Ballad (London: Macmillan, 1975).

Idea of Art.indb 225

02/02/2016 15:13

226

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

allusions to contemporary everyday issues and pretences.10 Blackface minstrelsy furnished another way in which opera reached a broad audience, with borrowed scenes, treated parodically or satirically, and inserted into shows, or through the performance of blackface burlesques.11 (At Astley’s Amphitheatre there was even an equestrian production of Il trovatore, which played from 18 May through 13 June 1857.)12 No matter how a spectator negotiated these works  –  whether knowing the originals or not  –  the adaptations kept Italian opera  –  and Verdi’s works  –  ‘alive’, bringing ideas about Italian opera to different audiences and thereby creating new cultural interactions and new markets. These diverse operatic commodities helped to educate the public, and presumably to shape taste and thus to cultivate appreciation, or disdain, for the genre of (Italian) opera in general and for Verdi’s works in particular. Also contributing in these ways  –  for audiences both inside and outside the opera house  –  was the extensive journalistic network in Victorian England: newspapers and music journals, in London and beyond, provided extensive coverage of the opera season in the English capital and reported, often in some detail, on operatic goings-on throughout the Continent as well as in the United States.13 In doing so, they enlightened readers about the genre of opera in its different nationalist ‘styles’ and prepared audiences for new operas, telling them what they should think  –  and letting them know what others throughout Europe thought  –  about works, performers and performances;14 they thereby created interest and elicited expectations both positive and negative.15 Many of the journalists were quite musically savvy. Not only did they inform readers about what composers composed and what opera houses produced and why they did so, they also often provided compositional and performance history about a work, discussed a libretto’s relationship to its original source, gave a number by 10 These works are discussed in Roberta Montemorra Marvin, ‘Verdian Opera Burlesqued: A Glimpse into Mid-Victorian Theatrical Culture’, Cambridge Opera Journal 15 (2003), 33–66; publisher’s errata, 20–1. 11 Brief discussions appear, e.g., in Renee Lapp Norris, ‘Opera and the Mainstreaming of Blackface Minstrelsy’, Journal of The Society for American Music 1 (2007), 341–65; and Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis, pp. 144–70. 12 See James Redmond, ed., Themes in Drama: Historical Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 111, cited from Lynton Alfred Hudson, The English Stage: 1850–1950, 2nd edn (reprint, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1951), p. 23. 13 On the extent of the musical press network in England, see, among others, Leanne Langley, ‘Italian Opera and the English Press, 1836–1856’, Periodica musica 6 (1988), 3–10; and Langley, ‘The Musical Press in Nineteenth-Century England’, Notes 46 (1990), 583–92. 14 For a case study of the role of press sources in preparing audiences for new operas, see Katharine Ellis, ‘How to Make Wagner Normal: Lohengrin’s “tour de France” of 1891–92’, Cambridge Opera Journal 25 (2013), 121–37. 15 Put another way, a horizon of experience forged a horizon of expectation; see Hans Robert Jauss, ‘Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory’, trans. Elizabeth Benzinger, New Literary History 2 (1970), 7–37.

Idea of Art.indb 226

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

227

number description/analysis of an opera, and expressed opinions on how the work reflected a composer’s (or compared with another composer’s) style. Such journalistic commentary served as a tool for transmitting cultural credentials, thereby affecting cultural capital and facilitating cultural (and social) mobility.16 Verdi’s operas received their fair share of attention from the press, as well as in concerts, in sheet-music excerpts and in adaptations. Not only could various constituencies partake of the artistic experience by hearing portions of these works inside and outside the opera house, performing selections from them in private, or seeing parodies of them on stage; those who followed press about the operatic world might have easily come to believe that they had a true understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Verdi’s operas. Taking into account that Italian opera had long been entrenched in English culture and that, beginning in 1847, there were two major resident companies in London devoted to the genre, Italian opera was one paradigm against which various opera styles would have been evaluated. And those Verdi operas known in England through the mid 1860s (along with the older works in the repertoire by Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini) epitomized Italian opera style for mid-nineteenth-century English audiences and critics. Given the educated opera consumer base, which knew and had developed a curiosity about Verdi’s works, what happened when the composer began writing operas that differed from those that were well known on the London stages, operas that, in many ways, seem to have challenged expectations associated with their highprofile creator and with his popular nationalist tradition? Verdi’s Don Carlos and Aida furnish means for probing this question. Verdi composed both Don Carlos and Aida during what might be considered a time of aesthetic unrest  –  in Italy generally and for him personally. In the 1860s atmosphere of burgeoning Italian nationhood, both ‘modernist’ and ‘traditionalist’ Italian commentators bemoaned the languishing state of Italian musical art, as foreign and progressive threats to Italian opera abounded. Verdi was being accused by some of his compatriots of not being true to his ‘Italian’ musical heritage: the Italian theatre critic Francesco D’Arcais commented in 1868, for example, that Verdi’s operas had begun ‘showing signs of musical eclecticism’ and that the composer was ‘beginning to shake hands with Meyerbeer’ by bringing together the instrumental and the vocal in opera.17 Other writers thought that Verdi was ‘completely losing the character of his nation’ in his operas, and some believed that, with Don Carlos, he ‘may have thrown himself into the abyss of the music of the future’  –  an unmistakable allusion to Wagner.18 Although Verdi’s opinions about the evolving musicscape were complex, his vigorous, public promotion of the preservation of Italian tradition featured prominently. He repeatedly lamented the infiltration into Italy of foreign influences  –  the rise of instrumental, especially 16 For an application of Bourdieu’s principles of cultural capital and symbolic capital to Victorian life, see Simon Gunn, ‘Translating Bourdieu: Cultural Capital and the English Middle Class in Historical Perspective’, British Journal of Sociology 56 (2005), 49–64. On mobilities, see n. 4 above. 17 Francesco D’Arcais, ‘Giuseppe Verdi e la musica italiana’, Nuova Antologia 7 (1868), 566–75, at pp. 572 and 574, my translation. 18 As reported by D’Arcais, ibid.

Idea of Art.indb 227

02/02/2016 15:13

228

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

chamber, music, the popularity of French grand opera, the spread of new ideas, e.g., Wagner’s theories, especially on ‘music of the future’  –  and the consequent diminishing of italianità; and he grumbled about, even took offence at, the movements within Italian culture to overturn traditional artistic standards and disdain traditional aesthetic values, manifested, for example, in the philosophy and works of the macchiaioli in painting and the scapigliati in literature.19 But eventually (in the 1870s) Verdi too began complaining about Italy’s ‘musical fermentation’, 20 especially with regard to (his words) ‘stupid conventionalism’, ‘pedantry’, ‘false expression’ and the ‘severe, heavy, monotonous instrumentation’ of many Italian operas of past eras.21 Both Don Carlos and Aida reflect Verdi’s growing concerns and could be considered (at least in part) artistic statements, attempts to create exemplars for alleviating the situation.

O

n 22 June 1876, Verdi’s Aida came to life in London for the first time, when the theatre manager Frederick Gye produced it at his Royal Italian Opera.22 Aida’s world premiere on 24 December 1871 at the Opera House in Cairo and its European premiere six weeks later (8 February 1872) at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan had drawn a great deal of international attention. Not only was Verdi the pre-eminent opera composer of the era, but Aida was the first new opera he had composed since Don Carlos in 1867 and just his second new work in ten years. Aida was also ‘a strange event in the musical world’:23 written on an original Egyptian topic (rather than adapted from a European literary source),24 19 These trends and Verdi’s opinions on them are discussed in Roberta Montemorra Marvin, Verdi the Student  –  Verdi the Teacher (Parma: Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani, 2010), chapter 3, esp. pp. 82–7, and chapter 4, esp. pp. 118–22. 20 Verdi’s letter to Opprandino Arrivabene, 16 July 1875, in Annibale Alberti, Verdi intimo (Milan: Arnaldo Mondadori, 1931), p. 182. 21 Letter to Giuseppe Piroli, 30 May 1868, in Carteggi verdiani, ed. Alessandro Luzio, 4 vols (Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1935–47), vol. 3, pp. 53–4. 22 As manager of the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden (established in 1847) from 1848 to 1878, Gye (1810–78) played a significant role in London’s operatic culture. The most detailed treatments of the opera business in nineteenth-century London up to the 1870s are two King’s College London Ph.D. dissertations: Gabriella Dideriksen, ‘Repertory and Rivalry: Opera at the Second Covent Garden Theatre, 1830–1856’ (1997); and Matthew L. Ringel, ‘Opera in “The Donizettian Dark Ages”: Management, Competition and Artistic Policy in London, 1861–1870’ (1996). A concise study of Gye’s role can be found in Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye and “The Dreadful Business of Opera Management”’, 19th-Century Music 19 (1995), 3–30. Throughout the present essay, references to the joint article normally indicate that a topic is dealt with in greater detail in one or both dissertations; references to the authors’ dissertations are given only when information is cited directly from them. The latter part of the century is treated in Paul Rodmell, Opera in the British Isles, 1875–1918 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013). 23 Era, 21 January 1872 (perhaps Henry Howe). 24 Antonio Ghislanzoni based his libretto on a story written for the purpose by the Egyptologist Auguste Mariette (see also n. 68 below), which was elaborated into a detailed scenario by Camille Du Locle and Verdi.

Idea of Art.indb 228

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

229

commissioned by the Khedive of Egypt Isma’il Pasha (rather than by a European publisher or impresario) and first performed in Egypt (rather than in a major European house). In the years between its Cairo/Milan and London premieres, Aida had travelled throughout continental Europe, as well as to major United States cities;25 and on 22 April 1876 it was, at last, performed in Paris, at the Théâtre Italien, where Verdi conducted it26 (an event that may well have prompted its appearance in London). The reasons why it took over four years for Verdi’s newest opera to appear on London stages are numerous and complex. Part of the rationale was related to practical matters that routinely impinged on programming and artistic policy, for example, singers’ preferences and abilities, casting limitations or opportunities, proven success of an opera on the Continent, programming of a competing company, and so on. Also at work, of course, were aesthetic factors, in which managers exercised a fair amount of control primarily because personal predilections were undoubtedly influenced by business concerns. And essential to the situation was a manager’s sense of what would sell in London, in accordance with his perceptions of audience tastes and of public awareness of popular composers or operas (via the press and the box office). Juggling these considerations with the pressures of public and critical opinion regarding London’s position as a great cultural centre that was obliged to present the newest and best works was certainly not an easy feat for opera-company managers. In the end, since box-office success (and not music education) was the goal, managers habitually fell back on known, previously produced and proven works to which audiences were accustomed and to which they had been repeatedly ‘exposed’ (including through critical commentary);27 they were well aware that operas with familiar dramatic and musical traits would draw paying customers.28 In part then, the delay in Aida’s London arrival may well have been symptomatic of longstanding, conservative programming trends at both London opera houses, Her Majesty’s Theatre [Opera] and (from 1847) the Royal Italian Opera. When Gye became director of the latter in 1848, one of his objectives had been to expand the house’s repertoire, in both the number and the genre of operas. He had done so largely through producing his preferred French grand opera (though in Italian translation), especially Meyerbeer’s works, along with several German works, rather than by adding great numbers of operas by Italian 25 On performances of Aida between 1871 and 1881, see Marcello Conati’s list in Saleh Abdoun, ed., Genesi dell’ ‘Aida’ (Parma: Istituto di Studi Verdiani, 1971); for a broader chronological listing, see Aïda: Verdi (Paris: L’Avant-Scène, 1976), pp. 109–25, with a list of early performances worldwide on p. 109. 26 Not until 22 March 1880 was the opera heard at the Opéra, in French as Aïda, again with Verdi at the helm. 27 See the discussion in Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste, p. 276; see also Ringel, ‘Opera’, p. 124. 28 On the role of managers in programming, on Gye’s aesthetic considerations, and on the infrastructure of the opera world in London, see Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye’, pp. 11–18 and 21–4. The stagnation of the repertoire through 1881 is discussed also in Rodmell, Opera, esp. pp. 6–38.

Idea of Art.indb 229

02/02/2016 15:13

230

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

composers, and thus during the 1850s the company offered a fair amount of French opera.29 Through the 1860s and 1870s, enduring what George Bernard Shaw later stigmatized as ‘the Donizettian dark ages’, 30 both opera companies experienced a steep decline in the staging of new operas. This was a consequence of several interrelated factors, among them, fewer new operas being written, lack of uniformity and stability in international copyright conventions, and increasing production expenses.31 Within this London programming environment Verdi’s operas  –  from their first appearance with Ernani in 1845 through the London premiere of Aida in 1876  –  seemed to fall in and out of favour with London opera-house managers. At Her Majesty’s Theatre a half dozen of the composer’s operas had frequently been programmed by Lumley in the late 1840s, though less so in the early 1850s; while at the Royal Italian Opera, from 1847 through 1852 Gye produced only Ernani and Nabucco (the latter censored and under the title Anato). Upon the temporary closure of Her Majesty’s Theatre (1853–55), other Verdi operas began appearing more frequently on Gye’s stage, including the London premieres of both Rigoletto and Il trovatore, and by 1855 the composer’s works accounted for 21% of the Royal Italian Opera’s offerings.32 Once opera production resumed at Her Majesty’s, there was a fairly regular stream of Verdian opera at both houses. Between 1861 and 1875, the Royal Italian Opera staged 1,432 performances of fifty-two different operas, 147 (just over 10%) of those were of seven operas by Verdi (constituting 13.5% of the offerings): Rigoletto (composed 1851), La traviata (1853), Il trovatore (1853) and Un ballo in maschera (1859)  –  all of which appeared with some regularity  –  Don Carlos (1867, in Italian as Don Carlo, discussed on pp. 231–6

29 On Gye’s predilections for French grand opera, see Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye’, pp. 14–16. On the extent of the French repertoire at his company in the 1850s, including French operas by Italian composers, see Dideriksen, ‘Repertory and Rivalry’, e.g., pp. 195–6. 30 Shaw’s phrase can be found in The World, 1890; cited in George Bernard Shaw, Music in London, 1890–1894, 3 vols (London: Constable, 1934), vol. 1, p. 1. 31 Ringel (‘Opera’, esp. pp. 71–5) discusses the decline. That opera composers were not as prolific during this period was in part a consequence of the volatile political and economic climate on the Continent (in Italy conflicts related to independence and unification) and in part a result of new copyright laws (enacted in Italy in 1865) that enabled composers to gain financially from future performances of their works. Prior to the Berne Convention (1886) the process of obtaining performance rights was cumbersome for opera managers, who had to negotiate with multiple parties (composers, publishers, singers) and to consider ever-changing laws in various countries. The escalating costs included not only engaging appropriate singers and designing impressive sets and costumes, and maintaining a grand physical plant, but sometimes also the expense of obtaining exclusive performance rights, all of which contributed to making opera one of the most expensive entertainments of the era. 32 For a detailed discussion of the repertoire, see Dideriksen, ‘Repertory and Rivalry’, pp. 179–204.

Idea of Art.indb 230

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

231

below) and, beginning in 1873, Ernani (1844), and in 1874, Luisa Miller (1849).33 During the same period, Her Majesty’s Opera staged 1,156 performances of fifty-one different operas; 138 (nearly 12%) of those were of seven Verdi operas (13.7% of the offerings): I Lombardi alla Prima crociata (1843), Ernani, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata, Un ballo in maschera and La forza del destino (1862, revised 1869, about which more on p. 236 below).34 Other Verdi operas heard in London during these years, which, however, did not remain ‘in the repertoire’, were I due Foscari (composed 1844), I masnadieri (1847), Attila (1846) and I vespri siciliani (1855). All of these Verdi works were ‘traditional’ Italian operas, very much identifiable as Verdi’s and very much in the known (expected and accepted) ‘Italian style’  –  with the exception of Don Carlo. The French grand opera Don Carlos was the first Verdi opera heard in London that did not follow the ‘norm’; it served as a prelude to Aida, albeit with a history that differed with regard to its commercial viability. Over the years, Gye had established a network of French connections in the music world,35 and thus Don Carlos, written expressly for the Paris Opéra, offered the manager an opportunity to bring the newest work of the famed Verdi to London immediately following its 11 March 1867 world premiere. As Gye publicized in the Royal Italian Opera’s 1867 season prospectus, new international copyright arrangements facilitated his swift acquisition of exclusive rights to perform the brand new Verdi work in England.36 Nonetheless, the process was tedious and the undertaking expensive. Having travelled to Paris in February, Gye was present during the rehearsal period and attended Don Carlos’s first performance. Between 21 and 27 February 33 These were the seven Verdi operas officially listed as in the company’s ‘repertoire’ in the Royal Italian Opera’s 1876 season prospectus (Times, 4 March 1876; PMG, 7 March 1876); the list does not include others that may have been performed by the company occasionally. The forty-eight operas, as listed in the Times, include: six by Meyerbeer, three by Mozart, five by Rossini, seven by Donizetti, three by Bellini, seven by Verdi, one by Flotow, four by Auber, one by Beethoven, one by Gluck, two by Gounod and one each by the Ricci brothers (Federico and Luigi), Weber, Thomas, Fabio Campana, Cimarosa, Józef (Giuseppe) Poniatowski, Antonio Carlos Gomes and Wagner (Lohengrin, produced for the first time in 1875). The prospectus also included a list of new works, at least three of which were projected for the coming season: Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, a revival of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and (at the top of the list) Verdi’s Aida. Ringel (‘Opera’, pp. 61–2) lists Luisa Miller with only two performances in 1874 and Ernani with two in 1873 and one in 1874; both works were staged apparently because the prima donna Adelina Patti wished to sing the roles. 34 These figures are derived from Ringel, ‘Opera’, tables on pp. 61–4 compiled from announcements in the Times and from Gye’s diaries. Gye and James Henry Mapleson had each vied to have his respective company mount the London premiere of La forza del destino; on the intrigues involved in this struggle, see ibid., pp. 148–51. 35 Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye’, p. 14. 36 Times, 27 March 1867. Performance and publication rights with regard to grand opera are treated in detail in Christian Sprang, Grand Opéra vor Gericht (BadenBaden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1993).

Idea of Art.indb 231

02/02/2016 15:13

232

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

1867, the manager worked out a contract with Verdi’s French publisher Léon Escudier for sole rights in Great Britain and Ireland for performance for the time allowed by (English) law (then, forty-two years or the life of the composer plus seven years, whichever was longer)37 and for printing and selling the libretto. Escudier agreed to furnish Gye with a libretto translation in Italian38 (the language in which the opera was to be performed in London) and several copies of the piano-vocal score, as well as to deliver a copy of the full score; Gye was to pay for the copying out of the full score (including instrumental parts presumably) and the choral parts. The asking price was apparently fairly high, £800 (£61,810 in 2013),39 payable in four monthly instalments from April through July; and, since other impresarios in London had expressed interest, Gye had to decline or accept the purchase by 14 March, promptly following the second Paris performance of the opera. As negotiations proceeded, Gye attended the first general rehearsal (on 24 February, though, perhaps significantly, he missed the beginning of Act I), after which he noted with some dismay that the opera lasted nearly five hours and did not have ‘the elements of success’.40 (As a consequence of the length, Verdi himself implemented hefty cuts, deleting the introduction to Act I and shortening two duets in Act II.) Even though, on 1 March, Gye mailed his season prospectus to London, projecting Don Carlos as one of the potential new operas for the coming season, he apparently was not convinced that the opera was worth the asking price; for he tried (unsuccessfully), at least twice, to get Escudier to ‘sell it’ to him for less.41 After attending the premiere, Gye again complained about the opera’s length, noting that although there was some ‘effective music’ and good melody, the first act was ‘bad and useless’. His final verdict: although Don Carlos would never be a ‘great success’ in England, it might endure for a few nights  –  with modifications and cuts.42 37 On obtaining exclusive rights, see Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye’, pp. 18–21. 38 This was doubtless the translation prepared in autumn 1866 by Achille de Lauzières; on the date of the translation, see Julian Budden, The Operas of Verdi, 3 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), vol. 3, p. 26. 39 All twenty-first-century monetary equivalents in this chapter were calculated using the indicators for the UK Retail Price Index at http://www.measuringworth. com [accessed 5 August 2014]. 40 Gye Diaries, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (London), Archives [hereafter GD], entry for 24 February 1867. The official report of the Opéra indicated the timing as 7:11 p.m. to 12:23 a.m.; see Flora Willson, ‘Of Time and the City: Verdi’s Don Carlos and its Parisian Critics’, 19th-Century Music 37 (2014), 188–210, at p. 200. 41 On 1 March Gye told Escudier he would agree immediately to purchase the opera at half price (£400); GD, 1 March 1867. The morning following the premiere, Augustus Harris, Gye’s stage manager, expressed to Gye that he would not pay £800 for it, and Gye sent him to try to negotiate with Escudier for a lower price; GD, 12 March 1867. 42 GD, 11 March 1867. Gye’s lack of enthusiasm for the work was further manifested by his decision to remain at home rather than attend the 15 March performance,

Idea of Art.indb 232

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

233

Figure 10.1  Scene from Don Carlo at the Royal Italian Opera, Illustrated London News, 13 July 1867 [Courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections]

That is how it was performed at the Royal Italian Opera. The company’s conductor and music director Michael Costa prepared a modified version using the Italian libretto that Escudier supplied (titled Don Carlo): he omitted the first act (at Gye’s behest perhaps?), moved Carlo’s first-act aria to the third act, cut the ballet (Gye did not stage ballet at his house), and shortened two numbers.43 And with what were considered Costa’s ‘judicious curtailments’, Don Carlo, an opera that could ‘weary out the endurance of an English public’, 44 had its London premiere on 4 June 1867 (Fig. 10.1). As Verdi’s newest opera, Don Carlo(s) was an important acquisition for Gye, and his presentation appears to have been the first outside the opera’s Paris birthplace. The manager ‘did all he could to ensure success’,45 putting his full resources behind the production, making new sets and costumes, casting his top singers, and bringing it out ‘in an unprecedently [sic] short time’.46 Commentators universally proclaimed the performance and the scenery even though he had been given a box by Escudier after having agreed to ‘purchase’ the opera; GD, 15 March 1867. 43 On the London Don Carlo, see Budden, The Operas of Verdi, vol. 3, p. 27; see also Harry R. Beard, ‘Don Carlos on the London Stage, 1676–1969’, Atti del Congresso internazionale di Studi verdiani II (Parma: Istituto di Studi Verdiani, 1971), pp. 59–69, esp. pp. 66–7. On Costa, see John Goulden, Michael Costa, England’s First Conductor: The Revolution in Musical Performance in England, 1830–1880 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015). 44 MW, 6 April 1867 (possibly James William Davison). 45 SR (Davison), 3 August 1867, reprinted in MW, 17 August 1867. 46 Ibid.

Idea of Art.indb 233

02/02/2016 15:13

234

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

outstanding.47 Nonetheless, the mixed critical reception of the opera itself attests that Gye’s reservations held merit. Virtually all journalists acknowledged that there were musical gems in the opera (e.g., the auto-da-fe and Eboli’s two arias), but otherwise, the comments were polarized. At one extreme, supporters (for example, in the vein of the Examiner, 8 June 1867) remarked: ‘Don Carlo must be ranked among the noblest and purest of musical dramas’; however, the more numerous detractors commonly described the work overall as dull, noisy, heavy, dismal, gloomy, lacking in Verdi’s usual melodic facility and masterful concerted writing. The politically oriented, religiously motivated (dealing with Catholicism / the Inquisition), complex Schillerian plot had little that spoke to English sensibilities: ‘no one cares a straw’ about the characters or their relationships, remarked James William Davison.48 In reporting on the ‘divided success’ of the first London performance, the (unidentified) critic for the Observer (9 June 1867) commented that Don Carlo received ‘much more applause and much more enthusiasm during the first two acts’ than was normal for new works but ‘the heaviness both of music and story at last became too much for [the audience’s] patience’, ‘signs of weariness were manifested during the third act, and before the curtain fell the theatre was considerably thinned.’ Even with Costa’s cuts added to those made previously in Paris, the music lasted nearly four hours:49 the opera was still ‘too long for our audiences’ and ‘the loss of the first act rob[bed] it of its balance.’50 Much of the English commentary about the London production echoed what readers would have previously read in the London press about the Paris premiere, at which Don Carlos ‘achieved merely a succès d’estime’: it was a ‘mistake’ in which Verdi ‘aimed at a class of composition beyond his grasp’.51

47 The cast included soprano Pauline Lucca, replaced at times by Helen LemmensSherrington, as Elisabeth, tenor Emile Naudin as Carlo, baritone Francesco Graziani as Posa, bass Jules-Émile Petit as Philip, mezzo-soprano Antonietta Fricci as Eboli and bass Enrico Bagagiolo as the Grand Inquisitor, under Costa’s baton. New scenery was painted by one Mat Morgan, and Augustus Harris was responsible for the full mounting of the opera (MW, 15 June 1867). 48 SR, 3 August 1867, reprinted in MW, 17 August 1867. Other Verdi operas drawn from Schiller did not fare well in England: I masnadieri (Schiller’s Die Räuber) was not performed after its world premiere season (1847, Her Majesty’s), and Luisa Miller (Kabale und Liebe) featured only twice (1858, Her Majesty’s, and 1874, Royal Italian Opera). Giovanna d’Arco (Die Jungfrau von Orleans), another political, ‘Catholic’ story, was not performed in London in the nineteenth century. 49 MW, 15 June 1867 (possibly Davison). 50 MW, 29 June 1867 (possibly Davison). 51 MW, 22 April 1867 (from a correspondent ‘M. W.’ ), about the Paris premiere. Willson (‘Of Time and the City’) examines Parisian perceptions of the opera against audiences’ prior knowledge and experience of Verdi’s Italian works and against the status of grand opera in general, convincingly arguing that Don Carlos mediated between past and present and was assessed within a process of ‘canonical listening’.

Idea of Art.indb 234

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

235

‘The Parisians did not understand Don Carlos’, and it ended up being ‘a disappointment’. 52 If the French could not easily accept or understand Verdi’s French grand opera as part of their national tradition, then it did not stand much chance of success  –  as French grand opera disguised in Italian attire  –  with the English. Given that only twelve weeks passed between the world premiere of Don Carlos and its first London performance, the breadth and depth of what audiences could have learned about the opera  –  from press previews and reports, or from published scores or excerpts53  –  or the extent to which they may have become invested in the ideas relating to a new opera by Verdi would have been minimized. The shortage of audience preparation time resulted in a lack of ‘acquaintance’ with Don Carlo(s), doubtless contributing to poor saleability. In the end, even though, or more likely because, London spectators and critics were familiar with French grand opera (since it had long formed a good portion of repertoire at the Royal Italian Opera), London commentators deemed the genre unsuccessful and boring in Verdi’s hands. To English minds and ears Don Carlo did not fit the stereotype for Verdi’s previous Italian style, nor did it compare well to Meyerbeer’s or Auber’s French grand operas. The English were not alone: even Verdi’s French publisher remarked in his house journal that the opera did not live up to those of ‘the Italian Verdi, the true Verdi’,54 and readers of the Musical World were told that Don Carlos belonged to ‘the false Verdi’. 55 Following the first performance, Gye observed (correctly) that the opera would remain a failure:56 an additional six presentations brought in the lowest receipts of the season.57 Despite the poor financial and critical fortunes of the 1867 performances, he planned to open his 1868 season, on 31 March, with Verdi’s 52 MW, 6 April 1867 (an unnamed correspondent, dated 3 April, from Paris). 53 Verdi’s Italian publisher Ricordi and his French publisher Escudier issued pianovocal scores, the former with Italian text and the latter with French and the Italian translation (by Achille de Lauzières), of the original five-act version. Ricordi’s publications included a deluxe edition, with a portrait of Verdi and G. Gonin’s [probably Francesco Gonin] scenic renditions. It is possible that Ricordi’s publications were sold in the shops of his London affiliates before the English performances, although no advertisements appeared in London newspapers and no other evidence has come to light. There seem to have been no ‘special’ English editions issued in England before the London performances. The Royal Italian Opera issued its own libretto (as usual): ‘Don Carlos, an Opera, in Four Acts, the Music by Verdi […] The English version by Thomas J. Williams […] London: J. Miles’. 54 Léon Escudier, in L’art musical, 28 March 1867, from Hervé Gartioux, ed., Giuseppe Verdi, Don Carlos: Dossier de presse parisienne (1867) (Heilbronn: Lucie Galland, 1997), p. 213; cit. in Willson, ‘Of Time and the City’, p. 196. 55 MW, 16 March 1867 (correspondent ‘Figaro’), published in French. 56 GD, 4 June 1867. 57 Ringel, ‘Opera’, pp. 62, 169 and 223. As a result, Gye did not want to pay the final instalment (though he did do so), and lawyers became involved; GD, 1, 2 and 6 August 1867.

Idea of Art.indb 235

02/02/2016 15:13

236

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

opera, presumably to recoup costs from the previous year; but because of casting difficulties he substituted Bellini’s Norma. When Don Carlo was staged two nights later, it again had one of the smallest takes of the season (£76 = £5,966 in 2013).58 The opera, commercially unviable, fell out of the active repertoire and does not appear to have been performed in London again in the nineteenth century.59 London’s discomfort with Don Carlo did not pave the way smoothly for Aida. Neither did operatic activities and general musical climate. In the nine years between the first stagings of Don Carlo and those of Aida, London audiences had little exposure to new operas, and the only other new (to London) Verdi opera that they heard was La forza del destino (composed for St Petersburg in 1862), which had its first performance at Her Majesty’s Opera on 22 June 1867, in competition with the run of Don Carlo down the road. Critical opinion was less than enthusiastic for Forza. Deemed by some London commentators as having been written in ‘a style founded on the German school’, 60 the opera was commonly perceived neither as being at the (low) level of Don Carlo with regard to French opera nor as living up to the quality of Verdi’s previous Italian operas. It was long, its story unnecessarily horrible, and the ‘cleverly wrought’ music did not possess ‘sufficient specialty of character or variety of interest to counteract the dead weight of the libretto’.61 The opera had three performances that season and was revived only once in London during the nineteenth century.62 The next new Verdi work heard in London  –  the Messa da Requiem (composed 1874), of which Verdi conducted five successful performances in May 1875 at the Royal Albert Hall  –  provided audiences with another opportunity to hear a new, critically controversial Verdi work.63 Elsewhere, the Requiem had been seen as heralding a change in Verdi’s ‘garb’ and a work in which Verdi had capitulated to German ideals, as Gundula Kreuzer has discussed.64 In London too, the work confused critics, who also entered the widespread debate about its secular (operatic) versus sacred flavour and its non-Italian nature.65 58 GD, 28 and 31 March, and 2 April 1868. 59 Ringel (‘Opera’, p. 62) lists seven performances in 1867, two in 1868, but no more through 1878. The opera remained in the published list of repertoire for the Royal Italian Opera; see p. 231 and above, n. 33; but no further performances in England have been documented. 60 ILN, 29 June 1867 (possibly George Hogarth). 61 London Review of Politics, Society, Literature, Art and Science, 29 June 1867 (unidentified author). 62 The revival, of Verdi’s 1869 revised version, was in 1880 at Her Majesty’s Opera. The opera was added to the repertoire of the Carl Rosa Company at the end of the century. See Rodmell, Opera, p. 132. 63 For a detailed discussion of the early performances and reception of Verdi’s Requiem in London, see Chloe Valenti, ‘Verdi Reception in London, 1842–1877’, Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge, 2010, pp. 160–201; here p. 190. 64 Gundula Kreuzer, Verdi and the Germans: From Unification to the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 69–72. 65 See also David Rosen, Verdi: Requiem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), esp. pp. 89–97. Valenti (‘Verdi Reception’) discusses London’s response to

Idea of Art.indb 236

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

237

But the most significant contributing factor affecting Aida’s appearance in London was the compilation of more than four years of press critiques about the opera. As a consequence of the international press communications network in the music world, the opera was ‘known’ in England immediately following its premiere in Cairo, through translations from Italian, German and French reviews filtered through the English critics, as well as through the words of English correspondents. Both music journals and general newspapers reported on the opera, which elicited broad and special interest because of its unusual Egyptian links; and, as was the norm, the (p)reviews assisted in educating and cultivating audiences. In this case, the writings helped set up preconceptions about the level of spectacle and splendour necessary for stage decorations, the unique nature of the opera and its ‘occasional’ purpose, and, above all, Verdi’s ‘style’ in it  –  his musical and his dramatic strengths and weaknesses in the light of his best-known works and of Don Carlo, as well as of modern trends  –  as perceived by critics throughout Europe. Among the most vaunted aspects of Aida’s Cairo production were the visual spectacle and the historical setting. This aspect alone may well have piqued Victorians’ interest, given the intellectual curiosity about Egypt and the vogue for acquiring Egyptian artefacts, telling signs of contemporary Egyptomania.66 Soon after the Cairo premiere, readers in London learned of ‘the richness of the decorations, and of the character of grandeur and reality of this theatrical resurrection of the Egypt of old’, in which ‘[n]ot a single detail was incorrect; there was not the slightest anachronism in costume’.67 Authenticity was ensured since ‘[Auguste] Mariette, a master in Egyptology, and [Luigi] Vassal[l]i, the Conservator of the Boulak Museum,68 superintended everything’, and the ‘representation of the life of ancient Egypt upon a modern theatre, [the] pictures of ancient Thebes, of Memphis, of the plain of the Nile, of the temple of Phtah, radiant with colour’ were so ‘superb’ and ‘startling’ that ‘when the curtain rises, Aida and Verdi, the drama and the music itself, are forgotten, so absorbed are we by the fascination of this […] fantastic spectacle’ of ‘ideal truthfulness’. 69 Most commentators echoed such remarks, emphasizing the specificity of local scenic colour in the opera. the secular/sacred debate as well as the effect of the Requiem’s Catholic character for a mainly Protestant English audience. 66 See, for instance, David Gange, Dialogues with the Dead: Egyptology in British Culture and Religion, 1822–1922 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Telling also are George Ebers, Egypt: Descriptive, Historical, and Picturesque, trans. [from the original German] Clara Bell, 2 vols (London: Cassell, 1878), the frequent newspaper headlines concerning archaeological discoveries in Egypt, and travelogues. 67 DN, 6 January 1872; translation of commentary by a correspondent of Indépendence Belge. 68 The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities at Bulaq (Cairo) was established in 1858, under the direction of Auguste Mariette (1821–81), author of the original story on which Aida was based. Vassalli (1812–87), an Italian artist-antiquarian who settled in Egypt in 1859, served as Mariette’s museum assistant. 69 DN, 6 January 1872 (cit. in n. 67 above).

Idea of Art.indb 237

02/02/2016 15:13

238

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

The ‘rigorous archaeological exactitude’70 of the superb scenery and costumes, however, was cause for several critics’ concerns about Aida’s future.71 Doubts as to whether the opera would be able to stand on its own merits, given that its success had depended largely on the localized appeal of the work to an Egyptian audience, seem to have been quickly laid to rest, when, in February 1872, Aida played in Milan (widely reported) as successfully as in Cairo.72 As the opera made the rounds, several periodicals (e.g., the Athenaeum and the Musical World) kept London audiences informed about virtually every new production in continental Europe and the United States, a clear message of the opera’s worldwide success, popularity and importance, and thus its suitability for London. Implicit in this: Aida was a work that those ‘in the know’ must hear. But the nature of Aida’s music proved to be an enduring point of debate. Characteristic of much of the international commentary (both positive and negative) is not only comparison with past Verdi works (including Don Carlos) but also veiled and explicit allusions to  –  superior  –  German traits. Given Verdi’s revered stature in the opera world, there was, of course, praise for his efforts. The opera was touted as ‘possessing true dramatic qualities’,73 with ‘a grandeur and a brilliancy of colouring in the music’,74 ‘remarkable instrumentation’ and ‘musical unity’, 75 as well as exhibiting ‘elegant rhythmical and melodic effects joined with dramatic colouring and a faithful interpretation of the libretto’.76 Overall, many considered Aida of ‘special interest, as involving some change of style’;77 it was ‘decidedly less “Verdesque”’ than any Verdi operas previously heard in London.78 While, in Don Carlos, there had been an ‘amalgamation of the old with the new’ compositional ‘schools’, in Aida the ‘fusion [was] complete’:79 it was a ‘triumph’ in ‘combining Italian melody and German study and accuracy in the instrumental part’. 80 English readers were further educated about Verdi’s ‘Germanism’ in Aida 70 Ernest Reyer’s phrase, review of Aida’s premiere, in Journal des débats, 31 December 1871, published in English in 1872 in PMG, 18 January, and MW, 27 January. 71 Representative of this view was the DN, 6 January 1872 (cit. in n. 67 above): ‘The success was genuine enough in Cairo; but if we take into account the effect of a really magnificent mise-en-scene [sic], of the immense interest attaching to the reproduction of the splendours of ancient Egypt on the very spot, and if we ask what will be the reception of the European public, we are justified in fearing that the success will not be so complete.’ 72 Athenaeum, 24 February 1862 (probably Henry Chorley). 73 DN, 6 January 1872 (cit. in n. 67 above). 74 DN, 24 April 1876 (probably Henry John Lincoln). 75 Era, 23 August 1874 (unidentified author). 76 From an unsigned letter published in MW, 17 August 1872, reprinted from the Boston music periodical the Orpheus. 77 ILN, 11 March 1876 (unidentified author). 78 Daily Post, 8 January 1872 (unidentified author). 79 MW, 17 August 1872 (cit. in n. 76 above). 80 DN, 21 August 1874 (probably Lincoln). The opera’s ‘Germanic’ strengths also included ‘combination of the melodic, the ideal, and the intellectual’; abandonment

Idea of Art.indb 238

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

239

through a paraphrased translation of a review by the well-known French critic Ernest Reyer, who confirmed that in Aida ‘the old Verdi survives […] but another Verdi touched with Germanism also manifests himself, with a clever manner, with a science and tact […], with all the artifices of fugue and counterpoint, coupling tone with rare ingenuity.’81 (Other French reviewers who considered Aida Verdi’s masterpiece, however, deemed it French-influenced Italian opera rather than German music drama.)82 For German observers as well, Aida presented a ‘new Verdi’, one who had moved towards Wagner, and the opera helped delineate expectations for the Italian composer’s future works.83 In Italy, disputes over the stylistic identity of Verdi’s latest opera were widespread, detailed and intense; there, the perceived move towards the modern, i.e. German, style (often viewed positively outside Italy) was more often than not deemed a betrayal of the Italian artistic tradition, seemingly bringing to the fore concerns expressed during the previous decade (see pp. 227–8). The international attention to and the abundant controversy over Aida before its arrival in London gave the opera recognition and accumulated prestige, Bourdieuesque ‘symbolic capital’, thereby making it a ‘valuable’ cultural object to be ‘acquired’.84 Coupled with the opera’s position as the latest offering of the celebrated Italian master, a representation of the ‘highest development’ of his style and, as was his Requiem, an example of ‘what fine results his riper period [was] capable of producing’,85 the abundant press chatter would have roused curiosity and enriched the opera’s cachet, thereby encouraging audiences to want to hear it, in sum enhancing its marketability. The manager of the Royal Italian Opera, however, was not fully convinced of the opera’s market value. Before bringing Aida to London, Gye attended productions in various European cities: Milan in 1872, Vienna in 1874, Turin in 1875.86 His firm opinion was that the opera was wanting in melody and of conventional accompaniments and ‘antique forms’; motivically generated melodies with ‘well-defined musical proportions’; and ‘masterly elaboration of themes’; unsigned letter, MW, 17 August 1872 (cit. in n. 76 above). 81 See n. 70 above. 82 Karen Henson, ‘Exotisme et nationalités: Aida à l’Opéra de Paris’, L’Opéra en France et en Italie (1791–1925), ed. Hervé Lacombe (Paris: Société Française de Musicologie, 2000), pp. 263–97, at pp. 293–4; see also Kreuzer, Verdi and the Germans, pp. 115–16. 83 The work’s premiere in Germany took place in Berlin on 20 April 1874; on German perceptions of the opera, see Kreuzer, Verdi and the Germans, pp. 111–16, in which the prevalence of the concept of a ‘new Verdi’ with regard to Aida, as perceived by contemporary Continental (though not London) critics, is surveyed (esp. pp. 115–16). Kreuzer discusses this aspect with regard to the Requiem in ibid., esp. pp. 69–72. 84 The terms and ideas derive from Bourdieu; see, for example, Distinction. 85 Sunday Times, 11 June 1876 (perhaps Joseph Bennett). 86 On Milan, see Athenaeum, 16 March 1872; on Milan and Turin, see GD, 17 January 1875; on Vienna, see Graphic, 14 November 1874, and Athenaeum, 19 December 1874. The Athenaeum, 16 and 23 March 1872, expressed the belief that Gye may

Idea of Art.indb 239

02/02/2016 15:13

240

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

thus a ‘no go for London’. 87 Nonetheless, the opera’s well-publicized success throughout Europe and beyond was making it embarrassing that England’s cultural centre had not presented the latest creation of the most famous living Italian opera composer. Critics commonly decried the absence of Aida from London, remarking, for example, that ‘the reputation of Signor Verdi ought to have induced the directors to bring out, as promptly as possible, any new opera by him.’88 In addition, Verdi’s presence in London in May 1875 to conduct his Messa da Requiem surely left London audiences keen to witness his new opera, increasing pressure to bring Aida to the city’s stages. Given Gye’s longtime and oft-publicized French operatic connections, he doubtless knew of the Théâtre Italien’s planned April 1876 production ahead of time, and some commentators believed that after Aida was announced for Paris ‘no further delay was possible’ in London.89 Bringing Aida to London must have, at last, seemed an unavoidable (and shrewd) business move, for in February 1876, Gye was in Milan negotiating with Verdi’s publisher Giulio Ricordi about producing the opera at the Royal Italian Opera. Although the final details (including Gye’s costs) of the contract the two men worked out (between 20 and 24 February)90 have not come to light, Ricordi was concerned about the singers Gye would engage (an echo of Verdi’s demands), and he wanted assurance that Gye would not reassign his rights of performance to others; Gye, as was often the case, was focused on obtaining exclusive rights of performance (which would make profit much more likely), as well as of printing and selling the libretto in England, and the length of time he would hold rights. Once back at his opera house with the season underway, Gye turned his attention to engaging a suitable cast. Adelina Patti, whom he had promised as a potential Aida to Ricordi,91 agreed to sing the title role (Fig. 10.2), and Gye assigned other roles from within the season’s company. From the outset, Gye was aware that casting Amneris, a mezzo-soprano/contralto, would be challenging, and that role remained in flux throughout May. Finally, after considering at least three singers, in early June Gye was able to confirm that the Austrian mezzo-soprano Ernesta Gindele, new to London, would perform Amneris (which she had sung in Vienna).92 Beyond casting, lengthy production preparations seem to have have gone to Milan to negotiate with Verdi to present Aida in London but that ‘it is probable that the terms asked for the right of representation have dismayed Mr. Gye’ (23 March). 87 GD, 17 January 1875; cited in Dideriksen and Ringel, ‘Frederick Gye’, p. 18. 88 Athenaeum, 1 July 1876 (probably Charles Lewis Gruneisen). 89 Ibid. also remarks on the various reasons for staging Aida, including its European travels and the role of the Requiem. 90 Intervening for Gye was the Italian baritone Achille Ardavani (1826–89), whom Gye undoubtedly knew, for he had sung in London, Paris and the United States; GD, 20 to 23 February 1876. 91 GD, 23 February 1876. 92 At first Gye planned on the young American soprano Florence Rice-Knox (RiccaKnox), new to London, offering not only to pay her expenses to Paris to hear Maria

Idea of Art.indb 240

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

241

Figure 10.2 Adelina Patti as Aida at the Royal Italian Opera in 1876, Illustrated London News, 24 May 1879, from a photograph by the London Stereoscopic Company [Courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections]

been undertaken, for the opera was reported to have been in rehearsal in early May.93 As publisher of Aida, Ricordi was also preparing for the opera’s English premiere by issuing special musical editions to make the opera ‘known to all classes of amateurs’94 in England. One advertisement read: Waldmann sing the role but also to have the well-known voice teacher Francesco Lamperti teach her the part in London, but that plan fell through. Rice (1850–1914) married the American businessman Edward M. Knox (1842–1916) in 1871; she was not the wife or the daughter of Colonel Brownlow William Knox (d. 1873), who had previously been one of Gye’s financial backers. (MW, 25 August 1877, published two letters from Ricca-Knox concerning shoddy treatment by Gye and the English press during her time at the Royal Italian Opera.) Next, Gye turned to soprano Anna D’Angeri, who was in the season’s company; she declined because she felt that the part was too low for her. He also sought advice from his conductor for Aida, Enrico Bevignani, about Antonietta Pozzoni (creator of Aida at the Cairo premiere and interpreter of Amneris in some Italian productions opposite Teresa Stolz’s Aida), but (for unstated reasons) she too was unattainable. 93 ILN, 13 May 1876 (unidentified author). Gye lamented that rehearsals were plagued by problems among the singers; GD, 20 June 1876. Other members of the cast included tenor Ernesto Nicolini as Radames, baritone Francesco Graziani as Amonasro, bass Federico Feitlinger as the King and bass Giovanni Capponi as Ramfis. 94 PMG, 30 June 1876 (Henry Sutherland Edwards).

Idea of Art.indb 241

02/02/2016 15:13

242

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

Aida  –  Verdi’s latest opera, performed with the greatest success in all the best theatres of the Continent and in America  –  is shortly to be produced at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent-Garden.  –  Splendid Editions of this Opera, complete, for Voice and Pianoforte, and Pianoforte Solo and Duet, illustrated in chromolithography, from 8s. Special English Edition for the Pianoforte, and words to the leading subjects, with description of the plot and thematic references to the music; also the Portrait of the Author, his autograph and biography, net 4s. The songs and separate vocal pieces  –  a hundred and fifty arrangements, fantasias, &c., List of which may be had, post-free, of the Proprietor of the music, the libretto, and the English translation.   –  Ricordi’s Dépôt, 23, Charles-street, Middlesex Hospital, London, W.; and all Musicsellers.95 The ‘Special English Edition’ contained an ‘analysis’ of the opera by the organist of the Royal Italian Opera, Josiah Pittman,96 and the recent availability of this ‘inexpensive edition’ was praised as an ‘opportunity […] [for] making acquaintance with the music beforehand’.97 Thirteen pezzi staccati (individual pieces) had been published in London in 1875 with Italian text and an English translation.98 Some of Aida’s music could have been heard occasionally in concert: one example, reported in the Illustrated London News (9 October 1875), was a performance at the Covent Garden Theatre, conducted by Luigi Arditi,99 who had ‘very effectively made’ an arrangement ‘of some of the principal portions of “Aida”’, including ‘vocal pieces, the instrumental prelude to the opera, ballet and procession music, &c.’ for orchestra, which in the performance was ‘supplemented by the band of the Coldstream Guards’. This commentator concluded: ‘The “Aida” selections will no doubt prove to be a powerful attraction, as offering specimens of a remarkable work which has yet to be produced on our opera stage’. Thus, although there appear to have been no ‘Englished’ vocal excerpts or stage adaptations preceding Aida, as would have been customary for Verdi’s operas earlier in the century, there were means through which consumers could become acquainted with the opera. 95 This ran in issues of the weekly ILN (on 27 May and 10 June). The same ad continued to run sporadically, e.g., in MW, 19 August 1876. The Academy, 27 May 1876 (perhaps Ebenezer Prout), also mentioned that ‘a cheap and convenient edition’ could be obtained in London by ‘those who may wish to make previous acquaintance with the music’. 96 PMG, 30 June 1876 (Edwards). 97 ILN, 10 June 1876, ‘music’ column. 98 Plate numbers 44383–44398 in ‘Ricordi’s vocal album for amateurs’ series; see Maria Adelaide Bacherini Bartoli, ‘Aggiunte integrazioni e rettifiche alla “Bibliography of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi” di Cecil Hopkinson: Edizioni verdiane nella Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze’, Studi Verdiani 4 (1986–87), 110–35, at p. 129. 99 The permissions that Ricordi had granted to Arditi to make arrangements and potpourris for his London concerts caused a small wrinkle in Gye’s negotiations with the publisher; GD, 23 and 24 February 1876.

Idea of Art.indb 242

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

243

Familiarity with Aida  –  both intellectual (reading commentaries and studying scores) and sensual (hearing and ‘performing’ music)  –  would have contributed to the public’s eagerness to see the opera on stage. As an (unidentified) writer for the Era (25 June 1876) explained: ‘The work has been the cause of no little excitement in the musical world, and so great has been the desire to hear it that every place was secured nearly a fortnight ago’; the critic also reported that ‘the places are going off at a tremendous rate and at a tremendous price. The dealers in tickets […] have been charging double  –  aye, and treble prices for seats.’ Gye’s proclamation that at its London premiere Aida met with ‘great success’ (with opening-night receipts totalling £608 and most of those thereafter even higher) rings true.100 Critics reported that the opera drew ‘the most crowded house of the season’, 101 emphasizing that its five performances, despite appearing so late in the season, were additional testimony to its triumph.102 The production was not only a financial but also a critical success. Apprehension over how staging would be handled at the Royal Italian Opera proved groundless: it was ‘simply magnificent: characteristic scenery, characteristic costumes, characteristic ballet, characteristic pageantry of every kind’. 103 The critic for the Era (25 June 1876) remarked in unusual detail (perhaps a reflection of Victorian interest in all things Egyptian): ‘Rarely have we seen anything more beautiful than the view of the temple on the banks of the Nile, with the pyramids in the distance, the waters of the sacred river reflecting the moonlight, and the stars glittering down upon the strange customs and rites of antique fane.’ The principal performers were ‘almost irreproachable’: Patti performed with intelligence and pathos, breathing ‘the breath of dramatic life’ into Aida;104 she was supported admirably by Gindele, who sang ‘artistically’ and was ‘a most powerful actress’. 105 The chorus and orchestra, though heavily taxed, performed extremely well, under the ‘careful and zealous’ conducting of Enrico Bevignani.106 For Aida’s music, however, critical reception remained mixed, as had been the norm elsewhere and as had long been the case for Verdi’s operas in

100 GD, 22 June 1876. There were four additional performances in 1876, which also brought in excellent receipts: 24 June, £559; a morning performance on 5 July, £826; 7 July, undesignated; the final performance on 10 July, £694 (GD, 24 June, 5 July and 10 July, respectively). To put this into some perspective, Gye’s average annual profit 1872–77 was £15,500 (£1,272,000 in 2013); Times, 21 July 1881, cit. in Rodmell, Opera, p. 37 n. 9. 101 PMG, 30 June 1876 (Edwards). 102 MW, 29 July 1876, remarked that the number of performances for Aida indicated success, noting similarly for Tannhäuser, which, having come out earlier that season, received eight performances. 103 Graphic, 1 July 1876 (probably Davison). 104 PMG, 30 June 1876 (Edwards). 105 MP, 23 June 1876 (probably William Alexander Barrett). 106 Times, 26 June 1876 (Davison). Bevignani had conducted six performances of Aida in Moscow between 1 and 15 January 1876.

Idea of Art.indb 243

02/02/2016 15:13

244

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

London.107 Above all, echoing the writings of their Continental counterparts, London journalists engaged in the debate over whether Verdi had a new style in Aida (frequently referring back to Don Carlos). There were supporters who maintained that Aida represented the best of Verdi’s ‘normal’ musical style and/ or praised the simplicity of the plot.108 Many critics, however, felt that Aida was not Italian enough, not Verdian enough,109 and thus the focus was often on the origins of his ‘new’ style. Several commentators believed that Verdi had emulated Meyerbeer  –  a style with which the English were well acquainted since the composer’s operas were a longtime staple in the London repertoire. The obvious point of comparison was L’Africaine, which had similar subject matter and characters to Aida, as well as exotic colour (and here too English writers were reiterating the ideas of their Continental counterparts, German commentators in particular).110 Although the opera, especially in its ‘great effects of choral and orchestral colouring’111 marked ‘a new era’ for Verdi, he was seen as perhaps having ‘out-Meyerbeered Meyerbeer’112 with too many ‘shows and pageants, pretentious combinations and noisy “ensembles”’. 113 Other commentators considered that in Aida Verdi had modelled himself ‘upon the great prophet of the future, Wagner’. 114 Declaring that Aida exhibited ‘a certain amount of the Wagnerian influence in the arrangement and disposition of the musical thoughts’, the Morning Post praised the opera as ‘thoughtful, vigorous, dramatic, more German than Italian in its mode of expression’. The conclusion was that ‘the vigour and dramatic power in every one of [Verdi’s] operas, and especially in his latest’ was owing to Verdi’s having all along been only ‘nominally’ Italian and, in reality, ‘Teutonic’.115 That English writers should have perceived hints of ‘Wagnerism’ in Aida was inevitable. London had just had its very first tastes of Wagner’s (long-anticipated) operas (staged in Italian): at the Royal Italian Opera Lohengrin in 1875 and Tannhäuser in 1876 (6 May, also playing the night after Aida’s premiere), and at Her Majesty’s Opera Lohengrin (nearly simultaneously with Aida’s first run at the Royal Italian Opera). 107 Commentary was undoubtedly affected also by biases of critics who may have favoured Gye and his Royal Italian Opera over his competition and vice versa, but given the extent to which it echoes Continental comments, that would appear to have been a minor consideration. On the vicissitudes of the press with regard to Verdi, see Langley, ‘Italian Opera’, and Valenti, ‘Verdi Reception’. 108 See, e.g. Standard, 23 June 1876 (probably Desmond Ryan). 109 It is curious that earlier in the century, Verdi’s English detractors complained, as did Henry Chorley about Rigoletto, that Verdi’s music did not display ‘intellect and expression  –  which is French or German  –  as distinguished from […] melody, which is Italian’; Athenaeum, 21 May 1853. 110 See Kreuzer, Verdi and the Germans, p. 114. 111 Era, 21 January 1872 (perhaps Howe). 112 Athenaeum, 1 July 1876 (probably Gruneisen). 113 Graphic, 8 July 1876 (perhaps Davison). 114 MT, 1 July 1876 (perhaps Bennett). 115 MP, 23 June 1876 (probably Barrett).

Idea of Art.indb 244

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

245

Whatever the specific perceptions may have been, Aida was deemed atypical of Italian opera and of Verdian style; and unlike Don Carlos, Aida could not be excused by conventions of a different operatic tradition. Thus Aida left many commentators at a loss with regard to its classification, leading the (anonymous) critic for the Musical Times (1 August 1876) to conclude cynically: ‘as it belongs to no recognized school, we may presume [it] to be Egyptian’. With a marked decrease in the availability of the kinds of consumer products that had previously helped educate the public about new operas, the perceptions expressed in the press carried greater weight. And, thus, for London audiences, it was precisely what commentators discussed  –  Aida’s precarious profile, its ‘failure’ to fit an anticipated mould, its challenges to expectations, its exoticism, novelty, and uniqueness  –  that combined to make the opera a coveted cultural object and a commercial success.116 Within the cultural marketplace of 1870s London,117 Aida hovered between the old and the new, the expected and the unexpected, the exotic and the commonplace, the ‘true’ and the ‘false’ Verdi, representing multiple ideas of art music. This may have been an important consideration, for at a time of transition when enthusiasm for Italian opera had waned, Aida ‘made it flicker for a while’.118 The opera’s success in 1876 at the Royal Italian Opera led to frequent performances there in subsequent seasons (immediately, three in 1877 and in 1878) and a production (eleven performances) in 1879 at Her Majesty’s Opera under James Henry Mapleson.119 And at the Grand Opera Syndicate at Covent Garden between 1897 and 1914, Aida stood proudly as the fourth most frequently performed opera.120 116 By the time of Aida’s London premiere, with English opera audiences no longer elitist and exclusive, cultural capital and public taste had shifted. See, e.g., Michael Booth, Theatre in the Victorian Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), esp. pp. 21–6, and Hall-Witt, Fashionable Acts. 117 From the mid 1870s through the late 1880s, as Paul Rodmell (Opera, pp. 35–7) has discussed, the environment in London’s opera world became less receptive to Italian opera in general, with artistic policy focusing more on singers than on repertoire; and the genre’s popularity, even more than previously, began to wane. See also Henry C. Lunn, ‘The London Musical Season’, MT, 1 August 1876. 118 MW, 7 January 1882, expressed the opinion that this was true by 1881; cit. in Rodmell, Opera, pp. 37–8. 119 Performances for the Royal Italian Opera from Ringel, ‘Opera’, p. 62. Statistics for Her Majesty’s Opera from Rodmell, Opera, p. 37, which indicates 1878 as the year of the Aida production; in a private communication (23 July 2014), Rodmell confirmed, however, that the year was 1879. 120 Rodmell, Opera, p. 84, counts seventy-seven performances of Aida (outnumbering it were two new Puccini works, La bohème with 106 performances and Madama Butterfly with ninety-one, as well Gounod’s Faust with ninety-three). London would wait thirteen years to hear another new Verdi opera: Otello (composed 1887) was heard at the Royal Lyceum Theatre (a company from Milan under the London manager M. L. Mayer) in July 1889, and later Falstaff (1893) at Covent Garden (the Royal Opera under Augustus Harris) in May 1894. Then, the issues under consideration with regard to reception and financial success were very different.

Idea of Art.indb 245

02/02/2016 15:13

246

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

T

he ongoing and increasing education of the public through press previews and reviews, and the cultivation of a broad, multi-class audience by way of by-products of operatic culture, together with the social configuration of an enlarged opera spectatorship brought about as a consequence of new social, technological and geographical mobilities of the time, were part and parcel of the complex relationship between ideas about opera as an art form and its commercial value in Victorian London. The stories of Don Carlos and Aida present two different but interrelated dialogues reflecting this complex intertwining. Don Carlos, a French grand opera, presented in vitiated form and ‘disguised’ in Italian, challenged expectations associated with audiences’ and critics’ experience and knowledge of the genre; and it did not live up to the quality of well-known exemplars in the repertoire by Meyerbeer and Auber. Conversely, Aida represented the best of what its author had to offer, in particular with regard to being modern, flavoured by the best of the ‘German school’ then coming prominently into vogue in London. The complex plot of Don Carlos, with its unappealing characters, public dramatic thrust, and high literary Schillerian origin, had little to recommend it to English spectators, while Aida’s story, with its alluring characters, personal internal conflicts, and glitter and spectacle appealed because of its simplicity and its fashionable Egyptian-ness. Perhaps one of the most important considerations, however, was audience readiness for new works. The brief time that passed (less than three months) between the world premiere of Don Carlos in Paris and the first London performance of Don Carlo, and the markedly long period (well over four years) that intervened between Aida’s Cairo premiere and the opera’s first staging in the English capital would have mattered a great deal. In the case of the former, the short time meant that there were no concerts of selections or arrangements and no sheet-music publications specifically for the English market (‘Englished’ or otherwise); but the lengthy time for the latter furnished opportunities for the public to enjoy concert performances of selections or arrangements, and to purchase specially published sheet-music excerpts, piano scores, and transcriptions for study and domestic performance. (There were no stage adaptations of either opera.) Without the extra-theatrical commodities, so abundant in earlier decades, the press became a main means for creating ‘brand awareness’ and thus a market before the fact: the press ‘buzz’  –  for Don Carlo minimal and based solely on Paris performances, for Aida abundant and drawn from reviews worldwide  –  played an essential role in creating interest and rousing curiosity. For Don Carlo, expectations were lowered and disappointment was promised; for Aida expectations of something new were built and pleasure was promised. The varying fates of these two operas in London may furnish a grain of truth to the cynical remarks of Bernard Shaw: ‘The English do not know what to think until they are coached, laboriously and insistently for years, in the proper and becoming opinion.’ 121 Even without the contributions (or lack thereof ) of press preparation, audience readiness for a new ‘brand’ of Verdi 121 Shaw’s farewell as theatre critic for the Saturday Review, ‘Valedictory’, SR, 21 May 1898.

Idea of Art.indb 246

02/02/2016 15:13

Selling a ‘False Verdi’ in Victorian London

247

would have differed for the two operas. In 1867, closer to the works (of the 1850s) perceived as ‘true’ Verdi, audiences may not have been equipped to accept the ‘false’ Verdi. By 1876, having heard Don Carlo and the Messa da Requiem (as well as La forza del destino) and with Wagner and other new composers (above all Gounod) in their ears and on their minds, the public was ready to grasp the idea that Verdi was writing ‘modern’ works.

Idea of Art.indb 247

02/02/2016 15:13

Idea of Art.indb 248

02/02/2016 15:13

Part V Settings

Idea of Art.indb 249

02/02/2016 15:13

11 Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and the Consumption of Sacred Music in Leipzig Jeffrey S. Sposato

I

n autumn 1778, Johann Adam Hiller, music director (Kapellmeister) of  Leipzig’s leading subscription concert series since 1763, published a booklet to accompany the forthcoming Concerts Spirituels  –  the biannual set of sacred music programmes performed during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent  –  that were to be presented by his Musikübende Gesellschaft (MusicPractising Society). The booklet is part of a very small group of documents that describe the city’s public, commercial concert programming before the construction of the Gewandhaus concert hall and the founding of the Gewandhauskonzerte (Gewandhaus Concerts) in 1781. What makes it stand out, however, is Hiller’s introductory essay on the texts of the works to be performed  –  mostly traditional Latin liturgical texts such as the mass ordinarium, Magnificat and Te Deum  –  in which he reflected on the role of sacred music in the concert season. These remarks were structured around an exegesis of the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s twenty-third epistle to Lucilius, in which he comments, ‘res severa est verum gaudium’ (‘a serious thing is a true joy’).1 Hiller printed the maxim on the cover of the booklet and used a slight variant (‘Res severa verum gaudium’; ‘Serious thing  –  True joy’) as the motto for the Gewandhaus, one that was emblazoned over its stage immediately Travel support for this article was provided by the Central Research Development Fund at the University of Pittsburgh. For their assistance and insights during the writing of this article, I would like to thank Peter Cohen, Don O. Franklin, Robert Marshall, Traute Marshall, William Weber and Peter Wollny. I am also grateful to the staffs of the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, the Leipziger Messe Archiv, the BachArchiv Leipzig, the Stadtarchiv Leipzig, the Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, the University of Houston Libraries, and especially the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig and Thomaskirche in Leipzig.

1 Lucius Annaeus Seneca, In Quo Epistolæ Et Quæstiones Naturales (Patavia: Manfrè, 1713), p. 64. A perusal of some of the editions of Seneca’s epistles published over the past 300 years, not to mention collections of famous quotations and proverbs, shows this phrase presented both in the manner printed here, as well as ‘verum gaudium res severa est’ and ‘verum gaudium est res severa’. Given that Hiller provides a precise citation for Seneca’s letter on the cover of the booklet (‘Seneca Epist. Lib. I. Ep. 23’), he was clearly striving for accuracy and thus must have been using an edition that matched the wording of the volume cited here.

250

Idea of Art.indb 250

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

251

after the hall’s construction and has appeared in eponymous halls ever since.2 Although Hiller’s booklet is recognized as the moment this adage first became associated with the Gewandhaus, less notice has been taken of Hiller’s essay itself, and particularly of Hiller’s choice to discuss Seneca’s words in connection to sacred, rather than secular, music. And while a spectator in the Gewandhaus might interpret the motto as a declaration that the music performed in the space is  –  and should be  –  something more than mere entertainment, Hiller’s original intent was more closely related to sacred music’s role in public concert life: True joy is a very serious matter, says Seneca. The conviction of the truth of this statement, and the confidence in the right-thinking of our Leipzig residents, who exceed [those of ] so many German cities in their love of music, have called for the newly established Musikübende Gesellschaft to perform so-called Concerts Spirituels during Advent and Lent, in which not only serious operas and oratorios would be performed, but also other large pieces of sacred music. In this last category are primarily understood to be those Latin chants [i.e., texts] that have been known since the earliest days of the Christian service.3 Indeed, Hiller attests here not only to the demand of Leipzig’s citizens that the nature of the penitential seasons be respected (and thus reflected in the concert repertoire), but also to the idea that service to God was one of music’s essential functions and therefore should be a pillar of public concert life. The observance of Advent and Lent through the performance of Concerts Spirituels was not unique to Leipzig; the first commercial concert enterprise, the Paris Concert Spirituel, was founded in 1725 specifically to produce programmes of instrumental and sacred music during the penitential seasons. But there and in the other cities where subscription-supported concerts emerged over the course of the eighteenth century, the church exerted little, if any, influence on concert programming. Unlike Leipzig, those cities often saw their concert organizations spring from secular institutions like the court or opera and from

2 For a broader study of the motto’s history, see Wilhelm Siedel, ‘“ Res severa verum gaudium”: Über den Wahlspruch des Gewandhauses in Leipzig’, Die Musikforschung 50 (1997), 1–9. 3 Translations throughout this article are mine unless otherwise indicated. [Johann Adam Hiller], Texte der lateinischen Musiken, die im Concert Spirituel zu Leipzig, bey gewissen feyerlichen Gelegenheiten aufgeführt werden (Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1778), pp. 4–5; original in Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig [hereafter D-LEsm], Textbücher 222. While the essay in the text book is admittedly unsigned, it is highly unlikely  –  given his position as the Musikübende Gesellschaft’s director and as the city’s most prominent music journalist  –  that it could have been written by anyone but Hiller. The style and content are also markedly similar to his writings elsewhere, such as in his journal, the Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend.

Idea of Art.indb 251

02/02/2016 15:13

252

Jeffrey S. Sposato

theatre companies.4 In the absence of such institutions,5 Leipzig concert life was disproportionately influenced by that city’s unusually powerful and centralized church music establishment, which was headed by the Thomaskantor.6 Indeed, despite the paucity of documentation from the early years of Leipzig’s public concerts, ties to the church are readily apparent even in the earliest subscription series: the Grosse Concert (established in 1743), whose first recorded musical director was Johann Friedrich Doles, then a student of Thomaskantor Johann Sebastian Bach. (For a timeline of the period under study here and the persons involved, see Table 11.1.) While Doles’s tenure was brief (he left Leipzig in May 1744 for an eleven-year stint as cantor in Freiberg, after which he returned to fill his teacher’s post), his immediate successors had similarly strong ties to the city’s massive sacred music enterprise, the result of which was a clear path of influence from the sacred to the secular music worlds. This tendency evidenced itself in numerous ways throughout the late eighteenth century, including Concerts Spirituels that mirrored church music repertoire trends, the liturgical calendar and even the liturgy itself.7 In the first decades of the nineteenth century, however, the flow of influence from church to concert hall gradually diminished and then  –  quite surprisingly  –  fully reversed itself as the Gewandhaus grew in prominence and eclipsed the churches as the city’s musical focal point. A primary factor in that reversal was a decline in church attendance, a crisis that had been building since the last decade of the eighteenth century. In an effort to stem the decline, nineteenth-century Thomaskantors leveraged the prestige that the Gewandhaus concerts had lent to the middle-class’s consumption of art music by developing a style of sacred music programming designed to drive similar ‘audiences’ into the church. As a result, the lines between art music, commercial practice and sacred music became even more blurred.

4 Jeffrey S. Sposato, ‘“ The Joyous Light of Day”: New Year’s Day Music in Leipzig, 1781–1847’, Music & Letters 92 (2011), 202–29, esp. pp. 206–12. 5 While operas and singspiels (staged by itinerant companies) were performed in Leipzig, these were not sources of regular employment for orchestral musicians during the formative years of the public subscription concert, nor did they have nearly the importance or influence of the church music establishment. The theatre orchestra that eventually formed in 1766 was little more than a pick-up group, many of whose members were performers from the Grosse Concert who had been recommended by Hiller. Ibid., p. 209 n. 40. 6 Leipzig’s Thomaskantor was directly responsible for all of the music performed at the city’s two main churches, the Thomaskirche (St Thomas) and the Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas), and supervised music at the Neukirche (New Church) and at the Peterskirche (St Peter). The choirs that served these churches (the Thomanerchor) were all students at the Thomasschule (St Thomas School), where the Thomaskantor lived and taught. 7 A detailed study of these correspondences and the overall influence of the church on concert programming will appear in my forthcoming monograph, Leipzig After Bach: Church and Concert Life in a German City, 1743–1847.

Idea of Art.indb 252

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

253

The connections between concert culture and church programming, and the impact of the former on the latter, are perhaps best elucidated through an examination of two particularly strong points of contact between the city’s dominant secular and sacred music institutions. The first of these was embodied in Johann Gottfried Schicht, who took over from Hiller as Gewandhaus Kapellmeister in 1785 and then became Thomaskantor in 1810. Upon assuming the latter post, Schicht put his twenty-five years of experience at the Gewandhaus to good use: specifically, he realized that through judicious programming and Table 11.1  Timeline of Leipzig Thomaskantors and the Kapellmeisters of the city’s leading subscription concert series Kapellmeister (Concerts) 1720

1740

1760

1780

J. S. Bach (1723–50)

[Grosse Concert founded in 1743] J. F. Doles (GC, 1743–44)a

G. Harrer (1750–55) J. F. Doles (1756–89)

J. A. Hiller (GC, 1763–75)b (MG, 1775c–81) (GH, 1781–85)

J. G. Schicht (GH, 1785–1810)

1800

1820

Thomaskantor (Churches)

J. A. Hiller (1789–1804)

J. P. C. Schulz (GH, 1810–27)

A. E. Müller (1804–10) J. G. Schicht (1810–23)

C. A. Pohlenz (GH, 1827–35)

C. T. Weinlig (1823–42)

F. Mendelssohn (GH, 1835–47)d 1840

M. Hauptmann (1842–68)

Key: GC = Grosse Concert (founded 1743) MG = Musikübende Gesellschaft (founded c. 1775, see note b overleaf ) GH = Gewandhauskonzerte (founded 1781) Notes to table appear overleaf.

Idea of Art.indb 253

02/02/2016 15:13

254

Jeffrey S. Sposato

proper ‘marketing’, facilitated by music publishing trends, music could potentially help solve the problem of declining church attendance by drawing aficionados into the congregation. The second point of contact was the partnership that existed between Gewandhaus director Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Thomaskantor Moritz Hauptmann. The Gewandhaus board of directors (the Directorium) hired Mendelssohn in 1835 with the express intention that he take the institution in a new direction  –  away from the light and popular fare that had been dominating concerts and toward more sophisticated (and what we would today consider more canonical) repertoire.8 When, in 1842, the time to hire a new Thomaskantor came, Mendelssohn took the unprecedented step of involving himself, as Gewandhaus director, in the selection process and arranged to have the position filled by his friend Hauptmann, a man who shared his musical tastes and priorities. This partnership allowed the men to continue further down the road on which Schicht had set the churches and to inaugurate a modern age of church music programming that mirrored what Mendelssohn had achieved at the Gewandhaus. 8 Sposato, ‘“ The Joyous Light of Day”’, pp. 226–7.

Notes to Table 11.1, p. 253 a  The duration of Doles’s directorship remains uncertain. In his application for the Freiberg cantorate (dated 24 April 1744), he implies that he began by directing on an occasional basis and then took on a more permanent role. This likely began very early on, as Doles appears to have served as a cembalist for the Grosse Concert since the beginning. He played in, and probably directed, a concert on 23 October 1743, at which point he was described by Leipzig chronicler Johann Riemer as ‘a member of this Concert’. The concert series was suspended throughout the Seven Years War (1756–63). Georg Schünemann, ‘Die Bewerber um das Freiberger Kantorat (1556–1798)’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 1, no. 2 (1919): 179–204, at p. 194; Johann Salomon Riemer, ‘Auszüge aus Johann Salomon Riemers Leipzigischen Jahrbuche, 1714–1771’, Quellen zur Geschichte Leipzigs, ed. Gustav Wustmann, 2 vols (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1889–95), vol. 1, pp. 193–456, at p. 426. b  The timing of Hiller’s departure from the Grosse Concert and of his founding of the Musikübende Gesellschaft have been the subject of debate, but Claudius Böhm makes a compelling argument for the dates used here. See Claudius Böhm, ‘“ Vorzüglich ein Werk des Herrn Kapellmeister Hillers”: Johann Adam Hiller als Musikdirektor des Großen Concerts’, Johann Adam Hiller: Kapellmeister und Kantor, Komponist und Kritiker, ed. Claudius Böhm (Altenburg: Klaus-Jürgen Kamprad, 2005), pp. 27–34. c  The Musikübende Gesellschaft did not begin presenting concerts in public until 1777; ibid., p. 34. d  Mendelssohn’s obligations outside of Leipzig required him to turn over individual concerts and entire seasons to others. His most extended absence took place during the 1843/4 and 1844/5 seasons, which were directed by Ferdinand Hiller and Niels Wilhelm Gade, respectively. Gade then served as co-director from autumn 1845 until Mendelssohn’s death in 1847.

Idea of Art.indb 254

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

255

Bringing the Art-Music Consumer into the Church: Johann Gottfried Schicht In 1785, the Gewandhaus Directorium and the Leipzig town council chose Schicht, a keyboardist and violinist with the orchestra, to succeed Hiller, both at the concert hall and as music director of the city’s Neukirche (New Church). Although it was obviously not unprecedented for the Gewandhaus director also to have a church posting, Schicht’s passion for sacred music had a substantial impact on its performance at the Gewandhauskonzerte, and through both institutions he bolstered his own reputation as a composer and advocate for the genre. Indeed, Schicht’s focus on church repertoire was far more acute than that of his predecessor: whereas Hiller’s reputation outside of directing stemmed from his many singspiels, Schicht’s was built through his sacred choral works for Leipzig’s churches and concert halls, as well as through his massive sacred choral library. When, in 1801, as a consequence of infirmities of age, Hiller began to scale back his duties as Thomaskantor (a position he accepted four years after leaving the Gewandhaus), Schicht became the city’s leading figure in the area of sacred music, the first time that honour belonged to anyone other than the cantor. Although this was, in part, a reflection of the weakness of Hiller’s immediate replacement, August Eberhard Müller,9 it resulted more from Schicht’s cultivation of sacred music (through both his compositional and his directing efforts) to a degree never before seen outside the cantorate. Although Schicht first focused on sacred music at the Neukirche, he eventually turned his attention to the Gewandhaus, where he noticeably increased the presence of sacred music. During Hiller’s tenure as Gewandhaus director, typically eight concerts a year had included sacred music, a model Schicht followed for nearly two decades. In 1803, however, that number began to rise as Schicht incorporated more sacred music into the concerts presented during Advent and the weeks after Easter. By 1805, the number of concerts with sacred music had risen to twelve, half of the annual subscription series of twenty-four programmes.10 The Directorium likely saw this as excessive, however, since the number dropped to seven the following year and remained at or close to that 9 Müller was not a particularly active sacred music composer, having written only eleven cantatas and a small number of motets, and he does not appear to have been an especially effective cantor. As Friedrich Rochlitz noted in Müller’s obituary, as Thomaskantor, Müller ‘did a lot of good for music: truth be told, however, he did less well as a singing teacher, and was not in his element as a pedagogue’. Friedrich Rochlitz, ‘August Eberhard Müller, grossherzogl. sächs. weimar. Kapellmeister in Weimar’, AMZ 19, no. 52 (1817), p. 888. 10 Unless otherwise noted, my assessments of Leipzig concert traditions are based on Gewandhaus programmes in D-LEsm and from the summary of concert content in D-LEsm, IN 222 (‘Kurze Geschichte der Konzerte im Gewandhause’). When discussing individual programmes in depth, I use the museum’s recently assigned catalogue numbers (rather than the much less precise carton numbers previously in use), which appear in Bert Hagels, Konzerte in Leipzig 1779/80–1847/48: Eine Statistik (Berlin: Ries & Erler, 2009).

Idea of Art.indb 255

02/02/2016 15:13

256

Jeffrey S. Sposato

number until Schicht stepped down as both Gewandhaus and Neukirche music director in 1810 to become Thomaskantor. Whereas Hiller had been prohibited from directing concerts outside of the churches,11 Schicht remained in charge of sacred music performances at the Gewandhaus even after Johann Philipp Christian Schulz assumed the concerts’ directorship in 1810. According to Alfred Dörffel, this arrangement was due in part to the Gewandhaus’s need for access to Schicht’s sacred music library, which included many of the works performed in the concert hall during his tenure. Thus, a deal was struck in which Schicht would allow access to the library in exchange for maintaining control, at least for a time, over the concerts that included sacred music.12 Schicht finally left the Gewandhaus in 1816, when the effects of age forced him also to resign his directorship of the Singakademie he founded in 1802.13 Part of the reason Schicht felt compelled to cultivate sacred music at the Gewandhaus was likely because of its decreased presence in the churches, a result of changes that had been instituted in the 1780s and 1790s as part of the Enlightenment-based Rationalist movement within the Lutheran church. The movement acknowledged that the church’s role in society had diminished in favour of commerce and other secular concerns, resulting in a marked decline in church attendance   –  a trend it hoped to reverse through, among other things, liturgical changes. These efforts began with the hiring of Thomaskirche Pastor Johann Georg Rosenmüller, a Rationalist, as church superintendent in 1785. Shortly after taking his office, he charged that ‘The ultimate goal [of the liturgy] should be to increase the solemnity of a reasoned-Christian [‘vernünftigchristlichen’] service’ and warned that the continued use of the archaic sixteenthcentury form, with its outmoded language, was being ‘treated with greater scorn every day’. 14 His suggestions for modernization were extensive and diverse,15 but that he saw a reduction in the use of Latin as essential is demonstrated by a comment included in his call for updated hymnals. There he reflected on developments in Catholic masses in Germany, noting that it was ‘not in the spirit of Luther if in many evangelical churches Latin singing and praying still goes on

11 Johann Adam Hiller, Mein Leben: Autobiographie, Briefe und Nekrologe (Leipzig: Lehmstedt, 2004), p. 98. 12 Alfred Dörffel, Geschichte der Gewandhausconcerte zu Leipzig, vom 25. November 1781 bis 25. November 1881 (Leipzig: [n.p.], 1884), p. 45. 13 ‘Notizen’, AMZ 18, no. 24 (1816), p. 406. 14 Johann Georg Rosenmüller, Pastoralanweisung zum Gebrauch akademischer Vorlesungen (Leipzig: Georg Emanuel Beer, 1788), pp. 125, 131. 15 For more on Rosenmüller’s changes to the Leipzig services, see Günther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin Leaver, English trans. by Herbert Bouman, Daniel Poellot and Hilton Oswald (St Louis, MO: Concordia, 1984), pp. 158–66; Christiane Goebel, ‘Vernunft und Frömmigkeit (1700–1830)’, St. Thomas zu Leipzig, ed. Herbert Stiehl (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1984), pp. 82–3.

Idea of Art.indb 256

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

257

in a time when even Catholics are beginning to introduce German songs and prayers into their services’. 16 In Hiller, Rosenmüller found a willing partner for his reform efforts, and when Hiller assumed his post as Thomaskantor, he began excising Latin music from the service. In his first year alone he exchanged the Latin motets commonly sung at the beginning of the mass on ordinary Sundays with German ones and severely limited the singing of the Latin ordinarium, particularly the Kyrie, which was now sung in German (as the chorale Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit) even on some feast days.17 Services were also significantly shorter, with the music segment (which took place just before the readings) typically consisting of a short cantata made up of a single chorus, aria or duet, and chorale. (An additional short, singlemovement piece was performed during the distribution of communion.)18 In the end, the Rosenmüller/Hiller reforms did little to stem the tide of secularization, as communion attendance figures bear out. The average number of communicants annually in Leipzig’s two main churches, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, was 27,774 between 1740 and 1790, after which the numbers dropped off sharply: by 1810, the number was less than half (11,519), despite a growing population.19 The next year, King Friedrich August I was forced to issue a mandate for ‘the appropriate observance of Sundays, Feast days, and days of penance’, in which he called for ‘everything that contributes to the desecration of public worship and rest from the week’s work to be exorcised as much as possible on the dedicated days [of worship]’. The edict effectively gave many traditional practices the force of law. For instance, working or engaging in other noisy secular activities (music-making, dancing, drinking, etc.) during prohibited hours and days was now punishable by a five-thaler fine. Disturbances within the service itself  –  such as leaving early  –  were also strongly discouraged.20 Particularly revealing, however, is that the king took the mandate as an opportunity to implore his subjects to attend services regularly (‘We hope to encourage every Christian, without legal reminder and order, […] to take 16 Rosenmüller, Pastoralanweisung, p. 140. Translation from Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach, p. 161. 17 See the text books from Hiller’s first three years as Thomaskantor (Leipziger Städtliche Bibliotheken, Musikbibliothek [hereafter D-LEm], I B 4a–c). In the earliest text books, Hiller indicated the singing of the German Kyrie clearly by specifying ‘Kyrie, deutsch, mit Posaunen’ (see, for instance, the sixth Sunday after Trinity, 1789). Later, however, he merely printed ‘Kyrie, mit Posaunen’ in blackletter typeface (Latin performances were indicated with ‘Kyrie eleison’ in a standard serif font). 18 See, for instance, the text books from the fourth through the twenty-fourth Sundays after Trinity 1789, D-LEm, I B 4a. 19 Communion figures stem from a report dated 27 December 1839 written by Leipzig Church Superintendent Christian Gottlob Leberecht Grossmann (Kirchliches Archiv, Leipzig [D-LEka], Schrank III, Fach 7, Nr. 116, fol. 74v). 20 Eduard Schreyer, Codex des im Königreiche Sachsen geltenden Kirchen- und Schul-Rechts mit Einschluß des Eherechts und des Rechtes der frommen und milden Stiftungen, 2nd edn (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1864), pp. 221–2.

Idea of Art.indb 257

02/02/2016 15:13

258

Jeffrey S. Sposato

advantage of the services as appropriately as possible’).21 He also encouraged husbands to require their wives and children to go to church and prohibited employers from preventing their charges from attending.22 While some of the offences enumerated in the law were long-established (such as coming and going during the service, a commonplace occurrence for more than a century),23 the king’s plea, combined with the simple fact that he and the church administration felt the need to issue such a comprehensive edict, suggests that a tipping point had been reached. The decline in church attendance also significantly affected the public concert, with the most immediate casualty being the Concerts Spirituels themselves. While sacred music remained a regular feature at the Gewandhaus after the turn of the century, the idea of concerts that included only sacred vocal works and instrumental music and were intended to invoke a feeling of spirituality quickly fell out of fashion. Such concerts were not so much abandoned as were suffering from an increasing loss of integrity, a process that began with the 3 March 1803 programme, the first Concert Spirituel to include operatic fare (in the form of an aria with chorus from Ferdinando Paer’s Griselda and a Luigi Cherubini opera overture).24 Incursions were made in the other direction as well: sacred works were now frequently incorporated into secular concerts, the result of which was, ironically, the aforementioned temporary increase in the overall number of programmes that included sacred music in a given year (with that number reaching 50% of the concerts in 1805).25 And although that increase demonstrates a continued interest in sacred music, the decline of the Concerts Spirituels represented a new view of the genre as standard concert fare, rather than something distinctly religious or spiritual. This blurring of the boundaries between sacred and secular concerts over the course of the century’s first decade soon brought an end to the Concerts 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Tanya Kevorkian, Baroque Piety: Religion, Society, and Music in Leipzig, 1650–1750 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), p. 33. 24 D-LEsm, MT/2645/2006. As a matter of policy, excerpts from ‘serious operas’ were considered valid repertoire options for Concerts Spirituels, according to how the series was defined by the Directorium of both the Grosse Concert in 1771 and the Gewandhauskonzerte in 1781. (See Claudius Böhm and Sven-W. Staps, Das Leipziger Stadt- und Gewandhausorchester: Dokumente einer 250jährigen Geschichte [Leipzig: Kunst und Touristik GmbH, 1993], p. 20; and Dörffel, Geschichte, p. 16.) In practice, however, this never happened at the Gewandhaus until the 1803 concert, after which it was not uncommon to find such extracts among the programmes. 25 Although these incursions did not begin in earnest until 1804, before that point there were two choral works that began to be included among those pieces considered, like symphonies, to be ‘neutral’ and appropriate for any occasion: Mozart’s Preis dir, Gottheit and Gottheit, Dir sey Preis und Ehre, both re-texted choruses (nos. 1 and 6, respectively) from Mozart’s Thamos, König in Ägypten (K. 345).

Idea of Art.indb 258

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

259

Spirituels as a distinct series. Starting in the 1803/4 season, anywhere between two and four concerts a year would include some sacred music but, because of their mostly secular content, would not be designated as Concerts Spirituels (something that was previously true only of the New Year’s Day programme).26 The very last designated Concert Spirituel took place on 7 April 1808. From that point forward, concerts that featured sacred music still tended to coincide with the penitential seasons, but the blending of sacred and secular became more pronounced, even when concerts included liturgical music like concerted masses (masses with orchestral accompaniment). The first such concert to take place after the final Concert Spirituel (2 March 1809; Fig. 11.1) is an excellent case in point, as the Kyrie was preceded by, among other things, Donna Elvira’s Act II recitative and aria (‘In qual eccessi’ / ‘Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata’) from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.27 Perhaps of greater significance was the labelling of the mass (Haydn’s Mariazeller Messe)28 as ‘Grosses Hochamt’ (‘Grand High Mass’), implying that the performance was not a seasonal tradition but a special event, which, by this point, it was: concerted masses had been a Concert Spirituel staple until 1805, but after that they were programmed only once every few years.29 The long gaps between Gewandhaus concerted mass performances are indicative of a second casualty of the church’s decline: a change in the sacred concert repertoire over the course of the first decade of the nineteenth century, one that robbed liturgical music of its former dominance. While the Concerts Spirituels that Schicht conducted during his first two decades as Gewandhaus director occasionally included non-liturgical pieces such as cantatas (especially psalm cantatas) and similar works labelled ‘Hymne’ or ‘Motetto’, these works were far outnumbered by masses and other liturgical-text settings. No doubt because it was being mixed with operatic fare, sacred music concert repertoire, starting in 1803, focused on non-liturgical pieces, along with the occasional performance of a Passion oratorio and larger works such as the Mozart Requiem (a non-liturgical text in the Lutheran church). These concert trends demonstrate that declining interest in the church as an institution and in liturgical music influenced Schicht’s programming choices as Gewandhaus director, in that he needed to choose music that would appeal to the spiritual inclinations of his audiences at certain times of year without making them feel as if they were sitting through an increasingly unpopular service. The problem of dwindling church attendance affected Schicht even more acutely after 26 See, for instance, programmes of 23 February 1804 (a mostly sacred programme that included a complete Haydn mass) and 29 April 1804 (a secular programme that ended with a psalm cantata by August Bergt), neither of which was designated as a Concert Spirituel. D-LEsm, MT/155/2002. For more on Gewandhaus New Year’s Day concerts, see Sposato, ‘“ The Joyous Light of Day”’. 27 Both were presented in German translation (‘In welchem Dunkel der Sorgen’ / ‘Mich verräth der Undankbare’). D-LEsm, MT/2524/2006. 28 Hagels, Konzerte in Leipzig, p. 525. 29 The last complete concerted mass performance before the 2 March 1809 concert was on 19 December 1805, and another would not be performed until 3 March 1812. Spellings modernized in quotations for consistency’s sake.

Idea of Art.indb 259

02/02/2016 15:13

Figure 11.1  Gewandhaus Concert, programme of 2 March 1809 (D-LEsm, MT/2524/​2006) [Courtesy of Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig]

260

Idea of Art.indb 260

Jeffrey S. Sposato

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

261

he became Thomaskantor in 1810, when he was forced to find creative ways to lure people back into the pews. Hiller and Rosenmüller had already begun this effort with the move to a more German-focused, emotionally engaging, and edifying service. Schicht, however, took what could be interpreted as a more radical, more secular approach, one that would  –  over a very short period of time  –  transform musical programming for the services at the Thomas- and Nikolaikirchen. Schicht’s efforts centred around treating church music in a manner similar to the way the Gewandhaus had  –  as a product to be marketed to a middle-class audience eager to demonstrate its good musical taste. The idea of using sacred music as a promotional tool was not new: during Carl Gotthelf Gerlach’s tenure as music director of the Neukirche (1729–61), services during the autumn and spring trade fairs were similar to those for major feasts and included elaborate concerted music in an effort both to impress the city’s visitors and to draw them into the church.30 Nearly a century later, Schicht would follow this example at the Thomas- and Nikolaikirchen,31 but this was part of a far broader effort designed to attract his fellow Bürger. His first step in this process was to publicize the music to be performed during vespers and the main Sunday morning service (the Hauptgottesdienst) through listings in the city’s main newspaper, the Leipziger Tageblatt (a typical example appears in Fig. 11.2).32 In time, the postings did more than just inform; they attempted to attract Gewandhaus and other art-music consumers to the services by focusing on the music. This was particularly true of the vespers service: in mid 1813, it began to carry the label ‘Grosse Vesper’ (‘Great Vespers’) and then, starting on 16 December 1815, ‘Motetten’ (‘Motets’), a title it retains to this day.33

30 Andreas Glöckner, ‘Die Musikpflege an der Leipziger Neukirche zur Zeit Johann Sebastian Bachs’, Beiträge zur Bach-Forschung 8 (1990), 131–2. 31 See, for instance, listings in the Leipziger Tageblatt on 29 September and 6 October 1810 (performances of a Haydn missa  –  i.e., the Kyrie and Gloria  –  during the Michaelismesse) and 4 and 11 May 1811 (performances of a Naumann missa during the Jubilate- or Ostermesse). 32 The timing of the listings’ first appearance  –  exactly three weeks after he took office on 31 March 1810  –  all but guarantees that they were Schicht’s idea. At the time of the first listings, the paper was titled Leipzig: Ein Tageblatt für Einheimische und Auswärtige. The name later changed to Leipziger Tageblatt and then to Leipziger Tageblatt und Anzeiger. In the interest of clarity, I will refer to it as Leipziger Tageblatt throughout. The daily papers never reviewed or otherwise commented on music in the churches, but reports of the works performed (along with the occasional brief critique) would appear sporadically in Leipzig’s Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. 33 The listings in the Leipziger Tageblatt change from ‘Vesper’ in 1811 (see, for instance, 24 December 1811, p. 699), to ‘grossen Vesper’ on 5 June 1813 (p. 624), to ‘grossen Vesper’ and ‘Motetten’ on 16 December 1815 (p. 1400), to finally just ‘Motetten’ on 27 January 1816 (p. 107).

Idea of Art.indb 261

02/02/2016 15:13

262

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Figure 11.2  Sample Kirchenmusik listing from the Leipziger Tageblatt (printed here are those for the Easter high feast from the issue dated 5 March 1817, p. 383) [Courtesy of Universi­täts­bibliothek Leipzig, Bibliotheca Albertina]

Interesting repertoire was, of course, central to the plan’s success. As the  Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung noted in 1815, ‘In terms of church music, Schicht  –  true to his principles  –  performs only the best works of every time, nation, and style.’34 The vespers service certainly enjoyed a significant increase in the diversity of repertoire performed. In addition to his own compositions, which were typically heard at least once a month, and those of his recent predecessors (Doles, Hiller and Müller), Schicht programmed music by German and a few Italian composers active since the death of Bach, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Gottlob Benedict Bierey, Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, Gottfried August Homilius, Johann Heinrich Rolle, Giuseppe Sarti, Friedrich Schneider, Carl Maria von Weber and, of course, Haydn and Mozart. But Renaissance works were very rare, as were those of the Baroque, with the exception of J. S. Bach’s motets, which were performed with exceptional frequency.35 34 ‘Nachrichten’, AMZ 17, no. 1 (1815), p. 11. 35 Unless otherwise noted, the data for the discussion that follows was culled from the ‘Kirchen-Musik’ listings that appeared in the Leipziger Tageblatt, usually on the day before the service (listings for special feasts might appear earlier depending on what day of the week they were celebrated).

Idea of Art.indb 262

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

263

As was the case under earlier cantors,36 vespers usually included two short motets (often for double chorus), or one longer motet or cantata that would be broken into two parts, as happened with works like Bach’s Jesu meine Freude or Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied.37 However, Schicht also programmed movements from the mass (usually a Kyrie and Gloria, but the other ordinarium segments also occasionally appeared), as well as excerpts from popular oratorios, including Schicht’s own works, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation and   –  particularly near the Harvest Feast  –  Haydn’s Seasons. Indeed, the vespers were so focused on interesting music that, for a time at least, the liturgical needs of the service were not a consideration when making programming decisions. As a result, Latin and German concerted Magnificat settings  –  once a staple of festal vesper services  –  disappeared entirely during the first few years of Schicht’s tenure in order to make room for more non-liturgical music. In comparison to that of the vespers service, the repertoire of the Hauptgottesdienst was more limited, with Schicht focused on a relatively small number of composers, nearly all of whom were Germans active since 1750 and, more significantly, were well known to the Gewandhaus audiences he was attempting to lure into the church. Indeed, he established a kind of Kenner/Liebhaber divide between vespers and the Sunday service, with the latter programming the better-known works and composers so as to make the Hauptgottesdienst as musically appealing and approachable as possible. Several of these composers became the focus of musical festivals of a sort, where Schicht presented a series of their works in relatively close proximity over a period of several months. The most prominent of these took place during his first eight months as Thomaskantor, when Sunday masses were dominated by the works of Dresden-based composer Johann Gottfried Naumann, whose secular works had long been a staple of the Gewandhauskonzerte. During this period, Schicht performed a sequence of Naumann’s psalm cantatas, his cantata Zeit und Ewigkeit (‘Time and Eternity’) and at least one of his mass settings. A similar sequence took place with the works of Ignatz von Seyfried from late 1819 to the middle of 1820, and on several occasions Schicht used the long stretches of Sundays after Trinity for a more limited exploration of a composer’s œuvre. Like his predecessors, Schicht performed a mixture of motets, cantatas and masses during the Hauptgottesdienst. Masses had enjoyed a significant revival since Hiller’s tenure, and cantatas (especially those based on psalms) comprised the largest share of the repertoire. In the case of shorter works and masses, the 36 The diary begun in 1716 by Thomaskirche sexton Johann Christoph Rost attests to the singing of two motets in vespers services preceding and sometimes during feasts, and it notes the various logistics of when they were sung. Johann Christoph Rost, ‘Nachricht, Wie es, in der Kirchen zu St. Thom: allhier, mit dem Gottesdienst, Jährliches sowohl an Hohenfesten, als andern Tagen, pfleget gehalten zu Werden’, Thomaskirche Archiv, uncatalogued manuscript, fols 1v, 23v–24r, 34r, 47r. 37 While Tageblatt listings from Schicht’s tenure do not specify the breaking of larger works into two parts, listings of the same repertoire from the very beginning of Weinlig’s cantorship do, indicating this had likely been common practice for quite some time.

Idea of Art.indb 263

02/02/2016 15:13

264

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Thomanerchor (St Thomas boys choir) usually repeated the performances so that the congregations of both the Thomas- and Nikolaikirchen had a chance to hear them. For larger works such as cantatas and, in a few cases, oratorios, it was Schicht’s regular practice to break them up into instalments that he would present over two or more Sundays.38 During his tenure, these performances were usually all at the same church, or repeated in such a way that parishioners at both St Thomas and St Nikolai would be sure to hear complete performances. (Occasionally, the parts were distributed between the churches, requiring those wishing to hear the entire work to go back and forth on alternating weeks, a practice that became common under Schicht’s successor.) The streamlining  –  and shortening  –  of the service that took place under Rosenmüller and Hiller was no doubt partially responsible for the division of these works, but clearly there was a larger goal. Had duration been the only concern, Schicht could simply have performed shorter works or excerpts of larger pieces, as Hiller did.39 Instead, his performance of complete works over multiple Sundays suggests an interest in drawing music aficionados to the church, a goal enhanced by requiring them to attend for multiple weeks in order to hear a work by a significant composer in its entirety. A pattern similar to that established with the larger cantatas can be seen with concerted Latin ordinarium settings. Under Schicht’s cantorship, Latin masses were performed frequently throughout the year. In addition to the three high feasts, most of the other major holidays were celebrated with concerted masses, as were the Sundays during the two major trade fairs and a handful of ordinary Sundays.40 Despite the Rosenmüller/Hiller reforms and the shortened service, Schicht attempted to perform complete settings whenever possible, usually by breaking up the works and performing them over multiple services. During the autumn trade fair in 1811, for example, Schicht performed the missa (i.e., Kyrie and Gloria) from a Cherubini mass, and then each of the remaining movements at two-week intervals. In some instances, the performance of a Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus or Agnus Dei was advertised to indicate clearly that they were a ‘continuation’ (‘Fortsetzung’) of an earlier missa. As with the cantatas, Schicht selected mass repertoire that would encourage good attendance. Schicht himself wrote few masses, and, as with the cantatas, the number of composers whose works he programmed frequently was relatively small, most being classical-era Germans such as Naumann, Michael 38 The practice may have started  –  in a limited way  –  during Müller’s tenure: for instance, on Michaelmas 1804 [a Saturday], Müller performed the first half of Friedrich Ludwig Kunzen’s new cantata, Das Halleluja der Schöpfung, at the Nikolaikirche and the second half on the next day at the Thomaskirche. ‘Einige Nachrichten über Kirchenmusik in Leipzig’, Berlinische musikalische Zeitung 1, no. 7 (1805), p. 27. 39 See D-LEm, I B 4a–c. 40 As in the past, usually just the Kyrie and Gloria (the missa) would be performed, but especially on regular Sundays one might hear only the Gloria (since the German Kyrie was still standard), or even just a Sanctus and Benedictus and/or Agnus Dei.

Idea of Art.indb 264

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

265

Haydn, Georg Joseph Vogler and Peter Winter, all of whom were very well known to Gewandhaus audiences. But the masses dominating Leipzig church performances  –  particularly in the first eight years of Schicht’s tenure  –  were those of Joseph Haydn. Over the course of the first decade of the nineteenth century, Leipzig publisher Breitkopf & Härtel released six of Haydn’s late masses, all of which  –  in the aftermath of the excitement that had greeted performances of his oratorios  –  soon became ubiquitous in Leipzig churches. By the end of the 1810s, the repertoire became more varied, with Haydn’s masses roughly tied with Mozart’s in number of performances, no doubt due in part to the publication of additional Mozart masses by Breitkopf in 1812 and 1822. Schicht’s impact on the cantorate was immense and long-lived. Although his most significant contribution was to make the service music more concertlike, his substantial œuvre (which included numerous oratorios and cantatas, and a vast number of motets) enjoyed regular performances decades after his death, particularly during the vespers service. More significantly, he appears to have been successful in bringing art-music consumers into the church. As a correspondent for the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung noted in 1812, ‘there is always a very full, attentive auditorium for Saturday evening vespers (for example) to hear the motets, for which Mr. Schicht likewise presents admirable works from all the ages of musical culture.’41 While the author specifies the vespers service here, his use of ‘for example’ suggests that the other services with music were similarly well attended. There is additional evidence to suggest that the Hauptgottesdienst at the Nikolaikirche was among these. For while, as noted earlier, communion numbers citywide steadily declined between 1790 and 1810, the Nikolaikirche actually saw a modest increase starting in the year Schicht began his project. It began with an initial surge in 1810, when the number of parishioners taking communion in the church rose from 5,952 in the previous year to 7,138. The numbers drop for the next three years (as the war against Napoleon heated up and Saxony  –  and Leipzig in particular  –  became a central battlefield), but the gains became permanent once the war was over. Although this increase was undoubtedly the consequence of a variety of factors, the timing suggests that music was one of them. Perhaps more convincing, however, is the parallel decline in the number of parishioners taking communion privately, which dropped fairly steadily in the post-war years; this again demonstrates that church attendance was on the rise, as well as suggests that something had changed to spark the increase.42 That these trends affected the Nikolaikirche and not the Thomaskirche makes sense, since St Nikolai was the city’s flagship church, particularly since it had been transformed into a neoclassical showplace  –  complete with a new organ  –  after a thirteen-year renovation project that ended

41 ‘Nachrichten’, AMZ 14, no. 16 (1812), p. 254. 42 Communion figures appear in Friedrich Cichorius, ‘Versuch einer Geschichte und Beschreibung der Haupt- und Stadtpfarr-Kirche zu Sct. Nicolai in Leipzig von ihrer Erbauung bis auf die neuesten Zeiten. […] Leipzig, 1821’, Nikolaikirche Archiv, I.N.10, p. 150.

Idea of Art.indb 265

02/02/2016 15:13

266

Jeffrey S. Sposato

in 1797.43 It was where the first  –  and most elaborately celebrated  –  day of the multi-day feasts of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost took place, as well as the annual service in honour of the town council elections. All of these factors likely combined to make the Nikolaikirche the preferred venue for those attending services primarily for their musical content.

Canon in the Concert Hall and Church: Felix Mendelssohn and Moritz Hauptmann In the years following Schicht’s death in 1823, the roles of Gewandhaus director and of Thomaskantor continued along relatively independent paths, with little furthering of the kind of cross-pollination that was so influential in the years already described. This was perhaps the result of the conventional leadership of Schicht’s replacement as Thomaskantor, Christian Theodor Weinlig (cantor, 1823– 42). As his obituaries attest, Weinlig’s reputation lay in his pedagogical efforts, which had the focus of his attention before he came to Leipzig.44 More significant to the programming history of Leipzig’s churches was Weinlig’s successor, Moritz Hauptmann (cantor, 1842–68). Like Schicht, Hauptmann imitated the programming trends of the Gewandhaus to attract public concert audiences into the church. In his case, that meant collaborating with Gewandhaus director Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and modelling his programming after the more sophisticated works Mendelssohn was performing at the Gewandhaus. Although the Gewandhaus had already begun to move toward more complex and less popular repertoire in the early 1830s,45 the hiring of Mendelssohn in 1835 was an integral part of the Directorium’s effort to raise the institution to a new level. In part, this meant devoting a much larger percentage of the repertoire to deceased and soon-to-be canonical composers, but it also required a much more discerning inclusion of works by living ones, as well as a sharp reduction in the amount of crowd-pleasing operatic fare.46 In addition to transforming the Gewandhaus, Mendelssohn wanted to see the same kind of makeover take place in Leipzig churches. Although there is no record of efforts to that effect during Weinlig’s tenure, Mendelssohn’s role in bringing a like-minded musician to Leipzig as Weinlig’s replacement demonstrates his resolve to further this agenda. Indeed, Mendelssohn’s self-imposition into the town council’s cantorial selection process was unprecedented and was almost certainly responsible for the election of Hauptmann as Thomaskantor. 43 In his 1860 guide to the city, Carl Weidinger notes that the Nikolaikirche ‘has always been where the large religious celebrations were held’. Carl Weidinger, Leipzig: Ein Führer durch die Stadt und ihre Umgebungen (Leipzig: J. F. Weber, 1860), p. 132. 44 See, for instance, [Oswald Lorenz], ‘Nekrolog’, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 16 (1842), 104; Carl Ferdinand Becker, ‘Nekrolog’, AMZ 44 (1842), pp. 210–11. 45 Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste, pp. 169–72 and 182–3. 46 Sposato, ‘“ The Joyous Light of Day”’, p. 226.

Idea of Art.indb 266

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

267

In the absence of Mendelssohn’s lobbying and  –  to a lesser extent  –  a letter of recommendation from Louis Spohr,47 Hauptmann would have seemed an illogical choice to take over after Weinlig’s death on 7 March 1842. He was competing against two other finalists for the position, Carl Friedrich Zöllner and former Gewandhaus director Christian August Pohlenz,48 both of whom had strong ties to the city and  –  at least judging by previous holders of the office  –  were significantly more qualified. Zöllner’s reputation rested primarily on the numerous male choral societies (Liedertafeln) he founded, and he was a prolific composer of sacred music (much of which had been performed during the Thomaskirche’s vesper services).49 Pohlenz had even stronger credentials, having served as organist at both the Paulinerkirche (University Church) and Thomaskirche, acted as interim cantor after first Schicht’s and then Weinlig’s deaths, and directed a vast number of sacred music concerts at the Gewandhaus, Singakademie and Paulinerkirche.50 No such qualifications could be claimed for Hauptmann, who was a complete unknown as far as the music audiences in Leipzig were concerned. By 1842 he had composed only a handful of sacred works, none of which had ever been performed in Leipzig churches, nor had any of his music been programmed at the Gewandhaus. (Most of his compositions to this point were chamber works.) Moreover, his résumé demonstrated none of the supervisory experience previously expected of a Thomaskantor: no work as choir director or ensemble conductor, no experience as an instructor of groups of children, and no administrative posts. While, as a teenager, he may have received some training in sacred music composition under Dresden Kapellmeister Francesco Morlacchi, the entirety of his career to date  –  with the exception of a five-year stint as the court music instructor for the Russian prince Repnin  –  had been spent in Spohr’s company, first as his pupil and then as a violinist in his court orchestra in Cassel.51 47 Alfred Richter, Aus Leipzigs musikalischer Glanzzeit: Erinnerungen eines Musikers, ed. Doris Mundus (Leipzig: Lehmstedt, 2004), p. 278. 48 Stefan Altner, Das Thomaskantorat im 19. Jahrhundert: Bewerber und Kandidaten für das Leipziger Thomaskantorat in den Jahren 1842 bis 1918 (Leipzig: PassageVerlag, 2006), p. 32. 49 Bartholf Senff, ed., Führer durch die musikalische Welt: Adreßbuch, Chronik und Statistik aller Städte von Bedeutung (Leipzig: B. Senff, 1868), pp. 66–8. Deane L. Root and Michael Musgrave, ‘Zöllner, Carl Friedrich’, GMO [accessed 25 May 2012]. 50 Dörffel, Geschichte, pp. 66–7; Christiane Arnhold, Stephan Greiner and Martin Petzoldt, ‘Leipziger Universitätsmusikdirektoren, Universitätsorganisten und Universitätskantoren’, 600 Jahre Musik an der Universität Leipzig: Studien anlässlich des Jubiläums, ed. Eszter Fontana (Wettin: Janos Stekovics, 2010), p. 437; Anselm Hartinger, ‘Universitäres Musikleben und öffentliche Musikpflege an der Paulinerkirche in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts’, ibid., pp. 214–15. 51 Dale A. Jorgenson, Moritz Hauptmann of Leipzig (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986), pp. 7–8; Biancamaria Brumana, ‘Morlacchi, Francesco’, GMO [accessed 25 May 2012]. Altner (Das Thomaskantorat, p. 33) claims Hauptmann

Idea of Art.indb 267

02/02/2016 15:13

268

Jeffrey S. Sposato

It was during the Cassel years (1822–42) that Hauptmann became active as a composer and, in particular, as a theorist, the field in which he was to have his most lasting influence. He also took on students in both areas, but as late as just a few days before Weinlig’s death, he expressed his lack of interest in teaching in a letter to his close friend, baritone Franz Hauser: ‘I have often wished to be in the position to say, like Mendelssohn and others do, that I don’t give lessons  –  I don’t even have a pedagogical nature.’52 This disinterest turned to outright fear upon his acceptance of the cantorship, as he revealed in his 5 August 1842 letter to Hauser: ‘[I]n four weeks at the most I think that we will be sitting in the Thomas School. Personally I can’t yet say that I’m really looking forward to it. […] I can’t yet really imagine myself as a director.’ 53 His trepidation continued even after he took up his post,54 which raises the question not only of why the town council chose Hauptmann over his rivals, but also of why he applied for the position in the first place. One partial answer to both questions was Hauptmann’s intense interest in and research on J. S. Bach. In the years just before accepting the Leipzig position, Hauptmann had been in regular contact with Carl Böhme, director of Leipzigbased music publishing firm C. F. Peters, which since 1801 had been assembling an Oeuvres complets [sic] of Bach’s music. Hauptmann co-edited three volumes of keyboard works that were published in 1840 and 1841 and simultaneously wrote and published a study on Bach’s Art of Fugue (Erläuterungen zu Joh. Sebastian Bach’s Kunst der Fuge).55 The potential for additional work of this kind may, therefore, have helped draw Hauptmann to the city. But better access to Bach materials and to his publisher were likely not enough to cause him to take a teaching and directing position he was clearly dreading. Rather, it was, in all likelihood, Mendelssohn, who both encouraged Hauptmann to apply for the cantorship and heavily influenced the evaluation process. Two of Mendelssohn’s close associates   –  Ferdinand Hiller and Wilhelm Lampadius, both Leipzig residents in 1842  –  were convinced that it was through Mendelssohn’s machinations that Hauptmann was offered the position.56 was a student of Weinlig’s, but this seems unlikely, as no mention of study in Leipzig appears in any contemporary biographies. 52 Letter of 2 March 1842 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in Alfred Schöne, ed., Briefe von Moritz Hauptmann, Kantor und Musikdirektor an der Thomasschule zu Leipzig, an Franz Hauser, 2 vols (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1871), vol. 1, p. 307. 53 Letter of 5 August 1842 from Hauptmann to Hauser, ibid., vol. 1, p. 319. 54 See, for instance, Hauptmann’s letter to Hauser of 26 September 1842, ibid., vol. 2, p. 1. 55 Altner, Das Thomaskantorat, p. 34; Karen Lehmann, Die Anfänge einer BachGesamtausgabe: Editionen der Klavierwerke durch Hoffmeister und Kühnel (Bureau de Musique) und C. F. Peters in Leipzig 1801–1865, ein Beitrag zur Wirkungsgeschichte J. S. Bachs (Hildesheim: G. Olms, 2004), pp. 239–41. 56 Ferdinand Hiller, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Briefe und Erinnerungen, 2nd edn (Cologne: M. DuMont-Schauberg, 1878), p. 144; Wilhelm August Lampadius, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Ein Gesammtbild seines Lebens und Wirkens (Leipzig: F. E. C. Leuckart, 1886), p. 112.

Idea of Art.indb 268

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

269

(Hauptmann’s own godson, Alfred Richter, implies this as well, but grants equal credit to Spohr, noting that his godfather ‘received a warm endorsement from both [men] to become Thomaskantor, and was therefore chosen as Weinlig’s successor’. )57 Indeed, Mendelssohn was involved in the selection process to some degree from the beginning, as he himself was offered the job even before Weinlig’s funeral. The offer, which came from the council through Leipzig city advocate and Mendelssohn’s friend Heinrich Conrad Schleinitz, was immediately declined, and Mendelssohn recommended Hauptmann for the cantorate in his stead.58 But even before making his endorsement, Mendelssohn wrote to Schleinitz of his concern that the position be ‘occupied by someone who is fully worthy and [committed] to the well-being of the whole musical operation’.59 In referring to the ‘whole musical operation’, Mendelssohn was undoubtedly referring not only to the training of the Thomasschule (St Thomas School) students and their duties in the churches, but also to the annual series of concerts they gave at the Thomaskirche and the choral works they performed at the Gewandhaus. He was also likely thinking of his current project of establishing a conservatory in the city, an idea that he first discussed with Schleinitz in 1837 and for which serious planning had been underway since 1840 at the latest.60 Unwilling to leave such a crucial hire to the businessmen on the town council, Mendelssohn worked to steer them toward someone who was well known to him, and who would gladly follow where he led, a description that fit Hauptmann perfectly.61 Upon declining the offer of the cantorship, Mendelssohn may well have contacted Hauptmann to suggest he apply for the position, a hypothesis supported by Hauptmann’s sudden change of heart regarding teaching and his application for the position.62 From that point forward, Mendelssohn kept close 57 Richter, Aus Leipzigs musikalischer Glanzzeit, p. 278. 58 William A. Little, Mendelssohn and the Organ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 64. 59 Letter of 10 March 1842, in Susanna Grossmann-Vendrey, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy und die Musik der Vergangenheit (Regensburg: Bosse, 1969), p. 189; trans. in Little, Mendelssohn, p. 64. 60 Emil Kneschke, Das Conservatorium der Musik in Leipzig: Seine Geschichte, seine Lehrer und Zöglinge: Festgabe zum 25jährigen Jubiläum am 2. April 1868 (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1868), pp. 3–9; Leonard Milton Phillips, Jr., ‘The Leipzig Conservatory: 1843–1881’, Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1979, pp. 77–84. 61 After Spohr introduced Hauptmann to Mendelssohn, Hauptmann quickly became a devout follower, to the point of adopting a Mendelssohnian style in his own music (something he himself readily recognized, as did contemporaries like Emil Naumann, who would later write of the ‘Mendelssohn-Hauptmann School’). See letter of 30 July 1844 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in Alfred Schöne and Ferdinand Hiller, eds, Letters of a Leipzig Cantor, Being the Letters of Moritz Hauptmann to Franz Hauser, Ludwig Spohr, and Other Musicians, trans. A. D. Coleridge, 2 vols (London: Novello, Ewer, 1892), vol. 2, p. 14; also Emil Naumann, The History of Music, ed. F. A. Gore Ouseley, trans. Ferdinand Praeger, special edn (London: Cassell, [c. 1886–88]), p. 1234. 62 Altner, Das Thomaskantorat, p. 33.

Idea of Art.indb 269

02/02/2016 15:13

270

Jeffrey S. Sposato

tabs on the selection process and reported on the council’s leanings to their mutual friend Emil Naumann in Bonn, who passed along the news to Hauptmann (as was probably Mendelssohn’s intent).63 Despite his initial trepidation, Hauptmann succeeded brilliantly in Leipzig. Two months after his installation on 12 September, Hauptmann reported to Hauser that Mendelssohn told him ‘people were very well pleased with the Thomas Choir, or, as he [Mendelssohn] put it, that the Choir was quite another thing now’.64 A year later, all remained well, but his self-doubt continued to linger.65 Nevertheless, he became the kind of multi-faceted musical citizen that Mendelssohn hoped he would. He continued his research on Bach and even worked with Mendelssohn to erect the first Bach memorial in 1843.66 That same year he took on the editorship of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung and began teaching composition and counterpoint at the new conservatory, which, thanks in part to his immediate and intense work,67 was able to open for its first semester on 2 April 1843. Of course, beyond finding a colleague with whom he could work, Mendelssohn was perhaps most interested in bringing to the cantorate someone who shared his musical tastes and artistic views, so as to reform musical programming at the church in a manner similar to that which he had already achieved at the Gewandhaus. Indeed, Mendelssohn described Hauptmann as one of those ‘few musicians with whom I so entirely agreed in matters of art as well as all others’. 68 One point of agreement was Bach, but Mendelssohn doubtless also knew of Hauptmann’s distaste for some of the more radical composers of the day and the movement that would eventually coalesce into the so-called New German School. Both men were highly critical of Hector Berlioz’s music,69 for instance, with Hauptmann also expressing disdain for the whole of ‘the so-called Romantic School, the main characteristic of which is, Absence of form, and therefore a mere negation’. 70 With regard to sacred music, he seemed particularly sensitive 63 Letter of 2 July 1842 from Hauptmann to Hauser. Hauptmann also received reports from other friends and acquaintances in Cassel and Leipzig, as he notes in his letter of 7 June 1842 to Hauser. See Schöne, Briefe, vol. 1, pp. 313, 317–18. 64 Letter of 13 November 1842 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in Schöne and Hiller, Letters, vol. 2, p. 3. 65 Letter of 3 October 1843 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 9. 66 The depth of Hauptmann’s involvement with the project remains unclear, but he did visit the sculptor with Mendelssohn on at least one occasion. Letter of 3 October 1843 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in ibid. 67 See his letter of 1 December 1842 to Spohr, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 193. 68 Letter of 17 January 1839 to Elizabeth Horsley, in Karl Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Goethe and Mendelssohn (1821–1831), trans. M. E. von Glehn (London: Macmillan, 1874), p. 117. 69 See R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn: A Life in Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 237–9; also the letter of 14 December 1853 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in Schöne and Hiller, Letters, vol. 2, p. 85. 70 Letter of 13 August 1844 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 16.

Idea of Art.indb 270

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

271

to episodes where composers, in his view, lacked the appropriate restraint, as was even the case with Beethoven in his Missa Solemnis (op. 123): Speaking for myself, I abominate, in church music, all those quick transitions from Allegro to più Allegro, Stringendo, and Presto, and I abominate them most of all in great composers. […] Surely, Beethoven was too much absorbed in himself to make a sacred composer, even in his Masses.71 Both Mendelssohn’s and Hauptmann’s views suggest that they favoured the building of a musical canon of masterworks  –  dating from the recent past back to the Baroque  –  that would serve as a basis for musical programming. As William Weber has noted, in Mendelssohn’s case, this meant working with the Gewandhaus Directorium to move away from ‘miscellany’ concerts where the goal was ‘balancing symphonic, operatic, and virtuosic pieces’ mostly by living composers, to programmes in which the second half of the concert focused on major (usually instrumental) works by deceased masters.72 Hauptmann, no doubt following Mendelssohn’s lead, implemented a similar structure in church services, except in his case the division was not between halves of a programme, but between the vespers service and the Hauptgottesdienst. As with the first half of a typical Gewandhaus concert at this time, the vespers service continued to enjoy diverse programming, heavy with names that had a history in the Leipzig vespers service but that would never find a place in the canon (Rudolph Beyer, Ernst Friedrich Richter, Franz Otto, Julius Otto, Carl Zöllner etc.).73 Hauptmann did add new names to the mix, but he had more conservative tastes than previous cantors when it came to contemporary music. Rather than choose from some of the latest works Leipzig publishers had to offer, as Schicht commonly had done, he mostly added to the repertoire late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century works that were written in a Classicist style. This included pieces by former Thomanerchor member and Schicht student Carl Gottlieb Reissiger (1798–1859), which enjoyed frequent performances, as well as those of Mendelssohn and Spohr, which appeared only occasionally on programmes. The same was true of Hauptmann, who programmed his own works no more frequently than any of the minor masters in the repertoire rotation. There was, however, a distinct surge in Renaissance and Baroque music. Bach’s motets had been in the repertoire for more than half a century, but Hauptmann brought Orlando di Lasso, Jacobus Handl (a.k.a. Gallus), Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Giovanni Gabrieli and Alessandro Scarlatti into the service on a regular basis as well. Although his primary motivation was likely the same love of early music that attracted him to Bach,

71 Letter of 22 December 1844 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 18. 72 Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste, pp. 182–3, quotation from p. 182. 73 As before, the repertoire assessment here is based on the Kirchenmusik listings in the Leipziger Tageblatt unless otherwise noted.

Idea of Art.indb 271

02/02/2016 15:13

272

Jeffrey S. Sposato

he also found the works of these composers pedagogically useful for choir training.74 While the vespers service continued (albeit with these relatively small repertoire changes) along the same path established by Hauptmann’s predecessors, the music for the Hauptgottesdienst underwent a significant transformation. Again, the change was quite similar to that made in the second half of Gewandhaus concerts under Mendelssohn, in that the repertoire emphasized composers destined to enter the canon. While works by Mozart and Haydn had long been fixtures in the Sunday service, these  –  along with those by Cherubini  –  now came to dominate it, interspersed mostly with works by Beethoven, Handel, Naumann, Schneider, Joseph Leopold Eybler, Friedrich Ernst Fesca, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Ernst Friedrich Richter. Once again, works by living composers, including Mendelssohn and Hauptmann themselves, were performed relatively infrequently, and even when they were, the focus continued to be on pieces written in a classical or earlier style. Most of the works were psalm and psalm-like cantatas, along with a large number of ‘Hymnen’, which now were often movements of larger works re-tasked with new text (such as the individual movements of Beethoven’s Mass in C). Masses continued to be performed, but only rarely on days other than the ones on which Hauptmann knew they were expected, such as major feasts and Sundays during the trade fairs.75 The music listings that continued to be published in the Leipziger Tageblatt during Hauptmann’s tenure indicate that, for the most part, the practice of serializing the performances of larger works over several weeks ceased, perhaps in an effort to preserve the integrity of the repertoire. But as the performances of the masses (and, as will be discussed below, of the Bach cantatas) reveal, the works were, on occasion, judiciously pruned. The most significant, enduring change Hauptmann made to the Hauptgottesdienst repertoire was the reintegration of Bach’s cantatas and masses into the service, from which they had been almost entirely absent since his death in 1750. This began, very shortly after Hauptmann took his post, with a performance of the cantata Du Hirte Israel (BWV 104) on New Year’s Day 1843, after which parishioners could count on hearing a cantata or one of the so-called ‘Lutheran’ masses (BWV 233–236) every six to eight weeks. But how complete any of these performances were remains an open question. In some cases, the instruments Bach called for were no longer in regular use, requiring Hauptmann either to update the works or to remove movements that called for them; in others, the distribution of instruments did not match the orchestra he had available. As a result, he wrote to Hauser, ‘One is forced to pick and choose the numbers that are really practicable; to do them all would be hopeless’. 76 Hauptmann was also not concerned about performing these de tempore works outside of their prescribed liturgical context, as the performance of Du Hirte 74 Letter of 13 February 1843 from Hauptmann to Hauser, in Schöne and Hiller, Letters, vol. 2, p. 6. 75 Letter of 2 October 1842 from Hauptmann to Spohr, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 190. 76 Letter of 13 February 1843; see also his letter to Hauser of 30 July and 13 August 1844. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 6, 14, 15.

Idea of Art.indb 272

02/02/2016 15:13

Schicht, Hauptmann, Mendelssohn and Sacred Music in Leipzig

273

Israel  –  a cantata for the second Sunday after Easter  –  on New Year’s Day demonstrates. As we can see, the appointment of Hauptmann as Thomaskantor represented a fundamental change in almost every aspect of Leipzig church music and in the people who produced it. Although like his predecessors he was both a composer and a teacher (albeit a reluctant one), it was his ability to function as a member of a larger musical network that bridged church, concert hall and conservatory that earned him his post. He was also chosen because Mendelssohn  –  and, perhaps, the town council  –  wanted to see the same kind of repertoire changes that had been made at the Gewandhaus implemented in the churches. More important, Hauptmann represented the continuation and intensification of a process that Schicht first set into motion, one that drove music consumers into the church where they could find their concert-going tastes reflected. As a Gewandhaus director himself, Schicht saw the potential of transforming church music into something akin to a commodity that could be marketed to the same audience that was enthusiastically consuming the programming of the city’s various public concert venues. Although the idea of canon was not yet fully formed, he gave church services Gewandhaus-like sophistication by programming some of the same composers (and, on occasion, works) as in the Gewandhaus, as well as presenting larger pieces in their entirety (albeit over the course of multiple services). Weinlig continued Schicht’s practices in the churches, but once Mendelssohn took the helm at the Gewandhaus, the two institutions fell out of programming alignment, a situation Hauptmann was brought to Leipzig to rectify. Like Mendelssohn, he refocused musical programming on works of greater complexity and sophistication, as well as on composers who were, as a result of the German historicist movement, becoming cultural icons and were serving or would soon serve as the foundation of a musical canon that continues to this day. Indeed, one need only look to modern-day Leipzig to see the completion of the concertizing movement that Schicht and Hauptmann began in the city churches: Saturday vesper services are advertised on placards in front of the Thomaskirche, in printed promotional materials and on websites as ‘Motetten: Musik in Worten  –  Worte in Musik’ (‘Motets: Music in Words, Words in Music’) with little if any mention of the liturgical content of the service itself and a strong focus on the musical masterworks being performed.77 Thus, what began as an attempt to expand the congregation by attracting music consumers ended up with those consumers setting the agenda, one in which sacred services began to resemble sacred concerts.

77 See, for instance, http://www.thomaskirche.org/r-gottesdienste-und-motetten. html [accessed 14 September 2014].

Idea of Art.indb 273

02/02/2016 15:13

12 The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire: A Turn-of-the-Century Case Study David Gramit

I

n recent decades, the musical life of cities has received increasing attention   within musicology. As Tim Carter has pointed out, it is not surprising, given the field’s history, that many studies of cities have focused on Italian centres in the Renaissance, or that one of the prominent early exceptions to the predominance of Italy, Reinhard Strohm’s study of Bruges, examined a city associated with another foundational interest of the discipline, Franco-Flemish polyphony.1 Urban musicology, however, has broadened to include a variety of other cities, prominent among them the great metropolitan centres of Vienna, Paris, London and New York in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.2 Colonial cities, too, particularly in Spanish and Portuguese America, have been the subject of pathbreaking studies.3 There is one type of city, however, whose musical practices have so far received little attention: settler colonial cities, that is to say, the myriad cities that quickly grew from nothing, or from small and sleepy origins, to metropolitan areas of sometimes remarkable size, across central and western North America, Australia and New Zealand during the long nineteenth century. This is not, of course, to suggest that the music history of all these cities remains unknown: those that grew into major cities in their own right  –  Chicago and Los Angeles, 1 Tim Carter, ‘The Sound of Silence: Models for an Urban Musicology’, Urban History 29, no. 1 (2002), 8–18, esp. pp. 9–15; Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). 2 Early work in this area includes Alice Hanson, Musical Life in Biedermeier Vienna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), and Weber, Music and the Middle Class. More recent studies include Simon McVeigh, Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris: A Cultural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); John Graziano, ed., European Music and Musicians in New York City, 1840–1900 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2006); and the ongoing project on New York described in John Graziano, ‘Music in Gotham’, American Music Review 39, no. 1 (2009), pp. 7 and 13; and Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis. 3 See Geoffrey Baker, Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008); Geoffrey Baker and Tess Knighton, eds, Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); and Cristina Magaldi, Music in Imperial Rio De Janeiro: European Culture in a Tropical Milieu (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2004).

274

Idea of Art.indb 274

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

275

for instance  –  have attracted considerable musicological attention, and local historians have provided records of many other locations.4 But in part because historians and urban geographers have themselves only relatively recently begun to recognize the settler colonial city as distinctive and in part, perhaps, because of a reluctance to acknowledge that the American West, in particular, was populated through a process of colonization, studies of the musical life of those cities have been informed primarily by local and national perspectives. We have not yet considered what the peculiar dynamics of urban development in settler colonialism might have to do with musical practices that involved millions of city dwellers worldwide by the time of World War I.5 There are good reasons to explore those issues, however. For one, the ‘instant’ nature of these cities  –  their extraordinarily rapid growth to sizes that in many cases rivalled those of European cultural centres that had existed for centuries, if not millennia  –  means that their cultural institutions too were newly created rather than evolving from pre-existing local practices. As a result, they were often the object of explicit attention, as civic leaders and promoters of the city sought to create a culture that corresponded with their own ideals of urban modernity. To be sure, these people did not always succeed; in musical activity as in many other areas, the imagination and the ambition of city builders often outstripped their accomplishments, at least in the short term (and in the case of settlements that sought but never achieved metropolitan status, permanently). But whether successful or not, those efforts reveal a great deal about ideologies of the urban in relation to music. One of the ideologies revealed most clearly is particularly relevant to the relationship of music and commerce, for, in the settler colonial cities of the long nineteenth century, the ideals of sacred harmony and the ritual practices that established the ‘resounding city’ that Geoffrey Baker and Tess Knighton have explored in earlier Spanish colonial cities are conspicuously absent.6 Rather, the discourse around the new settler cities was unblushingly materialistic. Consider, for example, this 1913 characterization of Denver and its surroundings: The country tributary to Denver […] extends far beyond the state of Colorado and practically embraces the whole of the territory West of the Missouri River. […] In this vast region, every mine worked, every fresh acre cultivated, every new orchard planted […] [a]nd every manufacturing

4 See, for instance, Derek Vaillant, Sounds of Reform: Progressivism and Music in Chicago, 1873–1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); and Catherine Parsons Smith, Making Music in Los Angeles: Transforming the Popular (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007). 5 On the settler colonial city as a distinct type and its conflation with other types of colonial cities, see Penelope Edmonds, Urbanizing Frontiers: Indigenous Peoples and Settlers in 19th-Century Pacific Rim Cities (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010), esp. pp. 46–69. 6 See Baker, ‘The Resounding City’, and Knighton, ‘Music and Ritual in Urban Spaces’, both in Music and Urban Society, pp. 1–20 and 21–42, respectively.

Idea of Art.indb 275

02/02/2016 15:13

276

David Gramit

enterprise started, react beneficially on and send new life-blood to the heart  –  Denver.7 Or, finally to arrive at the city that is the focus of this chapter, here is how the souvenir booklet for the inauguration of the western Canadian province of Alberta in 1905 described the prospects of its new and still provisional capital city, Edmonton: it would seem as if destiny had marked her as the largest inland city of the continent. In the Edmonton district alone, which is but a small fraction of the whole, during the last four years no less than 10,814 homestead entries were made, which means the occupation by actual settlers of 1,730,240 acres of the finest agricultural and grazing land in the world. One can scarcely estimate what that means in this line alone for the development of the district and the trade of the city. Then there is almost untouched unlimited resources of undeveloped wealth in the oil, mineral, timber, coal and agricultural and grazing lands of all those regions to which Edmonton is the gateway. As a great railway and trade centre the future is absolutely assured, and no one need hesitate to make his investments accordingly.8 To consider the musical life of cities that could be characterized in this way is of necessity to consider how music coexists with and plays a part in an environment oriented so heavily towards the commercial that, as we will see, some of its citizens felt compelled to defend the possibility of its having a civilized cultural life at all. That the above descriptions situate their cities in the midst of vast and rich surrounding territories only now coming under cultivation and development is both characteristic of the boundless optimism that accompanied development booms and strikingly well aligned with later work on urban growth that has focused on the need for resource-rich hinterlands to provide the material support for cities.9 As James Belich’s seminal work on the dynamics of settler colonialism 7 Thomas Tonge, All about Colorado [1913], cited in Carl Abbott, How Cities Won the West: Four Centuries of Urban Change in Western North America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008), p. 74. 8 ‘The Province and People of Destiny’, in Charles W. Mathers [photographer], Souvenir of the Alberta Inaugural Ceremony, Friday, September First, Nineteen Hundred and Five (Edmonton: Edmonton Printing and Publishing Co., 1905), copy in the Provincial Archives of Alberta, PAA 69.198/1b. Edmonton did indeed become the province’s permanent capital, through a determined and ultimately successful political campaign to defeat both plausible and unlikely rivals including Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Banff. See Alexander Bruce Kilpatrick, ‘A Lesson in Boosterism: The Contest for the Alberta Capital, 1904–1906’, Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine 8, no. 3 (1980), 47–109. 9 See, for instance, J. M. S. Careless, Frontier and Metropolis: Regions, Cities, and Identities in Canada Before 1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989). For a discussion of antecedents of this approach in the work of Harold Innis, see Graeme H. Patterson, History and Communications: Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, and the Interpretation of History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990).

Idea of Art.indb 276

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

277

makes clear, the nineteenth-century settlement boom drew on new possibilities for the mass transfer of people and goods to bring about a development that was new to the world: on an unprecedented scale, settler colonialism displaced indigenous peoples to create the fiction of an ‘empty’ land that could then be put into production to supply not only regional cities, but also distant metropolitan centres like New York or London, cities that grew to unprecedented size with the provision of resources from remote, colonized lands. Belich further notes that despite national and imperial historical traditions that argue for (or sometimes simply assume) exceptionalism, settler colonization displayed remarkably consistent patterns wherever it occurred, and that it was anything but even and incremental: over and over again, periods of explosive growth gave rise not only to towns but also to cities of remarkable size almost overnight, and, just as regularly, development came to a halt through a shattering bust, after which those settlements that remained recovered by reconstructing their economies to live by export rather than by the promotion of growth itself.10 To draw on the framework of settler colonialism in considering the musical life of settlers and the indigenous peoples whom they displaced is a large and multifaceted task, but, given the commercial orientation of settler cities, the relationship of music and commerce  –  how the business of music developed and how the concept and the practice of art music were shaped in that commercial environment  –  is close to its centre.11

Booming and Busting Edmonton and the Business of Music In many respects, Edmonton, which eventually became the northernmost large urban centre in Canada, qualifies as a paradigmatic settler colonial city. Growing around the Hudson’s Bay Company centre of Fort Edmonton, the settlement was, from its origins, based on trade  –  and on interaction between First Nations peoples and Europeans. But, although the trading outpost dates back to 1795, substantive growth came much later; even after the establishment of the Dominion of Canada through the British North America Act of 1867 and the sale in 1869 of the vast Rupert’s Land territories of the Hudson’s Bay Company (including what would become the province of Alberta) to the new government 10 James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo World, 1783–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). The literature on settler colonialism is immense and growing rapidly; for a succinct theoretical consideration of the phenomenon (as well as a bibliographic overview), see Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 11 For other aspects of this issue in relation to Edmonton, see David Gramit, ‘What Does a City Sound Like? The Musical Dynamics of a Colonial Settler City’, Nineteenth-Century Music Review 11 (2014), 273–90, and Gramit, ‘Crossing Borders, Establishing Boundaries: Images of the Violin and the Settlement of Edmonton, Canada’, Grenzüberschreitungen: Musik im interdisziplinären Diskurs, ed. Raymond Ammann, Federico Celestini and Lukas Christensen (Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2014), pp. 209–24.

Idea of Art.indb 277

02/02/2016 15:13

278

David Gramit

of Canada, growth remained sluggish west of Manitoba.12 By 1878, the Edmonton settlement’s population was 148, and by 1892, when it was incorporated as a town, spurred by the arrival a railroad branch from Calgary to the rival community of Strathcona on the south side of the river (also known as South Edmonton, and annexed in 1912), its population was still only 700. Shortly after the turn of the century, however, the demographic hallmarks of a settlement boom become unmistakable, as Table 12.1 makes clear. In two bursts, the first from 1901 to 1908 and the second, after a brief slowdown, from 1911 to 1914, the city’s population boomed to more than a hundred times its 1892 level, reaching 72,516 in 1914.13 Equally unmistakable are the demographic signs of a bust, triggered in this case not only by the worldwide economic downturn of 1913, but also by the beginning of World War I and a flood that wiped out much of the city’s manufacturing (then located in its river valley) in 1915. By 1916, the city had lost more than 25% of its inhabitants, and it would not regain its pre-war population level until 1929. During the boom, however, any thoughts of limitation were silenced not only by the giddy optimism of development, but also by another common feature of developing cities: aggressive ‘boosterism’ (highly partisan promotion of growth and local interests) that sought to elevate the city above regional competitors, combined with vehement rejection of any ‘knocking’ (the expression of sceptical  –  or even realistic  –  perspectives), viewed as disloyalty to the cause of development.14 The 1905 inaugural souvenir quoted above provides an example of the prevalent tone, and hopes were even more inflated near the end of the boom: in 1911, a special publicity issue of the Edmonton Journal dedicated entirely to promoting the city described it without irony as ‘the Permanent Metropolis of Central and Northern Alberta, North Central Saskatchewan and Central Eastern British Columbia’, and on that basis proclaimed it as ‘the 200,000 City before 1920’.15 What was the role of music, and especially of art music, in this energetic  –  even overheated  –  context? As a first step towards answering these questions, 12 For the larger context of settlement in western Canada, see Doug Owram, The Promise of Eden: The Canadian Expansionist Movement and the Idea of the West (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980). 13 Edmonton’s pattern of boom- and resource-driven growth would continue: after three decades of stagnation or incremental growth, the city’s population doubled between 1947 (118,541) and 1957 (238,353), after the discovery of oil in the area. In 2012, the population of Edmonton itself was 817,498, and, according to the 2011 Canadian census, the population of the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area was 1,159,869. See http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/ fogs-spg/Facts-cma-eng.cfm?LANG=Eng&GK=CMA&GC=835 [accessed 8 July 2014]. 14 See Belich, Replenishing the Earth, pp. 200–6, on the ‘boom mentality’ and, for a Canadian perspective, Alan F. J. Artibise, ‘Boosterism and the Development of Prairie Cities, 1871–1913’, Town and City: Aspects of Western Canadian Urban Development, ed. Alan F. J. Artibise (Regina, SK: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1981), pp. 209–35. 15 Edmonton Journal, Publicity Issue, 16 October 1911, p. 1.

Idea of Art.indb 278

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

279

Table 12.1  City of Edmonton population, 1892–1920 Year

Edmonton population

1892

700

1895

1,165

1899

2,212

1901

2,626

1903

6,995

1904

8,350

1906

14,088

1908

18,500

1909

23,000 (estimate)

1911

24,900

1912

53,611

1913

67,243

1914

72,516

1915

59,339

1916

53,846

1917

56,000 (estimate)

1918

57,000 (estimate)

1919

59,000 (estimate)

1920

61,045

Source: http://webdocs.edmonton.ca/InfraPlan/demographic/ Edmonton%20Population%20Historical.pdf [accessed 21 February 2014]

it will be useful to suggest the scale of professional musical activity in early Edmonton. To be sure, there are challenges in such an undertaking, since, then as now, commerce in music rarely received significant attention in public media, and archival sources on often transient individuals and relatively short-lived ensembles  –  for the settlement frontier was a place of extraordinary mobility  –  are relatively rare. Nonetheless, enough scattered evidence remains to begin to piece together signs of what turns out to have been, perhaps surprisingly, a sizeable and active professional musical presence.16 Perhaps the simplest overview of musical activity comes from Edmonton’s city directories, at first published somewhat irregularly, but later annually. Based on a door-to-door canvas of the city by agents of the publisher, these directories 16 My discussion of local musical developments is indebted to my predecessors in the study of Edmonton’s music history, including especially Wesley Berg, ‘Music in Edmonton, 1880–1905’, Canadian University Music Review 7 (1986), 141–70, and Beeth Gardner, ‘Edmonton’s Musical Life, 1892–1930’ (unpublished report prepared for Fort Edmonton Park, 1992).

Idea of Art.indb 279

02/02/2016 15:13

280

David Gramit

Table 12.2 Edmonton musicians and music teachers in relation to general population, 1895–1920 Year 1895 1899 1905

Edmonton population

Music teachers

Musicians

Total

M

F

M

F

1,165

0

1

1

0

2,212

0

1

0

1

2

7

4

1

0

12

n/a (8,350 in 1904)

2

1908

18,500

8

13

6

1

28

1909

23,000 (estimate)

6

9

15

1

31

1910

n/a

8

8

7

3

26

1911

24,900

5

15

18

4*

41

1912

53,611

7

22

18

7

54

1913

67,243

13

26

32

7*

78

1914

72,516

18

36

38

20

112

1915

59,339

17

28

30

7

82

1916

53,846

14

29

28

6

77

1917

56,000 (estimate)

17

21

10

5

53

1919

59,000 (estimate)

16

22

24

6

68

1920

61,045

18

29

27

2

76

* In each of these years, one female music teacher also appears listed as a musician. Sources: J. B. Spurr, ed., The Edmonton District Directory for the Year 1895, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2234.html; Lowe’s Directory of the Edmonton District, 1899, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2459.html; Henderson’s Manitoba and Northwest Territories Gazetteer and Directory for 1905, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/848.13.html; Henderson’s Edmonton City Directories [1908–20], http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2962.html [accessed 21 February 2014]

served several functions, including advertisement, identification of potential customers, and the recording and celebration of growth.17 And most crucially for our present purposes, they list not only the addresses of residents, but also their occupations. As a result, they provide a rough count of those who chose to identify or to advertise themselves as musicians  –  that is, those paid to perform  –  or as music teachers, as shown in Table 12.2. To be sure, this is a crude instrument, not only based on an unofficial (and therefore voluntary) canvas but also leaving out those who participated professionally in musical activities but identified primarily with another occupation, but it does provide a consistent and recurrent 17 For a discussion of the history and structure of Canadian directories, see Library and Archives Canada, ‘History of Directory Publishing’, http://www.bac-lac. gc.ca/eng/discover/directories-collection/Pages/directories-collection-historypublishing.aspx [accessed 21 August 2015].

Idea of Art.indb 280

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

281

indicator of a population of nominally professional musicians. And that indicator shows that both teachers and performers were present very early in the city’s history and that their numbers increased along with its booming population. The absence of consistently published directories before 1905 obscures any pattern of early growth, but, in line with the city’s population, the number of identified performing musicians and music teachers increases nearly tenfold between that year and 1914. Despite relatively small numbers and occasional anomalies that are as likely to reflect inconsistencies in assembling the directories as any significant shifts, several trends emerge from these numbers. First, after a brief period when teachers significantly outnumber musicians, the two categories (which, at least according to the directories, have little overlap) each maintained a substantial presence throughout the period. Teachers continued to outnumber musicians, with the exception of occasional years during the boom (1909, 1911 and 1914), but the latter group is persistent and robust enough to show that, despite both frontier location and growing competition from recorded music, live performers were required for the public spaces of theatres, dance halls and restaurants that proliferated in a boomtown. (They were also required in churches, but most of the musicians listed are identified with secular roles.) The statistics also suggest, however, that teaching was a more stable occupation.18 Not only did it grow more quickly in the early years of the century, but it was also less dramatically deflated by the bust, very likely because, while expenditures for theatres, restaurants, cinemas and concerts were viewed as a luxury that could be sacrificed in difficult times, some performance ability was still widely enough regarded as essential, particularly as an accomplishment for young women, that music lessons remained a higher priority.19 Thus, while teachers were reduced by nine, from fifty-four to forty-five, between 1914 and 1915, musicians fell by twenty-one, from fifty-eight to thirty-seven, and their numbers did not approach parity with those of teachers throughout the rest of the decade. The gender distinctions within these figures merit attention. Not surprisingly, perhaps, female teachers come consistently to outnumber males, and male musicians outnumber females. Less obvious and less expected, though, is that after 1914, men consistently outnumber women in total numbers, and usually by a substantial margin. Even in 1917, at the height of the War, when the dramatically 18 Neither the dramatic growth nor the persistence of music teaching as a profession was limited to Edmonton (nor was the large role played by women within it). For a discussion of a similar development over the longer term in the metropolitan culture that Edmontonians often emulated, see Ehrlich, The Music Profession in Britain, esp. pp. 104–5 and Table I, ‘Musicians in England and Wales 1794–1951’, p. 235. 19 In the absence of records of who was studying, the gender of music students remains uncertain. It is worth noting, however, that at least one source suggests considerable involvement by male students in classical music study: a 1910 photograph of Professor Charles Chisholm’s violin class at Edmonton’s Alberta College shows seven male students and six female (Provincial Archives of Alberta, photograph A11412).

Idea of Art.indb 281

02/02/2016 15:13

282

David Gramit

reduced number of male musicians  –  often unmarried and living at their parents’ addresses  –  is probably the result of large numbers in active service (male teachers were typically older and less likely to serve), men still edge out women, and in other years after 1914, the ratio approaches three to two. The bust certainly impacted Edmonton’s musicians, but it impacted women far more than men. Together with the sudden ‘bubble’ in women musicians at the boom’s height (1913–14), this decline suggests the possibility that women served as a kind of auxiliary labour pool in music; always an appropriate accomplishment for women, music could also become a source of income at the height of a boom, when an abundance of opportunities drew men to more lucrative  –  or at least speculative  –  opportunities. But in leaner times, it appears, women musicians, and even some teachers, became expendable.20 All this took place within a city that was itself significantly imbalanced with respect to gender. As Table 12.3 shows, like most frontier boomtowns, Edmonton had a disproportionately large male population, a phenomenon related both to the settlement’s high demand for heavy physical labour (an activity identified in the nineteenth century in particular as masculine) and to the greater cost of moving a family rather than an unmarried man to a frontier.21 Although the disproportion reduced as the city developed and grew, it approached parity only after the boom, just as numbers of women in music were declining. I will have occasion below to return to the implications of the increasing presence of women for the musical life of a growing commercial city; but for now suffice it to say that these numbers helped ensure that with the exception of occasional ads for local women teachers and the presence of female visiting artists (some of international stature, like Emma Albani, who appeared to great fanfare in 1901 and 1906), the public face of professional music in Edmonton was largely a masculine one. As I will discuss below, the relationship of professional performing musicians to what we would recognize as art music is complex, but for music teachers that relationship seems clearer. Several of the city’s most respected music teachers  –  including Vernon Barford, an English organist and choirmaster who arrived in Edmonton in 1900, and William J. Hendra, a Welsh singer and choral director who arrived in 1906  –  were also connected with church music, and, as we will see, church music and choral music were among the areas in which art music was most solidly rooted.22 Numerous other teachers were associated with the Music 20 Again, Ehrlich’s study of Britain suggests that this was an example of a widespread phenomenon; see his The Music Profession in Britain, pp. 156–61, on obstacles facing women performers in England. 21 Joseph P. Ferrie points out the impact of family size on the cost (and therefore the likelihood) of immigration; see his 1997 disussion ‘Migration to the Frontier in Mid-Nineteenth Century America: A Re-Examination of Turner’s “Safety Valve”’, faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~fe2r/papers/munich.pdf [accessed 10 July 2014], p. 11. 22 After failing entrance exams at Oxford, Barford homesteaded in Saskatchewan, became a music teacher, and served as organist and choir director at All Saints Anglican Church (later Cathedral) from 1900 to 1956, while also maintaining a teaching studio. See R. Dale Macintosh, ‘Vernon Barford’, The Canadian

Idea of Art.indb 282

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

283

Table 12.3  City of Edmonton population by sex, 1901–16 Year

Male

Female

Total

1901

1,374 (52.3%)

1,252 (47.7%)

2,626

1906

6,652 (59.6%)

4,515 (40.4%)

11,167 *

1911

13,933 (56.0%)

10,967 (44.0%)

24,900

1916

27,462 (51.0%)

26,384 (49.0%)

53,846

* This number, from the federal government’s 1906 census of the prairie provinces, is lower than that of the city’s enumeration from the same year (14,088; see Table 12.1). Sources: based on a chart by Carl Betke, ‘The Original City of Edmonton: A Derivative Prairie Urban Community’, The Canadian City: Essays in Urban and Social History, ed. Gilbert A. Stelter and Alan F. J. Artibise, Carleton Library 132, 2nd edn (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1984), p. 395; information for 1916 added from Census of Prairie Provinces. Population and Agriculture. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta. 1916 (Ottawa: J. de L. Taché, 1918), p. 174.

Department of Alberta College, a conservatory programme that has focused on classical music instruction since its inception.23 And perhaps most telling of all is the preponderance of piano (and sometimes organ), violin and voice instruction; although brass bands were a prominent part of Edmonton’s musical life, as they were in virtually every pioneer town, instruction in band instruments was far less visible as an entity separate from the bands themselves. Formal instruction remained associated with musical literacy and the practices and core instruments (if not always the repertoire) of the art-music tradition.24

Encyclopedia (Toronto, 1985–), http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/ article/vernon-barford-emc/ [accessed 9 July 2014]. On Hendra, born in Wales in 1878 and active as a teacher in Edmonton until 1964, see Wesley Berg and Jonathan Bayley, ‘W. J. Hendra: A Pioneer Musician in Edmonton’, Alberta History 38, no. 4 (Autumn 1990), 1–7. 23 It survives today as the Alberta College Conservatory of Music of Grant MacEwan University. 24 David C. H. Wright notes a similar independence between the instructional worlds of the brass bands and of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in Britain. See his The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music: A Social and Cultural History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013), p. 28. Both the activity of bands in settlement communities and the means by which band musicians learned in those towns merit further study. After World War I, with the increasing popularity of instruments like the banjo, guitar and ukulele, teaching in popular music would grow more visible, but there was little overlap between teachers of those instruments and the established classical music instructors.

Idea of Art.indb 283

02/02/2016 15:13

284

David Gramit

Musicians Doing Business and Music as Business Although musicians came to the attention of the citizens of Edmonton primarily through their public performances, we can also trace some of the other activities through which they sought to secure their somewhat precarious positions. A number of teachers went beyond private studios to found and administer a variety of (often short-lived) music conservatories, and musicians attempted in a variety of ways to supplement their roles as employees of theatres and churches. Brass bands and dance orchestras vied to provide their services and, as the city’s archives reveal, to entice the city into supporting their activities, which it sometimes did. In 1908, for instance, it purchased instruments for a Citizens’ Band, deciding first among competing applicants for directing it and then among competing bands to remunerate for summer open-air concerts.25 Those concerts continued for a number of years, as did the winter employment of bands at skating rinks. These ensembles and activities are evidence of general musical activity not directly linked to art music, but the latter also needed to exist within the prevailing commercial environment: when an Edmonton Orchestral Society was founded in 1912 by ‘a number of the professional musicians’, with the aim of ‘the advancement of musical culture in Edmonton’, it was not only discussed in the entertainment section of the Edmonton Bulletin, but also appeared in an article noting that ‘thirty-six new companies have been incorporated in Alberta during the past month, with a capitalization of $3,825,000’.26 The ‘Edmonton Orchestral Society, Ltd.’ had only $10,000 backing, but its presence suggests not only that Albert Weaver-Winston, the Pantages Theatre vaudeville musician who founded it, was well aware of the need for even ‘serious’ musical ventures to be modelled on the commercial practices that dominated the city, but also that the prospect of such an organization as a commercial venture was at least acceptable, even if it was by no means routine.27 25 City of Edmonton Archives, RG 8.10, Box 1, file 2. Occasional programmes for band performances listed in the Edmonton Bulletin suggest that the wind-band repertoire was primarily recreational, strongly favouring waltzes and marches; there is little evidence of the elaborate classical and operatic transcriptions found in the competitive world of British brass bands. 26 The formation of the Society was noted and its purpose described in ‘Orchestral Society Formed’, EB (Morning Edition), 12 June 1912, p. 9. Its capitalization was listed in ‘Many Companies Are Incorporated’, EB (Morning Edition), 26 October 1912, p. 10. 27 Although the Bank of Canada’s inflation converter (www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/ related/inflation-calculator) calculates values only from 1914, the Canadian dollar was fixed at par with the U.S. dollar from 1854 to 1914, with only minor fluctuations permitted (see ‘The Canadian Dollar under the Gold Standard, 1854– 1914’, www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/1854-1914.pdf [accessed 10 July 2014]). According to the calculator at measuringworth.com/ppowerus/, USD 10,000 in 1912 converts to a value of $248,000 in 2013 dollars (see, however, the useful precautions about the variability of such conversions depending on what is measured, at http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare/ index.php [accessed 21 August 2015]).

Idea of Art.indb 284

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

285

The commercial model was in fact one of the only options in an environment in which civic support for musical institutions was essentially non-existent. The city did occasionally hire musicians on a fee-for-service basis, but even that practice did not always provide the level of support that musicians hoped it might. In 1912, the year in which the Orchestral Society was incorporated, city officials had budgeted for summer band concerts in a city park. After the first concert, the City Commissioners noted to Council that that concert ‘was greatly appreciated by the public, judging from their attendance’, but also that we are in receipt of a bill from the Citizens’ Band amounting to $96.00 for that one, individual concert. It appears that the musicians belong to a Union and that the weekly rates are $2.00 per man, while the Sunday rate is $3.00 per man. The Sunday concert would therefore appear to cost more than it should and more than the appropriation will stand, unless the concerts are given every other week.28 Council eventually adopted the recommendation to contain the expense of the series by reducing the number of performances, partially frustrating this early attempt at collective representation. Summer band concerts might appear to have little relevance to the members of an orchestra, but in the settlement-city environment, vying for business was a constant activity, for musical ensembles as for other enterprises. An orchestra could attract an audience during the autumn and winter, but, because the Orchestral Society performed in the summer in its first years, it may have seen the open-air concerts of the bands as competition. Weaver-Winston seems to have hoped for a share of what had previously been given to the bands, so, on 14 June 1915, he proposed a mutually profitable arrangement to the Mayor and Council: Gentlemen, We take this opportunity to make this application for Sunday Park Concerts engagements on behalf of the Edmonton Orchestra, which as you know has been giving Sunday night concerts in the Pantages Theatre. We can furnish an orchestra of 25 men to play on Sunday afternoons for the sum of $78.00 (Seventy-eight dollars).29 We beg to point out that the remuneration for these concerts could easily be derived from the revenue produced from the street railway system in fares to and from the park on Sundays if there is an attraction there. 28 City of Edmonton Archives, RG 8.10, Box 1, File 13. The charter for what is now the American Federation of Musicians Local 390 had been granted in 1907. According to the calculator at measuringworth.com/ppowerus/, USD 3.00 in 1912 converts to a value of $74.30; see n. 27 above, on the equivalence of U.S. and Canadian currency at this time. 29 According to the Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator (www.bankofcanada.ca/ rates/related/inflation-calculator) $78.00 in 1915 is equivalent to $1608.59 in 2014, or $64.34 per player, assuming the conductor was one of the twenty-five specified.

Idea of Art.indb 285

02/02/2016 15:13

286

David Gramit

Inasmuch as, from present indications there will not be the number of people leaving the city for the week end as there were last season, it would seem that the parks would have an opportunity of drawing a greater number of people than ever before.30 Council may have recalled its experience with the professional band and its musicians’ union when it turned down this request, but it had no need to go into financial or labour issues, because it could simply respond that it had already made an arrangement with the newly founded Edmonton Newsboys Band, founded by a local merchant to fight juvenile delinquency by providing a wholesome recreational opportunity. That arrangement cost only fifty dollars per week and had the further advantage of saving the band from going under  –  its founder had written earlier stating that the ensemble would be disbanded without some grant from the city. With one small expenditure, then, the city’s politicians could save money, be seen to be supporting a popular ensemble with impeccable ameliorist goals, maintain popular recreational events and, they hoped, enhance streetcar revenue by providing an attraction that would draw an audience from across the city. The only losers were Weaver-Winston and his orchestra, which indeed ceased to operate shortly thereafter (the exact date of its disbanding is unclear). During the boom, the orchestra’s proposal might well have succeeded, but under newly straitened circumstances, new priorities applied. Nonetheless, this example suggests some of the competitive and commercial realities of life in the music business of a new city. Active and well advertised as they and their services were, however, musicians and teachers represented only a part of the music business. Music stores, piano dealers, tuners and movers, and gramophone companies were also well represented, meeting the growing needs of a domestic market, as might be expected in a city in which real-estate development and building were primary businesses. Indeed, by late in the first decade of the century, several piano companies were engaged in highly competitive advertising, not only in the Bulletin and the Journal, the two leading local newspapers, but also in the French-language Courier de l’Ouest and the German Alberta Herold.31 As Table 12.4 demonstrates, the boom brought music businesses along with it, and the music retail business was even more predominantly a masculine occupation than was musical performance. And these numbers likely underrepresent those involved in retail music, since a number of non-specialist stores also took part in it (stationers selling music, and furniture dealers keyboard instruments and gramophones, for instance), a practice that remained through much of the century in department stores and mail-order firms. In this case, too, the bust,

30 City of Edmonton Archives, RG 8.10, Box 2, File 43. 31 Despite relatively small numbers of native speakers within the city, ads in French and German publications (and later, Ukrainian ones, as immigration from that area grew) were of value because, even more than the English newspapers, they reached members of those language communities in small towns and rural areas throughout the region.

Idea of Art.indb 286

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

287

Table 12.4  Music-business workers in Edmonton, 1895–1920 Year

Edmonton population

Music-business proprietors and employees Male

Female

Total

1

0

1

1895

1,165

1899

2,212

1

0

1

1905

n/a

2

0

2

1908

18,500

8

1

9

1909

23,000 (estimate)

16

1

17

1910

n/a

17

1

18

1911

24,900

22

1

23

1912

53,611

17

1

18

1913

67,243

20

0

20

1914

72,516

29

1

30

1915

59,339

19

1

20

1916

53,846

24

2

26

1917

56,000 (estimate)

20

2

22

1919

59,000 (estimate)

23

2

25

1920

61,045

23

1

24

Sources: J. B. Spurr, ed., The Edmonton District Directory for the Year 1895, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2234.html; Lowe’s Directory of the Edmonton District, 1899, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2459.html; Henderson’s Manitoba and Northwest Territories Gazetteer and Directory for 1905, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/848.13.html; Henderson’s Edmonton City Directories [1908–20], http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2962.html [accessed 21 February 2014]

although initially devastating, seems not to have resulted in a prolonged decline; numbers in the music business stabilized relatively quickly. It is not easy to know just how the city’s other residents viewed the musicians and music businessmen among them; other than the obligatorily enthusiastic reviews that typified local coverage here and elsewhere, the music profession received little public discussion. This makes the following brief news item, from the ‘Around the City’ column of the Edmonton Bulletin of 4 February 1907, all the more curious: ‘the public may expect an amusing hockey match in the Thistle rink on Wednesday evening when the musicians will try conclusions with the music dealers of the city.’ After the event, it reported the results: The piano sellers got the best of the city musicians in a hockey match at the Thistle last night. The score was 2–1 and the teams were so evenly matched that Referee C. D. Rogers had to have ten minutes after the game finished to figure out who had the majority of goals.’ 32 32 ‘Around the City’, EB, 4 February 1907, p. 3, and 7 February 1907, p. 3.

Idea of Art.indb 287

02/02/2016 15:13

288

David Gramit

Without ascribing a great deal of significance to this isolated and unpretentious event, it is worth noting the unusual singling out of a private hockey match as a particularly amusing upcoming event; this not only indicates recognition of musicians as a distinct (and presumably male) group, but also invites the suspicion that musicians (who were more frequent visitors to the Thistle Rink in the off season, when it doubled as a dance and concert facility) were already regarded as unlikely athletes. But most interesting, perhaps, is that the ‘music dealers’ of the first notice become the ‘piano sellers’ of the later report. From the perspective of a reporter in 1907, and one who shows no signs of particular knowledge of or interest in music, the two descriptions are interchangeable; not many years before this match, however, that equation would have been far less likely. In the 1880s, when music appeared in advertisements in the city’s first newspaper, the Bulletin, it was in the form of printed music and hymnbooks, or as instruments offered by general merchants. Thus, around Christmas of 1888, when P. Daly & Co. offered an alphabetical list of ‘the greatest variety of Toys ever brought to Edmonton’, it included banjos, musical pop guns, musical cigars, organs, pianos, trumpets and violins (all presumably of the toy variety); but separately, under ‘Musical Instruments’, it also listed ‘Accordions, Violins, Harmonicas, Flutes, Metallaphones, Jewsharps, Etc.’  –  all relatively inexpensive instruments, and ones associated with informal and often non-literate musicmaking.33 By the mid 1890s, however, merchants regularly offered pianos and organs (that is, pedal organs or harmoniums), along with music.34 But among regular advertisers of 1895, there is little to distinguish the specialist nature of, for instance, F. H. Andrews’s Music Store, which sold instruments and music but also frequently advertised ink and paper with no mention of music at all, from J. T. Blowey’s Furniture, which was also an agent for Heintzmann Pianos and Doherty Organs. Not until the first years of the new century do genuinely specialized music stores appear, and then, as the hockey report suggests, they are dominated by dealers in the substantial (and relatively expensive) instruments that most clearly represented middle-class domestic music. The change, then, suggests not only greater commercial specialization and increased material prosperity but also (parallel to the growing numbers of teachers discussed above) a more established demand for the instruments linked to what was often referred to as ‘high-class’ or simply ‘good’ music.

33 This version of the recurrent ad appeared in the EB, 7 January 1888, p. 1. The violin, of course, was equally at home in art music, but the company it keeps in this ad suggests rather its association with the fiddling that was the long-established basis for dancing. 34 This is not to suggest that pianos and organs were unknown earlier. As Berg notes (‘Music in Edmonton’, pp. 144–5), one settler had an organ as early as 1879, and the EB reported that three pianos had been ‘imported’ in the summer of 1883. Local business in those instruments, however, developed later.

Idea of Art.indb 288

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

289

The Symbolic Capital of Music: Making and Selling a City’s Music It would not be difficult to explain changes like these, either by a narrative of the gradual and progressive development of ‘a mature musical life’, or as a belated local instance of the general development that Lawrence Levine famously characterized as the emergence of a cultural hierarchy of ‘highbrow’ over ‘lowbrow’ entertainment.35 Indeed, there is no disputing the growth of musical institutions and practices, or that, as we will see, promotion of ‘good’ or ‘high-class’ music soon became a regular feature of musical life in Edmonton, as in many other locations. But by taking into account both the particular circumstances of Edmonton and the imperatives of urban development that characterized settler colonization, we may arrive at a more nuanced account of cultural change, one that proves closely related to commerce, both positively and negatively. Those particular circumstances become clear from coverage of the 1896 annual ball of the Old Timers’ Association, which had been founded in 1894.36 Wesley Berg notes those balls as a remarkably early celebration of nostalgia, but an account of the 1896 ball suggests that affection for a lost past was not all that was at play. The Bulletin described the setting for the ball in considerable detail, noting the ‘fur, robes and heads of many varieties’ and especially the ‘grand feature’  –  a stage ‘occupied by a very smoky Indian teepee and delapidated [sic] Red River cart’. To evoke the settlement’s past, the chosen decorations were primarily those of the fur trade, and the centrepieces consisted of an iconic First Nations dwelling and the cart associated with the Métis, the people of mixed First Nations and Euro-American (especially French and Scottish) descent who were born primarily of interaction arising from the fur trade and constituted much of its labour force. But the newspaper report also seeks to distance itself from this indigenous and mixed-race past: ‘an electric light hung in the teepee brought out in sharp contrast the difference between what was and what is’. 37 Contrast is also apparent in the event’s ‘extra long’ programme of thirty-eight dances, also printed in the Bulletin’s report. The majority of dances are what one would expect of a late-nineteenth-century ball: couple and figure dances including cotillions, waltzes, polkas, lancers, Schottisches and the like. But the presence of a Strathspey, a ‘Scotch Reel’ and a ‘Highland Schottische’ was likely a gesture to the Highland origins of many of those early labourers, and Métis dances including the Red River Jig (which appeared twice) and the Duck Dance (as well as reels of four and eight, linked to both Scots and Métis traditions) are unusual enough 35 Berg suggests a progressive framework in ‘Music in Edmonton’, p. 153, and later (p. 154) considers ‘the building of a musical establishment’. On cultural hierarchy, see Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow. 36 The association survives as the Northern Alberta Pioneers and Descendants Association, whose origins are recorded on its website, www. northernalbertapioneers.com [accessed 25 February 2014]. 37 Berg, ‘Music in Edmonton’, p. 154; ‘Old Timers’ Ball’, EB, 3 February 1896, p. 4.

Idea of Art.indb 289

02/02/2016 15:13

290

David Gramit

in the social dancing context to suggest that their presence may have occasioned the same ambivalent response that the article evidences concerning the physical objects of that culture. It would not be long, however, before ambivalence could give way to straightforward rejection; in July 1904, an ad for a ‘popular concert’ by the Apollo [dance] Orchestra, while noting that it would feature a ‘grand gymnastic display’, ‘humorous monologues’ and ‘club swinging’, took care to note that the dances the orchestra would play between numbers would include ‘no square dances’. 38 Although these examples are drawn from the realm of popular entertainment, recognizing the importance of such distinctions in helping establish ‘the difference between what was and what is’ will also help us understand the particular significance of art music in new cities like Edmonton. Precisely because art music was so different from the informal practices of fur traders and settlers (to say nothing of indigenous music), it could be all the more effective in creating the atmosphere of a modern and civilized metropolis in the making rather than a frontier trade outpost. Even if its economic role in the booming city was limited, art music could effectively contribute a sense of activity, distinction and cultural legitimacy. By such means, the city could indeed distance itself from its rough and tumble past  –  and it could also distinguish itself from its rural surroundings and compete with its rivals: initially, other local settlements that might undermine Edmonton’s regional leadership, and eventually more distant urban centres, especially Calgary. Considering art music’s symbolic role brings us back to commerce, albeit to music’s role as a countermeasure rather than as a contributor to it. As an editorial noted on the occasion of the first Alberta Musical Festival, held in Edmonton in 1908, such an event could demonstrate that, despite appearances to the contrary in the new city, commerce was not all: The pioneers of a new country are necessarily concerned first in the development of its resources, and the creations of the material conditions of life. Nowhere is this primary duty more faithfully observed than in Western Canada. But those who think the people of this country are concerned with nothing but the business of making money are badly mistaken. Amid the rush and whirl of rapid material development there is still found time for attention to those means of culture without which no degree of commercial success could redeem the people of a country from poverty of spirit. As an instance of this, the first Provincial musical festival ever held in Canada is being conducted this week in the City of Edmonton. […] It is intended that the event shall be made annual, thus establishing a permanent incentive to Provincial musicians, and a permanent means for the development of a taste for good music. This is an event in which the people of the Province should take some pride. It is another instance of Alberta leading the way, another expression of the irrepressible Western spirit of advancement. […] It is the fashion 38 EB, 8 July 1904, p. 1.

Idea of Art.indb 290

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

291

in certain quarters in the older Provinces to regard Alberta and the Western Provinces generally as a region necessarily crude and primary in the conditions of life  –  a place where men go to make money, but where social life denies the individual many of the advantages to be found in older communities. The removal of this notion would be a benefit, great and real to the Province, and the first Alberta musical festival should go far to remove it.39 The familiar theme of boosterism is plain enough here, as is the chafing of a cultural periphery under the perceived superior attitude of ‘the older Provinces’. So too is a tension between the initial gesture of insisting on the value of culture as a respite from ‘the rush and whirl of rapid material development’ and the editorial’s closing insistence on the festival as evidence of the local ‘spirit of advancement’ and on the improved image of the west as a ‘great and real’ benefit. The event itself is sandwiched in between, as is the goal of ‘development of a taste for good music’. That in-between position is suggestive, for in this view, music  –  ‘good’ music at least  –  could not only contribute to commercial development; it could also serve as a kind of cultural counterbalance to that activity, redressing spiritually a balance that booming commerce threatened  –  a function particularly valued in a new city sensitive to the accusation that it indeed consisted of nothing but commerce run rampant. By no means, however, did focusing on taste mean giving up the habit of self-promotion: the festival also provided competitive certification (verified by adjudicators from larger and older cities) that the province’s musicians, gathered in its capital, had achieved the artistic standards emanating from metropolitan centres; to be sure, this is an inheritance from a Victorian culture that placed a premium on certification, but in this new environment, private certification also validated the community’s achievement.40 Other new musical institutions were less overtly evaluative, but equally dependent on received models of high culture. The Orchestral Society discussed above was a relative latecomer; it was preceded not only by the annual provincial festival, but also by an Amateur Operatic Society, a Choral Society and the Music Department of Alberta College, all founded in 1903, and by the Ladies’ Musical Club, founded in 1908 and continuing for decades. This last organization in particular, active in organizing concerts and lectures by its members as well as in sponsoring visiting artists, serves as a reminder that the tradition of artistic patronage and activity by women also reached the peripheries of empire. There, 39 ‘The Provincial Musical Festival’, EB, 4 May 1908, p. 4. 40 In a memoir printed in the sixtieth-anniversary commemorative issue of the EB, Vernon Barford noted with pride the number of ‘passes’ and ‘honors’ rankings won by competitors in early music examinations with adjudicators from the Toronto College of Music and later the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music; see Vernon W. Barford, ‘Artistic Achievements Early in Newly Settled Area: Edmonton Musicians Dean Reminisces on Early Activity Here’, EB, 10 July 1940, p. 23. On the Victorian culture of certification and the Associated Board, see Wright, The Associated Board, esp. pp. 19–41.

Idea of Art.indb 291

02/02/2016 15:13

292

David Gramit

its moral earnestness marked it as a less overtly political counterpart to activities like the temperance movement, which also provided a sphere of activity for women and became associated with their civilizing influence.41 These multiplying institutions all sought to promote ‘good’ music, a category worth considering more closely, for, judging by what was performed, it was not entirely synonymous with the international high-art music repertoire that coalesced in major European and American cities in the later nineteenth century.42 In some respects, to be sure, there is considerable overlap. ‘Good music’ included cantatas and oratorios, for instance, as well as opera and operetta to the extent that it was manageable for the amateur community companies that put together early productions.43 And the early programmes of the Ladies’ Musical Club featured typical (if not always still widely performed) songs and chamber music. The programmes of the Orchestral Society, however, bear far more resemblance to the English promenade concerts of the 1870s than to more purely ‘classical’ programmes of their own time: operatic overtures and selections, instrumental solos, songs, marches and dances predominate, and even the few selections by Beethoven or Haydn that appeared, for instance, in the promenade concerts of London’s Alexandra Palace are completely absent.44 ‘Good music’, then, appears to have been a kind of amalgam of sacred music, art music and imported middle-class entertainment music. And it was performed by a combination of a few paid church musicians, civic-minded amateurs 41 On women as patrons, see Ralph P. Locke and Cyrilla Barr, eds, Cultivating Music in America: Women Patrons and Activists since 1860 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). I am grateful to Jennifer Messelink for suggesting the parallel between the temperance movement and activities like the Ladies’ Musical Club in her research into that organization. 42 See Weber, The Great Transformation of Musical Taste. 43 Barford’s memoir provides a useful overview of early productions. From the 1890s and 1900s, he recalled performances of Frederic Cowen’s The Rose Maiden, William Sterndale Bennett’s The May Queen, Gounod’s The Redemption, Alfred Gaul’s ‘not very impressive’ The Holy City, Haydn’s The Creation, Handel’s Samson and Messiah, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. He noted that, in addition to the inevitable Gilbert and Sullivan, the Amateur Operatic Society produced Robert Planquette’s Les cloches de Corneville (The Chimes of Normandy); see Barford, ‘Artistic Achievements’, p. 15. 44 The programme announced for Sunday, 22 September 1912, is typical: March  –  ‘Coroebus’, Victor Boehnlien; Overture  –  ‘Semiramide’, Rossini; Song  –  ‘She Alone Charmeth My Sadness’ (from The Queen of Sheba [La reine de Saba]), Gounod; Selection  –  ‘Carmen’, Bizet; Cello Solo  –  ‘The Palms’ [‘Les Rameaux’], Faure [sic]; Waltz  –  ‘Sympathy’, Eduard Mezzacapo; Song  –  ‘Mountain Lovers’, William Henry Squire; Selection  –  ‘Flirting Princess’, Joseph E. (‘Joe’) Howard; ‘God Save the King’; see ‘Orchestral Society Concert’, EB, 21 September 1912 (Morning Edition), p. 8. On the Alexandra Palace and its musical programming, see Paul Watt and Alison Rabinovici, ‘Alexandra Palace: Music, Leisure, and the Cultivation of “Higher Civilization” in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Music & Letters 95 (2014), 183–212. See especially Table 6 (pp. 198–200), which samples repertoire of instrumental, vocal and promenade concerts.

Idea of Art.indb 292

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

293

(including members of church choirs, solo singers and instrumentalists) and local professionals for whom it represented not their primary livelihood, but a supplement to their work as theatre and dance musicians.45 To promote ‘good’ music, of course, implies a move away from the bad, which in turn raises the question of what advocates of the good sought to counter. Perhaps surprisingly, however, there is little sign that it was consistently contrasted either with the indigenous practices displaced by settlement or with the traditional music still heard in the Old Timers’ Ball. In the new century, those musics are very rarely represented in local media as forming a part of the city’s soundscape. They disappeared with remarkable speed: as I have discussed elsewhere, both First Nations drumming and dancing and dancing to the Red River Jig appear in accounts of Edmonton’s celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, but both are absent from the events around the inauguration of Alberta as a province in 1905. The dramatic growth of the settler population had quickly displaced indigenous peoples, and the dominant ideology of settlement as progressive development of an empty land had no place for acknowledgment of pre-existing cultures.46 Instead, popular music was imported in several forms: as printed music (whether for domestic use or to be performed by local orchestras), by touring vaudeville acts and through recordings.47 And given the proximity and growing power of the United States, those imports were increasingly dominated by American music. Serious and popular musics each contributed a kind of metropolitan legitimacy  –  that is, distance from local practices, which were now viewed as an embarrassment  –  but their respective goals of edification and entertainment did not always mesh, particularly as popular music moved away from the songs that might have found their way onto concerts of ‘good’ music. A review of the Orchestral Society’s concert of 25 August 1912, for instance, concludes that the programme was ‘a musical repast of high order, which in this day of “Rag”, is a rare oasis in the desert’.48 High culture’s dismissal of the popular  –  and here Levine’s highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy is relevant  –  was imported along with its institutions, even though musicians like Weaver-Winston were active in both. 45 Barford made clear that early cantata and oratorio performances were led by local church musicians and that the Orchestral Society ‘had as its nucleus the men who played in Pantages Theatre’. He also suggested that the professionals participated in ‘serious’ projects for the sake of developing local music rather than for profit: ‘The Musicians Association felt themselves bound to prohibit its members from playing in these orchestras without receiving the regular union fee, but it turned a completely blind eye to the fact, of which it was perfectly cognizant, that its members who played in the festival orchestras, almost to a man, returned their ‘pay cheques’ as subscriptions to the festival expenses’. Barford, ‘Artistic Achievements’, p. 23. 46 See Gramit, ‘What Does a City Sound Like?’ 47 The J. J. Walker collection at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton preserves a large collection of such imported music, largely American and British, collected by Walker, a local theatre orchestra leader into the 1920s. 48 ‘Orchestral Concert’, EB (Morning Edition), 27 August 1912, p. 6.

Idea of Art.indb 293

02/02/2016 15:13

294

David Gramit

Indeed, the discursive conflict was itself part of a developing urban identity.49 The absence of indigenous musics and of the practices associated with the fur-trading past was a musical correlate of the spatial exclusion of native peoples characteristic of settler colonial cities, and finding a new musical object for the curiosity, fear and dismissal that had not long before characterized settlers’ responses to First Nations peoples supported the claim that this was indeed a new and real city in a new land.50

A View from the Centre For all its boom-time activity and emulation of the metropolitan centres of Britain and America, though, Edmonton could not change its peripheral cultural position at the edge of empire(s) any more than it could alter its geographical remoteness. To see what that peripheral position implied, at least from the British metropolitan perspective, we can consider Lionel Kingsley’s report on ‘Teachers’ Conditions in Western Canada’, which appeared in the Musical Times on 1 May 1914.51 In all likelihood, it is merely coincidental that Kingsley’s report immediately precedes the journal’s review of an eminently metropolitan premiere, that of Vaughan Williams’s ‘London’ Symphony, which is itself (mildly) criticized for introducing ‘a preposterous ragtime tune’, but the contrast would quite probably have pleased the author. Kingsley, having toured the West at the height of the boom, had no objection to a financial orientation; indeed, the article is framed as an evaluation of the business prospects for emigrant music teachers. But those prospects were rather poor, due to a combination of lack of interest (Winnipeg, for instance, ‘is engaged in the perpetual boosting of real estate’, which ‘it loves […] better than the finer things of life’) and excessive competition among already overabundant teachers. One particular danger to the male teacher was the institution of the Women’s Musical Club, whose Winnipeg manifestation Kingsley, in a particularly misogynist passage, described as ‘feminine and dominating’: ‘So man in Canada is handicapped; and the woman teacher starts with a certain advantage, for, naturally, to be a member of one of these clubs is to come in contact with those people who can influence pupils and resultant fees’. 52

49 For an exploration of the conflict in a more established city, see Robin Elliot, ‘Ragtime Spasm: Anxieties over the Rise of Popular Music in Toronto’, PostColonial Distances: The Study of Popular Music in Canada and Australia, ed. Beverley Diamond, Denis Crowdy and Daniel M. Downes (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), pp. 67–90. 50 For a consideration of the representation of space in settler colonial cities, see the essays collected in Making Settler Colonial Space: Perspectives on Race, Place and Identity, ed. Tracey Banivanua Mar and Penelope Edmonds (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 51 Lionel Kingsley, ‘Teachers’ Conditions in Western Canada’, MT, 1 May 1914, pp. 309–10. 52 Ibid., 309.

Idea of Art.indb 294

02/02/2016 15:13

The Business of Music on the Peripheries of Empire

295

Edmonton itself offered no better prospects, but Kingsley did provide a rare outsider’s view of the musical results of the boom: Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is a fine city striding the hills, but music is overdone here. The number of studios opened during the past year is out of all proportion to the demand. No pianoforte teachers are required for many a long day. There may be a little more opening for qualified vocal teachers, for there are as many quacks, in proportion, ruining voices in Canada as there are in the more sophisticated European musical centres.53 Kingsley’s conclusion  –  which, he maintained, only the founding of provincial academies would alter  –  was gloomy: ‘So rule Canada at present out of practical politics so far as it is of use to the surplus teachers of the Old World. It needs agriculture  –  music culture [by which he appears to mean serious musical culture as a whole, although teaching dominates the article] will come later’.54 From the perspective of the centre, then, Winnipeg and Edmonton were essentially interchangeable as remote, uncivilized outposts. Because Winnipeg often served as a model for what the newer city hoped to achieve, this equation of the two cities might have offered some small comfort to Edmontonian musicians who happened to read Kingsley’s article, but its thinly veiled mockery suggests that the apparently inevitable emulation of the centre was doomed to failure, since emulation itself set up the centre as the ultimate arbiter of success. From the perspective of Edmonton’s promoters, of course, Kingsley had it all wrong. Had he looked more closely, he would surely have noticed that prosperity was bringing with it the developing musical activities and institutions that signified ‘culture’ in the strong sense that both centre and periphery agreed upon. He might also have recognized that the prominent role of women in those developments was a civilizing corrective, balancing the earlier predominance of labouring men, rather than a sinister conspiracy to disadvantage male teachers. And above all, he might have seen how profit and culture could coexist to their mutual benefit in a coming metropolis. Neither Edmonton’s musicians, businessmen and boosters, however, nor Kingsley, its metropolitan detractor, showed much awareness of a far larger process of which the city’s nascent music businesses and institutions constituted only a small part. Edmonton, after all, was only one of hundreds of booming settlements across the Anglophone world in the nineteenth century, and its boom not only occurred relatively late, but also was (the extravagant claims of its boosters notwithstanding) relatively modest in scale. True, settlers were quite conscious  –  and proud  –  of playing their parts in building nations and empires, but historical distance allows us to see more clearly the results of their efforts on a transnational scale. A list of cities developed through successive waves of settler booms during the century preceding Edmonton’s moment of growth provides a kind of checklist of the major metropolitan areas of central and western North America and Australasia. Moving roughly from earliest to 53 Ibid., 400. 54 Ibid.

Idea of Art.indb 295

02/02/2016 15:13

296

David Gramit

latest, it includes Cincinnati, New Orleans and Montreal (each beginning around 1815); St Louis, Toronto, St John (New Brunswick) and Sydney (from the mid-tolate 1820s); Chicago, San Francisco, Melbourne and Adelaide (from the 1840s); Denver, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Brisbane (from the 1870s); and, along with the prairie provinces of Canada at the turn of the century, Los Angeles, Seattle and Perth.55 None of these cities, of course, developed precisely as Edmonton did, either musically or otherwise. Many grew much larger, and each grew distinctively when considered in detail; the timing of their booms in relation to new technologies of communication and transportation, their proximity to or distance from other centres, and the particular constitution of their settler population inflect each local history uniquely. Pride in local achievement and national distinctiveness, however, should not allow us to overlook the ubiquity of brass bands, opera houses, conservatories, private music teachers by the tens of thousands, and piano and gramophone dealers, who helped constitute these cities along with other businesses while also furnishing a suitably optimistic and civilized soundtrack for it  –  and, not incidentally, providing a century of booming business for the instrument makers and music publishers whose products were shipped to those thousands of peripheral and developing settlements. Musicologists are accustomed to seeking out and prizing the unique, and the early music history of Edmonton provides it as much as any other location, but the business of building music in the new cities of the west(s) constitutes an enormous worldwide phenomenon in which the imported and derivative played a role that, to its practitioners, was very far from ordinary. We will fail to understand this process until we acknowledge the value of the familiar  –  both aesthetic and commercial  –  as they did.

55 This list is based on the table, ‘Boom, Bust and Export Rescue in the Anglo Wests, 1815–1913’, in Belich, Replenishing the Earth, pp. 88–9. My list gives only the first boom for each city listed (many boomed twice, and some, like Toronto and Chicago, three times) and omits South Africa and a few smaller urban centres.   Research for this chapter was supported by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Idea of Art.indb 296

02/02/2016 15:13

13 ‘Disguised Publicity’ and the Performativity of Taste: Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers of the Belle Époque Jann Pasler ‘In France democracy is the daughter of publicity.’ John Fred Jones (1905)1 ‘You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertising.’ Norman Douglas (1917)2

M

usical scores document a composer’s creativity, instruct performers how to turn notation into sound, and communicate values.3 In the commercial world, publishers aspire for them to become collectible commodities protected by copyright, representations of music producing their own knowledge and power. For this, they must first function as signs. When fragments of larger works, musical scores call to mind the whole from which they are drawn. They can also refer back to previous experiences, real or imagined, inducing the pleasure of memory, as with piano-vocal transcriptions that recall opera performances. For scores that promise future experiences, such signs, as in advertising, point to the merits of something that one might not know without them. In late-nineteenthcentury France, a good deal of advertising was ‘disguised publicity’  –  items in the news section and even paid articles ‘which seem to appertain to the field of general information more than to advertising’. As the founder of the largest advertising company in nineteenth-century France once put it, the ‘aesthetics, gracefulness, and precision’ of French advertising has positively transformed the national manners, the social conditions, and the ways of living. […] The one cent press has sowed everywhere the germs This essay grew out of my ‘Wednesdays at Le Figaro: Music, Performance, and Public Taste’, presented at the conference French Music Criticism, 1789–1914, at McGill University in Montreal (2009) and at the Sixteenth Biennial Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music at the University of Southampton (2010).

1 John Fred Jones, ‘Advertising in France’, Advertising and Selling 15 (1905), 659. 2 Cited in William F. Arens, Contemporary Advertising (Chicago: Irwin, 1996), p. xix. 3 The term ‘score’ is used here to refer to a musical composition in western musical notation together with any performance instructions and indications as to its producers (composer, librettist, performer, venue where performed and music publisher).

297

Idea of Art.indb 297

02/02/2016 15:13

298

Jann Pasler

of new ideas penetrating to the very depth of the most distant villages, in an atmosphere hitherto unknown of intellectuality, eminently propitious to national progress in every conceivable shape and form.4 In this essay, I examine the scores published in French magazines and newspapers from the 1870s to the 1920s, their weekly supplements and their annual albums for subscribers, as well as the choices and marketing strategies underlying them. These scores provided broad access to the gamut of French musical culture, from opera and operetta to piano pieces and popular song. But when the frame is a newspaper or magazine, what does a score mean? How is the medium part of the message? Musical scores in the press, like French advertising, were a technology, a medium and a practice that, in addressing specific needs, desires and objectives, created an exchange satisfying both producers and consumers. As with other marketing tools, they served to identify and differentiate a product; to stimulate interest, especially in music that was new, previously unpublished [inédit], or reflective of intellectual or musical fashions; to build commercial as well as cultural value; to reach a broad public and generate future sales; and to lower publishers’ overall costs.5 To the extent that the French public respected its print media and trusted its opinions, these scores had the potential to shape as well as reflect the dynamic evolution of musical taste. This raises the question of agency. Who was responsible for choosing the scores published in these print media and what factors drove their decisions? It appears that music and theatre critics were involved, but not always. In the case of Le Figaro, thanks to the critics’ transparency in such matters, we learn much more detail and come to appreciate their desire to achieve balance among the competing options. And who benefited from the scores’ publication? As part of other cultural offerings, scores made newspapers and magazines appealing, a reason to subscribe, especially when, in some cases, scores were provided only to subscribers. In addition, as a form of ‘disguised publicity’, many drew attention to current events and premieres on French and foreign stages, thereby providing visibility to the producers  –  certain theatres, concert organizations, composers, performers and music publishers. Who read these scores is unclear; but their presence over the long term in a wide variety of print media, for free or little cost, suggests that they appealed to all classes. They helped people discover their preferences, as well as expand on and stretch beyond them. However, we should not assume that these readers were mere passive consumers. As most scores were either for voice, voice and piano, or piano alone, sometimes accompanied by performance instructions, evidently they were meant to be sung or played. From a commercial perspective, learning music through performing it produces interest, and that, in turn, generates demand. In presenting diverse levels of difficulty, these print media sought to reach those of varied musical competencies. Performing music also calls on an engagement 4 Jones, ‘Advertising in France’, p. 659. This was the John Fred Jones & Co. with offices in Paris, one of the largest advertising companies on the continent (p. 469). 5 Arens, Contemporary Advertising, pp. 34 and 197–210.

Idea of Art.indb 298

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

299

with it. Such scores offered not only an encounter with the new  –  so important in fashionable Paris  –  but also a mode of instruction, of aspiration, and of social distinction, as well as a conduit to self-esteem. In France, after the defeat by Prussia, such experiences were crucial in the regeneration of the country. Scores in the French press thus point to taste as performative. Through them, both decision-makers in print media and their readers participated in the production and circulation of taste, based on a willingness to embrace the unknown. As Antoine Hennion has argued, ‘Taste is always reflexive. It is not perceiving or feeling on the basis of what one knows, but discovering oneself as a taster.’ 6 In this sense, these scores are an ideal barometer of French culture in flux. An important observation emerges from this study. Throwing into question Pierre Bourdieu’s theory about taste distinctions between the classes (as well as American presumptions about the class implications in so-called ‘highbrow’ art music and ‘lowbrow’ popular music),7 this microcosm of the musical world documents both musical tastes aligned with class and tastes promoted across the classes, as if they were or could be widely shared. Throughout the Third Republic, ensembles such as Jules Pasdeloup’s Concerts Populaires performed the same Viennese classics and French contemporary music for the working classes as other orchestras offered elites  –  a kind of ‘elevation’ with political implications in French society.8 Remarkably in this study, even more fascinating intersections emerge across a range of lower-class, literary and elite newspapers in the 1890s. Contradicting Bourdieu’s assumptions (or at least his studies of taste in contemporary France), in each of these papers featured we find an overlap in the genres represented by their scores. Moreover, in general, the press tended to ignore not only any presumed associations of genres with class, but also distinctions between music addressed to professionals and that considered appropriate for amateurs. Song was particularly powerful in this way, malleable while deeply expressive of French values. Such intersecting interests not only suggest that French identity at the time was less fractured than we have come to believe, they also invite us to rethink what fuelled the renaissance in French music during the Belle Époque. 6 Antoine Hennion, ‘Pragmatics of Taste’, The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture, ed. Mark Jacobs and Nancy Hanrahan (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 131–44. 7 In Distinction, Bourdieu argued that classes can be defined in part by their musical tastes. See Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow, for a sociological perspective on these distinctions in American culture. Hennion has criticized such studies for taking a ‘totally passive view of the amateur’ and assuming tastes are ‘radically unproductive […] the subjects merely reproducing the hierarchy of social positions’. He continues: ‘By conceiving taste as a reflexive activity of amateurs […] it is possible to restore the importance of the objects concerned, […] of the nature of the activity thus deployed, of the competencies involved, and hence, above all, of creative and not only reproductive capacities.’ See Hennion, ‘Pragmatics of Taste’, p. 131. 8 For decades, the Concerts Populaires, founded by Jules Pasdeloup, performed basically the same repertoire in a circus, full of cheap seats, as the prestigious Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, with its small hall and elite subscribers.

Idea of Art.indb 299

02/02/2016 15:13

300

Jann Pasler

Musical Scores in Magazines: Democratizing Music In nineteenth-century France, musical scores were published in a wide variety of weekly, semi-monthly and monthly magazines. Here, publishers could easily reach their primary targets  –  subscribers who could read music. Friends, family and even their descendants also might encounter these scores, as well as readers purchasing individual issues. Coupled with the magazines’ good-quality reproductions, such publications served as ideal vehicles for broadening interest in music and awareness of current musical trends. Some magazines were aimed at musical amateurs, such as La Musique des familles (1856–60), Le Mélomane (1876–77; 1883–89), La Musique populaire / La Musique des familles (1881–89), Paris-Piano (1892–1901), Le Petit Piano (1894– 1903), Piano-Soleil (1887–1906)9 and Le Piano (1904–12). Along with chronicles of theatre and concert life, these magazines published from four to eight pages of music per issue. Bundled in such magazines, then, the scores cost much less than if purchased separately. Popular genres were polkas, waltzes, marches, opera fantasies, operetta excerpts, and songs, with some surprises. Le Mélomane published a polka by Erik Satie’s father Alfred (issue no. 13) and works by littleknown women composers Mlle Juliette Durand and Jeanne Dubois (nos. 6, 21). That several of these magazines’ covers feature well-dressed women carrying scores or seated at upright pianos speaks to the stereotype that middle- and upper-class women were expected to play piano. These scores suggest what kind of music was considered appropriate for them and their families. Moreover, from the composition competitions these magazines sponsored and the winning entries by both amateurs and professionals, the musical values esteemed in such contexts emerge. Other magazines addressed the more musically sophisticated, probably as many or more men as women. For less than half a franc per issue,10 from the beginning the weekly Le Journal de musique (1876–82) had ‘thousands of subscribers’ and aspired to many more. Its issues included works of various genres and degrees of difficulty to satisfy ‘all whims, all levels of knowledge […] all ages and all tastes’.11 Alongside music by Grétry, Lully, Beethoven and Chopin, and gypsy songs popularized during Paris’s 1878 Exposition Universelle, the magazine devoted much space to French contemporary music. That it published works by Isaac de Camondo and Edmond de Polignac, the latter’s song ‘Adieu, France’ six years before the Heugel firm issued it,12 suggests that even aristocrats, normally reluctant to be active in the public sphere, felt welcome here. What made this journal so special was not only eclecticism in its choice 9 Published by the newspaper Le Soleil du dimanche. 10 Fifty centimes was the price of the cheapest seats at Pasdeloup’s Concerts Populaires in the circus in eastern Paris near where many workers and petit bourgeois lived. In 2014, 50 centimes would be worth a little less than 2 euros. 11 ‘A nos lecteurs’, Journal de musique, 3 June 1876, p. 1. 12 In Le Journal de musique, 2 December 1876; later in Polignac’s Mélodies et pièces divers pour chant (Paris: Heugel, 1884).

Idea of Art.indb 300

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

301

of scores, but also the close interrelationship between these scores and musical life, even abroad. For example, in August 1876, the magazine published a song drawn from Wagner’s Die Walküre to accompany discussion of the first Ring cycle in Bayreuth  –  its theatre, public, poem, music, orchestra, performance and reception  –  which took up the entire issue. In 1877, with the Concerts Colonne competing with the Concerts Populaires in performances of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, the Journal selected numerous Hungarian marches and songs alongside Berlioz’s Marche hongroise. Drawing attention to the premiere of Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila in Weimar (1877), discussed on its first page, it offered the ‘Danse des prêtresses’ and a Jewish hymn, signalling both the exotic and the Biblical nature of the story. Le Journal de musique was also unique at the time in the balance between scores and ‘weekly news’. Covered were not only the major venues for art music, but also music competitions for professionals as well as for working-class orphéons.13 This suggests that the magazine’s subscribers came from a range of classes and backgrounds. Scores were also offered by journals oriented specifically to music professionals. For over a hundred years, the weekly Le Ménestrel (1833–1940), published after 1840 by Jacques-Léopold Heugel and his descendants and closely associated with their music publishing business, was the most important of these. From the beginning through 1940, Le Ménestrel offered only to its subscribers one or two scores per issue ‘of moderate difficulty’ and, in addition at the end of the year, musical albums as annual ‘gifts’  –  that is, deeply discounted or free compilations of scores. Its choices often reflected Heugel’s publishing interests  –  the composers it represented. To promote Delibes’s operas, Le Ménestrel published fifteen excerpts of Jean de Nivelle in spring 1880 and seven of Kassya in 1893. For Massenet, it chose five excerpts from Thaïs in 1894, four from Sapho in 1897, seven from Cendrillon in 1899 and six from Grisélidis in 1901, in addition to many of his songs every year. The range of music was very broad, with composers spanning the political spectrum from the conservative d’Indy to the socialist Charpentier. Nonetheless, Henri Heugel, editor from 1883 to 1916, had his prejudices. Despite Wagner’s rising popularity and unlike Le Journal de musique, Le Ménestrel published no excerpts from Wagner’s works during the last quarter of the century. That such scores allow us to track the nature and evolution of taste should be no surprise. Yet, a close study of them breaks down assumptions about French musical culture in fascinating ways. Although relatively absent in music histories of the period, works by female composers appear often in such journals, especially Le Ménestrel, suggesting that at least seven women had significant careers.14 And, for those who think that it was d’Indy and the Schola Cantorum that revived Rameau’s music after 1900, consider the inclusion of a minuet from 13 Orphéons were working-class male choruses, sometimes including male children. Beginning in 1833, they rapidly became popular throughout France and engaged in regular national competitions. 14 Le Ménestrel published scores by Mme Willy Rothschild (1875; two in 1876), Pauline Viardot (1881, 1885, three in 1887, four in 1888, two in 1889), Vicomtesse Vigier (1886), Gabriella Ferrari (1887), Marie Jaëll (1889), Augusta Holmès (two in

Idea of Art.indb 301

02/02/2016 15:13

302

Jann Pasler

Rameau’s Castor et Pollux in Le Journal de musique in 1878, taken from the 1877 publication of Charles Lecocq’s arrangement for voice and piano and coinciding with Théodore Lajarte’s reconstruction of the opera in 1878. Dijon, Rameau’s birthplace, at first attempting to organize a centennial festival, finally produced one in 1876. L’Illustration and other general-interest magazines reported on this festival, attracting considerable national attention. Le Mélomane published Rameau’s harpsichord piece ‘Le Tambourin’ that year and again in 1883.15 Before Rameau’s music became a regular part of Parisian concerts in the 1880s and 1890s,16 it was thus known by musical amateurs as well as professionals. Perhaps the popular reception of his music, as suggested in these magazines and concert halls, together with the availability of these scores, helped convince the music publisher Durand to commission a new edition of Rameau’s music in 1895. Comparison of the genres published in amateur and professional music journals, paradoxically, shows a good deal of overlap. Le Journal de musique included marches and waltzes, polkas and mazurkas, even if many were by composers of art music such as Schubert and Chopin.17 And Le Ménestrel published not just opera excerpts and art songs, but also urban popular song and other light fare. In 1870, it offered an album of music by a popular singersongwriter, the Chansons de Gustave Nadaud, among ‘gifts’ to its subscribers. In fact, Heugel had first issued these songs in 1861 and represented other popular composers as well. As publisher of the Viennese composer-conductor Philippe Fahrbach, Heugel, in Le Ménestrel, issued two or three of his polkas almost every year from 1875 to 1907, and of Léon Delafosse, a pianist-composer popular in aristocratic salons, five selections in 1896. Musical scores in Le Ménestrel thus reflected Heugel’s eclectic publishing activities, extending from establishment composers like Émile Paladilhe and Massenet, members of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, to Johann Strauss, Jean-Baptiste Arban and Nadaud. Conversely, music in magazines marketed to amateurs often included not just waltzes and polkas, but also the classics (Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn) and contemporary music that challenged performers and audiences with its difficulty. For example, excerpts from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust appeared in Le Petit Piano in 1878 and La Musique des familles in 1889. And, like professional music journals, Le Petit Piano commissioned and printed transcriptions of opera fragments to coincide with stage premieres, such as in 1895 Augusta Holmès’s La Montagne noire and Benjamin Godard’s La Vivandière, and in 1902 Leoncavallo’s 1892, one in 1893, three in 1894, one in 1895, two in 1897, one in 1900) and Cécile Chaminade (1898). 15 Later La Musique populaire (25 January 1890) featured the composer’s face on its cover. 16 See the list of Rameau performances in Parisian concerts before 1900 in Jann Pasler, ‘Deconstructing d’Indy’, in her Writing through Music: Essays on Music, Culture, and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 101–39, at p. 135. 17 In 1876–77, Le Journal de musique published seven marches, seven waltzes, five mazurkas, four polkas and the Serbian national hymn, alongside music by Wagner and Saint-Saëns.

Idea of Art.indb 302

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

303

Paillasse (Pagliacci). These gave pianists the opportunity to try to achieve at the piano the sounds and textures of operatic arias, choruses and dramatic symphonic music. That the music of some composers  –  in particular that of Gounod, Saint-Saëns and even Holmès  –  permeated the entire range of music magazines suggests that publishers did not consider differences between light and serious musical genres, popular and art music, necessarily correlated with differences in amateur and professional tastes and capacities. To be successful, publishers constantly questioned stereotypes, and to continually broaden their market, they focused on access and education. Marketing strategies were thus complex. Such conclusions are also supported by musical scores published in the non-musical press. For example, in 1872, L’Illustration (1843–1944), the most important weekly general-interest magazine in France,18 offered piano works by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Clementi as ‘gifts’ to subscribers at discounted prices. Its editor assumed that these would appeal to its readers, who might be able to play them or at least display them on their pianos as prestigious collectibles. That year L’Illustration also offered a page from Offenbach’s Le Roi carotte. Not surprisingly, after France’s political turmoil and defeat by Prussia, the consecrated masters were reassuring to the magazine’s readership, so too a comedic opéra-bouffe by Offenbach lampooning both monarchists and republicans. Although L’Illustration rarely published scores in its issues, its weekly literary supplement, begun in the 1890s, included them. By 1900, it had published over 3,000 scores, many, in the tradition of the journal, adorned with drawings or engravings. Family magazines too, such as La Famille and La Vie de famille, occasionally included musical scores within their issues or in separate compilations.19 Scores in such magazines, their supplements and their ‘gift’ albums for subscribers raise an important point about music as an object of leisure.20 They were mixed in with ‘recreational games’, as if a mental exercise, interspersed with engravings, as another form of beauty, and, most of all, surrounded not only by news reporting, but also by stories and poems, as if scores called on subscribers to ‘read’ music as they ‘read’ literature. Scores were thus another context for imaginative projections, dreaming, and the expression of French taste. By 1905, up to eight pages of music, much of it ‘new’ (that is, recently 18 With a circulation of almost 50,000 by 1899, from the beginning L’Illustration was also among the highest-quality illustrated magazines produced in France and the most popular among elites and the bourgeoisie. 19 Augusta Holmès’s scores were published in La Famille (27 December 1891) and La Vie de famille (13 September 1891). To coincide with the production of her La Montagne noire at the Opéra, L’Illustration (9 February 1895), like Le Petit Piano, published an excerpt. An example of a compilation offered to families is L’Album musical de la famille, advertised in La Famille in 1879. 20 ‘To amuse, to interest, and to instruct’ was the emblem of numerous family magazines. See Jann Pasler, ‘Material Culture and Postmodern Positivism: Rethinking the “Popular” in Late Nineteenth-Century French Music’, Writing through Music, pp. 417–49, at pp. 423–4.

Idea of Art.indb 303

02/02/2016 15:13

304

Jann Pasler

composed), appeared next to ten to fourteen pages of fiction in L’Illustration’s supplements. Already in 1876, the editor of Le Journal de musique had called on ‘musical reading, in its elementary form’ to be among the ‘required subjects taught in elementary school’.21 He considered this a crucial prerequisite for music to shape mœurs  –  the customs, behaviours and values defining French society. Increasingly, perhaps in part because singing and solfège were added to school curricula in the early 1880s, enough people did read music for scores to thrive in family magazines. Like the magazines’ news and fiction, scores could express contemporary preoccupations, reflect fashions of all kinds, or just serve as enjoyable distraction.

Musical Scores in Newspapers and their Supplements: Serving and Bridging Class Distinctions Even more than scores in magazines, those in newspapers reflected the rich complexity of musical life and contributed to the democratization of music. Capitalizing on their large consumer base, newspapers had the potential to reach beyond traditional concert-goers and provide scores at little or no cost to their readership. Six papers stand out not only for their commitment to including music in their publications, but also for the variety of genres and styles they chose, with some surprising intersections. Le Petit Journal (1863–1944), a mass-circulation daily costing 5 centimes through World War I, reached a million readers in the 1890s, over 5 million worldwide by 1900. Its Saturday illustrated literary supplement (1884–1920), also for 5 centimes, included fifty-three song texts in 1891, then fifty-three musical scores each year from 1892 through 1895, decreasing to twenty-five in 1896 and nine in 1898. (These scores distinguished the newspaper from its mass-circulation competitor, Le Petit Parisien, which had no musical scores.) All were monophonic songs, principally from Montmartre songwriters Loisa Puget, Aristide Bruant, Maurice MacNab, and especially the long-popular Nadaud, with thirty-four of his songs published between 1892 and 1896.22 Also included were many song lyrics by Léon Xanrof, invariably with the lyrics of multiple stanzas, particularly useful to those who knew the tunes but not all the words. While this type of music had its own principal publishers (such as A. Fouquet), in 1895 six popular songs, including one by Nadaud, indicated Heugel as publisher, otherwise known for its art music (especially by Massenet) and, secondarily, for its salon dances. Remarkable also, given the paper’s focus on Montmartre songwriters, is that the first score in Le Petit Journal, on 17 September 1892, was an unaccompanied barcarolle, ‘En ramant’, published by Fouquet, as were many Montmartre songs, but popularized by the opera singer Jules Alexandre Bosquin, known for his Wagner. Later came not just a song by the operetta composer Robert Planquette, 21 Le Journal de musique, 21 October 1876, p. 1. 22 Interestingly, Nadaud’s ‘Le Collier’, which appeared here without accompaniment in 1893, from the publisher A. Fouquet, is the same song that Le Ménestrel published in 1874.

Idea of Art.indb 304

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

305

but also unaccompanied songs by Godard and Augusta Holmès (otherwise published by Durand).23 Moreover, in January 1898, the newspaper included an unaccompanied duet from an André Messager operetta Les p’tites Michu (originally published by Choudens); another excerpt had appeared on 4 December 1897 in Le Figaro.24 So, while Le Petit Journal focused principally on popular songwriters whose music and lyrics generally spoke to and were associated with the tastes of the lower classes, some art-music composers and their publishers made inroads here. That the editors of both Le Petit Journal and Le Figaro assumed that their readership, despite coming from very different classes, would be interested in some of the same music suggests that the genre of song did not have fixed connotations and was perhaps apt to engage in the kind of cultural work republicans expected music to accomplish. That such inclusions were not one-off experiments, but extended from 1892 to 1898, suggests not only that they had some success with this wide readership but also that certain art-music composers were not averse to offering their songs unaccompanied. In this way, their music might reach the masses. Earlier, beginning at Christmas time 1885, Le Petit Journal had explored its subscribers’ interests in opera. As ‘gifts’ to its subscribers, it offered a low-cost collection of songs ‘by the most universally celebrated composers in fashion, in both serious and bouffe genres  –  Faust, Roméo et Juliette, Carmen, La Mascotte’, etc., and with piano accompaniment. Although worth 30 francs, it cost only 5.25 To explain this decision, the paper pointed out, ‘In our country, we adore a frank melody, frankness being synonymous with Frenchness.’ The paper also produced an album of piano works. The success of both albums was such that they were sold out in a week, suggesting that subscribers most likely knew this music and might have been able to sing the songs and accompany themselves at the piano. In 1886 and 1887, Le Petit Journal commissioned the eminent music publisher Choudens, who represented Gounod and many opera composers, to assemble another album, this time allowing subscribers to purchase multiple copies, presumably to offer to their friends or family. Then in 1890, the paper switched to Choudens’s primary competitor, Heugel, to compile albums of songs and of piano music, each at 5 francs. These collections bridged classical and contemporary, serious and popular, with a duo from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte appearing before a popular song by Nadaud, two years before Le Petit Journal began to publish his songs directly in the daily paper. In 1892, the newspaper returned to Choudens to make a ‘special edition’ of operas for subscribers, for piano solo, each with a beautiful blue and silver cover and at a 75% discount (5 francs), and in 1893, Choudens compiled an album of dances drawn from 23 Of note, Holmès published mostly with Heugel and Grus; this ‘popular song’, ‘La Princesse’, was first published by Durand in 1883. 24 From Les p’tites Michu, ‘Prière à Saint-Nicolas’ appeared in Le Petit Journal and a minuet in Le Figaro, the latter part of the fashion for dances anciennes discussed elsewhere in this essay. 25 Le Petit Journal, 8 November 1885. La Mascotte was an opéra-comique by Edmond Audran.

Idea of Art.indb 305

02/02/2016 15:13

306

Jann Pasler

operas and opéras-comiques in fashion (5 francs). Perhaps most unusual, to address a genre ‘so much in fashion right now’ that people wanted to perform in their family reunions and balls, in 1895 Le Petit Journal hired the celebrated ballerina Mme Laure Fonta from the Opéra to select and introduce a series of old dances to which were added illustrative drawings. The album, Les Danses de nos pères, cost 5 francs and included dances by not only Campra, Rameau, Lully, André Destouches and Louis Saint-Amans, but also Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Strauss, Edmond Audran and other contemporaries.26 Choudens continued to produce albums for Le Petit Journal: 200 songs from ‘the most well-known operas and opéra-comiques’ in 1900 and dance music from ‘the most modern and elegant salons’ in 1902. As these scores were meant to be performed, if only in ‘family reunions’, they provided access for subscribers who might never afford to hear the works on stage. In other words, newspapers could encourage both enjoyment through performance (singing, playing the piano, dancing) and the circulation of taste without their readers necessarily being able to experience the original works signalled therein. These albums thus challenge two major assumptions: that the lower classes were interested only in song, especially urban popular song, and that mass-circulation newspapers were oriented only to the lower classes. In addition to producing art music, opera, and dance albums, on the cover of its 13 August 1892 supplement, Le Petit Journal ran a feature on Mme Bréval in Ernest Reyer’s Salammbô recently premiered at the Paris Opéra. Perhaps Le Petit Journal used its literary supplement and its heavily discounted scores available only to subscribers as a marketing tool to attract more readers from the bourgeoisie. To the extent that musical taste transcended social and economic differences, it could contribute to the kind of fraternity needed for republican democracy to thrive. From 1883 to 1889, Le Journal du dimanche (1883–99)  –  sixteen pages, mostly stories, costing 10 centimes  –  also included scores. When the paper moved its offices from the left bank at Boulevard Saint-Michel to La République, near working-class/petit-bourgeois neighbourhoods, the paper turned to including monophonic songs, many by working-class songwriters, such as Pierre Dupont, perhaps in an attempt to attract subscribers in the area. Then in 1891, perhaps reflecting the newspaper’s move to the publishers’ district on the right bank, scores returned, but with the new status this location brought to the paper came a shift in the kind of music it published. Now, on average once per month, scores of art music appeared, and not just songs  –  a long piano ‘Menuet de la grande-mère’, excerpts signalling premieres of Massenet’s Le Mage and Widor’s Conte d’avril, the latter two quite complex, and a selection from Handel’s Israël en Egypte, recently performed at Trocadéro under the auspices of Countess Greffulhe’s Société des Grandes Auditions. The choice of such scores suggests that the paper hoped to expand its readership beyond the lower classes. However, apparently, this new marketing strategy failed, these scores perhaps being too difficult for most of its readers. Few scores followed; of the two exceptions, a two-page Cui song and the waltz from Laurent Grillet’s pantomime Le Roi Dagobert, the latter 26 ‘La Prime du “Supplément”’, Le Petit Journal, 15 December 1895.

Idea of Art.indb 306

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

307

seemingly reprinted the same exact score that had appeared in Le Figaro two months earlier and, acknowledging no publisher, evidently without permission. Perhaps, assuming there was little subscriber overlap, no one noticed. In any case, scores subsequently disappeared from the paper. Still, using its cover images for news, Le Journal du dimanche featured Nadaud when he died (1893) and Massenet on the occasion of Cendrillon’s premiere (1899). If the editor was assuming interest in such musicians among his petit-bourgeois readership, it was not enough to merit a return to the inclusion of scores, perhaps because the paper had no music critic to turn to for advice. More important than Le Journal du dimanche as a ‘literary and political journal’, L’Echo de Paris (1884–1938) was known for its lively and sometimes scandalous writing addressed to the bourgeoisie. In 1891, it began producing a four-page Sunday literary supplement, adding 5 centimes to the 10 centimes cost of the newspaper and including musical scores. Focused specifically on things Parisian, on page 3 it published multi-versed monophonic songs concerning life in Paris. Most were from Montmartre and ranged from Xanrof ’s Chansons modernes to Bruant’s songs. These songs were by the same musicians whose pieces appeared in Le Petit Journal, but in L’Echo de Paris, charming illustrations, inspired by the lyrics, surrounded the music.27 Simultaneously, throughout 1891, on page 4 the paper also published piano or piano-vocal scores by eminent composers of art music, especially those with links to its theatre critic, the Jewish writer Catulle Mendès. For Emmanuel Chabrier, whose music L’Echo de Paris featured twice, Mendès had written the libretto of Gwendoline; with Augusta Holmès, here represented by two songs, Mendès had fathered five children while unmarried; Gabriel Pierné had written an Entre-acte for Mendès’s pantomime, here published; and Alfred Bruneau had set to music Mendès’s libretto for Penthésilée. When Bruneau’s Le Rêve was produced at the Opéra-Comique in June 1891, L’Echo de Paris published on its cover an excerpt from the autograph score as well as an unpublished fragment on its last page. Of prime importance for Mendès was Wagner, on whom he wrote extensively in L’Echo de Paris. Most likely Mendès chose the selections from French translations of Der fliegende Holländer and Parsifal, the latter taking up its entire last page, albeit without acknowledging any publisher. This coverage of Wagner climaxed in September 1891 during the political controversy over the staging of Lohengrin at the Paris Opéra. Besides Mendès’s two cover articles explaining Wagner’s theories and music, the paper secured permission from Durand to publish two fragments from Lohengrin. The eclectic juxtaposition of Montmartre songs (on p. 3) with art music by Wagner or Wagnerians (on p. 4) suggests that the paper’s readers were assumed to be open-minded, capable of seeing value in both popular and serious genres. Was the paper sued for breaching copyright on Parsifal? It is not clear. Only three more scores followed that autumn, then an excerpt from Reyer’s Salammbô in February 1892. The supplement was discontinued in 1893.28 27 The designs accompanying the scores on the page were unique to this newspaper. 28 Mendès later left to become theatre critic for Le Journal (1894–1909).

Idea of Art.indb 307

02/02/2016 15:13

308

Jann Pasler

The respected Annales politiques et littéraires (1883–1939) published more scores than L’Echo de Paris, and over several years. A respected sixteen-page weekly, the paper had a list of contributors that included Camille Flammarion, Jean Richepin, Émile Zola and Jules Clarétie. Beginning in 1886, an eclectic mix of scores appeared in its richly illustrated supplement (costing 25 centimes, including the paper), probably chosen by its music critic, Delibes’s student Albert Dayrolles. In 1887, these included Western European, Polish, Russian and Peruvian ‘national songs’. In 1898, they extended from a Nadaud song (again ‘Le Collier’), Paul Lacome’s ‘Khacidah, rêverie arabe’ and a Mendelssohn song to a piano piece by Florent Schmitt (still a Conservatoire student). Next came works by Guillaume Costeley, Rameau, Gounod, Reyer, Saint-Saëns and Paul Vidal, as well as Théodore Botrel’s songs and Rodolphe Berger’s cake-walk. A selection from Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande appeared less than two weeks after its premiere in 1902 and one from d’Indy’s Fervaal during its first Opéra production in 1913. Unlike other publications, Annales continued to offer musical scores during World War I, and more irregularly until 1927, always including young and popular composers along with established masters. Readers of Le Gaulois (1868–1929), a monarchist paper popular among the aristocracy (albeit costing only 15 centimes), did not need newspaper versions of scores to get their news or their music. Many attended the Opéra and could purchase complete works if they so wished. Consequently, the paper only rarely included any scores. Exceptionally, in 1893, it published autograph scores of excerpts from operas by Gounod and Paladilhe  –  visually interesting but useless for performance. The paper included no music in its Sunday supplement, begun in 1880. However, Le Gaulois did make available to its subscribers, at reasonable prices, large albums of music, intended for salon performance. This started in 1882 when Le Gaulois arranged with Paris-Piano to produce a volume of previously ‘unpublished works’ called Les Célébrités du piano, worth 200 francs but costing Le Gaulois’s subscribers only 10 francs. At Christmas 1883, along with ‘toys, books, arms, and a camera’, Le Gaulois offered another Grand album and, also for a modest fee, complete scores of Bizet’s Carmen, to be revived at the Opéra-Comique that April, and of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (1881) and Louis Varney’s Fanfan la tulipe (1882). Its 1885 Album-prime, À nos abonnés [For our Subscribers], had sixty-three pieces specially composed for the album, with thick paper and a ‘magnificent binding’, its 235 pages of music costing 13.5 francs. The collection was extremely diverse with music by not only the major French composers, but also foreigners (Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Sarasate and Grieg), the wealthy (Isaac de Camondo and the Marquis d’Ivry), and women composers (Clara Schumann, the Vicomtesse de Grandval, Mme Mélanie Tarbé des Sablons, Marie Jaëll, Holmès, Cécile Chaminade and the Baroness Willy de Rothschild). These last three categories assured a certain distinction for the volume and perhaps addressed the musical interests of Le Gaulois’s subscribers. Especially important were the biographies of the women and lesser-known composers, about whom so little was written at the time. Since the paper’s upperclass readers could afford these scores separately, if they so desired, the volume’s appeal probably came from the intelligent and luxurious manner in which it was produced.

Idea of Art.indb 308

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

309

On 1 January 1888, Le Gaulois’s Album focused on dance, featuring forty compositions with short biographies, and adding portraits and autograph scores by each composer. In this collection (321 pages for 15 francs), composers ranged from music members of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and the little-known Cuban Gaspar Villate to those specializing in popular genres. The Album featured thirteen danses anciennes, twelve danses sociales, ten danses populaires and four danses exotiques. The danses anciennes, such as Fauré’s Pavane, commissioned that year by the Comtesse Greffulhe, had strong socio-political overtones, perhaps motivating the newspaper’s focus in this Album. On 27 August 1887, the comte de Paris had published a manifesto demanding a vote on whether the people yearned for monarchy, anticipating a monarchist restoration.29 Other dances also had political implications. Over half of the danses sociales were by foreigners, as dance was a medium for contemplating national distinctions. Even those by French composers addressed national identity, such as Fahrbach’s polka ‘Le Coq gaulois’ and Arban’s polka-mazurka ‘France et Russie’. The folk dances represented a past that composers and listeners, regardless of their political agendas, could use to nourish an appreciation for the simple and the naïve, seen as crucial aspects of the French temperament. The danses exotiques introduced musical innovations, such as the octatonic scale in Polignac’s ‘La Danse du serpent’, foreshadowing later use by Stravinsky. All of the dances are relatively easy to perform. Le Gaulois continued such albums for two more years, thus playing into the elite’s desire to collect commodities that satisfied their curiosity and mirrored their own sense of distinction and cosmopolitanism. These albums also suggest that aristocrats were just as sensitive to discounted prices as the lesser privileged and to purchasing what they might want but not need. The most extensive and systematic publication of such scores came in the Parisian daily, Le Figaro (1826–the present), also costing 15 centimes throughout the Belle Époque.30 In 1905, John Fred Jones considered the paper the ‘favorite organ’ of the ‘better classes both in France and abroad’, its publicity ‘the most productive and the most sought after in all branches of elegance, art, and industry’. 31 Although self-described as ‘literary and not political’, it tended to support the regime in power, whether the Catholic monarchy during the Second Empire, under Hippolyte de Villemessant (1854–79), or the Republic, under François Magnard (1875–79 as co-editor, 1879–94 as editor), and Fernand de Rodays and Antonin Perivier (1894–1901). After 1902, its subscriber numbers

29 For a discussion of the ‘dance craze’ that coincided with the hope for a monarchist restoration at the end of the 1880s, see Jann Pasler, Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), chapters 9 and 11. 30 The four-page paper cost 15 centimes six days a week, but 20 centimes for a ‘double issue’ of eight pages on Wednesdays, the days with musical scores. Beginning in the late 1890s, the paper moved to six pages each day, for 15 centimes, including Saturdays with the publication of musical scores, but at no additional cost. 31 Jones, ‘Advertising in France’, p. 661.

Idea of Art.indb 309

02/02/2016 15:13

310

Jann Pasler

plunged from 80,000 to 20,000 for having supported Dreyfus,32 and the conservative Gaston Calmette was hired to win them back. Erratically in the 1860s and 1870s, but then continuously every week from 1879 to 1905, Le Figaro published one composition every Wednesday, shifting to every Saturday after Magnard died and to the Sunday literary supplement from December 1905 through 1923. From art and cabaret songs to piano-vocal transcriptions of opera, operetta and vaudeville to marches, pantomimes and beyond, these scores tell us much about the market for music among the bourgeoisie and raise interesting questions about the interactions between musical productivity, fashion and commerce. That they were printed on flimsy newsprint presumably did not dissuade readers from playing them at the piano, encouraged by their placement on the last page and by the increasing number of performance instructions given. What scores in newspapers lacked because of the short lifespan of newsprint, they made up in the choices they offered their regular subscribers and their participation in the circulation of taste. None was more important than Le Figaro in its use of scores to compose a precise, detailed portrait of French musical taste and embody its flux and fashions over time.

Republicanism at Le Figaro: Access, Egalitarianism, Diversity and Eclecticism In the late 1860s and the early 1870s, musical scores appeared in Le Figaro only occasionally and on any day of the week. The consistent ‘look’ of these musical scores not only suggests that the newspaper typeset the music, which also seems to have been the case at other papers, it also renders the scores easily comparable over decades. Most were excerpts from theatrical works currently on stage, from Hervé and Offenbach to Gounod and Delibes. Remarkable was the ‘Marche du sacre’ from Gounod’s incidental music for Jules Barbier’s Jeanne d’Arc in 1873, a dramatic score that, unusual in Le Figaro, took up the entire back page on 18 November 1873 with four pages of music in small print. By choosing the march, here transcribed for piano, rather than one of the work’s tuneful songs about the need for revenge against the invader, the editor savvily sidestepped heated sentiment against Prussia after the French defeat as well as the conflict over French identity that had erupted at performances. In 1878 and early 1879, as the paper grew to eight pages on Wednesdays, scores appeared on average twice a month, and the editor prioritized operetta, without ignoring oratorio (for example, Massenet’s Marie-Magdaleine). In addition, occasionally the paper made arrangements with publishers to offer its subscribers complete piano-vocal scores at a discount, such as Aïda in 1878.33

32 Many have written on the Dreyfus Affair that divided France. See Pierre Miquel, L’Affaire Dreyfus (Paris: PUF, 1959). 33 A note offering this discount was printed at the bottom of the ‘Prayer’ from Aïda in Le Figaro, 21 August 1878.

Idea of Art.indb 310

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

311

On 30 January 1879, just after the Senate elections resulted in a republican majority, President Mac-Mahon resigned and republicans came fully into power. As those both in and outside government looked to music and concert life to contribute to the realization of republican ideals, republican values of tolerance, egalitarianism, diversity and eclecticism, and broad access to the country’s resources permeated the choice of music published in Le Figaro, and continued to do so for the next four decades. In February 1879, scores pointed to premieres in Monte Carlo and Lyons, reflecting republican interest in cultural decentralization. One of these, Saint-Saëns’s Etienne Marcel, the story of a hero leading a rebellion, anticipated the French republican minister Jules Ferry’s call for works based on French history and heroes: by choosing the opera’s ‘Pavane’, Le Figaro drew attention to this past. On 9 April, the paper published a selection from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, a work known for its difficulty and by a composer whom republicans idolized for his personal and musical struggles – offered in an accessible four-hand transcription. In December, the paper featured ‘Vive la chanson’ by the most popular female cabaret singer of the time, Mme Thérésa, opening Le Figaro to a genre rejected by many elites and politicians, yet embraced by much of the population. Examining the range of musical genres published in Le Figaro and how these evolved over time clarifies even further the diversity and eclecticism in the musical world the paper sought to reflect and the broad interests it assumed or wished to stimulate in its readers. In 1881, for example, it published sixteen works for piano, ranging from a virtuoso Hungarian melody by Liszt, popularized in France by the celebrated Francis Planté, to accessible marches, military pieces and popular dances (polkas, waltzes, galops). In 1890, keyboard works decreased to ten, but included a pavane and a Mass movement for organ. Vocal works dominated in 1881, with thirty for voice with piano accompaniment and one for solo and chorus, in an extraordinarily large number of genres: ten songs, excerpts from four opéras-comiques, three operas, two operettas, two opéras-bouffes, two oratorios, two plays, a féerie, an Arabian tale, an eighteenth-century romance in facsimile and two selections from a new early-music edition (Lully, Destouches). In 1882, theatrical selections grew to seven opéras-comiques and seven operas, and in 1890, to ten operas, but only five opéras-comiques. Concurrently, new genres appeared: four drames, one drame lyrique and a work for puppet theatre. In 1891, Borodin’s Prince Igor and Wagner’s Lohengrin were the only operas selected, but there were three drames lyriques, three pantomimes, an oratorio, a féerie and a mystère, in addition to four religious works / movements from the Mass. This flux of genres, their diversity and their stylistic variety became a hallmark of Le Figaro’s scores, making their discovery each week suspenseful and exciting.

Idea of Art.indb 311

02/02/2016 15:13

312

Jann Pasler

Musical Scores as News, Intellectual Currents and French Identity Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the sophistication and depth of Le Figaro’s news reporting, some scores served to direct attention to current events. Soon after Tunisia became a French protectorate in May 1881, the newspaper published a ‘Moorish song from Tunis based on the Irak scale’, its words imitating the Arabic. To mark the various stages of the Franco-Russian alliance, in 1888 it published the Russian national hymn34 that Parisians could have heard in Skobeleff, GustaveXavier Wittmann’s pantomime, at the Hippodrome, and in 1891 an opera excerpt from Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar and in 1893 one from Cui’s Le Flibustier, both at the Opéra-Comique. At the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Le Figaro published the hymn that children had sung upon the Mikado’s return to Tokyo after signing the peace treaty, as well as traditional music in a ‘Franco-Japanese collaboration’, its accompaniment written by a Paris Conservatoire professor. In 1897, the newspaper turned to songs associated with insurrections in Cuba and Crete. Like images of musical instruments in the French press,35 scores too  –  songs from Hawaii (1881), Egypt (1885), Russia (1886), Norway (1890), Armenia (1904, 1908), Portugal (1905), Turkey (1909) and Bulgaria (1912), some of them national anthems, as well as music by Paderewski (1896), Dvořák (1902) and Emil Sjögren (1908)  –  were meant to shed light on and shape perceptions of foreign peoples. Scores also pointed to news in the musical world: the erection of a Berlioz statue (1886), foreign performers or works in Paris (such as Verdi’s Falstaff in 1894), winners of composition prizes and Le Figaro’s music competitions, and especially recent publications, including French editions of music from abroad. Each year, scores also marked religious holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. And there were curiosities found nowhere else: two compositions by the conductor Pasdeloup (1885, 1887), a Berceuse by a nine-year-old (1887) and a Halévy autograph manuscript (La Tombola, 1886). What makes Le Figaro’s scores of particular interest are the intellectual fashions to which they pointed, what they suggested about French identity, and how they shared the circulation of taste with other print media. Particularly revealing was the widespread fascination with early music, not just theatrical or keyboard works by Rameau and Lully, but also liturgical music. After the Catholic revival following the Pope’s acceptance of the French Republic in 1891, Le Figaro featured Bach’s B Minor Mass, recently performed in Paris by the Société des Concerts, and motets / Mass movements by Palestrina, Victoria and Lassus, heard at the Église de Saint-Gervais. Still more significant was the ‘dance craze’ that exploded in 1886 (mentioned above). Soon after 1887, when L’Illustration drew attention to this with a minuet and an engraving of dancers in period costumes, and before the dance albums of Le Gaulois and Le Petit 34 Le Petit Journal included the Russian hymn in its 1897 Album for subscribers. 35 Jann Pasler, ‘The Utility of Musical Instruments in the Racial and Colonial Agendas of Late Nineteenth-Century France’, JRMA 129 (2004), 24–76.

Idea of Art.indb 312

02/02/2016 15:13

Musical Scores in French Magazines and Newspapers

313

Journal, Le Figaro published Godard’s minuet from his Suite des danses anciennes et modernes (1887), plus three more minuets in 1888.36 Certain choices suggest that print media were also responding to one another. After Le Figaro published Gaston Lemaire’s ‘sung-and-danced minuet’, ‘A Trianon’, with choreographic instructions for a marquis and marquise, in 1894, and then Holmès’s ‘A Trianon’, also about a marquise, in 1896, L’Illustration published Lemaire’s ‘pantomimemelody’, ‘En dansant la gavotte’, in 1897. This was accompanied by not only dance instructions, but also engravings of a dancing marquis and marquise (a.k.a. the Opéra dancer, Cléo de Mérode) in period costume.37 In 1896, Le Petit Piano too offered a ‘Menuet de la petite marquise’, this one by socialist composer Bruneau. Such choices document how interest in such dances had spread beyond the aristoc