As far as a musician of such unique and colossal genius as Beethoven could be influenced by preceding or contemporary artists, his style as a piano-forte player and composer was more modified by Clementi than by any other. He was wont to say that no one could play till he knew Clementi by heart. He adopted many of the peculiar figures and combinations original with Clementi, though his musical mentality, incomparably richer and greater than that of the other, transfigured them into a new life. That Beethoven found novel means of expression to satisfy the importunate demands of his musical conceptions; that his piano works display a greater polyphony, stronger contrasts, bolder and richer rhythm, broader design and execution, by no means impair the value of his obligations to Clementi, obligations which the most arrogant and self-centered of men freely allowed. Beethoven's fancy was penetrated by all the qualities of tone which distinguish the string, reed, and brass instruments; his imagination shot through and through with orchestral color; and he succeeded in saturating his sonatas with these rich effects without sacrificing the specialty of the piano-forte. But in general style and technique he is distinctly a follower of Clementi. The most unique and splendid personality in music has thus been singled out as furnishing a vivid illustration of the influence exerted by Clementi in the department of the piano-forte.
Clementi lived to the age of eighty, and spent the last twelve years of his life in London uninterruptedly, his growing feebleness preventing him from taking his usual musical trips to the Continent. He retained his characteristic energy and freshness of mind to the last, and was held in the highest honor by the great circle of artists who had centered in London, for he was the musical patriarch in England, as Cherubini was in France at a little later date. He was married three times, had children in his old age, and only a few months before his death, Moscheles records in his diary, he was able to arouse the greatest enthusiasm by the vigor and brilliancy of his playing, in spite of his enfeebled physical powers. He died March 9, 1832, at Eversham, and his funeral gathered a great convocation of musical celebrities. His life covered an immense arch in the history of music.
At his birth Handel was alive; at his death Beethoven, Schubert, and Weber had found refuge in the grave from the ingratitude of a contemporary public. He began his career by practicing Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas; he lived to be acquainted with the finest piano-forte works of all time. When he first used the piano, he practiced on the imperfect and feeble Silbermann instrument. When he died, the magnificent instruments of Erard, Broadwood, and Collard, to the latter of which his own mechanical and musical knowledge had contributed much, were in common vogue. Such was the career of Muzio Clementi, the father of piano-forte virtuosos. Had he lived later, he might have been far eclipsed by the great players who have since adorned the art of music. As Goethe says, through the mouthpiece of Wil-helm. Meister: "The narrowest man may be complete while he moves within the bounds of his own capacity and acquirements, but even fine qualities become clouded and destroyed if this indispensable proportion is exceeded. This unwholesome excess, however, will begin to appear frequently, for who can suffice to the swift progress and increasing requirements of the ever-soaring present time?" But, measured by his own day and age, Clementi deserves the pedestal on which musical criticism has placed him.
Clementi and Mozart as Points of Departure in Piano-forte Playing.—Moscheles the most Brilliant Climax reached by the Viennese School.—His Child-Life at Prague.—Extraordinary Precocity.—Goes to Vienna as the Pupil of Salieri and Albrechts-burger.—Acquaintance with Beethoven.—Moscheles is honored with a Commission to make a Piano Transcription of Beethoven's "Fidelio."—His Intercourse with the Great Man.—Concert Tour.—Arrival in Paris.—The Artistic Circle into which he is received.—Pictures of Art-Life in Paris.—London and its Musical Celebrities.—Career as a Wandering Virtuoso.—Felix Mendelssohn becomes his Pupil.—The Mendelssohn Family.—Moscheles's Marriage to a Hamburg Lady.—Settles in London.—His Life as Teacher, Player, and Composer.—Eminent Place taken by Moscheles among the Musicians of his Age.—His Efforts soothe the Sufferings of Beethoven's Deathbed.—Friendship for Mendelssohn.—Moscheles becomes connected with the Leipzig Conservatorium.—Death in 1870.—Moscheles as Pianist and Composer.—Sympathy with the Old as against the New School of the Piano.—His Powerful Influence on the Musical Culture and Tendencies of his Age.
The rivalry of Clementi and Mozart as exponents of piano-forte playing in their day was continued in their schools of performance. The original cause of this difference was largely based on the character of the instruments on which they played. Clementi used the English piano-forte, and Mozart the Viennese, and the style of execution was no less the outcome of the mechanical difference between the two vehicles of expression than the result of personal idiosyncrasies. The English instrument was speedily developed into the production of a richer, fuller, and more sonorous tone, while the Viennese piano-forte continued for a long time to be distinguished by its light, thin, sweet quality of sound, and an action so sensitive that the slightest pressure produced a sound from the key, so that the term "breathing on the keys" became a current expression, Clementi's piano favored a bold, masculine, brilliant style of playing, while the Viennese piano led to a rapid, fluent, delicate treatment. The former player founded the school which has culminated, through a series of great players, in the magnificent virtuosoism of Franz Liszt, while the Vienna school has no nearer representative than Tgnaz Moscheles, one of the greatest players in the history of the pianoforte, who, whether judged by his gifts as a concert performer, a composer for the instrument which he so brilliantly adorned, or from his social and intellectual prominence, must be set apart as peculiarly a representative man. There were other eminent players, such as Hummel, Czerny, and Herz, contemporary with Moscheles and belonging to the same genre as a pianist, but these names do not stand forth with the same clear and permanent luster in their relation to the musical art.
Ignaz Moscheles was born at Prague, May 30, 1794, his parents being well-to-do people of Hebrew stock. His father, a cloth merchant, was passionately fond of music, and was accustomed to say, "One of my children must become a thoroughbred musician." Ignaz was soon selected as the one on whom the experiment should be made, and the rapid progress he made justified the accident of choice, for all of the family possessed some musical talent. The boy progressed too fast, for he attempted at the age of seven to play Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique." He was traveling on the wrong road, attempting what he could in no way attain, when his father took him to Dionys Weber, one of the best teachers of the time. "I come," said the parent, "to you as our first musician, for sincere truth instead of empty flattery. I want to find out from you if my boy has such genuine talent that you can make a really good musician of him." "Naturally, I was called on to play," says Moscheles, in his "Autobiography," "and I was bungler enough to do it with some conceit. My mother having decked me out in my Sunday best, I played my best piece, Beethoven's 'Sonata Pathetique.' But what was my astonishment on finding that I was neither interrupted by bravos nor overwhelmed by praise! and what were my feelings when Dionys Weber finally delivered himself thus:
"'Candidly speaking, the boy has talent, but is on the wrong road, for he makes bosh of great works which he does not understand, and to which he is utterly unequal. I could make something of him if you could hand him over to me for three years, and follow out my plan to the letter. The first year he must play nothing but Mozart, the second Clementi, and the third Bach; but only that: not a note as yet of Beethoven; and if he persists in using the circulating libraries, I have done with him for ever.'"
This scheme was followed out strictly, and Moscheles at the age of fourteen had acquired a sufficient mastery of the piano to give a concert at Prague with brilliant success. The young musician continued to pursue his studies assiduously under Weber's direction until his father's death, and his mother then determined to yield to his oft-repeated wish to try his musical fortunes in a larger field, and win his own way in life. So young Ignaz, little more than a child, went to Vienna, where he was warmly received in the hospitable musical circles of that capital. He took lessons in counterpoint from Albrechts-burger, and in composition from Salieri, and in all ways indicated that serene, tireless industry which marked his whole after-career. Moscheles spent eight years at Vienna, continually growing in estimation as artist and beginning to make his mark as a composer. His own reminiscences of the brilliant and gifted men who clustered in Vienna are very pleasant, but it is to Beethoven that his admiration specially went forth. The great master liked his young disciple much, and proposed to him that he should set the numbers of "Fidelio" for the piano, a task which, it is needless to say, was gladly accepted. Moscheles tells us one morning, when he went to see Beethoven, he found him lying in bed. "He happened to be in remarkably good spirits, jumped up immediately, and placed himself, just as he was, at the window looking out on the Schotten-bastei, with the view of examining the 'Fidelio' numbers which I had arranged. Naturally, a crowd of street-boys collected under the window, when he roared out, 'Now, what do these confounded boys want?' I laughed and pointed to his own figure. 'Yes, yes! You are quite right,' he said, and hastily put on a dressing-gown."
Moscheles's associations were even at this early period with all the foremost people of the age, and he was cordially welcome in every circle. He composed a good deal, besides giving concerts and playing in private select circles, and was recognized as being the equal of Hummel, who had hitherto been accepted as the great piano virtuoso of Vienna. The two were very good friends in spite of their rivalry. They, as well as all the Viennese musicians, were bound together by a common tie, very well expressed in the saying of Moscheles: "We musicians, whatever we be, are mere satellites of the great Beethoven, the dazzling luminary."
In the autumn of 1816 Moscheles bade a sorrowful adieu to the imperial city, where he had spent so many happy years, to undertake an extended concert tour, armed with letters of introduction to all the courts of Europe from Prince Lichtenstein, Countess Hardigg, and other influential admirers. He proceeded directly to Leipzig, where he was warmly received by the musical fraternity of that city, especially by the Wiecks, of whose daughter Clara he speaks in highly eulogistic words. He played his own compositions, which already began to show that serene and finished beauty so characteristic of his after-writings. A similar success greeted him at Dresden, where, among other concerts, he gave one before the court. Of this entertainment Moscheles writes: "The court actually dined (this barbarous custom still prevails), and the royal household listened in the galleries, while I and the court band made music to them, and barbarous it really was; but, in regard to truth, I must add that royalty and also the lackeys kept as quiet as possible, and the former congratulated me, and actually condescended to admit me to friendly conversation." He continued his concerts in Munich, Augsburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, and other cities, creating the most genuine admiration wherever he went, and finally reached Paris in December, 1817.
Here our young artist was promptly received in the extraordinary world of musicians, artists, authors, wits, and social celebrities which then, as now, made Paris so delightful for those possessing the countersign of admission. Baillot, the violinist, gave a private concert in his honor, in which he in company with Spohr played before an audience made up of such artists and celebrities as Cherubini, Auber, Herold, Adam, Lesueur, Pacini, Paer, Habeneck, Plantade, Blangini, La-font, Pleyel, Ivan Muller, Viotti, Pellegrini, Boieldieu, Schlesinger, Manuel Garcia, and others. These areopagites of music set the mighty seal of their approval on Moscheles's genius. He was invited everywhere, to dinners, balls, and fetes, and there was no salon in Paris so high and exclusive which did not feel itself honored by his presence. His public concerts were thronged with the best and most critical audiences, and he by no means shone the less that he appeared in conjunction with other distinguished artists. He often entertained parties of jovial artists at his lodgings, and music, punch, and supper enlivened the night till 3 A.M. Whoever could play or sing was present, and good music alternated with amusing tricks played on the respective instruments. "Altogether," he writes, "it is a happy, merry time! Certainly, at the last state dinner of the Rothschilds, in the presence of such notabilities as Canning or Narischkin, I was obliged to keep rather in the background. The invitation to a large, brilliant, but ceremonious ball appears a very questionable way of showing me attention. The drive up, the endless queue of carriages, wearied me, and at last I got out and walked. There, too, I found little pleasure." On the other hand, he praises the performance of Gluck's opera at the house of the Erards. The "concerts spirituels" delight him. "Who would not," he says, "envy me this enjoyment? These concerts justly enjoy a world-wide celebrity. There I listen with the most solemn earnestness." On the other hand, there are cheerful episodes, and jovial dinners with Carl Blum and Schlesinger, at the Restaurant Lemelle. "Yesterday," he writes, "Schlesinger quizzed me about my slowness in eating, and went so far as to make the stupid bet with me, that he would demolish three dozen oysters while I ate one dozen, and he was quite right. On perceiving, however, that he was on the point of winning, I took to making faces, made him laugh so heartily that he couldn't go on eating; thus I won my bet." We find the following notice on the 20th of March: "I spent the evening at Ciceri's, son-in-law of Isabey, the famous painter, where I was introduced to one of the most interesting circles of artists. In the first room were assembled the most famous painters, engaged in drawing several things for their own amusement. In the midst of these was Cherubini, also drawing. I had the honor, like every one newly introduced, of having my portrait taken in caricature. Begasse took me in hand, and succeeded well. In an adjoining room were musicians and actors, among them Ponchard, Le-vasseur, Dugazon, Panseron, Mlle, de Munck, and Mme. Livere, of the Theatre Francais. The most interesting of their performances, which I attended merely as a listener, was a vocal quartet by Cherubini, performed under his direction. Later in the evening, the whole party armed itself with larger or smaller 'mirlitons' (reed-pipe whistles), and on these small monotonous instruments, sometimes made of sugar, they played, after the fashion of Russian horn music, the overture to 'Demophon,' two frying-pans representing the drums." On the 27th of March this "mirliton" concert was repeated at Ciceri's, and on this occasion Cherubini took an active part. Moscheles relates: "Horace Vernet entertained us with his ventriloquizing powers, M. Salmon with his imitation of a horn, and Dugazon actually with a 'mirliton' solo. Lafont and I represented the classical music, which, after all, held, its own." It was hard to tear himself from these gayeties; but he had not visited London, and he was anxious to make himself known at a musical capital inferior to none in Europe. He little thought that in London he was destined to find his second home. He plunged into the gayeties and enjoyments of the English capital with no less zest than he had already experienced in Paris. He found such great players as J. B. Cramer, Ferdinand Ries, Kalkbrenner, and Clementi in the field; but our young artist did not altogether lose by comparison. Among other distinguished musicians, Moscheles also met Kiesewetter, the violinist, the great singers Mara and Catalani, and Dragonetti, the greatest of double-bass players. Dragonetti was a most eccentric man, and of him Moscheles says: "In his salon in Liecester Square he has collected a large number of various kinds of dolls, among them a negress. When visitors are announced, he politely receives them, and says that this or that young lady will make room for them; he also asks his intimate acquaintances whether his favorite dolls look better or worse since their last visit, and similar absurdities. He is a terrible snuff-taker, helping himself out of a gigantic snuff-box, and he has an immense and varied collection of snuff-boxes. The most curious part of him is his language, a regular jargon, in which there is a mixture of his native Bergamese, bad French, and still worse English."
During the several months of this first English visit Moscheles made many acquaintances which were destined to ripen into solid friendships, and gave many concerts in which the most distinguished artists, vocal and instrumental, participated. Altogether, he appears to have been delighted with the London art and social world little less than he had been with that of Paris. He returned, however, to the latter city in August, and again became a prominent figure in the most fashionable and admired concerts. During this visit to Paris he writes in his diary: "Young Erard took me to-day to his piano-forte factory to try the new invention of his uncle Sebastian. This quicker action of the hammer seems to me so important that I prophesy a new era in the manufacture of piano-fortes. I still complain of some heaviness in the touch, and, therefore, prefer to play on Pape's and Petzold's instruments (Viennese pianos). I admired the Erards, but am not thoroughly satisfied, and urged him to make new improvements."
From 1815, when Moscheles began his career as a virtuoso in the production of his "Variationen fiber den Alexandermarsch," to 1826, he established a great reputation as a virtuoso and composer for the piano-forte. Though he played his own works at concerts with marked approbation, he also became distinguished as an interpreter of Mozart and Beethoven, for whom he had a reverential admiration. Moscheles often records his own sense of insignificance by the side of these Titans of music. A delightful characteristic of the man was his modesty about himself, and his genial appreciation of other musicians. Nowhere do those performers who, for example, came in active rivalry with himself, receive more cordial and unalloyed praise. Moscheles was entirely devoid of that littleness which finds vent in envy and jealousy, and was as frank and sympathetic in his estimate of others as he was ambitious and industrious in the development of his own great talents. In 1824 he gave piano-forte lessons to Felix Mendelssohn, then a youth of fifteen, at Berlin. He wrote of the Mendelssohn family: "This is a family the like of which I have never known. Felix, a boy of fifteen, is a phenomenon. What are all prodigies as compared with him? Gifted children, but nothing else. This Felix Mendelssohn is already a mature artist, and yet but fifteen years old! We at once settled down together for several hours, for I was obliged to play a great deal, when really I wanted to hear him and see his compositions, for Felix had to show me a concerto in C minor, a double concerto, and several motets; and all so full of genius, and at the same time so correct and thorough! His elder sister Fanny, also extraordinarily gifted, played by heart, and with admirable precision, fugues and passacailles by Bach. I think one may well call her a thorough 'Mus. Doc' (guter Musiker). Both parents give one the impression of being people of the highest refinement. They are far from overrating their children's talents; in fact, they are anxious about Felix's future, and to know whether his gift will prove sufficient to lead to a noble and truly great career. Will he not, like so many other brilliant children, suddenly collapse? I asserted my conscientious conviction that Felix would ultimately become a great master, that I had not the slightest doubt of his genius; but again and again I had to insist on my opinion before they believed me. These two are not specimens of the genus prodigy-parents (Wunderkinds Eltern), such as I most frequently endure." Moscheles soon came to the conclusion that to give Felix regular lessons was useless. Only a little hint from time to time was necessary for the marvelous youth, who had already begun to compose works which excited Moscheles's deepest admiration.
In January, 1825, Moscheles, in the course of his musical wanderings, gave several concerts at Hamburg. Among the crowd of listeners who came to hear the great pianist was Charlotte Embden, the daughter of an excellent Hamburg family. She was enchanted by the playing of Moscheles, and, when she accidentally made the acquaintance of the performer at the house of a mutual acquaintance, the couple quickly became enamored of each other. A brief engagement of less than a month was followed by marriage, and so Moscheles entered into a relation singularly felicitous in all the elements which make domestic life most blessed. After a brief tour in the Rhenish cities, and a visit to Paris, Moscheles proceeded to London, where he had determined to make his home, for in no country had such genuine and unaffected cordiality boon shown him, and nowhere were the rewards of musical talent, whether as teacher, virtuoso, or composer, more satisfying to the man of high ambition. He made London his home for twenty years, and during this time became one of the most prominent figures in the art circles of that great city. Moscheles's mental accomplishments and singular geniality of nature contributed, with his very great abilities as a musician, to give him a position attained by but few artists. He gave lessons to none but the most talented pupils, and his services were sought by the most wealthy families of the English capital, though the ability to pay great prices was by no means a passport to the good graces of Moscheles. Among the pupils who early came under the charge of this great master was Thalberg, who even then was a brilliant player, but found in the exact knowledge and great experience of Moscheles that which gave the crowning finish to his style. Busy in teaching, composing, and public performance; busy in responding to the almost incessant demands made by social necessity on one who was not only intimate in the best circles of London society, but the center to whom all foreign artists of merit gravitated instantly they arrived in London; busy in confidential correspondence with all the great musicians of Europe, who discussed with the genial and sympathetic Moscheles all their plans and aspirations, and to whom they turned in their moments of trouble, he was indeed a busy man; and had it not been for the loving labors of his wife, who was his secretary, his musical copyist, and his assistant in a myriad of ways, he would have been unequal to his burden. Moscheles's diary tells the story of a man whose life, though one of tireless industry, was singularly serene and happy, and without those salient accidents and vicissitudes which make up the material of a picturesque life.
He made almost yearly tours to the Continent for concert-giving purposes, and kept his friendship with the great composers of the Continent green by personal contact. Beethoven was the god of his musical idolatry, and his pilgrimage to Vienna was always delightful to him. When Beethoven, in the early part of 1827, was in dire distress from poverty, just before his death, it was to Moscheles that he applied for assistance; and it was this generous friend who promptly arranged the concert with the Philharmonic Society by which one hundred pounds sterling was raised to alleviate the dying moments of the great man whom his own countrymen would have let starve, even as they had allowed Schubert and Mozart to suffer the direst want on their deathbeds.
An adequate record of Moscheles's life during the twenty years of his London career would be a pretty full record of all matters of musical interest occurring during this time. In 1832 he was made one of the directors of the Philharmonic Society, and in 1837-'38 he conducted with signal success Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony." When Sir Henry Bishop resigned, in 1845, Moscheles was made the conductor, and thereafter wielded the baton over this orchestra, the noblest in England. Among the yearly pleasures to which our pianist looked forward with the greatest interest were the visits of Mendelssohn, between whom and Moscheles there was the most tender friendship. Whole pages of his diary are given up to an account of Mendelssohn's doings, and to the most enthusiastic expression of his love and admiration for one of the greatest musical geniuses of modern times.
We can not attempt to follow up the placid and gentle current of Moscheles's life, flowing on to ever-increasing honor and usefulness, but hasten to the period when he left England in 1846, to become associated with Mendelssohn in the conduct of the Leipzig Conservatorium, then recently organized. Mendelssohn lived but a few months after achieving this great monument of musical education, but Moscheles remained connected with it for nearly twenty years, and to his great zeal, knowledge, and executive skill is due in large measure the solid success of the institution. Mendelssohn's early death, while yet in the very prime of creative genius, was a stunning blow to Moscheles; more so, perhaps, than would have occurred from the loss of any one except his beloved wife, the mother of his five children. Our musician died himself, in Leipzig, March 10, 1870, and his passage from this world was as serene and quiet as his passage through had been. He lived to see his daughters married to men of high worth and position, and his sons substantially placed in life. Perhaps few distinguished musicians have lived a life of such monotonous happiness, unmarked by those events which, while they give romantic interest to a career, make the gift at the expense of so much personal misery.
As a pianist Moscheles was distinguished by an incisive, brilliant touch, wonderfully clear, precise phrasing, and close attention to the careful accentuation of every phase of the composer's meaning. Of the younger composers for the piano, Mendelssohn and Schumann were the only ones with whose works he had any sympathy, though he often complains of the latter on account of his mysticism. His intelligence had as much if not more part in his art work than his emotions, and to this we may attribute that fine symmetry and balance in his own compositions, which make them equal in this respect to the productions of Mendelssohn. Chopin he regarded with a sense of admiration mingled with dread, for he could by no means enter into the peculiar conditions which make the works of the Polish composer so unique. He wrote of Chopin's "Etudes," in 1838: "My thoughts and consequently my fingers ever stumble and sprawl at certain crude modulations, and I find Chopin's productions on the whole too sugared, too little worthy of a man and an educated musician, though there is much charm and originality in the national color of his motive." When he heard Chopin play in after-years, however, he confessed the fascination of the performance, and bewailed his own incapacity to produce such effects in execution, though himself one of the greatest pianists in the world. So, too, Moscheles, though dazzled by Liszt's brilliant virtuosoism and power of transforming a single instrument into an orchestra, shook his head in doubt over such performances, and looked on them as charlatanism, which, however magnificent as an exhibition of talent, would ultimately help to degrade the piano by carrying it out of its true sphere. Moscheles himself was a more bold and versatile player than any other performer of his school, but he aimed assiduously to confine his efforts within the perfectly legitimate and well-established channels of pianism.
As an extemporaneous player, perhaps no pianist has ever lived who could surpass Moscheles. His improvisation on themes suggested by the audience always made one of the most attractive features of his concerts. His profound musical knowledge, his strong sense of form, the clearness and precision with which he instinctively clothed his ideas, as well as the fertility of the ideas themselves, gave his improvised pieces something of the same air of completeness as if they were the outcome of hours of laborious solitude. His very lack of passion and fire were favorable to this clear-cut and symmetrical expression. His last improvisation in public, on themes furnished by the audience, formed part of the programme of a concert at London, in 1865, given by Mme. Jenny Lind Goldschmidt, in aid of the sufferers by the war between Austria and Prussia, where he extemporized for half an hour on "See the Conquering Hero Comes," and on a theme from the andante of Beethoven's C Minor Symphony, in a most brilliant and astonishing style.
Aside from his greatness as a virtuoso and composer for the piano-forte, whose works will always remain classics in spite of vicissitudes of public opinion, even as those of Spohr will for the violin, the influence of Moscheles in furtherance of a solid and true musical taste was very great, and worthy of special notice. Perhaps no one did more to educate the English mind up to a full appreciation of the greatest musical works. As teacher, conductor, player, and composer, the life of Ignaz Moscheles was one of signal and permanent worth, and its influences fertilized in no inconsiderable streams the public thought, not only of his own times, but indirectly of the generation which has followed. It is not necessary to attribute to him transcendent genius, but lie possessed, what was perhaps of equal value to the world, an intellect and temperament splendidly balanced to the artistic needs of his epoch. The list of Moscheles's numbered compositions reaches Op. 142, besides a large number of ephemeral productions which he did not care to preserve.
THE SCHUMANNS AND CHOPIN.
Robert Schumann's Place as a National Composer.—Peculiar Greatness as a Piano-forte Composer.—Born at Zwickau in 1810.—His Father's Aversion to his Musical Studies.—Becomes a Student of Jurisprudence in Leipzig.—Makes the Acquaintance of Clara Wieck.—Tedium of his Law Studies.—Vacation Tour to Italy.—Death of his Father, and Consent of his Mother to Schumann adopting the Profession of Music.—Becomes Wieck's Pupil.—Injury to his Hand which prevents all Possibilities of his becoming a Great Performer.—Devotes himself to Composition.—The Child, Clara Wieck—Remarkable Genius as a Player.—Her Early Training.—Paganini's Delight in her Genius.—Clara Wieck's Concert Tours.—Schumann falls deeply in Love with her, and Wieck's Opposition.—His Allusions to Clara in the "Neue Zeitschrift."—Schumann at Vienna.—His Compositions at first Unpopular, though played by Clara Wieck and Liszt.—Schumann's Labors as a Critic.—He Marries Clara in 1840.—His Song Period inspired by his Wife.—Tour to Russia, and Brilliant Reception given to the Artist Pair.—The "Neue Zeitschrift" and its Mission.—The Davidsbund.—Peculiar Style of Schumann's Writing.—He moves to Dresden.—Active Production in Orchestral Composition.—Artistic Tour in Holland.—He is seized with Brain Disease.—Characteristics as a Man, as an Artist, and as a Philosopher.—Mme. Schumann as her Husband's Interpreter.—Chopin a Colaborer with Schumann.—Schumann on Chopin again.—Chopin's Nativity.—Exclusively a Piano-forte Composer.—His Genre as Pianist and Composer.—Aversion to Concert-giving.—Parisian Associations.—New Style of Technique demanded by his Works.—Unique Treatment of the Instrument.—Characteristics of Chopin's Compositions.
Robert Schumann shares with Weber the honor of giving the earliest impulse to what may be called the romantic school of music, which has culminated in the operatic creations of Richard Wagner. Greatly to the gain of the world, his early aspirations as a mere player were crushed by the too intense zeal through which he attempted to perfect his manipulation, the mechanical contrivance he used having had the effect of paralyzing the muscular power of one of his hands. But this department of art work was nobly borne by his gifted wife, nee Clara Wieck, and Schumann concentrated his musical ambition in the higher field of composition, leaving behind him works not only remarkable for beauty of form, but for poetic richness of thought and imagination. Schumann composed songs, cantatas, operas, and symphonies, but it is in his works for the piano-forte that his idiosyncrasy was most strikingly embodied, and in which he has bequeathed the most precious inheritance to the world of art. All his powers were swept impetuously into one current, the poetic side of art, and alike as critic and composer he stands in a relation to the music of the pianoforte which places him on a pinnacle only less lofty than that of Beethoven.
Robert Schumann was born in the small Saxon town of Zwickau in the year 1810, and was designed by his father, a publisher and author of considerable reputation, for the profession of the law. The elder Schumann, though a man of talent and culture, had a deep distaste for his son's clearly displayed tendencies to music, and though he permitted him to study something of the science in the usual school-boy way (for music has always been a part of the educational course in Germany), he discouraged in every way Robert's passion. The boy had quickly become a clever player, and even at the age of eight had begun to put his ideas on paper. We are told by his biographers that he was accustomed to extemporize at school, and had such a knack in portraying the characteristics of his school-fellows in music as to make his purpose instantly recognizable. His father died when Schumann was only seventeen, and his mother, who was also bent on her son becoming a jurist, became his guardian. It was a severe battle between taste and duty, but love for his widowed mother conquered, and young Robert Schumann entered the University of Leipzig as a law student. It was with a feeling almost of despair that he wrote at this time, "I have decided upon law as my profession, and will work at it industriously, however cold and dry the beginning may be." Previously, however, he had spent a year in the household of Frederick Wieck, the distinguished teacher of music. So much he had exacted before succumbing to maternal pleading. At this time he first made the acquaintance of a charming and precocious child, Clara Wieck, who played such an important part in his future life.
Robert Schumann's law studies were inexpressibly tedious to him, and so he told his sympathetic professor, the learned Thibaut, author of the treatise "On the Purity of Music," in a characteristic manner. He went to the piano and played Weber's "Invitation to the Waltz," commenting on the different passages: "Now she speaks—that's the love prattle; now he speaks—that's the man's earnest voice; now both the lovers speak together "; concluding with the remark, "Isn't all that better far than anything that jurisprudence can utter?" The young student became quite popular in society as a pianist, heard Ernst and Paganini for the first time, and composed several works, among them the Toccata in D major. The genius for music would come to the fore in spite of jurisprudence. A vacation trip to Italy which the young man made gave fresh fuel to the flame, and he began to write the most passionate pleas to his mother that she should con sent to his adoption of a musical career. The distressed woman wrote to Wieck to know what he thought, and the answer was favorable to Robert's aspirations. Robert was intoxicated with his mother's concession, and he poured out his enthusiasm to Wieck: "Take me as I am, and, above all, bear with me. No blame shall depress me, no praise make me idle. Pails upon pails of very cold theory can not hurt me, and I will work at it without the least murmur."
Taking lodgings at the house of Wieck, Schumann devoted himself to piano-forte playing with intense ardor; but his zeal outran prudence. To hasten his proficiency and acquire an independent action for each finger, he contrived a mechanical apparatus which held the third finger of the right hand immovable, while the others went through their evolutions. The result was such a lameness of the hand that it was incurable, and young Schumann's career as a virtuoso was for ever checked. His deep sorrow, however, did not unman him long, for he turned his attention to the study of composition and counterpoint under Kupsch, and, afterward, Heinrich Dorn. He remained for three years under Wieck's roof, and the companionship of the child Clara, whose marvelous musical powers were the talk of Leipzig, was a sweet consolation to him in his troubles and his toil, though ten years his junior. The love, which became a part of his life, had already begun to flutter into unconscious being in his feeling for a shy and reserved little girl.
Schumann tells us that the year 1834 was the most important one of his life, for it witnessed the birth of the "N'eue Zeitschrift fur Musik," a journal which was to embody his notions of ideal music, and to be the organ of a clique of enthusiasts in lifting the art out of Philistinism and commonplace. The war-cry was "Reform in art," and never-ending battle against the little and conventional ideas which were believed then to be the curse of German music. Among the earlier contributors were Wieck, Schumke, Knorr, Banck, and Schumann himself, who wrote under the pseudonyms Florestan and Eusebius. Between his new journal and composing, Schumann was kept busy, but he found time to persuade himself that he was in love with Fraulein Ernestine von Fricken, a beautiful but somewhat frivolous damsel, who became engaged to the young composer and editor. Two years cooled off this passion, and a separation was mutually agreed on. Perhaps Schumann recognized something, in the lovely child who was swiftly blooming into maidenhood, which made his own inner soul protest against any other attachment.
It would have been very strange indeed if two such natures as Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann had not gravitated toward each other during the almost constant intercourse between them which took place between 1835 and 1838. Clara, born in 1820, had been her father's pupil from her tenderest childhood, but the development of her musical gifts was not forced in such a way as to interfere with her health and the exuberance of her spirits. The exacting teacher was also a tender father and a man of ripe judgment, and he knew the bitter price which mere mental precocity so frequently has to pay for its existence.
But the young girl's gifts were so extraordinary, and withal her character so full of childish simplicity and gayety, that it was difficult to think of her as of the average child phenomenon. At the age of nine she could play Mozart's concertos, and Hummel's A minor Concerto for the orchestra, one of the most difficult of compositions. A year later she began to compose, and improvised without difficulty, for her lessons in counterpoint and harmony had kept pace with her studies of pianoforte technique. Paganini visited Leipzig at this period, and was so astonished at the little Clara's precocious genius that he insisted on her presence at all his concerts, and addressed her with the deepest respect as a fellow-artist. She first appeared in public concert at the age of eleven, in Leipzig, Weimar, and other places, playing Pixis, Moscheles, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Chopin. The latter of these composers was then almost unknown in Germany, and Clara Wieck, young as she was, contributed largely to making him popular. A year later she visited Paris in company with her father, and heard Chopin, Liszt, and Kalkbrenner, who on their part were delighted with the little artist, who, beneath the delicacy and timidity of the child, indicated extraordinary powers. Society received her with the most flattering approbation, and when her father allowed her to appear in concert her playing excited the greatest delight and surprise. Her improvisation specially displayed a vigor of imagination, a fine artistic taste, and a well-defined knowledge which justly called out the most enthusiastic recognition.
When Clara Wieck returned home, she gave herself up to work with fresh ardor, studying composition under Heinrich Dorn, singing under the celebrated Mieksch, and even violin-playing, so great was her ambition for musical accomplishments. From 1836 to 1838 she made an extended musical tour through Germany, and was welcomed as a musico-poetic ideal by the enthusiasts who gathered around her. The poet Grillparzer spoke of her as "the innocent child who first unlocked the casket in which Beethoven buried his mighty heart," and it must be confessed that Clara Wieck, even as a young girl, did more than any other pianist to develop a love of and appreciation for the music of the Titan of composers.
Long before Schumann distinctly contemplated the image of Clara as the beloved one, the half of his soul, he had divined her genius, and expressed his opinion of her in no stinted terms of praise. When she was as yet only thirteen, he had written of her in his journal: "As I know people who, having but just heard Clara, yet rejoice in their anticipation of their next occasion of hearing her, I ask, What sustains this continual interest in her? Is it the 'wonder child' herself, at whose stretches of tenths people shake their heads while they are amazed at them, or the most difficult difficulties which she sportively flings toward the public like flower garlands? Is it the special pride of the city with which a people regards its own natives? Is it that she presents to us the most interesting productions of recent art in as short a time as possible? Is it that the masses understand that art should not depend on the caprices of a few enthusiasts, who would direct us back to a century over whose corpse the wheels of time are hastening? I know not; I only feel that here we are subdued by genius, which men still hold in respect. In short, we here divine the presence of a power of which much is spoken, while few indeed possess it.... Early she drew the veil of Isis aside. Serenely the child looks up; older eyes, perhaps, would have been blinded by that radiant light.... To Clara we dare no longer apply the measuring scale of age, but only that of fulfillment.... Clara Wieck is the first German artist.... Pearls do not float on the surface; they must be sought for in the deep, often with danger. But Clara is an intrepid diver."
The child whose genius he admired ripened into a lovely young woman, and Schumann became conscious that there had been growing in his heart for years a deep, ardent love. He had fancied himself in love more than once, but now he felt that he could make no mistake as to the genuineness of his feelings. In 1836 he confessed his feelings to the object of his affections, and discovered that he not only loved but was loved, for two such gifted and sympathetic natures could hardly be thrown together for years without the growth of a mutual tenderness. The marriage project was not favored by Papa Wieck, much as he liked the young composer who had so long been his pupil and a member of his family circle. The father of Clara looked forward to a brilliant artistic career for his daughter, perhaps hoped to marry her to some serene highness, and Schumann's prospects were as yet very uncertain. So he took Clara on a long artistic journey through Germany, with a view of quenching this passion by absence and those public adulations which he knew Clara's genius would command. But nothing shook the devotion of her heart, and she insisted on playing the compositions of the young composer at her concerts, as well as those of Beethoven, Liszt, and Chopin, the latter two of whom were just beginning to be known and admired.
Hoping to overcome Papa Wieck's opposition by success, Schumann took his new journal to Vienna, and published it in that city, carrying on simultaneously with his editorial duties active labors in composition. The attempt to better his fortunes in Vienna, however, did not prove very successful, and after six months he returned again to Leipzig. Schumann's generous sympathy with other great musicians was signally shown in his very first Vienna experiences, for he immediately made a pious pilgrimage to the Waehring cemetery to offer his pious gift of flowers on the graves of Beethoven and Schubert. On Beethoven's grave he found a steel pen, which he preserved as a sacred treasure, and used afterward in writing his own finest musical fancies. He remembered, too, that the brother of Schubert, Ferdinand, was still living in a suburb of Vienna. "He knew me," Schumann says, "from my admiration for his brother, as I had publicly expressed it, and showed me many things. At last he let me look at the treasures of Franz Schubert's compositions, which he still possesses. The wealth that lay heaped up made me shudder with joy, what to take first, where to cease. Among other things, he also showed me the scores of several symphonies, of which many had never been heard, while others had been tried, but put back, on the score of their being too difficult and bombastic." One of these symphonies, that in C major, the largest and grandest in conception, Schumann chose and sent to Leipzig, where it was soon afterward produced under Mendelssohn's direction at one of the Ge-wandhaus concerts, and produced an immediate and profound sensation. For the first time the world witnessed, in a more expanded sphere, the powers of a composer the very beauties of whose songs had hitherto been fatal to his general success. During this period of Schumann's life the most important works he composed were the "Etudes Symphoniques," the famous "Carnival" dedicated to Liszt, the "Scenes of Childhood," the "Fantasia" dedicated to Liszt, the "Novellettes," and "Kreisleriana." As he writes to Heinrich Dorn: "Much music is the result of the contest I am passing through for Clara's sake." Schumann's compositions had been introduced to the public by the gifted interpretation of Clara Wieck, with whom it was a labor of love, and also by Franz Liszt, then rising almost on the top wave of his dazzling fame as a virtuoso. Liszt was a profound admirer of the less fortunate Schumann, and did everything possible to make him a favorite with the public, but for a long time in vain. Liszt writes of this as follows: "Since my first knowledge of his compositions I had played many of them in private circles at Milan and Vienna, without having succeeded in winning the approbation of my hearers. These works were, fortunately for them, too far above the then trivial level of taste to find a home in the superficial atmosphere of popular applause. The public did not fancy them, and few players understood them. Even in Leipzig, where I played the 'Carnival' at my second Gewandhaus concert, I did not obtain my customary applause. Musicians, even those who claimed to be connoisseurs also, carried too thick a mask over their ears to be able to comprehend that charming 'Carnival,' harmoniously framed as it is, and ornamented with such rich variety of artistic fancy. I did not doubt, however, but that this work would eventually win its place in general appreciation beside Beethoven's thirty-three variations on a theme by Diabelli (which work it surpasses, according to my opinion, in melody, richness, and inventiveness)." Both as a composer and writer on music, Schumann embodied his deep detestation of the Philistinism and commonplace which stupefied the current opinions of the time, and he represented in Germany the same battle of the romantic in art against what was known as the classical which had been carried on so fiercely in France by Berlioz, Liszt, and Chopin.
The year 1840 was one of the most important in Schumann's life. In February he was created Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Jena, and, still more precious boon to the man's heart, Wieck's objections to the marriage with Clara had been so far melted away that he consented, though with reluctance, to their union. The marriage took place quietly at a little church in Schonfeld, near Leipzig. This year was one of the most fruitful of Schumann's life. His happiness burst forth in lyric forms. He wrote the amazing number of one hundred and thirty-eight songs, among which the more famous are the set entitled "Myrtles," the cycles of song from Heine, dedicated to Pauline Viardot, Chamisso's "Woman's Love and Life," and Heine's "Poet Love." Schumann as a song-writer must be called indeed the musical reflex of Heine, for his immortal works have the same passionate play of pathos and melancholy, the sharp-cut epigrammatic form, the grand swell of imagination, impatient of the limits set by artistic taste, which characterize the poet themes. Schumann says that nearly all the works composed at this time were written under Clara's inspiration solely. Blest with the continual companionship of a woman of genius, as amiable as she was gifted, who placed herself as a gentle mediator between Schumann's intellectual life and the outer world, he composed many of his finest vocal and instrumental compositions during the years immediately succeeding his marriage; among them the cantata "Paradise and the Peri," and the "Faust" music. His own connection with public life was restricted to his position as teacher of piano-forte playing, composition, and score playing at the Leipzig Conservatory, while the gifted wife was the interpreter of his beautiful piano-forte works as an executant. A more perfect fitness and companionship in union could not have existed, and one is reminded of the married life of the poet pair, the Brownings. After four years of happy and quiet life, in which mental activity was inspired by the most delightful of domestic surroundings, an artistic tour to St. Petersburg was undertaken by Robert and Clara Schumann. Our composer did not go without reluctance. "Forgive me," he writes to a friend, "if I forbear telling you of my unwillingness to leave my quiet home." He seems to have had a melancholy premonition that his days of untroubled happiness were over. A genial reception awaited them at the Russian capital. They were frequently invited to the Winter Palace by the emperor and empress, and the artistic circles of the city were very enthusiastic over Mme. Schumann's piano-forte playing. Since the days of John Field, Clementi's great pupil, no one had raised such a furore among the music-loving Russians. Schumann's music, which it was his wife's dearest privilege to interpret, found a much warmer welcome than among his own countrymen at that date. In the Sclavonic nature there is a deep current of romance and mysticism, which met with instinctive sympathy the dreamy and fantastic thoughts which ran riot in Schumann's works.
On returning from the St. Petersburg tour, Schumann gave up the "Neue Zeitschrift," the journal which he had made such a powerful organ of musical revolution, and transferred it to Oswald Lorenz. Schumann's literary work is so deeply intertwined with his artistic life and mission that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to separate the two. He had achieved a great work—he had planted in the German mind the thought that there was such a thing as progress and growth; that stagnation was death; and that genius was for ever shaping for itself new forms and developments. He had taught that no art is an end to itself, and that, unless it embodies the deep-seated longings and aspirations of men ever striving toward a loftier ideal, it becomes barren and fruitless—the mere survival of a truth whose need had ceased. He was the apostle of the musico-poetical art in Germany, and, both as author and composer, strove with might and main to educate his countrymen up to a clear understanding of the ultimate outcome of the work begun by Beethoven, Schubert, and Weber.
Schumann as a critic was eminently catholic and comprehensive. Deeply appreciative of the old lights of music, he received with enthusiasm all the fresh additions contributed by musical genius to the progress of his age. Eschewing the cold, objective, technical form of criticism, his method of approaching the work of others was eminently subjective, casting on them the illumination which one man of genius gives to another. The cast of his articles was somewhat dramatic and conversational, and the characters represented as contributing their opinions to the symposium of discussion were modeled on actual personages. He himself was personified under the dual form of Florestan and Eusebius, the "two souls in his breast"—the former, the fiery iconoclast, impulsive in his judgments and reckless in attacking prejudices; the latter, the mild, genial, receptive dreamer. Master Raro, who stood for Wieck, also typified the calm, speculative side of Schumann's nature. Chiara represented Clara Wieck, and personified the feminine side of art. So the various personages were all modeled after associates of Schumann, and, aside from the freshness and fascination which this method gave his style, it enabled him to approach his subjects from many sides. The name of the imaginary society was the Davids-bund, probably from King David and his celebrated harp, or perhaps in virtue of David's victories over the Philistines of his day.
As an illustration of Schumann's style and method of treating musical subjects, we can not do better than give his article on Chopin's "Don Juan Fantasia": "Eusebius entered not long ago. You know his pale face and the ironical smile with which he awakens expectation. I sat with Florestan at the piano-forte. Florestan is, as you know, one of those rare musical minds that foresee, as it were, coming novel or extraordinary things. But he encountered a surprise today. With the words 'Off with your hats, gentlemen! a genius,' Eusebius laid down a piece of music. We were not allowed to see the title-page. I turned over the music vacantly; the veiled enjoyment of music which one does not hear has something magical in it. And besides this, it seems that every composer has something different in the note forms. Beethoven looks differently from Mozart on paper; the difference resembles that between Jean Paul's and Goethe's prose. But here it seemed as if eyes, strange, were glancing up to me—flower eyes, basilisk eyes, peacock's eyes, maiden's eyes; in many places it looked yet brighter. I thought I saw Mozart's 'La ci darem la mano' wound through a hundred chords. Leporello seemed to wink at me, and Don Juan hurried past in his white mantle. 'Now play it,' said Florestan. Eusebius consented, and we, in the recess of a window, listened. Eusebius played as though he were inspired, and led forward countless forms filled with the liveliest, warmest life; it seemed that the inspiration of the moment gave to his fingers a power beyond the ordinary measure of their cunning. It is true that Florestan's whole applause was expressed in nothing but a happy smile, and the remark that the variations might have been written by Beethoven or Franz Schubert, had either of these been a piano virtuoso; but how surprised he was when, turning to the title-page, he read 'La ci darem la mano, varie pour le piano-forte, par Frederic Chopin, Ouvre 2,' and with what astonishment we both cried out, 'An Opus 2!' How our faces glowed as we wondered, exclaiming, 'That is something reasonable once more! Chopin? I never heard of the name—who can he be? In any case, a genius. Is not that Zerlina's smile, And Leporello, etc' I could not describe the scene. Heated with wine, Chopin, and our own enthusiasm, we went to Master Raro, who with a smile, and displaying but little curiosity for Chopin, said, 'Bring me the Chopin! I know you and your enthusiasm.' We promised to bring it the next day. Eusebius soon bade us good-night. I remained a short time with Master Raro. Florestan, who had been for some time without a habitation, hurried to my house through the moonlit streets. 'Chopin's variations,' he began, as if in a dream, 'are constantly running through my head; the whole is so dramatic and Chopin-like; the introduction is so concentrated. Do you remember Leporello's springs in thirds? That seems to me somewhat unfitted to the theme; but the theme—why did he write that in A flat? The variations, the finale, the adagio, these are indeed something; genius burns through every measure. Naturally, dear Julius, Don Juan, Zerlina, Leporello, Massetto, are the dramatis persona; Zerlina's answer in the theme has a sufficiently enamored character; the first variation expresses, a kind of coquettish coveteousness: the Spanish Grandee flirts amiably with the peasant girl in it. This leads of itself to the second, which is at once confidential, disputative, and comic, as though two lovers were chasing each other and laughing more than usual about it. How all this is changed in the third! It is filled with fairy music and moonshine; Masetto keeps at a distance, swearing audibly, but without any effect on Don Juan. And now the fourth—what do you think of it? Eusebius played it altogether correctly. How boldly, how wantonly, it springs forward to meet the man! though the adagio (it seems quite natural to me that Chopin repeats the first part) is in B flat minor, as it should be, for in its commencement it presents a beautiful moral warning to Don Juan. It is at once so mischievous and beautiful that Leporello listens behind the hedge, laughing and jesting that oboes and clarionettes enchantingly allure, and that the B flat major in full bloom correctly designates the first kiss of love. But all this is nothing compared to the last (have you any more wine, Julius?). That is the whole of Mozart's finale, popping champagne corks, ringing glasses, Leporello's voice between, the grasping, torturing demons, the fleeing Don Juan—and then the end, that beautifully soothes and closes all.' Florestan concluded by saying that he had never experienced feelings similar to those awakened by the finale. When the evening sunlight of a beautiful day creeps up toward the highest peaks, and when the last beam vanishes, there comes a moment when the white Alpine giants close their eyes. We feel that we have witnessed a heavenly apparition. 'And now awake to new dreams, Julius, and sleep.' 'Dear Flores-tan,' I answered, 'these confidential feelings, are perhaps praiseworthy, although somewhat subjective; but as deeply as yourself I bend before Chopin's spontaneous genius, his lofty aim, his mastership; and after that we fell asleep.'" This article was the first journalistic record of Chopin's genius.
When Schumann gave up his journal in 1845 he moved to Dresden, and he began to suffer severely from the dreadful disorder to which he fell a victim twelve years later. This disease—an abnormal formation of bone in the brain—afflicted him with excruciating pains in the head, sleeplessness, fear of death, and strange auricular delusions. A sojourn at Parma, where he had complete repose and a course of sea-bathing, partially restored his health, and he gave himself up to musical composition again. During the next three years, up to 1849, Schumann wrote some of his finest works, among which may be mentioned his opera "Genoviva," his Second symphony, the cantata "The Rose's Pilgrimage," more beautiful songs, much piano-forte and concerted music, and the musical illustrations of Byron's "Manfred," which latter is one of his greatest orchestral works.
During the years 1850 to 1854 Schumann composed his "Rhenish Symphony," the overtures to the "Bride of Messina" and "Hermann and Dorothea," and many vocal and piano-forte works. He accepted the post of musical director at Dusseldorf in 1850, removed to that city with his wife and children, and, on arriving, the artistic pair were received with a civic banquet. The position was in many respects agreeable, but the responsibilities were too great for Schumann's declining health, and probably hastened his death. In 1853 Robert and Clara Schumann made a grand artistic tour through Holland, which resembled a triumphal procession, so great was the musical enthusiasm called out. When they returned Schumann's malady returned with double force, and on February 27, 1854, he attempted to end his misery by jumping into the Rhine. Madness had seized him with a clutch which was never to be released, except at short intervals. Every possible care was lavished on him by his heartbroken and devoted wife, and the assiduous attention of the friends who reverenced the genius now for ever quenched. The last two years of his life were spent in the private insane asylum at Endenich, near Bonn, where he died July 20, 1856. Schumann possessed a wealth of musical imagination which, if possibly equaled in a few instances, is nowhere surpassed in the records of his art. For him music possessed all the attributes inherent in the other arts—absolute color and flexibility of form. That he attempted to express these phases of art expression, with an almost boundless trust in their applicability to tone and sound, not unfrequently makes them obscure to the last degree, but it also gave much of his composition a richness, depth, and subtilty of suggestive power which place them in a unique niche, and will always preserve them as objects of the greatest interest to the musical student. There is no doubt that his increasing mental malady is evident in the chaotic character of some of his later orchestral compositions, but, in those works composed during his best period, splendor of imagination goes hand in hand with genuine art treatment. This is specially noticeable in the songs and the piano-forte works. Schumann was essentially lyrical and subjective, though his intellectual breadth and culture (almost unrivaled among his musical compeers) always kept him from narrowness as a composer. He led the van in the formation of that pictorial and descriptive style of music which has asserted itself in German music, but his essentially lyric personality in his attitude to the outer world presented the external thoroughly saturated and modified by his own moods and feelings.
In his piano-forte works we find his most complete and satisfactory development as the artist composer. Here the world, with its myriad impressions, its facts, its purposes, its tendencies, met the man and commingled in a series of exquisite creations, which are true tone pictures. In this domain Beethoven alone was worthy to be compared with him, though the animus and scheme of the Beethoven piano-forte works grew out of a totally different method.
In personal appearance Schumann bore the marks of the man of genius. As he reached middle age we are told of him that his figure was of middle height, inclined to stoutness, that his bearing was dignified, his movements slow. His features, though irregular, produced an agreeable impression; his forehead was broad and high, the nose heavy, the eyes excessively bright, though generally veiled and downcast, the mouth delicately cut, the hair thick and brown, his cheeks full and ruddy. His head was squarely formed, of an intensely powerful character, and the whole expression of his face sweet and genial. Even when young he was distinguished by a kind of absent-mindedness that prevented him from taking much part in conversation. Once, it is said, he entered a lady's drawing-room to call, played a few chords on the piano, and smilingly left without speaking a word. But, among intimate friends, he could be extraordinarily fluent and eloquent in discussing an interesting topic. He was conscious of his own shyness, and once wrote to a friend: "I shall be very glad to see you here. In me, however, you must not expect to find much. I scarcely ever speak except in the evening, and most in playing the piano." His wife was the crowning blessing of his life. She was not only his consoler, but his other intellectual life, for she, with her great powers as a virtuoso, interpreted his music to the world, both before and after his death. It has rarely been the lot of an artist to see his most intimate feelings and aspirations embodied to the world by the genius of the mother of his children. Well did Ferdinand Hiller write of this artist couple: "What love beautified his life! A woman stood beside him, crowned with the starry circlet of genius, to whom he seemed at once the father to his daughter, the master to the scholar, the bridegroom to the bride, the saint to the disciple."
Clara Schumann still lives, though becoming fast an old woman in years, if still young in heart, and still able to win the admiration of the musical world by her splendid playing. Berlioz, who heard her in her youth, pronounced her the greatest virtuoso in Germany, in one of his letters to Heine; and while she was little more than a child she had gained the heartiest admiration in England, France, and Germany. Henry Chorley heard her at Leipzig in 1839, and speaks of "the organ-playing on the piano of Mme. Schumann (better known in England under the name of Clara Wieck), who commands her instrument with the enthusiasm of a sibyl and the grasp of a man." Since Schumann's death, Mme. Schumann has been known as the exponent of her husband's works, which she has performed in Germany and England with an insight, a power of conception, and a beauty of treatment which have contributed much to the recognition of his remarkable genius.
The name of Frederic Francis Chopin is so closely linked in the minds of musical students with that of Schumann in that art renaissance which took place almost simultaneously in France and Germany, when so many daring and original minds broke loose from the petrifactions of custom and tradition, that we shall not venture to separate them here. Chopin was too timid and gentle to be a bold aggressor, like Berlioz, Liszt, and Schumann, but his whole nature responded to the movement, and his charming and most original compositions, which glow with the fire of a genius perhaps narrow in its limits, have never been surpassed for their individuality and poetic beauty. The present brief sketch of Chopin does not propose to consider his life biographically, full of pathos and romance as that life may be.*
* See article Chopin, in "Great German Composers."
Schumann, in his "N'eue Zeitschrift," sums up the characteristics of the Polish composer admirably; "Genius creates kingdoms, the smaller states of which are again divided by a higher hand among talents, that these may organize details which the former, in its thousand-fold activity, would be unable to perfect. As Hummel, for example, followed the call of Mozart, clothing the thoughts of that master in a flowing, sparkling robe, so Chopin followed Beethoven. Or, to speak more simply, as Hummel imitated the style of Mozart in detail, rendering it enjoyable to the virtuoso on one particular instrument, so Chopin led the spirit of Beethoven into the concert-room.
"Chopin did not make his appearance accompanied by an orchestral army, as great genius is accustomed to do; he only possessed a small cohort, but every soul belongs to him to the last hero.
"He is the pupil of the first masters—Beethoven, Schubert, Field. The first formed his mind in boldness, the second his heart in tenderness, the third his hand to its flexibility. Thus he stood well provided with deep knowledge in his art, armed with courage in the full consciousness of his power, when in the year 1830 the great voice of the people arose in the West. Hundreds of youths had waited for the moment; but Chopin was the first on the summit of the wall, behind which lay a cowardly renaissance, a dwarfish Philistinism, asleep. Blows were dealt right and left, and the Philistines awoke angrily, crying out, 'Look at the impudent one!' while others behind the besieger cried, 'The one of noble courage.'
"Besides this, and the favorable influence of period and condition, fate rendered Chopin still more individual and interesting in endowing him with an original pronounced nationality; Polish, too, and because this nationality wanders in mourning robes in the thoughtful artist, it deeply attracts us. It was well for him that neutral Germany did not receive him too warmly at first, and that his genius led him straight to one of the great capitals of the world, where he could freely poetize and grow angry. If the powerful autocrat of the North knew what a dangerous enemy threatens him in Chopin's works in the simple melodies of his mazurkas, he would forbid music. Chopin's works are cannons buried in flowers.... He is the boldest, proudest poet soul of to-day."
But Schumann could have said something more than this, and added that Chopin was a musician of exceptional attainments, a virtuoso of the very highest order, a writer for the piano pure and simple preeminent beyond example, and a master of a unique and perfect style.
Chopin was born of mixed French and Polish parentage, February 8, 1810, at Zelazowa-Wola, near Warsaw. He was educated at the Warsaw Conservatory, and his eminent genius for the piano shone at this time most unmistakably. He found in the piano-forte an exclusive organ for the expression of his thoughts. In the presence of this confidential companion he forgot his shyness and poured forth his whole soul. A passionate lover of his native country, and burning with those aspirations for freedom which have made Poland since its first partition a volcano ever ready to break forth, the folk-themes of Poland are at the root of all of Chopin's compositions, and in the waltzes and mazurkas bearing his name we find a passionate glow and richness of color which make them musical poems of the highest order.
Chopin's art position, both as a pianist and composer, was a unique one. He was accustomed to say that the breath of the concert-room stifled him, whereas Liszt, his intimate friend and fellow-artist, delighted in it as a war-horse delights in the tumult of battle. Chopin always shrank from the display of his powers as a mere executant. To exhibit his talents to the public was an offense to him, and he only cared for his remarkable technical skill as a means of placing his fanciful original poems in tone rightly before the public. It was with the greatest difficulty that his intimate friends, Liszt, Meyerbeer, Nourrit, Delacroix, Heine, Mme. George Sand, Countess D'Agoult, and others, could persuade him to appear before large mixed audiences. His genius only shone unconstrained as a player in the society of a few chosen intimate friends, with whom he felt a perfect sympathy, artistic, social, and intellectual. Exquisite, fastidious, and refined, Chopin was loss an aristocrat from political causes, or even by virtue of social caste, than from the fact that his art nature, which was delicate, feminine, and sensitive, shrank from all companions except those molded of the finest clay. We find this sense of exclusiveness and isolation in all of the Chopin music, as in some quaint, fantastic, ideal world, whose master would draw us up to his sphere, but never descend to ours.
In the treatment of the technical means of the piano-forte, he entirely wanders from the old methods. Moscheles, a great pianist in an age of great players, gave it up in despair, and confessed that he could not play Chopin's music. The latter teaches the fingers to serve his own artistic uses, without regard to the notions of the schools. It is said that M. Kalkbrenner advised Chopin to attend his classes at the Paris Conservatoire, that the latter might learn the proper fingering. Chopin answered his officious adviser by placing one of his own "Etudes" before him, and asking him to play it. The failure of the pompous professor was ludicrous, for the old-established technique utterly failed to do it justice. Chopin's end as a player was to faithfully interpret the poetry of his own composition. His genius as a composer taught him to make innovations in piano-forte effects. He was thus not only a great inventor as a composer, but as regards the technique of the piano-forte. He not only told new things well worth hearing which the world would not forget, but devised new ways of saying them, and it mattered but little to him whether his more forcible and passionate dialectic offended what Schumann calls musical Philistinism or no. Chopin formed a school of his own which was purely the outcome of his genius, though as Schumann, in the extract previously quoted, justly says: "He was molded by the deep poetic spirit of Beethoven, with whom form only had value as it expressed truthfully and beautifully symmetry of conception."
The forms of Chopin's compositions grew out of the keyboard of the piano, and their genre is so peculiar that it is nearly impracticable to transpose them for any other instrument. Some of the noted contemporary violinists have attempted to transpose a few of the Nocturnes and Etudes, but without success. Both Schumann and Liszt succeeded in adapting Paganini's most complex and difficult violin works for the piano-forte, but the compositions of Chopin are so essentially born to and of the one instrument that they can not be well suited to any other. The cast of the melody, the matchless beauty and swing of the rhythm, his ingenious treatment of harmony, and the chromatic changes and climaxes through which the motives are developed, make up a new chapter in the history of the piano-forte.
Liszt, in his life of Chopin, says of him: "His character was indeed not easily understood. A thousand subtile shades, mingling, crossing, contradicting, and disguising each other, rendered it almost undecipherable at first view; kind, courteous, affable, and almost of joyous manners, he would not suffer the secret convulsions which agitated him to be ever suspected. His works, concertos, waltzes, sonatas, ballades, polonaises, mazurkas, nocturnes, scherzi, all reflect a similar enigma in a most poetical and romantic form."
Chopin's moral nature was not cast in an heroic mold, and he lacked the robust intellectual marrow which is essential to the highest forms of genius in art as well as in literature and affairs, though it is not safe to believe that he was, as painted by George Sand and Liszt, a feeble youth, continually living at death's door in an atmosphere of moonshine and sentimentality. But there can be no question that the whole bent of Chopin's temperament and genius was melancholy, romantic, and poetic, and that frequently he gives us mere musical moods and reveries, instead of well-defined and well-developed ideas. His music perhaps loses nothing, for, if it misses something of the clear, inspiring, vigorous quality of other great composers, it has a subtile, dreamy, suggestive beauty all its own.
The personal life of Chopin was singularly interesting. His long and intimate connection with George Sand; the circumstances under which it was formed; the blissful idyl of the lovers in the isle of Majorca; the awakening from the dream, and the separation—these and other striking circumstances growing out of a close association with what was best in Parisian art and life, invest the career of the man, aside from his art, with more than common charm to the mind of the reader. Having touched on these phases of Chopin's life at some length in a previous volume of this series, we must reluctantly pass them by.
In closing this imperfect review of the Polish composer, it is enough to say that the present generation has more than sustained the judgment of his own as to the unique and wonderful beauty of his compositions. Hardly any concert programme is considered complete without one or more numbers selected from his works; and though there are but few pianists, even in a day when Chopin as a stylist has been a study, who can do his subtile and wonderful fancies justice, there is no composer for the piano-forte who so fascinates the musical mind.
THALBERG AND GOTTSCHALK.
Thalberg one of the Greatest of Executants.—Bather a Man of Remarkable Talents than of Genius.—Moscheles's Description of him.—The Illegitimate Son of an Austrian Prince.—Early Introduction to Musical Society in London and Vienna.—Beginning of his Career as a Virtuoso.—The Brilliancy of his Career.—Is appointed Court Pianist to the Emperor of Austria.—His Marriage.—Visits to America.—Thalborg's Artistic Idiosyncrasy.—Robert Schumann on his Playing.—His Appearance and Manner.—Characterization by George William Curtis.—Thalberg's Style and Worth as an Artist.—His Pianoforte Method, and Place as a Composer for the Piano.—Gott-schalk's Birth and Early Years.—He is sent to Paris for Instruction.—Successful Debut and Public Concerts in Paris and Tour through the French Cities.—Friendship with Berlioz.—Concert Tour to Spain.—Romantic Experiences.—Berlioz on Gottschalk.—Reception of Gottschalk in America.—Criticism of his Style.—Remarkable Success of his Concerts.—His Visit to the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America.—Protracted Absence.—Gottschalk on Life in the Tropics.—Return to the United States.—Three Brilliant Musical Years.—Departure for South America.—Triumphant Procession through the Spanish-American Cities.—Death at Rio Janeiro.—Notes on Gottschalk as Man and Artist.
One of the most remarkable of the great piano-forte virtuosos was unquestionably Sigismond Thalberg, an artist who made a profound sensation in two hemispheres, and filled a large space in the musical world for more than forty-five years. Originally a disciple of the Viennese school of piano-forte playing, a pupil of Mosche-les, and a rigid believer in making the instrument which was the medium of his talent sufficient unto itself, wholly indifferent to the daring and boundless ambition which made his great rival, Franz Liszt, pile Pelion on Ossa in his grasp after new effects, Thalberg developed virtuoso-ism to its extreme degree by a mechanical dexterity which was perhaps unrivaled. But the fingers can not express more than rests in the heart and brain to give to their skill, and Thalberg, with all his immense talent, seems to have lacked the divine spark of genius. It goes without saying, to those who are familiar with the current cant of criticism, that the word genius is often applied in a very loose and misleading manner. But, in all estimates of art and artists, where there are two clearly defined factors, imagination or formative power and technical dexterity, it would seem that there should not be any error in deciding on the propriety of such a word as a measure of the quality of an artist's gifts. The lack of the creative impulse could not be mistaken in Thalberg's work, whether as player or composer. But the ability to execute all that came within the scope of his sympathies or intelligence was so prodigious that the world was easily dazzled into forgetting his deficiencies in the loftier regions of art. Trifles are often very significant. What, for example, could more vividly portray an artist's tendencies than the description of Thalberg by Moscheles, who knew him more thoroughly than any other contemporary, and felt a keener sympathy with his genre as an artist than with the more striking originality of Chopin and Liszt. Moscheles writes:
"I find his introduction of harp effects on the piano quite original. His theme, which lies in the middle part, is brought out clearly in relief with an accompaniment of complicated arpeggios which reminds me of a harp. The audience is amazed. He himself sits immovably calm; his whole bearing as he sits at the piano is soldierlike; his lips are tightly compressed and his coat buttoned closely. He told me he acquired this attitude of self-control by smoking a Turkish pipe while practicing his piano-forte exercises: the length of the tube was so calculated as to keep him erect and motionless." This exact discipline and mechanism were not merely matters of technical culture; they were the logical outcome of the man and surely a part of himself. But within his limits, fixed as these were, Thalberg was so great that he must be conceded to be one of the most striking and brilliant figures of an age fecund in fine artists.
Thalberg was born at Geneva, January 7,1812, and was the natural son of Prince Dietrichstein, an Austrian nobleman, temporarily resident in that city. His talent for music, inherited from both sides, for his mother was an artist and his father an amateur of no inconsiderable skill, became obvious at a very tender age, following the law which so generally holds in music that superior gifts display themselves at an early period. These indications of nature were not ignored, for the boy was placed under instruction before he had completed his sixth year. It is a little singular that his first teacher was not a pianist, though a very superior musician. Mittag was one of the first bassoonists of his times, and, in addition to his technical skill, a thoroughly accomplished man in the science of his profession. Thalberg was accustomed to attribute the wonderfully rich and mellow tone which characterized his playing to the influence and training of Mittag. From this instructor the future great pianist passed to the charge of the distinguished Hummel, who was not only one of the greatest virtuosos of the age, but ranked by his admirers as only a little less than Beethoven himself in his genius for pianoforte compositions, though succeeding generations have discredited his former fame by estimating him merely a "dull classic." Contemporaneously with his pupilage under Hummel, he studied the theory of music with Simon Sechter, an eminent contrapuntist. Even at this early age, for Thalberg must have been less than ten years old, he impressed all by the great precision of his fingering and the instinctive ease with which he mastered the most difficult mechanism of the art of playing. At the age of fourteen young Thalberg went to London in the household of his father, who had been appointed imperial ambassador to England, and the youth was then placed under the instruction of the great pianist Moscheles. The latter speaks of Thalberg as the most distinguished of his pupils, and as being, even at that age, already an artist of distinction and mark. It was a source of much pleasure to Moscheles that his brilliant scholar, who played much at private soirees, was not only recognized by the dilletante public generally, but by such veteran artists as Clementi and Cramer. Moscheles, in his diary, speaks of the wonderful brilliancy of a grand fancy dress ball given by Thalberg's princely father at Covent Garden Theatre. Pit, stalls, and proscenium were formed into one grand room, in which the crowd promenaded. The costumes were of every conceivable variety, and many of the most gorgeous description. The spectators, in full dress, sat in the boxes; on the stage was a court box, occupied by the royal family; and bands played in rooms adjoining for small parties of dancers. "You will have some idea," wrote Mme. Moscheles, in a letter, "of the crowd at this ball, when I tell you that we left the ballroom at two o'clock and did not get to the prince's carriage till four." One of the interesting features of this ball was that the boy Thalberg played in one of the smaller rooms before the most distinguished people present, including the royal family, all crowding in to hear the youthful virtuoso, whose tacit recognition by his father had already opened to him the most brilliant drawing-rooms in London.
Thalberg did not immediately begin to perform in public, but, on returning to Vienna in 1827, played continually at private soirees, where he had the advantage of being heard and criticised by the foremost amateurs and musicians of the Austrian capital. It had some time since become obvious to the initiated that another great player was about to be launched on his career. The following year the young artist tried his hand at composition, for he published variations on themes from Weber's "Euryanthe," which were well received. Thalberg in after-years spoke of all his youthful productions with disdain, but his early works displayed not a little of the brilliant style of treatment which subsequently gave his fantasias a special place among compositions for the piano-forte.
It was not till 1830 that young Thalberg fairly began his career as a traveling player. The cities of Germany received him with the most eclatant admiration, and his feats of skill as a performer were trumpeted by the newspapers and musical journals as something unprecedented in the art of pianism. From Germany Thalberg proceeded to France and England, and his audiences were no less pronounced in their recognition. Liszt had already been before him in Paris, and Chopin arrived about the same time. Kalkbrenner, Ferdinand Hiller, and Field were playing, but the splendid, calm beauty of Thalberg's style instantly captivated the public, and elicited the most extravagant and delighted applause not only from the public, but from enlightened connoisseurs.
To follow the course of Thalberg's pianoforte achievements in his musical travels through Europe would be merely to repeat a record of uninterrupted successes. He disarmed envy and criticism everywhere, and even those disposed to withhold a frank and generous acknowledgment of his greatness did not dare to question powers of execution which seemed without a technical flaw. During his travels Thalberg composed a concerto for piano and orchestra, to play at his concerts. But this species of composition was so obviously unsuited to his abilities that he quickly forsook it, and thenceforward devoted his efforts exclusively to the instrument of which he was such an eminent master. A more extensive ambition had been rebuked in more ways than one. He composed two operas, "Fiorinda" and "Christine," and of course easily yielded to the entreaties of his admirers to have them produced. But it was clearly evident that his musical idiosyncrasy, though magnificent of its kind, was limited in range, and after the failure of his operas and attempts at orchestral writing Thalberg calmly accepted the situation.
In the year 1834 Thalberg was appointed pianist of the Imperial Chamber to the court of Austria, and accompanied the Emperor Ferdinand to Toplitz, where a convocation of the European sovereigns took place. His performances were warmly received by the assembled monarchs, and he was overwhelmed with presents and congratulations. Thalberg's way throughout the whole of his life was strewn with roses, and, though his career did not present the same romantic incidents which make the life of Franz Liszt so picturesque, it was attended by the same lavish favors of fortune. From one patron he received the gift of a fine estate, from another a magnificent city mansion in Vienna, and testimonials, like snuff-boxes set with diamonds, jeweled court-swords, superbly set portraits of his royal and imperial patrons, and costly jewelry, poured in on him continually. Imperial orders from Austria and Russia were bestowed on him, and hardly any mark of favor was denied him by that good fortune which had been auspicious to him from his very birth. In 1845, while still in the service of the Austrian emperor, though he did not intermit his musical tours through the principal European cities, Thalberg married the charming widow, whom he had known and admired before her marriage, the daughter of the great singer Lablache, Mme. Bouchot, whose first husband had been the distinguished French painter of that name. The marriage was a happy one, though scandal, which loves to busy itself about the affairs of musical celebrities, did not fail to associate Thalberg's name with several of the most beautiful women of his time. Mile. Thalberg, a daughter of this marriage, made her debut with considerable success in London, in 1874.
Thalberg's first visit to America was in 1853, and he came again in 1857, to more than repeat the enthusiastic reception with which he was greeted by music-loving Americans. Musical culture at that time had not attained the refinement and knowledge which now make an audience in one of our greater cities as fastidious and intelligent as can be found anywhere in the world. But Thalberg's wonderful playing, though lacking in the fire, glow, and impetuosity which would naturally most arouse the less cultivated musical sense, created a furore, which has never been matched since, among those who specially prided themselves on being good judges. He extended both tours to Cuba, Mexico, and South America, and it is said took away with him larger gains than he had ever made during the same period in Europe.
During the latter years of Thalberg's life he spent much of his time in elegant ease at his fine country estate near Naples, only giving concerts at some few of the largest European capitals, like London and Paris. He became an enthusiastic wine-grower, and wine from his estate gained a medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1867. Many of his best piano-forte compositions date from the period when he had given up the active pursuit of virtuosoism. His works comprise a concerto, three sonatas, many nocturnes, rondos, and etudes, about thirty fantasias, two operas, and an instruction series, which latter has been adopted by many of the best teachers, and has been the means of forming a number of able pupils. This fine artist died at his Neapolitan estate, April 27, 1871.
Thalberg had but little sympathy with the dreamy romanticism which found such splendid exponents, while he was yet in his early youth, in Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt. Imagination in its higher functions he seemed to lack. A certain opulence and picturesqueness of fancy united in his artistic being with an intelligence both lucid and penetrating, and a sense of form and symmetry almost Greek in its fastidiousness. The sweet, vague, passionate aspiration^, the sensibility that quivers with every breath of movement from the external world, he could not understand. Placidity, grace, and repose he had in perfection. Yet he was very highly appreciated by those who had little in common with his artistic nature. As, for example, Robert Schumann writes of Thalberg and his playing, on the occasion of a charity concert, given in Leipzig in 1841: "In his passing flight the master's pinions rested here awhile, and, as from the angel's pinions in one of Rucker's poems, rubies and other precious stones fell from them and into indigent hands, as the master ordained it. It is difficult to say anything new of one who has been so praise beshow-ered as he has. But every earnest virtuoso is glad to hear one thing said at any time—that he has progressed in his art since he last delighted us. This best of all praise we are conscientiously able to bestow on Thalberg; for, during the last two years that we have not heard him, he has made astonishing additions to his acquirements, and, if possible, moves with greater boldness, grace, and freedom than ever. His playing seemed to have the same effect on every one, and the delight that he probably feels in it himself was shared by all. True virtuosity gives us something more than mere flexibility and execution: aman may mirror his own nature in it, and in Thalberg's playing it becomes clear to all that he is one of the favored ones of fortune, one accustomed to wealth and elegance. Accompanied by happiness, bestowing pleasure, he commenced his career; under such circumstances he has so far pursued it, and so he will probably continue it. The whole of yesterday evening and every number that he played gave us a proof of this. The public did not seem to be there to judge, but only to enjoy; they were as certain of enjoyment as the master was of his art."
Thalberg in his appearance had none of the traditional wild picturesqueness of style and manner which so many distinguished artists, even Liszt himself, have thought it worth while to carry perhaps to the degree of affectation. Smoothly shaven, quiet, eminently respectable-looking, his handsome, somewhat Jewish-looking face composed in an expression of unostentatious good breeding, he was wont to seat himself at the piano with all the simplicity of one doing any commonplace thing. He had the air of one who respected himself, his art, and the public. His performance was in an exquisitely artistic sense that of the gentleman, perfect, polished, and elaborately wrought. The distinguished American litterateur, Mr. George William Curtis, who heard him in New York in 1857, thus wrote of him: "He is a proper artist in this, that he comprehends the character of his instrument. He neither treats it as a violoncello nor a full orchestra. Those who in private have enjoyed the pleasure of hearing—or, to use a more accurate epithet, of seeing—Strepitoso, that friend of mankind, play the piano, will understand what we mean when we speak of treating the piano as if it were an orchestra. Strepitoso storms and slams along the keyboard until the tortured instrument gives up its musical soul in despair and breaks its heart of melody by cracking all its strings.... Every instrument has its limitations, but Strepitoso will tolerate no such theory. He extracts music from his piano, not as if he were sifting the sands for gold, but as if he were raking oysters.... Now, Thalberg's manner is different from Strepitoso's. He plays the piano; that is the phrase which describes his performance. He plays it quietly and suavely. You could sit upon the lawn on a June night and hear with delight the sounds that trickled through the moonlight from the piano of this master. They would not melt your soul in you; they would not touch those longings that, like rays of starry light, respond to the rays of the stars; they would not storm your heart with the yearning passion of their strains, but you would confess it was a good world as you listened, and be glad you lived in it—you would be glad of your home and all that made it homelike; the moonlight as you listened would melt and change, and your smiling eyes would seem to glitter in cheerful sunlight as Thalberg ended."