Hermann Klein in Savoy Hotel, New York - 1896

from Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900, pages 423-4:

The subsequent reunion at the hotel found every one in the highest spirits. Beside the three artists, there were present Mme. Nordica’s sister (Mrs. Walker) and Mr. Amherst Webber, the talented English maestro at piano who had recently acted as accompanist to the brothers in their Wagnerian studies. After supper the conversation turned upon Bayreuth, and allusion was made to a certain half-promise given by Jean de Reszke to Frau Cosima, that he would one day sing Tristan and Walther, or perhaps even Siegfried, at the festival. I remarked that, after what I had heard that night, I entertained no doubts concerning the adequate quality of his accent. This only elicited a further request that I would stay in New York until I had heard how it sounded in “Tristan”. Then the distinguished tenor turned to Mme. Nordica and proposed that, as I was evidently not to be made to alter my determination, the best thing they could do would be to “bring the mountain to Mohammed" and sing some “Tristan” to me there and then; and that between one and two in the morning, and after a heavy opera like “Lohengrin"! Surely it was not possible. But surprise and incredulity quickly changed to delight. For, without an instant's hesitation, Mme. Nordica consented ; Mr. Webber went to the piano and played a few introductory bars; and, almost before I could realize what was being done, the two gifted artists were warbling the wondrous love scene from Wagner's immortal music-drama.

They did not spare themselves, either, these generous friends. They sang with full voice; they went through not only the scene with which they had started, but the duet of the first act as well; and, from beginning to end, the exquisite beauty of their phrasing, the blending of their voices in perfect intonation and unity of color, the significance of their supreme dramatic interpretation, constituted at once a marvel and a revelation. It was a strange experience, sitting at the supper-table (for none of us but Mr. Webber had moved from our seats) while for an hour or more those two famous singers reveled in the enjoyment of their self-imposed task— undertaken for the sole purpose of conferring pleasure upon an old friend. The picture of that night remains vividly imprinted upon my mind, even as its vocal spell lives fresh and fragrant among my most treasured memories.

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cite as

Hermann Klein, Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900 (New York City, 1903), p. 423-4. https://led.kmi.open.ac.uk/entity/lexp/1438593512176 accessed: 2 February, 2023

location of experience: Savoy Hotel, New York


Hermann Klein
Music Critic, Singing Teacher, Writer

Listening to

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Excerpts from Tristan and Isolde
written by Richard Wagner
performed by Amherst Weber, Jean de Reszke, Lillian Nordica

Experience Information

Date/Time 1896
Medium live
Listening Environment in the company of others, in private, indoors

Originally submitted by sp327 on Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:18:32 +0100
Approved on Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:56:51 +0100