excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 44-47 (429 words)

excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 44-47 (429 words)

part of

Recollections of an old musician

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urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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44-47

45-47

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Before coming to Boston I had played second clarinet in the Dublin (Ireland) Philharmonic Society. In the season of 1844-45, that Society brought out the Scotch Symphony and the Midsummer Night's Dream overture, by Mendelssohn.

[…]

We must remember that fifty years ago there were not many professional musicians of sufficient technical ability to cope with Me-delssohn’s music, which even to-day is classified as difficult. Our orchestra was made up half of amateurs and half of professionals. We could have no lightning-express trains in tempo; most music was played tempo commodo.

[…]

Well, we tried it. Our conductor was Mr. Geo. J. Webb,—an excellent general musician, but who had never heard the overture. He began by telling us that he had no score; so he stood up alongside of the first-violin desk and prepared to conduct. Rapping on the desk, he gave the signal to begin; out piped two flutes,—nothing else. He rapped again, implying that the players had not been ready to begin; then he said, “We will try again.” He gave the signal—and out piped the two flutes. That caused a little titter of surprise, and we all looked quizzically at each other. Mr. Webb, however, dutifully gave the signal for the next “ hold ” or chord, when two clarinets joined the two flutes! More surprise. At the third hold (chord) the fagotti and horns were added, and at the fourth hold (chord) the entire wood and wind instruments, all sounding most distressingly out of tune. This dissonant and unlooked-for result was followed by a dead pause; then every one of the players broke out with a hearty laugh of derision.

I was on pins and needles and muttered, “ Go on, go on! ” After a while the people sobered down, and we tried to commence with the string part The first and second violins (each relative part divided into two parts) began at an “accommodation-train” tempo. At the end of the violin passage, the wood and wind again held a very dissonant chord for two measures, which this time sounded so abominably out of tune that it really was as bad as if each man played any note he pleased ; and it was so irresistibly funny that again everybody burst out laughing. But I buried my head under the music desk and cried ; my idol was derided, every one poked fun at me.

That last dissonant chord ended the first rehearsal of the Midsummer Nights Dream overture. We never tried it again.

Before coming to Boston I had played second clarinet in the Dublin (Ireland) Philharmonic Society. In the season of 1844-45, that Society brought out the Scotch Symphony and the Midsummer Night's Dream overture, by Mendelssohn.

[…]

We must remember that fifty years ago there were not many professional musicians of sufficient technical ability to cope with Me-delssohn’s music, which even to-day is classified as difficult. Our orchestra was made up half of amateurs and half of professionals. We could have no lightning-express trains in tempo; most music was played tempo commodo.

[…]

Well, we tried it. Our conductor was Mr. Geo. J. Webb,—an excellent general musician, but who had never heard the overture. He began by telling us that he had no score; so he stood up alongside of the first-violin desk and prepared to conduct. Rapping on the desk, he gave the signal to begin; out piped two flutes,—nothing else. He rapped again, implying that the players had not been ready to begin; then he said, “We will try again.” He gave the signal—and out piped the two flutes. That caused a little titter of surprise, and we all looked quizzically at each other. Mr. Webb, however, dutifully gave the signal for the next “ hold ” or chord, when two clarinets joined the two flutes! More surprise. At the third hold (chord) the fagotti and horns were added, and at the fourth hold (chord) the entire wood and wind instruments, all sounding most distressingly out of tune. This dissonant and unlooked-for result was followed by a dead pause; then every one of the players broke out with a hearty laugh of derision.

I was on pins and needles and muttered, “ Go on, go on! ” After a while the people sobered down, and we tried to commence with the string part The first and second violins (each relative part divided into two parts) began at an “accommodation-train” tempo. At the end of the violin passage, the wood and wind again held a very dissonant chord for two measures, which this time sounded so abominably out of tune that it really was as bad as if each man played any note he pleased ; and it was so irresistibly funny that again everybody burst out laughing. But I buried my head under the music desk and cried ; my idol was derided, every one poked fun at me.

That last dissonant chord ended the first rehearsal of the Midsummer Nights Dream overture. We never tried it again.

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excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 44-47 (429 words)

excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 45-47 (429 words)

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