excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 78-80 (665 words)

excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 78-80 (665 words)

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Musical letters from Abroad

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The presence of Robert and Clara Schumann was enough to attract a large audience. Anticipating this, our company, consisting of three persons, went a little before the time appointed for the opening of the door; but yet we found a crowd gathered; the room filled immediately as the door was opened, but we succeeded in obtaining good seats. We had now to wait a full hour before the music commenced, but in the midst of such a multitude of good-looking and well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, all in conversation in loud and merry voices, it soon passed away. Half an hour before the commencement, the oboe was heard, running the scales, &c.; this was soon followed by faggotti, corni, clarionetti, and strings; every man tuning and getting his instrument and his fingers in readiness. Mendelssohn seemed to look down from his bust immediately opposite the orchestra with approbation. At half-past six precisely, Kapelmeister Rietz takes his stand — the signal is given — every one is silent and attentive, and Beethoven’s overture (op. 124) fills the whole company with delight. This is a very pleasing overture; it is less learned, but of a more popular character than most of Beethoven’s. It is often marked with a rhythm like the music of the march or dance; and the flourishes of the brass instruments and drums almost lead one to suppose that he is listening to a military band. But still the hand of the master is seen, and although Beethoven comes down and freely holds conversation with the people, yet he always preserves his dignity, and never dishonors his profession in this pleasing composition.

A very good singer followed; Frau Leopoldine Tuczek-Herrenburg, from Berlin, in a Recitative and Arie from the opera of “Sylvana,” by C. Maria von Weber.

This was followed by a grand Concerto for the Piano Forte, with orchestral accompaniment (G moll), composed by J. Moschelles, and played by Clara Schumann. I have already spoken of Madame Schumann’s playing; her performance of this Concerto was perfect, and received the warmest approbation from the audience.

An air of De Beriot followed, by Frau Tuczek-Herrenburg; after which Madame Schumann played most charmingly a Notturno (B. major) for piano forte, by F. Chopin. In this she was encored, and played in answer to the call another piece unknown to the writer.

The second part of the concert was that in which the musical ones were most deeply interested, for it consisted of Robert Schumann's new Symphonie. This has not been published, and was played from manuscript, conducted by the author, who was cordially greeted on his appearance at the head of the orchestra. It is undoubtedly a work of great merit; but it is truly a great work, and can only be performed by a very thoroughly trained band. Its analogies and correspondencies are deeper and more hidden than in Mozart or Beethoven, but nevertheless they are there, and can be discovered to some extent even at a first hearing. The Symphonie consists of five movements, there being in addition to the usual movements a short adagio (fourth) introduced. In the second movement (scherzo), there is playfulness and relief, but throughout the whole the idea of greatness prevails; so much so as almost to oppress one with a feeling of grandeur and sublimity. The fourth movement especially seems to partake in the highest degree of this character, and stirs up the deep feelings to awe and reverence. But vain is any attempt at description, especially by one who has heard it but at a single performance. It was played with great energy; every member of the orchestra had enough to do. The captain inspired confidence, and the result was most satisfactory. There was but a momentary pause between the parts, and in this respect the learned conductor’s example is well worthy of imitation. The Symphonie occupied thirty-three minutes in its performance, and at half-past eight the concert closed.

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excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 78-80 (665 words)


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