THE WILLEM MENGELBERG SOCIETY
Newsletters on this page: #11
Newsletter No. 11
What did Mengelberg want in a performance of the Academic Festival Overture (now available on German Electrola C 053-01 453)? D. W. Sinclair, writing of a rehearsal of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Mengelberg, provides a hint: "Brahms 'Academic Festival Overture’ presented difficulties -- it was too sweet to suit him. Quoth Willem; 'Here are professors - dry old professors -- accompanying his elucidation by making faces." (D. W. Sinclair, "Six rchestralConductors," The American Mercury, Vol. I; March, 1924; p. 290.
THE FOLLOWING list of concerts concludes the series that Mengelberg conducted with the National Symphony Orchestra in 1921.
MARCH 7 & 9 (Mon. afternoon and Wed, evening),
WAGNER: Prelude to Lohengrin; STRAUSS: Don Juan and Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome; SCHONBERG: Verk1ärte Nacht; CORELLI: Concerto Grosso, op. 6, No. 8 ("Christ-mas"). (Menglberg played a "harpsichord" that was a converted piano; Scipione Guidi, concertmaster, Adolph Bak, assistant concertmaster (?), and Cornelius van Vliet, solo cellist, played the solo string passages. An organ, played by ?, provided the basso continuo.)
MARCH 13 & l5 (Sun. eve, and Tues. afternoon),
STRAUSS: Der Bürger als Edelmann (first performance in N.Y. City); MOZART: Serenade #7 in D, K. 250 (”Haffner’) (Four movements, with Mengelberg’s cadenzas; Guidi played the solo violin passages; the orchestra was reduced in size); RACHMANINOFF: P. Conc. #3 (composer was soloist); WAGNER: Tannhäuser Over.
MARCH 20 (Sun. eve.),
STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben; BEETHOVEN: V. Conc.; (ALEXANDER SCHMULLER); and Leonore Over. #3.
MARCH 22 & 23 (Tues. aft. and Wed. eve.),
BEETHOVEN: S. #3; SAINT-SAÉNS: V. Conc. in B. minor, Op. 61 (RENEE CHEMET); STRAUSS: Death and Transfiguration.
MARCH 25 (Fri. eve.),
J. S. BACH: Suite #2 in B minor for Flute & Strings, S. 1067 (Mengelberg played a piano converted to sound like a harpsichord.); STRAUSS: Dance of the7 Veils from Salome; LISZT: Les Prèludes; WAGNER: Tannhäuser O. (This concert marked Mengelberg’s last appearance with the NSO, which was disbanded at the end of the season, the majority of the members being chosen for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which was reconstituted for the following season. According to Mengelberg, "Above seventy percent of the present players [of the NYPO] were enlisted last season in the ranks of the National Symphony."
WE HAVE only written descriptions (extremely wanting as they are) of how well the NSO played under Mengelberg. The following remarks, which are taken from a letter in the N. Y. Times, Sunday, Dec. 6, l925, Section 8, p. 10, are interesting to us chiefly because the author is B. H. Haggin, whose concise and pointed prose remains unaltered, but whose views on conductors have long since undergone radical change. Mr. Haggin answers C. L. Buchanan, whose letter, published in the Times the previous Sunday, criticized Mengelberg for cutting the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s 5th cuts, incidentally, that Mengelberg adopted on the advice of Modest Tchaikovsky, Peter’s brother. First, Mr. Buchanan’s letter (November 29, Section 8, p. 7) needs quoting, as it is a marvelously fiery example of the endlessly repeated criticism that Mengelberg was too "free" with music. ". . . I nevertheless fail to understand how a critic of your noteworthy fineness of perception can praise Mr. Mengolberg’s flauntingly sentimental and insolently patronizing reading of this symphony [Tchaikovsky’s 5th] . . . Mr. Mengelberg deletes a large section of tbe last movement of this symphony. . . . It Is not Tchaikovsky’s fault If a man in Mr. Mengelberg’s position depreciates him by distorting him, by going so far, even, as to re-orchestrate him and by lowering him, upon occasion, to the status of cheap restaurant music." As Mr. Buchanan pantingly sheathed his broad sword, Mr. Haggin cooly drew a glinting daggar. "As for the reading [of Tchaikovsky’s 5th] , one could no more infer from it that Mr. Mengelberg disliked Tchaikovsky than from Dr. Muck’s one could infer that be disliked Debussy. Your own opinion [Buchanan’s] of it was presumably favorable; to me it is a surpassing (not surprising) achievement in executive musical architecture. Hearing it again I felt anew the amazement and inarticulate delight with which some of us listened to Mr. Mengelberg’s performances with the National Symphony, e.g., of the 'Pathetic, of 'Ein Heldenleben, 'Don Juan, 'Tod und Verklärung, of, a to all appearances totally barren work like Mahler’s First or Berlioz’s ‘Fantastique.’”
A NEW SERIES -- Mengelberg’s concerts on tour with the New York Philharmonic (-Symphony) Orchestra -- will begin in a forthcoming Newsletter.
FINAL notes to Dr. Hardie s Mengelberg Discography (the pagination being that of the Discography): PAGE 5: Ein Heldenleben was recorded, not In Carnegie Hall, but in Liederkranz Hall (no longer standing) on E. 58th St. N. Y. City, according to Saul Goodman, retired tympanist of the NYPO, who plays in the recording. PAGE 12: Coriolan O. was recorded in the Amsterdam Town Hall, not in the Concertgebouw, states the reviewer In Musical Times, London, April 1, 1927, p. 346. PAGE 19: the Dutch issue (label in English, but manufactured in the Netherlands) of the Grieg also bears the catalog number LX 168. PAGE 28: Brahms, SK 3075 AC/79AC, automatic coupling; R. Mengelberg is (Kurt) Rudolph Mengelberg (July 18, 1892 - Oct. 12, 1959), composer, author, and artistic (later General) Director of the Concertgebouw Orch., who was Willem’s nephew (not his cousin, as Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1954, incorrectly states in the entry Mengelberg). PAGE 29: Tchaikovsky, S. #5, Telestar (Swedish label) SK3086X/91K, automatic coupling. In closing these notes, there can be added to the list of those Broadcasting Authorities (Newsletter #9, p. 2) who reply as not having recordings of Mengelberg’s concerts the national broadcasting networks of Switzerland and Denmark.
THE CHIEF weakness of Dr. H. H. Hardie’s Mengelberg discography (Newsletter #7, p. 3) is the omission of pirated issues. Herewith follows the first of two installments of those Mengelberg transfers that are known to me. One or two of these records may not be pirated, as, I or example, the issue of the International Piano Library (Installment Two), which, a member writes to me, is published with the agreement of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. I have heard none of these records and can only stress that their quality is, according to members who have kindly kept me informed and expressed their opinions, most variable. As these records are often impossible to obtain unless you are privy to the suppliers, I am concluding each installment with a list of one or more firms that sell them. Prices that are quoted may no longer apply, owing to inflation. In the future, the Newsletter will publish announcements of all "private" Mengelberg issues as they appear. I shall appreciate members keeping me informed, both as to what is published and, if known, as to quality of transfer and pressing.
INSTALLMENT ONE: JAPAN (at the present
time, 1000 Yen are equal to about $3.70). METRONOME ULX 3009E (Yen
2200): Beethoven’s S. #4 and Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812
(These are transfers of the corresponding German Telefunken issues; as
they were made by the Munich firm Stereoton (Historia). I presume that
the Symphony Is the same transfer as that in Historia H690/95 (Newsletter
#7, pp.3 & 4).
M-5003 (Yen 2,500): Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer (Hermann Schey, performance of Thursday, November 9, 1939; this is a copy of a recording held by AVRO, The Netherlands National Radio), coupled with Kindertotenlieder (Rehkemper/Horenstein).
P l00l (Yen 3000): J. S. Bach’s Air (arr. by Mahler) from Suite #3, S. 1068, and Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 3, #8 (both from Telefunken), coupled with Hande1's Concerto Grossi #11 (Op. 6, #5) and 16 (Op. 6, #10) (Furtwängler/Ber. Phil. O.).
P-1003 (Yen 3000): Brahams S. #1, 3rd movement (Poco al1egro) (from Columbia/Odeon), coupled with Brahms S. #3 (Knappertsbusch/BPO/l9143).
THE JAPANESE records can be ordered from ANZ Incorporated, 27 Higashiyama-Cho, itabashi-ku, Tokyo 174, Japan. Before ordering, it may be prudent to wait I or Installment Two.
NOTES AND CORRECTION: German member Dr. Hellmut Sehwenkenbecher, a specialist in internal medicine, suffered a heart attack on March 13 and was dead within the hour. He was one of the very first and most enthusiastic members of the Society, a passionate collector of records, and an extraordinarily generous person. In one of his letters he mentioned hearing in Germany in the l930s Mengelberg’s broadcast concerts from Amsterdam. He leaves a widow and several children. What has beginning has also end.
Radio Station WFMT, Chicago, broadcast on Collector’s Corner, Monday, March 18, 10:30 p.m., Beethoven’s 9th, as recorded by Mengelberg. According to member Andrew McAllister, Donald Tait, the announcer, "gave a fine commentary along with it." Member G. P. Gennaro writes that WQXR, the radio station of the New York Times, broadcast Mengelberg’s recordings of Schubert’s 9th (Telefunken or Philips?) and Rachmanioff's Piano Concerto #2 (Gieseking/Thursday, October 31, 19140/a "private" issue that will be listed In the next Newsletter), on Collectors Corner sometime before March 18, the postmark of his letter.
My statement in Newsletter #1, p. 2, that Mrs. Edna Richolson Solitt, the authoress of at least two books on Mengelberg, was his "close friend" is quite exaggerated. According to Miss E. B. Heemskerk, Mrs. Sollitt was a guest for several days of the Mengelbergs in Switzerland. Does anyone know where Mrs. Sollitt, who was a concert pianist, is today?
Member Brendan Wehrung sends news that Radio Station WDET-FM, Wayne State University, Detroit, began In April a series of nine weekly programs entitled A Willem Mengelberg Festival. Two less common recordings that were broadcast are the Overture to The Flying Dutchman (NYPO/Tuesday, October 6, 1925) and Rachmaninoff’s P. C. #2 (Gieseking). Some of the recordings broadcast were supplied by Mr. Wehrung himself, who was an animating force behind the series. His latest letter contains very glad tidings In the form of an answer, dated April 11, he received from Dutch Philips, which informs that Philips is preparing re-issues "of Mengelberg repertoire," but that further details are unknown at present.
A very interesting letter from Dutch member Paul Zander (who, incidentally, is a grandchild of Mengelberg’s sister Anna Maria Katharina (1877-1949) enclosed a reply from the Archiepiscopal Museum, Utrecht. The letter contains the news that the house in which Nengelberg was born at Utrecht (Hoogt 10) was recently restored, and it is hoped that a Memorial Exhibit and a series of concerts in honor of the Mengelberg family, and particularly of Willem, can be arranged for 1975 at Utrecht. As now planned, choral and orchestral concerts and song recitals will be given. It was Mr. Zander, who is the authority on Mengelberg’s ancestry, who kindly confirmed the correct relationship between Willem and Rudolph (see p. 2).
THE SOCIETY offers to members the following
recordings by Mengelberg.
JAPANESE RCA VICTOR ($6.30): Beethoven S. #3 (New York Philharmonic-Symphony
Orchestra RED-200l). GERMAN TELEFUNKEN ($7.50 for the set of two discs): Tchaikovsky S. # 5 & 6 (KT11010/l-2; only one set is left). GERMAN ELECTROLA ($5.00): Brahms S. #3 and Academic Festival Overture (C 053-01 453). GERMAN PHILIPS (*7.50 for the set of two discs): Beethoven S. #5 & 9 (6701031).
MAILING COSTS for records are as follows for surface mail (domestoc/foreign): one disc (58cents/$2.00), 2 discs (63cents/$2.00), 3 discs (75cents/$2.40), 4 or 5 discs ($1.00/$2.93), 6 discs ($1.08/$3.33), 7 or 8 discs ($1.16/$3.73), 9 or 10 discs ($l.24/$4.13).
THE NEW Philips issue, which was released about April of last year in Germany, is part of the excellent Dutch Philips series. The Dutch engineers must have lavished an extraordinary amount of care when originally preparing the series in the l95Os, as all of the transfers are exceedingly fine. The concert performances of the German Philips set date respectively from Thursday, April 18 and May 2, 1940. The German notes in the album I have translated, and
a copy of this translation will be enclosed with each set ordered..* The notes comprise a chronological sketch of the important events in Mengelberg’s life and a fine appreciation by Sabine Max. The translation will be sent to any member upon request who either orders a record or encloses a small self-addressed and stamped envelope.*
ALL BACK Issues of the Newsletter, excepting
#9, which is exhausted, are available to members in return for a single
self addressed envelope of legal size, stamped with 10 cents in postage
for every two Newsletters requested.
WITH THIS issue, the fourth, Subscription Year 1973 comes to a close. Subscription Year 1974 will open with the next issue, #12. The Membership Fee remains $3.00. Members will please note that, as customary, no other Notice of Renewal will be mailed to them. quite a few members have already renewed for the Subscription Year 1974, for which continued support I want to express my thanks.
THE SOCIETY has ordered for a number of members
who had expressed interest two Mengelberg issues of Japanese Telefunken
that were mentioned in an earlier Newsletter. The Society has not
previously offered either disc, which were released in Japan about last
July. According to Japanese member Toshio Shitamoto, the transfers for
the two records were made by German Telefunken, using metal parts found
within the last year or so in a warehouse in Japan. The late Dr. Schwenkenbecher
was informed last year that German Telefunken has no plans to release either
record. The two discs are Japanese Telefunken SLC 2325 (Strauss Don
Juan and Beethoven S. #6) and SLC 2326 (Beethoven S. #4,
Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings, Debussy Afternoon of a Faun).
(Aren’t these particularly attractive couplings?) Members should note that
In the case of Don Juan and the two symphonies these are not the
same performances as those In the Philips series. The respective
recording dates, as taken from Dr. Hardie’s Discography, are session of
November 7 to 9, 1938; about December/ January 1937/38; December
1 and 2, 1938; same session as Don Juan and November 30, 1938. If
any other members wish either of these two records, will they please send
me a pre-payment of $7.00 for each disc ordered. Orders will be accumulated
until July 10. Please do not delay your order, for a late check will have
to be torn up. The Japanese retail price of each record is Yen 2,200. As
the Society is able to obtain these two records in Japan at a favorable
price, the final cost to members should be about (and perhaps less than)
what one would pay in Japan. Japanese records have always commanded a very
stiff premium in the United States, in the few cases where they have been
imported. I should stress that the "final cost" will depend to some degree
on the size of the order that the Society mails to Japan, as the larger
the order the lower the unit cost for importation charges.
Bartok’s Violin Concerto #2 is still available (Hungaroton, $4.50 + mailing costs)
Pleasant listening and a pleasant summer wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20
Newsletter No. 12
WHEN MENGELBERG conducted a certain performance of Beethoven’s 5th in the 1920s, there was present in the audience a colleague and critic. In the words of Elly Ney to her husband, Willem van Hoogstraten (Elly Ney; Briefwechsel mit Willem van Hoogstraten. Hans Schneider Verlag. Copyright 1970. Letter dated July 3, 1925, Bern, Switzerland): "Toscanni was furious with Mengelberg and his Beethoven 5th. Mengelberg is supposed not to have observed a single hold, particularly at the beginning, and Richard Wagner in his work On Conducting is supposed to have spoken explicitly of the importance of these holds." [Wagner passionately, excitedly argues that the fourth note (which Beethoven marks with a hold) of "Fate Knocking on the Door" must be held for dear 1ife.] As interesting as it is to know what another great composer made of the Fate motive, the fundamental question for an interpreter is what was Beethoven’s view of these four notes that introduce the first movement. Beethoven’s friend and biographer, Anton Schindler, as the story is repeated by either Xaver Scharwenka or Karl Goldmark, told an angry and skeptical Mendelssohn that Beethoven conducted these notes andante (moderately slow) , oven though he had marked the movement Allegro con brio (lively and with vigor) and specified a very fast ((h)) =108. Neither Mengelberg (broadcast concert performance of April 18, 1940: German Philips 6701031) nor Toscanini (broadcast concert performance of March 22, 1952) opens at a speed even remotely andante, although Mengelberg begins more slowly than does Toscanini; and the more imposing tonal weight of the Concertgebouw Orchestra makes Mengelberg’s opening tempo seem to be slower than it actually is: Mengelberg’s effect, in other words, is more nearly andante than is Toscanini’s. What. credence can be given Beethoven’s metronome values? In the 3rd Symphony, Beethoven marks the 2nd movement, the Funeral March, a quite fast ((e)) = 80, despite his other tempo marking being Adagio assai (very slow ) . Mengelberg’s average tempo for the first 17 measures of this movement is ((e)) = 60. This is also Toscanini’s tempo (recording of December 6, 1953) , writes Dr. Klaus Blum, who knows of no faster recorded performance. Dr. Blum does not explain how he measured this value in his article in the German magazine fono forum, June, 1974, but I presume that it is also an average value.
IN THE LAST NEWSLETTER hut one I wrote at length on Mengelberg’s retard in the opening measures of Mahler’s 4th, wherein Mengelberg introduces a very marked deceleration, when in fact Mahler specifies "a little slowing down," a command that the composer himself ignored at the time that he conducted the work in New York City. The mystery is so1ved in the recently published first volume of Henry Louis de La Grange’s Mahler (Doubleday & Co., Inc., N. Y. City, Copyright 1973), a very detailed biography of the composer. On page 646 we read: "In the hope of avoiding possible exaggerations, Mahler had become more wary than ever in his choice of indications of tempo. Instead of ritardando, he wrote simply nicht eilen ('do not hurry’) and, conversely, for a slight increase cf speed, nicht schleppen (‘do not drag’). 'Such are the tricks to which musicians like to be treated, he remarked." Mahler did not foresee that musician's view of trio score would turn full circle; rather than to exaggerate, the fashion today is, if anything, to understate a composer’s markings. One thinks immediately of rythmical freedom and (American orchestras!) soft playing. What we hear today as "sensible," accurate, and literal performances of Mahler seriously distort the composer s intentions. The score of Mahler’s) 4th fairly groans with the composer s interpretative markings; even so, this has not ensured "authentic" performances, as every age interprets a score to fit its own prejudices and national styles. However meticulously and copiously a score is marked, these markings have no exact meaning and must be interpreted. The greater the span of time between one age and another, the more nearly certain it is that the later age, which necessarily must understand everything from its own, and very narrow, point of view, will grossly misinterpret at least certain of the markings of the earlier age.
THERE FOLLOWS INSTALLMENT TWO, devoted to
and pirated Mengelberg issues of Canada and the United States, installment
One having appeared in the last, Newsletter. I know of no “private"
or pirated European issues of Mengelberg.
CANADA (All issues are on the Rococo label; all performances are by the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The list price In the United States of Rococo discs is $7.00. I believe. Unless otherwise atated, all recordings are assumed to be transfers from the corresponding recordings of the Columbia/ Odeon and Telefunken series.)
Volume I, 2003: Beethoven, S. #3 (poor transfer, I am informed.)
Volume II, 2004: Tchaikovsky, String Serenade; Dopper, Ciaconna Gotica; Rontgen, Old Netherlands Dances.
Volume III, 2011: Beethoven S. #4; Berlioz, Roman Carnival O.; Franck, Psyche & Eros.
Volume IV, 2012: Liszt, Les Préludes; Ravel, Bolero; J. Strauss, Perpetuum Mobile;
Wagner, Overtures to Tannhâuser and Die Meistersinger.
Volume V, 2018: R. Strauss: Don Juan (is this a copy of the Telefunken, or of the Philips, issue?); Tchaikovsky, Romeo & JulIet O.; Gluck, Alceste O.; Schubert, Rosamunde O. (Likewise, is this a copy of the Telefunken, or of the Philips, issue?).
Volume VI, 2029: Rachmaninoff, P. C. #2 (Gieseking, concert performance of Thursday, October 31, 1940); Bruch V. C. #1 (Guila Bustabo, concert performance of Sunday, October 27, 1940). Does anyone know where Miss Bustabo, who was born in Manitowac, Wisconsin, is today? She was a child prodigy, gave concerts before World War II and recorded, apparently spent the war years on the European continent, gave concerts again after the war, and was at that time the subject of an article (an interview, I believe) in the British magazine The Gramophone. Shortly thereafter she seems simply to have vanished. Incidentally, both of the recordings on this disc are copies of recordings made by the Netherlands National Radio, AVRO.
Volume VII, 2030: Tchaikovsky, S. #4.
Volume VIII: apparently was never issued.
Volume IX, 2058: Beethoven S.#7 (A poor copy of the Philips issue, member Chester K. Davis writes to me); Pfitzner, Cello Concerto, Op. 42 (Gaspar Cassado, concert performance of Thursday, December 12, 1940. This is a copy of a recording made by AVRO).
Volume X, 2059: Kodaly, Peacock Variations (First performance worldwide, Thursday, November 23, 1939); Hary Janos Suite (Concert performance of Thursday, December 12, l940). Both recordings on this disc are copies of recordings made by AVRO.
UNITED STATES (All recordings conducted by Mengelberg are copies of recordings made by AVRO, unless stated otherwise. If a date is not given, it is the same as that already quoted in the preceding list of Rococo issues. All performances are by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, if Mengelberg is the conductor.
Bruno Walter Society, BW3 1005: Bruch, V. C. #1 (Bustabo); Busoni, V. C. (Adolf Busch/Bruno Walter/Concertgehouw Orch.)
International Piano Library, IPL 506: Rachmaninoff, P. C. #2 (Gieseking); Mozart, P. C. #27 (Gieseking/Victor Desarzens/unnamed orchestra).
MJA 19693: Rachmaninoff, P.C. #2 (Gieseking); Debussy, Fantasy for Piano & Orch.
(Gieseking/unnamed orchestra and conductor/performance of October 31, l951).
MRF-74, Willem Mengelberg Memorial Album, consisting of three records and an illustrated
booklet. The set costs about $14.00. Mahler, Songs of a Wayfarer (Hermann Schey, concert performance of Thursday, November 9, 1939); Franck, Symphonic Variations (Gieseking concert performance of Sunday, October 13, 1940); Rachmaninoff, P.C. #2 (Gleseking); Kodaly Hary Janos Suite & Peacock Variations;Ravel, Daphnis & Chloe, Suite #2 (concert perf. of Thursday, October 6, 1938); Schumann, P.C. (Emil von Sauer, concert perf. of Thursday, October 10, 1940); Julius Röntgen, Old Netherlands Dances (presumably the concert performance of Sunday, November 10, 1940, published by Dutch Philips on disc DE-99273 (45rpm) , which accompanied Wouter Paap’s book Willem Mengelbeng); Marnix van St. Aldegonde,Wilhelmus van Nassouwe (The Netherlands National Anthem, arranged by Willem Mengelherg; dubbing of German Telefunken A 2899 (78 rpm), recorded November 30, 1939. Incidentally, St. Aldegonde wrote the text; the composer is unknown); Adrlaan Valerius, Wilt Heden nu Treden (Netherlands Hymn of Thanksgiving, arranged by Johan Wagenaar; also dubbed from A-2899, same recording date); Johan Wagenaar, Taming of the Shrew, Overture (concert perf. of Sunday, October 27, 19140); Mahler, Adagietto, S.#5 (dubbed from American Decca 25011, recorded May, 1926) . Some of the preceding details were kindly supplied by Dr. J. Bradley Norton, whose letter is
extensively quoted following this listing.
Opus 70: Franck, Symphonic Variations (Gieseking); J. S. Bach, Italian Concerto in F major, S 971; Mozart, P.C. #21. The soloist In the Bach & Mozart is also Gieseking, and the orchestra Is the New York Philharmonic Symphony, conducted by Guido Cantelli.
Opus 78: Schumann, P.C. (Sauer) & Carneval (Sauer, solo piano).
SOURCES for the preceding American and Canadian issues follow.
Bruno Walter Society, Box 921, Berkeley, California 94701. Discs are $7.00, postpaid ($8.00, postpaid, abroad), to its members.
H. Royer Smith Co., 2019 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103. Does, or did, sell Rococo issues. It may also sell other pirate records.
International Piano Library, 215 W. 91st St. , New York City, N. Y. 10024. You must become a member to purchase their records.
MRF Records, Ltd. (The child of the late Maurice H. Fuggette: see Newsletter #8, p. 1) , 4l9 Elm St., Bagota, New Jersey 07603. The three disc set is reasonably priced, boxed, &, accompanied by an illustrated booklet, a most attractive issue to the eye. Profits from its sales are contributed to the Mengelberg Foundation, Amsterdam (see Newsletter #2, p. 6). In fact, Mr. Fuggette sent to the Foundation several years ago a considerable sum of money, which probably exceeded prof its from the set for all time to come.
Music Masters, 25 W. 43rd St., New York City, N. Y. 10036. Sells many pirate issues, but is very expensive ($10.00/disc) . They may sell the MJA disc, for which I know no specific source.
Parnassus Records, Box 281, Phoenicia, N. Y. 124614. The two issues on Opus have been advertizsed by Parnassus, $6.00 each, postpaid. I have read that Parnassus can obtain issues of any private label, including those of the different societies. This should be the most attractive source for those who do not wish to join another society, although my recent experience with Parnassus is unfavorable. A large parcel of records (no Mengelbergs!) from my personal collection, mailed in late April, has not been paid for, and my two enquiries have been ignored. Does Parnassus simply dislike us, or are they usually very late in paying? Part of the payment was to be in several pirate issues that Parnassus offers.
Rococo Records, Ltd., P.O. Box l75, Station "K," Toronto, Ontario M4P-2G5, Canada.
DR. NORTON writes: "Included with the album
[MRF-74] is a marvelous 140-page booklet, mostly of pictures, which is
quite professionally done and would be of interest to any Mengelberg
enthusiast . . . . The three commercial discs (Mahler Adagietto, Valenius,
and the Netherlands Anthem) are not very good transfers. ... For listeners
who are used to listening to air-checks, these discs [the three of the
set] are listenable if not great."
"If you discuss pirated recordings in your Newsletter, you might make note of the Rococo recordings of a number of Mengelberg 78s. They are unspeakably bad. One gets so little of the music that it is a total waste of money to purchase them -- with only one exception that I know of [Rococo 2058] ." The Pfitzner dubbing is "quite listenable -- as against all of their dreadful ddubbings of commercial records." Of the Bruch V.C. #1 (BWS l005), "The performance is stupendous, and the sound is eminently listenable."
Two letters from Japanese member Toshio Shitamoto
contain a very helpful comparison and some fresh information. With reference
to the Japanese issue M-5003 (see last Newsletter, p. 2) , "Songs
of a Wayfarer was made by Japanese enthusiast some years ago, based on
dubbing tape sent from some radio station in U.S.A." The transfer has "Good
tone quality and" a wider range than that in the American set MRF-74. "Kindertotenlieder
[M-5003] was carefully transferred from original 78 rpm shellacs [of] English
Decca." Mr. Shitamoto then refers to two Japanese Telefunken issues
(MH-5241 and MH-5100) of Beethoven’s 3rd, both attributed to the Concertgehouw
Orchestra, conducted by Mengelberg. The latter disc we know as a transfer
from the origina1 Menglberg series of German Telefunken. It was offered
in the past by the Society, and its attribution is correct. The former
disc, Mr. Shitamoto writes to me, was published in 1967 and within a month
was deleted for "reason of some trouble" with "its matrix." We can conclude
thet the performance was discovered to be incorrectly attributed, at least.
in respect of the conductor. Mr. Shitamoto makes the following points.
1) The sound of MH 5241 is too fine for a shellac recording, being rather
like that of a tape recording of the l950s. 2) The issue "was prohibited
only 1 month after issue." 3) In the MH recording, a repeat is taken in
the 3rd movement that is omitted in the other recording, the timings for
this movement; heing respectively 5'20' and 3'20". 4) The performance
on the first disc (MH) is "very broad and heroic" and lacks th e variety
of tempo changes we hear on MZ-5100.
Our thanks to both Dr. Norton and Mr. Shitamoto for having gone to the trouble to write to us in such informative detail.
NOTES. Several members have enquired as to the fate of Paul Minchin’s Wilhelm Furtwängler Society, London, which has not made itself known for over a year. Does any reader know the answer, for publication in the next Newsletter? Those who ordered Japanese records through the Society will have a still, further wait, as they were first shipped to us in the middle of August, although I ordered promptly. I am also waiting for further copies of Bartok s V.C. #2 on Hungaroton.
EXCEPTING the German Telefunken set, the Society offers to the members the same recordings as listed in the previous Newsletter. Mailing costs are as quoted therein. Members who recently ordered the Telefunken set have received, or will receive, it.
Pleasant listening & a pleasant late Summer & early Fall wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20
Newsletter No. 13
THE FOLLOWING curiosity was published in a
Sunday issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to member
John W. Titzler, who kindly mailed the clipping to me, the issue appeared
about 1960 or "slightly earlier."
"IN THE postwar period Willem Mengelberg, a famous Dutch conductor, returned to Amsterdam after having spent most of the war years in Switzerland. His alleged collaboration with the Nazi government which had occupied Holland had made him persona non grata in his own country, but he decided to resume his career in Amsterdam anyhow.
"MUCH TO his surprise he was greeted with a thunderous volley of hand-clapping when he walked to the podium. He bowed, placed his hand on his heart, bowed again, smiled, lifted his hands and bowed once more; but the applause didn’t stop. It continued for five minutes -- 10 minutes -- l5 minutes until Mengelberg finally got the point. His 'public’ did not intend to allow the concert to proceed."
WE KNOW that this malicious report is a bizarre fabrication, Mengelberg having spent the years of the Second World War in The Netherlands and his few succeeding years in exile in Switzerland, where he died in March, l951. As Mengelberg was scarcely a political man for even his day, to say nothing of today, when it is fashionable for prominent musicians to affect publically extremely leftist attitudes, it will be very informative for a scholar to make the objects of his enquiry the atmosphere in The Netherlands after the war, as well as Mengelberg’s judgment of l945 and the trial of 1947. He should do this while those personally connected with these two events, and those who have first hand knowledge of the prevailing influences in The Netherlands at that time, are still alive and can give evidence. Unless these influences are known, it is impossible, I believe, to understand why The Netherlands treated Mengelberg as it did.
AM I the only one disconcerted that a public reference to Mengelberg is so often followed by what is obviously for the perpetrator an obligatory reference to National Socialism, although it is clear that the person has no special knowledge of either Mengelberg or National Socialism, much loss is he informed on both? Alsatian member Hubert Wendel wrote to me earlier this year, "Television II of Germany transmitted on April 12 a program on the Concertgebouw, showing Mengelberg conducting the Hungarian March of Berlioz. The program passed over Mengelberg. The only commentary about Mengelberg was, as usual, Mengelberg’s attitude during the Second World War, his sympathy for the Nazi regime -- and not a single word about the musiciann Mengelberg.." I wrote to German Television II for the announcer's text. Their reply referred me to the BBC, London, and to Unitel Filmproduktion, Munich, who were jointly responsible for the program. To my enquiry, the BBC answered that it was not their policy to distribute such texts; Unitel Filmproduktion never acknowledged my letter. Monsieur Wendel continues: "With respect to Mengelberg’s well publicized attitude during the occupation, I met a Jewish musician who knew Mengelberg and his circle, and he asserted to me that the accusations made against Nengelberg were completely unjustified and that the punishment meted out to him was entirely out of keeping with what he had done or said during the occupation. According to this musician, Mengelberg had many enemies, particularly orchestral conductors who impatiently awaited the day that the conductor's post of the Concertgebouw would be vacant. You can imagine the consequences."
A FRIEND of the Mengelbergs told me that at
the trial the prosecution asked the question, "Does he [Mengelberg] have
a lot of money?," the implication being that Mengelberg could have bought
a favorable verdict, just as several others, I was told, did indeed purchase
one. It was a "dirty business," my Dutch acquaintance told me twice.
IN AN atmosphere of widely diffused hysteria, hatred, and corruption, as poisoned, I believe, The Netherlands after the war, any view, however unsupported, any "evidence," however obviously suspect, will receive wide assent and dissemination, provided that the view or "evidence" is consonant with the jaundiced atmosphere of the day. A Dutchman now living in the United States told a member that Mengelberg would have been hanged had he remained in The Netherlands. Exaggerated and unnecessary fears, you say? Consider the following attack on Mengelberg, written by William Hutschenruyter, who is identified as a former member and director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and published in the London Philharmonic Post, September, 1946. Heer Hutschenruyter’s letter was occasioned by the views of an English critic, writing in the Observer of March 17 in connection with the British tour of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Eduard van Beinum. The critic writes that van Beinum is "a sensitive musician and very able conductor, but he is not, like his predecessor, a 'genius.’" The Dutchman replies: "We should like to console van Beinum by quoting the philosophical statement that there is no place for genius in the work of a musical conductor." The critic: Meogelberg "made the orchestra." The Dutchman: "This is indeed a historical error. For it was not Willem Mengelberg but Willem Kes (l888-l89~) the successor of Georg Henechel as conductor of the Glasgow Symphony Orchestra, who made it. The best thing would be to explain this in this way: 'Willem Kes made the Amsterdam Concertgeboutw Orchestra and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra made Willem Mengelberg." (Did you explode into laughter?) A silly letter, certainly, and one of no importance, except in so far as it marks a poisonous atmosphere. After the Second World War there was published in The Netherlands, I was told, a book that purported to be a history of music in that country, but Mengelberg is never mentioned! During the war the Germans had imprisoned a Dutch Jewess, whose daughter, a pianist, beseeched Mengelberg, who successfully interceded to get the mother s release. After the war, the daughter was asked to sign a letter to help Mengelberg. She refused because she feared the consequences, although she was reminded that Mengelberg had risked himself to help her mother. Is it too much to say that there existed in The Netherlands such an atmosphere of hatred and corruption that a fair judgment in l945 (there was only a decision then: no trial) and a fair trial in 1947 were impossible? The court in. 1947 maintained that it came to its verdict uninfluenced by outside events, but shortly before the trial Queen Wilhelmina withdrew from Mengelberg all of the awards that the government had granted him in past years. Who advised her to do this, and for what reasons? Why should the awards be withdrawn just now, when they had not been withdrawn earlier, in l945 or 1946, at a time during which the atmosphere must have been even more poisonous? The daughter who refused to sign the letter had acted intelligently -- with that degree of prudence that has always been considered a sign of commonsense and intelligence, although in the view of others is indistinguishable from cowardice; but the same forces that influenced her must also have influenced the court. Justice is not blind; she sees, and sees very clearly. Indeed, am I exaggerating when I state that the Dutchman who said that Mengelberg would have been hanged was himself not exaggerating?
THOSE IN The Netherlands who were responsible
f or preventing Mengelberg from returning to his rightful place as conductor
of the Concertgebouw Orchestra bear the shame of their disgraceful undertaking.
Even worse is to be said of those who live thousands of miles removed from
that country and yet, two and three decades after the war, insist on moving
a foul hand through the filth of lies and half truths that constitute most
of the propaganda barnacled to
ONE EXAMPLE we saw (Newsletter #10,
pp. 2 & 3) in the deliberate falsification of the English translation
of Wouter Paap’s book Willem Mengelberg. Another example was published
in the Milwaukee Journal, which boasts that it is numbered among
the ten best newspapers of the country. On Sunday, October 29, 1972, Part
5, p. 5, there appeared an article, "Music Has Taken Rudolf Far,"
written by Walter Monfried, who has been a member of the Journal
staff for about three decades. The article, which is an interview with
the conductor Max Rudolf, refers to Mengelberg. "'Frankfurt [Rudolf speaking]
was a good place to learn conducting. We had such great conductors there
as Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Mengelberg.
"Why did Mengelberg become such an ardent Nazi in Holland? Rudolf was asked.
"’He was an opportunist, was the answer. 'I don t remember that he was anti-Semitic. He was a staunch admirer of Mahler, in Mahler’s lifetime, organized festivals of Mahler’s music long before his genius was generally recognized. "
MY LETTER to the Journal, explicitly requesting that the unidentified questioner should come forward to present by mail to the Society his evidence as to Mengelberg’s ardent Nazism, was published Sunday, November 19, 1972. Need I say that the unidentified questioner never came forward? I also wrote to Max Rudolf, who did trouble himself to answer. He replied that he had not said that Mengelberg was an "ardent Nazi," and had no way of knowing. (Mr. Monfried has so managed the words that he represents Rudolf, it seems to me, as agreeing to the question. Are you of my opinion? But it just occurs to me that Rudolf, by carelessly letting the question pass, may have misled the journalist!) By now I was certain that Mr. Monfried himself had asked the question, to which deed he admitted, not once, but several times, and with what appeared to be some embarrassment, on February 14, 1973, at his place of work. During the course of our aimless conversation Mr. Monfried suggested several times that we should read Mengelberg’s obituary in the New York Times and the entry under Mengelberg in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (l954), he apparently believing that these would support his question. Finally, he insisted that we consult "Grove’s," which he opened to the entry, where he began to read, line by line. I pointed out to him that what he sought was at the very end of the article (written by Herbert Antcliffe, who appears to be not well informed on his subject): "In 1941 his health broke down, and as he openly expressed his sympathies with the National Socialists he lost favor in Holland." Mr. Monfried, realizing that he was not going to find the confirmation he sought, abruptly changed his strategy: the obituaries of the Times, he told me, were not easily got. I asked him whether he thought his question justified: "No, probably not," he admitted. But before I left a few minutes later, Mr. Monfried, never daunted, said, "I don t think my mistake was very serious." Is a journalist ever seriously wrong? Owing to those inexorable deadlines, there creeps in an inevitable carelessness: a carelessness, although not misrepresenting the journalist’s prejudices does give to them an unhappily crude expression.
WHAT IF Mengelborg had been an "ardent Nazi" (which he was not), had, indeed, been a member of the National Socialist Party (which he was not), as Dmltri Shostakovich is both an ardent Communist and a member of the Party? What if Mengelberg had written admiringly of National Socialist Germany (which he did not), as Joseph Szigeti does in his autobiography, With Strings Attached (pp. 68 & 69; chapters 22 & 23), of Communist Russia? What if Mengelberg had returned to The Netherlands, there to "embrace Nazism" (which he did not), as was claimed on WQXR-FM, Radio Station of the N.Y. Times, in a broadcast of March 24, 1971? Why is Mengelberg, even at this very late date, made the object of unsupported accusations and placed under constant suspicion (a suspicion that some believe is a factor in the scarcity of re issues), whereas other musicians who were far more intentionally political are ignored in respect of their politics? Those who number themselves among the baying pack can bark their answer! Mengelberg never joined so sordid an undertaking as that which employed the passions of Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Alexander Brailowsky, Lily Pons, André Kostelanetz, Isaac Stern, and Arturo Tosoanini to prevent the consummation in 1949 of the contract between Furtwäng1er and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (See Daniel Gillis, Furtwängler and America, Manyland Books, Inc., 84-39 90th St., Woodhaven, N.Y0, 111421). Just as Soviet officials, recognizing that Furtwängler was a musician, not a politician, offered him a post at Berlin in 1946, although he had just been placed under ban in the Western Occupation Zones, so the Soviet Union invited Mengelberg, exiled in Switzerland and wasting away his precious few remaining years, to conduct in Russia.
NOTES. The first Mengelberg re-issue of Dutch
Philips will be the St. Matthew Passion, one of Mengelberg’s grandest
and most imposing conceptions. (Those who yearn f or an "authentic" performance
were born 200, years too late.) This release, according to a letter from
Dutch Philips, "most likely will also appear on the American record market."
Details as to further re-issues are unknown, but it is clear to me that
the series will continue just so long as sales justify it. As I have numerous
times in the past, I urge the members to saturate their friends with Mengelberg’s
The whole of the Mengelberg series on Japanese Fontana is now withdrawn, member George P. Meyer writes to me! Japanese Fontana had issued the entire Mengelberg series, excepting the aforesaid Passion, which was available on Japanese Philips until its deletion within about the past l5-20 months.
Members who are interested in exchanging or otherwise obtaining Mengelberg’s recordings should send me for publication in the next Newsletter the following details on a sheet separate from other correspondence: name, address, date; kind of recordings exchanged [cassette, open reel (speed & number of tracks), disc (LP &/or 78)] ; and a list of Mengelberg’s recordings most eagerly sought in descending order of importance, which list will be published in so far as space allows.
SEVERAL MEMBERS, including Albert Leff, have kindly supplied information on Paul Minchin’s Furtwäng1er Society, England. Mr. Minchin resigned as chairman over a year ago, and no successor has been found. "So for all practical purposes the Furtwängler Society of England is dead." Mr. Leff also provides details of Miss Guila Bustabo, who plays the Bruch V. C. 2. under Mengelberg. She lives at Innsbruck, where who teaches, and "goes forth from there from time to time to concertize, mainly in Central Europe. A two record set containing all her 78s AND the Bruch Violin Concerto was recently issued and is available from: Mr. Thomas L. Clear, 579 Second Avenue, New York, N. Y. l00016. The transfers are excellent with the Bruch enjoying the best sound yet committed to disks." The set costs $6.00, incl. postage within the United States. To Japan, $12.00 incl. air mail postage. In Europe, order from Bestellbüro Innsbruck, Maria Theresienstr.4, A-6020 Innsbruck. Mr. Clear will issue sometime after April Mengelberg’s recordings of Eine kleine Nachtmusik & Bach’s C. for 2 Violins Zimmerman & Helman). -- Mr. Paul Hess, a young orchestral conductor, 8l5 Fulton St., Wausau, Wis. 54401, seeks tapes of orchestral concerts conducted by Sergiu Celibidache. -- Mr. T. Shitamoto writes that the conductor of the fa1sely attributed Beethoven 3rd (MH-524l, Newsletter #12, p. 14) is Joseph Keilberth. -- Olsen’s Furtwängler discography, 2nd edition, revised, is sold by Moe’s Books, 214814 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, Calif. 9147014. -- Legendary Performers Society, POB 77022, San Francisco, Calif. 94107, advertises the following performances cond. by Mengelberg: LPS 11 (Heldenleben) LPS 12 (Bartok V.C., Kodaly Hary Janos S.); LPS 13 (Beeth. S. #9). I lack further details.
Pleasant listening & a cozy winter wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20
Newsletter No. 14
Mengelberg’s performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is reissued. "It is absolutely not my intention to plead for ‘historical’ performances; the wheel of history cannot be turned back. Clearly, we need the music of the past; the tonal color is and remains a secondary factor. To me, the original tonal color is interesting only insofar as it, among the many possibilities at my disposal, appears to me to be the best for performing this or that music today. Just as I consider it unsuitable to use Monteverdi’s orchestra for playing Richard Strauss, so do I consider Richard Strauss’ orchestra unsuitable for Monteverdi. Since old, and not so old, instruments are so much under discussion at the present time, to close I should like to put the priorities in the right order: First comes the music (the composer s work), then the interpretation (the performance and expression), and finally the most favorable instruments for realizxng the tonal color best suited to the interpretation." (Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Hi. Fi - Stereophonie, September, 1973; p. 910)
“‘I’ve been listening recently to Mengelberg’s interpretation of the Matthew Passion and Percy Grainger playing Chopin. From these I have learned a lot. I would not necessarily want to perform the music in this way but we must not despise an older manner because it s not our own.’ " ("Benjamin Britten Talks to Alan Blyth," The Gramophone June, 1970; p 30.)
“All my first orchestral concerts in Holland were with Willem Mengelberg and perhaps the most moving impression I ever had in music was in 1938, when I heard his performance of the St. Matthew Passion -- one he gave only at the Concertgebouw." (Yehudi Menuhin, in a private letter.)
Of the several letters I received (none adversely
critical) in comment on the last Newsletter, two letters, one from
Robert P. Brouwer & the other from Dr. Harry W. McCraw, are particularly
interesting. With Mr. Brouwer s kind permission, I quote his entire letter.
"Your newsletter No. 13 deals almost in its entirety with Mengelberg’s political disposition which seems to linger in people’s minds and in public utterances long after the conductor’s death.
"This is not the place to reiterate the facts. They are by now public knowledge, can be quoted and as facts can be agreed upon. Pro-German or anti-Dutch actions cannot be laid even at Mengelberg’s grave. It is also generally agreed that he was an a-political man and the most unjust and insidious accusation is perhaps that because of his fame and stature more was expected of him than of the ordinary citizen.
"I lived in Amsterdam before and during the war, when I was a student and active in the underground movement from 1940-1945. After the war I was for a period secretary of a Commission that judged the war-time behavior of Amsterdam Municipal Public servants.
"As a partial explanation of the wave of indignation that destroyed Mengelberg’s character during and after the war I would like to offer a psychological side of his character.
"There is no doubt that Mengelberg was an autocrat, in musicianship and in his personal make-up.
"He had strong opinions on almost everything and these opinions were constantly replaced by different, but equally strong, opinions.
"This autocratic streak was not typically Dutch and although it was a purely personal
characteristic, it appealed more to a Nazi regime than to what was then a weak and defensive mentality in Holland.
"Conversely, Mengelberg’s German background easily led to sweeping statements of his predilection for dictatorial behavior, in and outside music. One could -- and did -- quarrel with his musical views but one had to accept him as a giant. It was perhaps inevitable that outside his music he was an easy prey to self-appointed critics and destroyers of character. These people were often conspicuous by their sincerity and staunch anti-German stance. But at a time when national -- and often personal -- survival demanded clear-cut, black-and-wwhite opinions these critics at the mere assumption of wrongdoing equated anti-Mengelberg with anti-dictatorial and anti-German.
"Such was the situation in 1942, in 1945 and the well-known peacetime tendency for compromise and easy way out had just set in in 1947, when Mengelberg’s exclusion from Dutch podia was limited to six years, amounting at his age to a life-time sentence.
"It was Mengelberg’s fate to live and perform in a time when no faithful recording legacy could be left to posterity, thus barring us from a comprehensive artistic judgment.
"Your newsletter discharges the very commendable mitigation we all have to bring Mengelberg’s true value, his integrity as an artist to life. Here again he held strong opinions but these have an indelible place in history."
Dr. McCraw brings to my attention that the
remarks of the Jewish musician who defended Mengelberg in Hubert Wendel’s
letter, quoted in the last Newsletter, can be misunderstood as casting
aspersions on Eduard van Beinum, who was Mengelberg’s successor. As van
ever since 1931 had conducted a part of each season of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, it must have been clearly understood that he one day would succeed Mengelberg, having become in 1938 First Conductor, Mengelberg being Chief Conductor. Whoever they were who in this manner coveted Mengelberg’s post, van Beinum was not among them, in view of the following (Daniel L. Schorr, N.Y. Times, Sunday, May 4, 1947, Section 2 p. 7 ).
"But Mengelberg still has some support in musical circles. Last month Eduard van Beinum, present conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and several other musicians, inside and outside the orchestra, sent the following petition to the Central Court. [The Petition is quoted, the substance of which is that in consideration of Mengelberg’s great contribution to music in The Netherlands his name "should be removed from the atmosphere of po1itical controversy and passion . . . and should be returned to art, which is its historic place."]
"When the petition leaked out to the press one signer withdrew his name and the others stated that they had not intended to take sides in the controversy but only to urge speedy action."
The. closing paragraph may appear to weaken my point; but in view of the intimidating atmosphere of those days, van Beinum & the others were courageous to sign the Petition; whoever maliciously leaked it to the Press knew precisely the effect that the consequent publicity would have on the signers.
BARTER AND CASH. Gerald M. Stein (713 B Cranbury
Cross Road, North Brunswick, N.J.08902) will exchange open reel tapes of
live & commercial recordings. Of Mengelberg, he seeks Beeth., S
# l (Philips), Tchaikovsky, S #5 (Columbia), Brahms, S #4
(Telefunken). He also seeks live performances of Giunili.
Kenneth DeKay (Esperance, N.Y. 12066: complete address) wants discs (any speed), no tapes. Will pay cash or exchange for Mengelberg or other recordings on LP, 45, or 78 that he has. Seeks the following Mengelbergs: Borodin, In the Steppes of Central Asia; Egmont & Coriolan O. (both with COA); Dvorak, New World S. Schubert, Unfinished S.; Grieg, Two Elegiac Melodies; Mahler, Adagietto from S.#5; Mozart, Eine kl. Nachtmusik; Freischütz & Eryanthe O.
Monroe Kaufman (1400 S.W. 66 Terrace, Plantation, Florida 33314; tel. (305) 792-5320) has the following Mengelberg recordings that he will exchange only for other Mengelbergs: Brahms, Tragic O. (Telefunken 8014, 78 rpm); Liszt, Les Préludes (Col. MX29, 78 rpm); Tchaikovsky, S #6, 2nd mvt. excerpt (Victor 6374, 78 rpm); Beeth., S #3 (Capitol-Telefunken P-8002, 12" LP). "Please submit list of Mengelberg records for exchange or will pay top price for records."
Dr. Harry Wells McCraw (Southern Station, Box 395, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39401) seeks the following Mengelbergs: Liszt, Les Préludes: Tchaikovsky, Romeo & Juliet O.; Serenade for Strings, Piano C. #1, S.#6 Wagner, Tannhäuser & Meistersinger O.; & items by French & Dutch composers. "I have many Mengelberg recordings or Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, and others to offer in exchange."
Arthur H. Richardson (56 Knights Bridge, Guilderland, N.Y. 12084) desires the following Mengelbergs: Dvorak, New World S. Schubert, Rosamunde excerpts; Eine kl. Nachtmusik Der Freischütz O ; Schubert, Unfinished S. (Telefunken); Lohengrin Prelude; Anacreon O. & any unissued Hilversum Radio (AVRO) tapes.
NOTES. Radcliffe L. Bond writes that on Wednesday, November 4, 1936, 3:30 p.m., Radio Station WJZ (NBC, Blue Network), N.Y. City, broadcast a half hour of the concert that Mengelberg was conducting with the BBC Symphony Orchestra that same date in Queen s Hall, London, 8:15 p.m. As it is apparent from the times that the BBC broadcast was received on short wave at N.Y. City & simultaneously re-transmitted, the quality of the sound must have been execrable. The entire BBC concert consisted of Vivaldi Conc. Grosso in A minor, op. 3, #8; Brahms P.C.#2 (Myra Hess); & Strauss , Ein Heldenleben (Violin solo, concertmaster Paul Beard). WJZ broadcast the piano concerto, which as Mr. Bond surmises, means that only the first two movements were heard. -- Eugene Kaskey informs us that Winthrop Sargeant, who played violin in the NYPSO under Mengelberg, referred to Mengelberg in a broadcast last summer on Radio Station WBAI-FM, N.Y. City. Mr. Sargeant writes to me that an article by him on Mengelberg will appear in The New Yorker magazine. -- Andrew McAllister writes that Radio Stattion WNIB, Chicago, broadcast Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1974, on "Collector s Showcase," Dopper’s Gothic Chaconne & Beeth.’s S.#5, as recorded by Mengelberg for Telefunken. These same two recordings will also be broadcast by WNIB, Wednesday, July 2, between 7 & 8 p.m., in a program produced by Bob Wolf. -- Toshio Shitamoto supplies details in respect Of two of the Mengelberg issues of the Legendary Performers Society (Newsletter #13, p.4): LPS 11 (Heldenleben) is the Victor recording, LPS 13 (Beeth S #9) is the same performance as that on Philips.-- There have been published on Rococo 2051 the Brahms 3rd & Tragic O.
The St. Matthew Passion, performance of Palm Sunday, 1939, has been reissued by Philips in Japan (PC 2001/3, Y 6,000) & in the United States, Germany, & The Netherlands, catalog #6767.168 (3 discs). Pavilion Records, England, has issued from the Philips series, re-mastered by Dutch Philips for Pavilion, the Beeth. 1st & parts from Rosamunde, on the Pearl label, HE3O1. (Brendan Wehrung first brought my attention to the Pearl release.) Both publications are offered to the Members, as explained at the end of this issue. Pavilion hopes to publish other issues from the Philips Mengelberg series. From hope to accomplishment will undoubtedly depend solely on adequate sales.
There has been formed in Japan a Mengelberg
Society (The Willem Mengelberg Society, Japan, P.O.B. No. 9, c/o Izumi
Post Office, Izumi, Osaka, Japan), which has published Dvorak’s New
World Symphony (M-100l). This record & the two pirate issues P-100l
(Bach’s Air from Suite #3, & Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso,
op. 3, #8) & P-1003 (3rd movement from Brahms 1st) are
kindly offered to the members of this society by the Japanese society.
Each record costs Yen 3,000. As it is not clear to me whether this price
also includes mailing costs, which is doubtful, you should inquire of the
Japanese society. Through the generosity of Mr. Shitamoto, I have heard
M-l00l; aside from what I suspect is a certain amount of treble cut, the
transfer appears to me to be very good. (For the complete contents of P-l00l
& P-1003, see Newsletter #11, p. 3) -- Thomas L. Clear (597
2nd Avenue, New York City, N.Y. 10016) has published a collection of recordings,
chiefly covering the electrical period of 78s, by violinists who are, for
the most part, little known on these shores, even though several of them
were born here. The 3-disc set, Augmented History of the Violin,
includes recordings by Marteau, Hansen, Szent gyorgi, & several dozen
others, including Zimmerman, who was for many, many years Mengelberg’s
chief concertmaster. The technical quality of the sound is very good indeed;
but a treble cut, introduced when the transfers were made, makes the violin
tone unnecessarily bland. The set, ordered from Mr. Clear, costs $10.00,
including postal charges in the U.S. The supply of sets is small. At the
present time he is preparing two volumes (4 discs each) of chamber music
Vol I (Bach, Beeth , Brahms) to be issued before summer, Mr. Clear hopes,
& Vol. II in September. "After that, “he writes” the orchestral “block-buster,’”
of which, I presume, Eine kl. Nachtmusik & Bach’s Conc.
for 2 Violins (see previous Newsletter, p. 4) will be a part.
-- Joe Salerno, 5651 Inwood, Houston, Texass 77027, is compiling a discography
of William Kapell. He seeks information on unissued takes & "non-commercial
David Hadaway writes "I played the recent issue of the Beethoven 5th & 9th on German Philips to a friend and for the first time he was quite impressed with Mengelberg, saying the 5th was the best performance he had heard. I plan to order some copies to give away." (Which Mr. Hadaway did!)
In a similar vein writes Lawrence H Jones "I thought I might share with you the fact that I have given the Mengelberg Mahler 4th to a. number of people as presents over the last couple of years, and have found that many of the recipients have been as captivated by the performance as I have been. It is always interesting to encounter more personal proof of the importance of interpretive latitude in performance alongside the Mengelberg, my great favorite interpretation of this work is Fritz Reiner’s, and one is not likely to hear any two versions which are less similar!”
And a charming paragraph from Dr. McCraw "I will close on a note I think will please you A few days ago I was alone at home listening to Mengelberg in the Franck Symphony (Philips) when three neighborhood children came in. One of them, a pretty five-year old girl, stopped at the living room door for a few bars of the slow movement and said ‘what pretty music’ before hastening with the others to the playroom. I think Willem would also have been pleased!"
The Society offers to the Members the following two issues, previously mentioned Pearl HE-301, $4.50, and Dutch Philips 6747.168, set of 3 discs, $12.60. Mailing costs (domestic/foreign) are 1 disc (60cents/$2.00), 3 discs (88cents/$2.53), 4 or 5 discs ($l.00/$2.93), 6 discs ($1.08/$3.33), 7 or 8 discs ($l.l6/$3 73), 9 or 10 ($1 24/$4.l3). Orders with payment for these two issues will be collected until July 21, whereupon the records will, be ordered from the distributors They should be mailed to the members about late August.
Subscription year 1975 begins with the nest issue. Will you please mail me your renewal: $3.00 for domestic members; $3.25 for foreign members (Surface mail), $3.60 for foreign members (air mail) Some members have already renewed, for which continued support my appreciative thanks.
Members abroad may find it cheaper to order the Pearl issue from Pavilion Records, Ldt., 48 High St., Pembury Kent TN2 4NU, England
Hubert Wendel has just written that the price is P2.30. The disc is of excellent quality, & the next issue will be the Mahler 4th.
Pleasant listening & a pleasant Summer wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20
"In New York I came to know the late David
Broekman, Leiden born composer-violinist-conductor, who made his career
in America and was a highly regarded personality among musicians in film,
radio, and TV circles. David, with whom I formed a friendship, once said
to me: 'I ve told Bob Sterne, Mengelberg’s 'contractor,’ that you are here.
He’s very eager to speak to you. A 'contractor’ is the musician
who, in the curious American music industry, has the task of assembling
the orchestra and acting as the versatile mediator between the conductor
and the orchestra.
"Bob Sterne, during his life head of Local 802 of the all powerful American Federation of Musicians, was a particularly cooperative man. Now and then, we dined together, on which occasions he talked about Mengelberg, for whom he had boundless admiration. On one occasion, Bob Sterne told me: 'There is one thing I should tell you, because you should know it. You know that Mengelberg and Toscanini couldn’t get along. Now, Mengelberg would have been better off if he hadn’t dropped a single aspersion about Toscanini at rehearsals. 'He talked too much --- I told him so --- nothing to do --- Nobody could stop him. [Toscanini’s words.] But all those people who claimed that Toscanini was a greater conductor than Mengelberg did not know that Toscanini followed every rehearsal conducted by Mengelberg, sitting in the balcony of Carnegie Hall with a score. I saw him sitting there countless times with my own eyes. If Toscanini is so great a conductor, as is claimed here, it wasn’t necessary for him to attend every one of Mengelberg’s rehearsals.
"I had Bob Sterne--Mengelberg had no more loyal supporter in America--tell this on various occasions. Each time, what he knew about the Mengelberg-Toscanini relationship came down to the preceding." (Max Tak: Onder De bomen van het plein, pp. 26 & 27. Published by Elsevier, 1963. Tak played the violin under Mengelberg in the Concertgebouw Orch.) I thank Mr. Peter DeVere, who kindly helped me with the translation of the Dutch text.
I suppose that all American members have read Dr. Abram Chipman s review of the St. Matthew Passion, in the form of a little essay on Mengelberg, in the August issue of High Fidelity, pages 76 & 77, & that all of us share Mr. Harry Wells McCraw’s enthusiasm: "I am sure you have noticed by now the reviews of the St. Matthew in both High Fidelity and Stereo Review [August issue], and I think we can all take a great deal of satisfaction in Chipman’s very favorable and sympathetic HF review. --- The SR review, though not so elaborate, was also favorable and positive." The New York Times, Sunday, Aug. 10, Section 2, p.14, published a very favorable review by Peter G. Davis. Both he & Dr. Chipman call for that one thing we all so much want: more re-issues of the Mengelberg recordings. Monsieur Hubert Wendel sends me a review from the French magazine Diapason (No. 198, June/July, 1975, p.24), part of which follows: "The re-issue of the St. Matthew Passion, recorded in 1939 during Holy Week, at Amsterdam, remains one of the most fascinating documents left to us by him who, during the course of half a century, made the Concertgebouw one of the four or five pre-eminent orchestras. Gone from the catalog these past eight years, this interpretation, as was that of Ramin [Günter Ramin, recording of DGG made before World War II], was bound to be reinstated, because, in spite of its having been recorded 36 years ago at a public performance, there is not a modern recording, however successful it be (and God knows whether the work has been well served), that rivets out attention as does this one." A generally favorable review, by Wolf Rosenberg, appeared in the June issue of Hi Fi Stereophonie, p. 621. No review I have seen remarks on an obvious characteristic of Mengelberg’s view of the score: that his highly dramatic & explicitly emotional interpretation is a peculiarly Roman Catholic view of a work Lutheran.
The St. Matthew Passion apparently has
not been released in Great Britain, but the Pearl disc of the Rosamunde
Suite & Beethoven s 1st (see previous Newsletter) was poorly
received in the two English reviews (Records and Recordings and
The Gramophone) brought to my attention by Messrs. Frank Forman
& Brendan Wehrung. The review in R&R (June, 1975, p.31, Thomas
Heinitz) was so severely that Mr. Wehrung wrote a forceful protest, printed
in the August number, p.6, Mr. Heinitz’s rejoinder being weak in comparison.
Aside from criticising these two performances as sounding "like the excesses
of an ageing musical despot corrupted by his own power", the reviewer makes
the indispensable reference to Mengelberg’s "politics," which reference
caused Mr. Michael G. Thomas to write the following reply, also published
in the August number, pages 11 & 12.
"Just after the War, shocked at the Dutch banishment of Mengelberg 'for life’, I got up a petition for him which was published in several musical magazines. In an initial letter I had from him, he said: 'Brahms and Grieg I knew quite well, but best of all my friend Gustav Mahler. . .
"Miss EB Heemskerk, a long time member of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Secretary of the Mengelberg Foundation, was of great help to me in the two articles on Mengelberg’s banishment which I published in Musical Renaissance. Following the commuting of his life banishment to one of six years, I had this letter from her: 'In my opinion, and not only mine, Mengelberg has been abominably treated after all he has done for Holland, and especially for the Concertgebouw, and quite out of proportion to the mistakes he may have made. Even if he had German sympathies, it was only his attitude that annoyed people during the Nazi occupation, for he never actually helped our enemies in any way. Certainly he did conduct in Germany during those years -- he was even there when the War broke out, and they would not have allowed him to leave without fulfilling his engagements. But other conductors have done the same and not been judged so harshly. Even before his return, numerous articles were published saying that he had drunk champagne to celebrate Holland's capitulation, etc. These tales were proved to be absolutely false later on, but they had poisoned people’s minds. That he kept on working was not just for his own satisfaction but most certainly with the intention of keeping the orchestra intact and giving the public some relaxation in those difficult times.
"'The Queen (Wilhelmina) withdrew his medal before his case was examined by the Honorary Council thereby, it is my firm belief, greatly influencing the ultimate judgment. Eventually, they had to admit that he was not himself a Nazi, that he had never shown any interest in politics, that he had done what he could to help the Orchestra, also the Jewish members, that there was no ill-will in any of his actions. Yet they sentenced him to six years of absolute unemployment, which, at his age, was almost equivalent to a musical death sentence, especially as they prevented his conducting in any other country by withholding his passport. The reason given was that 'being so great and important a man in his country, he should have set an example to all the others".
"The Algemeen Handelsblad of October 21, 1947, published a report of the Central Council of Honour’s deliberations. The 'glass of champagne' story was 'relegated to the domain of fables', but 'aid to the enemy in the capacity of an artist' was cited, with the admission that 'Mengelberg never harboured National Socialist inclinations.' At a concert in 1941, Mengelberg hinted to Jo Vincent to make a bow for Seyss-Inquart, and when she refused to do so, pointed out the importance of the presence of Seyss-Inquart who decided as to the subsidy granted. Finally, 'the Council accepts as extenuating circumstances that the artist himself has somewhat become the victim of his own talents and of the veneration bordering on idolatry of an art-loving section of humanity. Finally, the Council rejected the argument that the artist’s actions were inspired by the reasonable expectation that in the end Dutch interests were served to such an extent that they justified the continuation of professional activities.
"Towards the expiry of the 6 year period, arrangements were being made for Mengelberg to conduct again in London and Rome, followed by Amsterdam, but his death from pneumonia intervened.
“I tried on behalf of Period records, New York, to get Mangelberg back to the recording studious, and later heard from M. Panigel in Paris that Herr Liebe of Telefunken had been trying to do the same . . . with no result, as Mengelberg’s passport had not been renewed by the Dutch authorities and, as a foreigner, he was not allowed to work in Switzerland the place of his exile."
Having myself worked for a Swiss firm in Switzerland, I have observed how very differently the same law is applied to different persons, depending solely on the prejudices of the Swiss authorities. Had the Swiss wanted to, they could have granted Mengelberg a Work Permit without further ado. Very likely, The Netherlands urged Switzerland not to grant the Permit; but, assuming this to be the cases it was no more necessary for Switzerland to accede to this pressure than it was necessary for her, in 1918, to have abandoned Karl Muck, who was both Swiss & German, thereby leaving him unprotected from the consequences of being a German in a fanatically & hysterically hostile country. (See High Fidelity, Oct., 1970, pp. 55-60, James T. Badal: "Prisoner: 1337, Occupation: Conductor, Boston Symphony Orchestra.")
In the May issue, 1975, The Gramophone (p.2063) published from Robert Walker, Classical Marketing Manager of English RCA, a letter describing the firm s new series of archive recordings. He wrote in part: "One of the most remarkable features of this series is the new technique we have evolved of transferring these rare recordings: among the first releases, for example, will be the legendary recording of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, which many connoisseurs regard as the most stupendous performance ever committed to disc, and which, in the new transfers, sounds absolutely incredible. Another of the first albums in this series, which has excited me immensely, is Mengelberg’s recording with the New York Philharmonic of Richard Strauss s Ein Heldenleben, which should be available towards the end of July 1975. The sound of this recording, as transferred from 78 rpm discs made nearly fifty years ago, is almost beyond belief." Aside from a certain skepticism as to the "new" dubbing technique, I believe that the members will wish RCA all possible success, both technically & commercially. As a rule, the subject of shellac records will bring raised eyebrows, but Mr. Walker’s letter puts the matter in a quite different light; and Mr. Heinitz, in the aforesaid August issue of R&R, in his far less hostile review of Mengelberg’s recording of Heldenleben, wrote: "In fact, I found the sound remarkably good for its vintage, . . ." The question of dubbings reminds me that in the last Newsletter I complained of a lack of treble in Mr. T.L. Clear’s Augmented History of the Violin. Mr. Clear wrote me that no treble reduction was used~when making the transfers. I am now satisfied that the fault lay, at least in large part, with my own equipment.
High Fidelity, May, 1975, published a classified advertisement offering 8mm films of singers. The address given is SWEDE, FACK 53, Stockholm 20, Sweden. Mr. Radcliffe L. Bond wrote to the advertiser "about conductors and instrumentalists and purchased a copy of a Telefunken film which was made to promote the advent of LP. I only purchased that part of the film with conductors . . . . Anyway, on the film are Furtwangler, Kleiber, Schmidt-Isserstedt, Jochum, Knappertsbusch and lo and behold Mengelberg. It is a sequence of Mengelberg and the Berlin Philharmonic (supposedly) during the actual recording of or rehearsals for the recording of the Tchaikowsky 5th. The narrator says Mengelberg’s name in a hushed voice as a picture flashes on the screen of Mengelberg (in shirtsleeves with a polka-dot bow tie and a vest), a man with a violin who I assume is the concertmaster and another man who might be the recording engineer. . They are looking at the score, ther there is a close-up of the score which I can t make out. The Tchaikowsky 5th scherzo starts at this point (the 2nd mvmt was playing before, during the discussion) and Mengelberg starts to conduct, he sees the camera and flashes a big smile. The narrator announces the scene of the filming as the Sing Academy in Berlin and the music continues as we go on to Knappertsbusch and Jochum."
NOTES. Already mentioned, Ein Heldenleben (Mengelberg/NYPSO) was issued in England on RCA Victrola SMA 7001. German Philips has just released a record (6833165) entitled Ruhm und Rang des Concertgebouw Orchesters Amsterdam Gestern und Heute (The Fame & Greatness of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra Yesterday and Today). The conductors are Mengelberg, van Beinum, Jochum, & Haitink; the composers, Schubert, Tchaikowski & Beethoven, further details lacking. I hope to offer both discs to the members.
The Victor de Sabata Society, P.O. Box 46, Shinagawa, Tokyo 140, Japan, will issue, on M-1003, transfers of the Telefunken recording of Tchaikowsky’s P.C.#l (Hansen/BPO/Mengelberg) & of a concert performance of Schumann's P.C. (Arrau/NYPSO/deSabata), perhaps by Fall. Mr. Shitamoto writes me that the transfer of the Tch. is as good as that of the Dvorak.New World S. (see Newsletter #14). I don t know the price, & all inquiries should be sent to Japan. On RR421 (distributed by BWS, Box 921, Berkeley, Calif..94701) are pirated transfers, from the Columbia/Odeon series, of Tchaikowsky’s S.#5 and Waltz from St. Serenade. On Rococo 2066 (Mengelberg Vol. XI) are Don Juan, Peer Gynt S. #1, Daphnis et Chloé. The latter two are taken from recordings held by AVRO. Don Juan presumably is pirated from the Telefunken or Philips recording. If you wish to comment on any Mengelberg issue, particularly if you can compare it to the original 78s, and especially to comment on a pirated issue, I shall gladly publish your comments in the Newsletter for the information of all members.
Mr. Eugene Kaskey writes that WQXR-FM broadcast on "Teasures of Recorded Sound," January 4, 1975, 2:05 PM, the Mengelberg recordings of Euranthe O., Turkish M., Perpetuum Mobile, & Poet & Peasant O. Of the latter, Mr. Kaskey remarks that he “loved the gypsy lilt to this." Mr. Wayne H. Finke writes that WFUV, Voice of Fordham University, N.Y. City, broadcast Mengelberg’s recording of Beethoven’s 3rd on "Rare Recordings," Sunday, Sept. 7, 1975. And a postal card from Mr. Andrew McAllister informs us that WNIB, Chicago, broádôast, Oct. 8, 1975, 8PM, on "Collector s Showcase," produced by Bill Holmes, Mr. T.L. Clear’s issues of the Bruch & Sibelius V.C., performed by Guila Bustabo, the former conducted by Mengelberg. Mr. Clear (whose correct address, misquoted in last Newsletter, is 579 2nd Ave., N.Y.City, N.Y. 10016) is rather delayed in his issue of the chamber music (see last Newsletter). His Augmented History of the Violin is now exhausted, but he intends to re-issue it next year, writes Dr. John S. Lewis, who praises Bustabo’s recording of the Bruch V.C., contained in a now exhausted set of Mr. Clear, as "overwhelming." Mr. Finke kindly brings my attention to a Mengelberg discography published by Bo Døssing, Graengebjergvey 8, DK-4250 Fuglebjerg, Denmark. It is available free of charge, according to a review in The Gramophone, Sept., 1975, the review being generally unfavorable. Winthrop Sargeant writes to me that his forthcoming article (see Newsletter #14) in The New Yorker will discuss Stokowski, Koussevitzky, & Toscanini, as well as Mengelberg. As Mr. Sargeant played the violin in the N.Y. Symph. O. & the NYPSO, under Damrosch, Mengelberg, & Toscanini, his views are of uncommon interest. (Mr. Sargent’s very favorable review, with a thoughtful ovservation, of the St. M.P. appears in the New Yorker, Oct. 13, P. 167.)
Back issues of the Newsletter are 20
cents each, plus an addressed envelope stamped with l0 cents postage for
every two Newsletters requested.
Those who ordered only the St. Matthew Passion should have received their copies, as they were mailed Sept. 22. I still haven t received the Pearl issue, & I appreciate the members patience. (Pearl received Oct. 11 & mailed Oct. 14.)
Pleasant listening & a pleasant Fall wished to everyone.
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #17 #18 #19 #20
The following passages are translated from Max Tak’s book Onder de bomen van het plein, pp. 133-139. I needs must thank Mr. Peter DeVere, who generously helped me. [The scene is Amsterdam, probably late 1930 or very early 1931.] "Anyhow, Tobis-Berlin hatched the plan to invite Mengelberg to conduct in a number of short sound films for Klangfilm . . . , "I was invited to come to the banking house which was in charge of floating the shares [for the films]. "The banker, with whom I had had friendly connections for years, asked me, 'What do you think of a series of short films of the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Willem Mengelberg?’ "'I find that an excellent idea. What’s more, this will show the public just what the sound film can be.’ "'I’ve already spoken with Mengelberg about it.’ "'How did he react?’ "'He doesn’t give it a thought,’ he said. "'Why not?’ "'Because. he doesn't want to conduct before the camera. His answer was that all they need is an actor. "'Too bad. It would have been nice if he had agreed to collaborate.’ "'Would you be willing to speak to him?’ "Don't you think that you have infinitely more influence with him than I do? Since Willem Mengelberg has said 'no,’ it’s better to leave it at that.’ "'Your answer doesn't especially please me. Nor will it appeal to the directors of the firm that is supposed to distrtbute the films.’ "This put the matter in a different light, because Joost Smit, one of the two directors of the firm, was and is one of my friends. I thought it over briefly and left, saying, ‘I’ll se what I can do.’
"The next day I took care to be in the Concertgebouw as the rehearsal came to an end. Mengelberg had the habit after a rehearsal of discussing this or that with the musicians who had, in one way or another, an important role in the work just rehearsed. “Since I admired Mengelberg particularly in these after rehearsal conferences for his boundless energy at going into each detail, I stayed to listen to him. “Afterwards he went to the soloist’s room. I walked along and asked if I could remain with him. “Mengelberg began to talk on one of his pet subjects, about which he never failed to be outspoken. In that superlative unreasonableness with which he could 'let loose’ when he thought that some regulation. or other was unfavorable to the orchestra, he began--without really meaning one word of it--to complain about the orchestra’s management, which, before the last war, was composed of the most devoted and genuine music lovers who had ever guided and supported an institution of so select an artistic level.
"Mengelberg lighted one of his long and heavy cigars, which meant that he was preparing to begin a long discourse. "'’But you don t know the latest news. What do you think the gentlemen want me to do?’ "'No idea, Mr. Mengelberg.’ "’Listen to this: can you imagine, they want me to act in a film. This takes the cake.’ "For the first and last time in my life my reaction to Mengelberg’s words was insincere. Of course, he did not know that I was part of the plot to get him before the cameras and the microphones. "’To make films. How does that strike you?’ "'They want me to stand in front of the orchestra as a sort of actor--what do they call those guys?--as a sort of film star. That would be a fine affair. I have devoted my life to improving the public, and now the same public is supposed to see Mengelberg on the screen. I don’t give it a thought. Not on my life.’ "He grumbled some more, and then asked, all of a sudden: 'Don t you agree with me?’ "I was thinking how I could convince him to allow the films to be made . . . . . . . I knew from experience that there was only one effective way to speak to Mengelberg. And that was to say straight out what needed to be said. "I began the attack by saying, 'I do not agree with you on this. You are entirely too close to it.’ "Had I told Mengelberg that I occupied my free time by counterfeiting 25cent pieces, he could not have stared at me with more astonishment. “He said to me in a tone of great disappointment: 'You, too??
"This was the moment to tell him what I thought.
Not what the others thought. “Mr. Mengelberg, you are in the full strength
of your years. But there will come a time when people will say: 'Mengelberg?--Oh,
sure--there’s a piece on him in the encyclopedia.’ They will read
and perhaps say or think: 'Was he really as good as they write about him?
I’m curious to know how he actually conducted.’ That piece in the
encyclopedia only tells them a mountain of facts and goodness knows what
other details. But, if there are films which show Mengelberg conducting
and let them hear how the Concertgebouw Orchestra sounded under his
direction, then they can say: 'That was Mengelberg. What s written about
him is not exaggerated.’ "I spoke with uch intensity that Mengelberg
looked at me with great eyes. "He thought for a long time, and finally
said: 'Perhaps you are right--. "He stood up and came to me: 'Good,
I’ll make the film. But one condition: I’ll have nothing to do with those
film guys, and you will go along with me. Whatever they have to say, they
say to you; then, and only then, I hear it from you. Mengelberg as a film
actor. Hoity-toity! a pretty kettle of fish.’ 'The negotiations with
the orchestra went very fast. Indeed, with such a goal it was superfluous
to talk for long about conditions that were of a secondary nature.
"The recordings were made near Paris in the studios of Films Sonores Tobis at Epinay sur Seine, the same studios in which René Clair worked on a number of occasions. “In the large studio the stage of the Concertgebouw was faithfully reproduced, even the heavy velvet cords were not missing. An illusion was created by scenery, greatly reduced in size, representing the organ, that hung where the organ would have been. Every detail was taken into account. “I spoke with Meerson, who was in charge of supervising the recording and of all that which concerned studio technique; . . . . I told him that any criticisms, favorable or unfavorable, that he wanted to make during the recording he should make to me, and I would relay them to Mengelberg. I knew Mengelberg too well not to realize that whenever anyone, not known to Mengelberg, commented, for example, on the insufficient volume of a particular instrumental section, Mengelberg would be irritated, and his reaction definitely would not be conducive to the success of the venture.
"This is not to say that Mengelberg was too proud to listen to criticism from an expert, but the music that great artists make comes from an inner tension that should not be broken.
"Among the pieces played were the Oberon Overture, 'Hungarian March from Damnation of Faust, and the 'Adagietto from the First L’Arlésienne Suite. I sat next to Mengelberg during the rehearsals that were attended by the sound engineers. Playing for a sound recording can be an irritating task. Microphones are much more sensitive than the ears of the best critics." [Tak now digresses into a short description of the perils of recording; and, before resuming his narrative, concludes with the observation that "The Great Hall of the Concertgebouw--in which ideal orchestral recordings are and have been made--is an exceptionally suitable room for recording, and one in which recording engineers like to work."]
"Of course, there were a great many discussions between Mengelberg and myself. One follows. "While testing the microphones with a fragment from the Oberon Overture, Meerson came to me and whispered in my ear: 'The horns are too loud. The violins can’t be heard properly.’ "I whispered back: 'I ll tell the Maestro.’
"Mengelberg stopped conducting and asked me: 'What does he want?’ "’He says that he never heard so magnificent an orchestra.’ "Mengelberg, who suspected that the hard headed Meerson had not whispered to me just to express his enthusiasm for the orchestra’s sound, asked: 'Is that all?’
"Whereupon I continued: 'Well, there was something more: he said that before you stopped conducting there was a passage where the first violins would sound more prominently if they played somewhat louder. That’s all. ‘
“Whereopon Mengelberg turned to the orchestra and said: ‘Mr. Tak say that the first violins must sound better.’
“The orchestra, accustomed to the Mengelberg terminology, understood that I had not conveyed Meerson’s criticism in this form.
"The passage was played again, and Meerson nodded affirmatively.
"In all, five days [another source says 3 days: April 30 to May 2, 1931] were spent on the recordings, which, as all of us in the Studio’s Films Sonores Tobis agreed, were a complete success.
"The cameras were positioned close to Mengelberg. Close-ups were filmed continuously of him. Although Mengelberg in our conversation had expressed himself disobligingly on the prospect of being a film actor, his personality led him to be a spectacular film conductor. “I mean: to be a conductor on film.
"There was a detail that I had always to keep in mind. Obviously, Mengelberg and the orchestra appeared before the cameras in full dress, in order to create the illusion of giving a public concert. Now it is a mysterious circumstance in a film studio that spotless black dress does not long remain spotless. In some inscrutable way, it always becomes dirty.
"It occurred just before a recording was to begin that I saw a spot on the Sleeve of Mengelberg’ s dress suit. The spot, of course, would have been very visible in the film. I motioned to the cameramen that they should not start filming, took a brush, which I had on hand to be on the safe side, and brushed Mengelberg off.
"A photo to was made of this, and frequently published in The Netherlands in the succeeding years. L. J. Jordaan made effective use of it in his lively article, published in Vrij Nederland, 'Mengelberg Listened to Tak, which concerned the filming at Epinay.
"Jordaan did not know that if Mengelberg had not been willing to listen to my plea before the filming, presumably no motion pictures would have been made.
"The gala premiere of the films took place in the Theater Tuschinski. The success was great.
"Now more than ever, it is of great importance to know where the negatives of these films are. They would enable a generation who did not know Mengelberg to see the conductor at work. "That was the one argument that had convinced Mengelberg to permit himself to be filmed.”
NOTES: Mr. Leo R. Mack, 70 Hudson St., Little Falls. N.J. 07424, Phone (201) 256-1223, wishes to contact members in NY City area to trade and buy recordings of Mengelberg, Krauss, Marty, Kleiber, Dobrowen, & Weingartner. WESTERN SOUND ARCHIVE, POB 1112, El Cerrito, CA 94530, U.S.A., has tapes of Mengelberg and other musicians for sale. Enclose 20 cents in stamps or five International Postal Reply Coupons for an answer. MR. CLEAR’s Historical Anthology of Chamber Music, Vol. I, is now published (Y&H Menuhin; Primrose; A. Busch; R. Serkin; Salmond; R. Wolf; W. Wolf; DuBois; Maas; the Lener, Amar-Hindemith, Flonzaley, & (early) Budapest string quartets; Tertis; Hobdey; Kochanski; Rubinstein). All works (by Bach, Händel, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann) are complete, save two. Four discs, $12.00, including postage in the U.S., from Mr. T.L. Clear, to 2nd Ave., N.Y. City, N.Y. 10016, U.S.A)* [*He has just issued 2nd Bustabo disc ($5): Concertos by Nussio & Wolf-Ferrari, in my opinion, very enjoyable music, incomparably playing.] Members abroad should inquire as to mailing charges. The dubbings, from 78s, are superb. Publication is limited to 250 sets. MONSIEUR HUBERT WENDEL writes: "Maurice Gendron. . . has discovered a recording of the Dvorak Cello C., performed by himself and conducted by Mengelberg.. I imagine the Orchestre de Paris plays and that the recording was made during the war at a Paris concert. Maurice Gendron wants to issue this recording next year  for the 25th Anniversaries, of Mengelberg’s death and of the Mengelberg Foundation [Stichting)." To encourage publication of this recording, members should write to Miss E.B. Heemskerk, Willem Mengeiberg Stichting, van Breestraat 174, Amsterdam -Z, The Netherlands. Although Miss Heemskerk has an.excellent English, you should write in your clearest hand, if you cannot type. In your letter it can do no harm to express the hope that other performances conducted by Mengelberg--specifically, those recordings that are held by AVRO--will also some day soon be issued. Due to the typist’s misunderstanding the pargraph of the translation form tak’s book does not correspond tp tak’s paragraphing, which can be reconstructed from my use of double quotation marks (‘) within a paragraph.
Merry Christmas, pleasant listening, a cosy winter (6 degrees F. yesterday morning), Happy New Year wshed to everyone!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #18 #19 #20
"It is with great regret that we record the death of Willem Mengelberg, the great conductor, from concussion of the brain produced by a fall on the stair (The Musical Times, London, November 1, 1914, p.657). March 22 marks the 25th anniversary of Mengelberg’s death, & March 28 the 105th anniversary of his birth.
Although for the past several Newsletters I had hoped to publish the following list of sound films (any silent films being unknown to me) in which Mengelberg in some way figures, it is only with this issue that I have the space needed. I am always surprised, & sometimes dismayed, by how quickly material gathers in such profusion for an issue that something usually must be held for a later Newsletter.
1931: (filming lasted 3 to 5 days, starting about April 30 & ending about May 2): filmed at Epinay sur Seine, near Paris, by Films Sonoris Tobis (a branch of Tobis International, The Hague (?), The Netherlands). These films included the Oberon O., "Hungarian March" from Damnation of Faust, & the "Adagietto" from L’Arlésienne Suite #1, as well as other works, apparently, as Max Tak implies in the pages from his book translated in the last Newsletter. This filming is also the subject of an illustrated article, “OnVa Tourner,” by Mrs. Edna Richolson Sollitt, in Musical Courier, May 20, 1931, pages 6 & 7. Although Max Tak laments the disappearance of these films, it seems that at least parts of some of them are still preserved, as will appear from several succeeding items in this list.
1934: Dood Water (Dead Water), produced in The Netherlands by the Nederiandsche Filrngemeenschap, directed by Gerard Rutten (another source says Jan Musch), written by Simon Koster. Leading players are Jan Musch, Tep de Maal, & Betsy Ranucci-Beckman. The recording system used was Tobis Kiangfilm. Dialogue in Dutch, with English subtitles. The Concertgebouw Orch., conducted by Mengelberg, plays, apparently only during the Prologue, which depicts the work of reclaiming the Zuyder Zee. What music was played & who composed it, I do not know. The film dramatizes the fishermen’s resistance to the fertil land created by the dike that "dooms the Zuyder Zee as a fishing ground." Miss E. B. Heemskerk in her book, Over Willem Mengelberg, states (p. 143) that "Dood Water of Gronostay" was filmed June 14, 1934: that is to say, the one or more parts in which the COA figures were filmed on this day. (Incidentally, I now see that on the same page she lists the dates for the filming at Epinay as April 30 & May 1, 1931.)
Early 1950s: a film for German Telefunken, made to promote the introduction of the long playing record. Details of this film were published in Newsletter #15, p. 3. Since then, Mr. Radcliffe L. Bond, who originally brought my attention to this film, writes further: "The camera position is fixed at Mengelberg’s right and takes in him and the first desks of violins, i.e. the area of viewing is so restricted you can’t tell where you are. So we’ll have to take the announcer’s word for the location of the filming as the Singakademie. In the film, the Mengelberg episode ends with a fade out to the front of philharmonic hall (Philharmonic) and then we go inside for the later sequences." A reasonable guess is that this film (or this episode) was originally made about July 11, 1940, the date that Mengelberg was in Berlin to record Tch’s. S. #5 & P.C. #1. with the BPO.
1970: a film, 50 minutes duration, made
for the Willem Mengelberg Stichting, Amsterdam, to mark the 100th anniversary
of Mengelberg’s birth, showing the life & work of the conductor.
It was produced by Reclame-film "Cefima" & was composed by Mr. René
v.d. Wubbe & by Miss E. B. Heemskerk, who was a good friend of the
Mengelberge & played first violin under the conductor for many years
in the COA. The film shows Mengelberg conducting parts of the Oberon
O. in two different sequences. In one sequence the performance is very
similar to that heard in the Columbia/Odeon series. The performance in
the other sequence struck me as being far "dreamier," & not typical
of Mengelberg. (One or the other of these two sequences may be from the
Epinay film of 1931.) During the film the COA under Mengelberg is also
heard in parts from the St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven’s S.#6,
& Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. I presume that the sound for
these letter works, excepting the Mahler is dubbed from the corresponding
The preceding paragranh describes the Stichting film as originally constituted. In Mededelingen #7 (January, 1976) of the Vrienden van de Stichttng Chasa Mengelberg (Friends of the Foundation Chasa Mangelberq), Mr. Wubbe writes that the film was edited in 1975, thereby shorteninq & greatly changing it. A long extemporaneous monologue by Juriaan Andriessen & a discussion between Bernet Kempers & Marius Flothuis in the Concertgebouw are replaced by a charming talk of Maurice Gendron, the cellist of the Menuhin Trio, who chats about Onkel Hausfrau (Uncle Housewife) & his youthful recollections of him. The musical soundtrack has been entirely changed to agree with what is shown on the screen. In place of the "endless" Pastorale (Beethoven’s S. #6), which was heard throughout much of the original film, there is now a variety of music conducted by Mengelberg. Fresh footage for the film was shot in Amsterdam, May, 1975, when Gendron was there to make disc recordings; & the soundtrack was remade in September & October. Thanks to Gendron’s connections with Japanese television, a Japanese version of the film was televised in Japan.
In the meantime," Mr. Wubbe continues in the Mededelingen, "we are trying to have a complete German version (. . .) of the newly edited film ready for showing to the (interested) people of Sent [Switzerland].
"Perhaps we will have it shown on Swiss TV against compensation.
"The showing in Sent is supposed to include some festivities, perhaps even a concert. We must not forget public relations!"
The Stichting Chasa Mungelberg seeks donations for its activities, which include such work as was described in connection with the film,& the upkeep of Mengelberg’s Swiss summer house (the Chasa), which is let very cheaply to musicians & music lovers during the summer: Amrobank, Verleriusstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with instructions that the sum is to be deposited to the account of Stichting Chasa Mengelberg.
About 1971 or 1972: Great Orchestras of the World, a television series of British Broadcasting Corporation Two. One part of the series is devoted to the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mengelberg being shown conducting the "Hungarian March" of Berlioz in footage presumably obtained from the Epinay film This part of the series has also been televised in West Germany: further details in Newsletter #13, p. 1.
Early 1970s : World at War, British television series, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, that part entitled "Holland, 1940-1944," Episode #8, briefly showing Mengelberg conducting snatches of the Egmont O. Altogether, about one minute of the overture is heard; technica1 quality is poor. I thank Mr. Radcliffe L. Bond & Dr. John S. Lewis for this information.
NOTES. Quite some months ago a member asked me for my opinion of the quality of the two dubbings (R. & J.O. & Les Préludes) on Columbia Entre RL-3039. As I may have given the wrong answer, my impression after having p1ayed part of the disc recently is that they are excellent, although I have not compared them directly with the original 78's.
ON JUNE 2, 1934, Mengelberg conducted Beethoven’s S.#9 in a stadion-concert (stadium concert) before 30,000 persons. Aside from the COA, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, the Toonkunst Chor & three other large choral bodies, & 12 Netherlands soloists also took part. This "four dimensional" performance was recorded, De Telegraaf publishing, June 6, 1934, morning edition, Section 2, opposite p. 3, a photo showing M. inspecting one of the wax masters through a microscope. Otto Glastra van Loon’s book, Onder de stenen lier (see Newsletter #3), refers to this concert on p. 92 & reproduces thereon a humorous sketch of M. rehearsing in the stadium. To this fresh addition to the Mengelberg discography, Mr. Bond adds his own: German Telefunken TW 30106, a 10" LP comprising Tchaikovsky’s 1812 O. & three parts ("Sylphs Dance", "Hungarian March," & "Will o’ the Wisps’ Minuet") from Damnation of Faust.
Mr. Tohio Shitamoto seeks the following recordings
by Mengelberg: Capitol P-8037 (Ciaconna Gotica), disc; Capitol P-8053
("Pathetique"), disc. or tape copy; Capitol P-8013 (Ein
Heldenleben), disc; Capitol L-8l27 (Faust, parts), disc; P-8040 ("Great"),
disc; P-8078 (Prometheus, parts), disc; & Dutch Columbia HS-l003
(Tannhäuser O.), disc. Mr. Shitarmoto’s address is 404-23,
Tajime-Jutaku, 250 Tajime-cho, Kishiwada, Osaka, Japan. He informs me that
the Victor de Sabata Society, P.O. Box 46, Shinagawa, Tokyo 140, Japan,
has now published, on disc M-1003, transfers of the Telefunken recording
of Tchaikovsky’s P.C.#l (Hansen/BPO/Mengelberg) & of a concert
performance of Schumann’s P.C. (Arrau/NYPSO/de Sabata). The disc
costs $12.00, including air mail postage. No orders are accepted for sea
MR. T. L. CLEAR, 579 2nd Avenue, New York City, N.Y. 10016, has just published Vol. II (TLC-2582) of his Historical Anthology of Chamber Music. Four discs for $12.00. The composers are Loeffler, Saint-Saëns, Holbrooke, Gieseking, Hahn, Golestan, Martinu, Ferroud, Kreisler, B. Rubinstein, Harris, F. P. Neglia, Medtner, Hausermann, & Hindemith. The music, all unknown to me, I found mostly very attractive. The Loeffler String Quintet (1894) comes to mind at the moment as being so appealing a work that I wonder why it is ignored in our concert halls. Neglia’s Piano Quartet, Op. 26, impressed me to be a very expressive piece of great genius. The transfers, from 78's, are generally of exceedingly high quality; the discs of my set are quiet & flat. (This set will likely be your first & last chance to hear the Flonzaleys play Turkey in the Straw.) Although Mr. Clear’s Vol. I of chamber music is now sold out, he still has copies (TLC 2583, $5.00) of Guila Bustabo performing Otmar Nussio’s Concerto for Violin & String Orch. (conducted by the composer) & Wolf-Ferrari’s Concerto for Violin & Orch., in D Major, Op. 26. The 1atter work was composed in collaboration with Bustabo, & is dedicated to her. She is so fine a violinist in respect of purely technical matters, & has so wonderfully personal a view musically, that it is a scandal she does not record. Both recordings of this disc are excellent technically, the Wolf-Ferrari recording being stereo; & the music is very likable. Mr. Clear will shortly publish (perhaps by the middle of April) the first of two volumes of orchestral recordings. This first volume (TLC-2584, 4 discs, $16.00) comprises Mengelberg conducting Eine kleine Nachtmusik & Bach’s Conc. for 2 Violins; Blech conducting Mozart, Cimarosa, & Cherubini; Matzerath cond. Mozart’s S. #36; Albert Coates cond. Mozart’s S. #41; Strauss cond. Mozart’s S. #40 (the earlier version: never before on LP) & Beethoven’s S.#7; Konoye cond. Beethoven's S.#1 & Kabasta cond. Schubert’s S. #3. An amazing set, the purpose of which is to demonstrate "the inadequate performance of Mozart symphonies today." In the last two Newsletters I have quoted from Max Tak’s book Onder de bomen van het plein. Tak played the violin in the COA under Mengelberg & he also was a conductor who recorded. Mr. Clear offers in return for only the postage a 12" electrical French Pathé (78 rpm) of parts from Rosenkavalier, conducted by Tak. This generous offer is published only to the members of the Society.
MR. WAYNE H. FINKE kindly sends me a photocopy of a quite enthusiastic review of Ein Heldenleben/NYPSO/Mengelberg (English RCA Victrola SMA 7001: a Japanese transfer, by the way: see The Gramophone, Dec., 1975, p. 1008) that appeared in The Gramophone, Oct., 1975, p. 634. In the course of his remarks the critic, W.S.M., states that in 1930 Mengelherg "walked out rather than share the podium with Toscanini, his avowed interpretative opposite." Untrue gossip & twaddle. Mengelberg’s contract was not renewed; & when a year or so later, S.A.M. Bottenheim, Mengelberg’s factotum, enquired of the NYPSO as to whether M. might not be re-engaged, it appears that B. was not even answered. Samuel Chotzinoff in his column in the New York World, Jan. 26, 1930, reported.. as rumor that Toscanini had delivered an ultimatum: either Mengelberg must go or he would leave. Chotzinoff in the World for Feb. 16, 1930, further discusses the row between M. & T., & now refers to T’s "ultimatum" as though it were fact.
MR. BRENDAN WEHRUNG, 702 Irving Ave., Royal Oak, Michigan 48067, offers transfers for T-shirts of the following conductors: Mengelberg, Furtwäng1er, Beecham, Koussevitzky, Monteux, Munch, Szell, Toscanini, Walter, & Weingartner. The transfers of Mengelberg & Beecham are $1.50 each or $2.25 for both, mailing costs included. The transfers of the other conductors are each $2.00, mailing costs included. Orders from abroad must add $1.50 for postage, irrespective of the number of transfers ordered. Mr. Wehrng & his friend Stu Hyke are both Mengelberg enthusiasts, & each has a program on Radio Station WDET-FM. Mr. Hyke has played Ein Heldenleben; Mr. Wehrung in April wi1l play Tch’s. S. #5, Marche Slav, 1812 O., Rosamunde O., & in May the Waltz from Tch’s. String Serenade. On a joint program they broadcast Les Pré1udes & Omphale’s Spinning Wheel.
MR. ANDREW B. McALLISTER writes that "On 'Collector s Item for January 26 on WFMT Don Tait played the Symphony No. 5 of Tchaikovsky in the 1928 Columbia recording & also the 'Hymn of Thanksgiving ..."
MR. GERALD M. STEIN, DR. HARRY WELLS Mc CRAW, & MR. WEHRUNG have written enthusiastically of the dubbings on RR421 (Tch’s. S.#5 & Waltz from Str. Serenade). distributed by the Bruno Walter S. As the appearance of a Mengelberg recording of this symphony usually raises a tempest in a teapot over the cuts that M. introduces in the last movement, a few words are in order. A letter from Arthur Judson, who at the time was manager of the NYPO, appeared in the N.Y. Times, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1925, Section 8, p. 10. Replying to a certain apoplectic Charles L. Buchanan, who had complained the previous Sunday that , "Mr. Mengelberg deletes a large section of the last movement of this symphony.” Mr. Judson wrote in part: "This elision, however, is not original with Mr. Mengelberg. When he conducted this symphony in Rome about 20 years ago he was visited by Modest Tchaikovsky, brother of the composer, who complimented him on his interpretation. In a discussion of the symphony Modest Tchaikovsky suggested the elimination of certain passages, and on this authority Mr. Menge1berg made the cuts. . . “ On this subject Mengelberg had the following to say during an interview at Munich, about Feb., 1938. "The last two times that he [P.I. Tch.] conducted this symphony in Moscow he made various changes. Above all in the Finale. The construction of the Finale was somewhat weak -- the constructive lines. He recognized this & then shortened & strengthened the lines, & thus made the movement more beautiful; & he asked me, Modest did, to conduct it in this way, & his brother had stressed that he wanted it this way."
I had hoped to offer the aforementioned English publication of Ein Heldenleben, but the usual American distributor of British Victor claims to know nothing of the disc! I have made a fresh enquiry, & just employed Hubert Sharp Eye & Ralph One Shot to corner & bag the quarry.
Subscription Year 1976 begins with the next issue. Because inflation plunders here, too, I am obliged to raise rates for S.Y. 1976 to $3.50 (United States & Canada) & $4.00 (foreign, posted air mail). The members’ continued support is appreciated.
Pleasant listening & an invigorating Spring wished to all! Mengelberg’s recording of Der Aprilnarr, Overture, by C. M. von Weber surpasses all others.
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #19 #20
In earlier numbers I published Mengelberg’s concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra & the National Symphony Orchestra, New York City. Now we open the first part of a series that will cover all of Mengelberg’s later concerts in the United States, spanning the years 1922 to 1930. Unless stated otherwise, the orchestra is the New York Philharmonic & the concert hail is Carnegie Hall, New York City. It should be kept in mind that on March 20, 1928, the New York Symphony Orchestra & the New York Philharmonic Orchestra were merged to become the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. As all of the concerts that Mengelberg conducted outside of Europe were played in the United States, when this series is finally completed there will have been published in the NEWSLETTER all of those concerts that Mengelberg did not conduct in Europe. Most of the concerts that were played in N.Y. City I have copied from John Erskine’s The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York-Its First Hundred Years, Macmillan Company, New York, 1943, with additional details of my own. The remaining concerts I have compiled.
B = Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York
MOH = Metropolitan Opera House, New York City
NYC = New York City
80th SEASON OF THE NYPO, 1921/1922
(1) January 31, 1922 (MON)
This concert, Mengelberg’s first with the NYPO since the pair of concerts on November 10 & 11, 1905, was divided into two parts, the first part (Prelude to Die M. & the symphony) being conducted by Artur Bodanzky, & the second part by Mengelberg.
(2) February 3
(3) February 5 (B)
(4 & 5) February 9 & 10
(7) February 14 (MOH)
(8) February 18
NOTES. Dr. Harry Wells McCraw wrote last year,
"A problem has dereloped with my copy of the St. Matthew Passions . . .
I have experienced breakup and shattering, and in a few places groove-skipping,
at climactic moments of all six sides, though the sound at lower volume
levels is excellent throughout." Isn’t your equipment at fault? I
asked. His answer. "As I said, having
found breakup on all six sides and not finding anything wrong with my equipment, I was preparing to mail my set back the next day but I wanted to hear the opening chorus one more time even with the distortion, so I played it again - and discovered to my amazement that the distortion had been drastically reduced, . . . By the third audition the breakup had been virtually eliminated, . . . My best guess is that some film or fuzz left on the discs at pressing must have been burned off by the first playing. I don t know if you got any similar complaints from other members, but if in the future you should receive any, you can recommend simply playing the record over a time or two."
MR. PAUL GIASSON (RCA Records, United States) writes to me: "We can tell you at this time that we have tentatively scheduled the release of this recording [Ein Heldenleben/NYPSO] on our Victrola label --- probably in November of this year." I hope to offer it to the members.
CORRECTION: the revised Mengelberg movie, which, in the last NEWSLETTER, I stated had been shown on Japanese TV, may be shown on Japanese TV.
MONSIEUR HUBERT WENDEL writes, "Last week (February 27, 1976) we he1d at the University of Strasbourg a lecture on Mengelberg and Furtwängler, in collaboration with the Furtwängler Society of Paris. The lecturer made use of the following recordings: Tchaikovsky, S.#4, 5, 6;Wagner, Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin; Brahms, Tragic Overture; Beethoven, S.#7; Strauss, Ein Heldenleben; Brahms, S.#3. On the whole, the public was very favorably impressed by Mengelberg." "Radio Strasbourg announced the lecture and broadcast the recording of Leonore, O.#1."
MR. WAYNE H. FINKE, 7 East 145th St (17-U),
N.Y. City 10003, seeks tape copies (open reel, 7 l/2"/sec., or, preferably,
cassette) of the following Mengelberg recordings: the Beethoven overtures
-- Coriolan; Egmont; Fidellio; Leonore, 1 &3;
Creatures of Prometheus; & the “Turkish march” from Ruins
of Athens; Brahms, S #1; Dvorak, S. #9; Mozart, Magic
Flute O. & Eine kl. Nachtmusik; & Schubert, S. #9.
Mr. Fink will provide the tape (cassette or open reel) or money for the
tape, plus all shipping costs.
MR. JOHN TOCZEK, 23308 53 West, Mountlake Terrace, Washington 98043, wants to meet members who live in Seattle, Tacoma, & Everett, where, unfortunately, we have no members. “I have some acousticals, early Columbias and electrical New York New York Philharmonics (Symphony) Orchestra recordings on tape, and some miscellaneous others on 78s, LP, 45s. There is much I am looking for myself. I have also much Toscanini, some Koussevitzky, Beecham, et., which I would be more than willing to. let someone record their own tapes of if interested. I have no quality recording equipment of my own." Mr. Toczek’s phone is (206) 778-5202.
At the close of the last NEWSLETTER
(dated April 1) I referred to Mengelberg’s unknown recording of Weber’s
overture to Der Aprilnarr. Dr. Jules Levey asks me, "Wonder
how many were taken in by the Aprilnarr joke---." It means The April Fool
MR. JAMES BALLARD writes,"Thought I would also mention the fact that the New York Philharmonic-Willem Mengelberg performance of 'Ein Heldenleben on British LP has had a hearing in this area [Painesville, Ohio]. Mr. Carl Bauman played this record over Radio Station WSKU-FM on the evening of March 8, 1976."
In a similar vein writes Mr. Radcliffe L. Bond: "WCRB-FM here in Boston has been having tons of Mengelberg stuff. In the last six months I have heard The Saint Matthew Passion, Brahms 4th, Beethoven s 9th, Mahler’s 4th and they are now in the process of playing all his performances of the Beethoven symphonies, even the doubles!"
MR. T. L. CLEAR, 579 2nd Avenue, N.Y. City 10016, has now published Volume II (TLC-2585) of his Historical Anthology of Orchestral Music, 4 discs, $16.00. The contents are Schumann s S.#1 (Stock, Chicago S.: a beautifully phrased, very German, performance); Mendelssohn’s MSND, Over. & Wagner’s Fly. Dutch., Ov. (Morike, BSOO); Pittaluga, ballet suite cond. by the composer; Chausson, S. in B (Coppola); "Coppola and Monteux conduct Coppola"; Atterberg, S.#4 (Heger/BSOO) & S.#6 (composer/BPO); Schreker, Little Suite for Chamber Orch. (composer/BPO); & Schelling, A Victory Ball (Mengelberg; except for one or two brief instances of distortion at the beginning, the transfer appears to me to be excellent). An interesting booklet, which includes Atterberg’s discussion of his own S.#6 & the title page from three of the Mengelberg concert programs, accompanies Volumes I & II. The statement enclosed with Vol. II that Schelling’s A Vict. Ball was the 1st electrical recording that the NYPO made for Victor is almost certainly incorrect, because Dr. Hardie’s discography lists the overture to The Fly. Dutchman as having been cut three days earlier (Oct. 6, 1925). Mr. Clear has probably by now re-issued his "Augmented Violin History set #2580 -- 150 new copies from the original stampers---." The reissued set has four discs (one more than the original issue), the 4th disc including recordings by Prihoda, Vecsey, de Kerekjarto, among others. The set costs $15.00. The 4th disc can be ordered separately for $5.00. Mr. Clear now informs me that he will not sell his issues for money to persons abroad.
MR. BO DØSSING, Graengebjergvej 8, DK-4250 Fuglebjerg, Denmark, has published the 2nd edition of his Mengelberg Discography. The price, including air mail postage, is Danish kr.25. It has what appears to be a nearly complete listing of pirated issues, the chief lack of Dr. Hardie’s discography, & a very few other issues (duplications) & recordings not issued (but that are supposed to exist) that are not found in the Hardie; but it does lack a large number of duplications that Hardie does list. The 2nd ed. contains errors, & a number of what appear to be errors.
IN THE previous NEWSLETTER I wrote well of the dubbing on Entré of the Romeo & J. Over. Mr. Kenneth DeKay comments: "I do not know about your copy of the Entré record by Mengelberg, but mine has a superb 'Les Preludes coupled with a 'Romeo and Juliet’ which has at least one sour spot on it." Mr. DeKay is right; there is also a "sour spot" on mine: considerable distortion at one place in the strings, as I recall. This distortion (same kind & place) is also in my 78 copy that I bought during WWII.
THE DUTCH Radio, AVRO, is broadcasting over its radio station Hilversuin IV the following series of Mengelberg concerts during July, 2:02 p.m. There may be minor changes, says AVRO. "All recordings from the original AVRO archives." JULY 3: Beethoven, S. #5; Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings (opening measures are missing); & parts from the celebration of Mengelberg’s 40th Anniversary with the COA. JULY 10; Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Hermann Schey) & S. #4 (Jo Vincent). JULY l7: A. Voormolen, Sinfonia ; J. Wagenaar, The Taming of the Shrew, Over.; C. Dopper, Zuiderzee Symphony; & Gustav Czopp’s interview of Mengelberg. JULY 24: Schumann, P.C. (Emil von Sauer): & Rachmaninoff, P.C. #3 (Walter Gieseking). JULY 31: Strauss, Don Juan & Tchaikovsky, S.#5. A very attractive series.
Mr. Clear has a rival. MACK RECORDS, POB 315, Allendale, N.J. 07401, has issued as its first release a disc of Weingartner s Beethoven recordings: S.#5/British S.O.; Cons. of the House, Over.; Eleven Viennese Dances & Creatures of P., Over./all with the LPO. "Please note that the recording of the Beethoven Fifth is the legendary 1932 performance. It is easily the best of the four recordings he made of the work. Also, the Prometheus is his earlier (and better) recording; . . ." "Our second record, which should be ready for release in about a month [early September] is the Mengelberg 'New World Symphony! . . . Our third release, which will come in the Fall, is a two-record set of the complete acoustic recordings of Willem Mengelberg!" "We plan to do many other Mengelberg records as well as Krauss, Kleiber, more Weingartner, etc." The Society is asked to act as a Clearing House for orders from members; in return, you can buy each record for $5.95, including mailing costs in the United States, which, I am informed, is a saving of $1.00 for each disc. Send your orders to the Society, with your checks made out to Mack Records. It is essential that you state your order & your name & address on a separate sheet of paper, free of all matter relating to the Society. I shall accumulate your orders & checks for 2 or 3 weeks before forwarding them to Mack Records. Orders mailed too late will also be held for 2 or 3 weeks before forwarding.
In respect of Døssings’s discography, pirated issues have been well covered in the Newsletter.
A pleasant late summer & pleasant listening wished to all
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #20
We continue with the 80th season (1921/1922) of the New York Philharmonic
(9) February 1922
(10 & 11) Feb. 23, 24
(12) Feb. 26
(13) Feb. 27, Monday Evening, 8:15 p.m.
Beethoven: Leonore, Overture #3 (Josef Stransky)
Wagner; Lohengrin, Prelude to Act I (Stransky)
Berlioz: Damnation of Faust, "Rakoczy March" (Bodanzky)
Brahms: S. #1, Fourth Movement (Albert Coates)
Liszt: Les Préludes (Mengelberg)
Wagner: Die Walküre, End of Act III (Leopold Stokowski)
Wagner: Die Meistersinger, Prelude to Act I (Artur Bodansky)
NOTES. The Bruno Walter Society (P.O. Box 921, Berkeley, California 94701) is marketing a set of 2 LPs (RR-443) consisting of transfers of the following Mengelberg recordings: Bach, Suite #2; Bolero & the following overtures: Tragic, Coriolan, Poet & P., Oberon, Tannhäuser, Die M., Roman Carnival, & 1812. The set costs $14.00, postpaid in the U.S.A.; $16.00, postpaid abroad. Of this issue, Dr. Harry Wells McCraw writes: "The transfers are all excellent: full, bright, and clean." Mr. Thomas Varley, who once explored the possibility of forming a society for Frederick Stock, whose warm hearted view of Schumann's S.#1 Mr. Clear recently published (see last NEWSLETTER): "The transfers [of R.R-443] are all first rate, with the possible exception of 'Oberon which is a little dim, but this may be the fault of the recording, since this is the oldest of the set." Dr. Egmond Bach: "The set is quite good, aside from what appear to be tape drop outs in the 'Tragic Overture. " And Monsieur Hubert Wendel: "On the whole the sound is very good. The dynamic range is good. There is some surface noise now and then."
MR. KENNETH DeKAY: "Let me add my comments on the fine recording of Tchaikovsky Fifth by Mengelberg found on RR-421 offered by the Bruno Walter Society.
"The only conductor of whom I know who consistently used the same cuts as Mengelberg was Sir Malcolm Sargent who did so in both his recordings of the Tchaikovsky Fifth, the first for Victor, the second for Everest. Rodzinski made cuts in his recording with the Cleveland Orchestra, but they were not the Mengelberg cuts.
"To my mind the Mengelberg cut after the false ending in the last movement certainly makes the coda of that movement far more effective than does the playing of the original version which opens with strings rather than with trumpets and brasses as does Mengelberg s version." (Mengelberg introduced these cuts at the personal suggestion of the composer’s brother, because the composer himself had wanted them.)
ALSO referring to RR-421, Dr. Wolfgang Ast complains of "some odd pitch changes in the transfer, when one 78 side ends and the next one begins."
IN THE last NEWSLETTER we were introduced to Mack Records. From what I have learned from Mr. Leo R. Mack & from information that several members have kindly mailed to me, the following is clear. The firm has ceased operations. At least several members who had mailed to me their orders have had their money refunded by Mr. Mack, who had already sold most of his entire remaining stock to the German News Company, 218 E. 86th St., New York City, N.Y. 10028, from whom you can order these discs, but at what price I do not know. Mr. Mack intends to resume business under the name Past Masters Records & to press anew what he has already published, which, aside from the 3 issues named in the last NEWSLETTER, is also a transfer of Mengelberg’s recording on Telefunken of the Brahms S. #4 (MACK 005). The price of the MACK issues was reduced to $4.95/disc (plus $1.00 mailing costs for up to 3 records) after the last NEWSLETTER was published, as I learned from several members. Mr. Mack has since assured me that he has refunded all overpayments. The MACK issues are very attractive to the eye, & accompanied by informative pamphlets.
Mr. Mack's transfers for the Weingartner disc (MACK 001) are superb. Unfortunately, the Dvorak 9th/Mengelberg (MACK 002) has virtually no treble, thereby, seriously distorting the sound that was peculiar to the COA under Mengelberg. Mr. F. James Neu writes of this issue: "Just a note to let you know how much I like that Dvorak’s 5th by Mengelberg; it s terrific, certainly one of the best versions of that overplayed work I’ve ever heard, and probably the best from a dramatic standpoint. And the sound is surprisingly good."
The transfers of Mack’s 2 disc set (MACK 003/004) comprising all of the Mengelberg acousticals are much. better, even though I suspect that 3 varying degrees of treble cut are used to reduce the surface hiss of the original 78s. Manipulation of this kind can be of little or no adverse consequence in this instance, because the treble range of acoustical recordings is restricted as compared to even the earliest electricals. I found the set very enjoyable, the accurate & idiomatic playing of the NYPO a delight to the ear & mind. In respect of what Mengelberg obtained from the orchestra, much more can be told from these recordings than I would have been inclined to admit beforehand. For example, notice how the trumpets in Les Préludes fulfill Mengelberg’s demand for the immediate production of tone: although not so obvious as in his Columbia recording, which is electrical, it is still apparent. The contents are Beethoven’s Coriolan O. & S .#5 (1st mvt.); Omphale’s Sp. Wheel; Les Préludes (with changes in the scoring to allow for deficiencies in the recording); Tchaikovsky’s S. #6 (2nd & 4th mvts., shortened) & Serenade for Strings (Waltz); Tales from the Vienna Woods (shortened; the performance will surprise you); the Overture & Entr’acte #3 from Rosamunde; Athalia ("War March of the Priests"); & Halvorsen’s Festival March of the Boyars. The delightful "Boyars March," once so popular, is a delicious morsel in M’s hands.
The Mack transfer of Brahms S. #4 (MACK 005) is excellent, & a world of improvement over the indistinct LP transfer that has been available at various times on the Telefunken label of different countries. At the present time, Mr. Mack still has a personal supply of his last two issues, the acoustical set & the Brahms 4th, which can be ordered from him through the Society at the aforestated price of $4.95/disc, plus $1.00 mailing costs for up to three records ordered. (Don’t send your order to the Society. Instead, send it to: Past Masters Records, P.O. Box 713, West Paterson, N.J. 07424. Mr. Mack will publish, about the end of this month, Weingartner’s recordings of Mozart’s S. #39 (RPO), & Bach’s Suite #3, Boccherini’s Minuet (Paris Con. O.), on single disc. He has left small quantities of Mack 001, 003/4, & 005.)
MR. ANDREW B. McALLISTER writes that Radio Station WFMT-FM, Chicago, October 25, broadcast on "Collector s Item" a popular concert of Mengelberg 78s;: Poet & Peasant, Overture; Omphale’s Spinning Wheel; Les Préludes & Old Dutch Dances, with remarks by Don Tait, who "made some very interesting and informative comments on Mengelberg as a conductor, as well as on the recordings themselves."
DOES anyone know whether the transfer of Roentgen’s "Dances" in MRF-74 is from the Philips or from the Telefunken recording?
BACK issues #9, 11, 16 & 17 are exhausted. The remaining numbers are 20 cents each and an envelope stamped with l3 cents in postage for every two issues ordered.
THE SOCIETY will again have in stock about the first of the New Year the German Telefunken issue of Tchaikovsky’s 5th (BPO) & 6th (ACO): 2 discs, catalog #6.48014, price $7.50; & the German Philips issue of Beethoven’s 5th & 9th: 2 discs, catalog # 6701031, price $7.50. The Philips are excellent transfers; the Telefunkens are good transfers, with some treble missing. (Since we last offered the Telefunken set, it has been assigned a new catalog number, I see; I have not heard it, but I assume that it comprises the. self same transfers as before.) Postal charges in the United States are one disc, 88 cents; two discs, 98 cents; three discs, $1.31; four or five discs, $1.41; six discs, $1.51; seven or eight discs, $1.74; nine or ten discs, $1.97.
As I see that the typist will have space left, & wanting to obey the injunction "waste not," I am going to venture onto a subject that should interest us all: what rule should guide the pirate when he dubs his 78s for publication? Should the surface scratch be more or less severely reduced? Or should we hear the sound as it was recorded, irrespective of surface noise? I strongly favor the latter view. Once the treble of a disc has been manipulated so as to reduce the surface scratch, there is no way that you who have bought the dubbing can restore the original sound. You can only guess as to the frequency at which the attenuation begins & as to the steepness of the attenuation slope. Attenuation slopes of professional equipment can be very precipitous: 12 or 18 db/octave, which is so steep that even if you know the frequency at which it begins (the turnover, inflection, or knee, frequency), you cannot undo the harm, because your treble tone control will have a maximum lift slope of only 6 db/octave. I am not distressed by surface hiss, unless it is very noisy. The fairly constant hiss of a decently pressed 78 is far less distracting to me than a badly pressed LP, with its unending punctuations of pops and crackles. Perhaps you believe otherwise. If you do, you can use your treble filter& tone control to reduce the scratch of a noisy dubbing to your own satisfaction. In doing so, you will inevitably distort the recorded sound, if the record is electrically cut.
What if the record is acoustically cut? The treble range of an acoustical recording is limited, although not so limited as we might be inclined to assume. Dr. Thomas G. Stockham, Jr., who has done remarkable work with Caruso’s recordings, states that the frequency range of these discs lies between about 200 Hz and 4000 Hz. This being the case, if we want to attenuate the treble because we want to reduce the surface noise, we shall have to choose some knee above 4000 Hz. Moreover, the knee frequency must be sufficiently high so that the phase shift distortion at the upper recorded frequencies is too small to be heard. Phase shift distortion of 15 degrees is noticeable to the ear. The practical consequences of this is that even with acoustical recordings we shall have to place the knee fairly high. Some scratch will be removed & some will remain. If the surfaces are very noisy, a good deal will remain. Why bother to filter the treble? The person who buys the dubbing & is annoyed by the scratch can adjust the knobs & pushbuttons of his preamplifier to suit his own tastes.
Treble filtering, depending on its severity, may or may not distort the recorded sound. Sometimes this distortion is so slight that it is noticeable only when the dubbing is directly compared to the corresponding 78. This is the case with the two Japanese Telefunkens SLC-2325 & SLC2326, which contain Beethoven’s S. 4 & 6, among other works. The sound of these two discs is extraordinarily "smooth"& somewhat lacking in character as compared to the original 78s, which have more robust treble. The Philips transfers appear to have an unfiltered treble.
Merry Chrustmas, Happy New Year, Pleasant listening, & a cozy winter wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19
Alma Mahler writing to Mengelberg about one of her husband s scores: ". . . Should you make minor changes (which would be entirely in keeping with Mahler’s wishes, who touched up every work of his predecessors and contemporaries where the sound lacked the desired fullness), please enter the reinforcements or doublings of the bass or . . . possible middle voices in my score. That which you do will certainly come to be command and tradition for all other conductors on earth. Only you have the right to do this . . .", November 10, 1924. This passage is quoted in Miss E. B. Heemskerk ‘s Over Willem Mengelberg, p.59.
Much of the way in which Mengelberg conducted Mahler owes to what he learned directly from the composer. I am not suggesting the silliness that when we hear Mengeiberg’s interpretation of Mahler’s 4th, for example, we are hearing it "just as Mahler himself conducted it." This is impossible in the nature of things, as Mengelberg had far too strong & original a spirit: a weak spirit would have attempted simply to imitate Mahler’s conception down to the last jot & tittle, & in so attempting would have reproduced the musical equivalent of an underexposed & blurred photograph. But Mengelberg himself wrote that Mahler was his strongest influence, & consequently the general conception & many details must be as true to Mahler’s own view as a strong, intelligent, observant, & independent spirit allows. In an entirely similar, way, although not to the same degree, when we hear Mengelberg conduct Beethoven we are listening to an "authentic" performance. Mengelberg studied under Franz Wüllner, who was a student for several years of Anton Schindler, Beethoven’s close friend & biographer; the intimate knowledge that Schindler had of Beethoven’s personal manner of performance he taught to Wüllner, who taught which to Mengelberg.
In NEWSLETTER #18 Dr. McCraw described his odd experience with the St. Matthew P.: it distorted badly on the first playing, but improved with each subsequent playing. Dr. John S. Lewis replies: "Purchasers of records should resist the powerful temptation to play new records before they clean them. . . . I waited . . . until a weekend before playing mine. In the meantime I cleaned my set thoroughly with a discwasher, and I recommend that every collector use a reputable cleaner . . . before playing a record. My set was pristine. It still sounds that way. And what a glorious, moving experience the St. Matthew Passion is under Mengelberg’s baton. That set has to be one of the greatest performances on disks." Returning to Dr. McCraw’s original complaint, I have discovered that it is very easy to blunder when judging a dubbing. In mind is the dubbing of Brahms S.#3/Mengelberg, published by German Electrola. In the NEWSLETTER I wrote poorly of it, but all members who have written to me about the dubbing have praised it; & I now find that the first two movements sound very good, whereas the last two are unclear & distort, as before. When I first played Mr. Clear’s transfers of Bach’s Double C. & Eine kl. N. I was dismayed by the distortion. Some of my later playings of these two dubbings had less distortion. Why the reproduction should vary from one playing to another, I don t know; although I can say that this oddity occurrs only with recordings that are dubbings.
CORRECTION. Newsletter #19, p.4: the sentence ". . . , we shall have to choose some knee about 4000Hz.” should read “ . . . above 4000 Hz.”
MR. KARL GWIASDA writes of the British issue of Ein Heldenleben/NYPSO/Mengelberg/recorded Dec. 11 13, 1928 (Victrola SMA 7001), "The sound on the record is very good. One would never suppose the recording to be fifty years old. The performance is, of course, extraordinary." This British disc is a Japanese transfer & therefore a different one from the American disc (Victrola AVM1-2019), which appeared in December of last year. High Fidelity, April, 1977, publishes R. D. Darrell’s enthusiastic review of the American issue. Professor Wayne Finke sends me the cutting of Peter G. Davis likewise enthusiastic review in the N.Y. Times, Jan. 16, 1977. In the course of extolling the "fabulous playing" of the orchéstra, Mr. Davis misstates, "During the decade 1926-36 the orchestra was under the direction of Toscanini...," thereby implying that the orchestra s virtuosity owes chiefly to Toscanini, who first appeared with the orchestra the season of 1925/26, conducting 14 concerts as "guest conductor." The following season he conducted only 3 concerts, again as "guest conductor." These same two seasons Mengelberg (whose title was "conductor") conducted 36 & 40 subscription concerts. The following two seasons (1927/28 & 1928/29), T. was also listed as "conductor", but second in importance to Mengelberg, who conducted more concerts than did T. for the season of 1927/28 &, I believe, also for the next season* (*M. conducted 31 subscription concerts, season of 1928/29, T. only 18.) The season of 1929/30, M.’s final one, M. conducted 23 subscription concerts. I lack T.’s number, but it must be greater. Bearing in mind these facts & the evidence adduced by Mr. Mack’s fine transfers of M.’s acoustics with the NYPO (recorded April 1922 to April 1924), it is clear that the superb playing of the NYPSO in Ein Heldenleben owes solely to Mengelberg’s arduous training of the orchestra. Mr. Mack’s aforesaid dubbings tell us that the NYPO as early as April, 1922, was a superbly disciplined orchestra. By that April Mengelberg had conducted the NYPO (& its forerunner, the National Symphony Orch.) in a total of about 70 concerts (seasons of 1920/21 & 1921/22) & had spent a lavish amount of time training it at rehearsal. By way of example, listen to Les Préludes, recorded April, 1922.
The "surprise" I wrote of in the last Newsletter, in respect of the Strauss waltz, referred to the very fast tempo with which M. races through much of the work. I suspect that the original disc was recorded at some speed slower than 78 rpm. I have played the transfer at about 30 rpm (probably too slow a speed), & the tempo seemed to be more nearly normal.
MR. JOHN TOCZEK (23308 53 West, Mountlake Terrace, Washington 98043) inquires about an LP record he has found, Halo 5021, which,he says,contains a dubbing of Mengelberg’s recording of the 1812 Overture, although the label reads "The Philharmonia Orchestra". The disc is about 20 years old. Does anyone know something of it? Mr. Toczek is looking for shellac copies of the following Mengelbergs: Tales from V. Woods & Tchaikovsky’s "Serenade Waltz" (both Victor acoustics); Tales from V. Woods & Artist’s Life (both Brunswicks); the overtures on Columbia, Tannhäuser (l926), Oberon, Leonore #3, Euryanthe, & Freischütz; in any form Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins, recorded for Decca; & almost any recording on Telefunken or Capitol Telefunken. He wants copies "in very good condition and conditions of purchase or trade can be worked out, . . ."
MR. ANDREW B. McALLISTER: "You will be glad to know that on 'Collector’s Item’ on the night of the 25th [October, 1976], on station WFMT-FM Don Tait presented an hour 'Pop Concert’ on Mengeiberg recordings. Poet and Peasant Overture. Old Netherlands Dances. Le Rouet d’Omphale. Les Préludes. All of these were taken from the 78 rpm, and were in fine sound, and Don also made some very interesting and informative comments. . . .”
MR. KENNETH DeKAY: "I was very pleased with the Mengelberg set (RR443] which the Bruno Walter Society offered for sale except for the Brahms Tragic Overture which is very badly done . . ." At the recent sale of the B.W.S. I bought this set and RR-42l (Tchaikovsky's S. #5). Aside from one or two obvious side joins (that probably owe largely to the 78s), I thought the transfers excellent to superb, except for the Die Meistersinger O. & the Tragic O., both of which frequently have an unclear sound & an odd tone. The 1812 O. is a superb transfer for the first 3 sides; side 4 has distortion in the loudest passages that suggests mistracking of the dubbing pickup cartridge. There is a fall in pitch at the beginning of side 3 of the Symphony, which must be present in the 78s.
IN EARLY January Mr. DeKay asked me if I knew of RR-424, which I did not. In late February I received from the Bruno Walter Society a parcel containing 4 new Mengelberg issues, the first time that the B.W.S. has sent us records that I had not ordered & paid for. These 4 issues are the aforesaid RR-424 (Tchaikovsky’s S.#4 & Romeo & J. O./superb transfers of the Columbia 78s, the dubbing of the Symphony being considerably better than that on Japanese Angel, which we sold several years ago; the overture having a trace of distortion in the strings toward the end of side 3, where all 78 copies that I have heard distort more or less); RR-425 (Tchaikovsky’s S. #5 & (opening measures missing) String Serenade/these are copies of the concert performances of Nov. 26, 1939, & Oct. 9, 1938 (the jacket quoting Oct. 6), & broadcast by AVRO last July (see Newsletter #18); in the Symphony there is occasional overload distortion, some poor balances between instruments, & several sudden shifts in volume level; in the Serenade there is some distortion in the violins when playing the higher notes toward the end: all present in the original 78s, no doubt; the orchestra plays phenomenally in both works, the string tone in the Serenade incomparably dark & rich); IGI-358 (Franck’s Symphonic Variations for Piano & Orch. & Rachmaninoff’s P.C.#3/Gieseking/copies of conccert performances of Oct. 31 (or 13?), 1940 & March 28, 1940; the F* has excellent sound; the R* also excellent sound, except at the beginning where there is overload distortion & two sudden changes in the volume level, presumably present in ths originals, & several whistles that are probably caused by RF interference); (Beethoven’s S.#l/NYPSO; Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins & Mozart’s Eine kl. N./neglecting occasional slight distortion in the bass, & distortion in the treble at the end of the 2nd movement, the Symphony is an excellent transfer of the Victor recording; the Bach & Mozart are inferior to Mr. Clear’s transfers, the Mozart, in fact, being a copy, & the Bach almost certainly being a copy, of Mr. Clear’s issue.) In spite of the technical faults, which I consider less serious than I have implied, & aside from the Bach & Mozart, I enjoyed these 4 records immensely. If you want to choose which recording of the Tchaikovsky 5th you should buy, I would choose RR-42l, which as a dubbing of the Columbia recording is a better reproduction of the orchestra. These records cost $7.00 each ($8.00 abroad), postpaid, ordered from the Bruno Walter Society, P.O. Box 921, Berkeley, California 94701. (*My comments are reversed.)
PAST MASTERS has issued two new discs: PM.2/Harty conducts the Hal1é Orch. in Elgar’s Enigma V., Londonderry Air, & the Scherzo from the conductor’s Irish Symphony; PM. 8/Ernst von Dohnányi conducts the Budapest Phil. O. from the piano in Mozart’s P.C.#l7 & plays the piano unaccompanied in Beethoven s Für Elise, in his own Marche Humoresque, & in Strauss Treasure Waltz & You & You Waltz. Past Masters complete catalog (for further details see previous Newsletters) is PM.l (Weingartner conducts Mozart’s S.#39, Bach’s Suite #3, etc.); PM. 2; PM.3 (formerly MACK 001; Weingartner conducts Beethoven’s S. #5, the 11 Viennese Dances, & 2 overtures); PM.4 (formerly MACK 002; Mengelberg conducts Dvorak’s S. #9) PM.5 (formerly MACK 005; Mengelberg conducts Brahms S. #4) PM. 6 & PM. 7 (formerly MACK 003 & 004; the complete acoustical recordings of Mengelberg; the discs are sold separately); & PM.8. Each disc is $4.95. Mailing costs are $1.00 (1-3 discs), $2.00 (4-6); $3.00 (7-9). Past Masters, P.O. Box 713, West Paterson, New Jersey 07424. Aside from PM.4 (which has no treble) & PM.8 (which I haven t heard), these are excellent or superb dubbings.
MR. T. L. CLEAR (579 2nd Ave., New York City, N.Y. 10016) has sold all copies of his second pressing of the Augmented History of the Violin (#2580), but still has some copies of the supplementary disc, which costs $5.00, including postage, & comprises recordings by von Vecsey, Prihoda, etc. Mr. Clear also has left a few copies of his two orchestral sets (2584 & 2585), each set comprising 4 discs & costing $16.00, including postage. He is sold out of both chamber music sets (2581 & 2582). More detailed information on each of Mr. Clear’s issues can be found in previous numbers of the Newsletter.
WESTERN SOUND Archive, Mr. Nathan E. Brown, Archivist, P.O. Box 1112, El Cerrito, California 94530, has for sale taped copies of a number of concert performances conducted by Mengelberg, including from the aforesaid AVRO series of last July Dopper s Zuiderzee Symph.; Wagenaar’s Taming of the Shrew, Ov. & Voormolen's Sinfonia. The price for 2-track 7-l/2. IPS is $12.00 per hour or $60.00 for six hours. Other speed & track arrangements are also sold.
DR. JOHN S. LEWIS wrote to me last year of a firm that deals in used 78s & LPs & in pirated LP issues: Immortal Performances, P.O. Box 8316, Austin, Texas 78712. I recently received their catalog, identified as "1977 List Number 1," which comprises about 20 large pages listing used 78s & LPs of all kinds, including several Mengelberg issues, & ends with a discography of Cortot s American recordings. A later catalog will list pirated LPs.
BACK ISSUES of the Newsletter are 20 cents each, plus a reply envelope bearing l3 cents postage for every two numbers ordered. Numbers 9, 11, 16, & 17 are exhausted.
WITH THIS issue, Subscription Year 1976 ends. Subscription Yr. 1977 costs $3.50, as last year. Thank you for your continued support.
Mrs. April Loof writes to me that she powered her refrigerator all of Jan. & Feb. of this year by draining the enormous static charge that accumulates on her records during the dry Winter months. "The refrigerator worked better on DC, my records were entirely free of static electricity, and I saved money."
Pleasant listening & a wet spring (the farmers need the rain!) wished to all.
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