THE WILLEM MENGELBERG SOCIETY
Newsletters on this page: #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 31/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TEN
Mengelberg was a convivial man. He loved good food, good drink, good cigars, & good company. In her book, Over Willem Mengelberg, page 93 & pages 98 & 99, Miss E. B. Heemskerk tells two stories, which I freely translate.
"WHEN Mengelberg was invited out after a concert, it was embarrassing when he sometimes appeared very late. Without regard for his hosts, he quietly used the time to bathe & dress. The most awkward occasion in this respect occurred at Paris, where the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen (who painted Mengelberg’s portrait) had organized a reception in his studio. Many of the guests had already left when Mengelberg finally arrived. But those who waited were well rewarded: the party was an absolute 'smash.’"
"WE GAVE concerts every year in Paris, where our ambassador, Jonkheer J. Louden, & his wife always cordially welcomed us & organized a reception in the splendid embassy in honor of the orchestra. After the concluding performance of a Beethoven cycle the ambassador & his wife went with Mengelberg & a privileged few of us to celebrate the cycle’s great success. In the Caves Caucasiennes, near Place Pigalle, where we eventually found ourselves, Mengelberg exchanged warm greetings with the cymbalist of the string orchestra, Nisza Kodollana, a Romanian, whom Mengelberg had once heard in the United States. The evening closed with a merry dance party: Mengelberg played the piano & Gerard Hekking, our solo cellist, the cello; Ilona Durigo, the Hungarian alto, gave a csardas; & Mia Peltenburg, the Dutch soprano, sang an aria from La Bohème. Everything was extemporaneous: what better proof that they were born musicians all!"
HENRY Z. STEINWAY (of the piano family) tells the following story. "When Mengelberg came in the 1920s to the United States, prohibition was on here. He would bring in a bottle of real Dutch GIN for my father, Theodore E. Steinway, who would reciprocate with a genuine jug of Dutchess County (New York) apple jack, which he always received as a Christmas present from my mother s brother Howland Davis. He would then share the gin with Davis, who as a young man had worked in Amsterdam for a bank."
IN THE past two issues of NEWSLETTER we introduced
ourselves to the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, its newly appointed
chief music critic, Paul Bekker, & to their "continuing campaign against
the person of Willem Mengelberg." In the last issue, page 2, we read the
critic’s singularly malicious welcome to the new season of Friday Concerts,
UNKNOWN to Frankfurt’s increasingly disturbed music lovers, the Museum Association & the Frankfurter Zeitung had already exchanged letters on the subject of Paul Bekker’s reviews. The Association opened the correspondence with a letter dated December 8, 1911, addressed to the "Management of the Frankfurt Society Press, Inc.," the publishers of the Frankfurter Zeitung. The firm answered late the same month that it had forwarded the Letter to the Editors of the feuilleton, which is that part of a newspaper, usually French, but in this instance German, devoted to concert reviews, newspaper commentary on cultural subjects, & the like. When the Editors failed to reply, the Association mailed a second letter, dated February 12, 1912, with fresh contents.
THE TWO letters make these points, among others.
(1) For a period of some years the music critics [g. & Paul Bekker] of the Frankfurter Zeitung have subjected the Museum Concerts to criticism of a nature probably unknown elsewhere in Germany;
(2) In his letter of resignation, Siegmund von Hausegger, the previous conductor of the Museum Concerts, described the unfavorable criticisms [of the critic g.] as “‘ persona1ly hateful’” & "'poorly informed on the subjecti’”; these criticisms, which Hausegger believed gravely endangered his reputation outside of Frankfurt, obliged him to seek his release from a position he had occupied for only 3 years;
(3) Hausegger is a highly talented & widely praised musician;
(4) Similar concerts in Frankfurt, given by other groups, are far more favorably reviewed;
(5) The praise internationally bestowed on Mengelberg contrasts strangely tone of the critic’s
(6) It is to be feared that Mengelberg will be obliged to leave Frankfurt for the same reason that Hausegger did;
(7) The newspaper cannot diminish Mengelberg’s reputation, secure as it is, but the Museum Association, "if it quietly tolerates, season after season, the calumnies inflicted on Mengelberg, exposes itself to the danger of losing the high esteem of its public & the respect it enjoys here & abroad"; and
(8) The Association will no longer passively look on while the critic [Bekker] continues to disparage Mengelberg & the Association.
THE feuilleton Editors finally answered in a letter dated February 20. The reply denies any animosity towards Mengelberg; observes that "the conflict between praise & blame [of a musician] is a much noticed phenomenon of an artist’s life"; denies that the present critic [Bekker] or his predecessor [g.] was guided by Ill will; claims that the reviews of Mengelberg’s concerts are no more severe than those published elsewhere in Germany by other newspapers of other concerts; & concludes: "We greatly regret that the Frankfurt Museum Association has come to the view that our criticisms -- not 'calumnies’ as you choose to express yourself -- should have the power to diminish the public’s high esteem for the Association & the respect It enjoys here & abroad; but the undersigned Office of the Editor is quite unable to conceive of steps able to remedy this grievance. It has the faith in its music critic that he, when composing his reviews, will, as ever, be guided by the strictest sense of justice."
ALTHOUGH the Frankfurter Zeitung was reluctant to enter into a dispute the existence of which it was constrained to deny on the grounds that Bekker was only honestly exercising the undeniable rights of the critic, it was also true that so long as the Museum Association confined itself to private remonstrances, the newspaper’s position was impregnable. The newspaper could safely carry on the argument in public through Bekker’s busy pen, which scribbled behind the camouflage of "music criticism," just as did later the pen of Olin Downes (NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED, p. 3), while the Association modestly, & fruitlessly, contented itself with letters to the editor. The disreputable nature of Bekker’s reviews is not completely apparent even from the reviews themselves, for all their brutality & conceited posturing; a full understanding of their true nature is possible only when they are considered in the light of his reviews of a coincident series of orchestral concerts at Frankfurt, conducted by Max Kaempfert (1871-1941). We shall do this in the course of this series.
IN THE last NEWSLETTER, page 2, we read Paul
Bekker’s greeting to the new season of Friday Concerts, 1912/1913.
Bekker certainly had read the correspondence of the previous Winter between
his newspaper & the Museum Association, a correspondence we have just
reviewed; perhaps he had even helped to compose the reply. Bekker’s
review can be understood as his furious answer to the Association’s complaints
& to the Association’s hope, raised in its second letter, that "the
Editors will take the steps to remedy the grievance . . .”: Bekker might
understandably have looked upon this hope as a veiled request for his dismissal;
if not for his dismissal, then certainly as a scarcely veiled request that
the Editors should assign another critic to the Museum Concerts.
THE SECOND Friday concert was held a few weeks later, October 18, 1912. The program booklets placed on the seats for the concert goers comprised not only the customary contents of a concert program, but more, as well: the complete correspondence between the Museum Association & the newspaper (which we have just reviewed), & a lengthy open letter, dated October 12, 1912, addressed to the concert goers, from the Board of Directors of the Frankfurt Museum Association, Incorporated.
THE OPEN letter begins with the brief explanation that the critic’s latest review [NEWSLETTER, #30, p. 2] obliges the Association to bring the affair before the public; refers to the newspaper’s long standing hostility towards the Association; explains the great difficulty the Association had in finding Hausegger’s successor, in view of his reason for leaving & also in view of the difficulties presented by the lack of a true symphony orchestra [NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED, p. 3]; coments on the arrogant tone of Bekker’s reviews; analyzes his latest review; continues with the observation: "The watchword . . . of the Editor of the feuilleton is clearly: 'Get rid of Mengelberg!’ & on the foundations of this watchword are constructed the 'aesthetic valuations’ [quoted from the newspaper’s reply]. Earlier, the watchword ran: 'Get rid of Hausegger!"; & the open letter concludes: "Whoever has not closed his eyes over the years, who has noticed how the Frankfurter Zeitung’s feuilleton columns have repeatedly & enthusiastically disparaged our Association, who has not failed to hear the crescendo, begun this past year, in the attacks on Mengelberg, he must conclude: these events belittle the artistic reputation that the Association enjoys; they prevent the Association from winning conductors of a very distinguished quality, or from keeping them. What reveals itself here is the tendency to destroy."
THE Frankfurter Zeitung published no
review of the concert, but this bulletin appeared in the newspaper.
"[Frankfurt Museum Concerts.] Demonstrative applause greeted the conductor, Mr. Mengelberg, upon his appearance at yesterday’s Museum Concert. At the same time there appeared on the podium a deputation of several gentlemen who, in the words of its spokesman, assured Mr. Mengelberg of their unshakeable attachment & presented him with a laurel wreath on behalf of 'wide circles. The programs lying on the seats enclosed an open letter from the Board of Directors of the Museum Association addressed to the concert goers; the letter dealt at length with the Frankfurter Zeitung & its music critic. Accompanying it was an exchange of letters between the Board of Directors, on the one hand, & the Management & Editors of the Frankfurter Zeitung, on the other. The content of the open letter of the Board of Directors & the manner in which the affair has been made public oblige us to refrain from a review of the concert & to return the tickets that the Board of Directors had placed at our disposal. The Editors."
THIS IS the first time that the Frankfurter Zeitung mentions the scandal. So accustomed are newspapers to act as the sole & arbitrary determinant of what shall be the daily news in print, & how this news will be worked & shaped to support the editorial views on controversial questions, that the Museum Association’s simple move -- unforeseen & unorthodox -- , to make public what the newspaper had assumed would remain private, must have greatly disconcerted the Editors, for their answer is unexpectedly mild, the presumed mutual hatred notwithstanding. Their answer is also the soul of brevity. This is an instance, it must have occurred to the Editors, when it is wiser to mark an event, suddenly made public, with as little attention as possible. The Museum Association unexpectedly had the advantage in the ever more bitter controversy, which for a year had been completely one sided. The hate campaign had also sown anger among Frankfurt’s music lovers, who manifested their indignation by demonstrating against the newspaper. But the latter did not lack for allies. As though to disprove the saying "There is no honor among thieves," the Association of Journalists & Writers in Germany agreed not to review any future concerts of the Museum Association. The newspaper, having voluntarily returned its free tickets to the Association, signalled its lack of further interest in the Museum Concerts. The Association, we should therefor remark, did not close its door on the newspaper: the newspaper slammed the door shut on itself. But there still remained the concerts of the Cecilia Society, which Mengelberg also conducted: here, Bekker & his newspaper could continue to practice their "tendency to destroy." -- TO BE CONTINUED.
J. W. NEVE. "Did Mengelberg conduct much Bruckner?" [This question is asked now & then, perhaps with Mengelberg’s incomparable brass in mind. During the 10 seasons that he conducted the New York Philharmonic (-Symphony) Orchestra, Bruckner appeared on his programs just 4 times: the symphonies Nos. 2 & 9, twice each. My impression is that he seldom conducted Bruckner in Europe, as well.]
J. H. NORTH. "I have been a great Mengelberg
fan since the Capitol-Telefunkens were first released here (was it 1949?),
and have since even been in the Mengelberg archives, looked through his
own scores, talked with Miss Heemskerk, etc. etc. (this to show you I am
not just a 'casual’ Mengelbergite) -- even written a scholarly monograph
and a few record program notes!
"How did we all miss the 1978 Japanese Philips issues? I too first heard of them in your newsletter and I assume it s too late by now: if you know of any source, I’d be glad to pay plenty for some of them: I have the previous Japanese 'Fontana’ series (1968?); some good, some bad." [At least one other member has also asked about a source for these Japanese Mengelberg issues. The firm ANZ at Tokyo, whose address I published some years ago in NEWSLETTER, at least used to accept mail orders; but 2 inquiries I mailed them within the last 9 months were not answered. I inquired of the Japanese Consulate at Chicago, but their answer was not helpful. If someone who knows of a mail order source for Japanese records will please write to the Society, I shall publish the information in the next issue of NEWSLETTER.]
J. W. NEVE. "I still think his [Mengelberg’s] old Columbia, Tchaikovsky - Romeo & Juliet the finest performance on record (disc) I have heard; the Bruno Walter Society transfer seems better than the Dutch EMI. I still have the original 78s, but the background hiss is somewhat excessive. Van Kempen, also with the Concertgebouw, & Koussevitzky with the Boston Symphony are also exciting, but lack the inner tension and polish and brilliance which M. brings to the performance of the work. Some of the more modern interpretations seem less exciting to me."
DR. ROBERT W. HAYDEN sends David Hall’s enthusiastic
review (Stereo Review, April, 1982, p. 96) of the contents of Pearl
GEMM 212/3 (NEWSLETTER, #30, p. 4), the transfers being superb except for
the Fourth Symphony, which is "amateurishly botched." American
Record Guide (March, 1982, pp. 54 & 55) publishes Peter J. Rabinowitz’s
favorable review of Past Masters PM-34, the transfers of which he finds
more satisfactory than did Mr. Seth Winner (NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED,
p. 7). American Record Guide is under new editorship
(as is High Fidelity) in the future perhaps we can expect from these 2 magazines the same unbounded delight in Mengelberg reissues that they have always taken in the reissues of certain other conductors, most notably Toscanini. Robert Layton’s review of GEMM 21 2/13 & IMP 2 (NEWSLETTER, #30, p. 4) in the English monthly Gramophone (February, 1982; p. 1174) is more generous than we have now come to expect. The playing is "glorious," "incandescent,” but the Paul Bekker Sneer makes its entrance when Mr. Layton complains of Mengelberg’s "agogic posturing" in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth & Fifth Symphonies. Unbeknown to Mr. Layton, Wilhelm Furtwängler had answered that accusation over 4 decades earlier, in 1939, to be precise, when he noted down: "Tchaikovsky, or the mistrust of one’s own instincts. We even refuse what is good in Tchaikovsky, because we fear the kitsch in our own hearts."
BERKSHIRE Record Outlet, Inc. (428 Pittsfield-Lenox Rd., Lenox, Mass. 01240, U.S.A.), in its most recent catalog, dated July, 1982, lists 2 Mengelberg issues. On p. 36, Bartók’s Violin Concerto #2 (Hungaroton LPX 11573, $4.99); on p. 65, R. Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben (RCA AVM1-2O19, $2.99). The Strauss needs no praise from this quarter, for it is universally admired. The Bartók is a marvellous performance, with a warm & human face that we seldom find in the rendition of modern music. Unless my memory plays me tricks, sentiments somewhat of this nature were, as a matter of fact, expressed at the time in Gramophone’s review of the disc. The performance is historically important, for it is the first one of the piece, & played by Zo1tán Széke1y, the violinist for whom Bartók wrote the concerto. Shipping charges: domestic orders, $2.50 for first disc & 10 cents for each additional disc; foreign orders, $4.00 for first disc & 75 cents for each additional one.
PAST MASTERS has published two omnibus sets of 3 discs each, each set including at least one recording by Mengelberg. The set PM-36, published January, 1982, entitled Overtures & Preludes, comprises recordings by a large number of conductors, among whom are Mengelberg, Frederick Stock, Albert Coates, Carl Schuricht, Paul van Kempen, Fritz Lehmann, Clemens Krauss, Erik Tuxen, & Sir Henry Wood. Further details unknown. The other set, PM-37, published May, 1982, is entitled Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. Mengelberg conducts Zoltán Kodály’s Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song ("Peacock Variations") in its first performance, November 23, l939. The set also includes Paul van Kempen’s recording of Sibelius' S. #5 & van Beinum’s of Haydn’s S. #101, among other conductors & pieces.
Pleasant listening & a mild fall wished to everyone.
Go to Newsletter: #31 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER No. 32/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TEN
Miss E. B. Heemskerk, in her book, Over
Willem Mengelberg, page 65, tells this story, which I freely translate.
"Although Mengelberg did give piano & singing lessons, he never gave
conducting lessons. Musicians who were interested in learning from
Mengelberg something about how to conduct had to attend his rehearsals.
In this way, the Italian conductor Vittorio Gui, in Florence, considered
himself to have been Mengelberg’s student. In Paris, Mengelberg
once noticed at rehearsal a young man in the cello section who appear to
be absorbed in a book. Angered, Mengelberg demanded: 'Give me that
book!’ To his amazement, the book the young cellist gave to him was the
conducting score of the work being rehearsed.
"’Since you are so interested,’ said Mengelberg pacified, 'come to me after the rehearsal.’
"Maurice Gendron, for he was that young cellist, thereafter frequently visited Mengelberg to borrow scores, . . ." [Another musician who attended Mengelberg’s rehearsals was Arturo Toscanini, but he did so, in Carnegie Hall, New York City, secretly, & unknown to Mengelberg.]
BEGINNING with the Double No., 28/29,
we have reviewed the campaign that Paul Bekker & his newspaper,
Zeitung, mounts against the Museum Association an & the Cecelia
Society, both of whose concerts Mengelberg conducts. The campaign
begins with the season of 1911/1912, which sees Bekker write a succession
of increasingly malicious criticisms. The Museum Association protests
in two letters to the newspaper, but Bekker brazenly climaxes the campaign
with his review of Mengelberg’s first Friday concert of the season of 1912/1913.
In reply, the Association distributes at the following Friday concert an
open letter to the concert goers & the complete text of the correspondence
between the Association & the newspaper. The latter spurns to
review the concert & returns its free tickets to the Association.
BEFORE we continue the narrative, we should pause for the length of a paragraph to consider g.’s reviews of the concerts of Siegmund von Hauseggger. We may remember (NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 1) that he was Mengelberg’s predecessor; he had described these reviews as personally hateful," "poorly informed on the subject"; they drove him from his Frankfurt podium. As so often happens, the reviews were something of this & something of that. The review of Hausegger’s first concert, October, 1903, concludes in these warm tones: "It was a first rate beginning to his activity, a beginning that us with hope for the future." Some reviews thereafter were favorable, some unfavorable. During Hausegger’s three seasons, g. at his worst show the irritability & pettiness common to his tribe: Mozart’s Symphony No.39 is adorned with too many interpretative details, tempo contrasts in the first movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 2 are somewhat exaggerated, the coarse realism of the brass in the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 “is too much of a good thing," the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 is too slow & the second movement is too fast, “good fortune did not always smile" on Hausegger’s “choice of new music,” & so on. It is also true that g. not infrequently praised the conductor without reservation. Although g.’s most carping tone bears no comparison to Bekker’s malice, Hausegger asked the Museum Association to intercede for him with the Frankfurter Zeitung; the Association declined the request, & Hausegger resigned. We can reasonably object Hausegger was too easily offended; justified though our objection may be, the Museum Association still faced the unpleasant task of seeking Hausegger’s replacement, & this after only three seasons. Six years later, the season of 19l1/1912, Bekker, g.’s successor, fresh from Berlin, 29 years old, greedy with ambition, began his amazingly coarse campaign. If the Association did not defend itself, would it lose its second conductor in just six seasons? A reply was essential.
THERE was a further event that obliged or inspired
the Association to reply. Max Kaempfert, who was born at Berlin in
1871 & died at Frankfurt on the Main in 1941, was now conducting at
Frankfurt a series of six orchestral concerts, which Bekker also reviewed.
These concerts were played by the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra, composed
of 80 instrumentalists, & newly formed for the season of 1912/1913.
Because Kaempfert had for some seasons led the Palm Garden Symphony Concerts,
he was not a new face in Frankfurt; what he what he could not, were perfectly
well known in the city. He bore the honorary title of Royal Music
Conductor, & was also a composer. His wife, Anna, a soprano,
had sung under both Mengelberg & her husband.
IN his reviews of the previous season, 1911/1912, Bekker had argued for the necessity of Frankfurt’s having its own symphony orchestra, an orchestra solely for the concert hall. Indeed, It was generally recognized how desirable this would be; but, as the Museum Association observed in its open letter (NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 2), there was the even more important question of excellence, for "in the present circumstances it was impossible in Frankfurt to recruit a second orchestra of equal quality . . . ," which is to say, an orchestra as competent as was the Opera Orchestra, which Mengelberg conducted for the Friday Concerts.
KAEMPFERT conducted the maiden concert of the new orchestra September 30, 1912, just four days before Mengelberg’s first Friday Concert, which precipitated Bekker’s violent reply (NEWSLETTER, #30, p. 2). Bekker greeted the new orchestra with the greatest apparent enthusiasm. I say "apparent." Although nearly the entire review is devoted to a description of the orchestra situation in Frankfurt, to praise of Kaempfert, & to the conviction that the new orchestra is the first step in the rectification of the "orchestra question," Bekker’s brief remarks on the playing of the orchestra are severely unfavorable. But having concisely described the shortcomings of the strings, the woodwinds, & the brass, these faults, Bekker reassures us. should not dampen our hopes for the future because they are mostly a question of development. An orchestra cannot be conjured up, it must be slowly trained & shaped." Bekker’s warmth, sympathetic understanding, & forebearance betray an odd and entirely misplaced trust in Kaempfert. The bizarre contrast between this review & Bekker’s violent Bekker’s violent criticism four days later, October 5, 1912, of Mengelberg’s first Friday Concert must have played a decisive role in the Museum Association’s decision to counterattack publicly at te next Friday Concert, October 18 (NEWSLETTER, #31, pp. 2 & 3).
WAS Kaempfert’s orchestra any better at the
end of the season, March 1913, five concerts later? It will be worth
our while to inspect Bekker’s review. The season’s end, writes Bekker,
brought us "Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the sole work, in a performance,
considering the prevailing conditions, that merits sincere appreciation
& bears very honorable witness to the conductor’s diligence & good
judgment, as well as the orchestra’s proficiency & reliability.
Even the feared wind solos in the Adagio were surprisingly well
done. Although the tone & freedom of the performance elsewhere
sometimes left much to be desired, this cannot belittle the merit of the
work’s being performed cleanly & its important features executed with
pertinent clarity. Indeed, the purpose of these concerts really is
not to produce virtuosically polished performances. These
concerts should offer, & are intended to offer, to those music lovers
who desire good music & could not satisfy that desire since the loss
of the of the Opera House Concerts (as a consequence of a short sighted
financial policy), the chance to fulfill their wishes. In the second
place, they should demonstrate, in a practical way, how useful & necessary
it is that Frankfurt should have its own symphony orchestra; those who
wish to see Frankfurt returned in the foreseeable future to the status
of a noteworthy & artistically productive music city cannot shut their
eyes to the fact that the achievement of this goal depends in no small
measure on a favorable solution to the orchestra question.
To have pointed this out, & simultaneously to have shown that the interest
of the public is very active when correctly stimulated, is a no small service
of the concerts of the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra. The extent to
which only six concerts could stress this need was admittedly limited;
the individual programs, well & aptly put together, were necessarily
confined to the classical & older romantic composers. Nonetheless,
the presentation of the concerts suited their popular & educational
purpose; more is accomplished overall in this manner than if one has neglected
artistic goals to expand the concerts into social gatherings.” This
is the entirety of Bekker’s review.
BEKKER’S words are a masterpiece of deceitful reasoning & invented enthusiasm. The conductor, Max Kaempfert, has "good judgment" & "diligence" -- in other words, he is a mediocrity; the orchestra is "reliable" & "proficient" (it, too, is a mediocrity?), but plays “stiffly” & frequently with an unpleasant tone (the orchestra less than a mediocrity?); the wind solos are “surprisingly successful,” for Bekker has expected the winds to bungle them (yes, orchestra less than a mediocrity). After six concerts the orchestra still plays badly. But this is of no consequence, Bekker tells his readers, because, in one of several references to Mengeiberg, we ought not to expect "virtuosically polished performances."
BEKKER’S further argument -- that the purpose
of these concerts is really nothing more than to enable music lovers who
had earlier attended the now discontinued Opera House Concerts to satisfy
their longing for music once again -- originates in his capacity as a mouthpiece
for malcontents opposed to the Museum Association. The "short sighted
financial policy," which engenders Bekker’s resentment, was an admission
that the Opera House Concerts had lacked sufficient public support.
His complaint that Frankfurt has no symphony orchestra -- that there is
this "orchestra question" -- is exaggerated & falsely premised.
Bekker, always inclined to hysteria, lacked the sober judgment to know
what the better informed of his readers had known from the start (&
what he as a sometime conductor & a former violinist in the Berlin
Philharmonic Orchestra should have known): Kaempfert & his orchestra
were no answer to the "orchestra question," which, moreover, was not as
serious as Bekker wanted his readers to believe: there was the enlarged
Bad Homburg Spa Orchestra, which Mengelberg conducted for the Sunday Concerts,
a far better concert ensemble than the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra.
And the Opera Orchestra was a better instrument than Mengelberg’s
Spa Orchestra, although it was just this fact -- that it was specifically
an orchestra for opera, not for concert -- that Bekker objected to.
We could comment in greater measure on the nature of Bekker’s arguments,
but the foregoing gives us an adequate understanding of how dishonestly
Bekker habitually argues his case. The fundamental inspiration for
the review is his animosity towards the Museum Association.
AFTER six concerts, Kaempfert had not been able to train the musicians into a decent orchestra. Would things improve the next season? Bekker’s reviews tell us they did not. Bekker never attacked Kaempfert; what he did not like he either ignored or described in tones so sweet as to mislead the reader. At the concert of December 15, 1913, Kaempfert conducted the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra in Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, the Brahms Violin Concerto, & Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2. Bekker’s review, which is characteristic of his method for the Kaempfert concerts, comprises 45 lines, of which only these five refer to Kaempfert & the orchestra: "Under Mr. Kaempfert’s direction the orchestra played the accompaniment [of the Brahms] with a most commendable reliability; the dangerous Trio of the introductory G Minor Symphony of Mozart was also remarkably successful. The Leonore Overture was listed as the closing number." Bekker excused mediocrity, but he could not excuse genius (or whatever was the superabundant quality that Mengelberg as the merely re-creative musician possessed). The Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra vanished after a few fitful seasons.
ALTHOUGH the Frankfurter Zeitung had
angrily refused to review future concerts of the Museum Association, there
still remained those of the Cecilia Society, which Mengelberg also conducted;
here, Bekker & his newspaper could continue to work their "tendency
to destroy." The Cecilia Society’s first concert for the new season
was held November 20, 1912, at which Mengelberg conducted Verdi’s Requiem
Mass ("Manzoni Requiem"). Three days before the concert, the
Zeitung published this notice.
"[The Frankfurt Cecilia Society & the Critic.] As of today we have received no tickets to this Winter’s concerts of the Frankfurt Cecilia Society. We have learned from circles within the Society that the omission rests on a decision made at the last extraordinary meeting of the Society s members. We are informed that a motion of the Board of Directors was under discussion at that meeting: namely, that a pass to the concerts should be placed at the disposal of the Frankfurter Zeitung only on condition that it send some critic to review the concerts other than the gentleman with the initials P. B. (our music critic Paul Bekker is meant). After lengthy discussion, to which the Board of Directors of the Museum Association contributed forcefully, this motion was tabled & instead a motion that came from circles in the Membership was voted on: namely, to send no critic’s tickets at all to the Frankfurter Zeitung. This motion was accepted by a vote of 89 for & 49 against. -- According to prevailing custom in the concert world, this decision is not only an intentional rudeness, it expresses the wish that in the future the concerts of the Cecilia Society, which are conducted by Mr. Mengelberg, as are those of the Museum Association, are to be closed to public review. We take note of this exclusion, which directs itself against the freedom of criticism in a manner even harsher & factually as equally groundless as the recent action of the Museum Association. Thus, the concerts of the Cecilia Society henceforth are to have the character of closed Society Evenings. We shall respect this wish."
CONTRARY to the Frankfurter Zeitung’s claim, the Cecilia Society had not suggested that its concerts were "closed to public review." But the Society, by continuing to p1ace free tickets at the disposal of the newspaper, aided & countenanced the sordid affair of Bekker & his newspaper; the Society became a party, willy nilly, to its own public humiliation. Neither the Museum Association nor the Cecilia Society had questioned the newspaper’s freedom to publish whatever it desired, however irresponsibly & dishonestly it exercised that freedom or whatever the hidden motives that inspired its conduct. The Cecilia Society had decided by popular vote on a motion from the Membership to send the newspaper no pass. The Frankfurter Zeitung, which habitually favored democracy in its news columns, oddly failed to understand the fitness of the Society’s democratic decision. The hypocrisy is, perhaps, understandable: what the newspaper preached it never practiced: Bekker had not polled his readers before he launched his hate campaign, nor had the Editors polled the subscribers. Their decisions were autocratic & motivated by reasons known only to themselves. As the Frankfurter Zeitung undoubtedly did believe in "freedom of criticism" (to exploit as it saw fit), it should have bought, for Bekker, the tickets that the newspaper in past years had received free of charge. But aside from their common "tendency to destroy" & the rich opportunity the Mengelberg concerts offered to this tendency, neither Bekker nor his newspaper took an especial interest in these concerts or in the musical health of Frankfurt. Indeed, one can reasonably conclude from the newspaper’s behavior that the newspaper, freed of the obligation to review the Mengelberg concerts, was relieved to extricate itself from a quarrel of its own making, a quarrel in which it had become an object of public disgust.
THE following season, 1913/1914, the Museum
Association & the Cecilia Society withdrew their advertising from the
newspaper. After Bekker’s review published October 5, 1912, the Frankfurter
Zeitung henceforth ignored the concerts of the two organizations.
Mengelberg continued as their conductor until the close of the season of
1919/1920; Bekker remained with the Frankfurter Zeitung until 1925.
Mengelberg conducted at Frankfurt the only orchestral concerts of notable
merit. If Bekker in the future wanted to attend one of them, he was
obliged to pay his own way -- & had not even the satisfaction of publishing
an abusive review.
AN Amsterdam newspaper reported the conclusion to the Bekker scandal. "As a consequence of the resolution of the management of the Cecilia Society at Frankfurt -- namely, to discontinue the invitation to a critic of the Frankfurter Zeitung -- passed by a slim majority of votes [notice the discrepancy between the two newspapers!], the Association of Journalists & Writers [in Germany] has decided, with respect to the choral society conducted by Mr. Mengelberg, to apply the same measures as are already practiced against the Museum Concerts conducted by him. Thus, the most distinguished expressions of Frankfurt's music life are now ignored."
AT the beginning of this series this question
was asked (NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED, p. 3): "Did the same worm
crawl in Bekker that did later in Olin Downes, who called Wilhelm Furtwängler
'swine’ & wanted him removed from New York City to make way for Toscanini,
as we know from Daniel Gillis' Furtwängler & America [p.
27], & whose personal hatred, incorporated in his 'music criticism,’
necessarily found a warm home in his reviews, published in the New York
Times of Furtwängler’s concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
for the years 1925 to 1927?" The reader can now answer the question
THE Museum Association, the Cecilia Society, & Mengelberg had rid themselves of the Frankfurter Zeitung. The Museum Association & the Cecilia Society had also rid themselves of Bekker. But had Mengelberg? --- TO BE CONCLUDED.
DR. ROBERT HAYDEN. "Jim Svejda of KUSC, Los Angeles, has produced an hour long program on Mengelberg’s Kodaly, to be aired over Minnesota public radio at 5 P.M. on 12 December ." [The program presumably consisted of the Hary János Suite (concert performance of Dec. 12, 1940) & the Variations on a Hungarian Folksong ("Peacock Variations": world first performance, November 23, l939).]
ANDREW B. McALLISTER. "On Don Tait’s program 'Collectors Item’ over WFMT-Chicago on September 28th  he played recordings with the New York Phil. Orchestra conducted by Mengelberg. They were 'Air On The G String’ (Bach) 'A Victory Ball’ (Schelling) and 'Symphony No. 1' (Beethoven). He also made some very fine comments about Mengelberg, and his connection with the New York Phil., and also his playing of the music of Beethoven. I will write him and urge that more future programs be devoted to Mengelberg’s records as it has been some time since any, to my knowledge, have been broadcast in this area. WFMT did broadcast the Philips set of all of the Beethoven symphonies shortly after they were released, but we have heard very little since then. Perhaps in your bulletin you could suggest that others write their local F.M. stations and request that his records be played."
JOHN W. NEVE. "Interested to read [NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 1] that Mengelberg enjoyed the good things of life, like other great conductors -- Beecham & Weingartner for instance, and I believe Josef Krips used to dine at Vienna’s most expensive restaurant."
ANDREW B. McALLISTER. "I did write to Don Tait about future Mengelberg programs, hope that it is productive of favorable results. I know that he likes Mengelberg’s recordings. "Just played the recording of the Mahler 4th Symphony by Mengelberg that I got from you some years ago. What a really wonderful presentation it is."
SAMUEL CHAPMAN. "The Dvorak-Vlc. Concerto w. Gendron & the Paris Radio issued by Past Masters [NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED, p. 6] is a most important contribution to the art of musical interpretation. I hesitate to call it definitive. That term has been debased. Also, with works that really cannot in every aspect be played well enough, 'definitive comes only to reflect the prejudices of individual hearers hypostatized to universality. The only conductor I know of who gives 'definitive’ performances is -- God. A little more humility before the score would improve all stick-wavers of the present day. Mengelberg had such humility. Before the altar of truth, all vain willfulness falls away. A comparison of his recordings with those of his great colleagues (and even with the travesties of the present day) clearly show which performances transcended personalities & became artistry."
G. JAN ZWART. "For your information, in France
there has been an important programme [of Mengelberg’s recordings] (totalling
9 hours) on the radio [France-Musique] early this year  and
the French television is preparing a Mengelberg-movie which will be broadcast
next year . To this purpose, a crew of cameramen has visited
Chasa Mengelberg in Switzerland." [Mr. Zwart accompanies his letter
with an article from a Swiss regional newspaper. There follows my
free translation & adaptation of parts from the article.]
"IN 1910, while visiting a friend in the Unterengadin, Switzerland, Mengelberg came upon the green fields of Zuort & decided to have a house built there. As the son of a German family of artists -- his father had carved the doors of the CCologne cathedral -- he sketched the plans himself for the chalet, with a music room & a library. Here, Mengelberg spent his Summers. At the height of his career, in the year 1920, he bought the entire piece of land, Hof Zuort, & a year later had a chapel constructed out of gratitude that The Netherlands & Switzerland had been spared the ravages of World War I.
AFTER Mengelberg s death in March, 1951, Hof Zuort -- with its farming operation (which is leased) & its chalet& chapel -- was converted into the Stiftung Mengelberg [Mengelberg Foundation], where musicians from all over the world, particularly from The Netherlands & from Germany, spend their vacations. Elly B. Heemskerk, 93 years old, who for 37 years played first violin under Mengelberg, has up to the present time acted as the lady of the house. Last Thursday, September 30, 1982, she said good by to Hof Zuort, probably for good. Ever since 1952 she has always spent four months each year in the Engadin, but now, she says, she is too old: 'I am not coming back next year. I no longer can do anything in the house, & actually am only in the way. She was 13 years old when she came to know Mengelberg. She was born in Shanghai, China, & visited the Chasa for the first time in 1917. As soon as she begins to talk of Willem Mengelberg her face lights up, for she loves to remember him. Famous people visited the Chasa: among them, Prince Hendrik, the husband of the late Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands; Richard Strauss; & the piano manufacturer Steinway. Just as Mengelberg is missed in these parts, so will be missed Tante Elly [Aunt Elly], as Miss Heemskerk is called by her acquaintances. Until her return to Amsterdam on Thursday, she played the carillon in the chapel every day, as Mengelberg had always done before his death. Her playing could be heard throughout the Brancla Valley. The Chasa Mengelberg, which today is in need of repair, continues as a vacation resort for musicians, although the foundation is now managed by a Swiss board. In America & Japan, as well as in Europe, music lovers have 'rediscovered Mengelberg. Numerous radio & television broadcasts have been produced in the last years about the famous conductor, & his recordings -- which exceed 230 in number -- are again very popular."
The PAST MASTER three disc omnibus set, Overtures & Preludes, PM-36 (NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 4), has two recordings by Mengelberg: the overtures to von Suppé’s Poet & Peasant (recorded May 11, 1932) & to Cherubini’s Anacreon (June 10, 1927). Mr. KENNETH DeKAY writes: "Of the 2 items conducted by Mengelberg my ears & set tell me that the Suppe is better sounding in the Discocorp set [RR-443: NEWSLETTER, #19, p. 2] while the Cherubini is infinitely better in the PM set than on the Odeon C047-01298 [NEWSLETTER, #5, p. 4; & #7, p. 3) which I have."
CORRECTIONS. In NEWSLETTER, #28/29 REVISED, published Dec. 10, 1981, there are two errors. Page 3, line 1: "Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #4" should read "Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #5"; page 4, line 2: "By the critic’s third Mengelberg concert" should read "By the critic’s second Mengelberg concert." The corresponding parts of NEWSLETTER, #28/29, published Aug. 2, 1981, are similarly in error. My praise (NEWSLETTER, #21, p. 3) of the quality of the transfers of PM-9 (Mengelberg’s Telefunken recordings of Dutch music) was regrettably excessive. The treble grates fiercely on the ear, which quality cannot owe to the original 78 rpm discs. [Further correction: NEWSLETTER, #3, p. 1, last paragraph, line 2: Mengelberg never studied in Berlin.]
BACK issues of NEWSLETTER are $1.00 for a single
number & 85 cents each for two or more iumbers. These pricesinclude
postage for domestic & foreign surface mail. Many issues are
available only as photocopies.
IN its most recent catalog, January, 1983, Berkshire Record Outlet offers the Székely & Mengelberg recording of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. For price & other details, see NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 4. Even those who do not like modern music should have this gem of a erformance. (But is Bartók still modern?)
WE thank Mr. J. W. NEVE, who provided the photocopy of the Germany Telefunken leaflet, reproduced herewith. The German text reads: "Telefunken Records for July & August, 1943. Professor Willem Mengelberg conducts the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. Symphony #7 , C Major, Franz Schubert. SK 3341 to 3346, each disc RM 4.50." As a Reichsmark (RM) was worth a trifle less than 24 cents in United States currency, each disc cost about $1.08.
Why is Mengelberg called “Professor”? Dec. 3, 1934, the
Royal University, Utrecht,
established for him a “Professorial Chair in the Interpretation of Music.”
Pleasant listening & an early spring wished to all!
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 33/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TEN
THIS NUMBER ENDS THE SUBSCRIPTION YEAR.
DO NOT FORGET TO RENEW! (PLEASE SEE PAGE FOUR, LAST PARAGRAPH.)
The following paragraphs are translated from
Elly Bysterus Heetnskerk’s invaluable book, Over Willem Mengelberg
(Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Heuff, 1971), pp. 82 & 83. Miss Heemskerk,
who played in the first violin section of the Concertgebouw Orchestra for
nearly four decades & was a close friend of Mengelberg & his wife,
Mathilde, marked her 94th birthday on November 24, 1983.
Mengelberg "was always extremely exacting of the orchestra, but even more unsparing of himself. Before he began to rehearse the orchestra he had so pored over the score as to form a consummate picture of the composition, which he then endeavored to realize with the orchestra. He did not rest until all of the musicians were perfectly sympathetic to his intentions. Nothing was left to chance.
“‘That 's not at all what I have in mind,’ he would tell us, whereupon he explained the technical means by which to obtain the desired effect. "Kettledrum, you must strike closer to the rim. Snare drum, try it with the other end of your sticks. Strings, no draggy 'te-de,’ but a clearly separated 'ta-ta’; play exactly on the beat (this last command earning him the name 'Tiktator’ [tik meaning beat]); you must be perfectly ready at the upbeat, so that the sound is there just when my stick stops. Winds, you must anticipate just a trifle; otherwise, the tone sounds just a fraction late in this hall. It seems I have no choice but to pull the cart out of the mud: there must be much more tension.’"
SOME of the Members are undoubtedly familiar
with the book Conductors on Record, by John L. Holmes. The
book -- alas! -- confirms the general rule that of all of the prominent
conductors of the past the most difficult one to write about is Mengelberg.
For reasons that sometimes elude simple explanation, the subject of Mengelberg
in the English speaking world invites invented facts & confused thought.
Mr. Holmes needlessly makes his task insuperably difficult by giving what
should be his private feelings unnecessary scope. Where does Mr.
Holmes go wrong?
HOLMES: Mengelberg "toured Russia, Norway & Italy with the Concertgebouw (1898), . . ." A pleasing story, but untrue. Eduard Grieg invited Mengelberg & the orchestra to the music festival at Bergen, Norway, 1898; but the orchestra never toured either Russia or Italy with Mengelberg, although he did regularly guest conduct in Russia after the turn of the century & until the start of World War I, & also in Italy before & after the war, season after season.
HOLMES: He "became a regular visitor [at London] . . . between 1913 &World War II, . . ."
Mengelberg began to conduct regularly at London at least as early as 1911. World War I interrupted these visits, which he resumed sometime thereafter.
HOLMES: He conducted the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra until 1930, whereafter he "resigned & left the United States for good." Mengelberg did not resign; to the contrary, the management of the orchestra, faced with Toscanini’s ultimatum that it choose either him or Mengelberg, chose Toscanini &, essentially at Toscanini’s insistence, dismissed Mengelberg by not renewing his contract. The latter had truthfully complained in rehearsals in late 1929 that the orchestra was deteriorating under Toscanini’s influence, a complaint that enraged Toscanini, whose fury hardened into an implacable hatred. (But there is good reason to believe that the hatred had been a festering sore in Toscanini for some years: see, for example,
NEWSLETTER, #12, P. 1.) When concrete plans were first laid in late 1928 or early 1929 for the orchestra to tour Europe at the end of the season f or 1929/1930, Mengelberg was excluded from the start. The reason this, & the role that Toscanini played in this exclusion, have never, to my knowledge, been divulged. It was for the management of the a perverted recognition of the eight arduous seasons that Mengelberg devoted to training the orchestra into the country’s finest ensemble was for the musicians of the orchestra, who now sensed Mengelberg’s early departure, the liberty not to cooperate with Mengelberg, neither in rehearsal nor in concert. It was for Mengelberg -- excluded from the tour, his rehearsals & concerts sabotaged by the musicians - - a bitterly unhappy season; it provoked in him an understandably peevish temper. For Toscanini it was ugly behavior. Mengelberg had been very generous to Toscanini, a generosity that Toscanini never returned. Mengelberg in 1922 had sought to win Toscanini for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. At the end of Mengelberg’s last concert for 1925/1926 (Toscanini’s first season with the orchestra), Mengelberg turned to the audience to say au revoir & to hand over the orchestra to his "great & good friend, Arturo Toscanini," who was sitting in the audience. There was to the controversy a further & darker side that nourished Toscanini’s hatred. Attracted by Mengelberg’s reputation as the unequalled musical expositor of the score & trainer of the orchestra, Toscanini had spent surreptitious hours secretly attending Mengelberg’s rehearsals in Carnegie Hall, season after season, score in hand, as reported in NEWSLETTER, No. 15, p. 1. (If Toscanini was not there to learn from Mengelberg, then his intentions were purely malicious.) Mengelberg’s criticisms of the orchestra s falling standards told Toscanini that he had learned nothing, his countless hours of listening, observing, & following the score wasted. Mengeiberg did not know that Toscanini had sat in on his rehearsals, nor did he foresee that his complaints, justified as they were, would erupt in the row they did & provide the excuse for his dismissal. (The presumption is that just as a faction in the orchestra management conceived the European tour so as to exclude Mengelberg, so there were those in the management who were now anticipating the day when they would remove him from the podium in New York City. It should not be assumed, however, that either the management or the concert goer of New York City was of one mind about the strange bias of the tour or about the later controversy. Mengelberg had staunch supporters in New York City, both within the management & among the music lovers, who were well aware of Mengelberg’s invaluable contributions to the orchestra & to the city. Of those who wanted to remove Mengeiberg the most publicly conspicuous was Olin Downes, the music critic of the New York Times, who just three seasons earlier had helped to grease the skids for Wilhelm Furtwängler.) Arthur Judson, manager of the New York Philharmonic (-Symphony) Orchestra from 1922 to 1956, privately admitted in later years that, as between Mengelberg & Toscanini, "The more I think about it, the more I believe that Mengelberg was the greater."
HOLMES: Mengelberg’s "repertory [in the United States] was restricted by painstaking & slow preparation, ." Here & elsewhere Mr. Holmes is inclined to accept as fact opinions that are false. As the subject of Mengelberg’s repertory apparently has never been discussed in print, it will be well worth our while to sketch the picture in some detail. Mengelberg conducted for 10 seasons in the United States; his first season (1920/1921) he conducted the National Symphony Orchestra, the remaining nine seasons the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which had absorbed the National Symphony Orchestra in 1921 & which later merged with the New York Symphony Orchestra, on March 20, 1928, to become the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. In these 10 seasons he conducted at least 323 pieces by at least 129 composers. (If we count each excerpt from larger pieces, such as operas, as a separate piece, the number swells to at least 346.) How do these numbers compare to those of other conductors? It seems that only Toscanini’s repertory has been published: namely, in Harvey Sachs’ biography Toscanini, pages 341 to 349. Over a period of 68 years (p. 3) Toscanini conducted pieces of about 190 composers & altogether some 600 works, in the concert hall & in the opera house (p. 341). If we confine Toscanini’s totals to the concert hail, they shrink to 175 composers & something over 480 works (p. 341). Sachs describes Toscanini’s repertory as "one of the most enormous in the history of his profession" (p.3) & as "impressive & even overwhelming" (p. 341), but he fails to provide the necessary comparisons with other conductors to support his enthusiasm. If Sachs’admiration is justified, how should we describe Mengelberg’s repertory which was incomparably larger? In his 51 years (1893 to 1944) as conductor (compared to Toscanini s 68 years), Mengelberg must have conducted works of over 300 composers & goodness knows how many different pieces of music. I base my statement on the long lists (compiled by Mr. Baggerman-Jaarsma) of Mengelberg’s first performances of Dutch, German, & French music at Amsterdam that Elly Heemskerk publishes in her book, Over Willem Mengelberg, pages 144 to 149. If we count only the composers that Mengelberg conducted at Luzern (1893 to 1895), in the United States (1921 to 1930), & at first performances in Amsterdam (1895 to 1944), the total surpasses 260. This figure is 37% larger than Toscanini’s total for opera & concert during a career that was much longer then Mengelberg’s. (Harvey Sachs might want to object that Toscanini was also an opera conductor, whereas Mengelberg was not, which fact reduces Toscanini’s totals; but Mengelberg’s repertory was so vastly greater than Toscanini’s that this consideration alters nothing. Nor should we forget that Mengelberg conducted many concerts devoted to a single long work, such as the St. Matthew Passion, one or another of the oratorios of a Händel or Haydn, Verdi’s "Manzoni Requiem," & so on. This fact worked to limit Mengelberg’s repertory, although perhaps not to an equal degree, just as did Toscanini’s career in the opera house. And, what we should not overlook, Toscanini’s career was longer than Mengelberg’s by 17 years!) We have sketched the background. Now, what of the foreground? Mr. Holmes asserts that Mengelberg’s repertory in the United States was "restricted." What he asserts is contrary to fact, as the following percentages show. Using the cited statistics, Mengelberg in his ten American seasons conducted 68% as many composers & 54% as many pieces as did Toscanini during his entire concert & opera career of 68 years. We should remind ourselves that Sachs describes Toscanini’s repertory as "enormous" & "overwhelming." If we limit our comparison to Toscanini’s concert career, as Mr. Holmes might want to insist we should do, the results are even more startling. Mengelberg in his 10 American seasons conducted 74% as many composers & 65% as many pieces as did Toscanini during his entire concert career. But even these considerations scarcely tell the story. The essential question Mr. Holmes raises is this: how does Mengelberg’s repertory during his nine seasons with the orchestra (1921/1922 to 1929/1930) compare with Toscanini’s 11 seasons (1925/1926 to 1935/1936)? To make the comparison we can draw on the programs of the New York Philharmonic (-Symphony) Society as published in John Erskine’s The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York: Its First Hundred Years. The programs in this book comprise those concerts sponsored by the Society; he includes the concerts of the European tour of 1930, but not the concerts played on the yearly American tours. Mengelberg in nine seasons conducted pieces by 101 composers, Toscanini in 11 seasons pieces by 77 composers. Mengelberg in a shorter period of time conducted pieces by almost one-third again as many composers as did Toscanini. Why did Mr. Holmes not inform himself of the facts? As we shall see, this is not the only instance in which he betrays a marked lack of fairness in his feelings toward Mengelberg.
HOLMES: Mengelberg "presented festivals of Dutch music in 1902, 1913 & 1915." The second festival was held in June, 1912.
HOLMES: "But Mengelberg believed that the true meaning of the piece was revealed uniquely to him & he was at perfect liberty to present this meaning as he found it.” Is the author intentionally malicious or is he the victim of his own twaddle? So little did Mengelberg believe that "the true meaning . . . was revealed uniquely to him" that (as a correspondent who had been his student once wrote to me) he was wont to say that since the same people come to my concerts time after time, they have a right to hear different vers ions of the same piece. Nor did Mengelberg believe that he was more at liberty to express his views musically than was another musician. Neither does any self-respecting musician believe any less than Mengelberg did that he is free to compose or play music as he sees fit.
HOLMES: Mengelberg is a "romantic" musician, von Karajan a "literalist." Had Mengelberg lived when Carl Maria von Weber did, he would have been an entirely different musician &, by definition virtually, a romantic one. Nor does the "literalist" exist, because any performer, willy nilly, incorporates his personality into his performances. The distinction Mr. Holmes wants to make is between the dull & the bright: the dull, whose reply to music is relatively slight, & tightly bound by the conventions of the time; the bright, whose reply to music is explosive & markedly idiosyncratic. This distinction is the same throughout all ages of music & marks the difference between the musician who is spiritually dead & the musician who is spiritually alive & rooted in the soil of his people.
HOLMES: "Listening to a Mengelberg performance one is astonished at the remarkable skill used to achieve the distortions he imposed on the score." A notorious figure of the nineteenth century expressed the same sentiments, Mr. Holmes will be interested to learn. May 12, 1872, Wagner conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 at Vienna. The critic Eduard Hanslick, who was present to review the concert, used the event to advance his attack on the composer, while dressing his animosity in a pretended air of disinterested observation & solicitous concern for the future of music. Hanslick in his review complained of the "distortions Wagner imposed with remarkable skill on the score" (to paraphrase the critic in the language of Mr. Holmes). Fifty three years later, 1925, Lawrence Gilman, the music critic of the New York Herald-Tribune, described Hanslick as "that famous example of musical bigotry, . . ."
MR. HOLMES concludes his entry on Mengelberg with a summary of his recordings. Members of the Society know all that Mr. Holmes knows, & more. What information he reports he must have gathered from R. H. Hardie’s Mengelberg discography, & from the NEWSLETTER, but nowhere does Mr. Holmes acknowledge his indebtedness.
READING Mr. Holmes book, not only under his entry for Mengelberg, but under entries for other conductors, as well, one is reminded of Richard Strauss, who, when castigated by a critic
who complained of Strauss’ "wrong" tempos at the previous night’s concert, mailed the critic a note that asked when he had last spoken with God. What Mr. Holmes lacks, perhaps more than all else, perhaps even more than mastery of the facts, is thoughtfulness & modesty & common sense.
DR. ROBERT W. HAYDEN sends the announcement, High Fidelity, Sept., 1983, p. 77, of Mengelberg recordings on cassette tape, published by In Sync Laboratories, Inc., 2211 Broadway, N.Y. City, N.Y. 10024. The two Mengelberg cassettes are 4129 ("Turkish March" & the overtures Coriolan, Leonore #1, Alceste, Tannhäuser, & Oberon: all from the Columbia/Odeon series, except the Gluck, from the Decca series) & 4138 (Tchaikovsky’s symphonies #4 & 5: from Col./Odeon series).
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4 for NEWSLETTER, #32, of which the original p. 4 was not everywhere clearly
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A FRUITFUL SUMMER, BOUNTIFUL HARVEST & PLEASANT LISTENING WISHED TO ALL.
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 34/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR ELEVEN
The following paragraphs are translated from
Elly Bysterus Heemskerk’s Over Willem Mengelberg, pages 77 &
78, 84 & 85.
[p. 77 & 78.] "At that time [when Miss Heemskerk, who was born in 1889, was still a youngster studying the violin] some of the musicians who performed in the concerts of the Amsterdam St. Cecilia Society [conducted by Mengelberg] were not members of the Society. These guest performers included students who were enrolled in the orchestra class of the Music Conservatory at Amsterdam. When I learned of this arrangement, I asked if I might be considered as a candidate for the orchestra class. My wish was granted. After I had passed the audition & had attended the training rehearsals under the direction of J. Martin S. Heuckeroth, I was allowed to play in the orchestra [this being before World War I] to which I had so often listened with an almost religious awe & respect.
"I shall never forget the first performance. At the full rehearsal Mengelberg looked at me with his sharp & penetrating eyes. I stared back. Luckily, I knew the passage practically by heart. But how much longer would this continue? Would my fingers betray me? Would I know the following passage, as well? I played mechanically, without averting my gaze, but I was inwardly uncertain & mortally terrified. Then, Mengelberg suddenly had to laugh; smiling, he turned his all seeing eyes away, & I could now read my part in peace. I had carried the day, for I had not let myself be intimidated. Only later did I realize that I had made a good start. He could so stare at beginners that some became nervous & made a poor impression"
[Pp. 84 & 85.] "In those days [during & after World War I] we prepared for the Winter Season by rehearsing the new repertory -- in section rehearsals, as a rule -- during the month of September, when there were few concerts. But the old repertory was rehearsed punctiliously, just as well. I remember one rehearsal in which nearly the entire morning was spent toiling over just one page of Weber’s Oberon Overture. That the orchestra became irritable is perfectly understandable; we itched to play without stopping, the more so because that evening’s music still lay unopened on our music stands. It was Mengelberg’s way to ensure that we dotted our Is & crossed our Ts.
"'The gentlemen know the notes well, Mengelberg would say, 'but here it concerns the principle according to which you play. You must listen to each other much more closely. It would seem that your ear drums are calloused.’
"Once, when I presumptuously said something to Mengelberg about his sarcasm, he replied: 'Who gets the results, you or me?’ And there I stood, struck dumb, because the results were always there at the concerts. Forgotten were all of the petty irritations & clashes -- the performances gave all of the musicians the greatest personal satisfaction; the musician was transported above his usual level. Years & years later, after Mengelberg no longer conducted the orchestra, I heard Haakon Stotjin, oboist in the Concertgebouw Orchestra, tell a younger colleague after a performance of Mahler’s Song of the Earth: 'You ought to have done that under 'The Old Man’! That was the day when every little symbol, every note, was important, & you got home worn to a frazzle -- but completely gratified: every concert was an event! "
RICHARD L. BENSON sends Will Crutchfield’s news story, published in The New York Times, May 13, 1984, Section 1, p. 50, that the Willem Mengelberg Foundation sold to an American, Gilbert E. Kaplan, the autograph score of Mahler’s S. #2 ("Ressurection") for an unstated sum of money. It appears from the story that the price may have been as high as $500,000. "The funds realized through the sale of the symphony score will be used for maintaining the Mengelberg collection of scores & memorabilia & the late conductor’s 17th century farm & villa [Chasa Mengelberg] in Switzerland, according to a spokesman for the foundation. " Mahler’s widow, Alma, gave Mengelberg the manuscript in 1920, the news story continues, when Mengelberg led the Mahler Festival, May 6 to 21. (The Foundation has been impecunious, the Chasa, where musicians may stay for several weeks in the Sumer, being in need of repairs, & having been closed the Summer of 1984. It will reopen for the Summer of 1985. The news story contradicts Alma Mahler, who writes in her book And the Bridge Is Love, p. 147, that she gave Mengelberg the manuscript of Mahler’s SEVENTH at the time of the Mahler Festival.)
ANDREW B. McALLISTER: "On 'Collectors Item’
heard over WFMT [Chicago] on October 25th , host Don Tait played
the 1951 Philips recording of the live 1940 performance of the Symphony
#1 of Brahms. This has got to be one of the greatest recordings ever
made of this work & also one of Mengelberg’s best."
EDWIN R. DAVIS: "Do you know of anyone who has a really good copy of Mengelberg’s recording of Les Preludes with the Concertgebouw Orchestra that I could obtain a tape copy from? My 78s are in bad shape. I am always ready to buy good copies of all Mengelberg records." Mr. Davis address is 460 Tunxis Ave.; Bloomfield, Conn. 06002; U.S.A.
RICHARD BARON: "It had been a long time since I last heard from you, I thought the Mengelberg Society had gone kaput!! Anyhow, it was nice getting your latest Mengelberg Newsletter. I will be looking forward to the next Newsletter, & in the meantime, you, too, have a nice summer."
G. JAN ZWART: "January 23 to the end of March, 1985, France will organize a Mahler exposition & will pay MUCH ATTENTION to W. M. in this context."
TOM VARLEY: "Thank you for remembering my interest in Frederick Stock. I had no idea that he had ever conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra [September 26, 1912, , Berlin, in a program of his own pieces], although I understand he did follow Theodore Thomas’ tradition of spending his sumers in Germany, talent-scouting. This could have been a special appearance of the 'young’ (39) composer-conductor prior to his return to Chicago."
ANDREW B. McALLISTER: "I am sorry to report that with the exception of one of Don Tait’s 'Collector s Item’ programs about six weeks ago [March, 1984] I have not heard any Mengelberg recordings broadcast over the air.
"I have a complete file of the record review magazine Fanfare from Vol. 1, #1, to the present one for sale. I hate to part with them, but space, or lack of it, makes it necessary. The price is $500.00, including postage & insurance." Mr. McAllister’s address is 5700 Magnolia Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60660.
G. JAN ZWART: "Could you let me know what Dr. Mengelberg’s efforts were for Mahler in the U.S.A.??" (Mengelberg conducted Mahler 25 times in the 10 seasons (1920/1921 to 1929/1930) that he conducted in America: The Song of the Earth (4 times), S. #1 (2), S. #2 (4), S. #2 (2nd movement only, 1 time), S. #3 (4), S. #4 (2), S. #5 (6), S. #7 (2). Frederick Stock conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in works of Mahler 20 or 21 times from 1914 to 1926. If we put Stock to one side, Mengelberg in his 10 American seasons probably conducted Mahler more often than did all of his other American colleagues put together for the period beginning before World War I & ending with the season of 1929/1930, these colleagues being Muck, Stokowski, Monteux, Walter, Gabrilowitsch, & Bodanzky, who apparently are the only others who had conducted Mahler in the United States up to 1926.)
KENNETH DE KAY: "What is your source for that marvelous Arthur Judson quote?" [Mr. De Kay refers to Judson’s statement that as between Mengelberg & Toscanini, "The more I think about it, the more I believe that Mengelberg was the greater" (NEWSLETTER, #33, p. 2). Judson, who was manager of the New York Philharmonic (-Symphony) Orchestra from 1922 to 1956, said this to Elly Bysterus Heemskerk.]
J. W. NEVE: "I see from your latest Newsletter [#33, p. 1] that he conducted in Italy quite extensively, which rather surprised me as their tradition is more operatic than symphonic, & I don’t think Mengelberg ever conducted in the opera house, but I may be mistaken." [Miss Heemskerk, in Over Willem Mengelberg, pp. 74 & 75: "Mengelberg conducted opera only twice in The Netherlands, Beethoven’s Fidelio & Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, in April, 1917. The orchestral parts were studied & rehearsed to the last detail, but as unsurpassed as Mengelberg was in choral & orchestral performances, operatic conducting suited him less. He was so painstakingly & scrupulously careful that the give & take that is often necessary on account of the acting sometimes bothered him; although both performances were enthusiastically received, he conducted no more opera." It appears from her book that both performances took place in the opera house, presumably at Amsterdam.]
DO you have something you want to say about Mengelberg? The Society is always happy to publish suitable contributions. Dr. ROBERT W. HAYDEN sends us his thoughts.
HOW DOES MENGELBERG'S MUSIC MOVE?
(The purpose of this short article is to communicate to readers one aspect of my response to Mengelberg’s conducting, and to ask readers whether they have experienced anything similar. The author has no musical training. [Dr. Hayden is attractively modest, but don t most of us find ourselves in his boat?])
WHEN we listen to music, we usually have some
sense of forward motion and continuity in the music. How is this
sense maintained by the musical performer? To read record reviews,
one might believe that this sense is maintained primarily by a steady tempo.
Mengelberg and other performers are criticized for interrupting the flow
of the music with their shifts in tempo. While the steady beat of
a march or dance is certainly one way of providing a sense of forward motion,
I suspect it is but one of many ways. In fact, a steady beat alone
is probably insufficient. I doubt that playing the notes of the "Eroica"
backwards in strict tempo would produce a sense of continuity and flow.
There must be other factors involved.
Listening to Mengelberg’s recordings has led me to wonder if he used the patterns & rhythms of speech to hold music together, rather than the patterns and rhythms of bodily motion. A good public speaker maintains continuity and flow in his delivery, yet in a speaker an absolutely steady rhythm would feel boring or downright annoying. Of course, the meaning of the words provides part of the continuity of speech, but still there are good readings and bad of the same speech, and even an incomprehensible poem can sound magnificent when read by Dylan Thomas. Even if Mengelberg did not use speech patterns, I find it hard to think of his style as a basic tempo with frequent fluctuations. At times he never establishes a tempo -- the notes simply follow one after another, as do words. Perhaps this is most clear in the final chords of the Academic Festival and Tannhäuser overtures, where the "tempo" seems to change between every pair of successive chords. Do readers have any comments on these ideas? I feel we don’t understand any more about great speaking than we do great music making. Is there a link? Does it vary from one language to another? Could it be used to help computers understand human speech, or translate from one language to another? -- DR. ROBERT W. HAYDEN.
Excerpts from BILL ZAKARIASEN’S review in Musical America edition of High Fidelity, Sept., 1984 (p. 40 of Musical America) of Tchaikovsky’s S. #4 & 5 (In Sync/ Conductart 4138: see NEWSLETTER, #33, p. 4).
|Previously, his performances were thought of as often thrilling, but willful in the extreme, with distended phrasing, erratic rhythm, and overemphatic inner voices. Upon reacquaintance. they turn out to be remarkably straight adhering far closer, in fact, to the letter of the score than did those of Koussevitzky, Stokowski, or Bernstein later. Leonine grandeur is the hallmark in both renditions, yet lyricism and piquancy are given their full due (listen especially to the quiet string pizzicatos and staccato brass in the Scherzo of the Fourth!). The only controversial aspects occur in the Finale of No. 5, where Mengelberg first makes a whopping cut in the development (to be fair, a surprising number of other conductors did the same once), then adds a dominant seventh at the||end of it to keep the audience from applauding, cuts the opening measures of the coda, and adds a solitary cymbal crash right before the final presto. The first emendation I find unconscionable, though I really don’t object to the chord change or the second cut, and that cymbal crash seems to me comparable to the one in the Adagio of the Bruckner Seventh: Even though the composer didn’t write it, it belongs there. At any rate, these are performances of near-superhuman vision and commitment souvenirs of a grand and glorious age of music-making that hardly seems likely to return in our time.|
| Take the finale of
the Fourth: in many ways, it s an archetypally "extreme" Mengelberg interpretation,
full of the tempo shifts for which he is notorious. The most distinctive
is the big ritard for the folk melody after the opening flourish, a ritard
that often accompanies that melancholy theme when it recurs later in the
movement. At first, it may seem simply arbitrary, even aggravating.
Yet this device really serves to point up a manic/depressive split in the
music itself; as a result, the movement, which in other hands can degenerate
into brilliant bombast, becomes, under Mengelberg, a draining psychological
Unfortunately, there isn’t space here to point out all the beauties of this performance: the superbly controlled orchestral balances (especially important in music which relies so much on statements in one instrumental choir and responses in another), the uncanny ability to find the right ratios between various tempos, and -- most impressive to my ears -- the ability to balance the Symphony’s conflicting musical ideas, whether through transition (note how the angular answering theme in the second movement melts back
|into the sweeter mood of the opening) or juxtaposition
(even amidst the bounce of the B section of that movement, he catches the
yearning of the cello accompanying figures).
Mengelberg’s Tchaikovsky Fifth is excellent, too; it has better weight, and more skillful orchestral playing than the occasionally cutesy recording that he made in Berlin in 1940. Like the Fourth, it is a multihued performance (few other conductors can combine sweet strings and vicious brass as he does in the first movement), one that gives the music a trenchant character it rarely gets. Note how, even as the music dies away at the end of the first movement, Mengelberg keeps up a measure of defiance. There are massive cuts in the finale; still, this reading is, for all its interpretive individuality. truer to Tchaikovsky’s genius than virtually anything you’re likely to hear from a modern conductor committed to "following the composer’s directions."
ROBERT E. BENSON begins his review (High Fidelity, Sept., 1984, p. 70) of Bernard Haitink’s new recording of Mahler’s Seventh, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Philips 410 398-1), with a look backward.
|The Mahler tradition in Amsterdam is long and lustrous. Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra eagerly championed Mahler’s music, playing every new symphony as it appeared, scheduling regular Mahler festivals. There was even one occasion in October 1904 when Symphony No. 4 was presented twice on the same program, with Mahler himself conducting,||the better to acquaint the Dutch audience with the wonderful "new" music. Some collectors may have heard the incredible Mengelberg-led concert recording of this symphony made in 1939, once available on Philips (PHM 500 040).|
IN the British monthly Gramophone, Sept., 1983, p. 336, Harold Moores Record (2 Great Marlborough St., London, W. 1) advertised as "special pressings" the following Mengelberg issues that were originally published in 1978 by Japanese Philips: Brahms, S. #1 (HMR 5552) & A German Requiem (HMR 5557/8); Franck, S. in d (HMR 5556); Mahler, S. #4 (HMR 5553); & Schubert, S. #8 & Rosamunde music (HMR 5554) & S. #9 (HMR 5555). The Japanese issues of 1978 bore the same numbers, but had the prefix PC: thus, Brahms S. #1, PC 5552. I have not heard any of these records. I assume that all are from the original Dutch Philips series that is catalogued in Dr. R. H. Hardie’s Mengelberg discography.
CORRECTION OF A CORRECTION: Frank Lord, NEWSLETTER, #25, P. 2, wrote that Mengelberg conducted the NYPSO in Willem Pijper’s Six Symphonic Epigrams, the first American performance. I replied he had not, the orchestral parts having come late. But the printed program for the concert of Jan. 5, 1930, which M. conducted, does show the work, although the microfilm edition of composers played by the NYP(-S)O does not list Pijper,
Radio Broadcasts in the Library of Congress 1924-1941, compiled by James R. Smart, published in 1982, lists recording of a Mengelberg broadcast concert.
A pleasant & fruitful summer wished to everyone!
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #34 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 35/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR ELEVEN
In the mid-1920s a curious quarrel boils in
the pages of the New York Times. It is curious not least because
one of the protagonists is B. H. Haggin, whom we know today as the music
critic who is Toscanini’s fiercest champion. The instigator is one
Charles L. Buchanan, whose first letter the Times publishes April
15, 1923, Part 7, page 5. He is distressed that Mengelberg has cut
"five or six pages of the last movement" in Tchaikovsky’s Fifth.
The Times publishes no answer to Buchanan, whose second letter appears
November 29, 1925, Part 9, page 7. The same symphony is in question.
"Although I am one of your most emphatic admirers, . . . , I nevertheless fail to understand how a critic [Olin Downes] of your noteworthy fineness of perception can praise Mr. Mengelberg‘s flauntingly sentimental & insolently patronizing reading of this symphony [concerts of Nov. 19 & 20]. To mention a concrete instance: Mr. Mengelberg deletes a large section of the last movement of this symphony. By what right does Mr. Mengelberg exercise his peculiar preferences to the extent of imposing an arbitrary censorship upon Tchaikovsky? . . . If he does not like Tchaikovsky let him not play Tchaikovsky." (Mr. Haggin, N.Y. Times, Jan. 10, 1926, Section 7, page 6, mocks the last sentiment, which Buchanan repeats from his first letter.) The foregoing, only a small part of what he has to say, is the gist of his annoyance.
THE Times publishes two answers, December
6, 1925, Part 8, page 10: one from Arthur Judson, the manager of the New
York Philharmonic Orchestra, the other from B. H. Haggin.
JUDSON writes, in part. "'Mr. Mengelberg, complains Mr. Buchanan, 'deletes
a large section of the last movement.’ The 'large section’ . . .
consists of about nine pages in the orchestral score, beginning at letter
'N,’ & about three pages of repetition in the march movement, . . .
"This elision, however, is not original with Mr. Mengelberg. When he conducted this symphony in Rome about twenty 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, & on this authority Mr. Mengelberg made the cuts. . . ."
(THE published concerts of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Rome, show that Mengelberg conducted Tchaikovsky’s SIXTH on May 17, 1908, & the FIFTH not until 1933. Mengelberg never visited Italy with the Concertgebouw Orchestra; when he conducted at Rome, he presumably always conducted the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Judson is likely confused.)
TO JUDSON’S trumpet Mr. Haggin adds his own. "It may interest Mr. Buchanan ... that at a rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony a few years ago Mr. [S.A.M.] Bottenheim, Mr. Mengelberg’s secretary, volunteered the information that the cut in the last movement had been made with the collaboration or consent of the composer’s brother, . . .
[LET us interrupt Mr. Haggin’s interesting letter to quote a third explanation, Mengelberg’s own, given in the course of a radio interview at Munich in February, 1938. (The complete interview is published in NEWSLETTER, #22, pp. 1 & 2.)
MENGELBERG, speaking of the Fifth Symphony: "Tchaikovsky himself wrote [changes] into the score that Modest gave to me. The last two times he 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 understood this & then shortened & strengthened the lines, & thus made the movement much more beautiful; & he asked me, Modest did, please to do it so, & his brother had stressed that one should do it so."
LET us also interrupt Mr. Haggin’s letter to
quote his new opinion, published 13 years later, on this same question:
"Mengelberg s recording of the superb Symphony No. 5 (Columbia Set 104)
also is in the traditional style ('In Tchaikovsky everysing exaggéré,’
is Mengelberg’s announced principle [presumably heard by Mr. Haggin at
a rehearsal]); & he makes an outrageous cut in the last movement."
(B. H. Haggin: Music on Records, 1938; p. 84.) Where is Bottenheim’s
instructive story? The answer is that, Mr. Haggin having changed
his mind, B.’s story, once upon a time useful to cut down an adversary,
is no longer helpful: why, it is even an embarrassment to his new opinion.
Now let us return to Mr. Haggin’s fascinating letter of December, 1925.]
"As for the reading, one could no more infer from it that Mr. Mengelberg disliked Tchaikovsky than from Mr. Muck’s one could infer that he disliked Debussy. Your own opinion of it was presumably favorable; to me it is a surpassing (not surprising) achievement in musical architecture ["shaping" of the music]. Hearing it again I felt anew the amazement & inarticulate delight with which some of us listened to Mr. Mengelberg’s performances with the National Symphony [January to March, 1921], 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.’ "
IN 1984, writing in the Musical America
edition of High Fidelity, November, pages 41 & 42, Mr. Haggin
describes events of almost 60 years ago. "Actually the Philharmonic’s
modern history began in 1926 with Toscanini’s first guest engagement.
On Sunday afternoon, January 10 of that year, I heard the playing of a
highly competent & well-disciplined orchestra under Mengelberg; &
four days later I heard the astoundingly different playing of a seemingly
different orchestra, . . ." And "The Philharmonic s astounding
playing at its very first concert with Toscanini in 1926 . . . was what
one continued to hear only when the orchestra played under the compulsion
of that ["unique magnetic"] force - which is to say that one didn’t hear
it when Furtwängler followed Toscanini in 1926, or when Mengelberg
returned the next year, . . . ." (The article is republished in Music
& Ballet, 1973-1983, pp. 40-42.)
WHAT Mr. Haggin writes in 1984 may be true (although we shall want to refer to the recordings that the two conductors made with the Philharmonic (-Symphony) Orchestra, & insist that Mr. Haggin soberly do likewise); but how does Mr. Haggin’s present opinion of events 60 years ago harmonize with his enthusiasms at the time these events occurred & were vivid in his mind? Though his letter to the Times, quoted on pages 1 & 2, gives us a notion, let us look further.
MR. HAGGIN writes in The Nation, August
25, 1926, pages 180 & 181, about seven & one-half months after
Toscanini’s concert of January 14, which Mr. Haggin describes today as
beginning "the Philharmonic’s modern history," as producing "astounding
playing" (which he now states he heard at that time, but apparently
never described in writing at that time), & so on. "But
if the enthusiasm," writes Mr. Haggin in The Nation, "at Mr. Toscanini’s
final concert last season [Feb. 7, 1926], an enthusiasm described as unprecedented,
was a direct response solely to his competence, why was his first visit,
in January, 1921 [with the La Scala Orchestra], a comparative failure?
As a matter of fact, there was just as great a demonstration at the final
concert [Jan. 30, 1925] of Mr. Furtwängler’s first visit a year ago;
. . . . But the greatest tumult of all time occurred in March, 1921,
at the final concert [on the 25th] of Mr. Mengelberg’s first season with
the National Symphony; & if this was a response to competence, why
has Mr. Mengelberg’s work since then, though of equal quality, been treated
"It depends usually on the reviewers: let them lose their heads, & the public will lose theirs." And so on.
THE reader should not suppose from the preceding
& following quotations that Mr. Haggin in 1926 looks upon Toscanini
as he today looks upon Furtwängler. Nor should the reader suppose
that Mr. Haggin’s enthusiasm for Mengelberg in the 1920s, which frequently
resolves itself into a complaint, bears any likeness to his advocacy of
Toscanini these past five decades.
THERE is Mr. Haggin’s letter to the Times, Sept. 26, 1926, Part 8, page 6, which replies to Olin Downes’ article "New York’s Treatment of Conductors" (Times, Sept. 5, 1926, Part 7, page 7), which, in turn, answers Mr. Haggin’s article "The Emotional Trend in Performance," from which I have just quoted. "And two months after Mr. Furtwängler," writes Mr. Haggin, "Mr. Mengelberg gave the finest performance of a Brahms symphony I have ever heard - of the E minor [March 26, 27, & 29, 1925] - without arousing any critical comment. . . . Similarly, of Mr. Toscanini’s performances of Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Wagner & Debussy only that of Wagner impressed me as being superior to performances of other conductors; & this was the impression of musicians whose opinions I should consider authoritative. We could recall Mr. Mengelberg’s sparkling accompaniment of a Haydn 'cello concerto the year before [Feb. 26 & 27, 1925]; the arch, silken, exquisitely nuanced accompaniment with which he met Mme. Landowska point for point in a Mozart concerto [#20, Feb. 24, 1924; #22, March 5 & 6, 1925]; his performances of Bach, whom the aforementioned musicians had never heard given such stature (. . .); the performances of Brahms’s E minor, truly a surpassing achievement, . . . , . . . . I could recall also his performance of 'La Mer’ in 1922 [Feb. 18 & 26, these being the first times the NYPO played the piece] as definitely superior to that of Mr. Toscanini [Feb. 7, 1926], who by sweeping through the composition caused it to appear superficial. If, now, Mr. Mengelberg’s performances were ignored & Mr. Toscanini’s described as without precedent, then more was involved than the mere performances." And so on.
[THE reader can pursue Mr. Haggin in the same vein in The Nation (March 7, 1923, p. 276; & Oct. 12, 1927, pp. 405 & 406); & his letter to the N.Y. Times, April 3, 1927, Part 8, p. 8.]
We notice that of Mr. Haggin’s arguments of 1925 & 1926 not a word supports his assertions of today. What he writes at the time that these events occur & his recollections are vivid & detailed sets at naught what he wants us to believe 60 years later. The reader may object that Mr. Haggin changed his mind sometime between 1927 & 1984. Clearly, he did. But what does he draw upon as support for changing his mind? The recordings? But Mr. Haggin does not mention recordings. The opinion of someone who in 1926 held the view that Mr. Haggin wants to hold today & did not hold in 1926? But he cites no opinion. His memory? Yes, apparently Mr. Haggin relies on his memory. But what memory can he have in 1984 beyond the recollection that at the time these events occur his opinion is radically different from what he wants it to be today? (What is the earliest date to which Mr. Haggin can point as having written that events in 1925 & 1926 were as he today asserts they were?) Mr. Haggin can refresh his memory, & relive that early excitement, by reading what he published in The Nation & the New York Times in the l920s.
JOHN W. NEVE. "I was interested to read Miss
Heemskesk’s comment [NEWSLETTER, #34, p. 1] on Mengelberg’s spending a
whole morning over a short passage from Oberon Overture. It is certainly
justified by the result, & I always think his doubling of the flute
at bars 209 & 210 with the piccolo most effective.
"The general verve & excitement goes for his performances of Euranthe & Der Freischutz as
well. All my 78s of Mengelberg are in good condition with, unfortunately, the exception of those two, which I could only get secondhand & in badly worn condition. Am still waiting for the day when they might be transferred to LP!"
SIMON BUSH. "I thought that you would be interested
to know that today [January 27, 1985] B.B.C. Radio 3, in a Listener’s Choice
Program, broadcast Mengelberg’s Mahler Symphony 4 recording of November
1939. The recording was introduced with a long & detailed tribute
to Mengelberg’s contribution to Mahler’s music.
"I shall be presenting a Mengelberg evening to the local record club next month with the Schubert 9th & Beethoven First."
SIMON BUSH. "The Tiverton Gramophone Club evening went well. I played the Schubert 9th & Beethoven 1st. There was great enthusiasm particularly for the Schubert with the (now familiar) cry of a newcomer to Mengelberg - 'It s like hearing the work for the first time. There was a more mixed reception for the Beethoven with some concern about 'unusual’ tempi. (Seem to have heard that one before somewhere too!)
"There have been some interesting musical items on BBC T.V. & sound radio recently, including a wonderful tribute to Sir Hamilton Harty. Wonder if you have come across him - - conductor of the Ha1lé Orchestra in the late 20s/early 30s. An incomparable Berlioz interpreter.
"Melodiya, the Russian record firm have published a double album containing the Mahler 4th & Tchaikovsky 5th (Berlin P.O., 1940 studio recording). I got a copy from Michael Thomas. I think the quality of the pressings is excellent. East bloc pressings seem to be altogether quite good. I was in East Germany last October & bought a lovely record of the Leipzig Gewandhaus with Abendrot."
SIMON BUSH. "I ve been away in Germany on holiday. Didn’t find any Mengelberg discs but picked up a wonderful record of Wilhelm Backhaus playing encores at his 1954/56 Carnegie Hall Recitals. Found at a street market on the Lake of Konstanz!
"The Melodiya Disc Numbers appear to be M10-44435/8. No other numbers are readily readable as the whole thing is in Russian! I guess they have been published recently. [In any case, not later than June, 1985.] The transfers sound excellent. I have a Japanese pressing of the Mahler 4th & the Russian one sounds just as good.
"You will be delighted to hear that the B.B.C. (Radio 3) today [July 20] broadcast excerpts from the 1939 Mengelberg recording of the St. Matthew Passion."
IN a later letter Mr. Bush gives these further details of the two-disc Melodiya album: the disc numbers of the Mahler Fourth (from the Philips series of AVRO broadcast concerts) are M10 44435/36, those of the Tchaikovsky Fifth (Telefunken recording of July 11, 1940, with the Berlin Phil. Orch.) are M10 44437/38.
G. JAN ZWART sends a review (International Herald Tribune, Paris, Feb. 1, 1985, p. 1) of the Mahler Exhibit (NEWSLETTER, #34, p. 2), held in the Paris Museum of Modern Art, January 23 to March 31, which includes this paragraph. "The exhibition also includes an extensive sample of manuscript scores & annotated copies, . . . . One of the most interesting is Willem Mengelberg’s copy of the score of the Fourth Symphony with detailed notes by the conductor.' All the changes in red ink are made in Gustav Mahler’s own hand. Next to this, circled, is the notation, 'Guaranteed. W. Mengelberg.’ Below that: 'All those in red pencil are by me.’ An arrow points to the words 'Word of honor. W. Mengelberg.’"
TOSHIO SHITAMOTO. "King Record Co., Ltd., Japan,
issued the following discs in July, 1985. Fresh masters were cut
using a high power vacuum tube amplifier. The pressed discs are 25% heavier
than is normal." All of the following discs are transfers from the
recordings that Mengelberg made for Telefunken. BEETHOVEN: S #1
(with STRAUSS’ Death & Transfiguration: K17C-9508) & S.
#3 (K17C-9506) & S #5 & S #8 (K17C-9507); BRAHMS:
#2 (K17C-9509) & S #4, (Kl7C-95l0); FRANCK: S. in d,
(K17C-9511); TCHAIKOVSKY: S #5 (Berlin Phil. O., K17C-9512) &
S. #6 (K17C-9513, recording of Dec. 21, 1937). Price is Yen
1700 each disc. This series is a limited, single pressing, edition.
Mr. Shitamoto believes that the transfers are superior to those that King
Record Co. published in 1972 (NEWSLETTER: #5, p. 4; #7, p. 3). He
also writes that in 1984 King Record Co. published these two discs of transfers
from the Telefunken series. BEETHOVEN: S. #4 (K17C-9405, with
String Serenade & DEBUSSY’S
Prelude to Faun’s Afternoon)
& S. #6 (K17C-9404, with STRAUSS Don Juan).
MR. SHITAMOTO continues. "Nippon Phonogram will issue, on Compact Disc, using digital masters from Dutch Philips," the following Mengelberg recordings, the entire group, excepting the Beethoven Third, presumably drawn from the original Dutch Philips series of concert performances. The Japanese announcement attributes to each recording a year & a month (but apparently no day). I have quoted the attribution in the three instances that it differs from the date published in Dr. R. H. Hardie’s Mengelberg discography. BEETHOVEN: S. #1 & 2 (30CD-301) & S. #3 (30CD-302, recorded Nov., 1940, presumably the Telefunken recording) & S. #4 & 5 (30CD-303) S. #6 & Fidelio Ov. (30CD-304, date for Fidelio is Nov., 1940) & S. #7 & 8 (30CD-305) & S. #9 (30CD-306); BACH: St. Matthew Passion (30CD-307 to 309); BRAHMS: S. #1 (30CD-3l0, with parts from SCHUBERT’s Rosamunde, Dec., 1940) & A German Requiem (30CD-313); MAHLER: S# 4 (30CD-3l1); SCHUBERT: S. #8 & 9 (30CD-3l2, S. #8 recorded Dec, 1940); & FRANCK: S. in d (30CD-3l4, with STRAUSS’ Don Juan). Price is Yen 3000 each disc, the Bach costing Yen 9000 complete. This publication, issued apparently in August, 1985, is the first appearance of a Mengelberg recording on Compact Disc.
THE firm Music & Arts Programs of America, Inc., P.O. Box 771, Berkeley, California 94701, will publish in October or November, 1985, a 5-disc album, Curtain Call, No. 234, entitled "The Art of Willem Mengelberg: Concert Performances with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra." Excepting the Rachmaninoff, none of the following, so far as I know, has appeared previously on disc. BEETHOVEN, S, #3 (May 6, 1943) & Egmont Ov. (April 29, 1943); BRAHMS, Violin Concerto (Herman Krebbers, April 13, 1943; WAGNER, Tannhäuser Ov. (Oct. 27, 1940); BERLIOZ, Damn. of Faust (Sprites’ Dance, Sylphs’ Dance, Hung. March/March 21, 1943); BACH, Cantata, BWV 202 (To van der Sluys, soprano, April 17, 1939) & Suite #2, BWV 1067 (April 17, 1939); WEBER, Oberon: Overture (Oct. 13, 1940) & Act II, Ozean du Ungeheuer (Ruth Horna, soprano, March 18, 1943); MOZART, Flute Concerto, K. 3l4, Hubert Barwahser, solo flutist of the orchestra) & Piano Concerto #19, K. 459 (Willem Andriessen, Oct. 13, 1940) & Exsultate, jubilate!, K. 165 (Ria Ginster, soprano); DVORAK, Violin Concerto, Op. 53 (Maria Neuss, March 25, 1943); & RACHMANINOFF, P.C. #2, Op. 18 (Walter Gieseking, Oct. 31, 1940). The performance date of the two undated Mozart works, according to my information, is March 5, 1942. The printed notes that accompany the album, written by Bryan Crimp, are factually in error. The set, which I have not heard, will be sold in retail shops. It can also be bought mail order, surface post, insured, for $45.00 (addresses in the United States) or $50.00 (addresses abroad) from Music & Arts. The set posted air mail to addresses abroad costs $75.00. The firm intends a second album, which will include BACH’s Cantata, BWV 57 (Jo Vincent, Soprano, & Max Kloos, baritone; Toonkunstkoor), the BRAHMS S. #3 (Feb. 27, 1944), & BEETHOVEN’S Violin concerto (Guila Bustabo), & so on. The presumed source of the recordings in these two sets is a series of remarkable programs of Mengelberg recordings, drawn largely from the archives of the Dutch national radio, broadcast on the domestic French radio service France Musique in late 1983.
Pleasant listening & an early Merry Christmas & Happy New Year wished to the members!
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #37 #38 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 36/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR ELEVEN
THIS NUMBER ENDS THE SUBSCRIPTION YEAR. DO NOT FORGET TO RENEW!
(PLEASE SEE LAST PAGE, LAST PARAGRAPH.)
KENNETH DeKAY calls our attention to Claudio Arrau’s recollection of an event almost half a century ago. "I liked Mengelberg. Him I played with many times. He was crazy. In the Chopin E-minor Concerto, he followed beautifully. All the rubatos. And when I changed something, he was always there." (Joseph Horowitz: Conversations with Claudio Arrau, p. 86.) The concert Arrau refers to was played November 9, 1936, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin.
BEGINNING with this number of NEWSLETTER, & to continue in subsequent numbers, is a catalog of recordings conducted by Mengelberg. Putting to one side the sound motion pictures (which will comprise the second part of the catalog), this compilation is confined to recordings that were never intended to be published & marketed commercially, although many have been in the last two decades. Some of these were first catalogued by R. H. Hardie, in his The Recordings of Willem Mengelberg, A Discography, first published in 1972. Since then, new recordings have come to light & corrected dates have been assigned to some of the others.
FONOTHEEK MUZIEK BULLETIN, issue No. 5, (March,
1980), published by Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (Netherlands Broadcasting
Corporation), included, pp. 30 to 51, a compilation of such of these recordings
as are held by the Stichting. The catalogers were Alexander
Jansen, Evert Jan Nagtegaal, Jeanne Schollaerts, & Gerdien de Vries.
ASIDE from Dr. Hardie’s general catalog, two other general catalogs have appeared. The Dane Bo Døssing published in 1975 his Willem Mengelberg: A Discography. In 1976 he published a second, revised, edition. The French monthly Diapason, #229 (June, 1978), published, pp. 48-54, Georges Zeisel’s catalog. Dr. Hardie’s discography, in respect of the recordings that Mengelberg made for commercial issue, remains the standard reference work.
THE present catalog draws on the preceding discographies, on information published in earlier issues of NEWSLETTER, & on information that is hitherto unpublished. My compilation will include recordings, both genuine & spurious, never previously made public.
(1). THE ORCHESTRA, IF NOT NAMED, IS
THE CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA, AMSTERDAM.
(2). IF NO SITE IS NAMED, THE PERFORMANCE PRESUMABLY OCCURS IN THE LARGE HALL OF THE CONCERIGEBOUW.
(3). THERE IS CONFUSION OVER THE PERFORMANCE DATES OF SOME OF THE ISSUES ON PHILIPS. I ASSUME THAT ALL ISSUES ON PHILIPS OF THE SAME PIECE OF MUSIC HAVE A COMMON DATE.
(4). AS A CONSEQUENCE OF (3) THERE ARE ANOMALIES. ALTHOUGH ALL OF THE PHILIPS ISSUES (EXCEPTING BACH'S ST. MATTHEW PASSION) WHERE PRESUMABLY OBTAINED FROM THE DUTCH NATIONAL BROADCASTING CORPORATION (AVRO), THE DATES ASSIGNED BY PHILIPS ARE NOT ALWAYS CONFIRMED IN THE CATALOG OF FONOTHEEK MUZIEK BULLETIN.
|AVRO: Algemeene Vereeniging "Radio Omroep" (Dutch National
BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation.
BARWAHSER: Hubert Barwahser, principal flutist of COA.
BIJSTER: Corrie Bijster, soprano.
BLANCHARD: Georges Blanchard, principal oboist of COA.
BOSCH-SCHMIDT: Betty van den Bosch-Schmidt, soprano.
COA: Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.
DØSSING: Bo Døssing; his Mengelberg discography -- second edition, revised, 1976.
DURIGO: Ilona Durigo, contralto.
ERB: Karl Erb, tenor.
FMB: listed in Fonotheek Muziek Bulletin, Issue #5 (March, 1980).
HARDIE: R. H. Hardie; his Mengelberg discography, 1972.
JONGENSKOOR: Zanglust Jongenskoor (literally, Fond of Singing Boys Chorus), Amsterdam.
KLOOS: Max Kloos, baritone.
LUGER: Suze Luger, contralto.
NOS: Neder1andse Omroep Stichting (Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation; NOS -
Sound Archives manages the sound archives of the Dutch broadcasting organizations).
[P]: published & for sale, on disc or tape, usually by a pirate.
[PP]: published & for sale by Philips. (For record numbers of the Philips issues, see Dr. Hardie’s
discography & back issues of NEWSLETTER. For details of [P] issues -- firms’ names, record
numbers, & so on -- likewise see back issues of NEWSLETTER.)
RAVELLI: Willem Ravelli, bass.
S.: Wolfgang Schmieder’s catalog of J. S. Bach, often designated BWV.
SCHEY: Hermann Schey, bass.
SLUYS: To van der Sluys, soprano.
STEFFEN: N. P. H. Steffen, Dutch authority on Mengelberg’s concerts.
TOONKUNSTKOOR: Toonkunstkoor (literally, Music Chorus), Amsterdam.
TULDER: Louis van Tulder, tenor.
VINCENT: Jo Vincent, sometimes called Mengelberg’s favorite soprano;
she refers to him today as "Mengelchen," a diminutive of endearment.
VROONS: Franz Vroons, tenor.
ZEISEL: Georges Zeisel; his Mengelberg discography, published in
the French periodical Diapason, #229 (June, 1978), pp. 48.-54.
ZIMMERMANN: Louis Zimmermann, one of the two First Concertmasters of the COA.
ANONYMOUS: Het Wilhelrnus van Nassouwe
(Dutch national anthem, arranged by Mengelberg). Sunday, Dec. 20, 1936. FMB.
BACH, JOHANN CHRISTIAN: Clavier Concerto, Op. 13, #4. Sunday,
March 21, 1943
(Marinus Flipse, piano). FMB. [P].
BACH, J. S.: Cantata #57 (Selig ist der Mann), S. 57. FMB cites different dates on different pages for the same recording: Thursday, Nov. 7, & Saturday, Nov. 9, 1940. (Vincent, Kloos, Toonkunstkoor).
Cantata #202 (Weichet nur), S. 202. Monday, April 17, 1939 (Sluys). FMB. [P].
Clavier Concerto #5, S. 1056. Monday, April 17, 1939 (Agi Jambor, piano). FMB.
St. Matthew Passion, S. 244 (incomplete recording of performance). Sunday, April 5, 1936 (Vincent; Durigo; Erb, Evangelist; Ravelli, Jesus; Schey; Zimmermann; Barwahser; Blanchard, listed as English horn in FMB; Piet van Egmond, organ; Johannes den Hertog, harpsichord; Toonkunstkoor; Jongenskoor). FMB.
St. Matthew Passion. Sunday, April 2, 1939 (Erb, Evangelist; Ravelli, Jesus; Vincent; Durigo; Tulder; Schey; Toonkunstkoor; Jongenskoor). This is a sound-on-film recording using the hill-&-dale Philips-Miller System; for further details, see NEWSLETTER, #1, p. 3. FMB. [PP].
Suite #2 for Flute & Strings, S. 1067. Monday, April 17, 1939. FMB. [P].
Suite #3, S. 1068. Døssing states recording of unknown date, Amsterdam, COA, held privately in The Netherlands. Zeisel repeats Døssing. Not listed FMB.
Suite #3 ("Air" only, supposedly Mahler’s arrangement), 1941, orchestra not named; reputedly 'Broadcast Spring, 1985, over France-Musique, a domestic French state radio service. Not listed FMB. I have from NOS a letter, August, 1986, which states that NOS does not hold this recording. Report presumably false.
TO BE CONTINUED
IN the last NEWSLETTER, pp. 1 & 2, we read from B.
H. Haggin’s letter, New York Times, Dec. 6, 1925, Part 8, p. 10.
He writes to rebuke Charles L. Buchanan, whom Mengelberg has greatly annoyed.
Mr. Haggin tells us in his closing paragraph that "As for the reading [of
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth] one could no more infer from it that Mr. Mengelberg
disliked Tchaikovsky than from Mr. Muck’s one could infer that he disliked
Debussy. . . .; to me it is a surpassing (not surprising) achievement in
musical architecture ["shaping of the music]. Hearing it again I felt anew
the amazement & inarticulate delight with which some of us listened
to Mr. Mengelberg’s performances with the National Symphony [January to
March, 1921], 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.’" Nearly 60 years
later Mr. Haggin publishes in the Musical America edition of High
Fidelity (Nov., 1984, pp. 41 & 42) his radically altered view of
these years. Not only does his new view contradict this one letter
to the Times, it also contradicts, as we read in the last NEWSLETTER, pp.
2 & 3, other letters of his to the Times &, as well, his
articles in The Nation, written in 1923, 1925, 1926, & 1927.
THE absurdity of this Haggin-Phenomenon encouraged me to write to the Musical America edition of High Fidelity. (The absurdity rests on the fact that after nearly 60 years Mr. Haggin’s recollection can be nothing more than what he remembers having believed at that time. And this remembrance Mr. Haggin can animate by re-reading what he wrote in those days.) My letter appeared in the issue of March, 1985, pp. 2 & 40. Someone on the magazine substituted, among other errors, the meaningless word management for Mr. Haggin’s very significant amazement in the paragraph I quote from his letter to the Times. The reader can compare what the magazine published, reproduced below, with Mr. Haggin’s correct text, above. The magazine refused to publish my subsequent letter of correction.
|B.H. HAGGIN recalls (MUSICAL AMERICA. November
1984, pages 41-42) that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in January
1926, was “a highly competent and well-disciplined orchestra under Mengelberg,"
but under Toscanini. a few days later that same month, it was "a virtuoso
orchestra" of "astoundingly different playing.” Indeed, the New York
Philharmonic under Mengelberg and Toscanini was two different orchestras
composed of the same instrumentahsts. Were not the two conductors
two different musicians? But the orchestra under Mengelberg was far
more than “highly competent and well-disciplined," adjectives that suggest
to the reader a certain air of orderly tedium and uninspired proficiency:
an air that we do not associate with Mcngelberg. We know that Mengelberg’s
Philharmonic played so gorgeously as to inspire inarticulate awe.
We know this for the most compelling reason of all. Mr. Haggin tells
us it did.
In his letter dated December 2, 1925 (which is to say, one month before January 1926), published in the New York Times,
|December 6, 1925, Part 8, page 10, Mr. Haggin describes his ecstasy over Mengelberg’s New York Philharmonic. Mengelberg’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (concerts of Nosember 19 and 20, 1925), writes Mr. Haggin, "is a surpassing (not surprising) achievement in executive musical architecture. Hearing it again I felt anew the management and inarticulate delight with which some of us listened to Mr. Mengelberg’s performance with the National Symphony (season of 1920/1921). e.g.. of the Pathatique, of Eines Hendeleben, Don Juan and Tod und Verkläung, of a to all appearances totally barren work like Mahler’s First Symphony or Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. The National Symphony Orchestra that humbled Mr. Haggin to speechless pleasure and amazement in 1921, superb though it must have been, was inferior to Mengelberg’s New York Philharmonic in the season that lie calls to mind.|
KEITH HARDWICK, who is Remastering Controller for EMI, London, writes to us that there are plans to publish this Fall (1986) on Références (the French series of reissues) one or two discs of Mengelberg’s recordings. “. . . , I am not sure what Pathe-Marconi will decide to issue next fall. I am suggesting a LP album with Tchaikovsky’s 4th & 5th symphonies & the Romeo & Juliet Overture, but they may cut this down to one." Mr. Hardwick does for Références all of the transfers from 78 rpm discs. He brings the unpleasant news that "only about half of the Mengelberg shells have survived," shells meaning master, mother, or stamper.
TOSHIO SHITAMOTO. "By the way, I am now informed that King Record Co., Ltd. [Japan] plans to issue next year  a new series of Mengelberg’s recordings on Telefunken, but the works are still unknown. I shall write to you again with further details." (We look forward to Mr. Shitamoto’s further word.)
FRANK FORMAN, referring to the Renewal Notice
published in NEWSLETTER at the end of each Subscription Year: "You re not
cut out to be a good capitalist. since you don’t put the money matter up
front where it won t be missed!"
WITH THIS NUMBER ENDS SUBSCRIPTION YEAR 11, WHICH COMPRISED #34 (April 23, 1985), #35 (Nov. 16, 1985), & #36, WHICH YOU HOLD IN YOUR HAND. THE COST OF MEMBERSHIP FOR SUBSCRIPTION YEAR 12 IS $4.50 FOR MEMBERS IN THE UNITED STATES; FOR MEMBERS ABROAD, $5.50 (SURFACE MAIL) OR $7.00 (AIR MAIL). WE GREATLY APPRECIATE THE MEMBERS CONTINUED & FAITHFUL SUPPORT. BACK ISSUES OF Newsletter ARE AVAILABLE AT THESE PRICES: NOS. 1 to 8 & 24 & HIGHER ARE $1.50 EACH; NOS. 9 to 23 ARE $2.00 EACH; THESE PRICES INCLUDE POSTAGE FOR SURFACE MAIL TO ANY ADDRESS, HOME OR ABROAD. MANY NUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY AS PHOTOCOPIES.
A salubrious fall, pleasant listening, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year wished to all members.
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NEWSLETTER NO. 37/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TWELVE
This issue is published over two & one half years after #36., &
begins Subscription Year Tweive. I regret the interlude, which owes
to preoccupation with other obligations, & to some degree to a severe
attack of skin cancer, now cured by the surgeon s knife, composed of two
tumors, one small one very large, arising from what, when I was a child,
was believed to be the salubrious sun & her healthful tans, but which,
fine for plants & a boon to tomato vines & their delicious fruit,
are a curse to the skin of the White Man. We thank the members for
their indulgence & patience.
THE German contralto Sigrid Onégin (1889-1943) often sang under Mengelberg. Her second husband, the German medical doctor Fritz Penzoldt, who survived her by 16 years, wrote her biography, published in Germany in 1939. He tells her life (uncommonly interesting for a musician) in the first person, as though she were writing her own story. Her first husband, who died in 1919 of a bad liver, was the Russian baron Eugen Borisowitsch Onégin, who was also her teacher & accompanist, & a.composer, whose songs she sang, one of which, Ave Maria, she recorded. The reader will conclude from the biography that both marriages were extraordinarily happy. I translate the following narrative from pages 180 & 181 of the third edition (Alt Rhapsodie. Sigrid Onégin - Leben uund Werk).
"Eugen Borisowitsch [her husband] did everything conceivable to make me feel confident with the orchestra; he sat at full rehearsals or at concerts in the first row of the hall, directly in front of the conductor -- in other words, behind him, of course -- from where he gave me a medly of signs. If I was sharp, he pointed his thumb down, as the ancient Romans did in the Arena. If I sang a trifle flat, which happened even less often, he pointed his forefinger towards the ceiling. All the while his face looked so innocent that no one noticed.
"He was especially mindful to be present at the rehearsals for the concerts with Willem Mengelberg, for I greatly feared the strict master of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, who instructed me in the qreat oratorios in the course of our many concerts, but whose manner, often schoolmasterish& sarcastic, disconcerted me. My.walk to the podium displeased him greatly. Wanting to make my way as quickly as possible to the front of the stage, I 'roared’ in double quick step through the stands, usually knocking music to the floor, shook the concertmaster’s hand almost until it fell off, threw the orchestra a most amiable glance, & greeted the audience with the heartiness & impetuosity of youth (the more so when I was the only soloist). One day Mengelberg plainly made me understand that my manner of walking onto the stage was not fitting for his soloists. Although at first tempted to break into tears, I resolved next time to walk to the podium with the utmost gravity. After earnest practice at home, I believed myself able to satisfy Mengelberg’s wishes. At the next concert -- we were making an extensive tour of Holland -- I advanced in the measured steps of a funeral march, arms pressed to body, head bent low, slowly to the front, & bowed to the audience with the look of a partridge dodging a hawk. Mengelberg showed not the slightest feeling, but I feared I had once again done something wrong. After the concert he said to me: 'Do you know how you walked to the podium? Like a slinking panther wanting to jump its prey.’ He added a few illustrative gestures that changed my repentance into liberating laughter. From then on I was free to walk onto the stage as I had done in the past. All of my oratorio scores are full of notations that the great Dutchman gave to me; I adhere to them as strictly today as I did then, when the master stood with me on the podium & behind his back Eugen Borisowitsch performed his finger play."
ANDREW B. McALLISTER sends the radio program guide of WNIB & WNIZ for the month of March, 1986. Fred Heft, on March 15 & 22, devoted his weekly program "Past Masters" to recordings of Mengelberg, Liszt's Les Préludes & Rudolf Mengelberg’s Salve Regina, among other pieces. Rudolf, who was Director of the Concertgebouw, 1935-1954, was Willem’s nephew.
SIMON BUSH told us in NEWSLETTER, #35, p. 3, of the 2-disc album of Mengelberg recordings published in the Soviet Union. Those who are interested in obtaining the album should inquire of Michael G. Thomas; 54 Lymington Rd.; London NW6 1JB; England, from which address Mr. Bush obtained his copy.
WE RESUME THE MENGELBERG DISCOGRAPHY,
BEGUN IN NEWSLETTER, #36
BARTÓK (1881-1945): Concerto #2 for Violin. Thursday,
March 23, 1939, world première
(Zoltán Székely, violin). FMB. [P]
BEETHOVEN: Concerto #5 for Piano, Op. 73. (Incomplete recording of performance.) MB cites different dates on different pages for the same recording: Saturday, May 9, & Monday, Nov. 9, 1942 (Cor de Groot, piano).
Concerto for Violin, Op. 61. Monday, April 18, 1938 (Zimmermann). Not listed FMB. Recording of this date to be broadcast over France-Musique, Sat., Oct. 15, 1983, on the program Le club des archives, according to the French periodical Télérama, #1761, Oct. 12, 1983, p. 116. The recording may not exist, because Bustabo’s performance (which see) was reputedly actually broadcast on Oct. 15.
Concerto for Violin, Thursday, April 18, 1940 (Zimmermann). FMB.
Concerto for Violin. FMB cites different dates on different pages for the same recording: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 1940, & Thursday, May 6, 1943. I presume that the second date is the correct one. (Guila Bustabo, violin). [P].
Coriolan Overture, Op. 62 (Timing 0'57"). Listed Schallaufnahmen der. Reichs-Rundfunk G.m.b.H. von Anfang 1936 bis Anfang 1939, p. 84, Entry #9878. The Entry states that the recording was made for acoustical measurement. It appears from the Entry that the recording was cut on Nov. 18, 1938. The record was held at Vienna. Mengelberg conducts the COA, which was not in Vienna in Nov., 1938. This recording may have been a dubbing of one of the two recordings of this piece (May, 1926, & June 1, 1931) that Mengelberg made as part of the Columbia/Odeon series. The Austrian National Radio informed me in 1982 that the recording of Entry 9878 is not held by them. Not listed FMB.
Egmont, Overture, Op. 84. (Incomplete recording of performance.) Thursday, Nov. 16, 1939. Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Probably recorded in the Stoerekassen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Held by Danmarks Radio. Not listed FMB.
Egmont, Overture. Thursday, April 29, 1943. FMB. [P].
Egmont, Overture. Sunday, April 23, 1944. Hardie cites Thursday, April 13, 1944; but Steffen states correct date is April 23. Not listed FMB, but was listed in an earlier catalog compiled by AVRO. Apparently does not exist.
Fidelio, Overture, Op. 72c. Saturday, Feb. 18, 1939.
Listed in a letter from AVRO, 1971.
Not listed FMB. Probably does not exist.
Fidelio, Overture. Sunday, April 28, 1940. FMB. [PP].
Fidelio, Overture. Sunday, Oct. 13, 1940. FMB.
Fidelio, Overture. Nov., 1940. A publicity release of Dutch Philips dated Feb. 17, 1986, anounces the publication on compact Disc (CD 4162 032-0293) of this piece with this date. I presume that this is the same performance as that previously given the date of April 28, 1940. Not listed FMB. [PP).
Missa solemnis, Op. 123. Date? Soloists? Chorus? Orchestra? The recording is supposed to exist; technically of poor quality; discs damaged by water during fire after World War II. Steffen states that Mengelberg last conducte" the piece in 1934, & raises the question as to whether AVRO recorded Mengelberg’s concerts at that early date. Not listed FMB.
S. #1, Op. 21. Sunday, April 14, 1940. Steffen confirms this date. Not listed FMB. [PP].
S. #1. Sunday, Oct. 27, 1940. FMB.
S. #1. Thursday, March 18, 1943. FMB.
S. #2 Op. 36. Thursday, May 14, 1936. FMB.
S. #2. Sunday, April 21, 1940. Not listed FMB. [PP].
S. #2 Sunday, March 21, 1943. FMB.
S. #3, Op. 55. Thurday, May 12, 1938. Listed in
a letter from AVRO, 1971.
Not listed FMB. Probably does not exist.
S. #3. Sunday, April 14, 1940. FMB.
S. #3. Thursday, May 6, 1943. FMB. [P].
S. #4, Op. 60. Thursday, April 25, 1940. Listed FMB, which quotes no date, which Steffen supplies. [PP].
S. #4. Thursday, March 18, 1943. Listed in a letter
from AVRO, 1971. Not listed FMB.
Probably does not exist.
S. #5, Op. 67. Thursday, April 18, 1940. FMB. [PP].
S. #5. Thursday, March 18, 1943. Listed in a letter
from AVRO, 1971. Not listed FMB.
Probably does not exist.
THE MYSERY OF THE DOUBLE REVIEW. Several
years ago a Member mailed to me a review of some Mengelberg recordings,
published in the American periodical Journal of the Association for
Recorded Sound Collections (#2/3, 1983, pp. 122 & 123). The
reviewer was Mortimer H. Frank, at that time Editor of the Journal
&, the Member brought to my attention, Curator of the Toscanini
Collection in Wave Hill Museum, New York City. In an issue of the
for 1982 Mr. Frank had exhorted, "the time has come for technology to be
used not to veil Toscanini but to serve him &, in so doing, to glorify
him." One can reasonably conclude that a critic who urges a glorification
of Toscanini, who is Curator of Toscanini collection, may not be entirely
fair to Mengelberg. Mr. Frank’s review of the Mengelberg reissues
was markedly hostile.
MR. FRANK’S Editorship of the Journal was very brief. The new Editor is John W. N. Francis, from whom one hopes for fairness & decency. (I believe that the Editorship has, since writing these words, changed once again.)
ANOTHER Member now mails to me two reviews of Mengelberg recordings, published in the American magazine Fanfare (Jan./Feb., 1986, pp. 282-284; March/April, 1986, pp. 299 & 300), which Joel Flegler edits & publishes. One of the Contributing Editors of Fanfare is the same Mortimer H. Frank, who is also the author of the review published in the aforesaid issue for Jan./Feb. The new object of Mr. Frank’s displeasure is Curtain Call, #234, the album of recordings from Mengelberg’s concerts (NEWSLETTER, #35, p. 4). Why does Mr. Flegler open his pages to Mr. Frank on Mengelberg, a musician for whose recordings Mr. Frank has little sympathy? Others must have asked this question. Apparently a stir was raised, because the second review (March/April) has for its subject the same set of recordings. The second review, written by Henry Fogel, is very favorable. (Mr. Fogel mistakenly tells his readers that the present set is a "re-printing" of earlier issue on another label, which it is not.) Can you recall ever having read two reviews, published in consecutive issues of a magazine, of the same recording? No one objects that Mr. Frank, a Toscanini enthusiast, reviews recordings of Toscanini; but why should he, or anyone else who lacks the required sympathy, review recordings of Mengelberg? There is no justification for refusing to one conductor the same ardor that our American recordings magazines have habitually lavished over the decades on another, these two conductors being Mengelberg & Toscanini.
T. SHITAMOTO. "A private disc 'W. Mengelberg
Conducts German Romantics’ was issued in Dcember, 1986." The works
are Schumann’s P. C. (Emil von Sauer, concert performance of Oct.
1940); all of the remaining are from the Columbia-Odeon series, & are,
writes Mr. Shitamoto, remastered directly from the original 78 rpm Columbias:
the Overtures to Weber’s Euryanthe & Der Freischütz,
from Mendelssohn’s MSND, & the 3rd Movement of Brahms’s S.
#1. Disc No. is M-1004.
"Next month [April, 1987] Schubert’s S. #9 & Marche Militaire, as originally recorded on Telefunken, will appear. This disc is not remastered directly from the Telefunken 78s, but from a tape dubbing." (Can Mr. Shitamoto please give us the disc number & name of label?)
TOYOKI YOSHIOKA has published 5 long playing
discs of performances in concert conducted by M. If not stated otherwise,
the orchestra is the Concertgebouw. GMV-1 (issued July, 1986): BEETHOVEN,
Concerto, Guila Bustabo; Mr. Yoshioka cites date of concert as Nov.
27, 1940 more likely it is May 6, 1943. GMV-4: BEETHOVEN, S. #7,
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1939 & LISZT, Fantasia on Hungarian
Folk Tunes, for Piano & Orch. (1852), Wilhelm Backhaus, Breslau
Radio Orch; no date cited, nor is one known to me; & MENGELBERG’S SPEECH
at his 40th anniversary with the Concertgebouw Orch., May 9, 1935; &
an INTERVIEW of MENGELBERG, Munich, Germany, November 1935.
GMV-7 (issued December, 1987): SCHUBERT- CASSADÓ, Sonata in A
Minor ("Arpeggione"), D. 821, for solo cello & orch. by the soloist,
Gaspar Cassad6, Dec. 12, 1940; & MAHLER’S Songs of a Wayfarer,
Hermann Schey, bass, Nov. 23, 1939. GMV-5: MOZART, Overture to The Magic
Flute, March 1942 (also Beethoven’s P. C. #4, Hofmann, Mitropoulos,
NYPSO, Aug. 22, 1943; & Ravel’s Left Handed P. Concerto, Wittgenstein,
Walter, COA, Feb. 28, 1937). And GMV S-1: PUCCINI, Madama Butterfly,
Act II, Scene 1., Un bel di, vedremo, Grace Moore, sop.; date cited
is May 23, 1936; correct date is June 23, 1936; this is a 7 inch disc,
which Mr. Yoshioka describes as a "gift record," apparently given with
purchase of another record. Each record costs Yen 3000. GMV-4 is
sold out. His address is 8-3-15, Uozaki-Kita; Higashinada-Ku, Kobe;
MR. SHITAMOTO describes the sound of GMV-1 as "good." He also thoughtfully gave me the contents of Past Masters, PM-36 (NEWSLETTER, #31, p. 4), which comprises of Mengelberg the over’s to Cherubini’s Anacréon & Suppé’s Poet & Peasant, both from the Columbia-Odeon series.
TELDEC issued in Great Britain, Dec., 1988, on Compact Disc, the following recordings that Mengel berg made for Telefunken: BEETHOVEN, S. #5 & 8, Teldec 8 44159; & S. #6 (with Overture to WAGNER’S Die Meistersinger v. Nürnberg), 8 44162; BRAHMS, S. #2 & Tragic O., 8 44156; & S. #4 (with STRAUSS’S Don Juan), 8 44158; DVORÁK, S. #9, 8 44165; STRAUSS, Ein Heldenleben, 8 44163; TCHAIKOVSKY, P. C. #1 (Conrad Hansen) & Serenade for Strings, 8 44160; S. #5, 8 44161; S. #6 (the earlier recordIng, 1937) & 1812 Overture, 8 44164; DUTCH MUSIC, on 8 44157 all of the Dutch pieces that M. recorded for Telefunken: ANONYMOUS, Het Wilhelmus; H. ANDRIESSEN, Magna res est amor; C. DOPPER, Gothic Chaconne; R. MENGELBERG (Willem’s nephew), Salve Regina (Jo Vincent, soprano); J. ROENTGEN, Old Dutch Dances, #5 & 6; A. VALERIUS, Wilt heden nu treden; & J. van WAGENAAR, Overture, Cyrano de Bergerac.
EMI released in Great Britain, Dec., 1988, Compact Disc CDH 7699562, "100 Years of the Concertgebouw," devoted to Mengelberg, comprising these recordings of the Columbia-Odeon series: BERLIOZ, "Hungarian March" & "Sylphs’ Dance" from Damnation of Faust; BRAHMS, Academic Festival Overture; CHERUBINI, Overture to Anacréon; GRIEG, Two Elegiac Melodies; LISZT, Les Préludes; MAHLER, Adagietto from S. #5 ; MENDELSSOHN, Scherzo from MSND; & WAGNER, Overture to Tannhäuser.
MICHAEL G. THOMAS, 54 Lymington Rd., London
NW6 1JB, England, advertised in Gramophone, Dec., 1988, a 2 disc set, AD.
103/4, £13.50, limited to 500 copies, entitled "Concertgebouw, 100
Years: A Tribute to Willem Mengelberg," comprising concert performances
with the COA: J. S. BACH, Cantata #57 (Jo Vincent, sop., & Max
Kloos, baritone); HANDEL, "Hallelujah Chorus" from The Messiah (with
the Toonkunst Chorus); MAHLER, Songs of a Wayfarer (Schey, bass);
Mozart, Overture to The Magic Flute; SCHUBERT-CASSADÓ, Sonata
in A Minor, D. 821, arr. for solo cello & orch. by the soloist,
Gaspar C.; & WAGNER, Prelude to Act I & Finale (Liebestod)
of Act III from Tristan und Isolde. To my knowledge, none
of this has been published previously, excepting the Mahler, the Wagner
not even listed among M.’s recorded concert performances. SIMON BUSH
writes of the set, "The fount of all knowledge about Mengelberg in the
U. K. seems to be Michael G. Thomas . . . . , . . . . . I am not
sure where his material comes from but, apart from the Mahler, it is all
new to me. Presumably from Radio Hilversum Archives. The Mozart is
of particular interest. Michael Thomas believes it to be from a tape-recorded
source & certainly the sound is good with no apparent acetate noise.
The set also contains two very moving facsimile letters to Michael Thomas
from W. M. written in the last year of his life. So don t miss it!"
MR. THOMAS advertised in Gramophone, May, 1988, Compact Disc 270, £11.50, "Mengelberg as Accompanist," BLOCH’S Violin Concerto (Joseph Szigeti, 1939) & DEBUSSY‘S Fantasie (Walter Gieseking, 1938), neither one previously published, to my know1edge.
IN SYNC LABORATORIES, INC., 2211 Broadway,
New York City, N. Y. 10024, published in May, 1988, a tape cassette (Dolby
B only) comprising, from M.’s Columbia-Odeon series, BRAHM’S S #1(third
movement), the complete S. #3, & the Academic Festival Overture.
SEVERAL years ago Western Sound Archive (NEWSLETTER, #20, p. 4: #24, p. 5), Nathan E. Brown, Archivist, changed its name to CLASSICAL RECORDINGS ARCHIVES of AMERICA, Box 1112, El Cerrito., Calif. 94530. It publishes a list of M.’s concert performances that it sells on tape, some 29 in number, to which must be added an interview of M. (1935), two radio talks (1938, 1939), & the ceremony honoring M.’s 40th anniversary (1935). The list includes the following. BEETHOVEN, Violin C., Guila Bustabo, May 6, 1943; & S. #7, Berlin Radio Symph. Orch., 1939; J. CHRISTIAN BACH, Clavier Concerto, Op. 13, #4, Marinus Flipse, March 21, 1943; GRIEG, Peer Gynt, Suite #2; LISZT, Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Tunes, for Piano & 0., Wilhelm Backhaus, Bresau Radio O.; MOZART, Magic Flute, Over., presumably May 5 1942; PUCCINI, Madama Butterfly, unspecified aria (presumably Un bel di, vedremo, Act II, Scene I), Grace Moore, June 23, 1936; J. ROENTGEN, Old Dutch Dances, April 19, 1943; SCHUBERT-CASSADÓ, Sonata, A Minor., D. 821, arr. for solo cello & orch. by soloist, Gaspar Cassadó, Dec. 12, 1940. The Liszt & Grieg are new to me. Mr. Brown attributes the Beethoven 7th to the Berlin Phil. Orch., but information I have fails to show that M. ever conducted the BPO in that work. For the Grieg Mr. B. cites the year 1938. In the preceding enumeration, I have changed several of the dates in the list to the more likely ones. In 1986, his prices were $22.00/hour (or 12 hrs., $200.00) for 4-track, 7 1/2 IPS, & for cassette (specify Dolby, if desired); $22.00/hr. (or 12 hrs., $225.00) for 2-track or 4-track double monaural. Prices include surface mail, 4th class, to addresses home & abroad. First class, U. S. A., add $1.00/hr.; air mail abroad, add $2.50/hr. Mr. Brown writes,"I now have a one-hour documentary program on Mengelberg from Dutch TV, including many examples of his conducting. I have [it] on 3/4 inch U-Matic & can make copies on either Beta or VHS for $50."
MUSIC & ARTS PROGRAMS OF AMERICA, INC. (P. 0. Box 771; Berkeley, Calif. 94701) issued, about July, 1987, on Compact Disc, Rachmaninoff’s P.C. #2 & 3 (Walter Gieseking/Mengelberg/COA: respective concert performances of Oct. 31 & March 28, 1940), Curtain Call CD 250.
HERITAGE RECORDS (Coberley; 39 Woodland Road; Patney; Nr. Devizes; Wiltshire-SN1O 3RD; England) publishes sale catalogs of 78 rpm & deleted long playing records, including a goodly selection of Mengelberg 78s. The most recent catalog I have, March,1989, comprises 33 pages of listings, of which 18 are devoted to 78s.
A pleasant early summer & good listening wished to the Members!
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #39 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 38/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TWELVE
BEGINNING with NEWSLETTER, #28/29, we reviewed the campaign that Paul Bekker & his newspaper, Frankfurter Zeitung, mount against the Museum Association, the Cecilia Society (the choral association of Frankfurt), & their conductor, Willem Mengelberg. The campaign begins in the season of 1911/1912, which sees Bekker, the music critic newly arrived in Frankfurt on the Main from Berlin, write a succession of increasingly malicious reviews. The Museum Association protests in two letters to the newspaper, but Bekker climaxes the campaign with his unusually brutal review of Mengelberg’s first Friday concert for the season of 1912/1913. The Association distributes in reply at the following Friday concert an open letter to the concert goers & the complete text of the correspondence between the Association & the newspaper. The 1ater spurns to review the concert & returns to the Association its free season tickets. As much as Bekker loathes Mengelberg, as much does he bestow his hopes on Max Kaempfert, a mediocrity who conducts the newly formed, & short lived, Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra (Frankfurter Tonkünstler Orchester). The Cecilia Society decides by democratic vote of its Membership to send Frankfurter Z. no free tickets for the season of 1912/1913; the enraged newspaper takes notice in its columns, calls the decision an "intentional rudeness," & thereafter also boycotts the concerts of the Cecilia Society. (Contrary to my assertion, NEWSLETTER, #32, p. 4, the Cecilia Society does insert in Frankfurter Zeitung one, & apparently only one, advertisement for the season 1913/1914.) The preceding events having been described in detail in NEWSLETTER, #28/29, 30, 31, & 32, we now continue the narrative to its conclusion.
WHEN World War I begins in late July, 1914,
Bekker immediately disappears fom the pages of Frankfurter Zeitung.
None of the biographical sketches I have read tells us where he goes; all
imply that he remains with the newspaper; none says that he serves in the
German army, although Bekker is not quite 32 years old when war starts.
During the conflict, apparently all music performances in Frankfurt are
reviewed by others; it seems that Bekker does not return to the pages of
Zeitung to review concerts in Frankfurt until Nov. 4, 1919, about one
year after the war ends. He does appear Dec. 4, 1917, & Oct.
3, 1918, writing respectively from Berlin & Kassel.
BEKKER in 1925 finds preferment, resigns his post with Frankfurter Zeitung to become director of the opera house in Kassel. He has no apparent training & experience for the employment. Two years later he occupies in Wiesbaden the same position.
BEKKER in his booklet Kunst und Revolution (Art & Revolution), published in 1919, praises on page 3 the Bolshevik Revolution as the "liberation of humanity": at this time the Red Terror in Russia has been underway since the previous year: eventually some tens of millions of Soviet citizens will die, killed, Solzhenitsyn (Gulag Archipelago, Vol. II, p. 10) quoting the figure of 6 million victims for the period from the October Revolution, 1917, to 1959. The late Karl Laux (Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Vol. I, p. 1575) paraphrases Bekker: "The genuinely great artist may not stand to one side of the political currents of his time." If this is true, does Bekker understand that the "genuinely great artist" can just as well hold political views inimical to his own? That another musician can admire German National Socialism, as some musicians did, as much as Bekker admires Russian Bolshevism? As Jew & enthusiastic admirer of Bolshevism Bolshevik Russia, Bekker faces in Germany a future no more favorable than does 57 years later an Israeli Arab who insists that he will organize in Tel Aviv a festival honoring Wagner & Richard Strauss, two German composers whose music may not be played in Israel. In 1932 or 1933 Bekker resigns his post or his contract is not renewed.
IN 1934 we find him in New York City, once again plying his trade as music critic, now for German language daily New Yorker Staatszeitung und Herold. It is one of those incongruities of which life is ever full that Bekker--who is the best educated of the music critics in the English speaking world, the most widely informed on music, one of the rare few whose reputation is international, but perhaps also the one who is the most bigoted, witless, & corrupt--that Bekker as music critic is now confined to the pages of an inconsequential foreign language daily of small circulation.
BEKKER is exceedingly industrious. The encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart lists of his some 24 published books & booklets, a number that may be less than one half of the true total. His last book, The Story of the Orchestra, appears in 1936, published in the United States. He tells us in the Foreword that with help he wrote the English text himself. If the help Bekker received was minor, his achievement to write in a foreign language is most notable; we are reminded of the prodigies of the Pole Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, whom we know as the "English" novelist Joseph Conrad; or of the English racist Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who marries Wagner’s younger daughter, Eva, & writes his huge literary output in a choice German.
THE Story of the Orchestra tells that
story as the influence of the composer on the orchestra. The "story
of the orchestra" is necessarily also the chronicle of the conductor &
the musicians he rules, but this chronicle until the introduction of electrical
recording is lost to us. Of course, we all struggle to describe in
words the peculiarities of a performing musician. Before we turn
to Bekker’s struggle in The Story of the Orchestra, let us see how
the superbly polemical Felix Weingartner masters that struggle.
IN his two-volume autobiography, Lebenserinnerungen (Basel, 1928 & 1929), Weingartner describes Hans von Bülow, whom Weingartner 15 or so years earlier rebuked in his monograph on the performance of Beethoven’s symphonies. (A one-volume English translation of the autobiography is published in 1937.) Weingartner writes in volume I, page 245, ". . . Bülow [is] the keenly developed intellect, who perhaps would have been capable of important accomplishments in any field to which he applied his energy." Weingartner seeks to be equitable to a musician for whom he has no sympathy. More revealing is his fiery denunciation in volume II, page 99. "I growled at him [Arthur Nikisch] that he kindled the first stormy jubilation in the Overture to Tannhäuser with an instrumental effect that is just as alien to this piece as Bülow’s arbitrariness in Carmen. . . . He [Nikisch] possessed, in a manner similar to Bülow, the talent to extract from music things that are simply not there. He & Bülow, neither one a creator, were 'interpreters through & through, whereas interpretation means absolutely nothing to me. Experiencing within me the mystical event of creation, I also behold in the work of another the powers that call it to life; & I reproduce it in its own spirit as a living organic being, without personal exegesis or garnishment. [Weingartner is mistaken. Where is the performer who does not soak the music with himself?] In so far as I am a conductor, I must stand in opposition to both Bülow & Nikisch, for their significance & success lay in garnishments & exegeses that are foreign to me, & which in Bülow are saturated with a penetrating intellect, in Nikisch bathed in that charm which made them as sympathetic as the smile of a coquette."
THESE are the brilliant polemics of a composer, conductor, & pianist who can write; we sense the commanding presence behind them. Now let us return to Bekker to read his polemical descriptions of conductors.
ON the equivalent of two pages of sparse comment in The Story of the Orchestra (pages 288 to 290) Bekker ranges from François Habeneck (1781-1849) to Furtwängler. Bülow dwells on the highest level. "Only two conductors have continued on Bülow’s level: Gustav Mahler & . . . Arturo Toscanini . . . ." Bekker is born in September, 1882; Bülow dies when Bekker is 11 years old. What Bekker knows about Bülow is hearsay. Even if we suppose that as a child he hears Bülow conduct, how can he know, more than 40 years later, that what aroused his enthusiasm as a child would also awaken it today? We shall see that his love for Bülow very likely rests on his hatred of Weingartner.
MAHLER dies in 1911, when Bekker is 28 years
old. As a child of 14 he hears Mahler rehearse the Berlin Philharmonic
in a movement of his Third Symohony (La Grange, Mahler, vol.
I, p. 386). "Mahler," writes Bekker, "achieved the greatest examples since
the days of Bülow of the spiritual unity of stage & music, &
before he died had created unforgettable models of opera performances."
As Bekker knows nothing first hand about Bülow, he cannot honestly
draw the comparison, however well or poorly he is personally informed on
Mahler the conductor.
TOSCANINI is the other musician who conducts "on Bülow’s level ." Again, the comparison is dishonest. "Toscanini," continues Bekker, ". . . , has fulfilled the ideal of the most objective & simultaneously the most intensive performance." How is it possible for a musician to play music objectively, when his race, his ethnicity, his family tree, where he is born, when he is born, & countless other factors idiosyncratically determine his nature? Bekker continues. "He has proved that the only true interpretation is to follow the composer’s instructions." Howard Taubman tells us in his biography of T. (The Maestro, pp. 292-293) that Toscanini followed or did not "follow the composer’s instructions" as personal view dictated. Bekker concludes. "Toscanini’s ideal is that of the conductor as the obedient mouthpiece of the composer, nothing else." "Toscanini’s ideal" is also the ideal of Weingartner, whom we have just read on this subject, is undoubtedly the ideal of a great many performing musicians, before & since Toscanini, among whom there would be much belligerent disagreement over the mystery of what the composer wanted. "Toscaninis ideal" lacks any significance other than that performing musicians delude themselves.
WEINGARTNER, writes Bekker, "facile rather than deep, & famous for a time as an interpreter of Berlioz & Liszt, has really been an imitator of Bülow.” The sly sentence conceals one of Bekker’s most poisonous daggers. Bekker knows what very few of his American readers will know: Weingartner stands in opposition to Bülow, has written that he does, so we have read. What more efficient way to belittle a musician than to tell the reader that he is facile, really nothing more than an imitator of an older peer, & to hide from the reader what the writer knows but the reader does not know: that the alleged imitator stands in public opposition to that which he is supposed to imitate. Within the space of three paragraphs we have three specimens of Bekker’s corruption.
LET us tarry a moment with Weingartner, one of the most notable conductors of whom we have electrical recordings, all too few though they are. He dies on May 7, 1942, in Switzerland, where he has lived since the 1920s. What may be one of his last concerts, very likely one of the very last he conducts outside of Switzerland, occurs on January 31, 1940, at Budapest, when he appears with the Concert Orchestra (Konzertorchester) of that city to conduct Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished"), Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, & Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. The soloist is Guila Bustabo. The review in Pester Lloyd, the German language newspaper of Budapest, published since the nineteenth century, enthusiastically praises the conductor, who is one month & two days short of 77 years, & the soloist, who lacks 25 days of her twenty-first birthday.
BEKKER continues. "Nikisch . . . grew famous through his performances of Tchaikovsky & Bruckner; the particular sensibilities of Bruno Walter . . . have sprung from Mahler’s art. Strauss has been the unsurpassed interpreter of his own works, giving them a transparency & lightness of sound & an unpretentious simplicity which no other conductor could ever reach. There have been many others, men like Mengelberg . . . , for instance, primarily a technical educator, or Furtwängler . . . whose original musical sincerity has given way to what is really superficial virtuosity."
IN all this fog of pretentious nonsense not one word as to what each conductor contributes to the "story of the orchestra." Well, yes, there is one word, vague though it is: Mengelberg is "primarily a technical educator." We recall Bekker’s hatred of Mengelberg at Frankfurt, 24 & 25 years earlier. When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Gulag Archipelago, vol. II, p.195) describes the "young men studying at the Sorbonne or at Oxford" as "twisting & turning to find ways of distorting the insufficiently original world around them in some new way" he also describes just such a one as Paul Bekker, who was a scheming liar to boot.
ALL excepting one of the reference works that I referred to state that Bekker plays violin in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, later conducts first at Aschaffenburg & then at Görlitz, all this before he settles down as music critic in 1906 at Berlin (NEWSLETTER, #28/29, p. 3). The obituary The New York Times publishes in 1937, containing these facts, is the presumed source for all such later statements. No dates, not even a year, are quoted. One of these facts is now proved false, the other two almost certainly false. Peter Muck’s three volume history of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Einhundert Jahre Berliner Philharmonischen Orchester, 1982) does not list Bekker as a member of the orchestra. (The author is a retired violist of the BPO & a descendant of Karl Muck.) I wrote to Herr Muck, who kindly answered that he had seen no evidence in the orchestra’s archives that Bekker had ever played in the orchestra (although the archives do hold the printed concert programs that include the notes that Bekker as one-time annotator for the orchestra had written). My suspicions aroused, I wrote to the competent authorities in Görlitz & Aschaffenburg as to whether there is evidence that Bekker had conducted there sometime during the years 1904-1906 (Görlitz) & 1900-1906 (Aschaffenburg). For the specified years at Görlitz, Bekker does not appear in the opera programs, concert announcements, critical reviews, or in the city directories. In the case of Aschaffenburg there is a certain ambiguity. The reply I received misspells Bekker’s name as Becker. In my answer I pointed to the misspelling & expressed the hope that the search had been done under the correct name. I received no further reply. I assume, but do not know for a fact, that whoever conducted the search worked from my letter, written in German, in which Bekker’s name is correctly spelled in capital letters. With that ambiguity in mind, Bekker’s name for the period 1900 to 1906 does not appear in the city directories, in the city register of residents, in the collection of newspaper clippings, or in the book Stadt theater Aschaffenburg 1811-1 981 . The Encyclopedia Judaica states solely that "Bekker started his career as a violinist & conductor in his native Berlin." Perhaps the author of these words, Dr. Bathja Bayer, knows that Bekker did notconduct in the cities of A. & G.; still, he cites without comment Die Musik in Geschichte u. Gegenwart, which tells us that Bekker did. In respect of these alleged facts of Bekker’s early career, I wrote to Dr. Bayer, who did not answer.
WE close.this narrative with three questions.
What is Bekker doing during the years of World War I? Why is Bekker
named director of an opera house, first at Kassel, then at Wiesbaden?
Who misinforms The New York Times in 1937 & for what reason?
IN 1979 the Library of Congress asked that we mail the Library the NEWSLETTER. In the Spring of 1985 the Library notified us that Numbers 31, 32,&33 are missing, for which numbers we mailed replacements that the Library acknowledged receiving. The three stolen numbers (as surely they were stolen) dealt with Paul Bekker’s hate campaign & John L. Holmes’s book, Conductors on Record.
NEWSLETTER, #35, p. 4: several dates quoted
from Nippon Phonogram’s set of Compact Discs disagree with the dates cited
for the same set published in The Netherlands, Feb., 1986: BRAHMS, S.
#1 (Dec., 1940); SCHUBERT, Rosamunde (Nov., 1941) & S.
#8 (Nov., 1939) & S. #9 (Dec., 1940)
CORNELIA BAURICHIER-JONKERS sends the May issue, 1986, of Preludium, the periodical of Friends of the Concertgebouw & the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Pages 4 to 6 comprise the article "Chasa Mengelberg Restored," by Frits W. Zwart, who is in charge of the Mengelberg Archive in the Gemeentemuseum at s’-Gravenhage. Mr. Zwart writes on p. 6 that "Although the most recent restoration has changed the Chasa greatly, it was never forgotten that the house must retain its individual character. To this end the Willem Mengelberg Stiftung (which administrates Mengelberg’s estate) consulted the Swiss architect Brunner. The foregoing intention notwithstanding, it was decided, in view of the Chasa s use as a guest house [in accordance with Mengelberg’s will, to meet elementary requirements for comfort. Electricity was brought to the Chasa, & modern cooking facilities & plumbing were installed. These renovations were not part of the actual restoration, which consisted of the repair of the totally rotted balcony of the Chasa, the complete restoration of the foundation of the chapel [which M. had constructed in thankfulness that God had spared The Netherlands & Switzerland the ravages of World War I], repair of the walls of the 'Hof, & innumerable other improvements of less importance."
THE renovation & restoration will ensure that the terms of Mengelberg s will can be met in the future as in the past: "Deserving musicians of all countries, but especially Dutch musicians, should be given the opportunity to spend their vacations in the Chasa on Hof Zuort."
THE same issue of Preludium, p. 22, reports the death, April 6, of Sepha van Beinum Jansen, 89 years old, widow of Eduard van Beinum.
R. BENSON. "In case you haven’t seen it already, & considering your reference in the latest newsletter [#34] to the In Sync issue of Tchaikovsky #4 & 5, I thought you might be interested in this review by perhaps the most prestigious music critic working now in New York." Mr. Benson refers to Andrew Porter’s review in The New Yorker, May 20, 1985, pp. 93 & 94, of a performance at New York City of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, in the course of which Mr. Porter writes, "Again there was no portamento, such as Tchaikovsky would have expected & such as can be heard in Willem Mengelberg’s 1928 recording of the symphony (now reissued, in surprisingly good sound, on the In Sync cassete 4138, along with the Fourth Symphony). How would a modern audience respond to a performance as turbulent & personal as Mengelberg’s?"
PETER J. RABINOWITZ, in American Record Guide, Nov./Dec., 1987, p. 100, reviews Curtain Call CD-250 (NEWSLETTER, No. 37, p. 4). Of Rachmaninoff’s P. C. #2, "But this is one of those special cases where conductor & soloist are so attuned to each other that they can bend the music however they want with near-perfect unanimity." Of #3, the performance "is very nearly as good. Although it starts out with deceptive restraint, it turns out to be, like the Second, a whirlpool of a performance
A MEMBER sends page 75 from the French magazine Dipason, issue of July-August, 1983. A panel of 4 French critics compared 6 recordings, including Mengelberg’s, of J. C. Bach’s Symphony, Op. 18, #2. The panel comments: "The 78 rpm recording of Willem Mengelberg, conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Columbia, 1927), comprises only two movements . . . . But it is a document of the greatest possible interest, so surpassingly excellent is the interpretative style. The allegro assai is light, scintillating; the andante very songful -- lyrical to the right degree."
RADIO STATIONS WNIB, Chicago, & WNIZ, Zion, Illinois, on the weekly program "Past Masters," broadcast July 27, 1985, Beethoven's First (NYPSO); & August 17, Academic Fest. Ov. (COA), with comments of Fred Heft.
THOMAS VARLEY. "Not to seem a total curmudgeon, .1 did spring for a Compact Disc player & am quite pleased with it. The computer acronym, GIGO (Garbage In-Garbage Out) applies, but at its best it is superb, especially in chamber music & solo piano. A well made analog recording still sounds splendid on CD. I’ve found that the digital question can be regarded as emotionally as religious issues."
NEWSLETTER, No. 37, page 4: CORRECTION,
Classical Recordings Archives of America, price, in 1986, is $20.00 (not
$22.00) an hour for 4-track, 7 1/2 IPS, & for cassette; ADDITION, the
name of Mr. Yoshioka’s label is Musenkranz (Die Gruppe für
which is German for Garland of the Muses (The Group for Distributing Masterpieces).
A pleasant late summer & good listening to the members!
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #40
NEWSLETTER NO. 39/SUBSCRIPTION YEAR TWELVE
THIS NUMBER ENDS THE SUBSCRIPTION YEAR. DO NOT FORGET TO RENEW!
(PLEASE SEE PAGE FOUR, LAST PARAGRAPH.)
WE RESUME THE MENGELBERG DISCOGRAPHY,
BEGUN IN NEWSLETTER, #36, & CONTINUED IN #37.
BEETHOVEN, continued: S. #6, Op. 68. Sunday, May 17, 1936. FMB.
S.#6, Op. 68. Sunday, May 17, 1936. FMB.
S. #6. Sunday, May 22, 1938. FMB.
S. #6. Sunday, April 21, 1940. Not listed FMB. [PP].
S. #6. Wednesday, May 3, 1944. Listed Hardie, Døssing,
Zeisel, & in early lists of AVRO.
Not listed FMB. Presumably does not exist.
S. #7, Op. 92. Thursday, May 21, 1936. FMB.
S. #7. Sunday, April 16, 1939. Listed in a letter
from AVRO, 1971. Not listed FMB.
Presumably does not exist.
S. #7. Berlin, Germany? Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (Berliner Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchesterl. Listed FMB, which cites no date. Mengelberg last conducted in Germany in 1942. Information I have states that this is a concert performance of 1939. [P].
S. #7. 1939 or 1940, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (at Berlin?). It does not appear that Mengelberg conducted the BPO in the Seventh in either 1939 or 1940. If the recording is correctly attributed to Mengelberg, the orchestra probably is the Berlin Radio Symphony (which see). Not listed FMB. [P].
S. #7. Thursday, April 25, 1940. FMB. [PP].
S. #7. Saturday, May 9, 1942. A list compiled by AVRO, privately circulated, cataloging AVRO’s Mengelberg holdings as of Nov. 1, 1975, states that a recording of this date is the recording on "Phil. WL09904/Phil. D884421." Presumably meant are Dutch Philips W 09904 L & Dutch Philips D 88442L (this latter disc being the first of three in the set H-71-AX-315, entitled Onder de stenen lier, published in 1969 or 1970). The presumption is that May 9 has since been found incorrect, the correct date being April 25, 1940. Not listed FMB.
S. #8, Op. 93. Thursday, Dec. 20, 1934. Listed in
a letter from AVRO, 1971. Not listed FMB.
Presumably does not exist.
S. #8. Thursday, April 18, 1940. Not listed FMB. [PP].
S. #8. Thursday, May 13, 1943. FMB.
S. #9, Op. 125. Saturday, June 2, 1934. Performed in the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam. Van Loon states there were 12 soloists, the complete Toonkunstkoor, three other choruses, & an audience of 30,000; Paap reports a doubled solo quartet, the combined choruses of the Amsterdam oratorio societies, & 25,000 in the audience. The orchestra comprised the Residentie Orchestra from The Hague & the COA. See descriptions in Elly Bysterus Heemskerk’s Over Willem Mengelberg, pp. 71 & 72; in Otto Glastra van Loon’s Onder de stener lier, p. 92; & in Wouter Paap’s Willem Mengelberg, p. 73. The Amsterdam newspaper De Telegraaf, June 6, 1934, ochtenblad, tweede blad, the page of photographs opposite p. 3, includes a photograph of Mengelberg, at Hilversum visiting the Netherlands Radio Transmitting Equipment Company, inspecting through a microscope one of the wax masters of the recording of this concert. Does the recording still exist? Not listed FMB.
S. #9. Tuesday, May 31, 1938 (Bijster, Luger, Tulder, Ravelli, Ioonkunstkoor). FMB.
S. #9. Thursday, May 2, 1940. Same musical forces as for performance of May 31, 1938, states FMB; however, Philips for all of its issues that I have seen names Sluys (instead of Bijster) as soprano. [PP].
S. #9. Friday, May 15, 1942 (Bijster, Luger, Vroons, Ravelli, Toonkunstkoor). FMB.
S. #9. Thursday, May 13, 1943. Same forces as for performance of May 31, 1938, except that the chorus is not named. Not listed FMB, but did appear in a list compiled by AVRO in 1975. Presumably does not exist.
THIS CONCLUDES BEETHOVEN. TO BE CONTINUED.
A WILLEM MENGELBERG SOCIETY was formed on Feb. 13, 1987, in The Netherlands, by Mrs. Corry Baurichter-Jonkers, who is Secretary & Treasurer, the President being Mr. Otto Hamburg. Persons abroad can join for a yearly membership fee of 40 Dutch Guilders. The Society publishes an interesting & informative newsletter of some 20 & more pages, entitled Mededelingenblad. The address is Willem Mengelberg Vereniging; Postbus 25; 8330 AA Steenwijk; The Netherlands (can write in English).
A WILLEM MENGELBERG SOCIETY was also formed in France, January, 1987: Société Willem Mengelberg; 56 bis, rue du Louvre; 75002 Paris; France. It has published, or intended to publish a discography, based on the discographies of Dr. R. H. Hardie & Bo Døssing (NEWSLETTER #7 &18, p. 3 each) & on information published over the years in NEWSLETTER, a member having unders of the French society a complete set of NEWSLETTER.
A WILLEM MENGELBERG SOCIETY was recently formed in the Fed. Rep. of Germany, reports Mededelingeflblad, #10 (October, 1989), address as yet unknown.
J. W. NEVE, J. H. NORTH, & the Mededelingenblad (#8; May, 1989) of the Dutch Mengelberg Society all contributed to the following. A three volume set of books entitled Historie en kroniek van het Concertgebouw en Concertgebouworkest 1888-1988 (History & Chronicle of the Concertgebouw & the CO ) was published in 1989. The third volume, Discografie van het Concertgebouworkest (Discography of the CO), compiled by Jan van Bart, published by De Walburg Pers, Zaadmarkt 84a-86, Postbus 222, 7200 Ae Zutphen, The Netherlands, "is a hardback book of large format," writes Mr. Neve. "The price of the book is 35 Dutch Guilders . . .." Mengelberg made 93 recordings, van Beinum 111, Haitink 177, W. M., in 1926, being the first to record with the orchestra. Jochum first recorded with the COA in June, 1943, von Karajan his last time in September of that same year. Why did Mengelberg fail to make commercial recordings after 1942, even though his contract with Telefunken was still in force?
MONROE KAUFMAN, 3210 Oleander Way, Pompano Beach, Florida 33062, is preparing a list of several thousand records, including "an extensive collection of W. M. recordings on 78 & 33, mostly in pristine condition," which he will sell by mail auction. For his list, write to address above.
T. VARLEY. "I have several of the Philips CD series [Newsletter, #35, p. 4], primarily upgrading in terms of favorite items I had on LP (Mahler 4, priceless), Franck Symphony, Don Juan, Beethoven 6, 7 & 8. The only performance that was new to me is the Brahms First & I’m awfully glad this didn’t serve as my introduction to Mengelberg. I’m afraid I found all the gear shifts & other idiosyncrasies a bit much, especially in comparison with the Furtwängler performance released by DG about the same time. The Mengelberg does include the Schubert Rosamunde excerpts which are lovingly done."
HELEN A. KERSHAW. "In my humble opinion (not
worth the head of a pin) Mengelberg recordings are 'The Apex & not
to be compared with others. Seem to stand above & by themselves.
Noble & ear-arresting all the way through. Have played them for
some who never heard of him & they were all ears & in agreement.
So heartfelt. What an imagination he had & the ability to bring
out the best in the players."
MISS KERSHAW sends Richard Dyer’s review (Boston Globe, Oct. 2, 1985) of the visit, Sept. 30, to Boston of Bernard Haitink & the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Mr. Dyer begins his review by recalling the past. "Nearly 60 years ago [May, 1926], the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam made the first recording of the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony under the direction of Willem Mengelberg, a disc that was probably the first significant recording of any of Mahler’s symphonic work.
"On Monday night the orchestra visited Symphony Hall & played the Mahler Fifth. The Adagietto, under the direction of Bernard Haitink, was sublime - & very different from that earlier sublime performance, a Mahler of our time rather than the Mahler of several generations ago. Haitink’s tempo was much less elastic than Mengelberg’s; the strings, working virtually without portamento, played in a completely changed style that probably would have sounded very strange to Mahler."
KENNETH DeKAY. "Tell Mr. Neve [NEWSLETTER, #35, p. 3] that the second edition of Past Masters 4 contains W. M.’s recording of the Overture to Der Freischütz along with Dvorak No. 9 (5) & Borodin’s Steppes. But the original edition of PM-4 contained only the Dvorak & in much poorer sound."
JAMES H. NORTH, writing in Fanfare, May/June,
1989, p. 413, reviews Michael G. Thomas’s set “Concertgebouw, 100 Years"
(NEWSLETTER, #37, p. 4), which "is absolutely essential for Mengelberg
buffs & is heartily recommended to everyone else. "Mr. North, on information
from Mr. Thomas, cites a date of Thursday, March 18, 1943, for the recording,
which comes from AVRO, of the Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan
("performance absolutely beautiful"). The recording of the Overture
to the Magic Flute is late 1943 or early 1944, believes Mr. Thomas;
but N. P. H. Steffen, in a letter to me, 1975, gives a date of march 5,
1942, which is also the date FMB quotes.
J. H. NORTH. "The brief biographies of soloists are very welcome [NEWSLETTER, #36, p. 4], but your sources seem pretty old? [One was Riemann Musiklexikon, 1959, & the supplement thereto, 1972; another, G. S. de Bossan’s Nederlandsche Zangeressen, 1941; & Kutsch & Riemen’s Unvergängliche Stimmen, 1975; probably also the New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, 1980, & the Seventh Edition, 1984, of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. I may have unaccountably let some facts fall by the wayside.] Herman Krebbers was, of course, concertmaster of the Concertgebouw for many years--retiring only a few years ago. So interesting to compare his Brahms concerto with WM & his newer one (by several decades!) with Haitink! He recorded several concerti with the Concertgebouw, but most were released only in Holland. He is listed as concertmaster in a 1973 program I am looking at, but is no longer in the 1982-1983 season brochure. [See Mr. Goldfarb’s letter, which follows.]
"Hubert Barwahser recorded with van Beinum & Concertgebouw, was he also not first flute with them in that era? I can’t find any old programs at the moment that far back." (Yes, he was first flutist of the COA, under van Beinum & later under Haitink.)
L. I. GOLDFARB. "I am just now in receipt
of a letter dated 26 January, 1987 from Maartje van Doodeward, assistant
external affairs, Concertgebouworkest, in which it is stated:
“‘. . . we can inform you that Mr. Herman Krebbers has been concertmaster of the Concertgebouw from 1-9-1962 till 1-9-1980. " (I understand the dates to mean September 1, not January 9, 1962 & 1980.)
K. E. GWIASDA. "On a recent broadcast of 'The Record Shelf, a program from Los Angeles, the show’s host did a survey of Mengelberg’s career, with excerpts from several recordings. Perhaps you came upon this program yourself through an FM station in your area. Actually, I was able to listen to only about half of the program, but it seemed a reasonably good capsule commentary on Mengelbergs art."
S. BUSH. "Mengelberg has enjoyed quite
a high profile in the U. K. these past six months or so. First we
had the issue of the Philips Compact Disc series [NEWSLETTER, #35,
p. 4] which was given much prominence in 'Gramophone & reviewed
in the leading newspapers.
"Then, during October , B. B. C. Radio 3 broadcast the entire Beethoven cycle at a peak Saturday listening time under the heading 'Mengelberg’s Beethoven. "
G. LOCKE (a former member who rejoined the Society). "Dunno exactly how I fell by the wayside in the first place. All I remember is that your very enjoyable newsletters stopped coming all of a sudden, & I suppose that after a while I simply assumed that the Mengelberg Society had ceased operations, as have so many other conductor-oriented societies over the years." (THE NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED IRREGULARLY, IN PART BECAUSE OF OTHER OBLIGATIONS, IN PART BECAUSE MOST ISSUES REQUIRE MUCH RESEARCH, NO DETAILED & AUTHORITATIVE BIOGRAPHY OF MENGELBERG HAVING YET BEEN PUBLISHED. WE SHALL ENDEAVOR TO BE MORE REGULAR IN THE FUTURE. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A NEWSLETTER AFTER A LAPSE OF SOME MONTHS, PLEASE WRITE TO US. WE SHALL ANSWER.)
K. DeKAY. "But I do have a suggestion
to make which would certainly make life easier for me though it might make
a bit more work for you. In your new discography [NEWSLETTER, #36],
or whatever you choose to call it, could you not give some identification
for those items labeled 'P,’ i. e. at least some identification to its
issuance, whether on tape or disc & by whom. . . ."
As to the Bach 'Air' [NEWSLETTER, #36, p. 2], I wonder if someone did not get confused with the re-issue on Camden of the Mahler arrangement which W. M. did record with the N. Y. Phil.?" (Entirely possible. The report may also be a hoax.)
ACCOMPANYING Mr. DeKay’s letter are several pages photocopied from Ferruccio Busoni: Letters to His Wife, translated by Rosamund Ley, published at London by Edward Arnold & Co., presumably in the 1970s. His letter dated Utrecht, Dec. 15, 1900 (p. 430), "I lunched with Mengelberg. His orchestra is now one of the best in Europe. I expressed the wish to come often. He thought it would always be difficult to combine the six towns, so I suggested that on my frequent journeys through to London I should play regularly, but only in Amsterdam. He was very pleased about it" ."
FROM Rotterdam, five days later (p. 44), "With the cooperation of Mengelberg & his orchestra it was quite delightful in Arnhem, Haarlem. I have won the friendship of all these people. Yesterday Mengelberg made a warm speech about the 'Great Master [meaning Busoni] . . . .’
J. W. NEVE. "The other evening I played my 78s of Richard Strauss‘s Don Juan on Telefunken SK 2743-4. They really sounded splendid, both performance & recording are better than the live performance on Philips LP W09908L. I also have Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet recorded 8 years earlier on Columbia LX 55-6, although my copies are in good condition the background hiss is pretty intolerable, but I have the LP transfer. I have never heard a performance of this work which I prefer to Mengelberg’s."
G. J. ZWART thoughtfully informs us that ELLY BYSTERUS HEEMSKERK, born November 24, 1889, died in October, 1987. Miss Heemskerk was a violinist, first playing under Mengelberg in the concerts of the Amsterdam choral association called the Cecilia Society, later also as a member of the Concertgebouw O. for those concerts requiring an augmented violin section, then in the Summer of 1914 was made a full member of the first violin section of the orchestra, where she remained until her retirement sometime after Mengelberg’s death, March 22, 1951. She knew Mengelberg & his wife, Mathilde Wubbe, very well, was a frequent guest. at the Chasa, M.’s Summer house in Switzerland. She was the author of Over Willem Mengelberg (On W.M.), published at Amsterdam by Uitgeverij Heuff, 1971, from which I have quoted frequently over the years. Miss Heemskerk was fiery. She once scolded me thoroughly for my having quoted from her book without first having asked her editor for permission. She also wrote the essay "Willem Mengelberg," printed as one chapter, pp. 146-155, in the book Diener der Musik (Servants of Music), published in 1956 by Rainer Wunderlich Verlag, Fed. Rep. of Germany.
E. KASKEY. "Did you see the first issue of the Christian Science Monitor’s new magazine --WORLD MONITOR? They had an interesting article on the Concertgebouw Orchestra & its various conductors, including a goodly portion devoted to Mengelberg & their new leader." The issue to which Mr. Kaskey refers appeared sometime in 1988.
THESE are the American catalog numbers of the
10 Teldec Compact Discs, drawn from the recordings W. M. made for Telefunken
in the 1930s & 1940s. Except in one instance, the orchestra is
always the COA. The disc numbers are the same also for France &
The Netherlands. BEETHOVEN, S. #5
& 8, Teldec 243 725-2; & S. #6 (with Overture to
Wagner’s Meistersinger v. N.), 243 728-2;
BRAHMS, S. #2 & Tragic O. , 243 722-2; & S. #4 (with R. Strauss’s Don Juan), 243 724-2;
DVORÁK, S. #9, 243 731-2;
R. STRAUSS, Ein Heldenleben, 243 729-2;
TCHAIKOVSKY, P. C. #1 (Conrad Hansen) & Serenade for Strings, 243 726-2; S. #5 (Berlin Phil. Orch.!), 243 727-2; & S. #6 (the earlier recording, 1937) & Overture 1812, 243 730-2; &
DUTCH MUSIC, on 243 723-2 all of the Dutch pieces M. recorded for Telefunken: ANONYMOUS, Het Wilhelmus; H. ANDRIESSEN, Magna res est amor; C. DOPPER, Gothic Chaconne; R. MENGELBERG (Willem’s nephew), Salve Regina (Jo Vincent, soprano); J. ROENTGEN, Old Dutch Dances, #5 & 6; A. VALERIUS, Wilt heden nu treden; & J. van WAGENAAR, Overture, Cyrano de Bergerac.
The 10 CDs were introduced in the United States about Decerpber, 1988.
PETER DeVERE. "Re your Newsletter #32 [p. 6] & the Telefunken ad: You're not seriously asking about the use of the title 'Professor, I’m sure?! It wouldn’t have to have a thing to do with any actual degrees. In German-speaking countries, the title 'Professor’ was inevitably attached to conductors, whether or not they had the degree, in the same manner as 'Maestro’ is used in this country (whether or not the conductor is a boob)."
IN his book Leopold Stokowski, A Profile, 1979, Abram Chasms writes on page 24 that "In those days [before World War I], competition raged furiously at the schools of orchestra conducting. Everyone wanted to study with the world’s paramount maestros: Hans von Bülow, Nikisch, & Mahler. Their classes abounded with a brilliant array of young students who soon took the world’s great cities by storm & became stars of the first magnitude, among them Muck, Furwangler, Boult, Thomas Beecham, Otto Kiemperer, Mengelberg, & Walter." (Mengelberg was never the student of von Bülow, Nikisch, or Mahler.)
CORRECTIONS & ADDITIONS to NEWSLETTER, #37: PAGE 3, my listing of the contents of Mr. Yoshioka’s record GMV-4 stated incorrectly that it includes an interview of Mengelberg, Munich, Germany, 1935; the interview is entirely in Dutch; I assume it is the interview, broadcast in The Netherlands, of January 14, 1935; PAGE 4, paragraph 2, the correct number of the British EMI Compact Disc is CDH7 69956-2; in the United States the same CD is Angel CDH-69956, "Mengelberg & the Concertgebouw: First Recordings, 1926-1931"; PAGE 4, the Compact Disc CD-270, which Michael G. Thomas advertised, is an issue of Music & Arts Programs of America (P. 0. Box 771; Berkeley, Calif. 94701), published in 1988, $15.95 at home, $16.95 abroad, postage for surface mail included; PAGE 4, the name of the label of the 2 disc set AD. 103/4 is Archive Documents, which is Mr. Thomas s own undertaking.
WITH THIS NUMBER ENDS SUBSCRIPTION YEAR 12, WHICH COMPRISED #37 (June 30, 1989, BUT MAILED July 26, 1989, OWING TO THE PRINTER S HAVING KEPT THE TEXT FOR ONE MONTH), #38 (August 24, 1989), & #39, WHICH YOU NOW READ. THE COST OF MEMBERSHIP FOR SUBSCRIPTION YEAR 13, which will comprise four issues rather than the customary three, IS $5.25 FOR MEMBERS IN THE UNITED STATES; FOR MEMBERS ABROAD, $6.00 (SURFACE MAIL) OR $7.00 (AIR MAIL). BACK ISSUES OF NEWSLETTER ARE AVAILABLE AT THESE PRICES: NOS. 1 to 8 & 24 & HIGHER ARE $1.50 EACH; NOS. 9 to 23 ARE $2.00 EACH; THESE PRICES INCLUDE POSTAGE FOR SURFACE MAIL TO ANY ADDRESS, HOME OR ABROAD. MANY NUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY AS PHOTOCOPIES. WE GREATLY APPRECIATE THE MEMBERS CONTINUED & FAITHFUL SUPPORT. WE HOPE TO PUBLISH FOUR ISSUES EACH CALENDAR YEAR.
Good listening & a pleasant Fall wished to the members.
Go to Newsletter: #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39
NEWSLETTER, NO. 40 SUBSCRIPTION YEAR THIRTEEN
WE RESUME THE MENGELBERG DISCOGRAPHY,
BEGUN IN NEWSLETTER, #36, & CONTINUED IN #37 & #39.
HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14, Second Movement: Un bal. Sunday, January 16, 1938, London, British Broadcasting Corporation.Symphony Orchestra. Disc acetate recording. Letter of Harry Goldstone, London, published in the British monthly Gramophone, Feb., 1973, p. 1612, “. . . I know of acetate recordings of his [Mengelberg’s] performance with the [B.B.C. Symphony] Orchestra, on January 18, 1938, in which he played the Overture, Nocturne & Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Included in this small complex of musical history is the opening section of 'Un Bal’ from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique." Both Døssing & Zeisel state that the B.B.C. holds the recording; & both imply that the entire Second Movement is recorded, whereas all information I have suggests that, in agreement with Mr. Goldstone’s letter, the recording comprises only about the first 3 1/2 minutes of the movement. I have from the B.B.C. a letter stating that it holds no air checks of Mengelberg conducting the B.B.C. S. O.: see NEWSLETTER, #9, pp. 1 & 2. For reason of Mr. Goldstone’s letter, the date commonly attributed to the performance is January 18. The Times, London, Jan. 15, 1938, p. 6, reports that Mengelberg, in a radio broadcast concert, London, B.B.C. Regional Service, 6:30-7:50 p.m., "B.B.C. Orchestra (Section B)," January 16, will conduct the orchestra in this symphony & in three parts from Mendelssohn’s MSND (which see). Not listed FMB.
ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959)
ALEXANDER BORODIN (1834-1887)
HENRIËTTE BOSMANS (1895-1952)
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
A German Requiem, Op. 45. Thursday, November 7, 1940 (Vincent, Kloos, Toonkunstkoor). FMB. [PP].
S. #1, Op. 68. Sunday, October 13, 1940. FMB cites date of Oct. 30, 1940, which Steffen corrects to Oct. 13. [PP]: but see the next Entry, dated Dec., 1940.
S. #1. December, 1940. A publicity release of Dutch Philips dated Feb. 17, 1986, announces the publication of this recording on Compact Disc (CD 4162 102-0293). Is this the correct date for all previous issues of the Brahms First on Philips? (See Entry dated Oct. 13, 1940.) [PP]. Not listed FMB.
S. #1. Tuesday, April 13, 1943. FMB.
S. #3, Op. 90. Sunday, Feb. 27, 1944. FMB.
THIS CONCLUDES BRAHMS &nbs p; TO BE CONTINUED.
FRANK FORMAN, 6923 Clarendon Road, Apt. 316;
Bethesda, Maryland 20814, offers to make a tape recording of Beethoven’s
Violin Concerto (Bustabo/Mengelberg/COA; May 6, 1943), of which
he has, he writes, a very good copy. "Until someone re-engineers
this from the original 16" master transcription discs, this will be the
best possible sound. Please tell your readers that I will be happy
to supply them with a copy of this tape, provided they are willing to make
a tape for me in return & specify what they have to offer."
THERE is doubt among some collectors as to the authenticity of the performance ascribed to Wilhelm Backhaus & the Breslau Radio Symphony Orch., conducted by Mengelberg, of Liszt’s Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Tunes (NEWSLETTER, #37 & 40, both p. 3). On the Japanese disc, GMV-4, a woman, speaking in Dutch, apparently over Dutch radio, attributes the performance to the aforesaid forces. Mr. Forman writes. "You ask why I am dubious about the attribution to Backhaus & Mengelberg over Dutch National Radio. . . . The conducting is just too lifeless for Mengelberg. Nor does the pianist suggest Backhaus, whose recordings I also assiduously collect & have all but about five acoustics & five electric sides. There are three other Mengelberg collectors who are also dubious. I suspect that the tape or other source material got mislabeled. These things have been known to happen."
R. BENSON. "Reviews of the Teldec CD’s [NEWSLETTER, #37, pp. 3 & 4, & #39, p. 4]. where the reviewer had original 78's in good condition to compare, have been quite critical of the quality of the technical work done by Teldec. Regrettably, this has been generally true of much (but not all) of the transfers of collector’s items to CD. The usual cause seems to involve insufficient care in obtaining the best possible available source material & somewhat less than state of the art processing."
WORLD CLASSIC in 1988 published Compact Disc 44012, comprising Beethoven’s Fourth & Fifth Symphonies. The Fourth is the recording that W. M. & the COA made for Telefunken, Dec. 1 & 2, 1938 (SK 2794/7). The Fifth is attributed to the Berlin Philharmonic Orch., conducted by Richard Strauss. (Is this a mistake? R. S. recorded for Polydor in the 1920s the Fifth, conducting the Berlin State Opera Orch.) The CD is sold in Amsterdam for about 7 Dutch Guilders, or some $3.40! The foregoing is published in the July issue, #9, 1989, of Mededelingenbiad of the Dutch Willem Mengelberg Society, & owes to ROB KRUIJT, who describes the sound of the CD as "tolerable" (redelijk). Does a reader know where World Classic has its home?
PROFESSOR Egon Gartenberg, in his book Mahler:
The Man & His Music (Schirmer, 1978), pp. 123 & 124, describes
a charming event of Sunday, Oct. 23, 1904, in the Concertgebouw. "First,
Mahler conducted the work [his S. #4]; then after the intermission,
Mengelberg followed suit, with Mahler sitting in his box listening to Mengelberg’s
interpretation. " Professor Gartenberg continues. "This raises an interesting
question, recently touched on in an article by Harold C. Schonberg [N.
Y. Times, Sept. 16, 1973; Section 2, p. 17]. Contrary to recent
remarks of Henri [Henry] Louis de la Grange, witnesses’ comments lead us
to believe that Mahler was constantly conscious of tempo continuity &
would not have approved of Mengelberg’s exaggerated ritenutos, which Harold
Schonberg observed in a Mengelberg recording [on Philips] of the Fourth
Symphony. We therefore wondered whether, at the above mentioned performance,
Mahler endured Mengelberg’s distorted dynamics with inward cringing or
whether he was carried away by the magic of the occasion. Mahler’s
report to Alma seems to express his delight-- with the audience, at least,
if not with Mengelberg."
PROFESSOR Gartenberg blunders twice, one blunder being fatal to his intention. His minor error is to rely on Mr. Schonberg’s rash speculation, which we reported & answered in NEWSLETTER, #10 & #12, each pp. 1 & 2. Professor Gartenberg’s fatal error is to hang his polemic on an event that never occurred. The truth is that Mengelberg, having in mind the didactic value of repetition, suggests to Mahler that he, Mahler, should conduct the Fourth twice in the same concert, which suggestion the composer follows on that Oct. 23. At the time Mr. Gartenberg wrote his book he was Associate Professor of Music History, Pennsylvania State University, Commonwealth Campus. A man’s title is no proof of his competence.
THE false story includes the delicious detail of Mahler s telling his wife that when Mengelberg conducted the work it was as if he himself had been on the podium! Wouter Paap, whom the story also deceived, tells it as fact on p. 51 of his book Willem Mengelberg (Amsterdam: Elsevier,1960).
IN the course of a review (Journal of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, #3 for 1984, p. 66) John D. Wiser tells his readers that Mengelberg recorded Tchaikovsky’s Sixth for Columbia. We wish he had; Mr. Wiser confuses the Fourth with the Sixth. In the same review Mr. Wiser writes of "Mengelberg freaks." Who these freaks are, Mr. Wiser fails to say. Had he expanded on this theme, he would have told us wisely that one "Mengelberg freak" is Edvard Grieg, who in the concert of Sunday, Feb. 14, 1897, excitedly stands up in the Concertgebouw to express his enthusiasm, whereafter he invites Mengelberg & the COA to the music festival at Bergen, Norway, June, 1898. Another "Mengelberg freak" is Richard Strauss, who dedicates Ein Heldenleben to M. & the COA. A third "Mengelberg freak" is Sergei Rachmaninoff, who dedicates to M. & the COA his Choral Symphony, "The Bells." A fourth "Mengelberg freak" is Alfredo Casella, who dedicates to Mengelberg his Suite from La Giara (The Jar). And a fifth "Mengelberg freak" is Arturo Toscanini, who, season after season, score in hand, secretly attends Mengelberg’s rehearsals in Carnegie Hall (NEWSLETTER, #15, p. 1). "Mengelberg freaks" keep very good company.
IN NEWSLETTER, #37, p. 3, we wrote of the "mystery of the Double Review" in the magazine Fanfare. A correspondent thoughtfully informs us that Fanfare "fairly often" does publish two opposing reviews of the same record. Mortimer H. Frank, who wrote the first review, vehement in denunciation, has since in Fanfare written favorably of Mengelberg, March/April, 1989, pp. 32 & on, where he reviews the recent issue on 10 Teldec Compact Discs of a large quantity of M.’s Telefunken recordings (NEWSLETTER, #37, pp. 3 & 4). The Overture 1812 "is magnificent: . . . it is the only recording of this potboiler I know that succeeds in making it sound like music." "The Don Juan (1938) is spectacular: colorful, vibrant, & in every way thrilling. . . .” Mr. Frank concludes, "Whatever Willem Mengelberg’s eccentricities, the raw, assertive insistence of his individuality stamps his art with an expressive uniqueness that would add spice to the blandness of much of what we are hearing today." His recent sentiments notwithstanding, Mr. Frank, who is Curator of the Toscanini Collection in Wave Hill Museum, N. Y. City, should never have been chosen to write the first review; & he, having been chosen, should have declined to submit his review for publication, once he understood that he lacked the required sympathy. Has Fanfare in the past also published two opposing reviews of a Toscanini issue, the first bitter in attack & written by a known Mengelberg enthusiast, the other brimming with warm praise? If it has, we shall gladly withdraw our objection.
MICHAEL G. Thomas, 54 Lymington Rd.; London
NW6 1JB; England, advertises in Gramophone, Nov., 1989, p. 1045,
a 2 disc set of LPs, "limited edition," Archive Documents AD. 105/6, "Mengelberg
in New York," comprising Ernest Schelling’s Victory Ball; orchestral
suite, arranged by Göhler, from Handel’s Alcina; Beethoven’s
S. #1; Tchaikovsky’s Marche slav; Beethove’s P. C. #5,
"Emperor" (Cor de Groot, COA), concert performance of May 9, 1942; &
Liszt’s Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Tunes (Backhaus, Breslau Radio
Symphony Orchestra), date unknown to me.
The N. Y. Phil. O. plays the Schelling & Tchaikovsky, the N. Y. Phil .-Symph. O. the Handel & Beethoven First . The first three pieces were recorded for American Victor, the fourth for American Brunswick. This apparently is the first appearance of the Beethoven P.C. ; the recording is supposed to be incomplete, the timing for it being either 24 1/2 or 34 1/2 minutes, the advertisement silent as to completeness. The set costs £13.50, plus £2.50 for surface mail abroad.
T. SHITAMOTO. "By the way, Japanese Philips
has plan to issue two CD’s of Mengelberg of the following items on January
25, 1990. PCD-8026, Bartok s Concerto #2 for Violin & Orch. (Zoltän
Székely/COA), world premiere, March 23, 1939; & PCD-8030, Mahler’s
S. #4 (Vincent/COA) concert performance of Nov. 9, 1939. These are
Philips Legendary Classics. 'Philips have remastered the recording using
the new NO NOISE digital noise reduction system.’" The system presumably
is that marketed by Sonic Solutions, San Francisco, California; the American
monthly Audio published an explanation of it, March, 1989, pp. 54-60.
MR. SHITAMOTO writes that in Japan these past 2-3 years prices have risen extraordinarily for imported early long playing records. Of the early Dutch issues of the Philips series of Mengelberg’s concert performances, Beethoven’s S. #6 (W 09903 L) & S. #4 (W 09902 L) sell for Yen 40,000 each, which at present exchange rates is between $270 & $280. (Since 1965, the Yen has risen in value about 2 1/2 times against the Dollar.)
JAMES H. NORTH, writing in Fanfare, July/August, 1989, pp. 329-332, reviews four Compact Discs in the series "Composer’s Voice," on the Colophon label. Colophon CV CD 4 includes two concert performances of the COA under W. M.: Julius Roentgen’s Six Dutch Dances, Nov. 10, 1940; & Johan Wagenaar’s The Taming of the Shrew, Overture, Oct. 10, 1940. Mr. North writes, "The two Mengelberg items sound far better than their previous incarnation, in MRF-74 [NEWSLETTER, #12, p. 3]." These Colophon CDs are distributed in the United States by Records International; P. O. Box 1140; Goleta, Calif. 93116-1140. Their source is Donemus; Paulus Potterstraat 14; 1071 CZ Amsterdam; The Netherlands.
SEVERAL years ago issues of American Record Guide notified readers that the magazine "is always interested in expanding its board of reviewers." Perhaps it still is. If you believe that you have something to say--& who does not?--,write to Editor; American Record Guide; 4412 Braddock St.; Cincinnati, Ohio 45204.
THE Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.) published three articles pertaining to Mengelberg: Berthold Türcke, "The Schoenberg-Mengelberg Correspondance" (Nov., 1982; pp. 181 237); Gene Carl, "The Willem Mengelberg Archives in the Hague"(Nov., 1982; pp. 175 179), article confined to holdings pertinent to Schoenberg; & Berthold Türcke, “The Mahler Society: A Project of Schoenberg & Mengelberg" (June, 1983; pp. 29-92).
MUSIC & Arts Programs of America has abandoned plans to publish the second album of Mengelberg concert performances on Curtain Call, mentioned in NEWSLETTER, #35, p. 4.
THESE two members, present address unknown,
had their NEWSLETTER , #37, returned to the Society:
GEORGE A. LOCKE, Attorney at Law: last known address is San Francisco, Calif.; &
ANDREW B. McALLISTER: last known address is Chicago, Ill.
Does a reader know their present addresses?
A MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY SINCE ITS FOUNDING IN 1971.
THE VILE PRINTER! Early last year we discovered a mail order firm that does offset printing very cheaply. June 22, 1989, we mailed to the firm the text for Issue No. 37 of NEWSLETTER. The completed order, which we expected to receive not more than 10 days later, the firm advertising that it ships most orders within 7 working days, we did not receive until July 25. By that time we had written to the firm, to the government of the the village in which the firm is resident, attempted numerous times to telephone the firm (number always busy), & had filed a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection & Citizen Advocacy, State of Wisconsin. The Office attended to our complaint with dispatch. The firm is THRIFTY PRINTS, INC.; 103 HOTEL ST.; BROOKLYN, WIS. 53521. The registered agent for the firm is RAY E. SANDER. Not only did the firm deliver our order very late, but it also neglected until August 21 to return to us the photomechanical, or artwork, on which is printed the masthead of NEWSLETTER; not only very very late, we received the photomechanical deliberately damaged beyond further use. Mr. Sander in his reply to the Office wrote: "We stated in last letter that the garbage [photomechanical] was too large, & was cut to size. no cruel intent, what reason would we have & want to do that." Mr. Sander asks the question, & he alone knows the answer.
ADDITIONS & CORRECTIONS. NEWSLETTER, #37,
p. 3, paragraphs 4 & 5: Mr. Shitamoto has kindly furnished the record
number, M 1005, for Schubert’s s. #9; the firm for M-1004 & M-1005
is Ken Records, Tokyo, Japan. NEWSLETTER, #39, p. 1, the recording
of S. #6, May 17, 1936, is listed twice, the second entry being redundant;
into the entry for S. #9, June 2, 1934, the following should be incorporated:
Heemskerk’s book, pp. 71 & 73, includes a brief description of the
concert, & on p. 72 a photograph of M. rehearsing in Olympic Stadium;
p. 2, paragraph one, the final sentence is incomplete & should read,
"You can write in English"; p. 3, the page from the book of Busoni’s letters
is not number 430, but 43.
BACK ISSUES OF NEWSLETTER ARE AVAILABLE AT THESE RICES: NOS. 1 to 8 & 24 & HIGHER ARE $1.50 EACH; NOS. 9 to 23 ARE $2.00 EACH: THESE PRICES INCLUDE POSTAGE FOR SURFACE MAIL TO ANY ADDRESS, HOME OR ABROAD. MANY NUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY AS PHOTOCOPIES.
Good listening & a pleasant new year wished to members.
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