MUSIC AND MARS
MUSIC and war have been mixed up from the year one and centuries before it. In the old days there never was a real war without trumpets and timbrels and tocsins. In most modern wars of the British Empire the bagpipes have always been more useful in certain emergencies than rifles or artillery. Musicians themselves, who create the harmonies of the world, have always been more or less in a state of war even down to our own day and place of living.
Yet here is the greatest war of all time, starting as any sane person knows right in the two chief music centres of the world, Berlin and Vienna, petering out to a grim, musicless struggle that up to the present has inspired no composer to write, and has even made the mouth-organ in the trenches take the place of the regimental band.
Had the German war-makers been firstclass show-men they would have seen to
it that Kultur when he started on the rampage had miles of great bands, symphony orchestras mounted on motor-cars, legions of trumpeters on horseback and a great motor-chariot surmounted by conquering effigies of Wagner, Strauss, Schoenberg, and the Kaiser. The grand parade should have started from the Royal Opera in Berlin amid the blare of ten thousand instruments and the bombardment of titanic drums.
In Frederick Palmer’s vivid description of the German host marching through Brussels, August, 1914, we are told that the Germans sang by the thousands as they marched. And there were great bands in that grand circus parade of the German army, even at the fall of Antwerp into which the triumphal entry of the Germans suggested the seven-days’ march of the horn-players that caused the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. That was all in the beginning. The music, even the rhythm, has gone out of war. Trenches and siege guns have made a musical war impossible.
H OWEVER, nothing in civili zation has been quite so powerfully affected by this war as music. A year ago the world that buys and sells and creates music was clean topsy-turvy over the outbreak of war. Since mod ern music emerged from its cradle under old Bach in Ger many and Palestrina in Italy, there has never been such a dras tic upheaval among music mak ers. The war began in the mid dle of the music vacation, when most of the artists under con tract to amuse America were right in the war zone. Men and women, as well or better known in America than in Europe, sud denly found themselves cut off from their customary circuits.
Several Canadian music students were in Germany and Austria. Some of them are still there—interned; at least two from Toronto, native Canadians, one of them, Mr. Enoch MacMillan, a clever young organist and piano student, who, so far as is known, is still interned. Mr. Lissant Beardmore, of Toronto, who for three years had been studying and singing opera in Europe and was performing in Berlin when the war broke out, escaped— as he himself narrated in the pages of MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE —through a series of adventures that would have made the libretto for a good musical melodrama. Walter Kirschbaum,
solo pianist and teacher, whose contract with the Canadian Academy of Music had still a year to run, was in his native city, Vienna, on a vacation. He was a reservist and so far as is known is now in the commissariat of the Austrian army. Dr. Fred Nicolai, cellist in the Toronto String Quartette, got the war fever almost as soon as his native country, Belgium, began to be ravaged by the Germans. He went back to the colors. At last accounts he was driving a huge motor-truck in the mechanical transport section of the Belgian army. Mr. Ernest Seitz, who before the war broke out had been scheduled to play a series of piano recitals with big orchestras in the music centres of Europe, by good luck happened to be at home in Toronto. But by the bad management of the Kaiser he was cheated out of his European premiere and turning necessity to good account put on his premiere in his native city and has since taken a post on the piano staff of the Toronto Conservatory of Music. His tutor, Lhevinne, the Russian piano artist and pedagogue reached New York after the outbreak of war. For reasons best known to himself he went back to Berlin where his studio was idle and where for years he has been one of the notabilities in the musical metropolis of Europe. He is now forbidden to leave Germany, though he is not interned, and is permitted to teach and to play in public.
'T'HESE are a few of the immediate T effects of the war upon the musical life of Canada. They are but illustrations, many more of which might be given, of the extent to which this country during
the past decade or so has become dependent upon Euiope. Scores of students who ordinarily would have gone or returned to Germany and Paris to complete their education or to perform in public, have been forced to remain in Canada or go to the United States. On the other hand artists who had been regularly employed in European cities with studios open the year round, found it advisable owing to war conditions to migrate to Amei'ica—some of them to this country. Mr. Elliott Haslam, who many years ago was a leading vocal teacher and chorusmaster in Toronto, and afterwards opened a studio in New York and Paris, decided a year ago to return to Toronto, where he has organized the Toronto Operatic Society and expects to become a permanent figure in the art life of Canada. Signor Carboni, operatic coach and voice trainer in Paris with Canadian pupils in his studio, found Paris unfavorable to his vocation when the opera houses were suddenly closed. He crossed to New York and afterwards came on to Toronto. He is now at the head of the vocal department in the Hambourg Conservatory and is organizing material for the production of operas in Toronto for the coming season.
What has happened in these instances in Toronto has been no less true of Montreal, Winnipeg, and other music centres of Canada. It is an odd story of dislocation. The war shoojk us pretty well out of our customary musical boots and forced upon us new methods, new programmes, new people. What we have temporarily lost by the internment of Canadian musicians and the interruption of post-graduate musical studies abroad, we have in a large measure gained by the advent of artists who will remain here, still further accenting the cosmopolitan character of musical art in this country.
Less romantically but not less effectively the war has taken hold of our Canadian musical organizations. From the choral societies in Toronto alone upwards of a hundred non-professional music-makers have gone into khaki. The list, which is only approximate, includes over twenty singers from each of the four musical societies, the Mendelssohn Choir, the National Chorus, the Toronto Oratorio Society, and the Schubert Choir. For years now these societies have been singing patriotic and national works that reflect the history, the wars and the national life of England. They are now expressing their patriotism with the rifle and the bayonet, in the trenches, in the camps of England, in camps here.
Patriotic works sung by these various organizations for the past ten years and now recalled in all their
motley bearing on the present war, include many notable works from English composers—especially Elgar who has written more directly in that vein than all the other present-day English composers combined. Four years ago the Mendelssohn Choir gave a first performance in Canada of the big historical cantata, “Caractacus,” one of the three biggest works of Elgar. At that time the newspapers were full of talk about the realistic war play, “An Englishman’s Home,” which depicted what would happen if Germany were to invade England. The uplifting chorales of “Caractacus,” picturing the early struggles of the Britons against the Roman conquerors almost ironically illustrated the outlook portrayed in “An Englishman’s Home.” The effect upon the audience was startling. It is a pity this same work could not be given entire this year by the Mendelssohn Choir which last season did consent to repeat a few extracts, but without an orchestra.
Other Elgar works in similar strain have been given by both the Mendelssohn Choir and the National Chorus. In every case the object was largely patriotic.
People were supposed to be more or less thrilled by national sentiments expressed in a big musical way. I remember that one of the best examples of this was the first production by the National Chorus about seven years ago of “What is the Flag of England?” words by Kipling, music by Elgar. Some of the men who sang that work, along with some of those who sang “Caractacus,” are now finding out in a very practical way what it means to uphold the flag of England against a far worse foe than the Roman legions who invaded England in the days of Boadicea.
Similarly, last season the Toronto Oratorio Society gave a first performance of “England, My England,” poem by Henley, music by Healey Willan, English composer in Toronto. That was done as a direct comment upon the war. A few weeks later the Schubert Choir performed “The Last Post,” a descriptive military piece by Villiers Stanford. Some of the men who sang these two pieces also are proving what the last post feels like in the camps of “England, my England.” Less directly but quite as interestingly, it will be recalled that for years back the choral societies of this country have been producing works from the composers of all Europe—French, Russian, German, Italian, Austrian, Belgian, but (thank heaven!) not including Bulgarians and Turks. Glance over programmes of these same societies for last season and this—what percentage of German works do you find? About as high as Bulgarian or Turk. We have now a more cogent reason for taking interest in French, British, Russian, and Italian music. People are usually more in the flag-waving mood over music than over anything in literature or painting. In times of emergency our musicians wisely run to cover. Sometimes they are over-discreet. But when internment camps are so handy it is just as well to err on the safe side.
ONE of the most regrettable effects of the war on music in this country was the embargo on foreign orchestras. But one American orchestra ran the blockade. That was the New York Symphony, whose players were all guaranteed by Walter Damrosch to be naturalized American citizens. The Russian Symphony, being perfectly safe, had billed a performance in Canada of Scriabine’s Prometheus, an experiment in color-music. It was thought that the Slav nationality of both the orchestra and the composer would have guaranteed a good sale. But there was not enough business at the box office to pay for the advertising and the performance was scratched. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra which for several seasons had been the collaborator
with the Mendelssohn Choir, found it necessary to stay over the border, as many of them were German and Austrian reservists who were only prevented from returning to the colors when war broke out by the fact that the orchestra had not then completed its summer season under contract. This season the Mendelssohn Choir have postponed any further contracts with the Chicago Orchestra and have engaged the Russian Symphony. The Boston Symphony had been scheduled to give one performance in Massey Hall last season. That also was out on the retired list. Col. Higginson was always successful in bucking the Musical Protective Association. His orchestra is is a strictly non-union organization and its members are paid as such. But he was never powerful enough to rule out nationalism in his orchestra.
In all the big American orchestras— except perhaps the Russian Symphony— German and Austrian players play alongside musicians from France, Belgium, Russia, and Italy. Any American orchestra is a small composite of the belligerent nations. That is to some extent true also of England, to a lesser degree in France. But in Germany and Austria the Kaisers have seen to it that the orchestras are as native to the country, as the London Symphony which played in Canada four years ago under Nikisch is entirely native to the British Isles. That is why the American orchestra of the highest calibre is usually a better orchestra than the European—with a very few notable exceptions. The players are more cosmopolitan, have
more variety of color and national temperament and so represent the American people themselves.
And the symphony orchestra is a curious compend of national sentiments expressed in high voltage. I shall never forget with what emotional abandon members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra shook hands with the members of the Mendelssohn Choir on the occasion of the visit to Chicago some years ago. In the bonds of universal music they were all brothers then. Some of those singers are now in khaki. Some of the players are probably in the bluegrey uniforms of the Kaiser with the motto, “Gott Mit Uns,” on the cuffs. It might be only a melodramatic coincidence if one of
these singers should happen to be about to run his bayonet through one of those players in one of the violent offensives of the Allies on the west front. Such a thing will probably never happen. But in this war already stranger coincidences have happend.
WHATEVE R changes the war may have worked on the personnel of American orchestras are only a circumstance to the effects of the war upon musical conditions in the United States — and by inference in Canada, since we
are dependent upon American booking for most of our solo talent. A year ago it was somewhat hysterically predicted that there would be a sad dearth of foreign talent. As many of the foreign conductors were in Europe when the bolt of Mars came from the blue, it was supposed that they would stay there and be called to their various colors. Karl Muck, conductor of the Boston Symphony, was in his native land, Germany, and it was doubtful if he would return. His associate, Otto Urack, a Hungarian was also in his own country. Josef Stransky, conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was over there somewhere. Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony, got away in the nick of time. Only Walter Damrosch of the first-line conductors seemed to be an absolute surety, and, of course, he is an American citizen. However, the conductors, even Karl Muck, almost the personal property of the Kaiser who loaned him to Boston, all managed to get back to their desks, and there was no change in the regular schedule of concerts given by these orchestras.
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talent due to detention and internment, there was actually an overplus. Musicians, both male and female, especially operatic singers and players, but also pianists, violinists, songsters, dancers, ’cellists and all, found that war was playing hob with concerts and recitals in Europe. The only country worth while left as a neutral was the United States. Over they came—by the score. Never was known such an invasion. New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia heard more big stars last season than ever before. The line-up is even stronger this year.
Among the great artists well known here, Kreisler and Elman are booked up for more performances in the United States than ever before in their history. Kreisler, it will be remembered, was an Austrian cavalry officer before the war, and was a reservist. He went to the front, where under fire against the Russians he was singularly useful to the intelligence corps in determining by his marvelous
ear-sense the direction and distance of the enemy’s gun-fire. He was wounded in the leg and given leave of absence; came to America, limping on to the stage with his great Strad and played as never before he had played. He was given ovations. That was before Dr. Dumba began to kick up. In an interview with the New York Herald he described how the war had affected his nerves and his musical outlook; he no longer had any desire to play light music; the war had sobered him— and he was always sober enough.
Elman, who would have made a terrible little soldier, kept away from the front. Had he gone to the war, here again would have been one of those melodramatic coincidences—Kreisler and Elman, the two fiddlers, in opposite camps.
GpHE war brought out most of the -I great artists in their true colors. Two years ago no one dreamed of asking what nationality an artist might be before deciding how to appreciate him. Now, even in the United States, things have radically changed. Schumann-Heink, for instance, one of the great favorites in this country and by long residence almost an American, came out boldly in defence of Germany. Her heart bled for the German women at home. She said nothing about her regard for the Belgian women and children driven abroad by the soldiers of her native land. Geraldine Farrar expressed her sympathy with Germany because from that country she had got most of her musical culture. Caruso, who returned to New York to fill out his contract with the Metropolitan, glided over to Monte Carlo to work out an old contract there and afterwards drifted down to South America where he got fabulous fees. His country was not then at war. St. Saens, the great old French composer, visiting the Panama-Pacific, recalled some of his enemy correspondence with Felix Weingartner over German music. Paderewski, after a tour in England raising money for the suffering Poles, came to America and began a series of lecture recitals for the same purpose. He is due to perform in Canada this season. Much aged by the terrible effects of the war, he told a pitiful story and did not neglect to imply that Russia was also to blame for the sufferings of Poland.
Poor old Edouard De Reszke, the basso, a Pole, long the idol, with his brother Jean, the tenor of New York and Paris, found his property all destroyed by the armies and at one time was said to be eking out a hungry existence in a cellar under shell fire. Debussy, the French impressionist composer, said that while the war lasted he had no desire to touch a piano, and that for him henceforth the bugle was the only, music. Slezak, the giant Hungarian who has been heard twice in Canada, in concert and in grand opera, had a narrow escape getting out of Russia. He is now in Berlin working for the Kaiser at a reduced salary. All the salaries of opera singers and players in Germany were reduced by the Kaiser after the war began. For the Kaiser remained the father of music as well as of everything else in Germany.
Operas and concerts went on in the German centres much as before the war. In
Paris for months after the Germans were turned back at the Battle of the Marne all the Lyriques, Comiques, Comedies and Gaieties were dark. Most of them have since reopened. One of the most curious phases of music in the war was the sending of Botrel, the French bard, to the camps and the trenches to sing chansons to the soldiers. Harry Lauder has since done a similar work—and for nothing!— for the British troops.
'C' OR the most part, however, it has been a war without music. Never before were regimental bands so useless, when the music of a band would be better than the barking of dogs to locate the whereabouts of troops. Only buglers and pipers seem to get to the front. In the trenches patriotic airs are not nearly so popular as music-hall ditties. People at home are inspired by national anthems on the march. , The soldier prefers Tipperary, and more recently other songs perhaps more musical but less talked about. Tipperary goes on record as the test piece for John McCormack’s loyalty. He declined to sing it by request in Toronto this fall, and cancelled his date—because he detests the piece on account of its alleged insult to the Irishman. Mouth-organs have become the orchestras of the trenches. They are probably made in Austria. Many photographs have been taken of curious international, improved orchestras at the front—among the prisoners.
In France the ashes of Rouget de Lisle, composer of the Marseillaise, were on his birthday triumphantly removed and borne ! to the Hotel des Invalides to repose beside the remains of Napoleon. Much has been said in this war about the tremendous vogue among the German troops of “Deutschland Uber Alles,” sung to the Austrian national anthem tune by hun! dreds of thousands of troops marching for days through Brussels in August, 1914. But it has never been more popular in Germany than the “Marseillaise” in France. All the national anthems have been popularized since the war. Even the anthem of Belgium, “La Brabançonne,” is known to some Canadians, though it seems to be a work of no great inspiration. The “Hymn of Hate,” of course, was the war’s masterpiece. Lissauer’s amiable words were set to music by Mayerhoffer director of music in Chemnitz, vociferously howled in concert at mass-meetings with the composer himself at the piano; and a few weeks later students at the Royal College of Music in London sang a parody of the whole thing to show how silly it was.
However, the “Hymn of Hate” may have been good music; which is not possible to say of nine-tenths of the war brood of songs without being unkind to the truth. As a rule when people are provoked by a thing like war to become poets or composers the effect is very similar to an epidemic of any other distressing disease. The eruption of new patriotics last season and about to be this, quite justified the worst of fears. War is not a necessary stimulus to good music ; at least not this kind of war. A trench or a submarine is not good material for inspired utterance. The fact is that the conventional war ideas about boys marching
home, the old flag, king and country, and so on are pretty threadbare to start with, and this war seems to make most of the songs inspired by such topics very inadequate.
How, for instance, is it that “The British Grenadiers” has scarcely been played in this war time at all? “The Red, White and Blue,” “Soldiers of the King,” “Rule Britannia,” the Russian national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” “O Canada,” and “The Maple Leaf” have all been given decent outings. But only two or three of them have been popular with the grand stand. And we have learned to relegate “The British Grenadiers” to the military tattoo where it properly belongs. We have no such outburts of war-time melodies as came in the United States during the period of the Civil War: “Marching Through Georgia,” “Dixie,” and “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”; followed after the war by the plantation melodies and their ilk, “Kentucky Home,” “Old Folks at Home,” “Old Black Joe,” “Gwine Back to Dixie,” and a few others less famous. People persist in saying that the great war will stimulate music along with other forms of art. This may be doubted. But when the various peoples have had time to get out the the nerve-racking earthquakes of the thing the art-creators may be able to focus modern modes of expression on the most human phases of the great inhumanity.
AI AHE trouble is that we can never quite exonerate modern art from the crime of helping to bring on the war. Amid all the complicated causes of this art-crushing struggle on land and sea, under the water and up in the air and on the mountain tops, we have omitted to include the diseased state of mind in Europe long before the war. Who that ever heard Schoenberg music as performed by a Toronto chamber music corps last season could doubt that such a state of mind if at all general might result in almost any form of violence? And Europe was full of musical futurists—cubists, post impressionists and all. If the war burns up a lot of that hysteria we shall have some cause to be thankful.
But the war will need to accomplish a deal of purification abroad to make up for the epidemic of patriotic concerts at home. Last season in all Canadian music centres was a dislocated hodgepodge of mongrel performances, some of them quite good, others enough to make a musical patriot violently ill. The anti-German music eruption was a phase of this distemper. It got to be the illusion among a number of infatuated near-patriots that all music, no matter of what species it might be, was either pro or anti. There wab no such thing as musical neutrality. The appearance on a programme of German composers was a red rag to quite a number of bulls, most conspicuous of them was the French Consul in Toronto who started a newspaper agitation because Ernest Seitz, Canadian pianist, included Schumann and Bach on his programme in Massey Hall. However, it was pointed out at the time that all the big concerts in England since the first outbreak of musi-
cal Germanophobia were from 90 to 100 per cent, of German works.
Mainly, however, we have kept our musical sanity and have to some extent broadened our musical outlook because of the war. It is to be hoped that the broadening process will continue.