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played together before. The répertoire of the Popular Concerts has been enlarged during the year by a new quartet in E minor by M. SaintSaëns, dedicated to M. Ysaye, and obviously adapted with peculiar skill to his style and method, and by some interesting specimens of the work of César Franck, Vincent d'Indy and Borodine. In the autumn Mr. Arthur Chappell retired from the management of the concerts after a long and honoured career in the service of art, and the occasion was celebrated, with strange inappropriateness, by a glorified ballad concert at the Albert Hall, in which all the most popular singers of the day took part.
Turning to orchestral music, we record with regret the end of the famous series of Saturday Concerts at the Crystal Palace, with which the name of August Manns has been so long and so honourably associated. Of the great part which these concerts have played in the spread of good music in England, in the encouragement of young composers, and in the education of the public taste, it is impossible to speak too highly. But the days when a journey to Sydenham was the only way of hearing the best orchestral music are happily past, and while the high artistic standard of the Saturday Concerts was maintained to the end, the audiences had in later days become far less numerous owing to the great multiplication of orchestral performances in central London. Thanks to the untiring energy and enterprise of Mr. Robert Newman a permanent orchestra has been established at the Queen's Hall, which by dint of continued association, under the inspiring guidance of Mr. H. J. Wood, has reached a high level of excellence, and now has nothing to fear in comparison with the finest orchestras to be heard in continental towns. The usual number of symphony concerts were given in the spring and autumn seasons, and Mr. Newman once more relied too exclusively on the works of Tschaikowsky and the Russian school to attract and fascinate the public. The London Musical Festival was again held in the spring, and was attended with a large measure of popular success. The leading characteristic of the festival on this occasion was the appearance of five eminent conductors, M. Saint-Saëns, M. Colonne, Herr Weingartner, M. Ysaye and Mr. H. J. Wood, who exercised their skill on Mr. Newman's orchestra in various styles and with various degrees of success. The immense versatility of M. SaintSaëns does not extend apparently to the art of conducting, and the concert for which he was responsible, consisting almost entirely of his own works, did not reach such a high level of performance as that prevailing generally during the week. M. Ysaye proved that he was almost as fine a conductor as a violinist, and Herr Weingartner made a profound impression by securing a rendering of Beethoven's C Minor Symphony unequalled in dramatic power and breadth of style. Among several interesting features of the festival may be mentioned a Symphonic Prelude, by César Franck, an Adagio for Strings by the Belgian composer Lekeu, M. Saint-Saëns' brilliant “Africa” fantasia, a finely scored Symphonic Poem, by Herr Weingartner, Dr. Cowen's charming new overture, “A Butterfly's Ball,” and Dr. Elgar's now famous Orchestral Variations. As to the solo performers, it is noticeable that three of the most eminent violinists of the day appeared during the week, Lady Hallé, M. Ysaye and Dr. Joachim, the latter introducing a delight
95 ful early concerto by Mozart, and the pianists were hardly less distinguished, including such names as M. Saint-Saëns, Sgr. Busoni and Mr. Harold Bauer.
During the dead season of the year Mr. Newman once more stepped into the breach with his admirable Promenade Concerts, and the crowded audiences night after night told eloquently of the rapidly increasing popularity of good classical music with the English public. A large number of interesting novelties were brought to a first hearing, among which may be mentioned a symphony by the Swedish composer Alfven, Glazounow's ballet called “The Seasons,” and two military marches by Dr. Elgar. Mr. Newman amply atoned for the cold treatment he has meted out in the past to British composers by showing them especial favour during the Promenade season, and on one very memorable occasion the programme consisted exclusively of compositions by native musicians, the list of names being Cowen, Parry, Stanford, Elgar, Coleridge Taylor, Percy Pitt, Cliffe, German, and MacCunn.
In the season of the Philharmonic Society the most notable new work produced was an overture by Dr. Elgar with the title “ Cockaigne,” the composer's idea being to express in musical terms the many-sided activities of London life. The ingenuity with which a realistic representation of a walk through the London streets is given within the strict limits of the sonata form, the splendid variety and richness of the orchestral colouring, the masterly polyphonic skill shown in the combination of themes, and the exhilarating vivacity which pervades the music from first to last, combine to make the overture a very notable piece of work, entirely worthy of the brilliant English musician who is already beginning to acquire something like a European reputation. His Orchestral Variations have been given in several German towns under eminent conductors during the year, and there seems every prospect of “ Cockaigne” following in the steps of its predecessor. Besides Dr. Elgar's work the Philharmonic novelties were not very remarkable. Herr Emil Sauer played a new pianoforte concerto of his own, brilliant and attractive enough, but possessing few of the higher musical qualities. There was a symphonic poem by Mr. W. Wallace, and a pretty cycle of songs by Mr. Landon Ronald called “ In Summer Time.” Dr. Cowen conducted the concerts with his usual zeal, but the general standard of performance, though undeniably improved, is still not as high as that of many societies who do not boast such an historic name as the Philharmonic.
The dearth of choral music in London has been as marked as ever during the past year. The Royal Choral Society, who are practically the sole occupants of the field, confine their attention, as is well known, mainly to entirely familiar works, and they labour under the permanent disadvantage of performing in a hall whose acoustic properties are notoriously bad. As a relief from the routine succession of the " Elijah,” the “Messiah," and the “Redemption,” the society produced the cantata “Hora Novissima" by the American composer Horatio Parker, which had attracted considerable notice at a provincial festival the previous year. A further hearing confirmed the impression that it is a work remarkable rather for
cleverness and finished workmanship than for creative power. Two choral performances were given in the autumn in Queen's Hall, but in both cases the choruses were those of provincial societies. One of these —the performance of Mendelssohn's “ Elijah” by the Nottingham Sacred Harmonic—was rendered memorable by the appearance in the title part of Mr. Ffrangcon-Davies, who sang the music with a rich sonority of voice and a nobility of style that have not been heard since Mr. Santley was in his prime. Another choral performance in London that deserves mention was that given at the inauguration of the fine new concert hall of the Royal College of Music in the summer. For this occasion Mr. Arthur Benson had written an ode, and Sir Hubert Parry, the Director of the College, set it to music in his very finest manner, the whole effect of the work being beautiful and impressive in the extreme. A striking comment on the condition of choral music in London is the fact that Dr. Elgar's “ Dream of Gerontius,” which, in spite of an inadequate performance, was the great sensation of the Birmingham Festival of 1899, has not yet been given in the Metropolis, though in the course of last year it was performed at Worcester and (in German) at Düsseldorf, in the latter case winning unstinted appreciation from critics and public alike.
In the provinces the triumphant career of Mr. Coleridge Taylor's “Hiawatha " trilogy has continued without let or hindrance and the beautiful work has been given with varying degrees of efficiency by nearly every society in the kingdom. The great and continued popularity of the Messiah,” especially in the North of England, was once more proved by the extraordinary number of performances which were given of the work in all the great Yorkshire towns during the Christmas season. In Sheffield alone the oratorio was heard no less than fifteen times, and at the chief performance in the Albert Hall of that town on December 9, under Dr. Coward, there was an immense audience and hundreds had to be turned away from the doors.
The chief provincial festivals in 1901 were at Gloucester and Leeds. At Gloucester the new works produced were a fine and dignified eightpart motet, “The Righteous Live for Evermore," by Dr. C. H. Lloyd, written in memory of Queen Victoria; an orchestral idyll by Mr. Coleridge Taylor, which was hardly up to the level of the composer's best achievements; a symphonic prelude by Mr. W. H. Bell, the effect of which was a good deal marred by unduly heavy scoring; an orchestral poem by Dr. Cowen; and a melodious, but quite unpretentious, cantata called “ Emmaus," by Mr. A. H. Brewer, who conducted the festival throughout with very creditable success. Besides these there were performances of Verdi's “Requiem” and Sir Hubert Parry's magnificent “ Job,” in which Mr. Plunket Greene won another triumph by his impressive singing of the “Lamentations.” At the Leeds Festival the conductor's chair, which had been left vacant by the death of Sir Arthur Sullivan, was filled by Dr. Stanford, who, by universal consent, thoroughly justified his selection for the onerous post. The programme was drawn up with a view of making the festival a commemoration of nineteenth century music, but the scheme was not very successful in practical operation. The
97 concerts suffered by being far too miscellaneous in character, and the number of important choral works was disproportionately small. The chief novelty was a setting by Mr. Coleridge Taylor of Longfellow's “ The Blind Girl of Castel-Cuillé,” but the work was a sad disappointment to the many admirers of “Hiawatha,” the composer being apparently unable to resist the depressing influence of an incredibly weak libretto. The chorus, as is usual at Leeds, was of superb quality, and they were the chief factors in memorable performances of the “Messiah,” Verdi's “Requiem," Sir Hubert Parry's "A Song of Darkness and Light,” and, above all, Beethoven's stupendous “Mass in D.” Of the individual performances perhaps the best was Mr. Leonard Borwick's playing of the solo part in Brahms's Pianoforte Concerto in B flat. The Feis Ceoil, or Irish Festival of Music, took place in Dublin in May, and met with greater success than any hitherto held. Besides the usual choral and instrumental competitions, there were performances of Dr. Stanford's “Phaudrig Crohoore,” and Mr. Hardebeck's prize cantata, “The Red Hand of Ulster.” The most interesting concert was one that was wholly devoted to Irish traditional music, many very beautiful airs being heard for the first time. Mr. Denis O'Sullivan sang several of the songs with brilliant success, notably Stanford's “Chieftain of Tyrconnell,” and he showed clearly that he has no superior in the art of interpreting the melodies of his native country. The first German Bach Festival, held in Berlin in March, must not pass unrecorded. The old Bach Society, having fulfilled its mission of issuing a complete edition of Bach's works, has now been dissolved, and a new society has been constituted for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of the master's music by the organisation of biennial Bach Festivals. At the opening festival several interesting and beautiful specimens were brought forward, including five of the Church cantatas, three of the “Brandenburg” concertos, a humorous secular cantata, and a Mass, and on the Good Friday following a fine performance took place of the St. Matthew Passion.
Of the individual performers who have been most prominent in England during the past year the first place must unquestionably be given to the young violinist Kubelik, who was the great lion of the London musical season, and attracted enormous audiences by his astonishing technical powers and the unequalled beauty of his tone. Of great pianoforte virtuosi mention must be made of Godowsky and Harold Bauer, while among native musicians Mr. Donald Tovey has been building up for himself a considerable reputation as an artistic player and a composer of chamber music on classical lines. Of the concert singers Mr. O'Sullivan has already been mentioned ; Mdlle. Landi made but a single appearance, but that was enough to prove that her incomparable voice and method are as potent in their attraction as ever; and particularly successful débuts were made by Miss Susan Metcalfe, an American singer possessing a perfectly finished style; and Miss Amy Castles, a young Australian soprano of much promise.
The musical death-roll of the year includes the names of Guiseppe Verdi, the great Italian operatic composer; Piatti, the famous violoncellist; Rheinberger, the well-known composer; Chrysander, the eminent
Handelian scholar; E. J. Hopkins, the organist of the Temple Church, and composer; Charles Salaman, the song-writer; John Farmer, the organist and music master at Harrow and Balliol ; Richard Redhead, the composer of the hymn tune to “Rock of Ages”; Charles Lockey, who sang the tenor music at the first production of Mendelssohn's “Elijah ”; and John tainer, the distinguished organist and composer of church music.
JOHN E. TALBOT.