Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/57

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JULLIEN.
45
 

through all the pantomime of the British Army or Navy Quadrille, seized a violin or piccolo at the moment of climax, and at last sank exhausted into his gorgeous velvet chair. All pieces of Beethoven's were conducted with a jewelled baton, and in a pair of clean kid gloves, handed him at the moment on a silver salver.

Not only did he obtain the best players for his band, but his solo artistes were all of the highest class. Ernst, Sivori, Bottesini, Wieniawski, Sainton; Arabella Goddard, Marie Pleyel, Charles Hallé, Vivier; Sims Reeves, Pischek, and many others, have all played or sung, some of them for the first time in England, under Jullien's baton. In fact he acted on the belief that if you give the public what is good, and give it with judgment, the public will be attracted and will pay. And there is no doubt that for many years his income from his Promenade Concerts was very large. His harvest was not confined to London, but after his month at Drury Lane, Covent Garden, or Her Majesty's, he carried off his whole company of players and singers through the provinces, including Scotland and even Ireland, and moved about there for several weeks—a task at that time beset with impediments to locomotion which it is now difficult to realise. If he had but confined himself to the one enterprise, and exercised a proper economy and control over that! But this was impossible. He had started a shop goon after his arrival, first in Maddox Street and then in Regent Street, for the sale of his music. In 1847 he took Drury Lane theatre on lease, with the view of playing English operas. Mr. Gye was engaged as manager, and M. Berlioz as [1]conductor, with a host of other officials, including Sir Henry Bishop as 'inspector-superintendent at rehearsals,' and a splendid band and chorus. The house opened on Dec. 6, with a version of 'Lucia,' in which Sims Reeves made his début, and which was followed by Balfe's 'Maid of Honour,' 'Linda,' and 'Figaro.' 'All departments,' says a contemporary [2]article by one who knew him well, 'were managed on the most lavish scale; orchestra, chorus, principal singers, officers before and behind the curtain, vying with each other in efficiency and also in expensiveness. The result might have been anticipated. The speculation was a failure, and though his shop was sold for £8000 to meet the emergency, M. Jullien was bankrupt' (April 21, 1848). He left the court however with honour, and, nothing daunted, soon afterwards essayed another and still more hazardous enterprise. In May 1849 he announced a 'Concert monstre and Congrès musical,' 'six grand musical fêtes,' with '400 instrumentalists, 3 distinct choruses, and 3 distinct military bands.' The first two took place at Exeter Hall on June 1 and 15, and a third at the Surrey Zoological Gardens on July 20. The programme of the first deserves quotation. It was in 3 parts:—1. David's ode-sinfonie 'Le Desert'—Sims Reeves solo tenor. 2. Mendelssohn's Scotch Symphony. 3. A miscellaneous concert, with Anna Thillon, Jetty Treffz, Miss Dolby, Braham, Pischek, Dreyschœck, Molique, etc., etc. This project too, if we may judge from its sudden abandonment, ended disastrously. In 1852 he wrote the opera of 'Pietro il Grande,' and brought it out on the most magnificent scale at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, on Aug. 17, at his own cost. The piece was an entire failure, and after five performances was withdrawn, leaving Jullien a loser of some thousands of pounds. Shortly after this he visited America and remained there till June 28, 1854. On his return he resumed the regular routine of his metropolitan and provincial concerts. But misfortunes pursued him. On March 5, 1856, Covent Garden theatre was burnt to the ground, and the whole of his music—in other words, his entire stock in trade was destroyed; an irreparable loss, since his quadrilles and other original pieces were in MS. In 1857 he became involved in the Royal Surrey Gardens Company, and lost between £5000 and £6000. This enabled him to add to his achievements by conducting oratorios, but the loss, the protracted worry and excitement attending the winding up of the Company, and the involved state of his own affairs, which had been notoriously in disorder for some years and were approaching a crisis, must have told severely on him. The next season was his last in this country. He gave a series of Farewell Concerts at the usual date—this time at the Lyceum, with a band reduced to 60—made a Farewell provincial tour, and then, probably forced thither by pecuniary reasons, went to Paris. There on the 2nd of May, 1859, he was arrested for debt and put in prison at Clichy, but on the 22nd of the following month was brought up before the court, heard, and liberated with temporary protection. Early in March following an advertisement appeared in the papers headed 'Jullien Fund,' stating that he was in a lunatic asylum near Paris, and appealing to the public on his behalf. Scarcely however was the advertisement in type when the news arrived of his death on March 14, 1860.

No one at all in the same category with Jullien, at least in our time, has occupied anything like the same high position in public favour. 'His name was a household word and his face and figure household shapes, during a period of nearly 20 years.' Whatever the changes in his fortune his popularity never waned or varied. 'Your house,' says Lord Beaconsfield in [3]Tancred, describing the most favourable conditions for ball-giving conceivable in 1846,—'your house might be decorated like a Russian palace, you might have Jullien presiding over your orchestra, and a banquet worthy of the Romans.' And similar allusions were made every day in the periodicals. And why so? Because, with much obvious charlatanism, what Jullien aimed at was good, and what he aimed at he did thoroughly well. He was a public amuser, but he was also a public reformer. 'By his frequent performances of the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and other great masters, and by the

  1. An amusing account of Berlioz's early enthusiasm, and its gradual evaporation, will be found in his 'Correspondance inedite' (1879), letters xxxv to xliv.
  2. 'Musical World,' March 24, 1860.
  3. Book I, chap. 7.