Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/415

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stances. The inhabitants of Diisseldorf are mostly Catholics, the organ-lofts in the principal churches are too small to hold a large choir and orchestra, and the regular church-music was in a bad con- dition. The choral society which Schumann con- ducted was accustomed, as a reward for its labours, to have several concerts of church music, or at least sacred compositions, every year ; and Schu- mann was probably thinking of this custom in his Mass and his Requiem, but he was not des- tined ever to hear them performed.

In the summer of 1851 he and his family made a tour in Switzerland, which he had not visited since the time of his student-life in Heidelberg ; on his return he went to Antwerp, for a com- petitive performance by the Belgian 'Miinner- gesangverein ' (a society of male singers), on August 1 7, at which he had been asked to aid in adjudging the prizes. Two years later, towards the end of 1853, ^ e an( ^ bia w ^ e once more visited the Netherlands, and made a concert-tour through Holland, meeting with such an enthusi- astic reception that he could not help saying that his music seemed to have struck deeper root there than in Germany. In March 1852 they revisited Leipzig, where, between the I4th and the 2ist, a quantity of his music was performed ; the Manfred overture and the 'Pilgerfahrt der Rose' at a public matine'e on the I4th; the D minor Sonata for pianoforte and violin (op. 121) in a private circle, on the isth; the Eb Sym- phony at a concert at the Gewandhaus on the 1 8th ; the Pianoforte Trio in G minor (op. 1 10) at a chamber concert on the 2 1 st. On Nov. 6,1851, the overture to the ' Braut von Messina ' was also performed at the Gewandhaus. The public had thus, during this season, ample opportunity of be- coming acquainted with the latest works of this in- exhaustible composer. But although he had lived in Leipzig for fourteen years, and had brought, out most of his compositions there, besides having a circle of sincerely devoted friends in that city, ho could not on this occasion boast of any great success; the public received him with respect and esteem, but with no enthusiasm. But in this respect Schumann had lived through a variety of experience ; ' I am accustomed,' he writes to Pohl, Dec. 7, 1851, when speaking of the recep- tion of the overture to the Braut von Messina,' ' to find that my compositions, particularly the best and deepest, are not understood by the public at a first hearing.' Artists however had come to Leipzig from some distance for the ' Schumann- week ' ; among them Liszt and Joachim.

In August 1852 there was held in Diisseldorf a festival of music for men's voices, in which Schumann assisted as conductor, though, owing to his health, only to a very limited extent. He took a more important part at Whitsuntide 1853, when the sist of the Lower Khine Festi- vals was celebrated in Dusseldorf on May 15, 1 6, and 17. He conducted the music of the first day, consisting of Handel's 'Messiah' and of his own Symphony in D minor, which was ex- ceedingly well received. In the concerts of the two following days, which were conducted chiefly

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�� ��by Hiller, two more of Schumann's larger compo- sitions were performed ; the Pianoforte Concerto in A minor, and a newly composed Festival Overture with soli and chorus on the 4 Rhein- weinlied' (op. 123). But although Schumann appeared in so brilliant a way as a composer, and as such was honoured and appreciated in Dusseldorf, yet there was no concealing the fact that as a conductor he was inefficient. The little talent for conducting that he showed on his arrival in Diisseldorf had disappeared with his departing health. It was in fact necessary to procure some one to take his place. An attempt was made after the first winter concert of the year (Oct. 27, 1853) to induce him to retire for a time from the post of his own accord. But this proposal was badly received. The fact however remains, that from the date just men- tioned all the practices and performances were conducted by Julius Tausch, who thus became Schumann's real successor. No doubt the direc- tors of the society were really in the right; though perhaps the form in which Schumann's relation to the society was expressed might have been better chosen. The master was now taken up with the idea of leaving Dusseldorf as soon as possible, and of adopting Vienna, for which he had preserved a great affection, as his permanent residence. But fate had decided otherwise.

The dissatisfaction induced in his mind by the events of the autumn of 1853 was however mitigated partly by the tour in Holland already mentioned, and partly by another incident. It happened that in October a young and wholly unknown musician arrived, with a letter of in- troduction from Joachim. Johannes Brahms for he it was immediately excited Schumann's warmest interest by the genius of his playing and the originality of his compositions. In his early days he had always been the champion of the young and aspiring, and now as a matured artist he took pleasure in smoothing the path of this gifted youth. Schumann's literary pen had lain at rest for nine years ; he now once more took it up, for the last time, in order to say a powerful word for Brahms to the wide world of art. An article entitled Neue Bahnen* (New Paths) ap- peared on Oct. 28, 1853, in No. 18 of that year's

  • Zeitschrift.' In this he pointed to Brahms as

the artist whose vocation it would be 'to utter the highest ideal expression of our time.' He does not speak of him as a youth or beginner, but welcomes him into the circle of Masters as a fully equipped combatant. When before or since did an artist find such words of praise for one of his fellows ? It is as though, having already given so many noble proofs of sympathetic appreciation, he could not leave the world without once more, after his long silence, indelibly stamping the image of his pure, lofty, and unenvious artist-nature on the hearts of his fellow men.

So far as Brahms was concerned, it is true that this brilliant envoi laid him under a heavy debt of duty, in the necessity of measuring his produc- tions by the very highest standard; and at the

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