Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/413

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��regular duty, and though I can never forget the last few years, during which I have lived exclu- sively as a composer, and know that so productive and happy a time may perhaps never be mine again, yet I feel impelled towards a life of active work, and my highest endeavour would be to keep up the renown which the institution has so long enjoyed.' This wish was not realised, for Rietz remained in Leipzig. But Schumann's desire for a more extended field of work as a conductor was to be satisfied in another way in the following year.

In 1850 Hiller gave up his post in Diisseldorf to obey a call to Cologne as Capellmeister to that city. He suggested that Schumann should be his successor, and opened negotiations with him. Some efforts were made to keep him in Dresden and to obtain his appointment as Capell- meister to the King of Saxony ; but the attempt was unsuccessful, and Schumann accepted the directorship at Diisseldorf that summer though he left his native place with deep regret, and not without some suspicions as to the condi- tion of music in Diisseldorf, of which he had heard much that was unfavourable from Men- delssohn and Rietz. In his new post he had the direction of a vocal union and of an orchestra, and a number of concerts to conduct in the course of the winter. He arrived at Diisseldorf Sept. 2, 1850, and the first winter concert was in some sort a formal reception of him, since it consisted of the overture to ' Genoveva,' some of his songs, and Part I. of ' Paradise and the Peri.* It was under the direction of Julius Tausch ; Schumann himself appearing as conductor for the first time on Oct. 24.

He was very well satisfied with his new sphere of work. The vocal resources, as is the case with all the choirs of the Rhine towns, were admirable ; Hiller had cultivated them with special zeal, and he and Rietz had left the orchestra so well drilled that Schumann, for the first time in his life, enjoyed the inestimable advantage of being able to hear everything that he wrote for the orchestra performed at once. The concerts took up no more of his time than he was willing to give, and left him ample leisure for his own work. Chamber music was also attainable, for in J. von Wasielewski there was a good solo violinist on the spot. Schu- mann and his wife were at once welcomed in Diisseldorf with the greatest respect, and every attention and consideration was shown to them both. It might be said that their position here was one of special ease, and they soon formed a delightful circle of intimate acquaintances. Little as his music was then known in the Rhine-cities, Schumann's advent in person seems to have given a strong impulse to the public feeling for music in Diisseldorf. The interest in the subscription concerts during the winter of 1850 was greater than it had ever been before; and the board of directors was able at the close of the usual series of six concerts, to un- dertake a second series of three or four. At Schumann's instance one of the winter concerts


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��was entirely devoted to the works of living composers, an idea then perfectly novel, and showing that he had remained faithful to his desire manifested long before through the Zeit- schrift of facilitating the advancement of young and gifted composers. At first Schumann's direction gave entire satisfaction. If some per- formances were not perfectly successful, they were compensated for by others of special excel- lence ; and the execution of Beethoven's A major Symphony at the third concert even seemed to shew that he was a born conductor. But it was not so in reality ; indeed he was wholly want- ing in the real talent for conducting; all who ever saw him conduct or who played under his direction are agreed on this point. Irrespective of the fact that conducting for any length of time tired him out, he had neither the collect- edness and prompt presence of mind, nor the sympathetic faculty, nor the enterprising dash, without each of which conducting in the true sense is impossible. He even found a difficulty in starting at a given tempo ; nay, he sometimes shrank from giving any initial beat ; so that some energetic pioneer would begin without waiting for the signal, and without incurring Schumann's wrath. Besides this, any thorough practice bit by bit with his orchestra, with instructive remarks by the way as to the mode of execution, was impossible to this great artist, who in this respect was a striking contrast to Mendelssohn. He would have a piece played through, and if it did not answer to his wishes, had it repeated. If it went no better the second, or perhaps even a third time, he would be ex- tremely angry at what he considered the clumsi- ness or even the ill-will of the players; but detailed remarks he never made. Any one knowing his silent nature and his instinctive dislike to con- tact with the outer world, might certainly have feared from the first that he would find great difficulty in asserting himself as a director of large masses. And as years went on his incapacity for conducting constantly increased, as the issue showed, with the growth of an illness, which, after seeming to have been completely overcome in Dresden, returned in Diisseldorf with increasing gravity. His genius seemed constantly to shrink from the outside world into the depths of his soul. His silence became a universally accepted fact, and to those who saw him for the first time he seemed apathetic. But in fact he was anything rather than that ; he would let a visitor talk for a long time on all kinds of subjects without saying a word, and then when the caller rose to leave, ' not to disturb the master longer,' he would discover that Schumann had followed the one- sided 'conversation' with unfailing interest. When sitting for an hour, as he was accustomed of an evening, with friends or acquaintances at the re- staurant, if anything was said that touched or pleased him he would give the speaker a radiant, expressive glance, but without a word ; and the incessant creative labours to which he gave him- self up so long as he was able are the best proof of the rich vitality which constantly flowed


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