A thesis submitted to the faculty of San Francisco State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree

Master of Arts in

by Paul Cummings San Francisco, California May, 1992 Copyright by Paul Cummings 1992 CERTIFICATION OF APPROVAL

I certify that I have read 's Conducting Career in England, 1877-1911 by Paul Cummings, and that in my opinion this work meets the criteria for approving a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree: Master of Arts in Music at San Francisco State


Dr. William Hopkins Professor of Music

Dr. Henry Onderdonk Professor Music

Dr. Dean Suzuki Asst. Professor of Music sic HANS RICHTER'S CONDUCTING CAREER IN ENGLAND, 1877-1911

Paul Cummings San Francisco State University 1992

The subject of this work is the life and career of Hans Richter (1843-1916), an eminent Austro-Hungarian conductor who specialized in interpretations of German

Romantic music written during the second half of the nineteenth century. Primary focus will be on the first ten years (1877-86) of his thirty-five-year career as a conductor in

England. The Richter Concerts, his series of orchestral performances between

1879 and 1902, receive the most detailed coverage, while his activities as conductor of the Philharmonic (1875-98) are only covered where relevant. Among the areas discussed are the repertoire performed at his concerts, its reception by music critics and the public, and the similarities between Richter's London and Vienna repertoire.

Richter's efforts on behalf of British music will also be considered, in terms of his direct support for native and his contribution to the elevation of performance standards at English concerts. His relationships with composers will be explored as they relate to performances of their music.

I certify that the Abstract is a correct representation of the content of this thesis.

Dr. William Hopkins Date Chair, Thesis Committee ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks are due to the following institutions which provided correspondence, programs from concerts, articles, photographs, and/or other resources concerning the life and career of Hans Richter: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munchen; Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Munchen; The ; City of Public Library; City of Central Library; Elgar's Birthplace; The Friends of Covent Garden; Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien; Hallé Concerts Society; Hereford and Worcester County Council, Record Offices; Internationales Opern Archiv; The London Orchestra; Magyar Tudomanyos Akademia; Museen der Stadt Wien; Orszagos Szechenyi Konyvtar; Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; Richard Museum; ; The Royal House, Covent Garden, Archive Office; Städtische Bibliotheken Munchen; ; Wiener Philharmoniker; Wiener Stadt-und Landesbibliothek. In addition, the following individuals have been of great assistance in researching the topic: Nemeth Amade, Wulstan Atkins, P. M. Bellisario, Günter Fickenscher, Henry Louis de la Grange, Otto Hausa, Christopher Kent, Edward Kilenyi, Jack McKenzie, Jerrold Northrop Moore, Keith Rooke, Derek Watson, and Percy Young. Of immense help were Ms. Loeb, granddaughter of Hans Richter, and , author of a forthcoming biography of the conductor. Finally, this paper benefited enormously from the support of my advisors on the faculty of this university. Dr. Mark Radice, former Lecturer in Music at San Francisco State University who is now teaching at Ithaca College in New York, suggested the topic and assisted in the early stages of research, and Dr. Bill Hopkins, Professor of Music at San Francisco State University, provided advice on both detailed points and broad, organizational aspects. TABLE OF CONTENTS




















1. Works Conducted by Hans Richter In Vienna And London, Nov. 16, 1879-June 10, 1880 72

2. Premiere Performances of Works by Charles Villiers Stanford, Conducted by Hans Richter (Partial List) 185

3. Works Conducted by Hans Richter in the 's 1885-86 Season Which Had Already Been Conducted by Him in London...... 198

4. Hans Richter's Conducting Positions in England 217


1-5. Program of First Concert of London Wagner Festival: May 7, 1877 32-36

6-7. Program of Fourth Concert of Richter Concerts' Second Series: May 27, 1880 74-75

8. Program of Fifth Concert of Richter Concerts' Third Series: May 30, 1881 85

9-10. Program of First Concert of Richter Concerts' Fourth Series: October 24, 1881 88-89

11-12. Program of Second Concert of Richter Concerts' Fifth Series: May 8, 1882 99-100

13. Photograph of Hans Richter Probably Taken During His Tenure as Conductor of the Budapest National Opera, 1871-75 137

14. Photograph of Hans Richter on the Occasion of the Covent Garden Jubilee of 1908 138

15. Caricature of Hans Richter Drawn by Goedecker 139

16. Photograph of Hans Richter, ca. 1905 140

17. Program of Sixth Concert of Richter Concerts' Seventh Series: June 11, 1883 146

18. Program of Second Concert of the 1883/84 Season of the Vienna Philharmonic: December 2, 1883 155

19. Program of Fourth Concert of Richter Concerts' Ninth Series: May 12, 1884 160

20. Programs of Fifth and Sixth Concerts of Richter Concerts' Thirteenth Series: May 31 and June 7, 1886 207

viii 21. Program of Sixth Concert of Richter Concerts' Nineteenth Series: June 29, 1891 227

22. Program of Ninth Concert of Richter Concerts' Nineteenth Series: July 20, 1891 228

23. Program of Second Concert of Richter Concerts' Twenty-Fourth Series: May 27, 1895...... 230


A. Desmond Ryan's Review of the "Orchestral Festival Concerts" of 1879 272

B. Hermann Klein's Review, May 3, 1882 Richter Concert at St. James's Hall 277

C. Review of Crystal Palace Concert, October 27, 1883 279

D. Excerpt from 's "Letter from London," 1886 281

E. Hermann Klein's Review of Monday May 3, 1886 Richter Concert at St. James's Hall 284

F. Important Premier Performances Conducted by Hans Richter in England: 1887-1908 286


The study of music in the nineteenth century has traditionally been focused on the music itself, quite appropriately, with composers and the styles they represent receiving most of the attention. Within the past two decades, more attention has been paid to performance practice, referring to the media and methods used to convey the music of a given period to its audience. Within the purview of this relatively recent discipline lies the study of the orchestral conductor, whose role progressed gradually over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century from that of a seated orchestra member to a standing, separately-stationed leader of the ensemble. This thesis will describe the career of an extremely influential musician, whose activity as a musician in England spanned the period from 1877 until 1911. By the time of his arrival in England, conductors were already positioned in front of the orchestra; no longer was it common for an ensemble of over twenty players to be led by the first violinist or the keyboard player. Yet, the celebrity status which attaches to today's orchestral conductors did not exist in 1877. It was only after many years of pioneering leadership by outstanding conductors, such as the one under scrutiny here, that the phenomenon of a single-minded inspirational force on the podium came into being. Hans Richter (1843-1916) was one of the outstanding conductors of the late Romantic era, achieving international fame at the age of thirty-three and sustaining this recognition for over thirty years, through his retirement in 1912. It is the contention of this paper that one of his primary achievements was the prolific export of continental music of the late nineteenth century to England's concert halls and opera houses. He

1 2

served as a dynamic ambassador of German music especially, with Wagner and Beethoven being his specialties. His remarkable musicianship, particularly his knowledge of orchestral instruments, enabled him to significantly raise the standard of orchestral performance in three principal geographic areas: Budapest, where he served as conductor of the National Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra from 1871 until 1875; Vienna, where he served as conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Hofoper from 1875 until 1898; and England, where he was active in various conducting capacities for thirty-four years. His operatic conducting also inspired improved performance standards, most notably at , where his activity began in 1876 and lasted until 1912, and London, where his work at Covent Garden in 1884 and 1903-10 was responsible for an awakened appreciation of German opera. By detailing Richter's career in England, where he achieved great fame as an exponent of music of the Austro-German tradition, a true measure of his contribution as a conductor will be gained, because this insular nation was farther removed from the musical traditions of the continent than her physical distance suggested. Without ambassadors such as Richter, she and her composers would not have made such close musical connections with other European countries. While Richter's entire thirty-four year career in England is covered in this document, most attention is paid to the first ten years--from 1877 until 1886. During this period he achieved great acclaim as a conductor of the Wagner Festival of 1877, of German opera performances in 1882 and 1884, and of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival of 1885. Primarily, though, this period is important because of his role as founding conductor of a series of annual orchestral concerts at St. James's Hall in London-- the Richter Concerts. For a total of twenty-four uninterrupted years the series continued, with each year usually containing both a fall and a spring-summer series of 3

concerts. These first ten years were crucial in establishing Richter as a conductor of the first rank in London, and in establishing his specialized musical repertoire. The quality of the performances, determined mainly through press notices, and Richter's own conducting traits, will be closely scrutinized. In addition, his repertoire will be exhaustively surveyed, as will the response both to the music itself and his interpretation of it. Hans Richter was born in Györ (now Raab), on April 4, 1843. While some great conductors in the past have been born into non-musical families, such was not the case with him. Both of his parents were professional musicians, and each took an active interest in developing their son's talent. Hans's father, Anton (1802-54), was kapellmeister of the cathedral in Raab, and had sung in the chorus of the Esterhazy Castle in Kismartin as a young man. He was an excellent organist, dabbled in composition occasionally, and was a friend of both and . As director of the cathedral's musical activities, he would sometimes bring his young son to participate in the orchestra, at least once as a timpanist. Following Anton's death in 1854, when Hans was only ten, Richter's mother moved with her son to Vienna. The daughter of a military band conductor, Josephine

Richter (1821-92) had a powerful impact on the personality and the musicianship of her son. She was an outstanding soprano singer in Vienna, reaching the zenith of her career with a portrayal of in the Vienna premiere of Tannhäuser in 1857. This event must have had a powerful impact on the thirteen-year-old Hans, for, among other things, it meant that he was exposed to the style of Wagner's very unique music at a very impressionable age. Nine years later, when Wagner invited him to be an apprentice at his home in Switzerland (Triebschen), Hans Richter had already experienced the power of the 's music within his own family. Josephine became a noted voice teacher 4

in the Austrian ; she published a book for singers entitled Methodische Entwicklung des Sprachorganismus ftir den Kunstgesang (Methodical Development of the Speech Organs for Artistic Song) which was praised for its concise explication of proper singing technique. In Vienna, Richter attended the Lowenburg Konvict from the age of eleven to fifteen. His primary musical activity during these years involved , which his mother taught him, and singing. The young Hungarian emigre was a member of the boy which participated in performances at the court chapel, and, eventually, became one of the group's outstanding alto soloists. It was in this setting that he came in contact with Josef Sucher, a fellow choir-boy with whom he was to have a close professional and personal relationship for many years. In an 1896 interview in London, Richter looked back on his early years in Vienna.

While I was singing in the chapel I was being educated in the Gymnasium--that is a large public school. I also worked hard at my music, and as time went on I played in various in Vienna--a different instrument in each. My wish was to become a conductor, and to this end I was anxious to make myself practically acquainted with every instrument in the orchestra.1

In 1860 Richter entered the Vienna Conservatory, the prestigious founded by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. During years of his attendance he studied under Heissler, under Kleinecke, and and under a prominent contrapuntist named . Richter has been reputed by several scholars to have stated that he chose the horn because of its relative lack of good players, thereby enhancing his chances of landing an orchestra position. If this is true it represents an early example of the pragmatism which was to guide many of his later

1Quoted in F. Klickman, "Moments with Modern Musicians: A Chat with Dr. Hans Richter," The Windsor Magazine 4 (1896): 339. 5

decisions.2 In the student orchestra of the conservatory he played horn primarily, but was also seen playing violin, oboe, , trumpet, percussion, and . Richter's cross- family expertise as an orchestral instrumentalist was thus begun at an early age, and was to pay handsome dividends in his remarkable conducting career. Though he would not graduate from the Vienna Conservatory until 1865, Richter was hired in Sept., 1862 as a horn player for the court opera which in those days performed in the Kärntnertor Theater. Six months after leaving this position in March, 1866, Richter was asked by , indirectly, to serve as a copyist at the composer's residence in Triebschen. Wagner sent word in the fall of 1866 to , a respected composition professor at the Conservatory and the conductor of the Kärntnertor orchestra, that he was in need of assistance with the preparation of the score of Die . Along with the court Kapellmeister from , , who just happened to be in Vienna at the time,3 Esser had administered a conducting exam to Richter about a year earlier. The test was passed by the aspiring conductor, and Esser had not forgotten the young man's talent. Wagner had requested, in his typically opportunistic manner, an assistant who could not only copy a score accurately and with good manuscript quality, but also one who possessed outstanding overall musicianship. This Triebschen summons was a life-changing event for Hans Richter, for it brought him next to the man whose personality, artistic principles, and music were to form the dominant influences in his professional life.

2After "genial," the adjective of choice for him in the scholarly literature is "practical."

3There is some irony in the fact that Lachner was demoted from his position as principal conductor of the Staatsoper in Munich in 1865 when Wagner, of whom Lachner was no advocate, decided that Bülow would be the ideal interpreter of und Isolde, the world premiere of which was to take place on June 10, 1865. Lachner was unknowingly abetting the cause of the young conductor, Richter, who would in turn spare no expense in advancing the cause of the person, Richard Wagner, most responsible for Lachner's professional demise. 6

The twenty-three year old Richter arrived in Triebschen on October 30, 1866, eager to assist the composer whose reputation in Vienna had been steadily growing despite a prolonged Swiss exile. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Richter's two periods of residence at Triebschen, the first of which lasted thirteen months. He referred to Wagner in a letter as "the greatest man of all time," which expresses better than anything else the degree to which the budding conductor worshipped the composer.4 At first adopting a rather quiet presence in his room on the second floor of the lakeside mansion, Richter was soon welcomed into the as one of their own. The composer, who was thirty years older, called his new protégé "the most educated person in my home," and a "childlike, good, fine person."5 Richter's primary assignment in Triebschen was to copy the manuscript score of Die Meistersinger, on which Wagner was feverishly at work. Richter's copy would then be sent to the engraver for printing. (Wagner's manuscript was perfectly legible, but he did not want the engraver's chemicals, especially the zinc deposits, to mar the original score.) Richter finished his copying chore in the fall of 1867, following Wagner's completion of the on Oct. 24. Soon afterward, Wagner recommended his able assistant to Hans von Bülow in Munich, who was in need of help with preparations for court opera performances. The court intendant, Perfall, approved the appointment, and Richter left Triebschen for Munich in December, 1867 to take up his new duties. Thus, it was Wagner who not only employed the young Richter as a copying assistant, but also saw to it that he was given a professional position with a major court opera. Richter's duties at the Staatsoper involved coaching solo singers, playing at piano rehearsals, and conducting the chorus. He worked closely with both Bülow and Wagner

4Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Conductors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), p. 177.

5Quoted in Richard Reinhardt, "Hans Richter," Bayreuther Kurier, April 3, 1943, p. 4. 7

in preparation for a performance of which took place on April 17, 1868. The young conductor's letters from this period betray an exuberant enthusiasm with his new responsibilities. He attributed his professional status to the intervention of his mentor, which was basically correct, and was drawn even closer to him because of it; Richter's loyalty to Wagner was now sealed for life. Following the successful first performances of Die Meistersinger in June of 1868, Richter was promoted to the position of Royal Bavarian Court Conductor, giving him status comparable with Bülow. He made his conducting debut with a performance of Rossini's William Tell on August 25, 1868, at the Staatsoper. About one year later, preparations were under way for the premiere of , despite Wagner's desire to present this opera exclusively as part of a complete Ring performance. (Richter actually made his debut as a Wagnerian conductor on June

25, 1869, when Die Meistersinger was again presented in Munich.) When Bülow precipitously departed Munich in the spring of 1869 because of the emotional strain caused by his marital problems, of which Wagner was a primary cause, Richter stepped in as chief conductor. This was ideal for the composer, who was attempting to control every facet of the production from his remote Triebschen residence, for he knew that Richter would obey his orders even more readily than Bülow. Wagner balked at the inferior scenic preparations at the Staatsoper, and instructed Richter to threaten to leave if the requisite improvements were not made. The young conductor complied, but Perfall called Richter's bluff by refusing to make the changes. Richter resigned to avoid being fired, but his pride remained intact since he had maintained loyalty to Wagner.

The world premiere of Das Rheingold was conducted shortly thereafter by Franz Wüllner, who also premiered Die Walküre in Munich, to Wagner's compounded chagrin, one year later. 8

Richter returned to Triebschen in the fall of 1869 to resume duties as Wagner's amanuensis. The score of was in need of copying, and Richter assiduously dedicated himself to this task, believing with all his heart that its composer was a man for the ages. Richter realized that Wagner had instigated both his appointment and his termination in Munich, and knew that the fifty-six year old composer could probably provide him with other conducting opportunities. This was a prescient realization, if it actually occurred, for his conducting services were called upon within months of his return to Triebschen by way of the first performance in French of Lohengrin, to take place in Brussels. Richter conducted the opera, with which he had become so familiar in the spring of 1868 in Munich, at the de in the Belgium capital on March 22, 1870. Arthur Johnstone describes Richter's formidable obstacles in preparing for this premiere.

. . . It may be mentioned that he found the choral singers at the theatre incapable of rendering their parts, and had to teach them, note by note, like children. Yet in the public performance there was no trace of these miseries, everything went with freedom and spontaneity, and ever since the first production under Richter Lohengrin has been a great feature of the Brussels repertory.

It was received with enthusiastic praise by the audience, and this success represents a significant step in the conductor's career since it established his name outside of Munich's limited sphere of influence. With his copying chore still unfinished, Richter returned to Triebschen after the Brussels premiere.6 It was during this second phase of Richter's second residence at Triebschen, which lasted until the spring of 1871, that his relationship with Wagner achieved a new depth. The two men took frequent walks together, often played four- handed piano literature, and discussed --with Wagner talking and Richter listening--all

6Ludwig Karpath, Begegnung mit dem Genius (Vienna: Fiba, 1934), p. 281, states that Richter also copied Wagner's essay, On Conducting, at this time. 9

aspects of the composer's artistic theories. Because Wagner was frequently occupied with composition (the dates from this period), Richter played four-handed piano music with Cosima also. Among the many enriching musical experiences for Richter during this period were the frequent performances of Beethoven's string quartets undertaken at the Triebschen residence. Wagner set aside one evening per week for the performances, which were more like didactic study-sessions, with the composer instructing the string players from Zurich in his conception of the true meaning of Beethoven's music. "Richter participated regularly at these sessions [playing ] and considered these hours, in which he was led by Wagner to the dizzying heights of the Beethovenian spirit, to be the most crucial of his artistic life."7 So close had Richter grown to Wagner by the fall of 1870 that the composer selected his talented assistant to present the world premier of the Siegfried-Idyll, which he had completed in June. The piece, composed as a private tribute to his son's first birthday, was not to receive a formal public premiere. Instead, Wagner wished it to be played as a surprise for Cosima's birthday on Dec. 25. Richter was told to gather the necessary musicians from and rehearse the work secretly, which he did. Early on the morning of Cosima's birthday, Richter and his musicians gathered on the steps of the house and played the world premiere of this orchestral composition. Richter played the difficult first trumpet part in the Siegfried-Idyll, which was to become one of the staples in his repertoire. It was then clear to Cosima why Richter had been practicing the trumpet so diligently in the days leading up to the performance.8 Because of the unusual performance conditions, Wagner's children, who were awakened along with their

7Gustav Schonaich, "Hans Richter," Die Musik 2 (1903): 131.

8Cosima Wagner, 's Diaries, ed. Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, trans. Geofrey Skelton, 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978-80), 1: 312. Cosima had admonished Richter several times for playing too loud in the house. 10 astonished mother by the loud music, always referred to this work as the Treppenmusik (staircase-music). Later, Wagner presented Richter with the manuscript score of this work as a gift. Judging from Cosima's diaries, Richter may have spent more time with the Wagner children than Richard himself. Being only a young man, Richter enjoyed frolicking with them around the spacious grounds of the villa; he seemed to possess as much energy as them. He also found time to engage in a prolific correspondence with friends in Vienna, Munich, and other cities, and, especially, with his mother. These letters reveal how grateful he was to the composer for making him a part of the Wagner family, and how thoroughly he had absorbed his artistic credo. There were occasional attempts by Richter to proffer a differing opinion on a matter of musical principles. Betraying his easy-going Viennese roots, he argued that music by Auber and Rossini was really harmless after all was said and done, and even Verdi was tolerable at times. He also spoke disparagingly of the of Weber's , an opinion with which most historians now concur. However, Wagner argued that there was barely anything of value in the entire French and Italian cultures, much less anything of musical value. In Wagner's ethos, gfeat musical art lay in the exclusive dominion of Teutonic culture. Richter seems to have been persuaded, for his future programming featured very little music from either France or Italy. It was Richter who in 1869 mentioned to Wagner the possibility of using the town of Bayreuth, with its existing Margrave's , as a possible site for annual music festivals. As an old man, the conductor referred proudly to this fact, recalling that Wagner immediately looked up the entry on "Bayreuth" in the family's Brockhaus encyclopedia. Demonstrating his closeness to the family, Richter, along with Malwida Meysenbug, served as a witness to the in 1870 of Richard and Cosima. With 11

his copying chores nearly completed, however, Richter was eager for more responsibility. In early January of 1871, the composer's wife relates the news which caused sadness in the Triebschen household, but heralded a new direction for the career of the young conductor. "Richter has had a letter from his friend Servais, begging him in my father's name [Franz Liszt] to go immediately to Pest [Budapest], where plans to appoint him are progressing well; I advise Richter to approach my father directly for enlightenment."9 Liszt, it turns out, had already intervened on Richter's behalf, enthusiastically recommending him for the position of conductor of the national opera house. Three days after the first letter, another arrives.

In the evening Richter brings back a letter from a Herr Langer in Pest, on behalf of the management, offering him the conductor's post there. Richter will have to accept it, but for us it will be difficult to let him go--we look on him, after all, as our eldest son! . . . R. [Wagner] is in despondent spirits in view of Richter's impending departure."10

Richter left Triebschen in April, 1871, in order to visit his mother in Vienna, and then to assume his new position at the National Theatre in Budapest. His assignment began on September 1 and lasted for forty-four months, until April of 1875. While in the Hungarian capital, he learned several things. Primarily, he gained valuable experience as an operatic conductor. He conducted several of Wagner's there (mainly Lohengrin and Tannhäuser), but also presented such un-Wagnerian works as , William Tell, (Gounod), , II Trovatore, Marriage of Figaro, and several of Meyerbeer's works for the stage. This experience served to balance the Wagnerian indoctrination Richter had undergone while working at the Staatsoper in Munich, and it gave him the everyday experience needed to polish his conducting skills. An equally valuable lesson, as far as he was concerned, was learned about his suitability

9lbid., p. 316.

10Ibid., pp. 318-19. 12

for the role of a director, with its attendant managerial responsibilities, versus simply a conductor, with its primarily musical duties. Following two years as Kapellmeister with the Budapest National Theatre, Richter was named Director in February, 1874. For several reasons, he emerged from his years in Budapest with the firm conviction that he was not suited to be an opera director, as opposed to an opera conductor, and held to this position for the rest of his life. For him, the artistic world and the administrative world were antithetical. Richter also learned a difficult but valuable lesson about nationalistic prejudice during his Budapest tenure. He was accused of "Germanizing" the repertoire of the opera house, despite the fact that Weber and Wagner were only modestly represented in his repertoire, while Meyerbeer and Gounod dominated. Richter, however, made the mistake of presenting Wagner's early operas, , Der Fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, and Lohengrin, in reverse order of composition. None of these was appreciated by the Budapest citizenry, and by the time he got to Rienzi, there was little tolerance left for any Wagnerian opera, as there was a crescendo of negative criticism in the press. The performances were inhibited by poor scenery and a weak chorus. Richter also made the mistake of giving a benefit concert with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra for the construction of the Festival Theatre at Bayreuth. He was accused of using his Hungarian musicians to promote the strictly German cause represented by Wagner's music. There was an underlying political cause for these accusations, for Hungary was in fear of the recently empowered Prussian empire during this period, and there had been a long-standing fear of . Richter was seen as more Viennese than Hungarian, which was a convenient excuse for his detractors to vent their anti-Austrian wrath at him.11

11After the pan-European upheaval in 1848, Hungary had been dominated by Austria for twenty years. In 1867, she won her independence, but the legacy of Austrian rule 13

Despite this negativism, he looked back fondly on his time in Budapest in later years. His feelings about the experience are summed up in a letter to in 1886.

Concerning my leaving Pest, the single cause was the opinion that I was not suitable as the Director; in the same institution in which I was a "General," I was to continue to serve as "Captain"--that won't do. Otherwise I never would have left Pest, because I have nowhere found it better, and the Pest years remain unforgettable to me. . . . I will never be a Director again, that I know for sure, because even if everything goes well, as an artist one stops making progress when oppressed by the worries of management.12

Notwithstanding the negative experiences in Budapest, Richter's accomplishments should not go unmentioned. He introduced the German and Hungarian operatic repertoire to a country which had been exposed primarily to French and Italian works previously. Similarly, he introduced, at his concerts with the Philharmonic, purely orchestral music by such composers as Berlioz, Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. Nemeth Amade offers a balanced assessment of the young conductor's Budapest tenure.

True, he was a Wagnerian all through his life, he did Germanize the repertoire to an extent, and he overwhelmingly used his employees to advance the Wagnerian cause, but it is also true that he transformed the musical "ensemble,"- geared by Erkel for Italian and French music, to a working collective capable of digesting any type of music. The financial books of the productions mounted by Richter, which testify to a considerable box office success, are an important argument against his critics. Also, we should not forget that during the almost forty-four months of his Budapest activity, nine Hungarian operas were premiered or revived.13

Richter conducted another benefit concert to raise money for the Festspielhaus in January, 1875. This was given in Vienna, however, while he was still employed at the National Theatre in Budapest. The all-Wagner program prompted a typically negative response from Hanslick, the notoriously anti-Wagner critic, but was enthusiastically

still lingered. pp. 271-72. Begegnung, Karpath, 12

Ibid. 13 14

received by much of the audience which included . It was partly because of this outstanding performance that Richter was named by Franz Jauner, the newly appointed director of the Hofoper, as assistant conductor at the Imperial opera house and sole conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Richter's final performance as director of the National Theatre in Budapest, though by no means his final concert in the Hungarian capital, occurred on April 24, 1875, when he conducted Lohengrin. Only one week later, he began his duties in Vienna with a performance of Die Meistersinger. Richter's marriage on Jan. 27, 1875 to a Hungarian woman, Marie von Szitanyi, the daughter of a wealthy landlord from Baracs, made him concerned about his ability to manage the financial demands of raising a family while still pursuing a conducting career. There seemed to be little future for his career in Budapest, yet he realized that the Viennese could also be fickle about conductors. With this in mind, he negotiated a very lucrative contract with the authorities of the Hofoper, and may have received a multi-year guarantee. Most importantly, he maintained his close ties with Wagner, who had provided career opportunities for him in the past. Indeed, there was an abundant correspondence between them during Richter's four years in Budapest, as the composer was constantly seeking Richter's support for the eventual premiere performances of the Ring operas at Bayreuth. In turn, Richter was determined to maintain the intimate friendship which had been established in Triebschen only a few years previously. Among the important events surrounding Richter's relationship with the celebrated composer during the Budapest years was the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone of the festival theatre in Bayreuth. This occurred on , 1872, and featured an unforgettable performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Wagner conducting and Richter playing the instruments on which his father had trained him twenty years earlier--the timpani. This important ceremony made a deep impact on the 15

twenty-nine year old Richter. It was Wagner's inspirational direction of this Symphony which made the biggest impact, as the young timpanist took his cues from Wagner not only regarding the percussion part, but also regarding the interpretation of Beethoven's final symphony as a whole. The dozens of performances of this work which Richter conducted over the course of his long career were all derived, in an interpretive sense, from this 1872 concert. Because of Richter's close ties to outstanding musicians in Budapest and, now, Vienna, Wagner was not about to lose touch with his protégé. Preparations were being made for the first , and, though Wagner preferred Bülow's temperament for the interpretation of his Ring , Richter was chosen. Not only did the younger conductor have access to superior artists, Wagner knew that he would be served with "doglike devotion" by Richter.14 Besides, Bülow was still bitter about losing Cosima to Wagner, and the proud Prussian conductor was never afraid to argue, even with composers whose works he admired, in favor of his own divergent artistic interpretation. Preliminary rehearsals for the Ring premiere were held in Bayreuth in the summer of 1875, with Richter conducting. Most of the music rehearsals were turned over to Richter, while the composer concerned himself with sets, lighting and scenery. True to form, however, Wagner retained control over everything, just as he had done with Richter six years earlier in Munich; the composer manipulated his young disciple as if he were a marionette. Geoffrey Skelton describes the relationship.

. . . Wagner was by no means easy to work with. He insisted on treating Richter more as an extended arm than as an artist in his own right, and in a constant flow of notes gave him instructions not only on interpretation but also on technique. Richter was exhorted to attend all piano rehearsals "since otherwise you will not get to know my tempi."15

14Schonberg, Conductors, p. 177.

15Geoffrey Skelton, Wagner at Bayreuth (London: White Lion, 1965), p. 50. 16

Hans Mayer concurs, saying that Richter was "merely an assistant. Unlike Hans von Bülow, he was not an independent and congenial partner, and at that time Wagner could not but think of Bülow without some feeling of guilt."16 Far from rejecting Wagner's demeaning intrusion into conducting matters, Richter scrupulously followed orders, seeing himself as unworthy of disagreement with the composer. Richter was not entirely alone with conducting duties involving the Ring premiere. In fact, there were three assistants brought in to give each of the her own conductor. They were Franz Fischer, , and , "all of whom were later to carry the benefit of Wagner's teaching far beyond Bayreuth itself."17 These men, the Nibelungen Kanzlei as they were called, had been recruited by both Richter and Wagner for the original purpose of copying the scores and extracting legible orchestra parts, much the same as Richter had done with Meistersinger almost a decade earlier. So, Hans Richter was not the only beneficiary of Wagner's conducting instruction at the first Bayreuth festival. Both "he and Wagner were genuinely concerned to educate them in the true Bayreuth style, for them to be able to dissipate the Bayreuth musical spirit into the world."18 As with so many of Wagner's productions, the Ring premiere was an artistic success and a financial disaster. Even though many of the artists were donating their services for this very special occasion, too much money had been spent on the construction of the theatre and the scenic designs. Wagner and his musical associates like Richter were to spend the next several years attempting to recover the losses accrued at the premiere of August, 1876. There was some criticism of the scenery for the Ring

16(New York:Hans Rizzoli, Mayer,Richard 1976), p. Wagner 39. in Bayreuth

17Skelton,Wagner,p. 51.

18Summary of Richter's career, without source, provided by Wagner Museum in Bayreuth. 17

dramas also, but the musical aspect was hailed as exemplary. The orchestra was singled out for its balanced and precise musicianship, and Richter was proclaimed to be one of the great world-class conductors strictly on the basis of these performances. The Musical Times sent a correspondent, as did most other major news organizations in European capitals, and he reported to London as follows.

Herr Richter, of Vienna, filled the all-important post of conductor in a manner absolutely beyond reproach. I may say this the more emphatically, because I have never seen Herr Richter. He is known to me only "by his fruits," and assuredly never did music so exacting receive such ample justice. It may be urged that the completeness of the performance arose from a multitude of rehearsals. Of course it did--otherwise Herr Richter and his men would have wrought a miracle. The secret of their success, apart from individual skill, was simply hard work. Let me give particulars on this head. The orchestral rehearsals alone of the four dramas were thirty-six in number--nine for each , to say nothing of subsequent rehearsals more or less "full." Many of these lasted four hours, the "wind" occupying two hours and the strings the other two. . . . "No wonder," it may be said, "that the result was perfect." The wonder is that, in our days of hurry, so much patient labour was thought needful and cheerfully bestowed.19

J. W. Davison of was also dispatched to Bayreuth, and reinforced the Musical Times's opinion while giving evidence of Richter's great rapport with the orchestral musicians.

Too much stress cannot be laid upon the invaluable cooperation of Herr Hans Richter, Dr. von Bülow's successor as Wagner's artistic alter ego. The zealous and indefatigable manner in which this gentleman has worked for the cause is estimated at its value; and it is agreeable to learn that the members of the orchestra (Wilhelmj at their head) presented their conductor with one of Estey's finest "Richard Wagner" organs, in testimony of their unanimous appreciation of his services during the two months' preliminary rehearsals. A more appropriate mark of esteem on the part of his fellow-artists could not, under the circumstances, have been tendered.20

It was Richter's experience as conductor of this Ring cycle premiere which, more than anything else, secured his reputation as a great conductor. It also secured, with both

19Quoted in "Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (July 1, 1899): 445.

20J. W. Davison, From Mendelssohn to Wagner (London: Reeves, 1912), pp. 522-23. 18

positive and negative ramifications, his categorization as a "Wagnerian" conductor, but his work in Vienna and London soon dispelled the implication that he was weak in other areas such as purely orchestral conducting or in interpreting the abstract music of Beethoven or Brahms. There is no doubt, however, that following the festival of 1876 Richter was still very much dependent on Richard Wagner for his artistic legitimacy, for he had not yet made close connections with other composers or musical authorities. After a few more years in Vienna, he would establish important relationships with men like Dvorák and Brahms, but when he ventured with Wagner to London less than one year after the premiere of the tetralogy, he had yet to develop an artistic conscience of his own. A significant amount of space in this thesis will be devoted to Richter's first ten years in London--1877-1886. His orchestral concerts during those years in the English capital, termed simply "Richter Concerts" beginning in 1880, will be closely examined.

Most attention will be directed at his repertoire and its reception by both the audiences and London's music critics. Because so much of this music was being performed for the first or second time in England, considerable emphasis will be placed on the listeners' digestion of the music itself, rather than on performance characteristics. Richter's ventures in German opera in 1882 and 1884 will also receive ample coverage since this genre reflects his direct ties with Wagner. Because he split his time between Vienna and London during the years from 1877 until 1898, there will be frequent reference to his work in the Austrian capital. No account of Richter's London activity would be complete without consideration of his concurrent efforts in Vienna, especially in view of the extensive sharing of repertoire between the two capitals. Finally, Richter's remaining years in England, from 1887 until 1911, will be discussed in less detail than the first ten years. The scope will be limited to important 19

premiere performances, relationships with important composers such as Dvorák, Sullivan, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Brahms, Liszt, Bruckner, Stanford, and Elgar, and, as before, to the reception of the music by the English public and press. In this last section of the thesis, more attention will be paid to Richter's part in the elevation of performance standards in England. Coming under detailed scrutiny will be his work at Birmingham, where he was closer to the heart of England's own indigenous musical traditions than anywhere else. Richter's efforts on behalf of British musicians, including both composers and performers, will be continually probed in an effort to arrive at the extent of his achievement in this important realm. The concluding pages focus on the musical legacy bequeathed to England by this great conductor. CHAPTER TWO THE LONDON WAGNER FESTIVAL, 1877

Hans Richter came to London for the first time in May of 1877. He made his English conducting debut as part of that city's Wagner Festival, which began on May 7 and ended on May 29. It was the beginning of a glorious English career for the young maestro, as remarkable for its longevity as for its many musical triumphs. Surely no one at that festival could have divined that this dedicated Wagner disciple, still clinging to the coattails of the Bayreuth master, would become a mainstay on London podiums for over three decades. His range of orchestral activity in the English capital progressed from the Wagner Festival to the Richter Concerts (1879-1904), to the first conductorship of the London Symphony Orchestra (1904-1911). A great affinity for German opera in general and Wagner in particular took him to Drury Lane (1882) and Covent Garden (1884; 1903-1910). The mutual attraction which marked the outset of Richter's relationship with London concert-goers developed, despite some minor rifts along the way, into a marriage sustained by enduring respect. It is appropriate that Wagner, who gave Richter his start in Continental musical circles, should have been the one to introduce him to insular audiences. However, though he wished to foster the growth of Richter's career, in neither case did Wagner act from any altruistic impulse. Following the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876, the musical direction of which was entrusted to Richter, Wagner found himself in dire financial straits. It was not so much that the festival itself had been a financial failure as that building and equipment costs had eclipsed the income potential of any single festival. Wagner had resolved by January, 1877 not to embark on another festival in Bayreuth

20 21

until its solvency could be assured. Since King Ludwig had refused to bankroll any future festivals and was not inclined to relinquish performing rights of the Ring to other German theaters, Wagner was desperate for funds.1 It was then that he began to consider seriously the prospect of a series of concerts in London which several of his friends, primarily , had been suggesting. Wagner knew that such a venture would have a much better chance of success if Hans Richter were to lead the performances. He had to face up to his own deteriorating health during the Bayreuth Festival and realized that the strain of conducting his works, even in concert form, was too much for a sixty-four-year-old man to bear. Besides, Richter had proved a competent if not an artistically ideal conductor at Bayreuth. (Wagner found fault with certain aspects of Richter's interpretations; he believed Hans von Bülow and, later, Anton Seidl were the best interpreters of his music.) Certainly, this loyal apprentice was intimately acquainted with the works, all by Wagner, to be given in London and had established a good working relationship with the Bayreuth singers who had also been engaged for the tour. Furthermore, Richter had achieved great acclaim for his work in Bayreuth and was rapidly gaining recognition for his accomplishments as conductor of the Hofoper and Philharmonic Concerts in Vienna. With this in mind, it is easy to understand the insistent tone in the following lines sent in March, 1877 from Wagner to Richter: "For the accomplishment of my London scheme you are indispensably necessary to me; yes, without your help I really could not think of undertaking these concerts."2 Richter was acutely aware that his meteoric rise to international fame was a direct result of his conducting at Bayreuth in 1876 and would not have occurred without his

1Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946), 4: 548-55.

2"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (1899): 445. 22

master's influence. If his loyalty to Wagner were not enough to cause him to accede to the proposal, his feeling of indebtedness was. The problem was that the authorities of the Vienna Hofoper, to whom Richter was under contract as a relatively new conductor, were loathe to grant an unconditional leave of absence for his participation in the London festival. These authorities could not pass up the opportunity to try to extract something in return for the services of their most gifted conductor; however highly they may have regarded Richter, they were not above using him as a bargaining tool. Like the theaters in Munich, and , the Hofoper in Vienna was interested in securing performances of the Ring operas. These works were coveted not so much for their intrinsic merits as for their exclusivity of production. When Wagner had solicited the release of Richter and other prominent artists from contractual obligations to the Hofoper for participation at Bayreuth in 1876, Viennese officials attempted to gain performing rights to the Ring as quid pro quo. After lengthy negotiations, they secured the consent of Wagner for a production of Die Walküre, which took place on March 5, 1877 at the Hofoper, with Richter conducting. Wagner's renewed petition of March-April, 1877 for the release of Richter and principal singers for the London series met with further exploitation by Hofoper authorities. Franz Jauner, the ambitious director of the Hofoper, declared that Richter's leave would not be granted unless Wagner consented to productions of the other three Ring dramas in Vienna. Wagner's reply indicated that he could not accede to the demand since the King of owned the performing rights to the Ring. It was made clear that unless Richter's leave were granted, Wagner would sever all connections with Vienna. Richter, caught in the middle of this altercation, sent several anxious telegrams to Wagner informing him of the director's intractable position. Wagner, in an effort to circumvent Jauner's defiance, conducted some negotiations directly with Prince 23

Hohenlohe, the Emperor's minister in charge of the administration of the Hofoper. Franz Liszt also wrote to the Prince on Wagner's behalf. In the end, the leaves were granted, but not without a price. It was no coincidence that separate performances of Das Rheingold, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung took place at the Hofoper within a period of two years following the London Wagner Festival.3 Wagner's choice of Hans Richter as the main conductor at the London festival was thus brought to fruition only through perseverant negotiation.4 As with most of Wagner's decisions regarding musical personnel, the move proved to be wise, for Richter was a leading force in the success of London's first Wagner Festival. Unfortunately, the concerts were a pecuniary failure, but Bayreuth had suffered the same fate, and a conductor's success did not always depend on box office profits. Enormous obstacles such as the excessively resonant acoustical properties of the site for all concerts of the festival, the Albert Hall, the indisposition of some of the singers, and a language barrier between the conductors and the instrumentalists were, for the most part, overcome.5 Richter's leadership was an important factor in this victory. It is surprising, in some ways, that London audiences of this period would have tolerated, much less welcomed, such a highly concentrated dose of Wagner's music as the festival offered. The musical conservatism cultivated in the third quarter of the century by J. W. Davison, critic of the Times from 1846-1879, permeated England's musical climate for many decades. Some of London's music critics in 1877 may still have agreed

3An account of the negotiations for Richter's services is given in Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 955-58.

4Newman, Wagner, 4: 555, states that Anton Seidl and Franz Fischer were hired as Richter's assistants.

5Wagner did not speak English, while , another rehearsal conductor, was bilingual; but Newman points out, in his Wagner, 4: 556, footnote no. 11, that "Richter knew no English." 24

with Davison's 1854 description of the to Tannhäuser as "such queer stuff that criticism would be thrown away upon it. . . . We never listened to an overture at once so loud and so empty."6 Appreciation of orchestral music in England was a very slow process, lagging considerably behind that of more sophisticated audiences on the Continent. During the first half of the nineteenth century concert-goers found the repertoire dominated by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. Even as late as 1844 Schubert was an outcast, as the following denunciation by Davison affirmed:

Perhaps a more overrated man never existed than the same Schubert. He has certainly written a few good songs, but what then? Has not every composer that ever composed written a few good songs? And out of the thousand and one with which Schubert deluged the musical world, it would, indeed, be hard if some half-dozen were not tolerable. And when that is said, all is said that can justly be said of Schubert.7

In 1877, England was a bastion for the art of oratorio in the provinces and Italian opera in London. Indeed, Covent Garden's seasons had been referred to since 1847 simply as the "Royal Italian Opera." Mendelssohn's music, though beginning to decline in popularity, still enjoyed a faithful following. It was two luminaries of the conservative German tradition, and Josef Joachim, who were offered honorary

doctorates by the in 1877. Hermann Klein, critic of the Sunday Times from 1881-1901, was present at the Wagner Festival and summed up the contemporary attitude about Wagner leading up to the concerts:

The prejudice against the later works still prevailed, however, and to such an extent no London impresario yet dreamed of mounting Tristan or Die Walküre, or Die Meistersinger, despite the success those works were then meeting with in many Continental cities. All one could say was that musicians were beginning to display an interest in the preludes and excerpts occasionally performed in the concert-room!

6Percy A. Scholes, ed. The Mirror of Music, 1844-1944, 2 vols. (London: Novello, 1947), 1: 235.

7Scholes, Mirror, 1: 416. 25

Nevertheless, among listeners in the Albert Hall during the Wagner Festival, the number of dissenting voices was small, and, if contemporary accounts are to be believed, the public's veneration of Wagner reached cultic proportions. No such consensus emanated from the press, and the disparate opinions make it difficult to construct a composite reaction to the festival. Credit for the idea of a series of Wagner concerts in London goes to the eminent violinist August Wilhelmj, concertmaster at the previous summer's first Bayreuth Festival.9 Another violinist, Hermann Franke, was also involved in the planning stages. Wilhelmj had been active as a soloist in England since 1866, and accurately perceived the rising tide of interest in Wagner over the ensuing decade. Klein gives an enlightening account of Wilhelmj's persuasive plea to the master.

He broached the subject during the autumn of 1876, and at first, I believe, Wagner was utterly unwilling to consider the proposition. Twice already had the Meister been in England—once in the summer of 1839, and again in 1855, when for a single season he took the baton laid down by [Sir Michael] Costa as conductor of the Philharmonic Society. His recollections of this second visit cannot have been wholly pleasant; but Wilhelmj showed him how completely the aspect of things had changed, and agreed that there was now an immense curiosity to see him as well as hear more of his music. Besides, six concerts at the Albert Hall would result in a net profit of as many thousand pounds. The was too strong to be resisted; Wagner ultimately decided to go.10

8Hermann Klein, Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900 (New York: Century., 1903), p. 67.

9Newman, in his Wagner, 4: 555, indicates that the idea was conceived by the festival's agents, Hodge and Essex, "in conjunction with Wilhelmj and the violinist Hermann Franke." He also suggests that Edward Dannreuther may have been involved in the planning stages, despite the latter's claim in his article on Wagner in the 1890 edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Vol. 4, p. 364) that he had "nothing whatever to do with the planning of the 'festival,' nor with the business arrangements."

10Klein, Musical Life, p. 68. 26

According to Newman, the scheme originally called for twenty concerts to be given in the Albert Hall, an enormous structure built in 1871 which seated twelve thousand people. It was eventually decided that six concerts would be given over a two-week period. This prospectus was made official in a contract signed by Wagner on March 15. Wagner was guaranteed £1,500 by the London firm of Hodge and Essex, which Wilhelmj had contracted to manage the festival. This amount was to have been prepaid to the composer, through the intermediary of a lawyer. Cosima's diary attests to this, and to the problems Hodge & Essex were having raising capital. Several entries during March and April of 1877 allude to these financial difficulties:

March 28 Herr Hodge asks for a postponement of the guaranteed payment; we grant it to him through the lawyer.

March 31 . . . in the evening a letter from Mr. Hodge, complaints regarding the high cost of the singers.

April 5 In the afternoon we are surprised by a visit from Herr Essex, who requests another postponement of the guaranteed payment. We consent, since personally Herr Essex makes a good impression and Wilhelmj pleads in his behalf.

April 15 R. [Richard] is worried about London, since Messrs. Hodge Essex do not seem very safe after all. . . . The £1,500 have still not yet been paid; it also seems that no supervisionplaces. 11of the sale of tickets is possible, since they are sold in 20 different

11Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 955-58. 27

Obviously, the competence of Hodge & Essex as financial agents was in question well before the festival started. Still, Wagner chose not to back out.

Wagner and Cosima arrived in London on May 1, 1877. On the following day, a welcoming committee comprising several of the German societies in London (German

Athenaeum, Liederkranz, German Gymnastic Society, Camberwell Gesang-Verein,

Liederklänge) greeted him at the residence of Edward Dannreuther, with whor

Cosima stayed for the entire five-week English visit. Through their great the German population in London, the Dannreuthers lent steadfast sup, decades not only to Wagner's cause, but also to Hans Richter's career. They

Richard Wagner a savior for modern music, and their zealous welcoming message extensively quoted in the Times.

Our joyous emotions . . . at seeing you among us are enhanced by the consciousness that, in greeting you this day, we salute you as victor in the contest which you have been carrying on so indefatigably for many years past. Far removed as we are from the arena of conflict in the old Fatherland, we have been all the better able to arrive at an impartial judgment upon the arduous struggle in which you have been engaged, and our appearance here may be taken as an earnest proof that among the in London the recognition of your mighty genius has irresistibly asserted itself.12

As will be seen, these German immigrants were not the only ones who were eager to see the composer in person and hear his latest works. Later that same day (May 2), a dinner in Wagner's honor was sponsored by Hodge & Essex. Hermann Klein, who at the age of twenty was an aspiring critic, was invited. Later, he gave the following account of Wagner's state of mind:

Only two or three of the critics were present--and those recognized supporters of the cause--another mistake if jealousies were to be avoided. I had been invited as a personal friend of Hermann Franke, the prime organizer of the whole enterprise. . . . It was he who introduced me to the great man. Earlier in the evening, as I sat not far 12"Herr Wagner," Times (London), May 4, 1877, p. 8. 28

from Wagner, I had been watching his face with intense interest. During the earlier part of the meal it had not worn a happy look. He seemed preoccupied and seldom smiled, though his expression lighted up quickly in response to the jocular remarks made by Wilhelmj, Richter, Franke, and the others around him. On the whole, as I now recall the scene, I feel inclined to think that he was in an anxious frame of mind.13

Wagner's uneasiness manifested itself later in his conversation with Klein. After the young man had attempted to reassure the composer about the response to be expected from the audiences and the critics, Wagner replied: "Yes; but here they still call it "," and in this land of oratorio who knows how long they will take to get rid of their prejudices, unless the agitators keep stirring them up? Well, we shall see what happens next week.14 According to a review in The Athenaeum, the preliminary rehearsal work "had taken place under the direction, in turn, of Mr. Dannreuther, of Herr Richter, and of the composer himself."15 This is corroborated in the festival's programs, in which Richter and Dannreuther are listed as "Conductors of Rehearsals." The only rehearsal conducted by Wagner, and this only for a brief spell, was the final dress on May 5. The preparation work was a formidable task for several reasons. The huge 170-piece orchestra had naturally never played together before, and, because most professional instrumentalists had prior commitments with opera performances at Covent Garden and Her Majesty's Theatre, it probably included an abundance of amateurs. (See the roster of the orchestra in Plate 3.) Apparently, some orchestra members were brought from Bayreuth by

13Hermann Klein, The Golden Age of Opera (London: G. Routledge, 1933; reprinted., New York: Da Capo, 1979), pp.60-61.

14Idem, Musical Life, p. 72.

15"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 12, 1877), p. 618. 29

Wagner.16 The Athenaeum says "it was necessarily a scratch band . . . gathered from the metropolis, the provinces, France, Belgium, and ."17 Whatever its ethnic makeup, this ensemble's unwieldy size undoubtedly made coping with the new and complex music of the Ring that much more difficult. As previously mentioned, the language barrier and the reverberant Albert Hall did not help matters. The dress rehearsal for the opening concert took place on May 5 with Dannreuther, Richter and Wagner present. It had been announced that Wagner would conduct the first half of each program and Richter the second half. Since the festival was designed to illustrate the evolution of the composer's musical style, the first half of each program was to feature Wagner's earlier works, while the second half would focus exclusively on the Ring dramas. Accordingly, this final rehearsal began with Wagner's conducting his Kaisermarsch, which was to open the initial concert. This politically inspired piece proceeded without any difficulties and was followed by the Overture to Der Fliegende Holländer. The problem began here. Klein recounts the unfortunate scene.

Twice--nay --did he [Wagner] make a fresh start, while Mr. Dannreuther and Mr. Deichmann (the faithful leader of the second ) took it by turns to translate his complaints and instructions to the orchestra. But it was of no avail. He utterly failed either to indicate or to obtain what he wanted, and at last, in sheer despair, he threw down his stick and requested Richter to do the work for him.18

It is interesting to note that at the previous day's rehearsal, Wagner had been quite pleased with the sound of the orchestra, though he did not conduct. The awkward breach

between composer and performers opened the door for Hans Richter, whose thirty-four

16Reginald Nettel, The Orchestra in England (London: Readers Union, 1948; reprint ed., St. Clair Shores, Mich.: Scholarly Press, 1972), p. 220.

17"Hen Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 12, 1877), p. 618.

18Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 962. 30

year romance with English musicians commenced at this point in time. Klein proceeds to describe the reception which the orchestra accorded the young assistant conductor.

Well do I remember the sharp round of applause with which the band greeted the Viennese conductor as he mounted the rostrum. It was thoughtless--unkind, if you will; for it must have smote with unpleasant sound upon the ears of the sensitive composer. But the overture went without a hitch. It was played as I had never heard it played before.19

This fiasco confirmed what Wagner already knew: he no longer had the energy or the control required to conduct his more substantial works. As a result, he requested to be relieved of all conducting obligations. In view of the public's anticipation of seeing the master on the podium, caused by the festival's promotional hype, this position was untenable. As a compromise, it was decided that he would conduct the first work on each concert and then seat himself in an armchair at the front of the stage facing the audience while Richter conducted the remaining pieces. Though Wagner conducted

more than one work on each program, this spectacle actually materialized at each concert of the Wagner Festival. Klein depicts the seated composer as assuming "a sphinx-like expression of countenance. . . . He must have felt as though he were being exhibited, like some strange, interesting animal, for all the world to stare at."20 The opening concert was presented on Monday evening, May 7, 1877. Owing

largely to the presence of the composer, this was more than a mundane musical affair. It took on all the trappings of an important social event with the obligatory high ticket prices and royal patronage. A notice in the Times of May 9 shows a range of prices from two and a half shillings for the gallery seats to "from five guineas" for private boxes.' This was at a time when the Saturday Concerts at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham were pp. 74-77. Musical Life, Klein, 19

Ibid., p. 77. 20

21Concert announcement in the Times (London), May 9, 1877, p. 1. 31

priced at between one and five shillings, and those of the Philharmonic Society, which had just moved from the Square Rooms to St. James's Hall in 1869, were five to ten shillings. The Times also provides details as to the royal attendance: "Her Royal and Imperial Highness the Duchess of Edinburgh, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Teck, His Royal Highness Prince Leopold [Prince of Wales], his Serene Highness the Duke of Teck, Count Gleichen, and a numerous suite honored the Festival with their presence on Monday evening."22 George Henry Lewes (whose biography of Goethe had aroused the interest of Cosima), George Eliot, and Robert Browning, were among the literati present. It must have been pleasing to Messrs. Hodge and Essex and the army of performers that these distinguished guests were accompanied, in spite of the exorbitant ticket prices, by a large general audience. The Athenaeum reported that "there was an attendance sufficient, if not to fill the hall, at all events to constitute a very considerable muster of amateurs as well as of artists, for the latter were in full force."23 In keeping with the announced intention, the concert's first half featured some of

Wagner's early works, though the Kaisermarsch was composed in 1871. (See the program in Plates 1-5.) A review in the Times on May 9, probably written by , comments upon the familiarity of the operatic excerpts.

The whole first part, nevertheless, was received with favour, and the exquisite singing of Madame Materna--the Brünnhilde of Bayreuth--in the duet from the second act of Tannhäuser, created an impression that could not be mistaken. But in the opinion of this critic, the passages from Das Rheingold that formed the second part of the concert were more impressive.

22"Wagner Festival," Times (London), May 9, 1877, p. 10.

23"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 12, 1877), p. 618. Plate 1. Program of first concert of London Wagner Festival: May 7, 1877. 33

WAGN E R . . . . . . CONDUCTOR.





Plate 2. Program of first concert of London Wagner Festival: May 7, 1877. Leading artists of the festival. Plate 3. Program of first concert of London Wagner Festival: May 7, 1877. Orchestra roster. 35

Plate 4. Program of first concert of London Wagner Festival: May 7, 1877. Featured works. 36 Repertoire. 7, 1877. Program of first concert of London Wagner Festival: May Program of first concert of 5. Plate 37

The only mention of Hans Richter's part in this affair is parenthetical.

The immense orchestra, however, under the control of Herr Wagner, who in the course of the performance was assisted by Herr Richter, acknowledged chief of 'Wagnerian conductors,' worked zealously from beginning to end, the leading of Herr Wilhelmj, the eminent violinist, aiding no little towards the successful result.24

Exemplifying the wide disparity of views held by London's music critics of this period, the review in the Sunday Times, probably the work of Desmond Ryan, a confirmed enemy of Wagner, is a veritable diatribe against the concert itself and Wagnerian art in general. Personal attacks, replete with sarcastic inference, were the notable features of this journalist's modus operandi concerning Wagner: "The immaculate hero Wagner has become but an ordinary mortal; the divine Richard has come down to mother earth from his place amongst the stars; the Wagner theory is upset, and the Wagner principles have been refuted." He also comments on the German contingent in the audience: "On Monday evening the sons and daughters of Teutonic sires congregated in some numbers in the Albert Hall selecting, not so much from motives of modesty, but because of its symbolic reference to the elevated aim of the Music of the Future, the loftiest locale the building afforded."25 It is clear from these remarks that a large segment of the massive German community in

London rallied around Wagner in the cause celebre of the Wagner Festival. The Sunday Times's commentary becomes even more virulent when the performance itself is discussed: "The fiddle passages do not come out very clearly," though the poor acoustics of the Albert Hall are mentioned as a mitigating factor. "The strings were drowned as a matter of course." The who sang Rienzi's "Prayer" "indulged rather often in shouting," and, in general, "the singing is very indifferent." In

24"Wagner Festival," Times (London), May 9, 1877, p. 10.

25"The Wagner Festival," Sunday Times (London), May 13, 1877, p. 3. 38

the coda of the "Entry of the Guests" march from Tannhäuser "the organist opens his loudest stops and renders the orchestra inaudible. The champions of noise are pleased at this, thinking it a sublime effect." In part because of the "interminable introduction, the Rheingold music was very disappointing." The Rhinemaidens' selection made "one begin to wish the music where the drama is--conspicuous by its absence." No doubt is left as to the critic's preference for stage performance of operatic works, made clear in one laconic statement: "The final scene is inducive of yawning in the concert room."26 There was also some information about the conducting conveyed in this lengthy Sunday Times review. Contrary to the announced division of duties, Wagner conducted the entire first half plus the opening excerpt from Rheingold at the beginning of the second half. His direction suffered from a "jerky and indecisive beat," which became "more and more erratic the more tired he grew." Hans Richter led only the final two selections on the program. As with the review in the Times, mere passing reference is made to his appearance: "Wagner retired from the conductor's chair, handing the baton to Herr Richter, a most able conductor who has made the works of Wagner his life study." 27 The Athenaeum's evaluation of the first concert was less subjective and much more descriptive than that of the Sunday Times. By the midpoint of the program, explains the critic, the audience had "evinced unbounded enthusiasm for the composer, for the principals, and for the band, but Herr Wagner declined the encore for the March, despite the prolonged applause." It was pointed out that, except for the Kaisermarsch, all of the pieces on the first half of the program had been heard several times before by Londoners. For this reason, "the second part was the crucial test of the evening's


27Ibid. 39

scheme." The quartet which comes after the Prelude in Rheingold, "owing to the dull and dreary vocal parts, produced weariness, and the audience began rapidly to leave the hall." The following sentence contains the reviewer's only mention of Hans Richter.

Whether the composer was fatigued, or felt he had no longer the sympathy and support of his previously rapturous listeners, we cannot say, but after Loge, the cynical God of the , had his solo, the baton was taken by Herr Richter, the capital conductor of the Imperial Opera-house at Vienna, who directed the four days' performances of the Nibelungen at Bayreuth.

Richter's widely acknowledged conducting skill was not enough, however, to turn the tide of negative reaction to Rheingold, at least at this first concert:

Between the receptions accorded to the first and the second parts the difference was most decided. It seems to show that the theory of Herr Wagner will exclude his latest compositions from the concert hall, at which his earliest inspirations take their place, and are heard with the same delight as those of his great predecessors in art.

Echoing the remarks of the Sunday Times, The Athenaeum's critic singled out Materna for her exquisite singing, while the other vocal soloists were "not very remarkable." The strings were said to be "comparatively thin" in tone, a result probably more attributable to the expansive dimensions of the Albert Hall than to any weakness in the section, which numbered 105.28 The second concert was given on May 9 and contained excerpts from Der Fliegende Holländer, comprising the program's first part, and Die Walküre, comprising the second part. Attendance was better than that of the first concert, but the huge hall was by no means full. Again, the festival's announced division of conducting chores was abrogated. This time, instead of conducting the whole first part, Wagner conducted less--only the passages from act one of Holländer. Desmond Ryan of the Sunday Times opined that Wagner was fatigued by the first concert. Richter picked up where Wagner left off, conducting the balance of the program. The composer's assistant thus conducted

28"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 12, 1877), p. 618. 40

more of this concert than he had of the first. Still, little mention of his contribution was made in the newspapers at this point of the festival. Ryan maintains the harsh, denunciatory tone evidenced in his previous review. He states that "the general performance . . . scarcely rose above mediocrity." Quintessential Victorian morality is also encountered in this article, for, though the music in question was thought to be very beautiful, the textual context diminished its merits:

The best of the opening act of Die Walküre is so disgusting that we scarcely like to make any allusion to it; but there is no doubt that the composer has here given us some of his finest music. The song for Siegmund . . . contains many passages of the rarest beauty, and the love duet between the brother and sister, whatever loathing the subject matter may excite, is in the highest degree passionate and moving.29

In anticipation of 's presence, the third concert, on Saturday afternoon, May 12, attracted a huge audience. Though the reigning monarch did not attend after all, The Athenaeum reported that Wagner "has the consolation of having been favoured with the attendance of every other member of the Royal family."30 The expected royal patronage at this third concert prompted some changes in the program, presumably to make it more palatable to the Queen. The alterations were minor, consisting of elimination of certain excerpts from Tannhäuser (the opening scene with Venus and Tannhäuser, Elisabeth's "Prayer") and the insertion of other, more popular numbers (Elisabeth's "Greeting to the Hall," Landgrave Hermann's "Welcome," and the

"Entry of the Guests" march). Selections from Die Walküre made up the second part of the concert, as the program specified. For the first time in the festival, Wagner conducted the entire first part and Richter the entire second. Also for the first time, Richter's contribution was given more than just passing reference in a review. The critic for the Times shows his preference for Wagner's more recent works: "Under the splendid

29"The Wagner Festival," Sunday Times (London), May 13, 1877, p. 3.

30"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 19, 1877). 41

conducting of Herr Richter, the 'Ride of the Walkyries,' which began the second part, was more than worth all that preceded it." However, not many people may have remained to listen to it:

After the first part [of the program] attention flags; and while the most extraordinary things go on, the audience are leisurely departing. Thus many lost one of the most magnificent performances ever listened to of a truly magnificent piece of orchestral music.

Despite the precedent set by Wagner at the first concert of refusing to repeat a piece ("Entry of the Guests" march from Tannhäuser, which was also played again at this third concert), Richter acceded to the "storm of applause" and repeated the "Ride."31 At the fourth concert on Monday evening, May 14, more program modifications were made, but this time for a different reason. George Unger, the tenor who had sung Siegfried at Bayreuth in 1876, was suddenly afflicted by a sore throat that continued to plague him for the rest of the festival proper. He could not even attempt to sing the demanding "Forging Songs" from Siegfried which had been scheduled to follow the Huldigungsmarsch and the selections from acts two and three of Lohengrin on the program. Therefore, the Siegfried excerpts were dropped entirely and replaced by a less taxing Götterdämmerung piece and, for the second time in two concerts, the crowd-pleasing "Ride of the Walkyries," which was encored again. Apparently, Unger was not able to handle the Götterdämmerung music either; Newman states that "only Materna was audible, the tenor not having a good note left in his voice."32 , the at Bayreuth, also developed a hoarseness, necessitating alteration of the fifth and sixth concerts.

31"The Wagner Festival," Times (London), May 14, 1877, p. 8.

32Newman, Wagner, 4: 557. This is corroborated in Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 963. 42

It was unfortunate that these indisposed singers, who possessed truly remarkable voices, attempted to sing at all, for it only provided fodder for Wagner's enemies in the press. First and foremost among these was Desmond Ryan of the Sunday Times, who eloquently scorned the vocal performances. In Wagner's favor, he admits that "the Wagnerian vocal art was but very poorly represented." Yet, it still was the fault of the composer,

. . . who possesses no power of expression that is not purely orchestral. . . . Wagner has no idea of writing for the voice and of making the human organ produce its finest and most natural effects; to him soprano, alto, tenor, , and basso are but so many instruments having certain fixed ranges--every note of which is considered available by the Futurist.

More vituperative criticism than that in which Ryan indulges at the end of his May 20 review can hardly be imagined:

We doubt very much, nevertheless, if the most vapid and inane of English ballads ever surpassed such passages, for mere folly, as are to be met with in the "Nibelungen Ring." . . . The music defies description, and is chaotic, vague, and incomprehensible throughout.33

Though the program lists only Die Meistersinger and Götterdämmerung, some excerpts from Siegfried were also played at the fifth concert on May 16.34 Music from

Die Meistersinger consumed the whole first part of the concert. While there is no confirmation in the press, Wagner probably conducted most, if not all, of this part. Judging from the criticism in London newspapers and periodicals, it would have proved more propitious for Wagner had he delegated all conducting chores to Richter, who had copied the manuscript score of Die Meistersinger at Triebschen in 1866-67 and was, accordingly, very familiar with the great .35

33"The Wagner Festival," Sunday Times (London), May 20, 1877, p. 3.

34"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 19, 1877).

351t was Richter who did ultimately introduce London audiences to the fully-staged 43

To this point in the Wagner Festival (end of the fifth concert), all of the focus was on Wagner--the composer, the conductor, and the man. Indeed, more emphasis was placed on the individual than on his music. Controversy swirled around everything he did and said, as the intelligentsia was fond of debating the merits of his artistic theories. Rather suddenly, however, Wagner's conducting weaknesses were revealed, and attention veered in the direction of his protégé, Hans Richter. The Athenaeum capsulated the state of affairs after the fifth concert.

It will suffice to remark now that it is quite evident that the heart of the composer is not in his work as conductor of these concerts; he has grown more listless and apathetic apparently at each successive performance, and when Herr Richter takes the baton a new spirit actuates the band, and the compositions obtain really animated interpretations.36

These words carry more weight when it is realized that Wagner was conducting the familiar and tuneful excerpts from his earlier works, which are quite amenable to concert presentation, while Richter was conducting relatively new music, embodying a more progressive artistic spirit.

The sixth concert of the festival took place on Saturday afternoon, May 19. Featured works were the March for 's Centennial Exhibition of 1876, selections from Tristan (both on the first part and conducted by Wagner) and the third act of Götterdämmerung (on the second part with Richter conducting).37 Some pieces from Die Meistersinger were added to the program at the last minute, and were also conducted

version of this work, in addition to Tristan and Isolde, at Drury Lane Theatre in 1882.

36"Herr Wagner," The Athenaeum (May 19, 1877).

37In his Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968), p. 391, Robert Gutman erroneously indicates that this concert "was led by Richter alone." 44

by the composer. Richter again received more than just perfunctory coverage in the press, exemplified by the following excerpt from a review in the Times of May 22:

The whole of the first part was directed by Herr Wagner himself, the master then yielding up the conductor's stick to his admirable lieutenant, Herr Richter, whose appearance on the platform was unanimously hailed both by the audience and the orchestral performers. As the music assigned to the care of this acknowledged chief of German orchestral leaders formed part of the Bayreuth programme, with the preliminary rehearsals for which Herr Richter had as much to do as the composer of the Nibelungen himself, this recognition was neither more nor less than a just tribute to distinguished ability.38

This sixth concert was to have been the last. However, because not a shilling of the £1,500 promised to Wagner by Hodge and Essex had been secured as profit, the festival was extended. Klein detailed the arrangements: "It was determined, just in time, that a couple of extra concerts should be given at reduced prices, the artists and executants accepting half-salary, while all the 'plums' of the festival were crowded into the two programmes.39 These "plums" included, at the seventh concert on Monday afternoon, May 28, the Kaisermarsch, "Monologue and Cobbler's Song" of from Meistersinger, and parts of the first three Ring operas. This program was of inordinate length (containing some three hours of music), and the majority of it was probably conducted by Richter.40 The eighth and final concert was given on the following evening, and featured the Huldigungsmarsch. an excerpt from act three of Tristan. and music from the last two

38"The Wagner Festival," Times (London), May 22, 1877, p. 9.

39Klein, Musical Life, p. 78.

40Notwithstanding Richter's handling of most of the more difficult conducting chores in the festival of 1877, Hanslick went too far in saying, in his 1886 essay, "Letter from London," that "Wagner, nervous and exhausted, conducted only a few easier pieces from Lohengrin and Tannhäuser." The fact is that the composer did conduct, however poorly, excerpts from Die Meistersinger, Das Rheingold, Tristan and Isolde, and other works. See Appendix D for more of Hanslick's 1886 essay. 45

Ring dramas. By scheduling the final two concerts more than a week after the sixth, it was hoped that Messrs. Unger and Hill would be restored to good health. In the case of Hill, the recovery was complete. Unger's indisposition also seemed remedied when, at the rehearsal on the day of the eighth concert, he sang the "Forging Songs" and "Brünnhilde's Awakening" with no difficulties. At the concert, however, disaster struck. Unger's voice gave way; he could not sing at all. The debacle is described by Cosima Wagner, who was in the audience.

May 29, 1877 In the evening the concert; Herr Unger produces not a single note, does not ask to be excused, but stands there utterly unperturbed, with poor [Amalie] Materna [Brünnhilde] exerting herself in the awakening scene, Richter cursing, R. [Richard] sending him looks to turn his to stone, not making the slightest effort; R. tells him afterward that he was not hoarse, but had lain down tired after eating too much and had clogged his palate.41

Despite this unfortunate episode, the extra concerts were a success from both artistic and financial standpoints, going a long way toward wiping out the deficit which was looming on the festival as a whole. Most significant historically is that so much music from the Ring was presented. It would have been easy for Wagner and Richter to surrender to the need for more money by repeating the favorites of the six previous concerts. In that case, selections from the early operas, especially Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, would have dominated the programs. Instead, a few of the popular excerpts were given along with a large measure of music from the Ring, most of which had not been performed at the other concerts. Whether they wanted it or not, London concert-goers were given Wagner's more mature works. Throughout his career, Wagner had been an outstanding, even inspirational conductor, from both technical and aesthetic viewpoints. His interpretations, like those

41Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 966. 46

of his first conducting protégé, Hans von Bülow, were highly personal statements, marked by liberal use of dynamic contrasts and rubato. But Wagner's conducting in this festival of 1877 laid bare the frailties imposed by his sixty-four years. What had appeared to be a case of mere frazzled nerves at the dress rehearsal of May 5, common among conductors contending with the dimensions of the Albert Hall for the first time, manifested itself as a chronic, debilitating malady at the concerts. Mention has already been made of Ryan's derogatory remarks in the Sunday Times. It will also be recalled that The Athenaeum labeled Wagner as "listless and apathetic." the Musical Times of June 1, 1877 added to the condemnation, calling him "a poor conductor; equally lacking spirit and the power of control."42 Myles B. Foster, one of the second violinists in the festival orchestra, recalled in his History of the Philharmonic Society of London, 1813-1912 that Wagner was not in control even when on the podium.

The had the honour of taking part in that Festival, and well remembers the all-controlling power of Hans Richter, hidden behind Wagner's conducting desk, but really conducting everything; for Wagner, in the enjoyment of his own splendid creations, frequently forgot the baton altogether.43

There is no doubt that Wagner's conducting weaknesses were fortuitous for the aspirations of Hans Richter in London. What had been billed as a festival featuring Wagner as composer and conductor turned out to be a presentation of Wagner's music interpreted primarily by Hans Richter. Was Richter truly outstanding or did Wagner, with his transparent incompetence as a conductor, simply make him look good? Probably, it was a combination of the two. Certainly, Wagner was not himself; he was in very poor health. Less than a year after the exhausting Bayreuth Festival premiere, the composer was in no condition for a strenuous English sojourn. Edward Dannreuther,

42"The Wagner Festival," The Musical Times (June 1, 1877), p. 276.

43Myles B. Foster, History of the Philharmonic Society of London, 1813-1912 (London John Lane, 1912). 47

writing the biographical entry on Wagner in the first edition (1890) of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, described his friend's ill-health: "But at the Albert Hall Wagner did not do himself justice. His strength was already on the wane. The rehearsals fatigued him, and he was frequently faint in the evening. His memory played him tricks, and his beat was nervous."44 Even before the festival performances began, Wagner was lacking vitality, as Cosima reports in her diary: "May 7, 1877. Full rehearsal; R. tired, not by the event itself, but by the signs of negligence, for example, in the parts, etc. He is really very tired!"45 The evidence lends credence to Hermann Klein's view that "it would have been unfair to estimate Wagner's ability as a conductor by what he did at these concerts."46 While Wagner's incompetence with the baton may have reaped more accolades for Richter, it might also be said that the younger man's perspicacity placed in bolder relief the shortcomings of the elder; perhaps Richter made the composer look worse than he actually was. Richter's dynamic leadership inculcated the Wagner Festival with a forceful momentum. Attendance, the quality of the orchestral playing, and interest in the composer's more esoteric works increased with each performance. A testament to Richter's displacement of Wagner as the chief protagonist of the whole enterprise is given by the Musical Times in its review of June 1, 1877.

Now is the time to acknowledge the very valuable services of Herr Richter, the Wagnerian conductor par excellence. Whenever the baton fell from the nerveless hand of the master Herr Richter took it up to retrieve the fortunes of the day. And right well he did this. New life appeared to animate the orchestra, every man of whom seemed to be in a measure inspired. Thenceforth, on every occasion, all went

44Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1st ed., s. v. "Wagner, Richard," by Edward Dannreuther.

45Cosima Wagner, Diaries, 1: 962.

46Klein, Musical Life, pp. 77-78. 48

well, and the merits of Herr Wagner's elaborate orchestration were satisfactorily displayed.47

George Bernard Shaw, attending one of the earliest concerts about which he recorded an opinion, plainly stated that the orchestra disliked Wagner and liked Richter, who at least made an effort to speak English. Unlike Wagner, "he did not pose and gesticulate like a savage at a war dance."48 While Richter's usurpation of the conducting authority and fame of Wagner may have surprised Londoners, it must have been déjà vu to the burly younger man. Just over two years earlier, in March of 1875, a celebrated concert took place in Budapest, featuring Wagner, Liszt and Richter. Beethoven's Emperor Concerto was to be performed with Wagner conducting and his father-in-law, Liszt, playing piano. Wagner's deteriorating, uncontrolled conducting manifested itself during rehearsals for the March

10 performance. At the dress rehearsal, "Wagner snatched his conducting baton and started conducting with flashing eyes, stamping feet, beating, shouting with enthusiasm."49 At the last minute, however, Wagner turned the baton over to his assistant, who was born in Hungary, so that it was Richter, not Wagner, who conducted the concerto at the concert. Whether this was because Wagner wished to conduct only his own compositions, was exhausted, or just felt Richter would do a better job is difficult to establish. Whatever the reason, the precedent was set then and there for Richter, always "waiting in the wings," to replace his beloved mentor on the conducting podium.

47"The Wagner Festival," The Musical Times (June 1, 1877), p. 277.

48Schonberg, Conductors, p. 180.

49Quoted in Vilmos Gergely, "Europe's Highest-Priced Concert," High Fidelity (July, 1955), pp. 30-31. 49

The evidence of contemporary accounts and press reviews makes it clear that, however much Richter may have profited from comparisons with the Bayreuth master's slipshod conducting, he was an exemplary leader in his own right. Wagner, having achieved a worldwide reputation by this time, was not in a position to be overshadowed easily, yet this is precisely what transpired in the course of the festival. Reginald Nettel summarizes the impression made on the Albert Hall listeners by the thirty-four-year-old Austro-Hungarian conductor:

It was obvious to the audience that Wagner was physically weaker than when he had last been in England [1855]--the driving force of the whole festival was Richter. Richter's conducting revealed a magnitude in Wagner's works which not even the composer could command. Londoners had seen conscientious conducting from Costa, brilliant conducting from Berlioz, but in Richter they saw greatness. First-class orchestral playing in England dates from 1877.50

From a financial standpoint, the London Wagner Festival of 1877 was a dismal failure. This was primarily due to mismanagement by the agents, Hodge and Essex, who embarked on the enterprise with too little capital. They spent too much on advertisement, and, though it may have been instigated by Wilhelmj, Dannreuther, or even Wagner himself, hired too large an orchestra. (Even the Bayreuth Festival orchestra of 1876 had been limited to 120.) Salaries for the orchestra members and the soloists were too generous, and had to be counterbalanced by high ticket prices.51 The Albert Hall, located in South Kensington, was not very convenient for London's masses anyway, and the prohibitive prices must have dissuaded many potential supporters. Though attendance was generally good throughout the festival, it must be remembered that the hall seated 10,000, so nothing short of masses was needed to fill it. Thus, as with the

50Nettel, Orchestra, p. 220.

51According to Newman, Wagner, 4: 556, "Materna was to receive £600, Hill £500,£ Unger £100, Sadler-Grün £200, Schlosser 150, Chaudon £100, and Weibel and Exter £50 each, while Richter was to be paid £100 and the other two conductors £60 each." 50

initial Bayreuth Festival, poor attendance could not be blamed for the financial failure. Hodge and Essex also saw fit to adorn the festival with analytical program notes, a somewhat novel and expensive ingredient for English concerts in the 1870s. , who had written the notes for Crystal Palace concerts since 1856, was hired to provide this accoutrement.52 It was Wagner who suffered most from the monetary shortfall. Stimulating social events with George Eliot, George Henry Lewes, Robert Browning, and Rudolf Lehmann, a photographic session by Elliott and Fry, and even an audience with Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold at Windsor did not assuage his financial woes. He and Cosima even considered a permanent move to America, where they hoped to be free of money worries.53 So desperate was he for funds that he had to ask Friedrich Feustal, his banking friend from Bayreuth, for a personal loan. This, explained Wagner, was needed simply to pay the artists. Were it not for the two additional concerts, the agents and Wagner would have been saddled with a monumental deficit. Even so, the total profit which accrued to Wagner and his Bayreuth fund amounted to just over £700. From an artistic standpoint, the Wagner Festival was a success. To be sure, there was castigation from some quarters of the press, notably in the Sunday Times and the Musical Times. Some of the criticism, especially as applied to the singing, was justified. But if public reaction is a valid index to the success of a musical event, the concerts were highly successful. Newman states that "the artistic and social success of the undertaking was beyond question: the huge hall was reasonably well occupied, the audiences were wildly enthusiastic."54 Scholes concurs:

52In his The (London: H. Hamilton, 1958), p. 107, Ronald W. Clark states that "no expense was spared to make the Festival a success."

963. Diaries, 1: Cosima Wagner, 53

4: 557. Wagner, Newman, 54 51

The fine orchestra of one hundred and seventy, playing those rich scores under Richter's skilled and sensitive direction, thrilled everybody. . . . From this year [1877], we may say that in the view of the British musical public, Wagner had at last "arrived."55

Richter's enormous contribution to the success of the Wagner Festival is, as the evidence shows, indisputable. It may even be said that he was partially responsible for saving the venture from artistic and financial ruin. It would be a mistake, however, to infer that he was a solitary pioneer in the propagation of Wagner appreciation in England. By the inception of the festival in 1877, a foundation had already been built. The real pathfinder in the presentation of Wagner's orchestral music in London, especially of the early works, was (1825-1907), who led the Crystal Palace concerts from 1855 to 1901. From the outset of his tenure, according to Scholes, "he included in his orchestral programmes selections from Tannhäuser and in his military band programmes the Rienzi Overture and Battle-hymn."56 He was the first to present any music from Die Meistersinger in England (1868), and gave the English premiere of the Kaisermarsch on April 29, 1871, only two weeks after the world premiere in Berlin. He also conducted the English premiere of , the world premiere of which Hans Richter had participated in as a trumpet player in 1871, at the Crystal Palace in 1879. Manns even performed an extract from the Ring, the "Walkürenritt," at a charity concert for the blind as early as 1877, the same year as the Wagner Festival. Manns was not alone in fostering the Wagnerian cause in the English capital; an underground movement also had an impact in the early years. In 1867, a group calling itself "The Working Men's Society" was formed in London. It was a private musical society that counted , Edward Dannreuther, , Fritz Hartvigson, and A. J. Hipkins among its members. The purpose of the organization was

1: 254. Mirror, Scholes, 55

Ibid., p. 252. 56 52

to share insight regarding great musical masterpieces from the past and important contemporary works. Klindworth, who had been entrusted by Wagner with the preparation of the vocal scores of the Ring operas, guided the members through Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in 1869. Dannreuther played through Tristan for the society in the same year. Scholes asserts that "this group was to form the spearhead of the force which was to attack the array of indifference to Wagner's music or of prejudice against it."57 This coalition of partisans evolved into the London "Wagner Society," whose first concert in 1873 was also the first all-Wagner concert ever given in London. "Dannreuther conducted no less than nine orchestral concerts in 1873 and 1874 for the London Wagner Society."58 Wagner's early operas had also been heard in fully-staged versions prior to the festival of 1877. Der Fliegende Holländer had been presented at Drury Lane in 1870.

Lohengrin, given in 1873 in concert form, was produced in 1875 at Covent Garden and

Her Majesty's Theatre, and Tannhäuser was given in the following year at Covent Garden. Though these were all sung in Italian, Der Fliegende Holländer was performed in English by the Opera Company at the Lyceum Theatre in 1876. This was the first of many English-language productions of Wagner operas which were to take place over the next decade, a pivotal stage in the recognition of his works by London's populace. However, this was the only English language production of a Wagnerian opera prior to the London Wagner Festival of 1877.59 It had taken over twenty years for any of his operas to cross the channel, but once this occurred there was a steady

57Scholes, Mirror, 1: 252..

58Nettel, Orchestra, p. 218.

59Other English productions took place for the first time as follows: Rienzi (1879), Lohengrin (1880), Tannhäuser (1882), Die Walküre (1895), Die Meistersinger (1896), and Tristan and Isolde (1898). 53

procession of others. The spurt of productions during the years 1870-76 aroused intense interest among the English in the operas of Richard Wagner, and the enthusiasm of the audiences who greeted the performances of the Wagner Festival of 1877 may be attributed, in part, to the public's gradually ripening appreciation of the "music of the future." Of primary historical significance concerning the festival is that it introduced music from Tristan, Die Meistersinger, and the Ring operas to England. That critical reaction to the new music was ambivalent has been shown by the press notices. They have also shown how unequivocal the praise was regarding the leadership of Hans Richter. In the noble company of Hans Sachs, Tristan, and Siegfried, Richter emerged as the one universally acknowledged hero.60 Though his successful debut in London gained Richter a strong foothold, his name became associated solely with the music of one composer--not particularly conducive to a conductor's longevity. If his English career

was to continue and to prosper, it was imperative for him to forge ahead on his own, leaving Richard Wagner behind in person if not in spirit.

60Clark, Royal Albert Hall, pp. 106-7, says that the Wagner Festival "was mainly notable for the fact that it introduced to British audiences the great conductor Hans Richter." CHAPTER THREE ORCHESTRAL FESTIVAL CONCERTS, 1879

The involvement of two German violinists, August Wilhelmj and Hermann Franke, in bringing Wagner to London in 1877 has already been mentioned. Following the festival, it was Franke who approached Richter about returning to London. In a lengthy article of July 1, 1899 published in the Musical Times, an explanation was given of the inspiration for further concerts. Richter is quoted as follows: "Franke suggested that I should come to England from time to time. I was delighted with the English musicians, and I told him that I should like to conduct concerts in London."1 The prospectus for the 1879 concerts was finalized at least as early as March 31, for on that date the Times announced the forthcoming series, which was given the unassuming title of "Orchestral Festival Concerts." "Wagner concerts would have been a more appropriate title," said the Times, "for the programmes are mainly devoted to the later works of the German composer." Richter's name heads the list of expected participants.

Herr Hans Richter, well remembered in London from the Albert-Hall concerts, and one of the best interpreters of Wagner's music, has been engaged to conduct the orchestra of 110 performers. A special reputation of a similar kind precedes Frau Schuch-Proska (soprano) and Herr Jaeger (tenor), who, together with Herr Henschel and Mlle. Redeker, will be the vocalists. Herr Hermann Franke will be the leading violinist in the orchestra.2

Proving to be as able an impresario as a concertmaster, Franke eschewed the hiring of concert agents and, instead, enlisted the support of the nobility on his own; other press announcements indicate that the concerts were "under the patronage

1"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (1899): 445.

2"Wagner Concerts," Times (London), March 31, 1879, p. 11. 54 55

of T. R. H. the Prince and Princess of Wales, H. R. H. the Duke of Edinburgh, H. R. H. the Prince Leopold, H. S. H. the Duke of Teck, Count Karolyi."3 Again, Richter was granted a leave of absence by the Hofoper of Vienna. This time, apparently, there were no strings attached. The first of the four "Orchestral Festival Concerts" took place on May 5, 1879 in London's St. James's Hall (opened in 1858). The program was all German, consisting of the Kaisermarsch, selections from Der Fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Die Meistersinger, Mozart's Die Entführung aus der Serail, Schumann's Overture to , and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Richter conducted all works by memory. Soloists in the first concert were Clementine Schuch-Proska, a prima donna of 's Royal Opera, and , a baritone who was to be a prominent figure in London's musical circles for nearly as long as Richter. The orchestra, as stated in the Times's preview, comprised 110 members, of which 72 were strings. Critical reaction was generally favorable, though Desmond Ryan of the Sunday Times seized the opportunity to launch another assault upon the tenets of Wagnerian art. To the modern reader it seems preposterous that the editors of a major newspaper such as the Sunday Times would have allowed a critic to include such a gratuitous personal attack on a composer in what purported to be a concert review. Nevertheless, Ryan's review was published in the May 11 edition, and, since it does serve as a vivid and colorful illustration of the vehement anti-Wagner element still extant in London in 1879, it is reproduced in full in Appendix A. Richter's slow tempi, a trademark which evoked the wrath of many a critic during his career, bothered Ryan. "According to our tastes, the [Beethoven] Symphony—which, after all, was the test-performance of the evening—was taken too slowly in the first two movements, otherwise it was given with a attention to nuance, and an especially free use of pianissimos."

3Sunday Times (London), May 4, 1879, p. 1. 56

His praise for the conductor is as adamant as his denigration of Wagner, except regarding Richter's abandonment of the score:

Herr Richter is undoubtedly one of the finest conductors that ever handled a baton. Perhaps his persistent refusal to have the score before him points to a love of sensational display, for, be his memory ever so accurate, there would be no harm in verifying it; but it is the fashion to air one's power of remembrance in public, and Herr Richter casts his lot with Dr. Hans von Bülow, Herr Rubinstein, and their smaller imitators. We have never witnessed more able orchestral direction than that of Herr Richter (who, it will be remembered, directed the performances of the Ring des Niebelungen [sic] at Bayreuth); he appears to have a kind of magnetic influence over the band, and they move in accordance with his direction as though his will were irresistible. We will confess that some of the orchestral playing was remarkable for its finish and smoothness, and that the pianissimo passages, one and all, were given with a delicacy which has never been surpassed.4

Because of its presence in an otherwise antagonistic indictment of the festival, this may be the most telling of all testimonies of Richter's artistry.

Other journalists were equally enamored of Richter's conducting acumen. The Athenaeum's notice, probably written by , spoke of the "cordial reception given to Herr Hans Richter." This welcome "was not more than is due to an orchestral chief of the first class and to a musician who is doing good work in his own country. His attachment to the prophet of Bayreuth is unquestionable, but it is not servile and exclusive, and Herr Richter is equally an admirer of the master minds of former days."5 Concerning the interpretation of Beethoven's work, Prout informs us that "Herr Richter did not fail to give some delicate Viennese touches in the coloring of the symphony, which must have surprised his London hearers." Finally, reference is made to one of Richter's most enduring and universally acknowledged assets--the tremendous

"The (London),Wagner Wind-Bag,"4Sunday May 11, 1879, Times p. 3.

10, 1879),"Orchestral p. 611.The5 Festival Athenaeum Concerts," (May 57

rapport he established with his orchestral musicians. "The players seemed quite at home with their conductor, who, although new to them, had them well in hand."6 Francis Hueffer, in his review in the Times, compliments the singing of Schuch-Proska and Henschel, who collaborated for the grand duet from Der Fliegende Holländer, and who also sang solo . As for Richter and the orchestra, Hueffer's praise is resplendent.

For the performances of the orchestra we have but one word--perfect. Herr Richter possesses the qualities which go to form a conductor to an almost phenomenal degree. His memory enables him to conduct an entire concert without the aid of a score, and his beat is firm and decisive. But more admirable even than this is the discretion with which he marshals the large orchestra under his command, and the wonderful delicacy with which the dynamic nuances are balanced. Such an effect as the diminuendo following immediately on the forte of the brass in the interlude from the Meistersinger has seldom been heard in London. Amateurs and artists who take an interest in Wagner's music ought not to miss the opportunity of hearing it rendered in such perfection. But Herr Richter's reading of Beethoven's also is highly intelligent and, in many respects, original.7

It would be well to consider at this point some of the mitigating factors which Richter had to contend with in these concerts. The orchestra again consisted of a makeshift assemblage of amateurs and those few professionals who were not already under contract with permanent musical organizations in London. The Athenaeum remarked that "it is a marvel how such a string orchestra could have been collected at this time of the year."8 Apparently, rehearsal time for the festival was also limited, as is suggested in a Musical Times article of twenty years later (July 1, 1899), in which "one of the leading musical critics of the day" [of 1879] is quoted. "Herr Richter has not under him here, as at Bayreuth, the picked artists of an empire, nor has he had almost

6Orchestral Concerts," p. 611.

7Francis Hueffer, "Wagner Concerts," Times (London), May 7, 1879, p. 6.

8Orchestral Festival Concerts," The Athenaeum (May 10, 1879), p. 611. 58

unlimited rehearsals. But he is one of the men who, in a certain sense, falsify the dictum that you cannot grow grapes on thorns."9 At this point in his life Hans Richter spoke little English. He was very difficult to understand even after twenty-five years of concertizing in England, so at these first encounters with English musicians he must have relied on bilingual orchestra members such as Franke to translate some remarks and on non-verbal forms of communication--gestures, facial expression, and good baton technique. That he succeeded to such a remarkable degree, as evidenced by the critics' plaudits, is a great tribute to his power of conveying musical ideas. The programs for the second and third of the "Orchestral Festival Concerts," given on May 7 and 8, are reproduced in Appendix A. That of the fourth appears below.

Fourth Concert, May 12

Part I Overture, Die Meistersinger Wagner , Hans Sachs's Monologue (Die Meistersinger) Wagner "Trauersymphonie," from Götterdämmerung Wagner Rhinedaughters' Trio from Götterdämmerung Wagner Overture, Benvenuto Cellini Berlioz

Part II

Eroica Symphony Beethoven Aria, "Let the bright Seraphim" (Samson) Handel

Regarding the concert of May 8, Stanford's Quartet in F is most important from a historical standpoint, for it was being given for the first time. It is surprising that no Wagner was performed at this third concert of the series,

9"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (1899): 445. 59

notwithstanding the paucity of chamber music in his oeuvre. There is no indication as to Richter's involvement with this concert, but since no Wagner was given, nor any orchestral music, it may be presumed that he was not a part of it. The repertoire of the three orchestral concerts is astounding for its ethnocentricity. It would have been difficult in 1879 to find a more German-dominated program in Europe. Wagner and Liszt were the only modern composers represented, and the compositions by the token non-German, Berlioz, were already staples of the concert hall by this time. The appeal of the series, then, was not the novelty of the music, but its emphasis on the great German tradition. In programming pieces from this tradition, Richter could justifiably be accused of "playing it safe"--of purposely rejecting non-German and contemporary music so as to avoid alienating the conservative Londoners. The fact is, however, that Richter was himself an apostle of the great Austro-German musical heritage, and he felt most comfortable when conducting works composed by his forebears. Moreover, there was no pretense about a catholic representation of musical style. "Two busts, representing Beethoven and Wagner respectively, had been placed in front of the orchestra during the 'Festival Concerts,' and indeed, although some orchestral compositions by other composers had been included in the programmes, those by the two masters just named formed the chief feature of their attractiveness, and the only one to render these concerts special."10 Thus, from both visual and aural perspectives, it was made clear from the beginning that two particular composers were to be featured in the series. Attendance had been very poor at the first concert. Desmond Ryan depicts the scene in this manner:

The old description of "a beggarly array of empty benches" is the only verbal picture that can be given. The few people sitting scattered about the room boasted but a very

10The Musical Times (June 1, 1879), p. 310. 60

few English faces; and had one forgotten the venue for a moment he might have imagined himself in some Teutonic center of civilization, instead of the English capital.11

The strong support conferred upon the first concert by the German contingent in London was not enough to ensure financial success. Fortunately for Richter and Franke, word of the excellence of this initial performance spread throughout the city; attendance increased dramatically as the festival progressed, and the venture concluded with some profit made. In this connection, The Athenaeum hints that Wagner--or at least his Patronatverein account--was to be the ultimate beneficiary of the festival's proceeds. "To what extent the Bayreuth fund will be eventually benefited will be made known in due course."12 Ryan similarly suggests that Wagner would profit, and, typically, fired another sarcastic missile at the composer. "Now perhaps we shall hear of Herr Franke posting huge sums to the Musician of the Future, and the latter will be then easy in his

mind upon the subject of his milliner's bills. What is the latest shade of satin that he prefers?"13 Opinion in the press at the conclusion of the four-concert festival augmented the laudatory tenor of early reviews. Typical of the praise is a comment in The Athenaeum. "If the coming of Herr Richter has no other artistic result than a reform in the method of conducting that prevails in this country it will have been most beneficial."14 In the Sunday Times, Ryan's ridicule for the festival's Wagnerian emphasis becomes tempered when the subject of the conducting surfaces. "Herr Richter conducted in his own masterly and inimitable fashion."15 For the Musical Times, the performances were an

11"The Wagner Wind-Bag," p. 3.

12"Concerts," The Athenaeum (May 17, 1879), p. 643.

13"Concerts," Sunday Times (London), May 18, 1879, p. 3.

14"Concerts," The Athenaeum (May 17, 1879), p. 643. 61

"experience of unmitigated pleasure, the only blur in the otherwise absolutely perfect interpretations having been caused by the defective intonation, during the performances of thetemperature." last concert,16 of the brass instruments, caused, no doubt, by a sudden change of

The Times devoted a sizable portion of its review of May 13 to an expression of gratitude to Richter.

To that gentleman the warmest thanks of all lovers of music are due. He has proved beyond contradiction that under competent leadership, and after sufficiently numerous and sufficiently careful rehearsals, our London instrumentalists are capable of dealing with the most difficult pieces of the modern repertoire in a manner certainly not surpassed, if equalled by any continental orchestra. It is true that only under exceptional circumstances can such a band as that assembled by Herr Franke be secured, or such a conductor as Herr Richter be found to lead it.17

Two substantial affirmations of Hans Richter's ability as demonstrated in the "Orchestral Festival Concerts" warrant inclusion in this discussion. The anonymous writer described by the Musical Times's article of July 1, 1899 as "one of the leading musical critics of the day" effusively extolls the foreign conductor.

If Napoleon's presence with his troops was worth, as said Wellington, an army corps of 20,000 men, what is the value in an orchestra of this emperor of conductors? We cannot appraise it, but we can feel the influence of Richter's supreme mastery, of his all- embracing coup d'oeil, of his perfect resource, and, not less, the confidence with which he must inspire his followers. Hans Richter is a "conductor" of a verity, and we are glad to have him amongst us as an example. Many of our own conductors have been sitting at his feet this week, and we trust the fidgety among them will fidget less; the convulsive become calmer; the uncertain more assured; the feeble stronger; and, we had almost said, the led ones themselves take the lead, though that would, perhaps, be a change for the worse. As respects Herr Richter's reading of Wagner's music, nothing need be said after the experience of the "Wagner Festival," and, with reference to his treatment of Beethoven, we have chiefly to praise the discretion which avoids all forced interpretation. He brings out into fuller relief that 15"Concerts," Sunday Times (London), May 18, 1879, p. 3.

16"Orchestral Festival Concerts," The Musical Times (June 1, 1879), p. 310.

17"Orchestral Festival Concerts," Times (London), May 13, 1879, p. 8. 62

which is obvious in the score, but he does not treat the great master's music as an obscure text given him for annotation and emendation. This is one of the Viennese conductor's greatest recommendations to us conservative English.18

Another Musical Times article, written on June 1, 1879, expresses these same sentiments.

One word more, in conclusion, as to Herr Richter's conducting. Whatever may be said in favour of invisible orchestras, we are of opinion that the audience assembled during the memorable Bayreuth performances have lost a considerable element of assistance in the appreciation of the music of the Tetralogy in not seeing Hans Richter conduct. His baton speaks the intentions of the composer whose work he is interpreting with an eloquence which at once attracts, and fascinates to the end, both executive artists and audience alike. His individual reading--for the impress of his individuality upon his orchestra, as may be inferred, is most marked--has in it nothing eccentric or obtrusive, while his manner is entirely free from the ecstatic and ostentatious ways of some modern conductors. The result is invariably a performance harmonious in all its parts, a fact which, if examples are to be quoted, was especially noticeable in the three symphonies, the splendid rendering of which no one present will easily forget.19

Richter's 1879 appearance was only his second in England, and his first as sole leader of orchestral concerts. It is true that most of London's critics writing in 1879 had witnessed his bravura at the Wagner Festival of 1877, and, some of them, at the Bayreuth Festival of 1876. They already knew of his conducting talent. But the inordinate amount of praise showered upon this young Viennese maestro was unprecedented in London. Early conducting appearances in the careers of Sir Michael Costa, August Manns, Sterndale Bennett, and William Cusins did not elicit near the degree of acclaim that those of Richter did. Not Weber, Spohr, nor even Mendelssohn had scored such an immediate and unanimous triumph. Critics had acquiesced, long before Richter's arrival, to the pallor of mediocre conducting, and, because of this, many of them ignored or made only parenthetical reference to the man with the baton. Part of Richter's grand achievement in

18"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (1899): 445.

19"Orchestral Festival Concerts," The Musical Times (June 1, 1879), p. 310. 63

England was the enlightenment of critics, as well as musicians and the concert-going public, of the catalytic influence that a superior conductor can have on a performance. CHAPTER FOUR RICHTER CONCERTS, 1880

The tremendous success of the "Orchestral Festival Concerts" of 1879 led to plans for future concerts even before the series had concluded. In its final review of the concerts, the Times gives a preview of the following year. "It will be heard with general satisfaction that it is intended to give next season a series of eight concerts, which will be conducted by Herr Richter, and at which, besides other classical works, the nine symphonies of Beethoven will be performed in chronological succession."1 Hermann Franke, again acting as both agent and concertmaster, hired an orchestra, rented St. James's Hall, and, of course, engaged Richter as conductor. The cumbersome title of "Orchestra Festival Concerts" was dropped for the 1880 venture in favor of the simpler "Richter Concerts." Too much should not be made of this point, but it is an unmistakable measure of Richter's burgeoning reputation that Franke and his promoters decided to make the conductor, rather than the music or the performers, their drawing-card. After only two conducting stints in England, Richter's name would now serve as an inducement for Londoners to attend his orchestral concerts. Moreover, Franke was taking a risk by naming the concerts after the conductor; once Richter withdrew, the concerts would lose their identity and, probably, their support. In return for this promotional gamble, Franke may have obtained from the conductor a commitment to participate for a minimum number of years. A total of ten concerts was given, nine of which formed the regular series, with one additional concert given as a benefit for Hermann Franke. The series extended from May 10 through June 14. Monday and Thursday alternated as the chosen concert days,

64 65

except for the benefit performance which took place on a Friday. The orchestra comprised about ninety-five members; strings numbered approximately sixty-four, winds and percussion making up the balance. On the programs, Franke is listed as "Leader and Artistic Director,"2 Mr. N. Vert as "Acting Manager," and Messrs. Schulz-Curtius as "Secretaries." Included on each program is the designation "second season," thereby establishing continuity with the previous year's Orchestral Festival Concerts. Analytical program notes were supplied by two men. Charles A. Barry was the expositor for virtually all works except symphonies. Analyses of the latter were provided, as in Richter's 1877 and 1879 concerts, by George Grove. He brought many attributes to the task, combining fastidious scholarship with a fluent writing style. The same may be said of his writing for the Richter Concerts as Percy Scholes said of the programs he provided for Manns's Crystal Palace concerts. They "were prized by habitués of the concerts as a mine of valuable historical and biographical information and of enthusiastic and intelligent artistic elucidation."3 Continuity was also established by means of repertoire. The dominant role exerted by composers of the Austro-German tradition at the Orchestral Festival Concerts was expanded for the 1880 season. Beethoven's nine symphonies served as the focal point of the entire series, attracting large audiences and gaining unbridled critical praise for Richter. Other symphonists represented were Mozart (G minor, K. 550), Mendelssohn (Italian), Haydn (No. 104), Liszt (Faust), Brahms (Second), Schubert (Unfinished and Great C major), and Schumann. Wagner's contribution included the

Faust Overture, Siegfried Idyll, Kaisermarsch, an excerpt from Der Fliegende Holländer,

1Orchestra/ Festival Concerts," Times (London), May 13, 1879, p. 8.

2In this setting, "leader" meant concertmaster.

3Scholes, Mirror, 1: 198. 66

the Overture to Tannhäuser, Introduction and Closing Scene from Tristan, and several excerpts from Die Meistersinger. There were also works by Weber, Spohr, and Bach. The season contained very few premieres, but several second performances. Among the former (i.e., London premieres) were a Serenade for Strings by , Robert Volkmann's Cello Concerto in A minor, and, easily the most significant, Dvorák's Third Slavonic Rhapsody. That there were enough of the latter to constitute a group is surprising in itself, for second performances held little charm for conductor or promoter; they were too recent to have garnered a public following, yet one performance removed from the distinctive status of a premiere. Worse yet, such works were still new enough to present manifold problems to most orchestral musicians. Pieces in this dubious genre given in Richter's 1880 season included a Piano Concerto in B-flat minor by Xavier Scharwenka (London premiere was given by Manns at the Crystal Palace), Liszt's Die (London premiere was given by Manns at the Crystal Palace in May of 1879), Saint-Saëns's Piano Concerto No. Four in C minor (London premiere occurred in 1879 at a New Philharmonic Concert), and Liszt's (London premiere was given by Walter Bache, a respected organist and Liszt cognoscente, in March, 1880). This surfeit of works receiving second performances under Richter may be explained in part by the ambitious and sedulous nature of August Manns, who, as a highly regarded conductor with seniority in London, and a faithful public following, was thought to be an ideal exhibitor of premieres. He was the proverbial early bird, and Richter was not the only conductor whom Manns relegated to second or third performances of new works. Overriding the issue of first versus second performance is that the total of both types amounted to only seven works, excluding those by English composers. None were world premieres, and several were more than five years old. The four English works presented, however, were all premieres: 's Piano Concerto, given its second 67

performance, and George Henschel's Overture in , given its first performance but composed ten years earlier, his Three Songs from C. Kingsley's The Water-babies, and his Duet from C. Kingsley's The Saint's . In the entire ten-concert series, Parry was the only native English composer represented. (George Henschel was born in Germany.) To Richter's credit, history has shown that Hubert Parry was one of the few English composers active in 1880 whose music merited performance. England was the only major European country in 1880 which tolerated foreign domination of its concert life. To be sure, indigenous English composers did get a hearing in London, especially from Manns, but the capital was a worldly city with sizable, energetic ethnic enclaves. This diversity ensured more support for conductors and composers representing other European countries--particularly Germany for orchestral music and Italy for opera.

The programming of the Richter Concerts of 1880 aroused the disdain of many London critics. In reviewing the first concert (May 10), the novelty of which was Parry's Piano Concerto, The Athenaeum asks some pertinent questions about the programming.

Why is this the only work by an English composer introduced in the whole series of concerts? If all native compositions were excluded, such a course would be at least intelligible, even it if were deemed reprehensible; but why should this solitary exception be made? We do not for a moment mean to imply that Mr. Parry's work was unworthy of a place in the programme--far from it; but surely there are other English composers with at least an equal claim to recognition. It would be invidious, though easy, to mention names, but our readers will have no difficulty in supplying them for themselves. If the managers of these concerts will do something more for English art they will certainly not injure the success of their enterprise, and will increase their claim on the gratitude of the public.4

This review was probably written by Ebenezer Prout, an English musician familiar with the composer's arduous search for an audience. The Times's critic, Francis Hueffer, voices a similar concern, but absolves Richter of any blame.

4Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (May 15, 1880), p. 643. 68

In listening to such music as this, one could not help regretting that some regard to English composers of at least equal merit had not been paid. The fault does not lie with Herr Richter, who on more than one occasion has expressed his desire to do justice to our native art, which unfortunately in Vienna he has no opportunity of becoming acquainted with. But his London advisors surely might have assisted him in the matter.5

A divergent viewpoint is offered in a Musical Times review, where is subordinate.

Although the Richter Concerts are more German than English, their success affords reason for general pleasure. They belong to the higher walks of art where the distinctions of country should not be recognized, and patriotism is merged in to a wider feeling. In the face of sham pretensions and unfair preferences an Englishman should stand by his own country and people, but at the same time the question of support or non-support to a really good thing should be decided on broader grounds. If, therefore, the Richter Concerts remain as good as now, and take root among us, the circumstances of their origin, and even their limitation to German performers and composers, fall naturally into the background as of no particular importance. . . . All things considered, we do not see how the programmes would have been drawn up with more fairness towards a number of conflicting claims.6

An issue on which all press notices concur is the poor quality of the contemporary music selected. Regarding the Serenade by Fuchs, presented at the second concert (May 20), the Musical Times states that "it would, perhaps, have been better to introduce Herr Fuchs in connection with a more important and striking work from his pen."7 The

Athenaeum's notice is less conciliatory:

. . . the performance . . . gave rise to a sense of disappointment. . . . We can detect nothing beyond a succession of tolerably pleasing but wholly conventional ideas, unrelieved by any attempt at effective thematic development. The four movements of the Serenade might pass as ballet music, and that is, perhaps, the highest praise it is in our power to give.8

5Francis Hueffer, "The Richter Concerts," Times (London), June 5, 1880, p. 6

"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (July 1, 1880), p. 341.

7The Musical Times (June 1, 1880), p. 285.

8Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (May 29, 1880), p. 704. 69

Volkmann's Cello Concerto in A minor also stimulated a negative response. The Illustrated London News calls it "a rather dry Concerto,' while Francis Hueffer of the Times finds it "wanting in original features, and does not leave any very distinct impressions on the mind; we may have heard it before, we may not, the question is difficult and not very important to decide."10 The Athenaeum's review terms the concerto "a dull and laboured composition."11 Similar remarks were recorded about nearly all of the new music; only the compositions by Parry and Dvorák met with generally favorable reaction in the press. Notwithstanding the lack of first-rate contemporary music, the Richter Concerts of 1880 were an unqualified success. Attendance increased as the series progressed, and the quality of the orchestral playing gradually improved. The people attending the concerts came to hear the old standards--Bach, Beethoven, Brahms--and what interest they had in new music was satisfied by the few Wagnerian excerpts performed. Above all, they came to hear Beethoven rendered by Richter. The best index of the result is provided by the critics, whose superlative of choice was "perfect."

Musical Times - Looking back upon the performance of the "glorious nine," the most severe critic must admit great cause for congratulation. If not perfect in details that depended upon individual players, it was marked by many high qualities that helped largely to raise the standard by which hereafter the rendering of these works will be judged.12

The Athenaeum - We have never listened to a more perfect rendering of Beethoven's [Fourth] symphony.13

9"MUSIC," Illustrated London News (June 5, 1880), p. 550.

10Francis Hueffer, "The Richter Concerts," Times (London), June 5, 1880, p. 6.

11Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (June 5, 1880), p. 736.

12"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (July 1, 1880), p. 341.

13Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (June 5, 1880), p. 736. 70

The Times - A perfect performance of such a work [Ninth Symphony] is in all circumstances a thing to be remembered, and perfect--as far as human efforts can be perfect--the rendering of last night can without exaggeration be called. It certainly surpassed any other that the younger generation of amateurs can call to mind.14

The tremendous success of the Ninth Symphony performance caused Richter to make it his annual farewell piece, played at the final concert of each London season, and sometimes at the first. There was much discussion of Richter's tempi as applied in the Beethoven symphony cycle. Some critics felt they were too fast, more said they were too slow, but nearly all restrained their complaints in deference to Richter's interpretive genius. The Musical Times's review touches upon this issue in detail, as well as the quality of the personnel under Richter's command.

At each of the Concerts under review, a Beethoven Symphony was given, and took rank as the leading feature of the programme. We have already pointed out the peculiar distinction of Herr Richter's reading of these great works, and it is unnecessary now to insist upon the masterful way in which he brings out their salient points. As far as the light thrown upon them goes, Herr Richter may be said to recreate them, for nothing has interested and astonished connoisseurs more than the apparition in almost every movement of features or combinations either new or invested with a before unsuspected significance. Something of this may arise from the tempi adopted by the Viennese Conductor, respecting which a variety of opinions have been expressed, and as to which it is hopeless to look for general agreement. . . . We incline, however, to agree with Herr Richter when he gives us the Beethoven Allegro at a slower rate than usual. In doing so he is, doubtless, in accord with the Viennese tradition of Beethoven's own practice; and we should remember that there is a constant tendency in this age of strong sensations and general impatience to augment the speed as well as the intensity of music. Assuredly Herr Richter's tempi allow of more regard for details than is possible otherwise; and we cannot but think that such movements as the first Allegro in the third, seventh, and ninth Symphonies gain dignity and power under his hands. It cannot be said that the performance of the Symphonies was always up to the same mark. That of the "," for example, fell much below anticipation, while we have often heard the "B flat" (No. 4) and "F" (No. 8) as effectively rendered. On the other hand the "C minor," the "A major" (No. 7), and the "Choral" were splendid performances, more than worthy of Herr Richter's reputation, and absolutely astonishing, having regard to the quality of the orchestra. For it should be remembered whenever praise is given to these doings, that the

14Francis Hueffer, "The Last Richter Concert," Times (London), June 15, 1880, p. 5. 71

Viennese Conductor had to deal with a band by no means first-rate. Even in London the supply of really great players is limited and for the most part monopolized by the operas and other permanent musical institutions. Herr Richter was required, therefore, to do as he best could with "leavings," and such continental artists as it was possible to bring over. The result showed how superior an able workman is to his tools. By dint of consummate skill and power, Herr Richter produced with second-rate means an article of, in many respects, first-rate excellence.15

Praise for Richter's conducting skill was even more lavish than the previous year. Each concert review contains a similar pattern of commentary: first, the repertoire is listed; discussion of each new work's inherent merits and the performance ensues; finally, Richter is touted as the greatest living conductor. That his mention transcends perfunctory reference is noteworthy, for most concert reviews of this period in London neglect the conductor's role. Critic after critic hails Richter's great talent in prose usually reserved for royalty. After only two season of concerts, he had established an image of infallibility. He was approaching the stellar realm of world-famous conductors like , of the previous generation, and Hans von Bülow, of the current generation. Several miscellaneous novelties occurred in the Richter Concerts of 1880. At the third concert (May 24), Richter showed that he was not irrevocably fettered by

Wagnerian prejudices, as he programmed works by both Wagner and Mendelssohn. At the eighth concert (June 10), Richter again asserted his independence by omitting Wagner from a program for the first time since coming to England. The program included a concerto by Bach and the Second Symphony by Brahms, the latter representing the first Brahms symphony conducted by Richter in England.16 Another performance without Wagner's music was given a short time later, at the ninth concert (June 14).

15"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (July 1, 1880), p. 341.

16Richter conducted the world premiere of Brahms's Second Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic on December 30, 1877. 72

Among important soloists appearing in the 1880 season were: Walter Bache, organist and ambassador for Liszt's music in England, playing Liszt's Die Hünnenschlacht at the sixth concert (June 3); Saint-Saëns, pianist, playing his Concerto No. Four in C minor at the seventh concert (June 7); Edward Dannreuther, pianist, playing Parry's Piano Concerto; Charles Hallé, pianist and predecessor of Richter as conductor of Manchester's Hallé Orchestra, playing Beethoven's Concerto No. Four in G major; and Madame Norman-Neruda, violinist and the future wife of Charles Hallé, playing Spohr's Dramatic Concerto. In programming his London concerts, Richter made use of his Viennese experience, drawing both works and artists from the Imperial city. The following table delineates the similarities of repertoire within the seven-month period from Nov, 16, 1879 to June 10, 1880.

Table 1

Works conducted by Hans Richter in Vienna and London, Nov. 16, 1879-June 10, 1880

Vienna London Composer Work performance date(s) performance date BrahmsDvorák Second Symphony Dec. 28, 1879 June 10,1880 Third Slavonic Rhapsody Nov. 16, 1879 May 27, 1880 Mar. 29, 1880 Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 4 Mar. 21, 1880 June 7, 1880

Scharwenka Piano Concerto in B-Flat minor Dec. 14, 1879 May 24, 1880

Schumann Fourth Symphony Nov. 16, 1879 May 10, 1880

Wagner Overture to Die Meistersinger Apr. 4, 1880 May 10, 1880

Weber Overture to Euyanthe January 6, 1880 May 31, 1880 73

Not shown in the table are the compositions by Fuchs and Volkmann. Yet, these works were also transplanted from Austria, since both composers were professors--at the Vienna Conservatory and the Budapest Academy--in 1880. Every conductor has his stock-in-trade repertoire, of course, but the table shows that Richter's borrowing was extensive, encompassing more than just the frequently-played symphonic war-horses. In particular, the transplantation of pieces by Dvorák, Saint-Saëns, and Scharwenka--as well as those by Fuchs and Volkmann-- suggests that Richter wished to stand on familiar ground when presenting contemporary music. Pressures of time may have militated against the introduction of new pieces on the St. James's Hall stage, but one suspects that at this early stage of his London career Richter did not wish to place any listening strain on his audience by performing too much unknown music. The English premiere of Dvorák's Third Slavonic Rhapsody, at the fourth concert

(May 27), marked the first of many Dvorák compositions given in London by Richter. (See the program in Plates 6 and 7.) The performance of November 16, 1879 was the Vienna premiere, but another performance under Richter occurred on March 29, 1880 at

Vienna's Hofoper. These three performances served as beacons for the acceptance of Dvorák's music outside of Bohemia. The first of the three was the most crucial. For the premiere of a work to be given by the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic was the dream of many a budding composer in the Europe of 1879. This first performance was a great success and augured well for the career of the composer. Apparently for the first time, the event brought Dvorák and Richter together, though they had corresponded before this. The inspiration this successful premiere gave to Dvorák, as well as the warmth he felt for Richter, may be gleaned from the following excerpt from a letter (dated November 23, 1879) written by the composer to his friend Alois Göbl. 7 4 Plate 6. Program of fourth concert of Richter Concerts' second series: May 27, 1880. 75

Plate 7. Program of fourth concert of Richter Concerts' second series: May 27, 1880.


Only a few lines to tell you that I have just been to Vienna after receiving a telegram from Richter; I set out last Friday and was present at the performance of my III. Rhapsody, which was very well received and I had to show myself to the audience. I was sitting beside Brahms at the organ in the orchestra and Richter pulled me out. I had to come out. I must tell you that I won the sympathy of the whole orchestra at a stroke and that of all the novelties they tried over, and there were 60 as Richter told me, my Rhapsody was best liked. Richter actually embraced me on the spot and was very happy, as he said, to know me and promised that the Rhapsody would be repeated at an extraordinary concert in the Opera Theatre. . . . The day after the concert, Richter gave a banquet at his house, in my honor so to speak, to which he invited all the Czech members of the orchestra. It was a grand evening which I shall not easily forget as long as I live.17

The friendship inaugurated by this meeting in 1879 continued for life. It was a relationship characterized by close professional and personal ties. The success of the Vienna premiere also served as the catalyst for the composition of Dvorák's Fourth Symphony in D major, composed in 1880 and dedicated to Hans Richter. Rosa Newmarch, an eminent musicologist specializing in the Russian school, published English translations of most of the Richter-Dvorák letters in the summer, 1932 issue of The Musical Times. She summarizes Richter's support for Dvorák:

It is now generally known that Hans Richter was one of the earliest admirers of the Czech composer's music, and that he worked for its advancement in the unselfish spirit in which he laboured for Wagner and other friends, both in Germany and England. In this instance he put aside all national bias, and desired only to be the first interpreter of music which appealed to him as original and sincere.18

The performance of the Third Slavonic Rhapsody in London on May 27, 1880 may be seen as the fulfillment of a promise, made by Richter after the Vienna premiere, that he would do everything in his power to deliver the genius of Antonin Dvorák to the world. As he had been for Richard Wagner and would be for , Hans Richter was a loyal advocate for the music of Dvorák.

17Otakartranslated Sourek, by ed., RobertaAntonin Dvorák: Letters and Reminiscences, Finlayson Samsour (Prague: Artia, 1954), p. 52.

18The73 MusicalRosa Newmarch,(July Times "The Letters of Dvorák to Hans Richter," 1, 1932): 605. 77

Richter's 1880 season was also noteworthy owing to his debut as an opera conductor in England. Lohengrin was his vehicle, given in Italian at Her Majesty's Theatre beginning on May 29. It had been scheduled to open on May 22, but it was postponed due to Richter's insistence on more rehearsal time. (Four or five rehearsals per opera was the usual allotment.) It was not the first time that Richter's stern demands for adequate rehearsal time had forced a delay in the opening of an opera run, nor would it be the last.19 Apparently, the parts owned by the theater did not meet with his approval, as is explained in the memoirs of James Henry Mapleson, a well-known opera impresario affiliated with Her Majesty's Theatre at this time.

I had especially entered in to an engagement with Hans Richter, who after some fifteen rehearsals declared the work ready for presentation. He at the same time informed me that on looking through the orchestral parts he had discovered no less than 430 mistakes which had been passed over by his predecessor, Sir Michael Costa, and which he had corrected.20

Sir Michael Costa had conducted the most recent performance of Lohengrin in London, at Her Majesty's Theatre in June, 1875. Cuts made by him were restored by Richter, while cuts sanctioned by Wagner (in the duet between Elsa and Ortrud) were inserted. It is somewhat surprising, however, that Richter would have agreed to an

Italian production, featuring artists interested primarily in vocal opulence.21

19Though most scholars--particularly --think he was manipulated by Wagner, Richter refused to conduct the premiere performance of Das Rheingold in August, 1869, on the grounds that the opera's scenery was insufficient. Subsequently, he resigned his position as chief conductor at the Munich Opera, just as Hans von Bülow had done shortly before, leaving the premiere of Das Rheingold to be conducted by Franz Wullner.

20J. Henry Mapleson, The Mapleson Memoirs, edited by Harold Rosenthal (New York: Appleton-Century, 1966), p. 137.

21Richter was not averse to foreign language productions of Wagnerian operas per se. He conducted the first performance in French of Lohengrin on March 22, 1870 in Brussels, Belgium. 78

Nevertheless, the performances were fairly well received by both audiences and critics, with the orchestral nuances and coloring being especially praised.22 Still, the venture served to validate Hans Richter's aspirations as an opera conductor in England. Whether the acceptance accorded in London to Richter the conductor extended to Richter the man at this early point in his English career is difficult to say. Dividing his time between London and Vienna must have suited him, though he was kept very busy because of it. At the end of the final review for the 1880 season in The Musical Times, a clue is provided as to the degree of social acceptance Hans Richter enjoys in London, and a preview of the following season is given:

We have only to add that, in special acknowledgement of Herr Richter's high merit and valuable services, a banquet was given in his honor on the 2nd ult. [June 2nd] at St. James's Hall, a goodly number of persons eminent as professors or amateurs attending. The proceedings were of a very cordial nature, and the guest of the occasion must have felt, if ever, that he had come amongst friends. For next year's Concerts a most attractive prospectus has been put forward. It includes the , as before, and also the great Mass in D and the music to Egmont, thus fully representing Beethoven's genius. Schumann's Manfred is also promised, along with Mendelssohn's complete music to A Midsummer Night's Dream.23

Times,22TheFrancis critic Hueffer, of the was an exception. Commenting two years later (1882), he lamented the "wretched chorus and solo singers who . . . were hardly equal to their tasks." "Drury Lane Theatre," Times (London), May 20, 1882.

23"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (July 1, 1880), p. 341. CHAPTER FIVE RICHTER CONCERTS, 1881

As with the previous season, the 1881 Richter Concerts comprised nine regular and one "extra" concert. Beginning on May 9, this third season proceeded in a Monday-Thursday sequence through June 27. Hermann Franke again served in the dual capacity of concertmaster and agent; he assembled an orchestra similar in number and personnel to that employed in 1880. This continuity naturally abetted the cause of ensemble, but, since these were still part-time instrumentalists for the most part, deficiencies were frequently evident in sectional or solo passages. Critics were well aware of the amateur status of most of Richter's musicians, and his praises were sung all the louder for his ability to produce excellent results in spite of such limitations. Presumably to rekindle the exciting atmosphere surrounding the final concert of the previous season, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was performed at the first concert (May 9). If this tactic inspired a feeling among critics that the Richter Concerts were regressing, the Viennese maestro and Franke were impassive, for they continued to cater to the public taste. The performance of the Ninth pleased the critics, as it happened, and a festive air pervaded St. James's Hall. A work purporting to be a recently discovered "Concerto for Orchestra" by Bach was to be given its world premiere at the initial concert. In fact, the piece consisted of an anonymous violin part from the Baroque era which had been orchestrated into a concerto for strings by Joseph Hellmesberger, director

79 80

of the prestigious Vienna Conservatory.1 Desmond Ryan, writing in his final year as the critic of the Sunday Times, took offense at the deception:

We have no sympathy with hashed-up compositions of any sort, and regard with equal disfavor Herr Hellmesberger's attempt to gain distinction at Handel's expense (vide the well-known "Largo"), and this, his latest attempt to gain a hearing for his studies in instrumentation and harmony, through the supposititious influence of Bach. The annotator of the programme-books says: "Some one in Dresden, whose name is not forthcoming, discovered an autograph copy of the principal part of an unknown sonata by Bach, and sent it to Herr Hellmesberger, at Vienna, who, with extreme cleverness, has added a five-part accompaniment for strings." A hash of this sort--for the authenticity of the original MS. upon which the "adaptor" set to work is at least doubtful, while at the best the title of "concerto" is an obvious misnomer--ought not to have appeared in connection with an enterprise which at the offset was supposed to show us what real artistry meant, and we regret exceedingly that Herr Richter should have countenanced such a procedure. It is an unwholesome precedent.2

Hellmesberger wielded great influence in Vienna, and Richter may have felt obliged to present this work, or may have believed it to be exclusively by Bach at the time it was first programmed. Nevertheless, it must be regarded as an anomaly, for Hans Richter was clearly an ardent defender of the principle that performances must be faithful to composers. Lest it should seem that the luster of the series was dimmed by this episode, audience enthusiasm continued to run high at subsequent concerts. The second English performances of Brahms's Tragic and Academic Festival took place at the second (May 16) and fourth (May 23) concerts, respectively. Richter had given the world premiere of the former on December 26, 1880 in Vienna and the Vienna premiere of the latter on March 20, 1881. Only one week before Richter's London season began,

1"Old Hellmesberger," (1828-1893), as he was called, was a powerful, paternalistic figure in Vienna's musical life for over half a century. He was a conductor, violinist, leader of a famous named after him, and head of the Vienna Conservatory from 1851 until his death in 1893.

2Desmond Ryan, "Richter Concerts," Sunday Times (London), May 15, 1881, p. 3. 81

though, the enterprising August Manns gave the English premieres of these overtures at the Crystal Palace. He must have retained some important musical contacts in his native Germany, which he left in 1852, for there is no other explanation for his ability to get the jump on the arch-German Richter in the presentation of contemporary German music. In the case of the Brahms overtures, it is all the more surprising considering the friendly relationship between their composer and Richter. Perhaps George Grove, who had acquired many influential musical friends through the compilation of his Dictionary, had a hand in obtaining for Manns the English performing rights to some of these works. Despite their very recent performance at the Crystal Palace, the Brahms overtures under Richter did not go unnoticed in the press. The Academic Festival Overture at St. James's Hall prompted some remarks by the Musical Times's critic, whose review is tinged with nationalistic fervor.

Herr Brahms's overture will naturally be valued by Germans, upon whose familiar student-songs it is based; non-Germans, however, will see in it only a kind of orchestral fantasia having a number of themes with no natural artistic affinity, and boasting per se no great measure of attractive qualities. Of course one must avoid looking too critically at works of this sort. The overture is a piece d'occasion celebrating the connection of its author with the Breslau University; and if it served its immediate purpose, as undoubtedly it did, there is an end of the matter. But even those who look at the work from without, so to speak, must admire the remarkable ability shown in the treatment of the themes, and the wealth of the orchestral effects produced.it.3 The performance excited little or no demonstration from those who heard

Critical reaction to the Tragic Overture was indefinite, as several critics deferred final judgment. Ebenezer Prout of The Athenaeum implied that its structural permutations were not of the type English concert-goers were accustomed to hearing:

"It coniains some passages which produce their intended impression at once; but it is so elaborate in its developments--occupying a quarter of an hour in performance--and so full of detail, that further and more intimate acquaintance with it is needed before pronouncing a final opinion as to the place it is likely to occupy among its

3"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (June 1, 1881), p. 301. 82

composer's works."4

The Musical Times thought it a much more impressive work than the Academic Festival:

Brahms's overture occupies a position having little in common with the "Academic Festival." It is not a piece d'occasion; it is not based upon students' songs of limited interest, and it is not more a fantasia than an overture in form. Here we have a work for all musical nations, with nothing about it limited or limiting. Its value as a fine example of the composer lies beyond dispute; nevertheless, one must hear it again and again before assuming to speak thereanent with authority. Certain points are clear at the outset--that the overture is magisterial, distinctive, impressive, and put together with all an artist's devotion to a perfect ideal.5

In performing works by Hellmesberger and Brahms, Richter was continuing his reliance on works with Viennese roots. Compositions by two other composers linked with the city on the Danube also found their way into programs of the third season of Richter Concerts. Carl Goldmark's Overture to Penthesilea, given fewer than six months earlier by the Vienna Philharmonic under Richter, received its second English performance at the third concert (May 19). Critics deemed it a mediocre piece. A Capriccio for Orchestra by Hermann Grädener, a close friend of Richter's who held a position at the Vienna Conservatory, was given its English premiere at the fourth concert

(May 23). It met with a tepid reception in most journals, though the Sunday Times's Desmond Ryan said that "the orchestral writing is tasteful and abounding in color."6 Like Grädener, Franz Liszt enjoyed both the personal and the professional support of Hans Richter. At the second concert (May 16), Liszt's First Waltz was given its first performance in England. Despite the efforts of Walter Bache, Liszt's music was slow to come to England. This performance of his Waltz reflects this tendency, since it was composed in 1860 and premiered on March 8, 1861 in .

4Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (May 28, 1881), p. 729.

5"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (June 1, 1881), p. 301.

6Desmond Ryan, "Concerts," Sunday Times (London), May 29, 1881, p. 3. 83

Considering the passage of twenty years, the English premiere can hardly be called a revelatory event. Richter was not really unveiling anything, especially since the piece was cast in the same mold as other frequently-played works by its composer. Critical reaction was harsh, and it was indicative of London's stubborn reluctance to accept Liszt as a serious composer. His penchant for bombast, prominently displayed in such demonically-inspired works as the Mephisto Waltzes, violated the conservative principles of musical expression to which most Londoners earnestly subscribed. Program music or not, it was not seen as true art. Ebenezer Prout's comments in The Athenaeum typify the feeling.

The work contains an immense amount of clever writing and some masterly orchestration, but (like many of its composer's writings) is frequently disfigured by positive ugliness. One of the great temptations to which of programme music are exposed is the seeking for truth of expression at the expense of musical beauty; and to this temptation Liszt too often yields. The music may be admitted to be wonderfully realistic; but as soon as the line of beauty is passed it becomes false as art; and we cannot say that the impression produced by the Mephisto-Walzer was, on the whole, pleasant.7

In the Musical Times's review, one is again reminded of the ubiquitous Victorian morality of the period:

The story, however, glorified by poetic talent, is not the most decent, and one might have supposed that even composers of the "intense" school would refuse to degrade an essentially pure art by bringing the two into contact. Liszt, however, has yielded to temptation, and his music purports to tell the story from the tuning-up of the village orchestra to the moment when Faust finds himself alone in the woods with the woman whom devilish art has placed in his power. For a work of this kind we have no criticism. It is a thing to sorrow over. But, in the interest of common propriety, we must protest against such subjects being thrust under the eyes of people who, in going to a concert room, believe themselves secure from offence. Things are coming to a pretty pass when there is need to cry out for a censorship over programme-books!8

7Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (May 21, 1881), p. 698.

8"The Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (June 1, 1881), p. 301. 84

Richter's third season of London concerts included only two indigenous works. Frederick Cowen's Scandinavian Symphony, performed at the third concert (May 19), had been played several times before in London. Critics had already discussed the work's merits and, thus, confined their remarks to the quality of the performance, which they judged to be excellent. Outweighing the significance of this performance is the fact that Richter quickly exported the work to Vienna, where it was given by the Vienna Philharmonic under his direction on January 25, 1882. In so doing, he contributed to the piece's international respectability, a rare attribute for English music of this era. The other native beneficiary of Hans Richter's programming in 1881 was Charles V. Stanford, one of Ireland's greatest composers. His setting for soli, chorus, and orchestra of Psalm XLVI, "God is our Hope and Strength" (Opus 8), had its world premiere at the fifth concert (May 30), with the composer in attendance (see program in Plate 8). Known for several years as an organist at Trinity College, Cambridge, and conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, Stanford's compositional efforts had also drawn attention since about 1877. His opera, The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, earned widespread praise when it was mounted in Hanover, and confirmed his status as a serious composer. The patrons of St. James's Hall were flush with anticipation over the prospect of hearing a new work from this budding composer. The disappointment was accordingly great, at least in critical circles, when it was disclosed that Stanford's new Psalm setting was not really new, having been composed in 1875. Francis Hueffer of the Times voices this objection in his review.

It is, however, open to discussion whether a more judicious choice might not have been made than that of Mr. Stanford's setting of the 46th Psalm--"God is our hope and strength," which was written as far back as 1875, and, therefore, scarcely represents the young composer's gift in its natural phase. The work, moreover, is essentially ecclesiastical in character, and, therefore, loses some of its effect in a Plate 8. Program of fifth concert of Richter Concerts' third series: May 30, 1881. 85 86

concert-room. The composer shows sympathy with the music of the modern German school, more especially with that of Brahms, without, however, surrendering his own individuality. The performance of the psalm by orchestra and chorus left little to be desired.9

Desmond Ryan of the Sunday Times finds more reasons to complain:

The work is not one of the most recent productions of the Cambridge organist and composer of The Veiled Prophet, having been written so long back as 1875. In all probability the Psalm was not originally intended for such massive interpretation as it received on Monday from a band and chorus of 300, and indeed the writing, while clever and imaginative, lacks the simple grandeur and breadth of effect which is the secret of the success of all works for large numbers of executants. If Mr. Stanford places implicit reliance upon the merits of his Psalm as a work of art, we should counsel him to rewrite the last fugal movement, which is certainly not what one would expect from the author.10

Continuing his survey of Beethoven's music, Richter performed four symphonies, three overtures, and the Missa Solemnis in the 1881 season. The latter had not been played in London since 1870, and its presentation at the ninth concert (June 23) was so well received that a repeat performance took place four days later. (Stanford served as organist for both performances.) Richter's reputation as a purist suffered a bit further in this third season through the performance of two works for piano and orchestra in revised forms. Chopin's Piano Concerto in F minor had been re-orchestrated by Karl

Klindworth, an acquaintance of Richter's by way of Wagner, and was performed at the third concert (May 19). The authorship of the revised version of Weber's Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra, performed at the seventh concert (June 13), is unknown, although one critic convincingly stated that it emanated from the pen of Hans von Bülow Each example of tampering aroused the wrath of critics, who justifiably argued that the arrangers' name(s) should have been listed in the programs. Perhaps, the conductor condoned these revisions but was not eager to announce them publicly.

9Francis Hueffer, "The Richter Concerts," Times (London), June 6, 1881, p. 10.

10Desmond Ryan, "Concerts," Sunday Times (London), June 5, 1881, p. 3. 87

Wagner's music appeared in every program except the final two, where the Missa Solemnis left no additional room. However, fewer vocal excerpts were included in the 1881 season than in the previous two. Instead, overtures and preludes from operas were given an important role. This may have occurred because of a dearth of available singers, but it is more likely that Richter avoided vocal excerpts because of the awareness that full productions in German of several Wagner operas were forthcoming in London in 1882. There were actually two series of Richter Concerts in 1881. After concluding the May-June round, Richter returned to conduct two concerts in late October.11 As usual, Franke organized the affair, hiring the orchestra and securing St. James's Hall. On the programs, Franke is called "Director," Mr. N. Vert is called "Acting Manager," and Hans Richter is called "Conductor." Of the fall concerts, comprising the fourth London series

for Richter, the first (October 24) was by far the more interesting historically, due to the premiere of two works. (See the program in Plates 9 and 10.) Berlioz's Nuits d'ete had not been performed in England, causing great interest in the concert. Composed for voice and piano in 1841, the settings were orchestrated in full by the composer in 1856.

Such intimate pieces by the creator of the Symphonie took some people by surprise, but the colorful scoring was recognized by the journalists. Francis Hueffer of the Times, who had translated the text by Theophile Gautier, into English, spoke of

11A concert tour in the provinces was also planned, as the following announcement in The Athenaeum (June 25, 1881, p. 857) shows: "In October and November next Herr Richter will undertake a provincial tour with an orchestra of one hundred performers." The tour never materialized. Plate 9. Program of first concert of Pichter Concerts' fourth series: October 24, 1881. 88 Plate 10. Program of first concert of Richter Concerts' fourth series: October 24, 1881. 89 90

"delicate orchestral coloring . . . in the second song."12 "The sensuous charm of the orchestration (although but few instruments are used)" appealed to Ebenezer Prout of The Athenaeum,13 and the Musical Times's critic called the orchestration of the second song "imaginative in the highest degree."14 The Illustrated London News followed suit, saying that "in each of the songs the varied and delicate orchestral writing is the most important and prominent feature."15 The other premiere occurring in the concert of October 24 was a piano concerto composed by Eugene D'Albert, whose nationality was ever-changing. Because he was born in and educated in England, he may be considered English. His parents, however, were French, and he spent most of his adult life in Germany. In 1881 he was proudly hailed by the critics as a rising star in England for his compositional as well as his pianistic gifts; he was the soloist in his own Concerto in A under Richter's baton. The performance was the world premiere of the concerto by D'Albert, who was only sixteen when he penned it in 1880. This first concert in Richter's fall season of 1881 was surrounded by a pronounced air of enthusiasm, owing to the presence of this wunderkind performing his own piano concerto in St. James's Hall. Comparisons with Mendelssohn were made, but, when all evidence was in, critical judgment was mixed. Most reviewers saw great promise in the seventeen-year-old composer, but hoped that he would condense his ideas and, in accordance with English musical taste, subvert his exuberance. A remarkable review was written by Francis Hueffer, the critic of the Times, who was born and educated in Germany. He revered Richter, and despite the conductor's heavy

12Francis Hueffer, "The Richter Concerts," Times (London), October 25, 1881, p. 11.

13Ebenezer Prout, "MUSIC," The Athenaeum (October 29, 1881), p. 570.

14Richter Concerts," The Musical Times (November 1, 1881), p. 570.

15"Richter Concerts," Illustrated London News (October 29, 1881), p. 418. 91

reliance on German music in all of the 1881 concerts (including Beethoven's Ninth

Symphony played as the second half of the October 24 concert), he exalts him to the position of a great champion of native composers.

To Mr. Richter the highest praise is due for the introduction to the English public of this rising English composer. It was left for a foreigner to teach us the true meaning of the term "encouragement of native talent"--a phrase too frequently used as synonymous with the wholesale praise of indigenous mediocrity. The two most remarkable English works of recent date--Mr. Cowen's Scandinavian Symphony and Mr. D'Albert's pianoforte concerto--are included in the programmes of the Richter concerts, and we are happy to add that both will be shortly performed at Vienna under the great conductor's auspices.16

The second and final concert in the fall series occurred on Saturday afternoon, October 29. It featured works by the two composers with whom Richter, after only three summers of concertizing in England, had already come to be identified-- Beethoven and Wagner. Beethoven's Eroica Symphony was given, along with Wagner's Overtures to Tannhaüser, Der Fliegende Holländer, Introduction and Closing Scene from Tristan and Isolde, and Siegfried Idyll. The Wagnerian excerpts were actually replacements on the program for selections from the Ring, which had been originally planned. Performing rights could not be secured, however, and the substitutions were made. Like his mentor,

Richard Wagner, Hans Richter was an artist first and an administrator second, priorities which he pointed out frequently in his correspondence. Securing performing rights to Wagner's Ring operas was an administrative chore more than an artistic one, and Richter probably did not pursue it too far. Since his relationship with the Wagner family was still very close in the fall of 1881, there could not have been any artistic or personal obstacle to mounting the Ring excerpts; it must have been a problem for the lawyers to contend with.

16Cowen's symphony was performed in Vienna on January 15, 1882 and D'Albert played his concerto there on February 26, 1882. 92

The change in programming had little or no effect on the public, as the concert of October 29 was packed. Londoners would always turn out for Beethoven, and Wagner's music had become quite familiar by this time, though few fully staged operas had been mounted in the English capital. Not to be forgotten in seeking an explanation for a crowded matinee performance was the imposing musical stature of Hans Richter himself, for he was an intimate associate of so many famous modern composers--Dvorák, Brahms, Liszt, Rubinstein--and was like family to Wagner. The concert-going public knew of Richter's Viennese ties. When attending a Richter concert they knew, even as early as 1881, that they were getting as close to the great tradition of central European music as they could possibly get. If one could not see Brahms conduct in person (he was not about to travel to England for concerts), at least one could attend a Richter concert and hear his music conducted by one of the composer's most trusted interpreters. Richter's command of the orchestra and musical insight rendered performances which were usually superior to the regular orchestral fare in London, and this also solidified his following. Not only did he conduct a concert series in London which bore his own name after only two seasons, even the chorus which joined the orchestra for such works as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony began to be called the "Richter Chorus" starting in 1881. The Athenaeum's remarks about the final Richter concert of 1881 are typical. "If the orchestra had consisted of the finest players in Europe no better results could have been attained, and this is the highest praise that it is in our power to bestow."17 Hans Richter's meteoric rise to fame in the wake of his role as chief conductor at the original Bayreuth Festival of 1876 did not lead to any complacency or diminish the level of his activity. On the contrary, he took on more engagements than would seem

17The Athenaeum (November 5, 1881), p. 605. 93

possible to manage. Following the final subscription concert (on April 3, 1881) in the 1880-81 season of the Vienna Philharmonic, Richter would have had little if any time off before traveling to London to begin rehearsing for the first concert (on May 9) of the 1881 season. After enduring the arduous rehearsal and performance schedule of this ten-concert season, he presumably took a few months off to rest and prepare for the upcoming season of the Vienna Philharmonic in the fall. How much rest he could have gotten is questionable because this annual summer break was the only extended block of time in which the conductor could engage in some artistic duties close to his heart. These included meeting with the "directors" of the Vienna Philharmonic, reviewing new compositions to be performed in the coming season, auditioning prospective Philharmonic musicians, meeting with young composers who hoped to gain acceptance for their works through a personal acquaintance with the conductor, corresponding and/or meeting with artists to be engaged as soloists for the coming season regarding fees, repertoire, etc., and planning the repertoire for both his Vienna and London concerts. In view of his demanding responsibilities as an internationally active conductor, it is amazing that Richter agreed to the extra set of London concerts in the fall of 1881. He knew that the first concert in the 1881-82 season of the Vienna Philharmonic was scheduled for November 6, 1881, giving him seven days between the end of the fall London concerts and the beginning of the Vienna concerts. This was scarcely enough time to cross the English Channel, much less sufficient time to prepare for the first Philharmonic concert, which consisted of Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger, a Concerto by J. S. Bach, and Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. Perhaps the rehearsals for this initial Philharmonic concert of the 1881-82 season were entrusted to , the director of the Hofoper, arrangements for which could have been made before the fall concerts in London. 94

Whether Richter was an extremely ambitious man at this stage of his career or simply could not say no to eager concert promoters is hard to say. Alternatively, need for funds may have been quite urgent at this point in his life. He and his wife of six years, Marie, were now the parents of five children, the last of whom, Matilda, was born on January 21 of 1881. His large, growing family would serve as explanation enough of a need for cash, but there may have been a more urgent cause. Two of their children, as well as their mother, Josefa, had contracted diphtheria. In a letter to Dvorák of February 1881, Hans Richter explained that this family illness was interfering with preparations to perform the composer's D Major Symphony in a Vienna Philharmonic concert scheduled for March 6. Corroboration of the family's suffering lies in a letter of reply from Dvorák to Richter written in the spring, the main purpose of which was to encourage a performance in Vienna of the symphony:

My dear Herr Hofkapellmeister, Since you look at the matter in that light, one fully understands that you could not have acted otherwise than you did. I greatly regret that you have suffered so hard a blow, I know from personal experience what it means, for I lost two children myself. God grant that all is now well with you.

As a result of the illness in his family there may have been some expensive medical fees for Richter to pay. Whatever the cause of his overly assiduous activity in 1881, it was an early symptom in a pattern of over-committedness for which he paid a price in future years.18

18It was also during this period (1881-82) that Richter served the first of his two stints as conductor of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde concerts in Vienna. While less numerous than the Philharmonic Concerts, these performances often required more rehearsal time since they usually featured less familiar music. CHAPTER SIX


The fifth series of Richter Concerts, consisting of nine performances beginning on May 3, 1882, can best be appreciated in the context of the preceding season of the Vienna Philharmonic. Hans Richter conducted all eight of the Sunday morning concerts in this seventh consecutive year of his leadership of the Viennese orchestra. Since 1880, he had been presenting more concerts per season with his London orchestra than with the Vienna Philharmonic, though by a slight margin (two or three). In terms of actual music conducted by Richter, the London and Vienna seasons were fairly balanced. This balance gave rise to a healthy exchange of repertoire and artists which had hitherto been a strictly import-export relationship: i.e., Richter imported music to London which he saw fit to export from his Vienna concerts. For the first time in the three years of Richter's concurrent tenure in both capitals, he imported works and artists from England into Vienna for the 1881-82 season of the Philharmonic. These included Frederic Cowen's Scandinavian Symphony (performed May 19, 1881 in London and January 15, 1882 in Vienna) and Eugene D'Albert's Piano Concerto (performed October 24, 1881 in London and February 26, 1882 in Vienna), the latter performed by the composer in Vienna also. Notwithstanding his discovery of English music which Vienna would judge acceptable, Richter continued to emphasize the exportation of the Vienna Philharmonic's rich repertoire to London--a natural form of musical evangelism for an Austro-Hungarian conductor trained in Vienna and steeped in the German musical tradition, who saw the alacrity with which London audiences embraced the music. There were many pearls in

95 96

the Philharmonic's 1881-82 season, so it is not surprising that Hans Richter chose to take some of these with him to England. Tchaikovsky's was given its world premiere on the third concert of the Vienna Philharmonic's season (December 4, 1881), played by a violinist, Adolf Brodsky, who was to have a close personal and professional relationship with Hans Richter for twenty-five years. (Brodsky also performed as viola soloist in Berlioz's Harold in Italy later in the same season.) Brahms's Piano Concerto in B flat major was given its Vienna premiere on the fourth concert (December 26, 1881) in a performance featuring the composer as soloist. The same composer's Violin Concerto was also given its Vienna premiere this season at a concert on March 12, 1882, as was 's Piano Concerto on March 26, 1882. Of these novelties, Richter exported both the Tchaikovsky concerto and the Brahms Piano Concerto to England for his 1882 concerts. As in the four previous series of Richter Concerts, the fifth series of 1882 was administered by Hermann Franke, who again culled the finest musicians from some of the permanent orchestras in London to form an "orchestra of 100 performers," as the program states. All concerts were presented at St. James's Hall, as in past years. The nine concerts were given on three Mondays in May (8, 15, 22) and four in June (5, 12, 19, 26), as well as Wednesday, May 3 and Friday, June 2. Beethoven and Wagner dominated the repertoire, with the latter's music played at all but two of the concerts. The first concert, on May 3, featured the return of Eugene D'Albert, playing the solo in Rubinstein's Fourth Piano Concerto in D minor. It is helpful to remember that Rubinstein's fame still surpassed that of great composers like Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, and Verdi at the time, as extensive concertizing had spread his name throughout Europe. (Unlike his contemporaries and fellow piano virtuosi Liszt and Brahms, he is known today more for his brilliant piano technique than for his compositions.) Though it 97

represented contemporary music, the concerto by Rubinstein did not really represent innovative programming; the Russian composer's style was closer to that of Schumann than Brahms, Wagner or any other modern composer. If Hermann Klein, the critic of the Sunday Times in London, is to be believed, the Rubinstein concerto was a last-minute substitution. Richter had planned to present the English premier of Brahms's B flat major Piano Concerto, but had to postpone it because of delays in getting the orchestral parts from the printer. It was eventually played at the Richter Concert of November 14, 1882. A clear measure of Richter's standing among London's musical cognoscenti is to be found in Klein's review of this first concert: "With Hans Richter as our theme, superlatives must be the order of the day. The modest, genial prince of orchestral conductors is in our midst once more, and his presence all but condemns to mediocrity that which a moment ago we thought the best of its kind."1 This review was written by a

German immigrant, it is true, and an admitted Wagner disciple, but he viewed himself as thoroughly English, and established a reputation during his long tenure with the Sunday Times for being very fair and objective. That the first four paragraphs in a concert review would be devoted to commentary on the conductor was unheard-of at this time in music history and reflects not only the pre-eminence of Richter's conducting skill but also the growing importance of the role of a conductor.2 He had not only moved out of the orchestra; he had moved in front of and above his musical charges, both literally and figuratively. For the first time, he was an attraction in his own right, as both leader of musicians and interpreter of music. The latter role, with its implication in the Romantic era of tapping into divine inspiration, is what allowed conductors to achieve the status of being bigger than life.

1Hermann Klein, Sunday Times (London), May 7, 1882, p. 7.

2See the entire review in Appendix B. 98

The second concert, on May 8, contained the usual Beethoven and Wagner fare, but included one novelty--the English premiere of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. (See the program in Plates 11 and 12.) Its world premiere having just been given in Vienna (December 4, 1881) under Richter, this was an opportunity to affirm confidence in the composer by taking one of his major orchestral compositions abroad. It was a generous and audacious move on Richter's part, and was not his first act of support for the Russian composer. In November of 1876, he conducted the Vienna premiere of Tchaikovsky's Overture to Romeo and Juliet with the Vienna Philharmonic. The audience reaction was mixed, but the critical commentary which mattered the most--Hanslick's--was decidedly negative. Richter's devotion was not lost on Tchaikovsky, who remarked about the conductor's support in a letter to N. F. von Meck, dated March 31, 1878.

For instance, Hans Richter, the Bayreuth conductor. In spite of all protests, he put my overture [referring to the Romeo and Juliet of 1876] into the programme at one of the eight Philharmonic concerts which he conducts in Vienna. Disregarding its failure, he wished this season to do my Third Symphony; but after one rehearsal the directors of the Philharmonic pronounced the work "too Russian," and it was unanimously rejected.3

Yet, Richter was bold enough to bring forth the Violin Concerto in the Vienna Philharmonic's season of 1881, despite it being a totally new work. It was Richter's custom to rehearse separately with soloists who were performing new works, so he was likely as impressed with the playing of the great Russian violinist Adolf Brodsky as with the piece itself. Again, however, Hanslick berated the piece, and, though Brodsky was recalled three times, the audience reaction was negative toward the music.4 That Richter

3Modeste Tchaikovsky, The Life & Letters of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, ed. by Rosa Newmarch, 2 vols., (London: The Bodley Head, 1906; reprint ed., New York: Vienna House, 1973) 1: 290.

It4 was in a review of this world premiere of the Violin Concerto that Hanslick wrote these defamatory words: "Friedrich Fischer, describing lascivious paintings, once said there were pictures 'one could see stink.' Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto 99 8, 1882. Plate 11. Program of second concert of Richter Concerts' fifth series: May Plate 11. Program of second 1 o0 Plate 12. Program of second concert of Richter Concerts' fifth series: May 8, 1882. 101

would bring the work to London after so much derogatory criticism speaks well of his individuality and faith in Tchaikovsky's music as played by Brodksy. Richter's courage was rewarded by a very positive audience response at the May 8 English premiere of the concerto. As so often occurred, however, the press responded differently, with the words of the Musical Times's critic being typical: "We cannot refer to the Concerto in terms of unqualified admiration. It is long, pretentious, and entitled to boast of certain original features, but of genius to correspond we do not see precisely an adequate measure."5 The interesting feature of this premiere is not the negative reaction of the press but, rather, Richter's decision to program the concerto in the first place. Mention has already been made of the dour reception accorded other works by Tchaikovsky in both Vienna and London. It took some courage to ignore Hanslick's outright condemnation of the piece, for the two men would have encountered one another frequently in Vienna, through their professional relationship as artist and critic as well as in social situations. Their mutual friendship with Brahms brought them together on many occasions. In view of his antipathy for musical criticism in general, a view inherited from his mentor, Wagner, and his view that audience response meant more, he was probably counting on the vindication of a London audience. If so, he was richly rewarded, for the atmosphere following the performance in St. James's Hall was electric. Yet, something did cause Richter to abandon the Russian composer's music, for it was thirteen years before any of his works was again played at a Richter Concert. Once his music returned in 1895, however, Tchaikovsky enjoyed frequent representation on

brings us face to face for the first time with the revolting idea: May there not also be musical compositions which we can hear stink?"

5Quoted in Gerald Norris, Stanford, The Cambridge Jubilee and Tchaikovsky (North Pomfret, Vermont: David & Charles, 1980), p. 252. 102

Richter's programs at St. James's Hall, with some fifteen works being given in the ensuing five years (1895-1900). The third concert, held on May 15, featured the second English performance of Dvorák's D Major Symphony (No. 6), the first occurring only a few weeks earlier, on April 22, at the Crystal Palace under the direction of August Manns.6 It was this piece to which Dvorák was referring in his letter to Richter in the early spring of 1881 in which a plea is made for a performance in Vienna. Richter's original intention was to give the world premiere in Vienna, but this became impossible because, on the date which Richter planned to present it, December 26, 1880, the world premiere of Brahms' Tragic Overture had already been planned, and Richter knew that one new piece was difficult enough. He was still eager to perform the work, however, and hoped to give the premiere. After the conductor cancelled the rescheduled premiere because of the illness of several family members in March of 1881, Dvorák lost . The world premiere occurred on March 25, 1881 in Prague by the orchestra of the National Theater under Adolf Cech. While not harboring any ill feelings toward Richter, to whom the work was dedicated, Dvorák suspected that the real reason for the postponed premieres in Vienna was anti-Czech prejudice among the xenophobic members of the Vienna Philharmonic Society. When Richter finally gave it a trial rehearsal, it was turned down by the Philharmonic committee, the group which had the last word on novelties to be performed at regular subscription concerts. Dvorák heard through his own sources later that there was overwhelming resistance to performing two works by a Czech composer in successive seasons, confirming his suspicions. Having missed out on the premiere, it is not surprising that Richter waited over a year to perform the new symphony, which

6Here was yet another instance of Manns getting the jump on his fellow German Richter in the performance of a new composition. 103

placed weighty demands on an orchestra, nor that he turned to London rather than Vienna as the city of choice. When preparations were finally underway in London, Richter apprised Dvorák of the progress of rehearsals in a letter which shows the continued affection in their relationship:

My dear Friend, This morning came the first rehearsal of your fine work. I am proud of the dedication to me. . . . Orchestra quite enthusiastic. The performance is on Monday, May 15. Eight in the evening. I am sure it shall be a great success. The work is being studied with real love. Further news after the performance. Cordial greetings. Yours, Hans Richter7

Despite the passage of eighteen months between Hans Richter's first promised date and the actual date of performance, Dvorák's symphony met with great success, "the applause at the end of the last movement being loud and prolonged."' This was an important event in Dvorák's life, for it was the first truly demonstrative success enjoyed by his music outside Bohemia. International stature was now conferred upon the

forty-year-old peasant-composer, several of whose works were now a part of the standard orchestral repertoire in England. To the conservative English critics, praise to a new composer, whether native or foreigner, was usually slow in coming; final judgment awaited the composer's work in that form which was to them the ultimate test of musical

expression--the symphony. Compounding their judgment was the universal comparison

which most critics made with the symphonies of their hero, Beethoven. (This factor

intimidated many native composers from even making an attempt at a symphony.) With

7Quoted in Newmarch, "Letters," p. 607.

8Hermann Klein, Sunday Times (London), May 21, 1882, p. 7. 104

his D Major Symphony, Dvorák passed the test, for there was unison acclaim for the new work.

Brahms's Deutsche was also on the program of the third concert, and though it had only been given a few times in London, it received very little attention in the press after this initial presentation at a Richter concert. The attention that it did receive is difficult to make sense of. By some accounts, this was a rare example of sub-standard musicianship displayed by performers under the aegis of Hans Richter. Klein in the Sunday Times (May 21, page 7), for whom it was practically sacrilegious to utter any derogatory remark about a Richter Concert, said that "some of the choruses were anything but well sung."9 The Musical Times was blunt: "the chorus was bad, and the orchestra by no means free from blemish. The result was great disappointment, for many had looked forward to hearing the work as never before."10 Based on the review in

The Athenaeum, however, one has to wonder if the critic, probably Ebenezer Prout, was at the same performance as the others. "The rendering on Monday was, we have no hesitation in saying, the finest yet heard in London. The Richter chorus deserves the highest praise for a really splendid performance of its exciting share of the work, while the orchestra left little or nothing to desire."11 Similarly incongruent was the Illustrated

London News, who said that "the concert closed with an effective performance of Brahms's 'Requiem'."12 In view of Richter's immense popularity, it was difficult for a critic to write negatively about his concerts, but this does not excuse the pandering to his reputation


10The Musical Times (June 1, 1882), p. 326.

11The Athenaeum (May 20, 1882), p. 646.

12 Illustrated London News (May 20, 1882), p. 482. 105

evidenced in the latter two publications' columns. Richter's standing was certainly not so fragile as to hinge on musical criticism, anyway, so a critic who minced words to protect him was guilty of a gross conceit. Much more likely as the cause of this drivel was a personal lapse on the part of the critic, seeking to appease rather than inform the reader. Neither the fourth nor fifth concerts of the series, given on May 22 and June 2, respectively, contained any novelties, but the latter did provide a clue as to Londoners' acceptance of the later works of Wagner. The "Prelude and Love-death" from was played for the fifth or sixth time in a Richter concert, but this time the response was different. What had been "on former occasions coldly received, now excited the utmost enthusiasm, the applause being so prolonged that any other conductor would have construed it into a demand for a repetition. The public is rapidly becoming familiarized with Wagner's latest manner, and is now better able than formerly to comprehend and appreciate his abstruse utterances."13 The rapid familiarization of the public resulted not only from Richter's frequent performances of excerpts from Wagner's more recent operas in the concert hall, but also to the fully staged productions of Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger which were taking place concurrently in the Drury

Lane Theater under Richter. At the sixth concert, on June 5, the only performance of a Gluck overture in the more than twenty years of Richter concerts in London occurred. Not surprisingly, the Overture to Iphigenie en Aulide included Wagner's newly-composed ending rather than the ending attributed to Mozart which was usually performed. More significant at this concert was the English premiere of a cantata for soloists, chorus, and orchestra by Josef Sucher, a boyhood friend of Richter's.14 He had gone on to become the Korrepetitor for

13The Athenaeum (June 10, 1882), p. 711.

14They met as choir boys in Vienna's Burgkapelle, where Sucher excelled as a soprano soloist, while Richter was the prominent alto soloist. 106

the Vienna Hofoper (1870), director of the Viennese Academy Singing Union, the Kapellmeister in Leipzig (1876), and then Kapellmeister in . As a fellow stalwart of Wagner, he maintained his friendship with Hans Richter throughout the years. Richter was also close to Sucher's wife, Rosa, who triumphed at Bayreuth in the roles of Isolde and Sieglinde under her husband's conducting. The performance on June 5, 1882 was judged to be good, with the chorus borrowed from the opera performances under Richter at Drury Lane drawing special praise, but critical response to the work itself was cool. Some of Sucher's works, including this cantata, had been played in Vienna in 1873 (before Richter's arrival), but none was programmed by Richter in either Vienna or London after the 1873 performance, except for this 1882 revival. The composer was called to the stage afterward by tumultuous applause. Overshadowing Sucher's piece were two soloists who were making their English debuts: and Rosa Sucher, the composer's wife. Winkelmann

(1849-1912) had been the leading tenor of the Hamburg Opera since 1878, and was rapidly becoming one of the great interpreters of Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. It was Richter who recommended him for the role of which he sang in the world premiere only a few months later at Bayreuth. Rosa Sucher began her career in 1871 where Hans Richter did, at the Court Opera, Munich, singing minor roles such as Waltraute in Die Walküre. In Berlin, she sang Agathe in Der Freischütz in 1875 before being discovered by her future husband in Danzig two years later. She married Josef

Sucher in 1877 in Leipzig, where she sang Sieglinde in that city's first complete Ring cycle in 1878, after which she and her husband were engaged by the Hamburg Opera. It is an amazing coincidence that Winkelmann and Rosa Sucher were both making their London debuts, for they went on to become two of the greatest Wagnerian singers in history. Also deserving mention about this concert is the fact that Richter acceded 107

apparently for the first time to a London audience's insistent applause by repeating a piece. It was Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1 in F. On June 12 the seventh concert took place, with Beethoven's Missa Solemnis comprising the entire program. This great Mass in D had been given twice the previous year, where it constituted the only concerts in which Wagner was not programmed, and it enjoyed the same distinction at this point in the 1882 series. The eighth concert occurred on June 19, and its comparatively short program reflected the demands on both conductor and orchestra exerted by the German opera performances running concurrently at Drury Lane. Two of the pieces were repetitions from previous concerts in the series: Siegfried Idyll (from May 22) and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody (from June 5), which was encored again. This double repetition was unheard of in prior series, but is not surprising considering the mitigating circumstances to be discussed in the next few pages. The 1882 season had promised to include several premieres, so there was an understandable let down when at this eighth concert Beethoven's Symphony No. Six was substituted for a new symphony by the English composer, C. Hubert Parry. This would have been the second performance of a piece by Parry at a Richter Concert, the first having been the Piano Concerto given on May 10, 1880. Some observers viewed this substitution as a rebuff by Hans Richter of a native English composer, whose opportunities for symphonic performance were few and far between. It should be noted, however, that the reason given for the change was that more rehearsal time was needed to perform a symphony unknown to Richter's musicians. Hans Richter would not commit the injustice of premiering a work--regardless of the nationality of the composer--which was inadequately rehearsed. 108

At the ninth and final concert of Richter's fifth series in London, only three works were programmed: Overture to Nachklänge zu by Niels W. Gade, Liszt's Piano Concerto in A, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The overture had been played by the Vienna Philharmonic under Richter in 1876 and at the Crystal Palace in London about 1867, but never before at a Richter concert. The memorable aspect of the concerto's performance is that Edward Dannreuther, the eminent English disciple of Wagner who assisted with rehearsals for the Wagner Festival of 1877 as well as housed the Wagner family in London, served as soloist. Soloists in the Finale of the symphony were (bass), Hermann Winkelmann (tenor), Marianne Brandt (mezzo-soprano), and Madame Peschka-Leutner (soprano). (Brandt [1842-1921] knew Richter from Bayreuth, where in 1876 she sang Waltraute under his baton in Gotterdämmerung and in 1882 she sang Kundry at the second performance of Parsifal, under Levi.) This performance was very favorably received by the audience, and "at the close of the concert there was a demonstration in favour of Herr Richter, which it is hardly necessary to say was well deserved."15


Before discussing the fall season of Richter Concerts in 1882, some space must be accorded Richter's intense level of activity in German opera during the spring and summer. As previously detailed, London audiences had steadily grown in their appreciation of Wagner's music since the composer's visits of 1857 and 1877, his later works enjoying a particularly enthusiastic reception in the first years of the 1880s. No amount of enthusiasm, however, could have warranted the overdose of the Bayreuth master's music which occurred in 1882. As early as March 28, 1881 the Times announced that fully-staged performances of Die Meistersinger, Tristan und Isolde, along with Beethoven's would take place the following May and June, with Richter to conduct. The performances were arranged "owing to the energy of Mr. H.

Franke, the artistic director of the Richter Concerts, who has secured Drury Lane Theatre for the purpose."1 More details were provided in an announcement of September 27, 1881. Bernhard Pollini, impresario of the Hamburg Opera, was said to have joined with

Franke in organizing the performances, which would feature leading singers from the

Hamburg Company. Tannhäuser and Lohengrin were added to the prospectus, as was Weber's Euryanthe. The Times trumpeted that "Herr Richter's name alone is sufficient to guarantee the excellence of the performances."2

The problem was that another series of German operas, specifically the Ring cycle, was also being planned for May of 1882. , co-director of the

1Times (London), March 28, 1881.

2Times (London), Sept. 27, 1881. 109 110

Leipzig Opera since 1876, had been attempting to mount a production of Wagner's tetralogy ever since hearing it performed under Hans Richter that year at Bayreuth. Notwithstanding the heavy financial losses incurred at the premiere, Wagner refused to grant performance rights to Neumann (Ludwig II of Bavaria would have had something to say about this anyway), thinking that the entire Ring could be mounted again within a year or two at Bayreuth. Wagner's refusal seems especially stubborn considering Neumann's steadfast support of Wagner's cause while at the , his willingness to allow Wagner artistic control of the productions even though they were to be performed outside of Bayreuth, and his offer to pay generously for the rights. Finally, after the Ring was mounted away from Bayreuth for the first time in 1881 in Berlin, Wagner approved of Neumann's proposal to take it on tour throughout Europe in 1882, for the purpose of raising money for the Bayreuth theatre. This permission was probably granted after the Franke/Pollini enterprise was established, of which Neumann apparently knew nothing. Wagner probably saw no reason to tell either about their competing efforts, since he did not foresee a schedule conflict and, besides, would probably not have been concerned about a point of diminishing returns in London's capacity for absorbing his music. Two series of deficit-reducing performances surely seemed better than one to the debt-ridden composer, even if they ran concurrently, so there was no reason to discourage either. The first of four cycles of the Ring opened on May 5, two days after the opening Richter Concert of the 1882 season, with the first London performance of Das Rheingold. It occurred under difficult circumstances, for Neumann had expected much more support from the director of Her Majesty's Theatre, James Henry Mapleson. In Neumann's book on Wagner written many years later, he explained that he had expected

Mapleson to make arrangements with an orchestra, a chorus, and advertising agents. 111

Instead, he arrived in London to discover that none of these arrangements had been made and, to make matters worse, Mapleson was in America. Neumann, to his credit, made most of the arrangements himself, despite being in a foreign capital.3 Since no local orchestra had been hired, Anton Seidl, whom Neumann had contracted as conductor, was told to go to Hamburg (Pollini's city of residence, ironically) to hire the Laube orchestra and rehearse there during April. Neumann hired the chorus of the Opera House, handled advertising needs, and even paid off a lien which a bank had placed on Her Majesty's Theatre due to an unpaid debt of Mapleson's.4 Despite these hardships, the performance came off as planned, with the usual mixture of opinions in the press. Klein of the Sunday Times and Hueffer of the Times were quite impressed, while the old guard, led by of the Daily Telegraph, was derisive. Most of the critics had been to Bayreuth six years earlier for the premiere, and despite having dispatched reviews to their London papers at that time, they seized the opportunity presented by the revival to drive home their original partisan judgments. An interesting feature of these reviews is the inclusion of remarks about the moral propriety of the stories in the Ring dramas. Far from being succinct commentaries on the quality of each performance, the reviews frequently contain as much detail on the musical content of each work and the ideology inherent in the texts as on the tenor's success above F2. Typical of the pontificating was the notice in the Era, a theatrical journal, following the first performance of Die Walküre.

[Wagner] must have lost all sense of decency and all respect for the dignity of human nature . . . to employ his genius and skill to heighten and render more effective a

3Of considerable help to Neumann were the use of costumes and scenery from the Bayreuth production of 1876, as well as the technical staff who accompanied him from the Leipzig Opera.

4Robert Hartford, "How the Ring Came to London," Music & Musicians 27 (October,

1978): 26. 112

situation which should never again, if our authorities exert their power, be witnessed on the English stage. . . . There are passages for the musician to admire . . . but we must repeat again that nothing can justify the representation of such a story in public. Immoral and unspeakably degrading, it should have no place in true art.5

Despite these gratuitous digressions into pure versus impure art, critical response to the actual performances was quite positive, except regarding the orchestra. Some attributed this to an imbalanced arrangement of instrumentalists in the pit, some to the impossible-to-play- well music, and some to inferior musicians. Seidl, however, was praised, and so were most singers. Lending credence to the notion that Wagner's music was over the head of most critics is the fact that praise was even accorded to , the Austrian bass whose portrayal of Wotan was horrible. In act three of Die Walküre Scaria suffered some terrible lapses of memory causing him to enter from the wrong side of the stage, to transpose some passages to different octaves, indiscriminately, and to completely destroy his dramatic characterization of Wotan. In spite of this obviously flawed performance, Scaria was given several favorable comments by reviewers. Against this backdrop of the Ring cycle at Her Majesty's Theatre, Hans Richter was giving four of his regular concerts at St. James's Hall, and was preparing for the

"German Season" at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The series of operas there was set up to comprise twenty-four performances presented in two segments of twelve alternate nights each from May 18 to June 28, with eighteen of the evenings devoted to Wagner's operas. Thus, it overlapped the latter two-thirds of the Richter concerts. With rehearsals for both enterprises occupying his time on non-performance days, the robust conductor had his endurance tested to the limit. It is to be remembered that the Ring cycle was running concurrently with Richter's opera and concert performances. If Richter had time to attend any of the Ring operas at Her Majesty's

5Quoted in ibid., pp. 28-30. 113

Theatre, his heart would have doubtless been warmed by the presence of much of the scenery and costumes from the 1876 productions which he led at Bayreuth, as well as the sight of the young conductor, Anton Seidl, who had assisted him at the premiere. The opening of the third cycle of the Ring on May 18 under Seidl coincided with the opening of Richter's opera season, which featured Lohengrin with Rosa Sucher, later Therese Malten, as Elsa. Malten, from the Dresden opera house, was making her English debut in this role. Hermann Winkelmann was in the title role, with Garso-Dely, later Schefsky, as Ortrud. Francis Hueffer, in his notice in the Times, recalled that Richter had conducted a performance of Lohengrin in London once before.

It may without exaggeration be stated that the performance on Thursday night was not only the finest ever seen in London of this particular work, but also one of the most perfect operatic renderings that have been witnessed for many years past. . . . Herr Richter, to whom the success of Thursday night is in the first place due, has once before conducted Lohengrin in London, and the general spirit of his conception, as well as the masterly manner in which the finest nuances of orchestral playing are attended to was generally admired on the occasion we refer to. Unfortunately, at that time the materials at his disposal . . . were insuperable obstacles in the way of a conductor who, in our opinion, is unrivaled as the interpreter of Wagner's works. That to that qualification Herr Richter is fully entitled was proved on Thursday night, when an excellent orchestra, a chorus carefully trained by Herr Armbruster, and artists of high merit were under his command.6

On May 20, Der Fliegende Höllander was given its first German language performance in England. Rosa Sucher was Senta and Eugen Gura was the Dutchman. This was followed on May 23 by Tannhäuser featuring Sucher, later Malten, as Elisabeth, Winkelmann in the title role, Gura as Wolfram, and Weidermann as Venus. The next evening brought Fidelio with Therese Malten as Leonore and Wolff as Florestan. Unlike the operas of the Ring cycle being given at Her Majesty's Theatre, these four operas of the first week of the season at Drury Lane were received quite favorably in the press. This was no surprise in the case of Fidelio, for anything from

6Times (London), May 20, 1882 114

Beethoven's pen brought adoration. Since the early Wagner operas were appreciated much more than his later works it was natural to anticipate strong support from the

public. But for the press to sing the praises of each performance in such hyperbolic terms as they did was a bit disarming. Rosa Sucher and Hermann Winkelmann, the two prima donnas of the Hamburg opera, were singled out for their electrifying representations, but the chorus, orchestra and scenery were not without their own approbation. Richter likewise received unanimous acclaim. The Athenaeum said that "Beethoven's exquisite accompaniments were delightfully played by the orchestra under Herr Richter."7 The Musical Times agreed: "Concerning the chorus and stage management we have again to speak with commendation, while the perfect manner in which the orchestra did its work can hardly be praised enough. Herr Richter has not yet

presented us with anything better."8

There was a striking awareness in the press about the importance of these German operas being given in London by German performers under German leadership and in the German language. This ethnic identity comprised the novelty of the entire season really, because most of the music from these operas had been heard before in London.

Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Der Fliegende Holländer had all been given in Italian at various London including Covent Garden, and more recently, Carl Rosa's company had presented each in English (in February and March of 1882 all three were given by Carl Rosa at Her Majesty's Theatre). Because the works were under the direction of Richter, whom the critics knew would not compromise on any facet of an opera composed by his mentor, Wagner, the press expressed an eagerness to look with fresh eyes and listen with fresh ears to productions which promised to be much more

(May 27, 1882), p. 677. The Athenaeum7

(June 1, 1882), p. 324. The Musical8 Times 115

authentic. The Athenaeum's critic knew that London would now hear Wagnerian opera as Wagner wanted it heard, conceding that this had not always been the case.

Yet it is none the less true that a performance of any of Wagner's operas in Italian is a mere caricature; and although much less is lost in an English presentation, still the connection between words and music is so close, not to say inseparable, that in any translation, no matter how faithful to the original, much must necessarily be lost. Again, German singers possess the true secret of Wagner's declamatory style to a far larger extent than is the case with most vocalists of other nations. . . . It has been the custom, especially at the Italian houses, to mutilate the work [Lohengrin] in the most ruthless manner. We admit the expediency of making some "cuts" in it, but this should be done with judgment. Under Herr Richter much was restored which has usually been omitted; the magnificent opening scene of the second act--the duet between Telramund and Ortrud--one of the most dramatically conceived portions of the whole opera, was given, we believe for the first time in London, in its integrity.9

For the performances of the first week of the German opera season then, a number of factors were working in favor of their acceptance. First, they had the advantage of the conducting of Hans Richter, an intimate friend of Wagner and a gifted leader. Second, the appearances of two stellar Wagnerian singers, Rosa Sucher and Hermann Winkelmann, brought celebrity status and outstanding musicianship to each production. Third, the three Wagnerian operas chosen for the first week were easily the most popular of his works in England. Their popularity was on the increase, in fact, as

Carl Rosa's English productions and the presentation of excerpts by Manns and Richter at their respective orchestral concerts drew eager audiences in London in the late 1870s and early 1880s. The pre-Ring operas given in this first week, therefore, constituted a fairly safe repertoire from the standpoint of management. About the worst that could happen would be poor press coverage, because it was clear that the public would turn out en masse. The second and following weeks would constitute the real test, for they would bring productions of Die Meistersinger and Tristan to the London stage for the first time, though Richter and Manns had been offering the overtures and selected highlights from

9The Athenaeum (May 27, 1882), p. 676. 116

each opera for several years at their concerts. If Angelo Neumann's Ring performances at Her Majesty's were not being supported by audiences after the first cycle, how would operas composed after Das Rheingold fare? Die Meistersinger was given its English premiere under Hans Richter on May 30, 1882. The cast included Sucher, later Malten, as Eva, Eugen Gura as Hans Sachs and Winkelmann, later Nachbauer from the Munich opera, as Walther von Stolzing. As with the previous week's productions, there was surprising unanimity in the press as to the outstanding quality of both the performance and the work's inherent artistic merit. About the latter, especially, the critics waxed effusive, showing no hesitation in calling it Wagner's greatest opera. It is even worth wading few columns of some awfully pedestrian plot-summaries, obligatory when the opera being reviewed was an English premiere, to find glowing praise of Die Meistersinger in such unlikely places as the Daily Telegraph. After all, this was Joseph Bennett's roost, and it was he, following the tenures of Desmond Ryan of the Sunday Times and J. W. Davison of the Times, who served as the dean of the anti-Wagner critics during the last quarter of the century in London, much as Eduard Hanslick and did in the Viennese press. How strange it is to read Bennett concede the composer's right to be called a genius, and admit that the artistic discipline and integrity of the almost exclusively German opera company under Hans Richter's direction made Covent Garden and its Royal Italian Opera look bad in comparison.

The Germans, too, conjured with the spell of a man who, be his faults what they may, stands forth as the greatest musical genius of the age, while the advantages enjoyed at the outset were sustained as time went on, by just repute for merit in execution. Against all this, Italian opera, with its stale charms, could do little. The musical world talked of nothing but the Nibelungen Ring, the Meistersinger, Tristan und Isolde, Richter and his orchestra, the German artists and the German ensemble. La Traviata and II Trovatore, et hoc genus omne, even with renowned first ladies singing their best and loudest over the footlights, were for once deposed, thrust into a corner, and forgotten. . . . Who could tell what great things rivalry of German discipline, 117

thoroughness and devotion might do for slipshod Italian opera? It might give new life and new charm to an entertainment which loose and inartistic habits had made vapid and profitless.10

Other critics wondered if the composer of Die Meistersinger was the same man who wrote the Ring, so amazed were they at the lyricism and humanity of the former. While some critics experienced a wholesale Wagnerian conversion as a result of these performances, most saw this opera as an anomaly to be savored, but not indicative of typical Wagnerian style. For The Standard, Die Meistersinger had "but very few dull moments, and against them must be cited a veritable stream of melody--vocal and instrumental. . . . After the bombastic doctrines which have been associated with the name of Wagner, it is satisfactory to find an example of his work which will survive and endure tall talking."11 In its inimitable style, Punch speaks with sarcastic praise.

As for the Meistersinger, the shock of hearing it for the first time is too much to make criticism possible till the listener has pulled himself together. There are tunes in it. THERE IS A WALTZ!! Hooray for Wagner Waltzing! 'His First Waltz,' companion to 'Weber's Last,' which sounds as if Weber were a Shoemaker. Shall hear the Meistersinger again, as will many others.12

The Illustrated London News praises the singing and acting of Sucher, Gura, and Winkelmann, as well as the chorus, adding that "the work was received with much applause by a crowded audience.' As expected, Klein expresses his unabashed praise in the Sunday Times for the latest display of Wagner's art.

A genius like that of Wagner, released from the fetters of falsely-applied theories and allowed to drift back somewhat towards the period and style that gave us Lohengrin,

10Joseph Bennett, Forty Years of Music 1865-1905 (London: Methuen, 1908), pp. 280-81.

11Quoted in Dennis Arundell, The Critic at the Opera (London: Ernest Benn, 1957), pp. 367-68.

12Ibid., p. 368.

13Illustrated London News (June 3, 1882), p. 538. 118

Tannhäuser, and Der Fliegende Holländer could achieve but one result, and that result, as exemplified in Die Meistersinger, is a noble and pleasure-giving work of art.14

Neither does The Athenaeum disguise its approval.

Of the rendering of this most interesting work last Tuesday it is difficult to speak too highly. We venture to doubt whether a more satisfactory performance has ever been given. . . . It is no exaggeration to say that the reception of the work by a crowded audience, among whom might be seen most of the principal musicians in London, was enthusiastic; and we shall be much surprised if Die Meistersinger does not prove to be one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of all Wagner's works.15

Mention of the sophistication of the audience at this performance is reiterated in the Sunday Times.

The reception of the work the other night was wonderfully enthusiastic; in fact, we do not remember for years a new opera provoking at the outset so overwhelming a display of favour. Moreover, the audience constituted a discriminating and cultivated assemblage, so that the verdict was not what in every-day parlance is termed a "fluke."16

It is not difficult to sense the reviewer's anti-Wagner bias in the Musical Times's notice, despite being an essentially positive commentary on the performance:

A great success naturally attended the performance. In point of fact, Die Meistersinger has been the "hit" of the season, and the directors may thank it for pulling their enterprise through the fire of a first year. The matter is significant, because of all Wagner's later music-dramas this is the one which most closely approximates to the recognized operatic model. That it was admirably represented will be taken for granted, and it must in common justice be said that a better performance only unreasonableness could have desired. The stage-manager on one side of the footlights and Herr Richter on the other took infinite pains with their respective tasks.17

14Hermann Klein, Sunday Times (London), June 4, 1882, p. 7.

15The Athenaeum (June 3, 1882), p. 710.

16Sunday Times (London), June 4, 1882, p. 7.

17The Musical Times (July 1, 1882), p. 378. 119

The enthusiastic acclaim extended to Hans Richter and the orchestra under his command as well. Francis Hueffer in the Times could barely contain himself.

On no previous occasion has the excellence of Herr Richter's conducting been shown in a more brilliant light. The delicacy and precision with which every detail of perhaps the most complicated score in existence was rendered by the band defies description, and the conductor's hand was felt on the stage no less than in the orchestra. Solo singers and chorus were but the components of an artistic organism acting in perfect harmony and with a common aim.18

The Illustrated London News was more reserved, saying that "the performance, conducted by Hans Richter, was altogether of a very high order."19 The Sunday Times's Klein could not "refrain from offering a tribute of high praise to Herr Richter and his grand orchestra for their share in a success which ought alone to make the fame and fortune of the German opera season."20 Fame was made to a degree, but fortune was not, as will be discussed. Significantly, these initial London performances of Die Meistersinger must share the credit for the fact that this opera eventually came to be more closely associated with the name of Hans Richter than any other conductor. Indeed, Richter himself was to become more closely associated with Wagner's singular comic opera than of any other musical work, symphonic or operatic, with the possible exception of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It was his operatic raison d'etre. Richter's success with Die Meistersinger came as no surprise to Wagner or Hans von Bülow, who knew how closely he was associated with the world premiere performance at Munich's Staatsoper on June 21, 1868. Bülow, struggling at this time to come to terms with his wife Cosima's decision to move in permanently with Wagner at

18Quoted in Klein, Opera, p. 105.

19Illustrated London News (June 3, 1882), p. 538.

20Sunday Times (London), June 4, 1882, p. 7. 120

Triebschen, was charged with the responsibility of leading the first performance of 1868 under the auspices of King Ludwig II and the court intendant, Perfall. Despite being geographically removed from Munich, Wagner attempted to control all facets of the production. When Bülow informed him that there was a need for more assistance with the singers' training, Wagner recommended the appointment of Richter, who was still residing with the Wagner family at Triebschen after having completed a fair copy of the same opera's score. Wagner's wish was granted and Hans Richter assumed his first professional coaching position in December of 1867 at the Staatsoper. His primary responsibilities involved coaching soloists, accompanying rehearsals, and training the chorus. He earned the praise of Wagner, Bülow, the musicians, and the critics by training the singers with the utmost care for detail. Except for Wagner himself, there could not have been a more knowledgeable interpreter of this work, for not only had Richter copied the score at Triebschen, he also played the horn parts so that the composer could be assured of proper effects.21 Seeing that he was dealing with a gifted musician, who played horn, violin, and piano at a professional level, it is not stretching the boundaries of credulity to believe that Wagner consulted Richter on matters of orchestration such as instrumental range, facility and dynamics.

Richter's awareness of how Wagner wanted the work interpreted, along with his own practical familiarity with the work, made him the ideal man to assist Bülow. Even his expertise as a singing coach, the only job duty about which there may have been some doubt, was unequivocally proven when he sang the part of Kothner at the sixth performance (July 16, 1868), when the original Kothner (Fischer) became ill. "No

21Amade Nemeth, in his article "Richter Janos emlekezete," Muzsika, 10 (1967): 15-19, went so far as to say that Wagner "would allow him to make corrections in his scores since Richter, the more practical musician, would find a better orchestration." 121

wonder that a distinguished critic should have said that Wagner's Meistersinger has become part of Richter's flesh and blood."22 As a result of the success of Die Meistersinger and his contribution to it, Richter was appointed Royal Bavarian Court Conductor along with Mow. How well these two Wagnerian protégées got along is debatable. Bülow is said to have remarked in a letter to one of his daughters in 1881 that he disapproved of "the beery complacency with which Herr Richter conducts Die Meistersinger."23 He was clearly in the minority with that opinion, which may reflect some long-standing jealousy over the bestowal upon Richter of the mantle of Wagner's preferred interpreter after Bülow and the composer had a parting of the ways in 1869. The critical response to the English premiere of Tristan und Isolde on June 20 was more typically varied than that to Die Meistersinger. The reviewer's task in discussing a premiere was twofold: first, the artistic merits of the work as a whole were to be weighed, and, second, the rendering of the work by the musicians was evaluated. As to the latter, there was uniform agreement--this was a performance which would surely have earned the composer's praise, so effective were both singers and orchestra. The Musical Times called it "equally good all around," and "that among the triumphs of the German season it will hold the highest and most honored place."24 Rosa Sucher, who played Isolde for the first time, and Hermann Winkelmann, who played Tristan also for the first time, were incomparable in all respects. Garnering their own eulogies were Marianne Brandt as Brangäne, Gura as King Marke, and Dr. Kraus as Kurwenal. Even

Bennett's otherwise negative review in The Sunday Times conceded that "the orchestra tackled in marvellous fashion their tremendous share of the score, while Herr Richter

22Arthur Johnstone, Musical Criticisms (Manchester: University Press, 1905), p. 205.

23Schonberg, Conductors, pp. 179-80.

24The Musical Times (July 1, 1882), p. 379. 122

conducted with an unfailing energy and grasp of his work that proved him more clearly than ever to be facile princeps of his art."' All indications point to very fastidious preparation, with as many as fifteen rehearsals called by Richter. Clearly, he was doing everything in his power to ensure a performance up to Wagner's standards. Yet, unlike Die Meistersinger, the favorable response to which resulted in an impressive total of ten performances, Tristan und Isolde was given only two times to enthusiastic, but half-empty houses!26 Concerning the merits of the work as a whole, there was, predictably, less agreement. Generally, opinions were divided by the usual partisan affiliations. The anti-Wagnerians were eloquently represented by the Illustrated London News and the Sunday Times, while notices in the Musical Times, The Athenaeum, and the Times were quite favorable. What Bennett in the Sunday Times heard as "one long strain of restless, throbbing melody, which only reaches a 'full close' when the curtain has fallen,"27

Hueffer of the Times heard as "an organic whole."28 The Illustrated London News offers what might now be considered a paradigm of anti-Wagner sentiment.

Here are materials for the horrible and repulsive, such as would appear to be Wagner's subjects for musical illustration; and in this work he has ignored vocal melody and constructive form to almost as great an extent as in his subsequent "Nibelungen" opera-drama. Gloomy declamation and formless are the prevailing features. . . . [In] the orchestral details . . . --as in the vocal (or, rather, unvocal) writing--there is much tiresome reiteration and conventionalism.29

25Sunday Times (London), June 25, 1882, p. 7.

26P. G. Hurst, The Operatic Age of (New York: McBride, 1959), pp. 86-87.

27Sunday Times (London), June 25, 1882, p. 7.

28Times (London), June 22, 1882.

29 Illustrated London News (June 24, 1882), pp. 610-11. 123

As persuasively as the Illustrated London News argues against Wagner's principles, The Athenaeum argued in favor of them, saying that "there is not a weak moment in the work.30 Hueffer's commentary in the Times makes one wonder if he might have been on Wagner's payroll.

The unity of feeling and expression, the continuity of unremitting passion here displayed, are probably unprecedented in the . . . . There is, indeed, nothing to divert the attention from the central idea of the action thus translated into music. . . . Perhaps nowhere else has Wagner shown greater boldness than in the continued strain of passion which he sustains throughout this opera. . . . The absolute unity of design will not allow us even to point to detached features of beauty or interest. Everything . . . is closely knitted together. Whether a drama treating of unrelieved tragic passion in a style of commensurate severity will ever gain the popularity of such works as Lohengrin or Die Meistersinger must appear doubtful; but the value of a work of art cannot be measured by the degree of popular favour it is likely to find.31

The Musical Times was only slightly less ardent, describing Tristan und Isolde as a work "of incontestable power," made possible in part by "the strong human interest that pervades it."32 As in Vienna, there was no getting London's opposing Wagner camps together, with the excellence of the performances being the sole point of agreement.

It should be noted that Weber's Euryanthe was also performed during the latter part of this German Opera Season under Hans Richter. On June 13, it was presented for the first time in London in many years. Critics panned both the intrinsic value of the opera as well as its performance. Most notices acknowledged the beauty and charm of Weber's music, but saw nothing in the libretto, by Wilhelmina von Chézy, to justify the attention of a composer. Though Richter had already earned a reputation among London's critics for being able to rise above the weakness in a score, he was deemed

30The Athenaeum (June 24, 1882), p. 805.

31 Times (London), June 22, 1882.

32The Musical Times (July 1, 1882), p. 379. 124

unable to rise above a weak plot. However, accusations of "indifferences in preparation" were also made in some quarters. "Herr Richter was not conscious, it may be, of lacking zeal, but the looker-on saw that which did not appear to those concerned, and observed many a fault which would not have been passed over in a work of Wagner."33 This sort of insinuation of artistic prejudice is what made Richter less and less tolerant--and less interested--in opinions advanced by the press as his career progressed. The fact remains, however, that Euryanthe was presented with a much lower standard of performance than any of the Wagner operas during the German Opera Season of 1882. It is no exaggeration to say that 1882 was the pivotal year in securing a permanent repository for Wagner's music in the hearts and minds of Londoners. Sentiment concerning his art was still polarized, however, especially in the press. There were still detractors like Joseph Bennett, who refused to accept the "music of the future" as a new art form--a true merger of poetry and music. Indeed, most of the critics were of the same opinion. Even some foreign critics felt that the English had suffered too much Wagner for one season. The paternalistic Viennese critic, Eduard Hanslick, sympathizes with the laments of resistant English critics such as Bennett, and holds Richter responsible for the Wagnerian onslaught.

"Immense is Richter, and immense his obstinacy," I read recently in an English review. This pronouncement discloses better than anything else how, mixed in with England's universally high estimate of Richter's talent, there is also a certain reservation about his "immense obstinacy." What is involved here is Richter's favouring the compositions of Wagner and the Wagnerites in the construction of his programmes. There is a school of thought which argues that the English have not yet made and cultivated the acquaintance of so much good music that they are in any need of exposure to the newest mysteries of Bruckner and D'Albert. But that is an internal English affair which a visitor would be well advised to leave to the English.34

33Ibid., p. 378.

34Eduard Hanslick, Hanslick's Music Criticisms, trans. Henry Pleasants (New York: Dover, 1988), p. 266. See the complete commentary by Hanslick in Appendix D. 125

Nevertheless, the public was intrigued by the music of Wagner, and showed signs of satiation only when exposed to the advanced language of Tristan and the Ring. That a large portion of these audiences comprised those of German derivation is undoubtedly true, but Wagner's music also held an appeal for the young and anyone who possessed a degree of personal musicianship, for one could hardly lay claim to the appellation of musician and not have an opinion about Wagner. It did not hurt the cause of Wagner's backers that a few musical cognoscenti like Hermann Klein and Francis Hueffer of the Times were in the composer's with them. Unfortunately, it was too much to expect financial solvency for two ambitious, concurrent German opera ventures in a locale which had previously seen but one or two German operas per season on average. The regular Royal Italian Opera season at Covent Garden was also competing for the opera-goer's shilling, and Carl Rosa had already given four of Wagner's operas in English earlier in the same year. Attendance at Neumann's

Ring productions given at Her Majesty's Theatre under Seidl dwindled dramatically after the first cycle, resulting in losses of over £6,000 after all four cycles had been given. Except for the Tristan und Isolde productions at the end of June, Franke and Pollini's

undertakings at the Drury Lane Theatre under Richter were well attended. Despite this, losses were so severe that Pollini returned to Hamburg without being able to pay either chorus or orchestra, and Franke went bankrupt. There was a similar deficit at Covent Garden, where the Royal Italian Opera, which mounted the usually popular Aida, Faust, , and , sung by well established divas such as Patti, Albani, and Lucca, could not compete with the two German enterprises. Not surprisingly, ten years were to elapse before a similarly intense season of Wagnerian opera would take place in London. Notwithstanding the unstable financial underpinnings of the Drury Lane season and many critics' distaste for the Wagnerian art in general, the artistic merit of the 126

performances was with few exceptions beyond reproach. This contrasted with the Ring productions at Her Majesty's Theatre, where Seidl was conducting a less-than-ideal troupe from Leipzig. Many of the operas under Richter's leadership featured singers of future fame such as in Lohengrin, which displayed Sucher as Elsa, and Winkelmann as Lohengrin, and Tristan und Isolde, where the same two artists sang the title roles, supported by Marianne Brandt as Brangäne and Eugen Gura as King Marke. Brandt also sang Leonora in Fidelio. Therese Malten alternated with Sucher in several roles, including Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Leonora (Fidelio), and Elsa (Lohengrin), and solidified her reputation as Dresden's greatest diva. Eugen Gura's portrayal of Hans Sachs may not have measured up to 's interpretation at the 1868 premiere, but his acting made a sobering impact on opera-goers who were accustomed to the excesses of the Italian style. Most amazing, perhaps was the stamina and versatility shown by the singers in performing seven different operas during the season, and four different works in the first week. Doublecasting alleviated some of the burden, but the sheer physical demands of the Wagnerian roles--never mind that two contained unfamiliar music--make their achievement truly remarkable. The orchestra, as previously mentioned, was singled out for particular praise by several critics, as was its leader, Hans Richter. Always more concerned with artistic rather than financial success, it is not surprising that the conductor retained fond memories of this 1882 season of German opera in London. The critic Hermann Klein reported having a conversation with Richter many years later in which the esteemed conductor told Klein that, "despite all the anxiety and hard work, this Drury Lane adventure had been 'one of the liveliest and most amusing episodes in his [Richter's] English career'."35 This statement is surprising from a conductor who empathized greatly

35Klein, Opera, p. 106. 127

with orchestral instrumentalists, having begun his professional career as one, for Richter must have been well aware that his players went home after the final performance without having been remunerated for their vital services. Without straying too far from Richter's London activity, it may be helpful in understanding his decision to return to the English capital for the fall series of 1882, to discuss some concurrent events in Vienna. November was the time when Richter usually began the season of the Vienna Philharmonic concerts, which he had been conducting since 1875. The 1882-83 season opened as scheduled in Vienna on November 12, but without the participation of Richter. Trouble had begun during the 1881-82 season when several Philharmonic musicians formed a rebellious clique whose main purpose was to oust

Richter and replace him with Wilhelm Jahn, the director of the Court Opera. The rift was exacerbated in the press by , who took the side of the dissenting instrumentalists, also supporting the appointment of Jahn. Never one to force himself upon others, particularly an orchestra, where the confidence and loyalty of the musicians is crucial to success, Richter resigned as conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic in a letter dated June 8, 1882, and was replaced by Jahn. Since he enjoyed the unwavering support of most of the Philharmonic players, the most influential segment of the press and a vast majority of Vienna's public, Richter's decision could also be seen as revealing his political savvy. He wanted a mandate from the orchestra--if not a unanimous endorsement--and when the musicians' insurgency disrupted this mandate, he would not yield. He must have believed that to remain would have meant compromising his authority in areas such as repertoire or rehearsal policies—compromises his artistic conscience, or intractable pride, would not permit. Richter had learned from his travail in Munich in 1869 that a letter of resignation could be an effective trump card which 128

could be used to make a point about the importance of a conductor's authority. As with the debacle surrounding the premiere of Das Rheingold, Richter's career was enhanced, not retarded, by his resignation in Vienna.36 Jahn had been admired by the Philharmonic musicians as a conductor of opera, and it was in this capacity alone on which they evaluated his conducting merits. As the 1882-83 season progressed, however, Jahn's weakness in the concert hall became painfully evident. He was clearly a master conductor of light- hearted spectacle operas by Offenbach, Spontini, and Adam, which dominated the stage of the Hofoper in the early 1880s, but when it came to the abstract orchestral idiom of intellectual heavyweights like Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms (all represented in the Philharmonic's 1882-83 season), he fell flat on his face. Richter suddenly looked very good--even to his former detractors--and he was unanimously re-elected to the conductorship of the Vienna Philharmonic for the 1883-84 season. Jahn humbly resigned his post to return to conducting only the Court Opera performances. Having procured the mandate he sought, Richter's status as conductor was thus made stronger than ever, and his solidity in that position would endure until the ascent of in 1898. Having freed himself from his Philharmonic commitments in Vienna, Richter returned to London in November for another series of fall concerts with the added

36Richter's letter of resignation, while not arrogant or prideful, has a defensive tone.

"Dear Fellow-Artists! I believe to have demonstrated that I was devoted to your artistic enterprise with purest love through the selfless dedication with which I led the rehearsals and performances of the Philharmonic Concerts; not one of you could deny the fact that I was the most zealous musician in the Philharmonic. My fondest success remains, however, that you my worthy artistic colleagues, elected me as your conductor." ( Planyaysky, "Philharmonische Sternstunden," Österreichische Musikzeitschrtft 22 (1967: 98.) It is clear from this letter that Newmarch is incorrect in stating that "Richter requested leave of absence from the Vienna Philharmonic to enable him to fulfill other engagements." (Newmarch, "Letters", p. 607.) 129

motivation this year of raising money for the musicians who were not sufficiently remunerated for their services during the previous summer's Richter Concerts. The sixth series of Richter Concerts, offered in November of 1882, served not only to introduce St. James's Hall audiences to some new music but also to allow Richter a means by which he could repay his faithful performing forces. The Illustrated London News makes clear that the purpose of these two fall concerts was "to reimburse the members of the orchestra who were large losers by the failure of the German opera scheme at Drury Lane Theatre."37 Word of this purpose had spread in the press, causing the audience to greet Richter's entrance on the podium with "unusually prolonged applause . . . , an ovation such as has not often been seen in a concert-room."' It was Richter, after all, who freed himself from his obligations in Vienna to return to London for these concerts. And Richter is mentioned in the press as "one of the heaviest losers" from the summer opera venture, so his sacrifice was deeply appreciated. No doubt Richter's musicians must have been among those giving "unusually prolonged applause," as the Sunday Times encouraged them to do. "The poor fellows thus have to thank their generous and conscientious conductor for a substantial addition to the dividend previously allotted them; while the high esteem and popularity which Herr Richter already enjoys with the English public will assuredly be enhanced tenfold by the kind, considerate spirit he has displayed."39 The first concert occurred on Thursday, November 9 and featured Wagner's Prelude to Parsifal and Prelude to Die Meistersinger, Charles Villiers Stanford's Serenade in G, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody in F, and Beethoven's Third Symphony. Of

37Illustrated London News (November 18, 1882), p. 514.

38The Athenaeum (November 18, 1882), p. 670.

39Sunday Times (London), November 19, 1882, p. 7. 130

these works, the only London premiere was the Stanford piece, which had been given its world premiere just three months before at the Birmingham Triennial Festival. August Manns had again gotten the jump on Richter by presenting the Prelude to Parsifal at one of his Saturday Concerts at the Crystal Palace only one month earlier. (The world premiere of the complete Parsifal had been presented at Bayreuth on , 1882, under the direction of Richter's friend, .) In performing the Serenade, a new work by a young and talented native English composer, Richter was reaffirming his interest in English music and, perhaps, compensating for his decision to cancel the performance of Hubert Parry's symphony in the previous spring-summer season. The work's artistic merit was noticed favorably in the press, the positive opinions elicited by the world premiere in Birmingham confirmed by this second hearing. The interpretation of Stanford's piece by Richter and his orchestra was similarly acclaimed, though Hueffer in the Times took exception to Richter's repetition of the fourth movement, the , in response to audience demand. Hueffer regarded this movement as the least well played of the five in the Serenade, making the encore all the more disconcerting. Strangely, this passionately pro-Richter critic went so far as to scold him for the faux paux without mincing words.

. . . the conductor . . . had the bad taste to repeat [the fourth movement], thus destroying the balance of the entire work and weakening the effect of the finale. We wish Herr Richter to understand that if he desires to retain his position as the exponent of the purest musical taste, he must not by his example countenance a habit which has been condemned unanimously by composers, critics, and amateurs of judgment, and is, indeed, more fitted for a music-hall than for a high-class concert-room.40

Stanford, whose setting of the Psalm "God is My Hope and Strength" had been given its world premiere eighteen months earlier at a Richter Concert, was present at the Nov. 9

40Times (London), November 11, 1882, p. 8. 131

performance, and was called to the podium for congratulations not only at the conclusion of his work, but also after the second movement--another unusual gesture. The second and final concert of the sixth series took place on Tuesday, November 14, and consisted of Weber's Overture to Euryanthe, Introduction to act three of Die Meistersinger and "Prelude and Love-death" from Tristan by Wagner, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and Brahms's Piano Concerto No. two. Everything else having been played several times before at Richter Concerts, only the concerto could be considered a novelty. Its world premiere occurred only one year earlier in Budapest, with Brahms as soloist.41 The Vienna premiere was given on December 26, 1881 under Richter and the Vienna Philharmonic, with Brahms again serving as soloist. The English premiere took place only a few months prior to the performance at St. James's Hall, as the featured work in Manns's first Saturday Concert of the season at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham.42 Response from public and press was very cool toward the new work at that time, and it remained cool for Richter's interpretation. The polite applause seemed to be intended more for the assiduous efforts of Edward Dannreuther, the arch-Wagnerian and good friend of Richter who played the piano part, and Richter and his orchestra, than for the music itself. The notice in the Sunday Times mirrors the public sentiment: "Truth to tell, this obviously laboured work does not improve upon second hearing. . . . The . . . is incoherent in form and devoid of melody."43 The Times concurs, calling

41Richter had been present, along with Brahms's friends Billroth, Hanslick, and Kalbeck, at a dress rehearsal of the concerto, in an arrangement for two , given on October 8, 1881, with Brüll and the composer performing.

42George Grove, who served as Secretary of the Saturday Concerts, probably had a lot to do with securing this English premiere for Manns, since he, like Richter, Stanford, Parry, Henschel and Macfarren, was a tireless promoter of Brahms's music in England.

43Sunday Times (London), November 19, 1882, p. 7. 132

the first movement "extremely diffuse, and besides being tedious in itself makes the entire work appear top-heavy."44 The Illustrated London News calls it a "dull and pretentious work."45 Throughout London's periodicals this negative tone prevailed, which is surprising in view of the widespread acceptance of Brahms as a musical genius on the same order as Beethoven and Bach by this time in England's musical circles. The treatment of the piano as part of the overall orchestral fabric rather than an element in contrast to it probably accounts for some of the criticism, and the work's unusual length may have also contributed. Just as likely as a cause of the resistance to this weighty concerto was the stark contrast between it and the works by Wagner on the same program. The latter were wildly applauded, and considering the inordinate amount of Wagner's music which had flooded London that year, the "music of the future" being all the rage, it is easy to see how both public and press could have lost their objectivity.

Whatever the reason, this audience reaction demonstrated quite graphically the paradox that the music of Brahms, commonly labeled as "neo-classic" or "conservative," especially in structural aspects, contains many progressive elements which make greater demands on the listener than the music of Wagner, who was generally viewed as an avant-garde or futuristic composer. Brahms's formal elements were certainly not more conservative than Beethoven's, whose music, composed over fifty years earlier, was always received with enthusiasm by the St. James's Hall audience. It would seem that Richter's listeners--not unlike those of today— had a very limited attention span when it came to highly developed, structurally complex symphonic forms. Once they had taken their dose of this medicine from Beethoven, they would tolerate little more. This concert

44Times (London), November 16, 1882.

45 Illustrated London News (November 18, 1882), p. 514. 133

also shows that Wagner's music evoked a loud, frequently raucous response from listeners as opposed to the more reserved response typically given the music of Brahms. Perhaps the greatest novelty of this concert was Richter's decision to put music by Brahms and Wagner on the same program. How easily the Viennese conductor could have succumbed to the influence of either the Brahms or the Wagner camps, whose most divisive adherents were in the Austrian capital where Richter spent most of his life. Instead, he maintained life-long friendships with both composers, and aroused the wrath of many of their jaundiced defenders as a result. His allegiance extended even to other composers whose affiliation with either Brahms or Wagner was so close as to make it very difficult for a conductor to take a stand on behalf of their music. Richter championed Dvorák, Joachim, Stanford, and Fuchs, all of whom were disciples of the Hungarian composer. Yet, he also propagated the music of Liszt, Bruckner, and D'Albert, who were allied with Wagner. Rather than a politically motivated balancing act, Richter's devotion stemmed from a bold, forthright admiration for the inherent worth of both styles. He did not hide his confidence in Brahms's genius while in the company of Wagner or his family, just as his respect for Wagner was not compromised while spending time with close friends like Hanslick, Joachim, Billroth, Brüll, and Brahms himself. Charles L. Graves, critic for the Spectator, comments on Richter's egalitarian support of both German composers.

There is no longer any pose in the admiration of Brahms, for it is no longer a short cut to a reputation for musical enlightenment to pretend to enjoy him. Again, the example of Dr. Richter, to mention only one conspicuous instance, equally renowned for his devotion to Brahms and Wagner, has read a salutary lesson to those uncompromising votaries [in England] who think it impossible to testify their allegiance to one master without professing hostility to all his rivals.46

46Charles L. Graves, Post-Victorian Music (Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1911; reprint ed., 1970), pp. 219-20. 134

In one season, London had been inundated by four complete Ring cycles and some twenty other full-length Wagnerian operas, all sung in the original German language and performed by German artists. For this reason, 1882 was a watershed year in the annals of Wagner appreciation in England. By comparison, the Wagner Festival of 1877 was sparked by the composer's presence, but after all was said and done, this impressed the Wagner cultists more than musical connoisseurs. It was the music itself, along with the outstanding interpretation of it which left an indelible mark on the public, and in 1882 there was more of this music than ever before. The passage of five years between these epochal activities allowed more of Wagner's music to be heard in England, mostly by means of the tantalizing excerpts performed by Manns and Richter, so that the public was ripe in 1882 for hearing the music in its full-length, original context. The scope and breadth of Wagner's oeuvre presented in 1882 dwarfed that of the 1877 festival, and the standard of performance was also improved. After 1882 it was practically anti-social to be neutral about Wagner, for even if one deferred judgment on his music, the man was such a demigod by this time that his reputation demanded at least an informal opinion. Reginald Nettel accurately describes the situation.

One had either to be a Wagnerian or an anti-Wagnerian, and to be a Wagnerian meant that one accepted the premise that Wagner incorporated and outclassed all who had gone before him in the departments of music-drama and orchestration, and that the future of music lay along the lines he had laid. It was possible in those days for a reasonable and well-informed man to take such a stand, for Wagner had exhaustively shown how he had developed the form of the music-drama from the operatic achievements of his predecessors, and from the point at which Beethoven had arrived with the Choral Symphony.47

The presentation of all this German music, instrumental and vocal, made an impact on the critic of the Musical Times: "The musical activity of the year 1882 is so remarkable that it will doubtless form an epoch in the history of the art."48

47Nettel, Orchestra, p. 218. 135

As mentioned previously, both of the German opera ventures, Neumann's at Her Majesty's Theatre and Franke-Pollini's at Drury Lane, were financial failures. In most other respects, they differed greatly, for the artistic merits of the performances of the Ring under Anton Seidl were discredited by many, while those of the Drury Lane performances were, with the exception of Euryanthe, generally praised. Attendance at Her Majesty's was very sparse for all but the first cycle of the Ring, while empty seats in Drury Lane were only seen at performances of Weber's opera and Tristan und Isolde. This disparity in attendance and artistic merit may be partially explained by the more demanding music of the Ring operas, which proved too remote and arcane for most Londoners, as well as for the orchestra under Seidl's baton. Equally responsible was the more accessible music given at Drury Lane, and the higher performance standard at this venue. In this regard, Hans Richter's name is at the forefront, for it was he who brought the principals, chorus and orchestra together to form a convincing artistic gestalt. In the

Sunday Times, Klein emphasized the contribution of the great conductor.

It is not too much to say that this body of men [the orchestra] formed the most perfect band that ever played in an opera-house. So bold a statement need not rouse a smile when it is remembered that they were directed by the most gifted conductor of our time; and this naturally leads us to offer our parting meed of adulation to Herr Hans Richter, the one great artist whose genius has pervaded and inspired every member of the forces under his command. Never faltering, for an instant, never losing his complete influence over stage and orchestra alike, Herr Richter's conducting has been a miracle of formness and accuracy, a strength to all who kept their eyes open to the movement of his beat. If room was left for Hans Richter to wear another crown of laurels he has surely earned it now.49

Before leaving the eventful year of 1882, some changes in the administration of the Richter Concerts are worthy of mention. Up until this year, these concerts were under the joint management of Hermann Franke and Messrs. Schultz-Curtius, with

48The Musical Times (June 1, 1882), p. 318.

49Sunday Times (London), July 2, 1882, p. 7. 136

Franke handling most of the booking arrangements. According to the Musical Times,50 the two parties agreed to go their separate ways for the 1882 season, with Franke's enterprise being seen as the true continuation of the series begun in 1879 by virtue of Richter choosing to continue his association with him. Schultz and Curtius embarked on their own continuation, however, calling their venture "Symphony Concerts," but using the term "Fourth Series" as a link to what had been the Richter Concerts. Charles Hallé and his Manchester Orchestra were chosen by Schultz and Curtius to effect the continuation which was in direct competition with the Richter Concerts of 1882. Hallé's performances began on May 1 and were to benefit the newly-formed Royal College of Music, headed by George Grove. As with the German opera enterprises of 1882, the competing series of orchestral concerts resulted in reduced revenues for both entities. It is not clear why Franke eschewed Schultz-Curtius at this point in time, but he clearly suffered, at least in this first year on his own, as a result of the decision. The irony here is that some of Richter's greatest musical accomplishments in England were to come while employed as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra (1899-1911), the heir to the very group under Hallé's leadership which was competing with him for London audiences in 1882. Since Hallé had appeared as piano soloist in a Richter Concert on May 27, 1880, it is likely that these two German-speaking conductors were on cordial terms before their respective orchestral concerts began in 1882. Whether either attended the other's concerts in that year is unknown, as is the question of a breach in their relationship occurring as a result of their competition.

50The Musical Times (June 1, 1882), p. 326. 137

Plate 13. Photograph of Hans Richter about the time of his tenure as conductor of the Budapest National Opera, 1871-75. 138

Plate 14. Photograph of Hans Richter taken on the occasion of the Covent Garden Jubilee of 1908. 139

Plate 15. Caricature of Hans Richter conducting an orchestra, drawn by Goedecker. 140

Plate 16. Photograph of Hans Richter, ca. 1905. CHAPTER EIGHT RICHTER CONCERTS, 1883

The seventh series of Richter Concerts began on Monday, May 7, 1883, continued on Thursday, May 10, and extended to seven consecutive Mondays beginning with May 21. With the death of Wagner, on February 13 of 1882, having transpired since Richter's last London appearance, the first half of the initial concert was devoted to the Bayreuth master's works.1 They included the , the Prelude to Parsifal (which had premiered at Bayreuth ten months earlier under the baton of Hermann Levi), the Prelude and Love-death from Tristan und Isolde and the from Götterdämmerung. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony comprised the other half of the program. This concert serves as a microcosm for Richter's entire British career in that he restricted it to works by the two composers he most frequently performed during that career; the performances were praised by most critics, and the plentiful crowd gathered in St. James's Hall could hardly contain their admiration for the European conductor. The second concert, on Thursday, May 10, featured the Swiss composer Joachim Raffs Symphony No. 3 in F major, subtitled "Im Walde," Brahms's Violin Concerto, the Overtures to Coriolan (Beethoven) and Tannhäuser (Wagner), and Gluck's aria "Che Faró." All had been heard before in London several times, and Raffs work was enjoying something of a revival as both the Philharmonic Society and Manns's Crystal Palace orchestra had recently programmed it. Richter was still on very familiar ground here since he had performed all of these works in Vienna, with the possible exception of the

1Upon hearing the tragic news of the death of his mentor, Richter immediately traveled from Vienna to in order to assist Cosima and pay his respects. He was also one of the pall-bearers at the funeral in Bayreuth. 141 142

Gluck, within the previous three years. Critics uniformly lauded the conducting prowess of Richter and chastised the playing of ,2 the soloist in the Concerto, because his tone was deemed inferior.3 After a hiatus of eleven days the third concert of the series took place on May 21. More variety was in this program which included Brahms's Schicksalslied, Cherubini's Overture to Anacreon, A. C. Mackenzie's Scotch Rhapsody No. 2, subtitled "Burns," and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. The symphony and the overture were well known to London audiences, while the other two works, though not premieres, were less familiar. Manns had performed both at the Crystal Palace, but Richter must nevertheless be given credit for riskier programming in this concert. Brahms's Schicksalslied for chorus and orchestra had not been performed at a Philharmonic Concert in Vienna as of 1883, and may therefore have received its first Richter-led performance at this concert. Judging from the reviews, it was an unqualified success, with the chorus--trained by Richter's associate of many years, Theodor Frantzen--receiving special commendation. The Scottish composer, A. C. Mackenzie, who was present at the concert, represents a typical British composer of this era who was struggling to find a hearing for his works. Born in 1847 of a musical family, Mackenzie received training in Germany from the age of ten to fifteen, becoming an accomplished violinist. He attended the in London on a King's scholarship, returning to his native Edinburgh in 1865 where he was active in a variety of musical circles. When he got serious about composition as a livelihood, he moved to (1879) and began to produce choral works of great merit. His cantata The Bride achieved great success at the

2This is the same violinist who premiered Tchaikovsky's Concerto under Richter in Vienna (1881) and London (1882), and went on to work closely with Richter in Manchester as concertmaster of the Hallé Orchestra and principal of the Royal Manchester College of Music.

3The Athenaeum (May 19, 1883), p. 646. 143

Worcester Festival of 1881 and an orchestral ballad entitled La Belle Dame Sans Merci got a positive response in London in 1883. An opera, Colomba, was also positively reviewed in London only weeks before the Richter Concerts of 1883 commenced. It was at this point in time that Mackenzie probably came to Richter's attention. As with many composers of his generation, Mackenzie needed a boost from a prominent conductor such as Richter to elevate his works to a position of respectability among the public. While Richter cannot be said to have championed Mackenzie in England, presenting only a handful of the composer's works in over twenty years of London concerts (including only one premiere, on June 4, 1888), he should be given credit for exporting his music to Vienna, where he performed this Rhapsody (1885), the Overture to Twelfth Night (1889), and the Violin Concerto (1886) with the Vienna Philharmonic. At any rate, Richter hardly seems deserving of Percy Young's criticism that "his paternalist attitude admitted of no special favours for British composers."4 He certainly was a champion of C. Villiers Stanford's music, and Cowen and Parry were not neglected either. Above all, the dissemination and meteoric success of the music of Edward Elgar is directly attributable to its sponsorship by Hans Richter. The Scotch Rhapsody was warmly received by both critics and audience, an accomplishment of some magnitude at a time in British musical history when both press and public tended to be unreceptive to native composers.5 The only other remarkable issue regarding the third

(New York:4Percy W. W. Young, NortonA History & Company, of British Music 1967), p. 540.

5Mackenzie may have caught Richter's attention for two reasons: 1) his opera, Colomba, premiered in the same year (1883) by the at Drury Lane Theatre, and was well received by the public; 2) Mackenzie's use of leitmotifs prompted accusations that his opera was too Wagnerian--which to Richter was anything but an indictment. 144

concert was the absence of Wagner's music in the program, the only concert of the series which excluded music of the recently deceased genius. The fourth concert of this series featured Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, the Leonora Overture No. 3, Spohr's Overture to Jessonda, Pogner's Address from Die Meistersinger, Wotan's Abschied und Feuerzauber from Die Walküre, and an aria from Graun's Oratorio, "Der Tod Jesu." The only excitement surrounding this concert was the appearance of two prominent vocalists, Mr. and Mrs. George Henschel, who had just returned from a successful tour in America where George Henschel served as conductor of the newly-founded Symphony Orchestra (1881-83). He was a German-born, German-trained pianist, vocalist, conductor, and composer6 who was very close to Brahms, and who would eventually present stiff competition to the Richter Concerts in the form of London Symphony Concerts during 1886-97 (not to be confused with the London Symphony Orchestra concerts which began under Richter in 1904). His wife was the outstanding American soprano, Lillian Bailey, who sang a very florid aria by Graun in this Richter Concert. Mr. Henschel sang the demanding Wagnerian excerpts with commanding presence, impressing all with his stamina and power.

On June 4, the fifth concert of the series was given in the usual St. James's Hall venue. On the lengthy program were Schumann's Overture to , Beethoven's Choral Fantasia, Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody, the Prelude to Die Meistersinger, and Haydn's Nelson Mass. With the exception of Liszt's rhapsody, none of these works was unheard of to Londoners, for Manns had often performed the Schumann overture at the Crystal Palace, the prelude was practically a calling-card of Richter's, and London's great choral societies had performed the vocal works. Even the Liszt piece, which was encored by Richter, had been performed at least once before by Manns, though his

6It will be recalled that Richter presented world premiere performances of Henschel's Overture in D minor and several songs in June of 1880 at two Richter Concerts. 145

concerts in Sydenham were too distant for most Londoners to frequent on a regular basis. Of significance at this concert were several faults which critics found with Richter's interpretations, mainly concerning tempi. Nearly all agreed that the Kyrie movement of the Mass was terribly hurried, a complaint which applied to other portions as well. There were also protests about the playing of the organ part in the mass and about Walter Bache, the pianist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasia, who was accused of being so crude as "to alter and spoil some of the composer's most effective and characteristic passages."7 As chef d'orchestre, Richter was held responsible for these alleged deficiencies. Even longer than the fifth, the sixth concert on June 11 included Brahms's Tragic Overture, Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and Introduction to Act Three of Die Meistersinger, the Second Piano Concerto in G minor by Saint-Saëns, Dvorák's Slavonic Rhapsody No. 2, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4. (See the program in Plate 17.) The soloist in the concerto, a Madame Stepanoff, was making her English debut. Her playing was praised as lavishly as the concerto itself was sternly denounced by the pundits. Dvorák's piece was also making its English debut, though its companion piece, the Slavonic Rhapsody No. 1 in A flat, had been warmly received in London several years earlier. Called a "novelty" in the newspapers, Dvorák's Op. 45, No. 2 had been composed five years before and was premiered in Prague shortly after completion (1878). The composer had been working on several pieces during the 1882-83 period, among which was the Violin Concerto, but since none was forthcoming, Richter had to settle for the older piece. It proved to be enough of a challenge to the musicians, however, as is implied in Richter's letter to Dvorák written the day after the English premiere.

7The Musical Times (July 1, 1883), p. 380. Plate 17. Program of sixth concert of Richter Concerts' seventh series: June 11, 1883. 146 147

Dear Friend, It is true that I do not bother you with letters, but all the same I am not idle. In my concert yesterday--June 11—I included your splendid Slavonic Rhapsody No. 2, which was received with acclamation by the London public. The rehearsals were particularly interesting to me. The orchestra (which is a good one), although rather puzzled at first, soon found pleasure in your beautiful work; when once the musicians had come to feel at home with the melodies and the rich rhythmical life of the Rhapsody, they played it with the right fire and spirit. Best greetings. Your devoted, Hans Richter8

The "acclamation by the public" which Richter alluded to did not include the critics, several of whom thought the work to be inferior to the first number of Op. 45.9 By this time in London, expectations were very high for Dvorák's music among critics, the standard having been set by his D major Symphony which was premiered one year earlier, and the Slavonic Rhapsody in A flat already mentioned; given these precedents, disappointment was bound to occur. Perhaps the real piece de résistance of this concert was the programming of Wagner and Brahms on the same concert. This union stirred up virulent political divisiveness among Vienna's music critics,10 so Richter took advantage of the less polarized climate in London to show his respect for both composers.

The seventh concert, on June 18, contained Wagner's Overture to Tannhäuser

(which had already been played at the second concert), the Preislied from Die

Meistersinger, Brahms's Second Symphony, the symphonic poem by Liszt, and Schumann's Cello Concerto. None of these works was a premiere, but this did not preclude a large and enthusiastic audience from gathering in St. James's Hall. Most

8Newmarch "Letters", p. 607.

9The Athenaeum (June 16, 1883), p. 772; The Musical Times (July 1, 1883), p. 380.

10Only twice between 1875 and 1898 did Richter program works by both Brahms and Wagner on the same concert of the Vienna Philharmonic: October 29, 1893 and December 26, 1880. 148

appealing was the symphony, because it was Richter who had conducted its world premiere in Vienna on December 30, 1877. Knowing this fact, along with the close relationship which Richter enjoyed with Brahms, it is no wonder that attendance was high. As if to underscore his programming catholicity, Richter again played music by both Wagner and Brahms. The excerpts from the former's operas had been heard many times before, but the vocalist performing the Preislied was making his Richter-concert debut. had been active in London's musical circles throughout the 1870s, so it was natural, albeit a little late perhaps, for Richter to engage him as soloist. His singing was warmly praised by the critics. This great tenor went on to collaborate with Richter on many future occasions and earned a reputation as "the outstanding festival tenor of his day" (1870-1900).11 On June 25 the eighth concert of the series took place, presenting Wagner's Prelude and Love-death from Tristan und Isolde (already performed at the first concert),

Walther's Trial Songs from the first act of Die Meistersinger, Mozart's Linz Symphony and Berlioz's Harold en Italie. Edward Lloyd was the tenor soloist again, drawing boundless praise for his interpretations.

[he sang] with a charm of voice and an intensity of feeling not to be surpassed, thus dispelling at the same time two deep-rooted prejudices--one, that English are incapablevocal. of12 dramatic passion; the other, that Wagner's music is not genuinely

The salient feature of this concert is the breadth of the programming, since Richter supplemented his Wagnerian staple with works from the disparate idioms of Mozart and Berlioz, for neither of whom Richter may be said to have had an affinity. In the case of Mozart, few Wagnerian conductors could relate to the austerity and refinement of music

11New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, 1980 ed., s.v. "Lloyd, Edward," by W. H. Husk and John Warrack.

12Times (London), July 4, 1883. 149

which grew from the Age of Reason, and Richter was no exception. Nevertheless, the performance of the Linz Symphony was praised for its precision. In the case of Berlioz, a gulf was created between his music and its appreciation in German-speaking countries through the many years of nationalistic antagonism between them and France (the most recent being the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71), and, more relevant to Richter, through Wagner's own antipathy toward all French music. To his credit, Richter surmounted these obstacles quite bravely, making this concert one of many which presented the music of Berlioz to an English audience. Critics opined that under Richter's baton Harold en Italie was played as well as it ever had been in London, with the viola soloist, one Herr Holländer, receiving special commendation. In the Musical Times a plea was made for more Berlioz on Richter's programs, in spite of "the fanatics of the modern German school," a plea to which

Richter affirmatively responded in ensuing years.13 It was fortunate that the performance was so magnificent, for there was great disappointment when, at the last minute, the Tristan excerpt was announced as a replacement for a new piano concerto by the multi-talented English composer George Henschel. Knowing Richter's insistence on abundant rehearsal time for new works, one can only surmise that he cancelled it out of a lack thereof.

The final concert of the spring-summer series in 1883 occurred on July 2. As usual at the final concert, the featured work was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; it was supplemented by Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, Wagner's Kaisermarsch and 's Violin Concerto No. 2, played by the concertmaster of Richter's orchestra, Ernst Schiever. Other than some renewed squabbling about Richter's tempi, the performance was praised. As before, there were no novelties on this program, a fact which was not

13The Musical Times (July 1, 1883). 150

lost on the critics. They wrote appreciatively of the yeoman's work Richter had done in bringing consistently superior interpretations of Beethoven and Wagner to England year in and year out, a perfect example of which occurred at this last concert of his seventh series in London. Yet there was also widespread disenchantment concerning the lack of new music in Richter's programs. Dvorák's Slavonic Rhapsody No. 2 in G (Opus 45) represented the sole premiere in all nine concerts of 1883. It was acknowledged that his audience craved the fare of Wagner and Beethoven which predominated, and that Richter seemed most suited to these masters' music. Appropriately enough, however, it was one of his staunchest allies, Hermann Klein, who reminded Richter in the Sunday Times that conductors have artistic responsibilities which go beyond merely giving an audience what it wants to hear, for his own artistic growth as well as that of his listeners.

We do not absolutely demand new works by Herr Richter, who charms most, perhaps, when interpreting masterpieces with which we are already familiar. The production of new compositions must nevertheless form one of the raisons-d'etre of his undertaking and we should be sorry to see this slip too far into the background. Herr Richter is, of course, aware of what is expected of him in this respect, and he may be trusted not to forget it.14

Klein may be commended in this instance for serving the noblest of causes as a critic--that of a check upon the excesses of artistic license wherein a conductor may become stagnant and predictable in his programming, whether because of or in spite of his audience. While Richter generally did an outstanding job of balancing the frequently polarized demands of his listeners and his artistic consciousness, the regressive programming in his seventh series warranted the criticism of Klein and others. It seems clear that during the 1883 London season, the promulgation of new music was far from the focus of Richter's mind, as pleasing his audience was more important than pleasing the critics.

14Sunday Times (London), July 8, 1883. 151

The restrictive programming continued in the fall series, the eighth overall, which comprised three concerts. The repertoire was actually narrowed even further, with only five composers being represented in the entire series: Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Liszt, and J. S. Bach. The disturbing trends apparent in nascent form in Richter's previous series--the focus on German music and the repetition of well-received pieces, possibly to lengthen the relatively short concerts--were now threatening to become new traditions. This alarmed the critics, who spoke even more vociferously in objection to the lack of not only new music but also of compositions by Mendelssohn, Schumann, or Schubert, whom Richter had occasionally performed in the past. It was understood that the audiences in St. James's Hall wanted to hear Wagner and Beethoven most of all, and that, not coincidentally, Richter excelled in the interpretation of their works. However, these same audiences were also acknowledged to have been quite progressive and liberal regarding modern music, making the inclusion of new works by Richter a less risky enterprise than it was at other, more stolid institutions such as the Philharmonic Society. Their zeal for Wagner attested to this progressive spirit. Allowances were made, nevertheless, for a conductor's right to limit himself to that music which he most relates to, which Richter most certainly asserted with the five he chose to include in the eighth series. Many a conductor before him had erred by trying to be all things to all people, straying too far from the art which most inspired him, so there was much to be said for a conductor who knew his limits. This point was made by the Musical Times: "Herr Richter sustains his fame as a Wagnerian conductor. We decline to say he is that and nothing else, but certainly he is that before and above all. He knows Wagner's spirit and method from outer skin to core, and he can produce exactly the effects intended by the master."15

15The Musical Times (December 1, 1883), p. 660. 152

In weighing these concerns, there was nearly universal accord among critics that Richter had faltered in the direction of becoming too narrow in his programming. Remarks by The Athenaeum were typical: "The infusion of a little freshness into the programmes of the present series of three concerts, either in the way of actual novelties or revivals, would have removed an uncomfortable suspicion that the undertaking is degenerating into a mere commercial enterprise."16 Especially bothersome was the repetition in the fall concerts of pieces just played in the previous spring season. There were several of these, including the Preislied from Die Meistersinger (performed at the seventh concert), sung again by Edward Lloyd, the Overture to Tannhäuser (given at the second and seventh concerts), Prelude to Die Meistersinger (performed at the fifth concert), Introduction to Act three of Die Meistersinger (performed at the sixth concert), Prelude and Love-death from Tristan und Isolde (given at the first and eighth concerts), Beethoven's Seventh Symphony (played at the third concert), Leonora Overture (given at the fourth concert) and Fifth Symphony (performed at the first concert), and Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody (played at the fifth concert). Amazingly, over half of Richter's fall repertoire in 1883 was derived from his series of four months prior.

This excess of safe and unadventurous programming offered an opportunity for the critics to break off the honeymoon relationship which they had cultivated with the Viennese conductor. More frequently than before, negative comments appeared in reviews of the Richter Concerts, though they were usually couched in terms of being small points of detail. Demands for encores were indulged ever more frequently by Richter, bringing swift denunciations in the press. More and more, his tempi were also called into question. He was reproached for being either too fast or too slow in nearly every movement of the Suite in D by J. S. Bach which was played at the final concert of

16The Athenaeum (November 3, 1883), pp. 575-76. 153

the fall series. Even his interpretation of Beethoven, considered to be infallible hitherto, was impugned when his tempo in the Finale of the Seventh Symphony, also played at the final concert, was judged to be much too fast. Having opened himself up to criticism by his narrow programming, Richter was beginning to experience some of the harsh reality of London's musical press. Notwithstanding this new reality, he was still regarded as one of the best conductors ever to have appeared in England; positive remarks outnumbered disparaging ones by a margin of at least three to one. To Eduard Hanslick, Richter's frequent performances of Beethoven were a positive influence on England. That the surfeit of Beethoven's music necessarily caused a neglect of other worthy compositions, including those by Schumann and Mendelssohn, went unnoticed by the Viennese critic, whose comments in his "Letter from London," written in 1886, reveal a typically patronizing attitude toward music in England. "It suffices simply to cite the fact that

England has never previously heard our classic masterpieces so perfectly played. It was only through Richter that the English learned to understand and love the Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis."17 After making several negative comments about the interpretations in Richter's fall concerts of 1883, the Musical Times began to speak of "Herr Richter's perfect control over his forces. We have known English orchestras made up of better materials, especially in the 'wind' department; but there are few, if any, more conspicuous instances of what can be done with average players than that furnished at each Richter Concert."18 This excerpt typifies Richter's continuing invulnerability in the press regarding factors such as ensemble, control, balance, and unity of expression, despite the occasional grumbling about interpretive matters. Whether or not you liked his musical

17Hanslick, Criticisms, p. 264. See the longer excerpt from his "Letter from London" in Appendix D.

18The Musical Times (December 1, 1883), p. 661. 154

interpretations or his anachronistic programming, Richter was always in "perfect control" of his ensemble. His authoritative leadership was so revered that Richter the man became as important a draw at his concerts as the music itself. Practically since the beginning of his annual series of concerts in 1879, it was unthinkable to read a review of a Richter Concert in which the conductor himself was not mentioned specifically. Yet, prominent conductor-colleagues such as August Manns, leader of the popular Saturday Concerts at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham since 1855, frequently went unmentioned in reviews. A typical example of this is presented in Appendix C. The personalization of the conductor and his leadership role was one of the key ingredients in concert life of the last half of the nineteenth century, and Richter was at the forefront of the new breed of hero-conductors. Upon resuming his duties as conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic following the 1883 fall season in London, Richter was celebrated as the greatest living conductor by both the press and the Philharmonic musicians in Vienna. After the usurpation by Jahn and his backers of Richter's authority as the preeminent conductor of orchestral music in Vienna in 1882, and Richter's reinstatement in 1883, each man would have had reasons to harbor resentment toward the other. Instead, they resolved their differences, and for the next fifteen years, Richter was primarily engaged in the Vereinsaal (the concert hall where the Philharmonic performed), while Jahn was in the opera house. Among the triumphs in Richter's 1883-84 season in Vienna were the world premiere of Brahms's Third Symphony on December 2, 1883, the Vienna premiere of Dvorák's Violin Concerto at the same concert, and the Vienna premiere of Stanford's Serenade in G on March 9, 1884. (See the program for the Dec. 2, 1883 concert of the Vienna Philharmonic in Plate 18.) 155

Plate 18. Program of second concert of the 1883/84 season of the Vienna Philharmonic: December 2, 1883. 156

The latter is significant in that it served to counterbalance Richter's trend of exporting German music to England. While there was still a markedly unbalanced musical trade between the two countries as represented in his Vienna and London concerts, this performance of Stanford's Serenade showed Richter to be willing to take a stand for a little-known British composer who was seeking a sympathetic audience in a foreign land. CHAPTER NINE RICHTER CONCERTS AND GERMAN OPERA AT COVENT GARDEN, 1884

Having examined the first eight series of Richter Concerts, encompassing the years 1879-83, with an emphasis on how the press responded to individual performances, it is time now to pull back and gain more perspective by emphasizing overall trends or themes in these concerts. Rather than presenting numerous quotations from press notices, these will be summarized, and only notices of especially significant performances, such as premieres, will be mentioned. Programming tendencies will continue to be addressed, particularly as they relate to Richter's support of native English composers. Prominent artists will also be discussed, although the quality of their individual performances will be scrutinized in much less detail than previously. More attention will be placed on issues such as Richter's conducting style and technique, his

relationships with other artists and composers, including musicians under his command and his unique musical gifts. Richter's niche within the elaborate web of London's musical life will be investigated further in an effort to understand and appreciate his contribution.

Two principal activities occupied Richter's London labor in 1884: the usual series of Richter Concerts in the spring and fall, and a run of German opera performances, held this time at Covent Garden, in the summer. The operas were given in June and July, creating an overlap with the last few performances of Richter's orchestral concerts, which ran from April 21 until June 16. Hermann Franke was promoter of both ventures, in collaboration with Ernest Gye for the Covent Garden performances. As with the mixture in 1882 of both orchestral and opera performances, Richter endured some

157 158

scheduling pressures caused by the dual ventures of 1884, but chose to lengthen his stay until almost August so as to reduce to three the number of overlapping performances between the two series. (The entire opera series in 1882 at Drury Lane ran concurrently with the spring series of orchestral concerts.) Though separate personnel were employed in the orchestras at St. James's Hall and the Covent Garden opera house, several vocal soloists participated in both enterprises, most notably the great baritone Theodor Reichmann and the soprano Clementine Schuch-Proska.

Since the final concert of the Vienna Philharmonic's 1883-84 season occurred on April 6, 1884, Richter had only fifteen days to cross the English channel and prepare for the first concert of his London season on April 21, the earliest starting date ever for the Richter Concerts. For this ninth series, nine concerts were held on consecutive Monday evenings, with the single exception that Thursday, June 5 replaced the one planned for June 2nd, since that was Whit-Monday. Continuing in their leadership positions from previous seasons were Richter's Germanic friends Hermann Franke as promoter, Theodor Frantzen as choir director, and Ernst Schiever as concertmaster. The orchestra numbered slightly less than one hundred, depending on the piece. There were no women in the group, as was the common practice at this time. St. James's Hall on Regent Street and Piccadilly was home to all nine concerts of the series, and attendance, though sparse at the first two concerts, was generally good.1 Despite a paucity of premieres and practically no works by English composers, Richter's programming in 1884 was more varied than in the previous year. Aside from the usual heavy doses of Wagner and Beethoven, the ninth series included symphonies by

1It should also be noted that Richter took his orchestra to the provinces in 1884. Though there was only one week separating the first two concerts of the spring series (between April 21 and 28), he managed to give concerts in , on April 25, and at Manchester, on April 24 and 26, the latter two occurring in the same hall where he would perform as the conductor of the Hallé Orchestra from 1899 until 1911. 159

Mendelssohn and Schumann, several by Liszt, and overtures by Weber, Raff, Mozart, Méhul, and Marschner. In addition to several vocal excerpts from Wagner's operas, there were arias by Handel, Mozart, and Weber. Choral works included Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Brahms's Schicksalslied, both performed at the last concert of the series, and Brahms's Gesang der Parzen, given at the third concert on May 5. The latter work had not been performed previously in England, though it was composed nearly two years earlier and premiered in Vienna in December of 1882 under the composer's baton. It received a reserved welcome in the press, who pronounced it too dreary to ever gain popularity in England. Richter followed this with another Brahms premiere in the next concert. The monumental Symphony No. 3, the world premiere of which Richter had presented five months earlier in Vienna, was given its English premiere at the fourth concert, on May 12, and was favorably received by public and press. (See the program in Plate 19.) The impact of the work is demonstrated by its repetition at the sixth concert, on May 26, and at the second concert of the fall series, on November 2. The critics had run out of patience with Richter's growing propensity to indulge the audience's demand for encores, however, and excoriated him for repeating the symphony's third movement at the premiere. An artist of his calibre, it was said, should know better than to disrupt the unfolding of an organic whole such as a symphony represents by repeating one of the movements. That this was an accepted practice in Vienna or elsewhere was no excuse as far as the press was concerned. Despite this faux pas, Richter was praised for surmounting the obstacles inherent in the English premiere such as the parts being in manuscript form and the permission of both Brahms and Simrock, his publisher, being required for performance. There was stiff competition among England's orchestral societies, especially Manns's Crystal Palace concerts and the Philharmonic Society, for 160 1884. Plate 19. Program of the fourth concert of Richter Concerts' ninth series: May 12, concert of Richter Concerts' ninth series: May Plate 19. Program of the fourth 161

the privilege of giving this premiere, so Richter's success in garnering the performance rights speaks well for both his close relationship with the composer and his stature as a conductor of the first rank.2 Other novelties of the series included M. Jules de Swert's Concerto for Violoncello, given at the third concert on May 5,3 Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3, given at the seventh concert on June 5, and Joachim Raffs Overture to Romeo and Juliet, given at the final concert on June 16. All were English premieres, but they were dismissed as relatively unimportant works by music journalists. Some complained that Raffs piece was not even deserving of a hearing by a large audience in London. Richter was congratulated for providing a more varied repertoire than in previous seasons, as exemplified by the symphonies of Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, but many critics still wanted more eclectic programming. The Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz was played at the seventh concert, on June 5, and, along with Maul's Overture to La Chasse du Jeune Henri, inspired some praise for Richter's modest attempts in this direction. Richter's vision as applied to English composers continued to be near-sighted; he performed only those works which adhered to the Austro-German stylistic norm in continuation of the tradition established by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. With few exceptions, he only performed music whose composers had already become allied with that lineage, and had achieved some measure of status in England. At the third concert, on May 5, Mackenzie's ballad for orchestra, La Belle Dame sans Merci, was performed. It had been premiered under the composer's

The2was so Times bothered by Richter's "gross breach of taste" in replaying the third movement that it indirectly suggested the premiere would have been in better hands under Maims or the Philharmonic Society. Times (London), May 24, 1884.

3Richter had conducted this piece, with the composer serving as soloist, at Vienna on December 10, 1876. 162

direction at a concert of London's Philharmonic Society on May 9, 1883, and Manns had played it at one of his Saturday Concerts. Richter entailed little risk, therefore, in programming it during his ninth series of London concerts, especially since the press and public had already given their stamp of approval. The only other work by an English composer was Hubert Parry's Piano Concerto in F sharp, played by the highly respected pianist and close friend of Wagner and Richter, Edward Dannreuther. The piece had been premiered four years earlier at the Crystal Palace under Manns, and Richter brought it before his St. James's Hall audience a few weeks later (May of 1880). Parry, like Mackenzie, had already gained some prominence in England, but he was rapidly becoming categorized as a choral composer. In view of this, Richter showed some courage in programming this strictly instrumental composition, which had been revised by the composer since its last hearing.

Though Richter continued to be assailed in some quarters for the lack of new

music at his concerts, several critics understood the dilemma which he faced. Having established himself as a Wagnerian conductor beginning with the Wagner Festival of 1877, and bolstered his reputation through regular performance of operatic excerpts every year in London, so the argument went, his audience naturally grew to expect to

hear Wagner performed on a regular basis. Similarly, they expected frequent renderings of the works of Beethoven, whom Richter had also championed since the outset of his orchestral concerts in London. Indeed, the patrons of St. James's Hall suggested by means of their attendance habits that by programming both Wagner and Beethoven at most concerts, Richter was meeting the demand for a sensible balance between modern and traditional music. He had thus painted himself into a corner; in the process of doing only what he did best, conducting primarily Beethoven and Wagner, he had attracted a clientele which 163

would tolerate very little else. "Hence the curious fact that a musician of decidedly progressive tendencies is compelled to be extremely cautious in the introduction of novelties of any kind. It is only as long as he keeps to Wagner and Beethoven . . . [that] he is sure to please his patrons."4 Hermann Klein, in the Sunday Times, wondered what the future would hold for concerts with such narrow programs:

Evidently Herr Richter's patrons would rather he did not trouble himself about novelties at all. They will rise like hungry trout to all the Wagner he can give them, but although they are content to listen to the symphonies of Beethoven, they will barely tolerate those of other great masters. The question naturally presents itself, How long is this likely to last? Of Wagner's works the portions suitable for performance in the concert-room are comparatively few. Some day or other subscribers must get tired of hearing over and over again the same eternal overtures, preludes, marches, and other excerpts from the meister's operas. What will they do then? It is not easy to say, but I sincerely hope that when the rage does die down somewhat, that it will be succeeded by a cool, chastened, but keen desire to hear played by Herr Richter's magnificent band every work, old or new, that he deems worthy to be included in his repertory. Meanwhile, it would be rank folly for him to pursue a policy other than that which is proving so eminently profitable.5

The Musical Times gratuitously suggested how Richter might extricate himself from this dilemma:

Yet there is an abundant store of orchestral works, equally interesting and instructive to the art-student, at his disposal which might with advantage be varied with the masterpieces of Beethoven and Wagner by the splendid forces under his command. Perhaps Herr Richter will see his way out of his peculiar difficulty by adding an historical element to his admirable Concerts in the future. He has already given us in succession the nine symphonies of Beethoven. Why not follow this up by an historical survey of the development of the Symphony, as such, or of the Overture, leading up to Wagner's orchestral "Preludes," etc. The sphere of truly artistic influence in this direction is practically unlimited, and such a scheme would, we are persuaded, likewise meet with the approval of the specific Wagner admirers who form, at present, the chief supporters of the Richter Concerts, since it does not by any means exclude that element of modern progress in the art so ably advocated by their Conductor.6 4Times (London), October 29, 1884.

5Sunday Times (London), November 2, 1884. 164

With such ubiquitous commentary on his repertoire, Richter could not have been unaware of the opinions of London's music critics. Whether they had any effect on him is an entirely different question. The answer may be gleaned from future programming at the Richter Concerts. Regardless of critical protests and suggestions, the fact remained that Richter's public still demanded Beethoven and Wagner, reflecting the seemingly insatiable appetite for German music, and, to some degree, any type of continental music, in British society as a whole. It is no coincidence that Hans von Bülow was performing German piano works in London in the spring of 1884 at the same time that Richter was conducting primarily German music at St. James's Hall. Nor is it an accident that Dvorák made his first trip to England in March, 1884 to conduct three concerts in London. The Bohemian genius conducted his at the Albert Hall, and his Husitská Overture, the Symphony No. 6 in D (dedicated to Richter) , and the Slavonic Rhapsody

No. 2 at St. James's Hall under the aegis of the Philharmonic Society. The composer was feted wherever he went, as the public was endeared as much by his personal charm as by his music, which sounded to them so much like that of Brahms. Londoners could not get enough continental music. Rather than satisfying a self-serving need to propagate the music of the Austro-German tradition, Richter could truthfully claim to be meeting the musical needs of a sizable contingent of connoisseurs in London when he presented Wagner and Beethoven week after week. Things foreign were the rage not only to orchestral fans but also to opera-goers in London, who were interested mainly in Italian productions. For decades, the Royal Italian Opera, the resident troupe at Covent Garden, held forth as the focal point of the metropolis's musical life. Virtually every opera staged under their banner was sung in Italian regardless of the work's language of origin. Thus, Rossini's, Verdi's, and

6The Musical Times (December 1, 1884), p. 696. 165

Donizetti's operas were sung in the same language as those by French composers such as Gounod, Bizet, and Massenet. Even works with an English libretto were given in Italian, as were those of Wagner. It was the domain of the style, where lyricism triumphed over declamation, and where the orchestra, with a compliant conductor, followed the lead of the prima donna. Over the six-year period from 1878-84, however, the Royal Italian Opera was in decline. Since the aristocracy had withdrawn its attendance, if not its monetary support, the "Opera," as it was called, was no longer the center of attention in the society columns. While the Queen still subscribed to every season, she had not been inside the Covent Garden theatre for twenty years. Moreover, music critics complained continually about the corruption of the opera, caused, they said, by all the power being in the hands of the divas rather than the music director.

Ernest Gye, having inherited the reins of Covent Garden's management from his father, Frederick, who retired in 1877, decided to depart from the traditions of the house by planning two novelties for the 1884 season: by Reyer and Colomba by Mackenzie. A more radical component of the reform strategy, however, was his call for a more varied repertoire by collaborating with Hermann Franke on the staging of no less than twelve performances of German opera. These were to be given at Covent Garden in June and July, with Hans Richter conducting. Due to public interest, the season was expanded from twelve to fifteen performances, but the enterprise was a financial failure, nevertheless, and it proved to be the final year of the Gye regime at Covent Garden. The challenge for Richter was to work with a strange orchestra, several unproven singers, conform to the prevailing rules and regulations of the house, which were generally not conducive to the production of German opera, and still bring off successful performances. 166

There were eight different operas performed, in the following order: Die Meistersinger (June 4, 13, 18 and 21), Der Freischutz (June 6), Lohengrin (June 11 and

July 11), Tannhäuser (June 14, 27 and July 4), Der Fliegende Holländer (June 20), Fidelio (June 25), Tristan und Isolde (July 2, 10), and Savonarola (July 9), a new work by Charles Villiers Stanford. Soloists included the great tenor Heinrich Gudehus, singing the parts of Walther von Stolzing, Max, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. sang Hans Sachs and Ottokar. Theodor Reichmann, the brilliant German baritone who had sung in Angelo Neumann's Ring cycle of 1882 at Her Majesty's Theatre and at all sixteen performances of Parsifal (as Amfortas) at Bayreuth in the same year, was featured as Hans Sachs (alternating with Fischer), Telramund, Pizarro, the Dutchman, and Wolfram (alternating with ). Henry Wiegand was occupied with Pozner, Kaspar, King Henry, and King Marke.

The two leading female sopranos, one world famous and the other just establishing herself, created quite a stir by accepting roles which were new to each in one way or another. Of particular interest to Londoners was the debut of , wife of Covent Garden's manager, Ernest Gye, in a German role. She had acquired demigod status in London through her many years of stardom at the Royal Italian Opera, and was internationally esteemed as a great lyric soprano. The roles of Elsa and Senta which she sang in this German Opera series of 1884 were not strange to her, but she had previously sung them only in Italian or English. Similarly novel was the appearance of as Venus and Isolde, the latter role being a debut for her. "Few people remembered the singer who four years previously had sung at Her Majesty's as Violetta and Philine, and who had developed into one of the great dramatic sopranos of the day."7 Richter knew her from Bayreuth where she was one of the Maidens at the premiere

7Harold Rosenthal, Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden (London: Putnam, 1958), p. 210. 167

of the Ring cycle in 1876. Not having the services of a true equal to the task of Isolde, Richter was about to abandon the production of the opera, when he had Franke contact her at the last minute to see if she could free herself from the Berlin . She was happy to do so since she was not getting along with the intendant there, Baron von Hülsen. It was hoped that she might arrive in time to sing the parts of Eva and Elsa, but she did not make it to London until the end of June, leaving time only for Venus and Isolde. In her autobiography, she mentioned the effort expended by Richter in rehearsing Tristan und Isolde for the 1884 performance at Covent Garden: "Hans Richter, who laboured day and night with the orchestra, was indefatigable as always when it concerned breaking a lance for Wagner."8 Hans Richter's dauntless decision to assign four leading Wagnerian roles to two female singers with little or no experience interpreting characters in the German language was handsomely rewarded. Albani sang the German texts like a native, and shed most of the undesirable vocal trappings of the Italian stage upon which her fame rested. Her only lapse came in Lohengrin's second act, "which was seriously impaired by an excess of ritardando and effects."9 Lilli Lehmann's performance was even more glowingly praised, as critics were impressed with her command of the role of Isolde. That it was her first time in that role was even more amazing to the London press, who still associated her with the coloratura roles of Violetta and Mignon from the 1880 season at Her Majesty's Theatre.

The greatest weakness of the German troupe has hitherto been the want of a soprano able to grapple with the vocal and dramatic requirements of Wagner's heroines—a want thrown into further relief by the assistance, brilliantly, but too rarely, rendered by Madame Albani. This deficiency can no longer be said to exist after the

8Lilli Lehmann, My Path Through Life, trans. Alice Benedict Seligman (New York: Arno Press, 1977), p. 319.

9Times (London), June 16, 1884. 168

appearance of Fräulein Lehmann as Isolde. As a singer this gifted lady would adorn any stage; as an actress she has few equals, even among the artists trained in Wagner's school. Her rich and sonorous voice is managed with consummate skill, and her intonation is perfect.10

The importance of Albani's and Lehmann's contributions to the 1884 series cannot be overstated; each gave performances which were milestones in their personal careers and golden nuggets in the series at Covent Garden. Despite the outstanding portrayals by many of the soloists, critics found much to be desired in the fifteen performances. The monumental German opera series of 1882 was still fresh in the minds of most attenders, so comparisons were inevitable. In general, for the works given in both years, the renditions in 1884 were said to be inferior to those of two years earlier. Most critics said that the casts of Drury Lane were superior in every way, from chorus to leads. The orchestra also came in for more criticism in 1884, though it was acknowledged "that Herr Richter's present band did not get the benefit of twelve or fourteen rehearsals per opera."11 Due mainly to the weaker singers, only Tristan und Isolde and Lohengrin were judged to have been on the same artistic plane as their 1882 interpretations. This speaks as well of those as it does poorly of the

1884 performances, for the singers at Drury Lane constituted one of the best assemblages

of Wagnerian vocal talent of all time; it was truly an all-star cast. Hans Richter's first venture into the realm of English opera occurred with the performance of Charles Villiers Stanford's new work, Savonarola, performed on July 9 as one of the final works in the German Opera series of 1884 at Covent Garden. It had received its world premiere in Hamburg on April 18, 1884, in a German translation. The female lead, who is charged with the dual role of Clarice and her daughter Francesca, was sung by the eminent soprano Rosa Sucher at that performance, with her husband and


11Sunday Times (London), July 6, 1884. 169

close friend of Richter, Joseph Sucher, conducting. Savonarola was trumpeted in the Hamburg press as the greatest new opera to have been produced there in years.12 For a variety of reasons, the English premiere on July 9 was a disaster. The composer, who attended both the German and English premieres, said that he "scarcely recognized the opera I had seen at Hamburg a few weeks before."13 It was as if the performance at Covent Garden was doomed from the beginning, for there was a legal dispute concerning performance rights, with the result that the publisher, Boosey, was completely uncooperative about the production. Originally scheduled for June 25, the premiere was postponed till the 27th, and again to July 9. One singer after another was tried for the demanding dual soprano role until a Frau Schaernack was settled on. She proved to be no Rosa Sucher, and the title role of Savonarola, sung by the tenor, Herr Stritt, was also a disappointment, in part because he did not shave his flowing yellow . The opera as a work of musical art was also derided, the libretto being singled out for its weakness. The Morning Post said: "The book is clever, but dull; and if Mr. Stanford fails to enchain the attention of his hearers the reason may be found in the fact that he has trusted little to his own resources, and has followed too willingly a guide which renders nugatory his own individuality."14

In the Sunday Times, Klein made reference to Stanford's "incomprehensible anxiety to have his opera produced in his own country by a German troupe." It was bad enough that an opera composed to an English libretto was being performed in a foreign language; it was unforgivable that no translation of that libretto was available to the small audience at Covent Garden. The score was likewise unavailable, so that the press was

12See the comments by Riccius, a Hamburg critic, in Norris, Stanford, p. 45.

13Ibid., p. 46.

14Reprinted in Klein, Opera, p. 114. 170

deprived of a thorough analysis of the work. In an unusually blunt appraisal, Klein pronounced the new opera "excessively tedious" and "wholly uninteresting," which even an adequate performance would not have improved. Richter was absolved of responsibility in Klein's notice for even he could not be expected to "achieve miracles."15 The Musical Times complained that "we are weighed down by the unrelieved gloom of the subject and its musical illustration. . . . A more depressing evening has seldom been passed in an opera house, and we desire to blot it from memory as soon as possible."16 With opera by English composers being on tenuous ground anyway, this debacle confirmed to some English cynics the notion that native opera was doomed to be inferior to its German and Italian counterparts. Another opera by Stanford, The Canterbury Pilgrims, suffered a setback as a result of the failure of Savonarola, despite receiving critical praise and public approval following the four performances in English at Drury Lane only three months before; guilt by association contributed to the lack of performances of The Canterbury Pilgrims after its successful premiere. Reflecting on the season as a whole, there are several elements of historical importance. As the first extended series of German operas given at Covent Garden,

London's principal opera house, it served the purpose of providing both variety and competition to this venue's prevailing genre of Italian opera. It would be an overstatement to attribute the demise of the latter institution solely to this rivalry, but German opera may be said to have nudged it farther into decline. Rather than dominating the London opera scene, Italian opera became one of several types of dramatic music supported by citizens after 1884; she was demoted from prima donna to chorus member.

15Sunday Times (London), July 13, 1884.

16The Musical Times (August 1, 1884), p. 457. 171

German opera had a salutary effect upon audiences at Covent Garden. The norm of deportment for listeners to an Italian opera had included frequent interruptions of the action on stage by applause for leading singers. It even became accepted for an aria's singer to leave character and acknowledge such applause, which sometimes extended for several minutes. The operas performed in 1884 elicited an entirely different response. Tristan und Isolde, the least successful of the operas produced in Richter's 1882 season, seemed to mesmerize audiences two years later: "Complete reigned in the house from the beginning to the end of each Act, and no one stirred until the final fall of the curtain. This behavior contrasted forcibly with that of ordinary operatic audiences."17 Though there still existed marked resistance to this opera among critics and the general public, the more disciplined decorum shifted emphasis from the singers to the music, a change which could not help but be advantageous for opera in general. To the considerable extent that a conductor can influence audience behavior, Richter should also be credited with assisting this change. Mention has already been made of the significant contributions of Emma Albani and Lilli Lehmann to the 1884 German opera season. To their efforts must be added the strong interpretations offered by Gudehus, as Walther von Stolzing, Max, Tannhäuser, and especially Tristan. Reichmann likewise received uncommon praise for his Hans Sachs, Telramund, Wolfram, and Dutchman, and a Ms. Luger, an obscure mezzo-soprano, was lauded for her Ortrud, Leonora, and Brangäne. As a whole, however, the singing was judged to be inferior, especially to that of the 1882 series. Even the chorus, imported mostly from Cologne and Schwerin, was found lacking at many of the fifteen performances. Consequently, German opera was proved fallible, even when performed by German singers guided by an illustrious conductor steeped in

17Ibid., p. 457 172

that tradition, Hans Richter. As the financial failure of the venture proved, Londoners, including German emigres, would no longer support opera merely by virtue of its importation from the country said to have the most advanced state of the art. The English premiere of Stanford's opera Savonarola on July 9 was Richter's first experiment with English opera, even if it was performed in a German translation. That it had disastrous results may help explain his absence from Covent Garden until 1903 and his avoidance of opera by English composers for the rest of his career. In later years his passion, along with that of , became the establishment of a permanent English opera company in London, but he much preferred German opera performed in English to English opera performed in German. Despite his association with the dismal premiere of Savonarola, Richter's recognition and stature as a dramatic conductor increased as a direct result of the 1884 series at Covent Garden. His authoritative command of the musicians was evident in the opera house just as it had been in the concert hall, and impressed everyone concerned. The fall series of 1884, Richter's tenth series overall in London, contained three concerts, occurring on three consecutive Tuesday evenings--October 28, November 4, and November 11. Typically, he did not leave himself much time between these concerts and the opening of his Vienna season, slated for November 16, 1884. Programming for this series was as conservative as ever, the music being exclusively by German composers. Two or more Wagnerian works found places on each program, lending support to symphonies by Schubert (9th), Beethoven (9th) and Brahms (3rd). The latter's most recent symphony had been so well-received at the fourth concert of Richter's previous series in London, that it was repeated at the second concert, on November 4, which was attended by the Duchess of Edinburgh and Princess Christian.18 Again it was

18Manns had just performed it at a Crystal Palace concert, so the work was now familiar to many in the greater metropolitan area of London. 173

praised, and Richter wisely eschewed the temptation to repeat any portion of it this time. Aside from this, the only other noteworthy feature of the series was the repetition from the fifth concert of the previous series of an instrumental arrangement of three excerpts from the Ring operas. This arrangement was done by Richter himself, "according to Wagner's own instructions,"19 and represented one of the only instances of a performance of his own arrangement or composition. It had been performed better in the summer series, according to some, but was still enthusiastically applauded by the St. James's Hall audience. While Richter continued to be assailed for transgressions of tempi, he still enjoyed the unqualified respect and admiration of most critics. The Times proffered a specific explanation: "It is in impressing his own intentions on a complex body of players, by making them execute what he feels, that Herr Richter's genius as a conductor is mainly shown."20 Before moving on to 1885, it should be noted that Richter's career received a potent boost in May of 1884 when he was appointed to succeed Sir Michael Costa as the director of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, a post which he kept until 1909. Richter had come to London with Wagner in 1877 with the reputation of having brilliantly served the cause of German opera by conducting the first Bayreuth Festival the previous summer. He quickly established himself as an equally brilliant conductor of purely orchestral music over the first few years of the Richter Concerts, and reinforced his standing as an effective leader of operas in 1882 and 1884. However, because Richter had not ventured into that most English of musical forms, the oratorio, many common folk in the provinces had not even heard of him. With his appointment to the Birmingham conductorship, a very prestigious position, Richter embraced the mantle of a

1920Ibid.Times (London), October 29, 1884. 174

long British tradition--that of the people of the provinces singing great musical literature in massive choral assemblies. In so doing, he endeared himself to the English citizenry in a way that could not have been accomplished by restricting himself to orchestral conducting. Nationalistic pride was aroused; here was a revered European conductor, close friend of Wagner, Liszt, Saint-Sans, Dvorák, Brahms, Joachim, and , who now had conferred continental legitimacy upon their beloved art of oratorio by accepting the Birmingham position. As with politics, musical appointments can engender nationalistic pride in some quarters, but nationalistic resentment in others. A few members of England's musical establishment had grown weary with promoters' habit of importing famous conductors and soloists from the continent, especially Germany. Did they not have qualified musicians of their own, it was asked, who could head such prominent festivals as the

Birmingham Triennial? Sir raised the most strident objections. The famous critic Joseph Bennett, employed by the Daily Telegraph from 1870 until 1906, and as editor of the monthly musical journal called The Lute in 1884, received a letter of complaint from Sullivan:

. . . I think that it is an affront to all of us English. . . . I should certainly have considered it an honor if they had offered me the festival, whether I could have undertaken it or not. But it is not entirely selfish, for not a thought of envy or regret should I have felt if Cowen, Stanford, Barnby, or Randegger . . . had been selected. They would all have done the work well--a hundred times better than a German who cannot speak the language, who had never had any experience in dealing with English choruses, and who knows none of the traditions of those choral works which form a large element in the Festival.21

Sullivan was especially disgusted with the British habit of dangling profligate fees under the noses of continental musicians, to entice them across the English Channel to give

21Arthur Jacobs, Arthur Sullivan: A Victorian Musician (Oxford: , 1984), p. 194. 175

concerts. J. A. Fuller-Maitland, successor to Francis Hueffer as music critic of the Times in 1889, confirmed this long-standing practice.

The influence of various foreign musicians, of whom Hallé and Richter are types, has been dealt with before in connection with their work in the direction of musical progress, and it is not necessary in this place to refer to the thousands of distinguished foreign executants who visit England for the same purposes that their ancestors did, namely, to benefit by the high rate at which we reward artistic effort if only it comes from abroad.22

Sullivan was founding director of the National Training School for Music (absorbed by the Royal College of Music in 1882), so he was well acquainted with the problem of finding gainful employment for graduates of British music schools. His frustration at the exacerbation of this problem by incidents such as Richter's appointment was reflected in a letter to Hermann Klein of the Sunday Times:

I think all this musical education for the English is vain and idle, as they are not allowed the opportunity of earning their living in their own country. Foreigners are thrust in everywhere, and the press supports this injustice. If we had no men who could do the work I should say nothing--but we have. 23

Despite his claim to altruism, a position supporting British musicians rather than disparaging others, Sullivan harbored an anti-German prejudice shared by some of his compatriots, as was exemplified in a letter written five years earlier (March 15, 1879) to J. W. Davison of the Times:

Why do you encourage these blooming Germans so much? I think the whole business of those Franke and Richter Concerts is an insult to us. Do we require teaching how to conduct the three best known of Beethoven's Symphonies? Give me ten rehearsals and a picked orchestra of 110 musicians and I think I could give a very fair performance of any of Beethoven's Symphonies.24

22J. A. Fuller-Maitland, English Music in the XIXth Century (New York: Dutton, 1902; reprint ed., Portland, Maine: Longwood Press, 1976), p. 276.

23Klein, Musical Life, p. 191.

24Percy Young, Sir Arthur Sullivan (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971), p. 155. 176

As conductor of the Festival since 1880, it is doubtful that Sullivan was covetous of Richter's Birmingham position; he would, however, have preferred to see a fellow Englishman as the conductor of the festival which was considered the primary rival to that of Leeds. Besides, Sullivan was also very active as a composer (not to mention gambler, lawn-tennis player, and horse-race enthusiast), having already had several works played by London orchestras by 1884. So popular had Arthur Sullivan become that he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883, and enjoyed particularly close relationships with several members of the royal family. Nevertheless, Richter had not programmed any of his pieces in the first ten series of his London concerts, and this probably had something to do with Sullivan's frustration. The strictly personal aspect to this discordant relationship should not be disregarded. There was no getting around "Sullivan's hostility to Richter as the intrusive, over-praised foreigner."25 Not surprisingly, Sullivan's music never was performed in the twenty-four years of the Richter Concerts, though Richter did conduct The Golden Legend at the Birmingham Triennial Festival in 1888. The protestations of Sullivan were shared by a small minority; most critics and a vast majority of concert-goers approved of Richter's appointment. English orchestras lacked discipline and leadership, it was argued, and Richter possessed these qualities to a much greater degree than any native conductor. He had proven himself in the concert hall and on the operatic stage, so why not see how he did with the repertoire which combined choral and orchestral forces? was one of Richter's main advocates, and thought that the clamor for an English conductor in Birmingham was ridiculous. "Orchestras only need to be sworn at, and a German is consequently at an advantage with them, as English profanity, except in America, has not gone beyond a

25Jacobs, Sullivan, p. 269. 177

limited technology of perdition."26


The spring-summer series of Richter Concerts in 1885 held firmly to the tradition of previous years, regarding both scheduling and repertoire. There were nine concerts given, beginning on April 27 and ending on June 22, all but one of which were held on Monday evenings. St. James's Hall housed this eleventh series, as it had the previous ten; attendance remained good. Late spring was the peak of London's musical season, yet the Richter Concerts withstood the competition. No major personnel changes occurred for the 1885 series as Franke, Frantzen, and Schiever returned to their familiar jobs of promoter, chorus director and concertmaster, respectively.

The first two concerts, on April 27 and May 4, featured all German music (including Liszt), and nothing unusual. At the third concert on May 11, Richter's mainstays, Beethoven and Wagner, occupied the bulk of the program. Some variety was provided in the form of Glinka's orchestral fantasia, Komarinskaja, and Brahms's . The former had been played before in London, but only rarely, and stood out as one of the few Russian works in Richter's repertoire. It was so well received by the crowd at St. James's Hall that it was repeated at the eighth concert, June 15. More important historically was the Brahms work for solo (sung by Lena Little), male chorus and orchestra, because this was the first presentation of it at a Richter Concert and only the third performance overall in England. Like the reclusive composer's "Schicksalslied," played in the 1884 series, this piece was found to be too morose for English musical taste despite a creditable performance.

178 179

The first novelty of the series came in the fourth concert, May 18, wherein Liszt's Fifth Hungarian Rhapsody was played for the first time in England. Consistent with notices following the premieres of Liszt's other Hungarian rhapsodies, the critics cited the "laboured orchestration" and "showy effect" of the new piece. The program was completed by a typical all-German cast of composers. Interestingly, Richter conducted while sitting down, because of an injured leg. The Sunday Times stated that "it made no difference to the firmness of his beat or the completeness of his command over the orchestra."1 The fifth concert on May 21, the only Thursday performance, again comprised an all-German program. Besides the music of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Brahms, Wagner's "Trauermarsch" from Götterdämmerung was given. A new Wagnerian excerpt for the Richter Concerts, the Closing Scene from Das Rheingold, was also presented at this concert. One critic made fun of the inclusion of Mendelssohn's music in this program, so rarely had Richter played it.2 The reception was enthusiastic for Richter and his stock-in-trade repertoire, as was the case at the sixth concert on June 1, which also contained only German music. In addition to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, this concert featured the same composer's Overture in C, Op. 115, a piece which was not as frequently played as his other overtures. Two selections from Liszt's oratorio, Christus, were also given on June 1 and, like Beethoven's Overture, stood out as an example of rarely heard works from its composer's oeuvre. Despite being well played, "the audience . . . showed little regard for them. It is curious to see how stubbornly indifferent those

1Sunday Times (London), May 24, 1885.

2"Fancy Mendelssohn at a Richter Concert!" was the comment in The Musical Times (June 1, 1885), p. 330. 180

who here acclaim Wagner remain to his friend and father-in-law."3 The final three concerts of the eleventh series each brought forward a premiere and, for that reason, were given much more attention in the press. At the June 8 performance, the seventh of the series, the most diverse program of all was given. Among other works, it included Mozart's flat (K. 543), which Richter had conducted in a regular subscription concert of the Vienna Philharmonic only three months earlier, and Wagner's Overture and Venusberg music from Tannhäuser. Berlioz's Symphonie funèbre et triomphale of 1840, termed "a mere occasional piece" by Gerald Abraham, was also programmed, receiving its second performance in England. (Manns had given the English premiere at the Crystal Palace in 1882.)4 Several complaints surfaced in the press concerning this piece, centering on the excessive volume produced by the composer's orchestration. Originally intended for open-air performance, reductions in that orchestration remained "sonorous and strident in the extreme."5 Criticism of this piece was meek compared to the outright libel directed at Eugene D'Albert's Overture to Hyperion, given its world premiere at the same concert. It will be recalled that the young D'Albert, born in Scotland and musically trained in England, made his Richter Concert debut on October 24, 1881, playing piano in his own Concerto in A. His playing received more acclaim than his composition, but as one of the earliest graduates of the National Training School for Music, founded by Arthur Sullivan in 1876, D'Albert's achievements spurred a resurgence in the nation's musical pride. When he renounced his allegiance to the musical training provided by his native

3The Musical Times (July 1, 1885), p. 401.

4Gerald Abraham, 100 Years of Music (London: Duckworth, 1974), p. 31.

5Sunday Times (London), June 14, 1885. 181

England in 1884, and made some very derogatory remarks about the entire musical climate of his motherland, the ire of the critics was unleashed with a vengeance. His

Overture, composed only a few months before the premiere, was mercilessly ridiculed in all quarters of the press. Klein in the Sunday Times sounded like J. W. Davison or Desmond Ryan reviewing a new work by Wagner twenty years earlier:

Emptier bombast . . . was never inscribed on the pages of an orchestral score. . . . Here is a composition pretending to illustrate a profound and sombre theme. . . . In form it is like the earth as described in the Revised Version--waste and void. Neither head nor tail can be made of it . . . the whole is incoherent, invertebrate, and intensely uninteresting.6

The Athenaeum sounded a similarly punitive tone:

His overture Hyperion is an absurd attempt to commence where Wagner left off, and its unprecedented length, twenty-three minutes, is nothing short of an impertinence. . . . This attempt on the part of a young musician barely out of his teens to measure himself with the greatest master of modern times argues a mind considerably off its balance, and the sooner Mr. D'Albert finishes sowing his wild oats, the better it will be for himself and for art.7

Critics praised Richter for an excellent performance, but applause was mixed with hisses in the audience. Only Hueffer in the Times approved of the new piece. The series' eighth concert, on June 15, contained the usual fare by Wagner and

Beethoven, but included the London premiere of the Symphony in C, Op. 37, by Robert Fuchs. This Viennese composer and teacher had studied under Dessoff at the Vienna Conservatory. Since the performance of his Serenade No. 1 in 1874 he enjoyed growing admiration as a composer of the first rank. He taught theory at the conservatory, was organist of the Court Chapel from 1894 until 1905, and was, like Richter, affiliated with


7The Athenaeum (June 13, 1885), p. 768. 182

the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Among his pupils were Mahler, Sibelius, and Wolf. Brahms said that "Fuchs is a splendid musician; everything is so fine and so skilful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased."8 The world premiere of Fuchs's new Symphony had been given under Richter and the Vienna Philharmonic on November 30, 1884. Two years later it was awarded the coveted Beethoven prize in composition by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. The only other piece by Fuchs played at a Richter Concert had been the Serenade, also a London premiere performance, on May 20, 1880. Reviews of that work in London papers were amazingly similar to the ones for the new Symphony. Both pieces were judged to be well-written but dull, revealing the composer as a fine technician but devoid of inspired musical ideas. Richter was criticized by some for overlooking native English contemporary composers in favor of a mediocre talent from the conductor's circle of Viennese colleagues. "Herr Fuchs's symphony, taken as a whole, is far inferior to the best orchestral works of Mackenzie, Cowen, or Stanford, and

we fail to see the wisdom of inflicting on English audiences second-rate German music."9 A defense of Richter's programming was given in the Musical Times, where it was reported that "the place filled by Fuchs was kept open for a native musician as long

as hope remained of one coming forward to take it."10 There was certainly no dearth of English composers wishing to have their works performed during this period, so exactly what was meant by the suggestion that nobody was "coming forward" for this purpose is difficult to ascertain. In view of Richter's past procedure concerning new music, there

8New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1980 ed., s.v. "Fuchs, Robert," by R. J. Pascal

(June 20, 1885), p. 799. The Athenaeum9

(July 1, 1885), p. 401. Musical Times 10The 183

were several tests which were probably failed by prospective compositional entrants, but were passed by Fuchs's Symphony. These included the following: the "playability" of the new music, for there were always limitations on rehearsal time; the composer's reputation and status within musical circles was another criterion used by Richter; a subjective judgment as to the quality of the piece was also made by the conductor, who obviously favored the style of the central European tradition. So concerned was he about excellence in performance that he sometimes rejected music which, whatever its merits, would occupy too much rehearsal time. Low scores in one of these areas may have been occasionally tolerated by Richter, but not often. In the case of Fuchs, every test was passed with flying colors. Richter knew exactly how playable the symphony was, since he had premiered it in Vienna less than a year earlier; Fuchs was among the most respected of the music professors at the Vienna Conservatory, and the endorsement by Brahms had bolstered his standing as a composer; Richter must have approved of the music itself because of its roots in the stylistic tradition in which he was trained. It was misleading, then, for the Musical Times to imply that no English composer stepped forward to occupy a place on the June 15 program. Richter undoubtedly subjected new music to close scrutiny, using the criteria mentioned above, and rejected those compositions which fell short of his standards.

The ninth and final concert of the season occurred on June 22. Supplementing the requisite Beethoven and Wagner works was Charles Villiers Stanford's Elegiac Ode, which received its London premiere and third performance overall. Written for soli, chorus, and orchestra using the poetry from Walt Whitman's Lamentation on the Death of Lincoln as the text, this piece had been premiered at the Norwich Festival the previous October, and was widely acclaimed. Response to the interpretation by Richter was no 184

less adulatory, and both conductor and composer were recalled by applause several times. The Athenaeum called this composition "the best thing Dr. Stanford has yet written."11 While it may be said that Richter neglected the music of Arthur Sullivan and Sterndale Bennett, he was a fervent adherent to the cause of Stanford's music. By this time, Richter had already given three premieres of the Irish composer's works in London, and even when there was an unsuccessful performance, such as occurred with the opera Savonarola a year earlier, the conductor stood faithfully in support of the music. There are several reasons for the close affinity which Richter felt toward Stanford's art. Unlike Elgar, who was primarily self-taught musically, Stanford was exposed to a cosmopolitan array of influence, just as Richter had been. He studied under Reinecke in Leipzig and Friedrich Kiel in Berlin. Like Richter, he traveled to many of Europe's musical centers, including the original Bayreuth Festival of 1876, and was a friend of Brahms, Joachim, Saint-Saëns, and Bülow. What endeared him to Richter were his devotion to the German tradition, his outstanding academic reputation as a composer and conductor at Cambridge University, and the decidedly Brahmsian character of his music. It is to Richter's credit that he recognized Stanford's compositional talent over and above his gifts as a teacher, on which his reputation was based in succeeding generations. His music was performed regularly throughout the first twelve years of the Richter Concerts, as table two shows, receiving more attention than that of any other English composer, including Cowen and Parry.

11The Athenaeum (June 27, 1885), p. 833. 185

Table 2 Premiere performances of works by Charles Villiers Stanford, Conducted by Hans Richter (partial list)

Work Type of Premiere City Date Psalm Setting, "God is our World London May 30, 1881 hope and strength" Serenade in G London London November 9, 1882 Vienna Vienna March 9, 1884 Savonarola English London July 9, 1884 Elegiac Ode London London June 22, 1885 The Three Holy Children World Birmingham August 28, 1885 to London London May 17, 1886 Eumenides Irish Symphony World London June 27, 1887 The Battle of the Baltic World London July 20, 1891 Piano Concerto in G World London May 27, 1895

Richter's eleventh series of London orchestral concerts was followed in August of 1885 by his duties as conductor of the Birmingham Triennial Festival. Shortly after being named director of the festival in May, he paid several visits to this northern British metropolis, concerning himself with finalizing the program and the selection of personnel for the orchestra. He left the composition of the choir, numbering an incredible 369, up to local authorities, mainly W. C. Stockley, the chorus-master. Since a large percentage of the rank and file singers was from the Birmingham area, and Richter was very much an outsider, this was the diplomatic thing to do. The orchestra, on the other hand, comprised many Londoners, including some who played in the Richter Concerts, and was in need of reform. Realizing how different his methods were from those of his 186

irascible predecessor, the legendary Michael Costa, Richter elected to assert his authority immediately. First, he reduced the string section from 108 to 86. Many of the London contingent were replaced by local string players, resulting in a markedly inferior group compared with the previous festival of 1882; overall orchestral balance, however, was improved. By weeding out many of the orchestra's foreigners, Richter had created a predominantly native orchestra, with 100 out of 135 instrumentalists being English. In appealing to the national pride through these changes, he showed himself to be more of a savvy politician than a musical purist. The enormous energy of Hans Richter is apparent in the considerable effort he expended in preparation for his debut as the festival's chief conductor. Following his several journeys to Birmingham in May to settle personnel and programming matters, he held four full-day rehearsals in London for orchestra and principal soloists. There were also full rehearsals on the Saturday and Monday night before the festival's opening on

Tuesday, August 25, not to mention the many more rehearsals of the choir alone. "Never, probably, has so much time been given to the preparatory work of any festival. . . . Thus each new work was twice gone through carefully, with the result that highly finished performances, fully worthy of the reputation of the festival, became possible."12 These rehearsals were occurring during his regular, exhausting series of Richter Concerts in London. The surfeit of rehearsals was consistent with Richter's modus operandi; he believed that there was always room for improvement and, therefore, more rehearsals. He had been burned by some poor performances in the past which resulted, he felt, from a lack of rehearsals. Numerous postponements and cancellations of performances

12Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (October 1, 1885), p. 27. 187

resulted from this philosophy throughout his career, and, it will be remembered, it was because of inadequate rehearsal, and the insistence of the composer, that Richter abandoned the effort to mount the premiere of Das Rheingold in 1869. Wagner inculcated in his young protégé the necessity of adequate rehearsal time in many ways and many times, not the least of which was during preparations for the premiere of the Ring cycle at Bayreuth in 1876. The summer of the previous year was devoted to seemingly endless rehearsals of the tetralogy, with Richter superintending all of them. It was new music which Richter was especially concerned about, for he saw how laborious was the struggle to convey both an accurate reading as well as the proper expressive element to the musicians under his command. This explains why the London premieres of Tristan und Isolde (1882), Stanford's Savonarola (1884), and D'Albert's Hyperion Overture (1885), to mention only a few, were given only after postponements. One can cite Richter's proclivity to excessive rehearsal as a weakness or as a strength. Perhaps he was slow to grasp new music, feared negative critical response to a performance, or was an obsessive perfectionist. It reveals, in addition to whatever pejorative motives may be ascribed, that he was guided by firm principles such as doing justice to the composer's intentions, and giving new music the boost which only a fine premiere performance could impart. Moreover, it speaks well of his rapport with his charges, for only a conductor who was in close communication with his orchestra, with head out of the score, could get away with the marathon rehearsals that Richter held. There is no doubt that his insistence upon adequate preparation time contributed as much as his own personal talent as a conductor to his performances, which were judged to be far superior to those of his peers. This was as true with the Richter Concerts in London as with the conductor's other performances. Hanslick makes this clear in his "Letter from 188

London," written in 1886 while this doyen of Viennese critics was visiting the British capital. "While other concert institutions in London are content with a single rehearsal, and that rather inhibited by the presence of a half-price audience, Richter has two and sometimes, when especially difficult novelties are involved, even three, with the public excluded from all of them."13 If the term "English Renaissance" may be applied to the realm of performance as well as composition, the Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1885 was a seminal event in that period of indigenous musical resurgence. Not only did the make-up of the festival orchestra take a sharp turn in the direction of home-grown talent, the repertoire was nothing short of revolutionary. The mounting of one or two premiere works had been the norm under Costa's lengthy tenure as director, and these were composed as often by continental residents as by Englishmen. For Richter's first festival in 1885 there were an astounding nine works receiving world premiere performances out of a total of eleven

compositions in the entire four-day festival. Still more incredible is the fact that seven of the nine novelties were by English composers. It was as if the Festival Committee in Birmingham decided to awaken the musical soul of the country by giving an official platform to the music of native composers. A clear message was sent that the long-standing practice of importing new music from Germany, Bohemia, Austria, France, and Italy was no longer acceptable--at least not in a provincial festival. Neither would it be acceptable in the future for English composers to complain of a lack of performance opportunities. "English musical prophets are not despised in their own country, and 'native talent' no longer labours under that 'grievance' of which much has

13Hanslick, Criticisms, p. 265. See the longer excerpt from his "Letter from London" in Appendix D. 189

been heard with more or less reason in special cases."14 The Musical Times suggested an ulterior motive for the programming of so many British pieces: "Birmingham, it will be thought, has amply atoned for going abroad in search of a Conductor."15 While Richter's role in the anglicization of the Birmingham Festival's orchestra was one of zealous advocacy, his contribution to the revolutionary programming changes was dubious; the Festival Committee may have been the real instigators. Moreover, only one of the seven new pieces by native composers was conducted by Richter. It was the custom to have the composer lead the premiere performance if he were available, and this occurred with five of the seven English novelties. The Viennese conductor did lead the performance of the two works traditionally associated with all provincial festivals in England--Handel's and Mendelssohn's . Aside from the aforementioned critical complaints about the weakness of the string playing, the performances were praised in eloquent terms. It was Richter's first interpretation of Messiah, and it was a breath of fresh air to everyone. In past performances, Costa had added lots of brass to the regular section sizes in the orchestra, which was already a grossly expanded body compared with Handel's, and had made several cuts. Richter reduced the brasses, restored the cut portions, and earned the acclaim of critics for his "respect for the intentions of the old Saxon master. . . . A finer rendering of the oratorio has, perhaps, never been heard."16 His reading of Elijah was also lauded for being true to the spirit of its composer, for whose music Richter was previously thought to be unsympathetic.

14Times (London), August 24, 1885.

15The Musical Times (June 1, 1884), p. 350.

16Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (October 1, 1885), p. 28. 190

The first of the two premieres directed by Richter in the festival was 's new oratorio, Mors et Vita, presented on Wednesday morning, August 26. The French musician enjoyed a reputation as a brilliant composer by most of the English, based on their love of his opera, Faust. Enhancing this respect was his appearance at the Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1882, when he conducted the world premiere of his oratorio, The Redemption. It was hailed immediately as a masterpiece and elevated Gounod, quite prematurely, to the pedestal occupied by Mendelssohn and Handel among festival-goers, if not critics, in the provinces. So enamored was Birmingham's Festival Committee that they commissioned Gounod to compose a new oratorio for the following festival, to which he was invited to conduct the work as well. Mors et Vita was completed just in time for the 1885 performance, but because of legal problems, Gounod had to cancel his scheduled appearance at the last minute. Nevertheless, he "found in Herr Richter an excellent substitute" conductor.17 Unfortunately, his latest offering was received with less enthusiasm than The Redemption, as protests were lodged about its excessive length, overused and monotonous repetition -- especially sequence. Hubert Parry called the new work "sentimental, dawdling, pointless."18 Richter's effort, however, was singled out for being

exemplary. "Never for a moment at fault, always steady and self-possessed, with an intimate knowledge of the score, he secured a rendering of the work remarkable alike for precision and delicacy."19 It should be remembered that Richter is reputed to have said on more than one occasion that "there is no [good] French music"; yet, his rendering of

(London), August 27, 1885. Times 17 p. 185. Stanford, Norris, 18

19Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (October 1, 1885), p. 28. 191

Gounod's work was greatly admired. Despite the excellent performance, Richter had disdainful words for Mors et Vita in private. He is said to have commented "Horrendum est!," borrowing the opening words of the text for his mockery.20 No doubt the participation of Emma Albani, Janet Patey, Edward Lloyd, and , arguably the best vocal quartet in England during that era, contributed immensely to the success of this premiere. Albani reported in her memoirs that, as a result of this performance, "this oratorio was given over and over again in England, and I often had the privilege of singing it in London."21 Queen Elizabeth sent Gounod a message of congratulations following this Birmingham premiere. The other premiere conducted by Richter during the festival was Stanford's new oratorio, The Three Holy Children, presented on the final day, Friday, August 28. This was the Irish composer's next major work after the Elegiac Ode, the London premiere of which Richter had presented only nine weeks earlier at St. James's Hall. With expectations having been raised greatly for Stanford's latest composition, it is not surprising that critics found fault with it. It was compared unfavorably with Mendelssohn's Elijah and Dvorák's The Spectre's Bride, the latter having been commissioned by the Festival Committee in 1882. Only the which concludes the

first section of The Three Holy Children was praised unreservedly. Unlike the critics, the

audience erupted with enthusiasm, calling Stanford to the stage after both sections of the oratorio. Critics hailed Richter's conducting as being of the best quality. The Times said that "a more careful and sympathetic interpreter he [Stanford] could not have found.

20Norris, Stanford, p. 185

21Emma Albani, Forty Years of Song (London: Mills & Boon, 1911; reprint ed., New York: Arno Press, 1977), p. 193. 192

Under Herr Richter's leadership the chorus sang without fear or reproach."22 Though Stanford identified much more with the musical style of Brahms than that of Wagner, The Three Holy Children makes ample use of , and this element would have appealed to Richter. Perhaps he saw in the music of this distinguished British composer a synthesis of the styles of the two peerless Germans, whose music was seen by Viennese critics to be irreconcilable. Whatever the motivation, Richter poured his heart and soul into the preparation of this premiere and Stanford was grateful for having such an able interpreter. The Birmingham Festival of 1885 was a turning point in the English career of Hans Richter. No longer could he be accused of associating himself only with performances of German music. No longer could he be chided for preferring German instrumentalists in the orchestra which he directed. No longer would he be narrowly categorized as a conductor of opera and orchestral music exclusively. Since the large choral festivals in England's provinces represented the "music of the people," Richter's work at Birmingham in 1885 was seen as an outreach to the average British citizen. This was different than taking his London orchestra on tour to the provinces, as he did in the spring of 1884, or in Scotland as he did in the fall of 1885, because no real commitment was evident by those trips. In Birmingham, however, Richter immersed himself in a thoroughly British artistic institution, and adapted to it with virtually no difficulty. Many critics wrote that his unqualified success in his first year as director was a stirring vindication of the Festival Committee's choice of him rather than a native conductor. "By his amazing energy, his kindliness, his public spirit in throwing himself heart and soul into the direction of works with which he was known not to be entirely in sympathy,

22Times (London), August 29, 1885. 193

Herr Richter has conquered much of this antagonism, and added to his great reputation. "23 Not to be overlooked in assessing the significance of this festival on Richter's career is the opportunity it provided him to become acquainted with several important British composers and their music. Despite the fact that five of the seven new British compositions were conducted by their composers, Richter must have been directly exposed to the new music. Among the English composers present in Birmingham were Ebenezer Prout, A. C. Mackenzie, Frederic Cowen, Frederick Bridge, and, of course, Stanford. Undoubtedly, he met them and, because of the improvement in his English language skills, would have been able to engage in sustained conversations. He may have had a chance to discuss programming their music at future concerts in London, Birmingham, or even Vienna. Dvorák was also there, conducting the world premiere of his oratorio, The Spectre's Bride, which drew unrestrained kudos following the performance on the third day of the festival (August 27). The Bohemian composer surely renewed his close relationship with Richter during the festival, and they probably discussed the composer's latest compositional efforts. Finally, the festival was not as lucrative as the 1882 event, but this was due to the recessionary economy prevailing in the Midlands. That Richter's efforts to increase the number of English musicians in the orchestra of the Birmingham Festival represented a fundamental change in his view of the ideal ethnic composition of an orchestra in England is born out by similar personnel changes made in the Richter Concerts orchestra in the fall of 1885. For this twelfth series in London, the busy conductor scheduled three concerts. Since there was no new music

23Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review, October 1, 1885, p. 18. 194

performed, and only one non-German composer represented, critics dwelt on the personnel changes in the orchestra. These were apparently confined to the strings, where fifteen players out of the total of sixty-six were new to the section in this series. English representation was increased in the process, meaning that many German string players were dismissed. Perhaps Richter had been influenced by the strong nationalistic sentiment in Birmingham, which inspired the programming of more British music as well as the increase in the number of English orchestral musicians participating in the festival. His rapidly improving grasp of the English language and steadily increasing rapport with English musicians in general may have also had an effect. Unfortunately, the changes caused ensemble problems--not surprising when nearly one-fourth of an orchestra's string section is replaced. Bowing which had always been uniform at Richter Concerts was disparate at times in these fall concerts. Intonation also suffered, and there was talk of

"an unpleasant coarseness being perceptible in the strings."24

The problem was exacerbated by Richter's use of this entire string section in the performance of Mozart's Andante for Two Horns and Strings from the Divertimento in D (K. 334) at the second concert on November 3, 1885. Audiences revelled in the lush tones produced by such large sections when playing Wagner or Berlioz, but schooled listeners recognized the harm done when the same assemblage played Mozart or Haydn. The critics were surprised and "at a loss to know Herr Richter's authority for assigning" what they considered to be chamber music to an army of strings.25 The two horns could barely be heard, exposing the poor ensemble of the strings even further. Fault was found with Richter's tempi, and the chorus was chastised as never before. For some reason,

24The Athenaeum(October 31, 1885), p. 579.

25The Athenaeum(November 7, 1885), p. 612. 195

there were only about half as many singers as in previous series, and Klein reported that "they sang so badly and out of tune [in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony] that it was difficult to believe they belonged to the same choir I have often had occasion to praise."26 Why the reduction in number and decay in quality occurred in the choir, and whether their usual director, Theodor Frantzen, had anything to do with the deterioration, is unknown. Following the first concert of the series on Saturday, October 24, 1885, Richter took his London musicians on tour to Scotland. He received unprecedented acclaim there, especially in Glasgow, where critics raved about the excellence of both conductor and his charges. This led to resentment in some of London's musical circles. Just as Sullivan had reacted when Richter was appointed to head the Birmingham Festival in May of 1884, the critic of The Athenaeum, possibly Ebenezer Prout, interpreted the compliments of Richter as neglect and indirect disparagement of other well-qualified conductors. In this case, it was argued that August Manns, director of the Crystal Palace concerts, had done much more for the cause of musical art in Scotland than Richter had. Yet, said the critic, the considerable efforts of Manns, particularly with the Glasgow Choral Union, were being neglected in favor of Richter. After juxtaposing the names of

Manns and Richter, The Athenaeum was so distasteful as to print a thinly disguised slur on the Richter Concerts: "The concerts which the former [Manns] conducts at the Crystal Palace are second in finished excellence to none in the country."27 Such gratuitous criticism of Richter's highly successful Scottish tour smacked of jealousy of his great achievements in Britain, or outright anti-German , rather than a

(London),Sunday November26 15,Times 1885.

(NovemberThe27 Athenaeum 14, 1885), p. 645. 196

justifiable defense of Manns. The remarks are especially strange considering that Manns, like Richter, had received most of his musical training on the continent. The resentment expressed in The Athenaeum was not widespread, but there was growing disappointment over Richter's continued pandering to the intransigent taste of the St. James's Hall audience. Some critics were simply fed up with what they perceived as musical tunnel-vision on the part of the conductor. As in previous seasons, it was acknowledged that financial success could only be assured through programming which would bring sizable crowds to the concerts. Moreover, it was accepted that the crowds in Picadilly demanded Wagner and Beethoven primarily, and the German musical idiom in general. But why, they wondered, could Richter not endeavor to perform at least one English composition, or one new work of any national origin, in the fall concerts?

Herr Richter goes on moving around in a very narrow circle, only now and then recognizing the fact that it does not bound the whole world of good music. He finds this, perhaps, the most profitable course in a pecuniary sense, and, if so, it constitutes a reason, though not of the most exalted character.28

The patrons of the Richter Concerts were known to be progressive in their preference for modern music, especially Wagner, Liszt and with less enthusiasm, Brahms. They were increasingly seen as regressive, however, in music such as the contemporary English school (aside from Stanford), French music of all periods (aside from Berlioz), and practically all Italian music. Composers like Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Schumann, despite being German, were also neglected, according to the press. (Of course, there was far worse neglect of Classic and Baroque music, but this was a universal condition in England during the late nineteenth century.)

28The Musical Times (December 1, 1885), p. 720. 197

Richter must have been aware of these criticisms and especially those pertaining to the quality of musicianship under his direction. He did not like most critics, it is true, and undoubtedly dismissed the carping which reflected unreasonable nationalism, but the negative remarks about the string playing and chorus work were so ubiquitous that he must have been on the defensive. His honeymoon with the British press was a distant memory at this point. Quite possibly, he knew that the sudden and drastic personnel changes in the orchestra which he instigated would have a negative impact on the fall series of 1885, but he felt strongly that they were necessary, and so, plowed ahead, hoping that the impact would not be too severe and that there would be some understanding, if not sympathy, from the press. Very little understanding was forthcoming among critics, so Richter departed London in the fall of 1885 under much the same circumstances as the previous year. He was heartened by the enthusiastic audiences at St. James's Hall, but smitten by the press for narrow-minded programming and occasionally inferior musicianship. CHAPTER ELEVEN RICHTER CONCERTS, 1886

Following the third and final concert of Richter's 1885 fall series in London, he quickly traveled to Vienna for the opening of his tenth season as director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The first concert was on November 15, only four days after his final appearance of 1885 in London. His repertoire in Vienna for this 1885-86 season was more eclectic than ever, featuring new or rarely performed music in almost every concert. Reversing his accustomed direction of musical trade, Richter imported several works to Vienna which had been successfully presented in London within recent years. Table three shows the extent of this borrowing:

Table 3 Works conducted by Hans Richter in the Vienna Philharmonic's 1885-86 season which had already been conducted by him in London.

London Vienna Composer Work Performance Date Performance Date Saint-Saëns Second Piano Concerto June 11, 1883 November 29,1885 Wagner Prelude to Parsifal November 9, 1882 November 29,1885 Mackenzie Burns Rhapsody May 21, 1883 December 6, 1885 Glinka Komerinskaja May 11, 1885 January 3, 1886 Méhul Overture to La chasse du June 9, 1884 March 21, 1886 jeune Henri Liszt Mephisto Waltzes May 4, 1885 April 18, 1886

198 199

None of these works had previously been given in Vienna by Richter, and during his decade of service as the Philharmonic's director as of this 1885-86 season, never before had the programming been so influenced by his London repertoire. The two most salient premieres of the Vienna season were Brahms's Fourth Symphony, on January 17, 1886 and Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, on March 21, 1886. The Viennese response to these two works, both of which were soon taken to London by Richter, exposed the opposition between public and press as never before. Brahms's Symphony was received with modest praise by the critics--Hanslick and Kalbeck both were slow in their appreciation and praise of the new work because of its break with traditional symphonic form--but the audience in the Vereinsaal responded tepidly, especially toward the first movement. Indeed, it took ten years for the Viennese press and public to be converted to the work's greatness; it was played less than a month before the composer's death (in 1897) to thunderous applause, with Richter conducting and Brahms in attendance. Bruckner's Seventh, on the other hand, was enthusiastically welcomed by the public, but ridiculed by most critics.1 The first of the Richter Concerts of 1886 took place in St. James's Hall on

1Following the work's highly successful premiere under in Leipzig on December 30, 1884, and similar successes over the next few years in other European cities, Bruckner begged the Vienna Philharmonic authorities not to perform the Seventh Symphony in the city of his residence out of fear of "the malevolence of authoritative Vienna criticism, which certainly cannot be promoting of my success in Germany." Franz Graflinger, ed., Gesammelte Briefe, (Regensburg: Gustav Bolle Verlag, 1924), p. 136. After the Symphony's premiere on March 21, 1886 and its vehement endorsement by the Viennese public, Bruckner wrote to the orchestra to thank them for their "excellent, completely artistic execution at the performance of my Seventh Symphony." (Ibid., p. 139). 200

Monday, May 3 and formed, as usual, one of nine regular subscription concerts.2 All occurred on Monday evenings except for the seventh, which was given on Thursday, June 10 instead of June 14, since that was Whit Monday. A special benefit performance for the series' promoter, Hermann Franke, was presented on Wednesday, June 16 at the Albert Hall, between the seventh and eighth concerts. The repertoire in this thirteenth series was as heavily laden with Wagner and Beethoven as ever, with the music of Liszt also being a prominent feature.3 In fact, concerts one, and six through nine, proffered works by these composers exclusively, with the addition of Weber, whose Overture to Euryanthe was included at the eighth. The premieres, which numbered four and had all been played before in other cities, were given in concerts two through five. Perhaps as a response to London's critics, Richter chose music by British composers for three out of these four novelties. The orchestra retained the new players introduced at the previous fall's series, its increased British contingent representing a sort of nineteenth-century

affirmative action program. As in the previous November, however, critics found the musicianship to be sub-standard, especially in the strings. Hermann Klein's annual Richter testimonial in the Sunday Times on May 9, 1886 inaugurated the Richter Concerts' new season. He had a different opinion of the quality of the orchestral playing, noticing their brilliant tone and improved responsiveness to

2In Hanslick, Criticisms, p. 265, it is reported that Richter undertook another provincial tour in the spring, but no date is given. The Richter orchestra traveled to Nottingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Oxford. In the latter city, Richter may have been formally presented with the honorary Doctor of Music degree which Oxford University had sanctioned a short time before. Beginning in May of 1886, the press notices usually refer to the conductor as "Dr. Richter."

3Liszt was in London in March of 1886 for the first time since 1841 to assist at the performance of his oratorio, St. Elizabeth, conducted by Mackenzie at the Albert Hall, in addition to attending several other concerts in his honor. He was received by Queen Victoria also. 201

their esteemed conductor. Any weakness in the string section is far outweighed by other factors. His comments provide some clues revealing the cause of the Viennese conductor's sustained fame and admiration in the English capital:

Apart from its extraordinary sonority of tone, the special peculiarities of the Richter band are purely the outcome of the genius and individuality of its conductor. We know that with the music of certain composers he is capable of producing effect whereof no other chef d'orchestre has mastered the secret. We also know that his marvelous gift of memory is an important, although by no means the sole important, factor in that rare power which enables him to hold the resources of every player in the hollow of his hand. No conductor knows better how things ought to be done; none, perhaps, knows so well how to get his wishes executed. Hence the absolute unity of idea and expression, the remarkable mechanical precision, the beautifully delicate nuances, the perfect contrasts of light and shade that make his orchestra what it is. 4

Klein's remarks, even if he was a Richter partisan, are quite atypical of concert reviews from this period, whether in England or on the continent.5 It was rare, first of all, for so much newspaper space to be devoted primarily to a conductor. Secondly, Richter is spoken of as being quite separate from the musicians under his direction; he is more of a creative force, leading the ensemble rather than being a part of the ensemble. While not an ostentatious leader, he clearly drew attention to himself through the mastery and control he exerted. No longer was it required to have a dynamic, famous guest soloist in order to draw a large audience at an orchestral concert.

But enough is it for me to lay emphasis on the wondrous change wrought in England of recent years in this connection, thanks to such men as Hans Richter. For whereas in former years no sort of concert in London attracted a large gathering unless it brought to the platform a vocal or instrumental "star" distinguished in the musical firmament, we now behold the spectacle of an audience, crowded, alert, and expectant, drawn only by the magic name of a Richter or a Mottl.6

4Sunday Times (London), May 9, 1886, p. 7.

5Klein's complete review, dated May 9, 1886, is given in Appendix E.

6Wilhelm Kuhe, My Musical Recollections (London: Richard Bentley, 1896), p. 279. 202

Klein's review also emphasizes the impartation of Richter's personality on the music, another break with the traditional role of the conductor. Such comments were new to readers who had grown accustomed to the more traditional, anonymous style of conducting which elicited a prosaic response in the press. If Klein is credible, Hans

Richter was treating the orchestra as it had only rarely been treated before--as an instrument to be played by the conductor. Like Hans von Bülow, he was a pioneer in taking complete control of the orchestra, leaving no detail--whether articulation or crescendo or intensity of vibrato--to chance. Only through an assertive manipulation of the ensemble's every note could Richter have stamped his personality on the music, and thereby inspired Klein to write at length about it. The first concert, as mentioned, contained Richter's stock-in-trade selections, and may be passed over for that reason. The second concert on May 10, contained similar fare, but was enlivened by the English premiere of Brahms's Fourth Symphony. Richter had given the Vienna premiere of this work less than four months earlier, yet conducted it by memory in London. Most critics were not sure what to make of the last two movements due to their divergent design, and therefore deferred judgment on the work as a whole. Francis Hueffer of the Times had no such doubts, however, calling it "by far the best" of Brahms's symphonies.7 The first two movements, however, were unanimously extolled by critics as worthy successors to his previous symphonic movements. Loud applause followed each movement at the concert, but Richter refused calls for an encore. Entrusting the English premiere of his final symphony to Richter after the relative lack of success of its premiere under Richter in the composer's adopted city of Vienna reflected Brahms's complete faith in his fellow Hungarian's interpretive genius. An incident which occurred prior to this London premiere illustrates this faith. Six weeks before this second

7Times (London), May 13, 1886. 203

Richter Concert of 1886, Brahms attended a performance of Bach's B minor Mass conducted by Richter at a Gesellschaft Concert in Vienna (March 31). This was the first complete performance of the passion in Vienna, and it was sold out eight days ahead of time. In a letter to his friend Billroth on the day after the concert, Brahms expressed his opinion of Richter: "Whatever else I would have to say about it are subtleties which I rather like to keep to myself when a thing is presented as Richter brings it out, so beautifully, and so with inner spirit. For the quite unimaginable sensations within you afterward, you would have given your entire Abbazia."8 On Monday, May 17, the third concert of the series was held, at which several unusual pieces were played. Berlioz's Overture to an unfinished opera, Les Francs Juges, for which the "March to the Scaffold" from the Symphonie Fantastique had been originally composed, was a new work to Richter, who was continuing his exploration of the ouerve of the arch-romantic French composer. Critics termed the piece "wild and gloomy," and "weirdly sombre," showing the same English trait of disdain for extreme as they showed in their reviews of Liszt's music.9 Also performed were three movements from an unaccompanied by J. S. Bach in an orchestral arrangement by one S. Bachrich. Richter's reputation as a musical purist was well known in London, for he rarely tolerated cuts, even in Wagner's operas, or orchestral transcriptions or arrangements. By presenting this adaptation of a violin sonata by Bach, whose music was deemed untouchable by most contemporaries of Richter, the conductor exposed himself to severe criticism. "We regret to find Herr Richter aiding and abetting such outrageous liberties taken with works which should be sacred to the genius of their

8Hans Barkan, trans. and ed., Johannes Brahms and : Letters from a Musical Friendship (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), pp. 151-52.

9The Musical Times (June 1, 1886), p. 333 and the Sunday Times (London), May 23, 1886. 204

composer."10 Partial redemption for Richter's alleged indiscretion was procured at this third concert by a performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, and by the London premiere of Stanford's Incidental Music to Eumenides. The world premiere of the latter had occurred at Cambridge University only weeks earlier in the context of a performance of the entire play. The same Cambridge undergraduates who sang the difficult Greek choruses at that original performance repeated their stirring interpretation in St. James's Hall, to the delight of both the critics and the capacity crowd in attendance. Richter's contribution did not go unnoticed. "The orchestral interludes were given with that careful attention to detail, combined with noble breadth of conception, to which the great conductor has accustomed us. . . ."11 Stanford was called to the platform twice by hearty applause, and most critics saw this work as a representative manifestation of the genius

of the Irish composer. Moreover, it was the sixth premiere of a work by Stanford

presented in England under Richter's baton within a period of six years, a record which could not be matched even by Manns at the Crystal Palace. Richter greatly admired Stanford's music, which he viewed as the English extension of Brahms's genius. Indeed, the three men had spent time together in the fall of 1885 at the home of Brahms in

Vienna.12 Table two illustrates the degree to which Richter advanced Stanford's music. The only novelty in the fourth concert, on May 24, 1886, was Eugene D'Albert's Symphony No. 1 in F, the world premiere of which had been given the previous December in Dresden, followed by performances in Leipzig in January and Berlin in February. Richter undoubtedly chose the symphony for his London concerts as a result

(June 1, 1886), p. 333. 10The Musical Times

(London), May 19, 1886. Times 11

12This visit is described in Norris, Stanford, pp. 47-48. 205

of its great success in Germany and, perhaps, its recommendation by D'Albert's mentor, Liszt. This was a programming decision which seems meant to have antagonized London's musical connoisseurs, however, for the piece had several strikes against it from the outset. In the first place, the symphony as a form had evolved to a state in 1886 which was threatening to break loose from all its traditional boundaries, and the English were not very receptive to this . Brahms's Fourth Symphony had been hesitatingly welcomed two weeks earlier, and none of Bruckner's symphonies had even been played for an insular audience. (Richter ended this drought with a performance the following year, on May 23, of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony.) The Symphony in F exhibited many modernistic traits, including a cyclic thematic structure and the transfer of the slow introduction from the first movement to the fourth. Making D'Albert's work even less palatable was its extreme length of fifty-five minutes. Neither was his cause helped by his impolitic repudiation, uttered a few years earlier, of the musical training he received while growing up in England. Since that time, he had settled in Germany where he received acclaim as both a pianist and a composer, going so far as to adopt the country as his new homeland. Despite the residual resentment in England over the young man's precipitous departure and disparaging remarks, Richter went to the trouble of securing the score and parts, still in manuscript, for a performance in London. He was once again appealing not to the critics but to his St. James's Hall audience, whose taste for the progressive music of Wagner would, it was hoped, extend to D'Albert's art as well. In this judgment, Richter was basically correct, for while the Symphony in F was panned by most of the press it was "received with a considerable amount of favour" by the public.13 Nevertheless, D'Albert's music was never heard again at a Richter Concert.

13The Musical Times (June 1, 1886), p. 334. 206

Along with music by Beethoven and Berlioz, Frederic Cowen's Liverpool Exhibition Overture was presented at the fifth concert, on May 31. (See the program in

Plate 20.) Cowen's work had received its world premiere at the Liverpool Exhibition of 1885, but was cut short for some reason by the mayor of that city, arousing the ire of many of the composer's friends. Richter's performance constituted not only the London premiere, therefore, but also the first complete performance. It was the first piece by Cowen at a Richter Concert since May 19, 1881, when the composer's highly successful Scandinavian Symphony was played. The Overture was well received by both press and public. Its success represented another important confirmation of Cowen's reputation as a talented musician and composer, which led to his appointment in 1888 as successor to Arthur Sullivan as conductor of the Philharmonic Society in London. Charles Hallé, the great pianist and conductor of his own orchestra in Manchester, returned to St. James's Hall at this same concert to serve as soloist in Beethoven's Fifth

Piano Concerto. Though, at age sixty-seven, an old man then by nineteenth century standards, Hallé continued to be active in London's musical life, especially as a conductor of orchestral music and as a performer of chamber music. As with the other works on the program, the concerto was loudly applauded, as were its interpreters, Richter and Hallé. In a significant break with tradition, Richter presented two long, uninterrupted passages of Wagnerian opera at the sixth concert, rather than brief excerpts. (See the program in Plate 20.) Called a "Grand Wagner Night" and repeated three days later, the concert of June 7 featured all of act two from Tristan und Isolde and most of act three from Siegfried, both of which are, essentially, love-duets. The example for performing long excerpts or entire acts from operas by Wagner had been set by , conductor of the Nouveaux 2 0

Plate 20. Programs of fifth and sixth concerts of Richter Concerts' thirteenth series: May 31 7 and June 7, 1886. 208

Concerts, or Concerts Lamoureux, in .14 Francis Hueffer of the Times encouraged Richter to follow the French musician's lead, rather than perpetuate the practice of giving brief excerpts from the operas, minus the crucial scenic accoutrement, as had been done with Italian opera for decades. According to purists like Hueffer, treating Wagner's music, especially the Ring dramas, the same way was a contravention of its advanced status, wherein the technique of and a continually developing thematic structure made each note inseparable from the whole. Never mind that the composer himself had countenanced performances of excerpts, even conducting some himself, or that performances devoid of the intended stage scenery could never be truly authentic. Whatever the source of the inspiration, Richter's programming for the sixth and seventh concerts, the "Grand Wagner Nights," of this thirteenth series in London certainly formed a radical departure from his standard practice.

Two of the Dresden Royal Opera's leading vocalists were brought to London for these concerts. Therese Malten, the distinguished dramatic soprano who achieved such fame in London during Richter's 1882 season of German opera at Drury Lane Theatre, sang the roles of Isolde and Brünnhilde. The other Dresden star was Heinrich Gudehus, the brilliant tenor who drew praise in 1884 as Tristan, Tannhäuser, Walther von Stolzing and Max at Covent Garden under Richter, interpreting the demanding parts of Tristan and Siegfried. Gudehus was suffering from a bad cold for the "Grand Wagner Night" performances, unfortunately, and apologies from the management had to be proffered on his behalf. Malten, on the other hand, was in excellent voice, and elicited praise for her dramatic conviction and tremendous power. Klein said that her "noble organ was never in grander condition, and she sang with a degree of dramatic intensity and emotional

14It should also be recalled that several long excerpts were performed at the 1877 Wagner Festival. These included large parts of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Die Meistersinger. 209

warmth that was absolutely thrilling."15 These outstanding singers were joined by Pauline Cramer, George Henschel, and George Ritter, as Brangäne, Marke, and Melot, respectively. All were extolled in the press, and the audience had a difficult time holding their applause to the end of each program. The Musical Times devoted several lines to the impressive achievements of the instrumentalists and Richter:

In such works as those . . . , the orchestra stands first, and for this the greatest Wagnerian conductor of the day fully answered. The intricate, sometimes perplexing, texture of Wagner's instrumental music could not have been more fully revealed, or the composer's intentions more clearly carried out.16

In programming these huge operatic monoliths, Richter had taken a chance--even if Lamoureux had set the precedent--and everything had turned out beautifully.17 The next concert, a benefit for Hermann Franke on June 16, was given in the Albert Hall. It was an unusual Wednesday afternoon performance, which featured an all-Wagner program. Eleven excerpts, including a few vocal selections, were played in the concert, which lasted three hours. While the huge Albert Hall was not filled, it housed a very large gathering on this occasion, counting among its patrons many of London's elite musical citizenry. The orchestra was expanded to 150 members, seen then as an acoustical necessity in a hall which could seat twelve thousand. Richter was thus returning to the venue where he began his English conducting career in 1877, and with much the same musical armor. However, this time Wagner was not at his side. Nor was

15Klein, Musical Life, p. 190.

16The Musical Times (July 1, 1886), p. 402.

17The affirming comments by Klein and others differed sharply with those of Hanslick, who was visiting London in 1886. "I find Tristan und Isolde a mixed blessing in the theatre; to hear it in the concert hall is sheer martyrdom. There was something almost comical about a bald, bespectacled Tristan and a fashionably groomed Isolde singing their long love duet from notes, stiffly rising up from and settling down into their arm-chairs like a couple of buckets in a well." (Hanslick, Criticisms, p. 266.) See full commentary by Hanslick in Appendix D. 210

he missed, at least not his physical presence, since Richter ably managed to conduct all of the excerpts himself, to the great appreciation of critics and public. The problems which had plagued the string section in prior seasons had vanished by this time, judging from a notice in the Sunday Times by Klein: "The precision, steadiness, and pure intonation of the violins and the unity and refinement of their phrasing made an indescribably fine effect."18 The only problem was a Wagnerian surfeit, since this represented Richter's third consecutive concert at which only Wagner was played. Most of his audience desired this Wagnerian saturation, however, so only some disgruntled critics complained. Chief among these was Eduard Hanslick, the dean of Vienna's music critics, who was in London at this time. To him, it was impossible for Richter to program too much of Beethoven's or Brahms's music, or too little of Wagner's.

As far as Richter's Wagner cult is concerned, however, I find the objections of some of the English critics well-founded. The recent extra-concert in the Albert Hall [June 16], when Richter offered excerpts from all of Wagner's operas, from Rienzi to the Ring, three hours of it, was bad enough. But it was nothing compared with the Richter concert, given on two successive evenings in St. James's Hall [June 7, 10], which consisted of the entire, uncut second act of Tristan und Isolde and the third act of Siegfried. This represents not only an immoderate but also a false form of Wagnerism, since Wagner's last operas, particularly, cannot do without the scenic setting.19

A performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, the Vienna premiere of which Richter conducted three months earlier, was planned for the eighth concert on June 21. At the last minute, though, it had to be abandoned due to Richter's indisposition; he was suffering from such a sore throat that he could not adequately lead a rehearsal of it. This resulted in a very hackneyed program of Weber's Overture to Euryanthe, Beethoven's Overture to Leonora, and the same composer's Sixth Symphony. Some brief Wagnerian

(London), June 20, 1886. 18Sunday Times p. 266. Criticisms, Hanslick,19 211

excerpts were also given. Bruckner's work did not make it on to the program of the final concert either, and many were disappointed. Apparently, Richter's hoarseness precluded effective communication in rehearsal again, so rather than risk a weakened performance, it was postponed again. This incident reflects Richter's total reliance on rehearsal to produce desired results in performance. Other conductors put some stock in other factors such as the provision of extra time for musicians' individual practice, and also invested great faith in the principle of "performance inspiration." This meant that the conductor would trust the natural production of adrenaline in a concert environment to inspire players to be at their best, and this delicate influence could be sabotaged by over-rehearsal. Richter subscribed to the theory, espoused by Wagner in his essay on conducting, that the conductor should "speak" through his baton in performance, but he drew the line there. He was just pedantic enough to depend on verbal instructions to convey and reinforce his gestures, and these could only be given in rehearsal, bad though his English may have been. With new music such as Bruckner's symphony, he believed that a healthy voice was absolutely essential, and, lacking this, Richter replaced the Viennese composer's new work with Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. As was done in the fall of 1885, the Richter chorus was strengthened by the addition of some excellent singers from the Leeds Festival Choir. This group was directed by Sir Arthur Sullivan in Leeds, and considering the acrimonious relationship between him and Richter, it is hard to understand how an agreement to share singers could have been reached. The augmentation proved an enormous aid, as public and press alike expressed ebullient approval following the performance of June 28. Attendance was down, however, resulting in disappointing profits. This had been the case for the last three concerts of this thirteenth series, though there was more at these performances of what the public had usually turned out 212

for--Wagner and Beethoven--than at the previous ones. Some attributed the drop-off to the strange phenomenon that when gave her final performance of her London season, the public, believing the entire concert season to be over, stopped patronizing musical events. In 1886, Patti's final performance was at the Albert Hall in

June, leaving three concerts left in Richter's series. CHAPTER TWELVE RICHTER'S REMAINING YEARS IN ENGLAND, 1887-1911

Having established himself as a world renowned conductor through ten years of eventful concerts in England and continued concertizing in Vienna, Hans Richter solidified and enhanced this reputation during his remaining years in England. The Richter Concerts, by which most Londoners came to know and love the conductor, continued through the season of 1902. They were supported year after year by a public which remained hungry for German music, although the competition presented by Henschel's London Symphony Concerts, the concerts of the London Philharmonic Society, Manns's Crystal Palace Concerts, Hallé's concerts in London with his Manchester orchestra, and, beginning in 1895, by 's very popular Promenade

Concerts at Queen's Hall did cause changes. From 1887 through 1893, the Richter

Concerts dispensed with a fall series, and the spring-summer series was gradually reduced in length from a total of nine concerts which had prevailed since 1880, to six in 1892 and 1893. The fall concerts resumed in 1894, never to be interrupted again, but beginning with this year the spring-summer series saw a further truncation, to four concerts, and only three or four were given annually thereafter. As with the fall series during the years 1883-86, three Richter Concerts per season continued to be offered in London during the months of October and November, from 1894 until the expiration of the enterprise in 1902. Actually, it is difficult to affix a firm ending date for the Richter Concerts because, even after their announced termination in 1902, Richter continued to give orchestral concerts in London, and, as late as 1904, was still calling them "Richter

213 214

Concerts." These later performances featured the Hallé Orchestra from Manchester, however, which Richter frequently took on tour. Throughout the remaining sixteen years of the Richter Concerts proper, from 1887 until 1902, London concert-goers continued to pack St. James's Hall in anticipation of hearing the greatest of German music conducted by the man revered as the greatest living interpreter of that musical tradition, Hans Richter. Overlapping his activity with orchestral concerts in the capital, Richter continued to serve as principal conductor of the Birmingham Triennial Festival. He retained this position until 1909, for a total of twenty-five years. While not equalling the tenure of his dictatorial predecessor, Sir Michael Costa, this was, nevertheless, a very long time to serve as the chief conductor of a large provincial music festival in England. Richter's years in Birmingham were important for several reasons. In the first place, the provincial setting allowed for more emphasis on British music, especially contemporary works.

Secondly, they brought the Hungarian-born Richter into closer contact with British musicians. Not only was native composition featured, but native singers and instrumentalists also predominated, producing a closer connection between the conductor and the entire fabric of musical culture in England. Richter came to know more about this native English culture--especially as it applied to the training of musicians--through his first few festivals in Birmingham than he had learned in all his previous London activities, where German musicians were more common. Thirdly, his leadership in this smoky, industrial metropolis endeared him to the common people in a way that was not possible through concertizing exclusively in the capital. By embracing and defending the festival's promulgation of British music and musicians, and, by extension, the uniquely British philosophy that the experience of choral singing represents music's greatest 215

value--a means of educating the masses in the nation's cultural tradition--Richter won the hearts of Englishmen. Hans Richter's experience as an operatic conductor in England resumed after a hiatus of nearly twenty years in 1903 at Covent Garden, and continued until 1910. Paramount among his many achievements on the London stage were his interpretations of Wagner's operas, especially those from the Ring, full cycles of which were given in 1903, 1905 and every year thereafter through 1910. The first production of the Ring in English occurred in the winter season of 1908, and stands as one of Richter's greatest achievements in England. The fact that the goal of a permanent national opera for England, which he pursued in conjunction with his close friend, Percy Pitt, was never realized, does not diminish this great triumph. A larger goal was achieved; German opera was made available to England's opera lovers in a way that had not been possible with German-language productions.

Following the last of the official Richter Concerts in 1902, Richter maintained his assiduous activity with strictly orchestral performances in two separate ways. He headed the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester from 1899 until 1911, and, in 1904, was named as the founding conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, with whom he also stayed until his retirement from English concert life in 1911. His accomplishments were numerous with both institutions, notwithstanding some disputes with detractors in Manchester, and it would be impossible to enumerate them all. In these final years of his glorious career,

Richter had garnered as much fame and power as it was possible to have as a conductor. He was aggressively sought after by new composers seeking an esteemed interpreter of their works, not the least of whom was Edward Elgar. Under his tutelage, the Hallé Orchestra regained, and in some ways surpassed, the glory it had enjoyed when its founder, Charles Hallé, had been in control. Exactly what this gifted conductor did in 216

raising the standard of orchestral musicianship in England is difficult to measure, but much of this progress occurred during his years with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Hallé. Testimonials from his players show him to have been a musician's conductor in every sense, primarily due to his own mastery of so many orchestral instruments, but also because of his great love and empathy for musicians. Limitations of space preclude an exhaustive examination of Richter's activity with all of the institutions listed above. This is particularly true of the years from 1904 until 1909 when he was involved with German opera at Covent Garden, the nascent London Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, and the Birmingham Triennial Festival. (See table four for a list of Richter's official conducting positions in England.) Still, it will be valuable to look at some of the more remarkable performances of his last twenty-five years in England before ending this study. In this final chapter, an emphasis will be placed on Richter's legacy to the musical life of the island nation to which he was so devoted. Testimonials from his players and opinions of music critics and other conductors will help to define this legacy. 217

Table 4

Hans Richter's Conducting Positions in England 1877 - 1911

Institution or Event Resident City Tenure

Wagner Festival London May, 1877

Richter Concerts London 1879-1902

German Opera, Drury Lane Theatre London May-June, 1882

German Opera, Covent Garden London 1884; 1903-1910

Triennial Festival Birmingham 1885-1909

Hallé Orchestra Manchester 1899-1911

London Symphony Orchestra London 1904-1911

Appendix F shows premier performances conducted by Richter during 1887-1908, with primary focus on his own orchestral series in London. A cursory review reveals that one or two novelties were given each season, a figure not dissimilar from the average for the previous ten years of these concerts. Exceptions occurred during 1890 and 1892-94 when no world or English premieres took place. The years 1887 and 1899 are noteworthy for a very different reason, however, as each saw the unveiling of at least five new works. In the former year, Richter wrote to his friend, Dvorák, requesting the score of the Symphonic Variations, composed ten years earlier but never heard outside of the composer's Bohemian homeland. (Curiously, the correspondence between composer and conductor in this year was in English, instead of their usual German.) Dvorák gladly sent it to London, and Richter immeditely inserted it in his scheme of 1887 Richter Concerts. It was played on May 16, which was the first 218

concert of the season. The conductor's boundless enthusiasm for the ten-year-old composition is revealed in a letter to the composer.

Dear and honored Friend, I have just come from the first rehearsal of my third concert, at which we are to play your Symphonic Variations, and I am absolutely carried away. It is a magnificent work! I am so happy to be the first to produce it in London. But why have you held it back so long? These Variations should shine in the first rank of your compositions. You shall have an account of the performance very soon. With hearty greetings, Yours, Hans Richter It will be included in the programme of the next Philharmonic Concert in Vienna.1

By this time, Dvorák's music was extremely popular in England, mainly because of the efforts of Richter and August Manns, but also because of the composer's own appearances before insular audiences. Not surprisingly, the Symphonic Variations were lauded by press and public as a further confirmation of the Bohemian composer's genius, and Richter made it one of the staples of his repertoire. As promised, he took the work to Vienna, where it was also well received after the Austrian premiere of Dec. 4, 1887. As had been done for the London premiere, Richter performed the work using Dvorák's manuscript score and parts, for the piece had not yet been published by Simrock. The occasion of the Vienna premiere made it mutually convenient for the two men to meet at Richter's home in Vienna, where Dvorák actually stayed for several days, to review the work together. This rendezvous abetted the rendering of the Symphonic Variations at the Vienna premiere no doubt, but it also brought the friendship between the composer and the conductor to a deeper level. Two significant events occurred at the next Richter Concert of May 23, 1887. The first was the English premiere of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, the Vienna

1Newmarch, "Letters", p. 698. 219

premiere of which Richter had conducted a year earlier (March 21, 1886). Richter had planned to give the piece in the previous year in England, but his illness prevented it. This was, despite the one-year delay, the first of the Viennese composer's symphonies to be brought before an English audience, and was a natural result of the successful presentation of the work in several German cities under Richter's fellow Wagnerian disciples Artur Nikisch, Hermann Levi, and Felix Mottl. Richter had not been an advocate of Bruckner's music before this time, causing much pain to the composer, who is said to have referred to the leader of the Vienna Philharmonic as "the generalissimo of deceit."2 Nevertheless, it speaks well of Richter's allegiance to his fellow Viennese citizen that he would even attempt a performance in England after the Vienna premiere, for Hanslick and Kalbeck had unleashed diatribes against the music and its creator. Richter was always more responsive to public rather than critical opinion, however, and the Viennese public were beginning to recognize Bruckner as a symphonist of comparable skill to their adopted son, Brahms. Knowing that musical taste was similar in his London and Viennese audiences, Richter figured on a good chance of success in bringing the Seventh Symphony across the channel with him. Unfortunately, its reception was very cold in London, as typified in the Times's notice of May 26, 1887.

Over-elaboration seems to be his besetting sin; when once he has caught hold of a theme, he twists and turns and "inverts" it, till at last the ear longs for a breath of fresh melodious air. . . . Of the scherzo we cannot speak well; it is a kind of mixture of the "'s Ride" and the first movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and there is little of the lightness which gives its raison d'etre to a scherzo. The finale

2Many scholars ignore the fact that Richter gave one of the earliest performances of a Bruckner symphony in Vienna. On Feb. 20, 1881, when the composer was a virtual unknown, Richter gave the world premiere of the Fourth Symphony (the revised version of 1880) with the Vienna Philharmonic in a concert for the benefit of the Deutschen Schulverein. 220

appeared so long and diffuse that after a first hearing it left no definite impression on the mind.3

Similarly the Musical Times panned the work, but also expressed sympathy for the composer. "There is reason for unfeigned regret at the failure of the much-vaunted Symphony, since every man with a heart in him must desire success for a composer of sixty-three, who has vainly struggled after fame all his life." 4 Despite this setback, Richter continued to champion Bruckner's music in both Vienna and England. This was especially true in the Austrian capital, where the , the Sixth Symphony, the Fourth Symphony (third revision of 1887/88), the Third Symphony (third revision of 1889), the First Symphony (1891 version), the Eighth Symphony (1890 version), and the Second Symphony (1890 version) all received premiere performances under Richter between 1886 and 1894. The other significant event at the Richter Concert of May 23, 1887 had nothing to do with a novelty in the program. Rather, one of the only instances of a memory failure by Richter occurred when, during the performance of Brahms's Academic Festival Overture, he began the alla breve section two bars early. Francis Hueffer of the Times explains what happened.

Conducting without book he missed the cue for the change of beat, the result being temporary confusion. Whatever slight disappointment might have been felt through this contretemps was amply made up for by the novel sensation of making the acquaintance of Herr Richter in the capacity of a public orator, the great conductor delivering a neat little speech in which he took all the blame to himself.5

The Overture was repeated, and all went well the second time. This incident has become one of the most frequently cited anecdotes in the literature on Richter since it so

3Times (London), May 26, 1887.

4The Musical Times (June 1, 1887), p. 343.

(London), May 26, 1887. Times 5 221

demonstrably attests to his humility. It reminds us also of the fact that he was conducting without score before this was a common practice. Many of his peers on the podiums of European concert halls were making similarly egregious errors with a score in front of them. The fifth concert of this fifteenth series of London orchestral concerts under Richter's baton featured the first London performance of Hubert Parry's Symphony in F. It had been given previously by the Cambridge University Musical Society, by whom it was commissioned, but the London premiere brought forward a revised version. Similarly, the Musical Times spoke highly of the new Symphony, with one caveat.

The Symphony shows a tendency towards diffuseness, for which Dr. Parry should be hereafter on the watch, and we are the more concerned to impress this upon him because of a conviction that he may soon be capable of the highest achievements as a symphonic writer. Dr. Parry is on the move upwards and decidedly worth reasoning with.6

This was the first composition by Parry of which Richter conducted a premiere performance, but others would follow as appendix F shows. The works of two other British composers received premiere performances in Richter's memorable 1887 orchestral concerts in London. Frederic Cowen's Fifth

Symphony was played for the first time in London on June 13, and the world premiere of Stanford's Irish Symphony was presented on June 27. This was only the third performance of a work by Cowen at a Richter Concert, but it was the second premiere in two years. Clearly, this was a composer on the rise in his native land, for ever since the premiere of his Scandanavian Symphony in 1880, his popularity was increasing.

Richter, who conducted the Austrian premiere of the Scandanavian in early 1882 with the composer in attendance, may have heard of the success of his orchestral suite The Language of Flowers, or of Cowen's oratorios St. Ursula and Ruth. The conductor most

6The Musical Times (July 1, 1887), p. 409. 222

certainly heard the world premiere performance of Cowen's cantata, The , given under the composer's baton at the Birmingham Festival of 1885. Cowen's Fifth Symphony, like Parry's symphony in the same key, was given its world premiere by the Cambridge University Musical Society, thus diminishing somewhat the luster of Richter's performance. The Musical Times said that the work was "a genuine triumph of native art." It contained a "profundity of feeling, and sympathetic character of utterance such as are found only in the productions of genius."7 There was to be a lapse of ten years, however, before another work by Cowen would be presented at a Richter Concert. Perhaps a rift occurred in the relationship between the two men as a result of their competing orchestral concerts in London; Cowen was director of the London Philharmonic Society, in succession to Arthur Sullivan, from 1888 through 1891. The Philharmonic Society and the Richter Concerts shared St. James's Hall and many of the same orchestral musicians.

The Irish Symphony by Charles Villiers Stanford was played for the first time in public at the eighth concert of Richter's fifteenth London series. As is shown in table two, this was yet another in a long list of premiere performances of Stanford's music given by Richter. As conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, the composer could have accomplished for his own Symphony what he did for those of Parry and Cowen in 1887 by giving the premiere in Cambridge. However, he turned to his friend, Hans Richter, for this purpose, and it turned out to be a propitious decision, as the Irish Symphony was warmly received by the London press. Richter saw fit to repeat the work in London in the following year (May 14, 1888). It is easy to imagine how the Irish composer's musical conservatism and love of Brahms's music would have endeared him to Richter; they were kindred spirits.

7The Musical Times (July 1, 1887), p. 409. 223

The Richter Concerts of 1888 were far less interesting in terms of repertoire than those of 1887. The most important novelty was Alexander Mackenzie's Overture to Twelfth Night, given its world premiere on June 4, and repeated on June 11. These were the fourth and fifth performances of works by the Scottish composer under Richter's baton in London in a span of six years. Mackenzie had succeeded Sir George Macfarren as principal of the Royal Academy of Music in February of 1888, so his name was already in the news before this premiere performance. Richter was attracted to

Mackenzie's music because of its German influence; the composer had been trained in Germany, and his works share many common elements with those of Schumann, Liszt and Wagner. Strangely, this was the last work by Mackenzie to be played in the Richter Concerts. The only other significant aspect of Richter's 1888 season in London was the continued deterioration of the chorus. For some reason, perhaps the fault of the chorus-master, Theodor Frantzen, the singers did not measure up to the quality of the orchestral musicians. "The body itself is ill-balanced, uncertain in attack, untuneful in its utterances, and in all respects the very antithesis of the character of the orchestra."8 The year 1888 also saw the Birmingham premiere of Arthur Sullivan's oratorio, The Golden Legend. In view of the harshly critical words written by the composer about

Hans Richter four years earlier, it is amazing that this performance even materialized. Nevertheless, the oratorio was given on Aug. 29 as one of the featured novelties of Richter's second year as chief conductor of the festival. Judging from the notice in The Athenaeum, Sullivan was not the only combatant regarding this performance and its conductor.

Even a performance of the most successful English work of the period, Sir Arthur Sullivan's Golden Legend, could not be given without an unseemly dispute, brought about, it must be confessed, by a breach of good manners on the part of the [Birmingham Festival] committee, and some ill advised remarks which, it is fair to

8The Musical Times (Aug. 1, 1888), p. 457. 224

assume, were uttered on the spur of the moment, and should not have been made public. The result of the unfortunate episode, musically, was a rendering which would certainly have gained had Herr Richter been more familiar with the composer's intentions.9

Common sense leads to the surmise that it was the Festival Committee in Birmingham, rather than their chief conductor, who proposed the performance of Sullivan's oratorio. Richter had every right to be opposed to it on the basis of Sullivan's unabashed hostility towards him. The lack of communication between the two men inevitably undermined the quality of the performance, which must have grated on the nerves of the proud conductor, and exacerbated an already poor relationship. (Among his collegial relationships, only Richter's association with Hugo Wolf was worse than that with Sullivan.) Sullivan was uncooperative about this performance for several reasons. First and foremost, he resented Richter for being an "intrusive, over-praised foreigner."10 Secondly, his permission had not been solicited for this performance. Thirdly, he objected to a preliminary announcement in Birmingham which stated that The Golden Legend "would be executed, probably for the first time, in all its grandeur and beauty."11 He wrote a letter of protest to the festival committee, which was published in the Times on the first day of the festival. Arthur Jacobs suggests that "Sullivan, who did not attend, must have been gratified" at the flawed performance since he had not approved it to occur in the first place.12

9Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (Oct. 1, 1888), p. 14.

10Jacobs, Sullivan, p. 269.

11Jacobs, Sullivan, p. 269.

12Jacobs, Sullivan, p. 269. 225

Following the world premiere of Parry's oratorio, Judith, given at the Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1888, Richter requested that the composer write a new symphony for his London concerts of the following year. The result was the Symphony in E minor, of which Richter conducted the world premiere on July 1, 1889. It was very well received by the crowd in St. James's Hall, and the composer "was called to the platform and vociferously applauded."13 It was the second world premiere in two years of a symphony by Parry under the Viennese conductor's baton, yet it was the last of Parry's works to be given in the Richter Concerts. What was true of Stanford's music in England's concert life was also true of Parry's: "Most of his works received one or more performances shortly after their composition, although there were no regular repetitions of his major works, largely because of the late nineteenth-century convention which paid greater attention to first performances."14 Richter was as bound by this convention as any conductor in England. While he should not be completely exonerated of a failure to program second and third performances of native works, and thereby encourage a less ephemeral appreciation for English music among the masses, Richter 's obsession with premiere performances simply marks him as a typically ambitious conductor of his time. After an uneventful series of Richter Concerts in 1890, when the programs were again dominated by Beethoven and Wagner, three new works were presented in the spring-summer concerts of 1891. The first was the Overture to The Barber of Baghdad by , given on June 1. It was so well received that Richter repeated it at the fifth concert, on June 22. This work had seen its first performance in Vienna two years earlier, also under Richter's direction, although it had been performed in Weimar as

13The Musical Times (Aug. 1, 1889), p. 473.

14New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1980 ed., s. v. "Stanford, Charles Villiers," by Frederick Hudson. 226

far back as 1858, under Liszt. Bruckner's Third Symphony was given on June 29, the sixth concert of the series, for the first time in England. (See the program in Plate 21.) As with the composer's other works produced in England, it met with an initially unfavorable response. Bruckner's music was too long and thematically diffuse for British listeners at this point in time. His reception as a composer in England was in marked contrast to that as an organist, for he had been widely acclaimed in the latter capacity in London in the summer of 1871. Twenty years later, most Londoners were unable to appreciate him as a composer. Recognizing the futility of the effort, Richter never performed Bruckner's music again in the remaining eleven years of his Richter Concerts. Charles Villiers Stanford's setting of Thomas Campbell's ballad, The Battle of the Baltic, was given its world premiere at the ninth and final concert of Richter's 1891 London season, on July 20. (See the program in Plate 22.) The Musical Times praised this new piece for chorus and orchestra from the pen of the Irish composer.

The prevailing characteristics of the music are breeziness and vigor that never degenerate into boisterousness or vulgarity. . . . A national ring combined with singular picturesqueness of orchestration pervades the whole. The comparative brevity of the composition has not precluded Professor Stanford exhibiting the higher qualities of his art in divers places, and, as the choral portion is generally straightforward and of a grateful nature, there can be little doubt that during the winter we shall frequently hear of The Battle of the Baltic. Its success under the baton of Dr. Richter, who was able to secure a fair, though not altogether blameless, performance, was decided, and the composer was warmly congratulated at the close.15

15The Musical Times (Aug. 1, 1891), p. 473. 227 Plate 21. Program of sixth concert of Richter Concerts' nineteenth series: June 29, 1891. concert of Richter Concerts' nineteenth series: June Plate 21. Program of sixth Plate 22. Program of ninth concert of Richter Concerts' nineteenth series: July 20, 1891. 228 229

Stanford's fame continued to soar as his oratorio, Eden, set to Robert Bridges's poetic adaptation of Milton's early sketches for Paradise Lost, received its first hearing at the Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1891. It was given under the composer's direction just three months after Richter's presentation of The Battle of the Baltic, and undoubtedly impressed the Viennese musician, who was still the festival's primary conductor, as much as anyone in Birmingham. From 1892 through 1894 there was very little new music, British or otherwise, played at the Richter Concerts. Programs were dominated by Beethoven and Wagner even more heavily than in previous years, and all pretense of a catholic taste was abandoned. Liszt, Schumann, and Brahms were occasionally heard, along with infrequent performances of Dvorák, Berlioz, Goldmark, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. It was now clear to the manager of the Richter Concerts, Mr. N. Vert, that the one sure way to fill St. James's Hall was to program nothing but Wagner's music, and this was done about one concert per series. Competition from the several other orchestral institutions in the metropolis was responsible, indirectly, for the regressive programming during these years, for it compelled Richter to retreat to a narrow niche of proven crowd-drawing repertoire for survival. A law of musical economics seemed to be in force during this period of the Richter Concerts--the more Wagner on the program, the more seats would be filled in the hall. Competition may also have caused the number of concerts per series to be reduced to four beginning in 1894. The most important concert of the twenty-fourth series of Richter Concerts occurred on May 27, 1895 in St. James's Hall. (See the program in Plate 23.) Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony was played for the first time under Richter in the English capital. He had given the Vienna premiere less than three months earlier. Hanslick, who had so viciously dismissed the Russian composer's earlier works, was

Plate 23. Program of second concert of Richter Concerts' twenty-fourth series: May 27, 1895. concert of Richter Concerts' twenty-fourth series: Plate 23. Program of second

230 231

more tolerant of the Symphony, calling it "fundamentally Western, revealing a nobler mind." However, he objected to the third movement, which was "disturbing to listeners and players alike. . . . Moreover, it is superfluous, since the piece could be perfectly well adapted to six-eight time."16 In programming this work just over one year after the London premiere had been given (under Mackenzie at a Philharmonic Concert on Feb. 28, 1894), Richter conferred his powerful stamp of approval, which the Symphony needed if it was to become an enduring part of the orchestral repertoire. The relatively unknown piece was generally praised in London, by both Richter's audience and the press. "Tchaikovsky's noble, picturesque, and moving work received a rendering that intensified the barbaric splendor and passion which were noted as among its prominent characteristics when it was first played."17 Richter repeated the Symphony at the first concert of his twenty-fifth series (Oct. 21, 1895), and then took it on tour to

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Bradford. In Birmingham, where Richter had been bringing his London orchestra annually since the season of 1886-87, the Sixth Symphony enjoyed great success.

The music is indeed touching in the extreme, the themes are original--their treatment strikingly so. Its difficulties must be enormous, and only such an orchestra can give the necessary coloring and interpretation. No work for years has impressed us so deeply, and it almost seemed to us that the composer must have had some presage of his coming death when he penned such music.18

This concert also featured the world premiere of Stanford's Piano Concerto in G, played by . As the Irish composer's initial foray into the realm of the piano concerto, this work needed a staunch advocate such as Richter. The slow movement received most of the press's attention "by reason of its depth and sincerity of

16Quoted in Norris, Stanford, p. 502.

17The Musical Times (July 1, 1895), p. 455.

18The Birmingham Mail, Oct. 30, 1895. 232

expression and the breadth and dignity of its melodic outline and harmonic progressions." The themes of the other two movements, on the other hand, did not seem worthy of "the bold handling and undeniably clever treatment to which they are subjected."19 In the remaining seven years of Richter Concerts in London, no music by Stanford was performed. While the Viennese conductor did conduct eight premiere performances in London of Stanford's works, this may also be seen as a lack of true support, for composers like Stanford hungered for second and third performances of their music so as to secure lasting status for them in the orchestral repertoire. History must record that Richter never performed a Stanford composition in London which did not carry the notoriety of being a premiere of some kind; of the eight pieces which were given (including the opera, Savonarola), only one, the Irish Symphony, was given a second performance under his baton. Dvorák composed three within the first four months of 1896:

The Water Goblin (op. 107), The Noon Witch (op. 108), and The Golden (op. 109). Richter read reports of the new compositions in the newspapers while conducting at Bayreuth in August, and immediately wrote to his Bohemian friend to find out about their availability for either his London or Vienna concerts in the fall. In reply, Dvorák said "I am as delighted as a child at the prospect of hearing these works conducted by you."20 The renowned conductor wanted to present world premiere performances of all three works in London during the fall of 1896, but he explained in a letter to Dvorák that this depended on whether the parts were received in time. They needed to be in hand by Oct. 16, explained Richter, because the concerts were scheduled for Oct. 20, 26, and Nov. 2. He also promised that at least one of the symphonic poems

19The Musical Times (July 1, 1895), p. 455.

20Newmarch, "Letters", p. 795. 233

would be given in Vienna and each venue of his 1896 British provincial tour. The first two works (op. 107 and 108) were programmed for the first concert of the fall series in London, but were replaced at the last minute "for purposes of revision," according to The Musical Times,21 by the same composer's Scherzo Capriccioso, the Vienna premiere of which Richter had given on Dec. 5, 1886. It is not known whether the composer actually withdrew the pieces for revision, the parts did not arrive in time, or insufficient rehearsal time caused Richter to cancel them. The Golden Spinning Wheel was given its world premiere at the second fall concert, as originally planned, and was taken on the conductor's ensuing tour of the provinces. It evoked an unusually cool response from critics, one of whom called it "an absolutely dull and irritating work." There was some consolation in Dvorák's "exquisite orchestration, his easy flow of tune, [and] his ever-welcome rhythmical swing." Still, it lacked "a single stirring moment . . . and the audience all but 'declined' the work."22 A similar opinion was accorded the new piece by a Birmingham critic. "The composition is too long and almost wearisome, and had it not been given with such wonderful graphic power the enthusiasm of the audience would not have been so great."23 Richter's second fall concert also featured one of the earliest performances of Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel in England, and, in contrast to Dvorák's new work, it was given a warm welcome. Also given at this long concert of Oct. 26 was another performance of the Pathétique Symphony by Tchaikovsky, whose works Richter was now frequently playing in both Vienna and London. (His performance of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, on May 18,

21 The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1896), p. 739.

22The Musical Times (Dec. 1, 1896), p. 807.

23The Birmingham Mail, Oct. 29, 1896. 234

1896, also assisted greatly in giving it the legitimacy required to make it a staple of the repertoire in London.) At the first Richter Concert of the twenty-eighth series, on May 24, 1897, two items are worthy of description. The English premiere of Strauss's was presented under Richter's baton in St. James's Hall. The result was an unusual mixture of praise from most critics and disinterest from the public. "It bewildered the audience," according to The Musical Times, and was only a moderate success.

Yet the wonderful orchestration, full of the most brilliant colors and remarkable effects, the glowing passion pervading almost every bar, the ease with which the young composer mounts from climax to climax, and last, but by no means least, the beauty and strength of some of the themes should have appealed to a cultured audience; and we are of opinion that further acquaintance with such a complicated and wonderfully clever work will prove of advantage both to composer and public.24

Richter had given the Vienna premiere of Don Juan on Jan. 10, 1892, and followed this with Tod und Verklärung on Jan. 15, 1893, Till Eulenspiegel on Jan. 5, 1896, and Also

Sprach Zarathustra on March 21, 1897--all Vienna premieres. If there was any lingering doubt as to his ability to stand up to Hanslick and Kalbeck, who were critical of Strauss, Richter extinguished it through his consistent advocacy of Strauss's music in Vienna and abroad.

On the surface, the other pivotal event at this concert does not appear very significant. Richter again performed Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony, a work which was achieving a remarkable degree of popularity in London and elsewhere. The striking event in this performance occurred right before the second movement, which is in 5/4 time. Richter placed his baton on his conducting desk, gave the first beat to the musicians, and then allowed the orchestra to play the entire movement without the guidance of his hands. This uncharacteristic bit of theatrical display greatly impressed

24 The Musical Times (July 1, 1897), p. 463. 235

the audience, and, surprisingly, many of the critics. The Musical Times was not particularly surprised that the orchestra could play as well as it did without the benefit of Richter's hand gestures. "We have ourselves on many occasions been under the spell of that genial eye of Dr. Richter's and know that he can effect more with a look than some conductors can with hands, and feet, and baton."25 Wagner's favorite conductor, Anton Seidl, happened to be in the London audience for this performance of the Pathétique, in the company of the Sunday Times critic, Hermann Klein. The brilliant Wagnerian conductor was not pleased by Richter's conducting stunt, as Klein recounts.

Seidl knit his brows and looked stern, but did not utter a word till the room was ringing with applause. Then he turned to me and said: "I wish he had not done that. It was to show that, in spite of the awkward rhythm, his men could keep perfectly together without the beat, and maintain the necessary precision all through the movement. So they did; but the result was a very machine-like performance. It was much less crisp and animated than it would have been if Richter had conducted it with his arm as well as with his eyes!" 26

The audience reaction in Birmingham, where Richter performed the Symphony as part of that city's 1897 Triennial Festival, was wildly enthusiastic. As in the London performance, he did not conduct the second movement. "At the end of this movement the audience and orchestra broke out into a perfect furore of applause, such as we have never heard on a Festival morning."27 It is surprising that Richter, ever the purist, would have indulged in such a circus-style gimmick. At the next concert of the spring series, on May 31, Richter conducted the world premiere of Cowen's Sixth Symphony, the Idyllic. The composer was now one of the most famous of England's native conductors, having taken the reins of Ha116's

25The Musical Times (July 1, 1897), p. 463.

26Klein, Musical Life, p. 409.

27The Birmingham Mail, Oct. 8, 1897. 236

Manchester orchestra after its founder's death in 1895 and of the Liverpool Philharmonic in 1896. (Richter was to replace Cowen as conductor in Manchester in 1899.) He was also chief conductor of the Bradford Festival Choral Society beginning in 1897. Notwithstanding his recently elevated standing among British conductors, Cowen was still struggling to gain respect as a composer. Critics were not especially thrilled by the new symphony, but it was acknowledged that, in an era when program music was grabbing most of the musical headlines, it was not easy to capture the affections of modern listeners with abstract music. (Hanslick's had been thoroughly refuted by this time, at least in practice, by the plethora of programmatic works in the repertoire.) "Cowen's symphony contains a great deal worthy of admiration and closer study; it betrays in every bar the loving care of a thoughtful musician, whose utterances command respect if they do not cause immediate general admiration."28

As with Stanford, most of Cowen's works conducted by Richter carried the distinction of being premiere performances, potentially bringing as much acclaim to the conductor as to the composer. Only once in the twenty-four year history of the Richter Concerts was a non-premiere performance given of one of his compositions. The Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1897 gives us further insight into Hans Richter's conducting career in England. Since 1885 the Austro-Hungarian conductor had been the festival's chef d'orchestre, and his contribution, except for minor details, was perennially beyond reproach. Even his interpretation of Mendelssohn's Elijah, for which he had been accused early in his tenure of having no affinity, was being regularly praised. Likewise, revelatory performances of Handel's Messiah were being consistently led by Richter, once he was allowed to use the edition instead of the older Michael Costa version. In 1897, however, there were dissenting voices--if only

28The Musical Times (July 1, 1897), p. 463. 237

occasional ones. The cries against his rendering of Mendelssohn's great oratorio were loud and clear after the performance on Oct. 9. He was accused of inattention to the chorus, the eternal nemesis of an orchestral conductor, in a review worthy of quoting at length because of its unusually blunt castigation of the conductor.

In the opening choruses and, indeed, until after luncheon, the voices were flat, and there was a want of animation in parts where much life and expression are expected and which are essential to a fine dramatic exposition of the work. This was, in a very great way, due to Dr. Richter's taking the tempo too slow in many places, and it is rather difficult to understand how so great a conductor, as he undoubtedly is when directing his magnificent orchestra, should seem to be so manifestly at fault as a chorus-master. He fails to get the perfect pianissimo and fiery forte which he has at the tip of his baton when conducting his band (without his music!) in Wagner's most obstruse [sic.] instrumental works. He "passes" a very dubious piano where pp is marked, and allows the voices to rush into their crescendos instead of drawing them out imperceptibly as the late Sir Joseph Barnby could, and did, do. In a word, there was a want of refinement and finish, although, needless to say, the voices were kept admirably together and the attack was magnificent.

The critic then suggests that Richter may have worn out the singers in rehearsal. "Perhaps the voices were tired after the tremendous work of the two rehearsals on the previous Saturday and Monday. (Twelve hours altogether were the orchestra and chorus kept at it by their 'indefatigable' conductor on Saturday alone.)"29 He goes on to say, however, that the second part of Elijah was wonderfully executed, as the voices seemed to be inspired by the excellence of the orchestral playing. Besides the oratorio masterpieces by Handel and Mendelssohn, Richter conducted several other works in the course of the festival. 's symphonic poem, , received its world premiere under Richter at the concert of Oct. 5, and was quite favorably received. This young British composer's Wagnerian style probably inspired Richter's interpretation, which was so appreciated that both German and Richter were subjected to prolonged applause by the Birmingham audience.30 Richter also directed a

29Musical Standard (Oct. 9, 1897), p. 226. 238

revival of Purcell's at this festival, in an edition prepared by J. A. Fuller-Maitland, the music critic of the Times. Schubert's Mass in E flat was also given under the direction of the Viennese conductor, and elicited unanimous praise. (This was the centennial year of Schubert's birth.) The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz was performed under Richter at the concluding concert of the 1897 festival, and was also praised. In addition, the usual mixture of Beethoven and Wagner filled out the programs of each concert, but one of the former's works received a different sort of attention from Richter. Beethoven's song, the Abendlied, was performed by a brilliant mezzo-soprano soloist, , to an accompaniment scored for orchestra by the conductor. The piece did not particularly excite reviewers or audience, but this is one of the very rare examples of Richter's involvement in the creative, as opposed to the interpretive, process of music-making.

The world premiere of Stanford's Requiem was presented at this same festival, and was conducted by the composer. A relatively objective comparison of the conducting skill of Stanford and Richter is provided by The Musical Standards critic, who observed both men at one of the preliminary orchestra rehearsals held in the Queen's Hall in London.

It is interesting to see the difference between his [Stanford's] and Richter's method of making the orchestra understand what is wanted. Prof. Stanford is clear enough and firm enough, but he did not seem to me to be able to convey his ideas of expression as unmistakably as Richter can.31

At the same orchestra rehearsal, the critic observed Richter "in action" with the instrumentalists--very rare, because of the conductor's Wagner-inherited practice of not

30ThewasThe Musical grossly critic Times in error of in claiming, in the notice of Nov. 1, 1897, that German conducted his own work. This assertion is clearly refuted by notices in the Musical Standard and The Birmingham Mail.

31Musical Standard (Oct. 2, 1897), p. 211. 239

admitting anyone but the musicians to rehearsals--and recorded his observations at length.

Under the baton of a conductor such as Richter a work grows before one's very eyes. There is no rest for the orchestra until it has given him what he wants. A passage is played monotonously, mechanically; Richter stops the orchestra with a gesture that plainly means, "This won't do at all." He satirically imitates the tame way in which the passage has been played, and then, in his strange guttural yet effective way, he sings it as it should go. His meaning is so plain that when the orchestra plays again the right emphasis is given. Wagner says somewhere that German conductors fail because they have no idea of singing, or rather no conception of melody, and though it is doubtful if Richter can sing in the ordinary sense of the word, he certainly can express vocally his idea of how a melody should be played. He is always singing. When the band is playing fortissimo he roars out the melody; in a word, acts the music, so that his men can be under no misconception of what he wants. And when he is not singing he is shouting directions as to expression, or, at an important point, the note the violins have to play. When everything is going well his face wears a happy smile, but he is none the less "on the pounce." The brass is unsatisfactory. Down goes his baton on the desk, and he shrugs his shoulders. The orchestra stops dead, except for a straggling note here and there. "Do not be so short-winded; hold on to ze note longer. So_" and the conductor sings the passage as it should go. Then we start again, and when the same point is reached Richter pounces on the and by the expression of his lips imitates what he wants them to play. Then the violins get too loud. "Piano! Piano!" he roars. It's no good; they have not done it. "This is to be played softly, like a piece of beautiful chamber music," he explains when the orchestra is silent. In Beethoven's Leonora, No. 3, he was particularly keen on strength of emphasis. Over and over again the orchestra was stopped, because the emphasis was too tame. "Pom-pom pom-POM; pom-pom-pom-POM--not pom-pom-pom-pom, as you play it." Gradually, as the rehearsal proceeds, the design of the composition becomes clearer, until some of its full beauty leaps to the light and the conductor is satisfied. If only still more rehearsals could be held! If certain passages could only be run over until they were absolutely perfect! But that would take a whole morning for one overture, and that would never do in England.32

Little did this writer know that Richter had sung the part of Kothner, on very short notice, at one of the early performances of Die Meistersinger under Bülow in Munich. This remarkable musician possessed much more than an average singing voice. The description shows that Richter was a fairly active conductor, with a penchant for

32Ibid., pp. 210-211. 240

dramatic, but controlled, communication. Richter always believed that his extensive stage experience made him a better conductor of purely orchestral music--another of Wagner's precepts. In reality, it made him a better conductor only of dramatically-derived music. All of Wagner's "purely orchestral" music may be placed in this category, since it is all based on some sort of illustrative program. Under Richter's baton, Strauss, Liszt, Berlioz, and Schumann all benefitted from his extensive operatic experience. On the other hand, it is doubtful that Richter's frequently-cited genius for revealing the beauty of large structural forms--in Beethoven's symphonies, for example--emanated from this experience. It may even be claimed that his many hours in orchestra pits militated against his efforts to interpret the abstract music of Haydn, Mozart, J. S. Bach, and others. One of his grandest achievement's was his ability to successfully elucidate the architecture in a symphonic movement by Brahms, for example, while at the same time--and often on the same program--immerse his listeners in the rapture of a Wagnerian operatic excerpt. Richter's fall concerts in 1897 were controlled by the usual hegemony of German music. A program of works exclusively by Wagner was presented at the third and final concert of this twenty-ninth series. It included the Faust and Meistersinger Overtures, Sachs's Monologue, Pogner's "Address," and the Prelude to act three of Die Meistersinger, the Closing Scene from Götterdämmerung, the First Scene from act three of Siegfried, and Wotan's "Abschied und Feuerzauber" from Die Walküre. Rather than arousing derision for presenting a hackneyed program, Richter's work drew acclaim. He may have been the only conductor in all of Europe at this time who could prosper solely by the performance of Wagnerian excerpts, and London may have been the only European capital where such narrow programming would be tolerated. Under Richter's baton, these selections from Wagner's operas, such as the Overture to Die Meistersinger, 241

took on new life. "Dr. Richter is still facile princeps amongst conductors; at any rate, in such powerful music, which he presents with astonishing breadth and nobility and glow of color, and with a clearness as regards its marvellous polyphony that no other conductor seems able to attain."33 Public demand was not the only reason the Viennese conductor programmed so much Wagner in London. There were few other opportunities for paying homage to his mentor, for neither critics nor public in Vienna would tolerate too much of Wagner's music--especially operatic excerpts--on the programs of the Philharmonic. Meanwhile, though regular festivals had by this time returned to Bayreuth, they were held only one month out of the year (August), and there were other conductors who now enjoyed Cosima's favor as much as Richter, not the least of whom was her only son, Siegfried. So Richter was pleasing himself as much as his London audience in presenting abundant samples of Wagnerian art. In Vienna, there was a similarly unwelcome atmosphere for much Russian music, caused in large part--like the taboo on Wagner--by Hanslick, but also by politically inspired animosity. The wrath of Hanslick, or one of his cohorts, was invariably aimed at any composer employing Slavic melodies, and any conductor bold enough to program them. While he knew that this prejudice existed in London as well, Richter hoped for a less stultifying climate. His burgeoning appreciation of Russian music, which Tchaikovsky's works had engendered, found an outlet in the English capital in the closing years of the century, therefore, in the same way that his urge to conduct Wagnerian excerpts had been satisfied in London for years. With regard to this diplomacy on behalf of Russian music, however, Richter was an unsuccessful ambassador to England, for her critics proved as anti-Slavic as the Viennese.

33The Musical Times (Dec. 1, 1897), p. 817. 242

Two of the Russian beneficiaries of Richter's broadened spectrum of appreciation included Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whose Suites from Scheherezade and Snegourotchka were played at the Richter Concerts of May 23, 1898 and June 19, 1899, respectively, and , whose Sixth Symphony received its English premiere on May 29, 1899. To the conductor's dismay, none of these works was well received by Londoners, and critics were extremely harsh in their condemnations.34 Tchaikovsky was much more tolerable to the press, who believed that Western influence had improved his art. His Entracte and Air de Ballet from Voyerode and Overture to Hamlet were given their English premieres in Richter's 1899 season in London. The latter work was called "a strenuous and noisy piece," yet neither was treated as brutally as Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from Snegourotchka, which was described as "beneath contempt."35

Just as Richter had been apprenticed by Wagner, the composer's only son, Siegfried, was now taken under the wing of the esteemed conductor of the first Bayreuth Festival of 1876. Showing familial concern and patience, Richter guided the budding conductor-composer through several rehearsals of his father's operas at Bayreuth. This occurred in 1892, when Richter conducted Die Meistersinger in the old Franconian town, and in 1896, when he, Siegfried, and Felix Mottl shared conducting duties in five performances of the Ring--the first such performances since 1876. Now, he was showing

34As important as the compositional novelties of the 1898 season were the debut appearances at the Richter Concerts of two young pianist-composers. Ferrucio Busoni, disdaining the traditional concerto form, played two orchestral transcriptions of solo piano works on the concert of June 4, 1898: Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasia and Busoni's own transcription of Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody. Richter's fellow Hungarian, Ernst von Dohnanyi, played Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto on the concert of Oct. 24. Both artists were hailed as future stars.

35 The Musical Times (July 1, 1899), p. 464. 243

further succor by performing Siegfried's Overture in London. The Musical Times offered ambiguous praise, pointing to "tuneful" themes and "a clear-cut rhythmical melody," which "would be welcome in the work of any living composer." But in the development section, the place where English critics tested the mettle of a new composer, the music was found to be "intricate and diffuse and extremely difficult."36 This criticism is in line with that of , who heard some of 's opera, Herzog Wildfang, in March of 1903.

Decent music, nothing more; it was something like the homework assignment of a student who had studied with Richard Wagner but whom the teacher did not consider a great prospect. . . . Certainly the son's efforts to continue what the father had begun should be respected. However, the task is much more difficult than simply taking over the management of a stocking shop.37

By far the most historically significant performance of Richter's 1899 spring series was the world premiere of Edward Elgar's . This was the first of several works by the great British composer which was championed by Hans Richter over the course of the next decade. At this period in Elgar's life, he had earned a modest reputation as a composer of large-scale choral works, but very few of his orchestral works had been heard. For this reason, he was extraordinarily grateful to the world-famous conductor for agreeing to perform the new set of variations. The reviewer of The Musical Times sensed the great historical significance of the performance, recognizing that the work's merits were undeniably superior to other British novelties of this era, which nurtured the conviction that its composer was an equally superior musician.

Here is an English musician who has something to say and knows how to say it in his own individual and beautiful way. He does not pose as a "profound" and learned master of his craft; he writes as he feels, there is no affectation or make-believe.

36The Musical Times (July 1, 1899), p. 464.

37Quoted in Mayer, Wagner, p. 109. 244

Effortless originality—the only true originality--combined with thorough savoir faire, and, most important of all, beauty of theme, warmth, and feeling are his credentials, and they should open to him the hearts of all who have faith in the future of our English art and appreciate beautiful music wherever it is met. . . . Enough that the variations, fourteen in number, are as far removed from the stereotyped (and generally dreaded) form of such exercises as possible. Greatly varied and original in style, they seem to run through almost the whole gamut of expression, and grow more and more interesting and beautiful as the work proceeds. . . . And thus ends an original, masterly and poetic work, which not only grows upon one enormously, but which we are convinced more than justifies our faith in Mr. Elgar's genius and in his future.38

Richter's devotion to the Enigma Variations was evident from his first association with the work. A correspondent of the Musical Times was present at a rehearsal, along with the composer, and recorded his observations.

It is evident that the conductor has taken quite a fancy to these "Variations"--though, in justice to him be it said, he never relaxes his vigilant thoroughness in preparing any work, but still one can "read between the bars," so to speak. The minutest detail claims his serious attention. Various appeals are made to the composer as to the right tempi and any points that may tend towards a more perfect rendering. Even were it an offspring of his own brain he could not be more painstaking—whether it be in securing the airy lightness of "Dorabella" (the Intermezzo), or the impetuosity of "Troyte." An amusing observation in regard to the opening bars of the last-named variation is addressed to the drummer. "If you begin so loud, your crescendo will break your drum!" How few realize the importance of preparing for a crescendo. And how wonderfully Richter, with that great crescendoing "Ah - - -" of his, shows his men how to get the proper increase of tone. Many a valuable lesson may be learnt at a Richter rehearsal.39

The great success of the variations meant a lot to both Richter and Elgar. They corresponded regularly for the next ten years, exchanging ideas ranging from the mundane affairs of orchestra personnel to the prospects for the composition of a symphony by Elgar. It was Richter's closest friendship with a British composer, and it extended to both of their immediate families; they were frequently guests in the others'

38The Musical Times (July 1, 1899), p. 471.

39"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (July 1, 1899): 446. 245

home. It was a friendship, moreover, characterized by a close personal relationship, rather than strictly a matter of good business practice or common courtesy. Elgar shared his true feelings, including painful ones, with the Viennese conductor, and Richter reciprocated. The correspondence also reveals Elgar's humorous side, especially his affinity for puns, as well as his self-consciousness about being an essentially self-taught composer--unlike his contemporaries such as Stanford, Parry, Mackenzie, Sullivan, and Cowen. For his part, Richter had finally found a British composer for whose works he could sustain an interest beyond the scope of mere premiere performances. He was as excited about Elgar in 1899 as he had been about Beethoven, Wagner, and Brahms early in his conducting career, about Dvorák and then Bruckner in the 1880s, and, later, Tchaikovsky. In the fall of 1899, Richter gave the English premiere of Ernst von Dohnanyi's Piano Concerto in E minor. The world premiere had also been given under Richter's baton, with the composer as soloist, on Jan. 11, 1899, in Budapest. The two Hungarian-born musicians again combined for the performance in London, which took place on Oct. 23 in the Queen's Hall. Though Dohnanyi's playing impressed concert-goers, the music itself fell prey to negative remarks in the press. "It is very long, very difficult, very elaborate, very serious, but it somehow failed to convince us."40 Despite this setback, the relationship between Dohnanyi and Richter grew ever closer as the years passed. Their friendship reached a peak in 1902 when, on Jan. 30, Richter conducted the world premiere of the young composer's Symphony in D minor (Op. 9) with the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester. Elgar's Enigma Variations was also played at the concert of Oct. 23, for the second time under Richter, "since the orchestration was revised and greatly improved in a number of places, and an imposing, exciting, and

40The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1899), p. 757. 246

brilliantly scored Coda added after the first performance in St. James's Hall a few months ago."41 As with the world premiere, Richter's rendering of the Variations in this concert received unequivocal eulogies in the press. Elgar was called to the stage by vigorous applause. At the Birmingham Triennial Festival of 1900, Elgar's sacred cantata, , was the featured novelty, having been commissioned by the festival committee expressly for the first festival of the new century. It is a setting of a devout poem by Cardinal Newman, which had been written by the Cardinal on the occasion of the death of one of his close friends. The poem, according to Elgar, had been "soaking" in his mind for at least eight years, gradually mixing with his "own musical promptings."42 It was composed in the first half of 1900, and then orchestrated with the forces of the coming festival in mind. From the standpoint of the choral singing, the Oct.

3 performance of Gerontius in Birmingham was a failure. There is no clear-cut explanation for their incompetence, but several factors conspired against them. In the first place, there was a change in the chorus master of the festival. Dr. Swinnerton Heap had been in that post since the last festival, of 1897, but died suddenly only a few weeks before rehearsals for the festival of 1900 were to begin. Fortunately, the man who had so brilliantly directed the festival chorus before Heap, W. C. Stockley, stepped in at the last minute to take his place. Stockley had been chorus-master between 1858 and 1894, so he had worked with Hans Richter for many years. He was, in fact, the first choice of the festival committee.

A prominent member of the Committee, writing to us under the date of the 21st ult. [June], says: "It is an appointment that is universally popular, and we have every confidence that Mr. Stockley will be able to carry out the work to a satisfactory 41The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1899), p. 757.

42Edward Elgar, Elgar Complete Edition, ed. Christopher Kent and Jerrold Northrop Moore, The Dream of Gerontius (London: Novello, 1982). 247

conclusion." That the veteran chorus-master will be sure to justify this confidence is a foregone conclusion.43

While the last minute change in chorus masters was cause for concern, reports from preliminary rehearsals of Gerontius indicated that things were going well. In fact, there was reason to be sanguine about the forthcoming premiere because Stockley and the composer were working so closely together to prepare the chorus for its difficult task. Elgar had enormous respect for the elderly chorus master, for he had played violin in Stockley's orchestra many years earlier, gaining much musical insight from the experience. Their cooperation in the preparation of Elgar's new piece was evident at a rehearsal.

Mr. W. C. Stockley, under whose painstaking supervision this new sacred cantata has been studied, has once more shown himself to be a master of his art in the way the choral portions had been prepared by him in his capacity of chorus master. . . . The composer took much pains, and many important suggestions were made during the rehearsal, but the chorus acquitted itself so well that Mr. Elgar, at the close expressed himself extremely pleased with everything.44

Despite these encouraging signs, the chorus sang poorly at the Oct. 3 premiere in Birmingham's Town Hall. After a well-played orchestral introduction, the problems began. "In the first chorus (assistants) the tone of the chorus at starting was poor, and not in tune. Better results were attained later in the crescendo passages. . . . The final chorus . . . was somewhat marred by impurity of tone."45 The Musical Times spoke of "the shortcomings of the chorus," which produced less than ideal memories of the work. It was believed, however, that Elgar's choral writing was primarily responsible. "Not that

43The Musical Times (July 1, 1900), p. 459.

44 The Birmingham Mail, Sept. 13, 1900.

45"The Musical Festival," Musical Standard (Oct. 4, 1900). 248

it was exceptionally difficult, but the difficulties were of a kind to which choralists are not yet accustomed."46 This critic may have been right. The Dream of Gerontius presents fundamentally different problems to a chorus than other works to which singers of this era were accustomed. Other voices from the press agreed with the Musical Times.

The difficulty on the choral side is not that the part writing is so very complex, or that the intervals are a strain to the singers, but that the composer requires so much expression. It is not music that can be sung with straightforward energy. . . . And the Birmingham singers could not manage that expression. They did not know the music well enough, for one thing; and, for another, their great fault, exhibited throughout the festival, is that they pay but little attention to expression.47

But there were also suggestions that Hans Richter was at fault. After all, the preliminary rehearsals--without him--had gone well, and the composer himself attested to this. The system itself, whereby the chorus master would prepare the singers throughout the rehearsal period only to be replaced at the last minute by the conductor of the orchestra, was called into question. Some of the suggestions, however, betrayed an accusatory tone, and there was a hint of the unsavory nationalism which Sullivan had exhibited in 1884.

Dr. Richter conducted the instrumental and Wagnerian selections with all the skill and greatness that have made him unapproachable as a conductor of orchestral music. But more than this is surely required at an English Festival where choral music holds a preeminent place. There is something wrong in a system which allows a foreign conductor to take up the reins from an English-speaking chorus-master at the eleventh hour, and which recalls the old adage of swapping horses while crossing the stream. Moreover, there are certain deep-rooted traditions connected with our oratorio singing which Dr. Richter, with all his masterfulness, cannot be expected to grasp. The managers of this and other Festivals will doubtless take it into their serious consideration whether, in the case of a non-native conductor-in-chief, some, at least, of the choral works should not be conducted by the chorus-master, who, apart from the consideration of language, has the advantage of being more in touch

46The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1900), p. 731.

47Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (Nov. 1, 1900), p. 117. 249

with his choir and its personnel.48

In a postscript to this notice, it was acknowledged that Richter was operating under stressful conditions. "We understand that the great conductor did not see the full score of Mr. Elgar's Dream of Gerontius till the evening before he conducted its first orchestral rehearsal at Queen's Hall."49 There would have been no need to proffer such an excuse for Richter had the critic not believed him to be responsible for the poor performance. Indeed, he was responsible, in the sense that the conductor must always accept ultimate responsibility for a performance under his guidance. There is some truth in the critic's complaint about the absurdity of having the chorus master direct most rehearsals, only to then surrender his charges to a different conductor. But this had been done for years, and Richter had not experienced difficulties with the chorus in past years of the festival. Michael Kennedy plainly states that "the disastrous first performance of The Dream of Gerontius" was due mainly to Richter's "own lack of adequate preparation."50 While no excuse should be made to discharge him of ultimate responsibility for the poor performance, the factors which militated against him should be acknowledged. As the critic pointed out, this was highly expressive music requiring well-rested and well-prepared singers. Elgar's music was difficult, placing great demands on the singers' intonation and range, and calling for the use of a semi-chorus in addition to the standard full chorus. Richter did not have the full score in time to complete a thorough study of it. The change in leadership from Heap to Stockley may have transpired smoothly on the surface, but it could have precipitated inconspicuous disturbances like new section

48The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1900), pp. 733-34.

49Ibid., p. 734.

50Michael Kennedy, Hallé Orchestra, Manchester: A Brief History of this Famous British Orchestra (Manchester: Hallé Concerts Society, 1980), p. 10. 250 assignments or other personnel changes in the chorus, which, in turn, could have caused insecurity. It is also possible that there was some sort of a disruption right before the performance such as insufficient warm-up time. Whatever the cause, Elgar was deeply affected by this failed premiere. His sensitive nature caused him to take things personally, anyway, and he sank into a depression after Gerontius. He came to believe, much later, that there was something of a conspiracy--or at least a laissez faire attitude--which contributed to the problems. He shared his thoughts about the premiere with in a letter written when the composer was in his seventies.

My feelings were acute: I have never had a real success in life--commercially never: so all I had (and have now) was the feeling that I had written one score which satisfied R. Strauss, Richter and many others; it was the discovery that no one in that very wealthy city--which always pretended to be proud of the production of Gerontius--cared a straw whether the work was presented as I wrote it or not: there at least I hoped to be recognized. Now let us forget it.51

The performance was by no means a complete failure, as some have stated. On the contrary, there were many outstanding passages, even in the chorus work. Elgar's genius, though obscured, was still very recognizable, and was reaffirmed by most of the press and public in attendance. The composer was called to the stage, and applause seemed to last forever as he made his way slowly forward from his seat in the back of the hall. The Musical Times found much that was impressive.

The Dream of Gerontius is a work of great originality, beauty, and power; and, above all, of the completest sincerity. . . . The most beautiful numbers are the spiritually exalted Prelude, which ought soon to find its way into all our concert-rooms; the exquisite air of Angel, "My work is done"--the gem of the whole--and the scene with Gerontius which succeeds it. . . . In all respects I am disposed to consider Gerontius an advance on Mr. Elgar's earlier works. His use of is subtler and more suggestive; his orchestration, while as beautiful and skilful as ever, suffers less from the over-elaboration which sometimes obscured his main drift; his writing for the solo voices is immeasurably more grateful, without, however, any hint of concession to mere facility or banality. . . . The boldness with which Mr. 51Adrian Boult, Music and Friends, annotated by Jerrold Northrop Moore (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1967), p. 97. 251

Elgar has throughout shaken himself free from all conventionality is most admirable, since it is the outcome of conviction--not of a desperate desire to be different from other people at all costs. . . . The orchestra had a hard task, and discharged it most ably, under Dr. Richter, for Mr. Elgar had decided not to conduct his own work, but to entrust it to the conductor in chief of the Festival. The Dream of Gerontius is a work which requires to be known; but still it impresses deeply at a first hearing, as was shown by its enthusiastic reception on this its first performance.52

As for Richter, though he was disappointed with the singing of the chorus, the performance reinforced his faith in Elgar's genius. The conductor's words on the title page of the manuscript full score testify to this allegiance, while also hinting at his disappointment with the chorus.

Let drop the chorus, Let drop everybody; But let not drop the wings of your original genius.

In a period of less than sixteen months, Richter had presented world premiere performances of two extraordinarily important works by Edward Elgar. Percy Young called them "the two most remarkable English works of the nineteenth century."53 Elgar is the man, it must be remembered, who almost single-handedly brought respectability to English music--especially in the eyes of continental musicians. He was the William Byrd of the nineteenth-century's English Musical Renaissance, and like the genius of old, the most cogent evidence of his creativity during the early years of his compositional career lay in his vocal works. That Richter found him during this stage was propitious for both men. Elgar provided the conductor with English compositions of which he could be a zealous protagonist during the next twelve years. In turn, Richter "brought Elgar into the forefront of British music" by means of numerous performances of his works in both London and Manchester.54

52The Musical Times (Nov. 1, 1900), pp. 731-32.

53Percy Young, A History of British Music (New York: Norton, 1967), pp. 530-31. 252

From a personal standpoint, Richter was attracted to Elgar's simple, humble nature, his religious sincerity (both were devout Catholics), and his spirited--though sometimes melancholic--attitude towards life. Many of these attributes were also part of the Viennese character, of which Richter served as a paradigm. From a musical standpoint, he was attracted to Elgar's synthesis of the two seemingly irreconcilable streams of represented by Brahms and Wagner. From the latter Elgar borrowed the concept of an orchestra as an equally expressive counterpart to vocalists, both reinforcing and expanding upon the literary meaning, and, of course, he borrowed the Bayreuth composer's use of leading motives. From Brahms he borrowed structural conciseness and clarity, precision of orchestration, mastery of contrapuntal technique, and a serene sense of melancholy in choral works. To Richter, Elgar was the eclectic embodiment of both German masters, for whom he had an undying reverence. In the three remaining Birmingham Triennial Music Festivals in which Richter participated (1903, 1906, 1909), there were many more glorious performances under his leadership. As stated previously, his years in the largest city in the Midlands area of England justify a monograph in themselves. In the Festival of 1903 he presented three premieres, all by continental composers. Bruckner's Te Deum was given its English premiere on Oct. 15, the performance eliciting the words "brilliant exposition" from one critic.55 Richter was an early champion of this work for chorus and orchestra; he gave the first performance with orchestra on Jan. 10, 1886 at a concert of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Similarly, Richter had given the Vienna premiere of Dvorák's Symphonic Variations, played on Oct. 15 in Birmingham, sixteen years earlier--on Dec. 4, 1887. Its English premiere was presented by the Hungarian conductor slightly before

54Ibid, p. 540.

55 The Birmingham Mail, Oct. 16, 1903, p. 9. 253

this--on May 16, 1887, at a Richter Concert in London. Now, Richter was presenting the Birmingham premiere, and it was enthusiastically welcomed. He also presented Berlioz's great work for viola and orchestra, Harold in Italy, for the first time in Birmingham on Oct. 14, 1903. While Birmingham continued to be a forum for new works by English composers in 1906 and 1909, Richter was rarely involved with such performances. Rather, these premieres, which included Elgar's and The Kingdom, 's Omar Khayyam, Percy Pitt's Sinfonietta, Josef Holbrooke's The Bells, and Hubert Parry's Symphonic Variations, were conducted (and rehearsed) by their composers. This was in keeping with a long-standing, and often criticized, tradition in Birmingham. Richter confined his work to the regular performances of Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah, supplementing them with pieces by Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Strauss. Occasional works by Elgar, Cherubini, Handel, Dvorák,

Mozart, Weber, Schubert, and Stanford were also played. More than ever, Richter was programming the music of J. S. Bach during these first festivals of the twentieth century. Among the Thomaskirche cantor's works given were several motets and the B minor Mass. Richter's renewed interest in Bach, whom he had diligently studied as a youth in

Vienna, continued with even more fervor after his retirement from English concert life in 1911.56 After twenty-three years at the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans Richter resigned his position in 1898, giving his final concert with that august body of musicians on March 27. The reasons for his departure are complex and varied. Gustav Mahler was certainly a rival, and there were indications of strife between the genial but

56The best sources for Richter's tenure in Birmingham, besides newspaper reviews, are J. Sutcliff Smith, in Birmingham (Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1945) and W. C. Stockley, Fifty Years of Music in Birmingham, 1859-1900. 254

conservative Richter and the young, avant-garde conductor-composer. In comparison with Richter, Mahler seemed to be a bundle of nerves, whose tampering with the scores of the old masters (like Schumann) was anathema to the older, more puristic conductor. Some critics felt that it was time for a change since several of Richter's recent performances had been less than ideal, and, with the young, talented Mahler already working with the musicians of the Philharmonic through his duties as director of the Hofoper, they believed he could effect a smooth transition to leadership of the orchestra. The young had been brought to Vienna by Mahler for the purposes of assisting with conducting duties at the Hofoper, and provides us with his impressions of the Mahler-Richter relationship.

It was of great interest to me that among the conductors at the Vienna Opera was Hans Richter, still surrounded by the glory of Bayreuth and his many years of friendship with Wagner. I witnessed a performance of Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, which he conducted with obvious distaste, and one of Die Meistersinger, at which he displayed the full mastery of his leadership. I also recall that Mahler was anxious to show Richter every mark of respect to which he was entitled as a master in his art and a musician of world fame. I happened to be in Mahler's office when he opened the gigantic repertory book, resting on a standing desk at the window, and asked Richter to choose the operas he wished to conduct. But all of Mahler's efforts to retain the services of the famous colleague proved unsuccessful. Richter left Vienna very soon. His departure was probably hastened by his resentment at seeing his established fame obscured by the new brilliance of Mahler's activity.57

There was also an increasing demand for Richter's conducting services in England, where he was handsomely remunerated. Various announcements appeared in the press when he resigned his Vienna post. Some journalists got word of his new appointment.

Richter . . . has lately resigned his position as conductor in Vienna in order to live in England, at Manchester, where he will conduct a symphony orchestra and be 57Bruno Walter, Theme and Variations (New York: Knopf, 1946), pp. 171-72. Also see Egon Gartenberg, Vienna: Its Musical Heritage (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968), pp. 197-98, for another comparison of Richter and Mahler. 255

associated with the distinguished violinist, Adolph Brodsky, in the work of the College of Music there. It is said that the conditions of work in Vienna are such that a conductor finds it practically impossible to secure adequate rehearsals for symphony programs. On the other hand, it is stated that a considerable faction was dissatisfied with Richter's recent work, declaring that he had become somewhat lazy and careless. His valuable engagements in England and other countries seemed to occupy his attention to the discouragement of his Vienna work.58

Indeed, there had been allegations of laziness and carelessness, but Richter was big enough to ignore the personal attacks. He sensed that this was the time to make the move he had been planning for years. He had been negotiating with the Hallé Concerts

Society in Manchester regarding a contract for the position of chief conductor. The authorities in Manchester, namely Gustav Behrens, Henry Simon, and James Forsyth, wanted the prestige which only the appointment of an internationally famous conductor such as Richter could bring. Richter was their first choice to replace the orchestra's founder, Charles Hallé, who had died suddenly in October, 1895. He could not free himself from his commitments in Vienna, however, and the negotiations continued for four years. Cowen was hired as Hallé's successor, but was only meant to be a stop-gap director. Because of his outstanding work on the podium, however, he remained as the orchestra's conductor from 1896 until 1899, when Richter took over.59 Richter assumed control "with an 'escape clause' in his contract in case the Manchester climate affected his health."60

58"Things Here and There: Hans Richter," Music 15 (Nov., 1898): 91-92.

59The firing of Cowen, who had served the orchestra well, was distasteful to a number of people, not the least of whom was Cowen himself. Fortunately, his reputation for excellent interpretations of both orchestral and choral works was widespread by this time, and, after his dismissal in Manchester, he added the conductorships of the Bradford Permanent Orchestra (in 1899) and the Scottish Orchestra (1900) to those with the Liverpool Philharmonic and the Bradford Festival Choral Society, by whom he had been employed since 1896 and 1897, respectively.

60Kennedy, Hallé, p. 9. 256

Michael Kennedy has thoroughly documented the history of the Hallé Orchestra, including the era pertaining to Hans Richter (Oct. 1899-March 1911).61 Many of his insights bear repeating.

Under his [Richter's] dictatorship the city enjoyed during the Edwardian era a musical glory which it is dazzling to recall. Not only was there the Hallé: Brodsky was Principal at the College and leader of his Quartet; the great soloists came for recitals; chamber music commanded a large audience; this was the zenith of German culture in Manchester (though Richter was Hungarian by birth). The man whose intimate association with Wagner had made him a living legend towered over the scene like a father-figure. In Beethoven, Wagner and Brahms few dared question his authority. He championed and Elgar (and rated Elgar the greater composer). The peak of his Hallé career was reached on 3 December 1908, with the first performance of Elgar's A flat Symphony, dedicated to "Hans Richter, true artist and true friend."62

Eventually, however, Richter's standing among the musical elite in Manchester soured, as he was unable to keep pace with the hunger for more modern music. When the

eloquent scholar Ernest Newman replaced the adamantly pro-Richter Arthur Johnstone as

critic of the Manchester Guardian in 1905, the pressure for more varied programming began. Bruckner and Sibelius were represented in Richter's programs, as were Strauss and Elgar, for which Newman was grateful. But the concerts continued to be dominated by Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky, and, as the Guardian's critic, Newman called for more representation of modern music. This was the age of emergence of composers like Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Delius, Vaughan-Williams, and Bartok. Richter ignored all but the latter, whose he conducted on Feb. 18, 1904. There was an especially virulent group which insisted on more French works toward the end of his tenure, with the knowledge, perhaps, that this was Richter's

weakness. He reluctantly conducted Debussy's The Afternoon of a Fawn (Oct. 22, 1908),

61See Kennedy's booklet, Hallé, 1858-1980.

62Idem, "Centenary of the Hallé Concerts," The Musical Times 99 (January, 1958): 18. 257

but, for many, this was too little and too late. There were formal protests aimed directly at the conductor in February of 1911, and, while he still enjoyed the support of the city's large German community, Richter, now well into his sixties, was not about to defend his programming against such a hostile uprising. He formally resigned in March of 1911, "ostensibly because of poor health and failing eyesight. But there can be little doubt that he was driven out by hostility."63 His retirement from the conductorship of the Hallé Orchestra was bittersweet, therefore, as he knew that his welcome had been worn out. Richter's noteworthy accomplishments with the Hallé Orchestra include the premiere performances listed in Appendix F, the engagement of several prominent solo artists such as Pablo Casals, , Ernst Dohnanyi, Ferrucio Busoni, and , and an elevation of the overall standard of orchestral musicianship. He was very involved in personnel matters, as his experience had shown him that even the last-desk player in the second violin section made an impact on the effectiveness of a performance.

Under his guidance, the Hallé was taken on regular tours of the provinces, bringing great acclaim to this already famous orchestra. While his programming was criticized for being too narrow, it included, in addition to music by the composers listed above, compositions by Delibes, Sarasate, Verdi, Stanford, D'Albert, Cowen, Coleridge-Taylor, Smétana, Bizet, Bruch, Cornelius, Sinding, Lalo, Parry, Joachim, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nicode, Gade, Mackenzie, Grieg, Scott, Balfe, Auber, Rossini, Litolff, Glazunov, Stenhammar, Rachmaninoff, Seroff, Launer, Rameau, and many others. Several guest conductors were employed by the orchestra in the season after Richter's retirement, followed by the appointment of --a protege of Richter, ironically--from Bayreuth.

63Kennedy, Hallé, 1858-1980, p. 10. 258

As with Richter's tenure as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, the Birmingham Triennial Festival, the Richter Concerts, and German Opera seasons at Covent Garden, his work as founder and chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra justifies an entire thesis by itself. No attempt will be made, therefore, to document this activity in detail. Rather, the salient aspects will be surveyed, including how he came to be chosen as the orchestra's first principal conductor and the content of his programming. In 1903, Henry Wood's Promenade Concerts at the Queen's Hall were extremely popular. Since 1895, this ambitious young conductor had been giving these concerts in conjunction with an astute promoter, Robert Newman. As with London's other orchestral institutions, however, the season comprising the Queen's Hall Concerts was an abbreviated one, making it practically impossible for the musicians in Wood's orchestra to secure a livelihood solely from participation in it. Rather, most instrumentalists spread their playing chores among several different organizations, including opera, ballet, and even restaurants. This often created scheduling conflicts, however, which were usually solved through the employment of deputies, or substitute musicians, who would fill in at rehearsals or performances which the regular player could not attend. Henry Wood loathed the deputy system, for it meant that he rarely had his regular contingent of players together simultaneously. To combat the problem, he and Newman offered each member of the Queen's Hall Orchestra a flat fee of £100 in exchange for having first call on the player's services. In other words, no more deputies would be permitted. This ill-conceived offer revolutionized British orchestral life, for it caused the formation of two new orchestras. Over fifty of Wood's musicians walked out on him, with four players leading the mutiny: John Solomon, a trumpet player, and Adolf Borsdorf, T. R. Busby, and H. van der Meerschen, all horn players. They were insulted by the Newman/Wood offer--which was actually an ultimatum--and boldly embarked on 259

the daunting task of forming their own orchestra. No longer would they tolerate the manipulations and threats of arrogant promoters or patronizing conductors. With this independent spirit, they began organizing their new enterprise. In all affairs, the musicians would have a voice, so that the orchestra would always be a self-governing institution. Quality was the first priority of the founders of the London Symphony Orchestra--of musicianship, of repertoire, and of conductors. Because of their need to ensure financial viability from the outset, they were not in a position to take chances or experiment in any of these areas. They were interested, from the beginning, in playing under several different conductors each season so as to profit artistically from the collective strength of them all. But they needed a chief conductor whose regular appearances would bring stability to the group, and who would, hopefully, serve as a drawing card to prospective attendees. They also knew that many conductors would not surrender any authority to an orchestra in matters of programming, rehearsal schedules, and performance bookings. Aware of their own fierce independence as musicians, they sought a leader who could unite them into a cohesive whole through the force of a personality equal in degree of assertiveness to their own. An individual who had such strength of character, they knew, however, would be unlikely to relinquish any of his decision-making power. The only man who met all of these criteria was Hans Richter, whom the founders approached regarding their conducting position. His extensive experience working with a democratically managed orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, convinced them that he could not only get along with, but also control, their new band of musical renegades. Their singular aim in leaving Newman and Wood's orchestra was to have the freedom to affiliate with as many other musical organizations as was needed to ensure a stable 260

livelihood. If something happened to the Queen's Hall Orchestra, such as Wood accepting a position in America, they felt they would be stranded if it was their sole means of livelihood. It was obvious that Richter, as leader of Vienna's famous orchestra for twenty-three years, was used to working with musicians who also had other commitments. It was common knowledge among the founders of the London Symphony Orchestra that the musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic also played in the pit orchestra of the Hofoper, and in other groups as well. In Richter they were assured of a leader who would be sympathetic to players' needs--both musical and financial. They knew through his great reputation in England and Austria that he was as independent-minded as the musicians he directed. His bold resignations from Munich in 1869 and Vienna in 1882 proved this. Moreover, three of the four founders--all except Busby-- had played in the orchestra of the Richter Concerts--as had about forty other members of the new orchestra. As an internationally known and revered conductor who also happened to be privately known by the orchestra's founders, Richter was the perfect choice to head the new ensemble. The only question remaining was whether he would accept the position.

His regular series of London orchestral concerts having ended over one year earlier,

Richter 's only London orchestral commitment in 1903-04 involved an annual visit by his Hallé Orchestra from Manchester. When it was resolved that he could keep this commitment, he agreed to serve as the group's first conductor. The enormously successful first concert of June 9, 1904 was a harbinger of Richter's many successful concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra; it proved to be a mutually beneficial association for eight years. Richter, as the London Symphony Orchestra's primary conductor, annually directed between sixty and ninety per cent of the concerts, on average, during his 261

eight-year tenure. His chief domain was the subscription series presented at Queen's Hall which usually entailed six to twelve concerts per year. Other engagements of the orchestra often featured a different conductor, but Richter's leadership was unquestioned. "Richter had been the LSO's principal conductor in that he conducted the majority of its own promotions: his artistic integrity and towering prestige in the profession ensured that his was the dominant influence over the LSO in its opening seasons."64 Richter's programming with the London Symphony Orchestra was similar to his repertoire with the Hallé Orchestra, where Beethoven and Wagner ruled the roost. With fewer concerts in London than he gave in Manchester, there were naturally fewer performances of British music, but there were proportionally much fewer premieres of any kind. Included in the London Symphony Orchestra's repertoire was music by, in approximate order of quantity, Wagner, Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Elgar, Dvorák, Haydn, Bach, Weber, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Mozart.

Receiving occasional performance were compositions by Stanford, Delius, Mackenzie, Bantock, Paderewski, and Ernest Schelling. Maurice Pearton's description of the programming as being "heavily weighted in favour of the German masters" is an understatement.65 Richter's innovations with the London Symphony Orchestra had much more to do with improving the performance quality of the orchestra than with repertoire. He "conferred massive authority on a

mettlesome, brilliant band."66 This authority was a natural extension of his reputation and his many years of experience with orchestral musicians in London. Adrian Boult

64Maurice Pearton, The LSO at 70: A History of the Orchestra (London: Gollancz, 1974), p. 34.

65Ibid., p. 47.

Ibid., p. 60. 66 262

alleges, however, that were it not for Richter's strong personality, he would have had little success with them.

The conductors of the present day may be divided into three schools: there are the men who beat time, like Dr. Richter; who guide the orchestra, like M. Safonoff; and who hypnotize the orchestra, like Mr. Nikisch. It seems treason to say anything against Dr. Richter, but I must confess that I cannot help feeling that he is the last of his line. No one who has ever heard him can forget the magnificent breadth, dignity and power of his performances of the classics, and his steady beat which produces an absolutely even tempo, unbroken sometimes from beginning to end of the longest symphonic movement. But this is all he does at performance. All the expression he wishes for--usually exactly what is indicated and nothing more--is arranged at rehearsal, and this, of course, implies that the orchestra is used to his ideas, or that he has had more rehearsals than are usually practicable at the present day. The London Symphony have from the beginning shown themselves wonderfully quick to grasp his meaning, but they are an exceptional orchestra, and even they would probably find difficulty in playing well under a man of Richter's school who had anything less than Richter's personality. This type of technique, then, is past, except, perhaps, when controlling an amateur orchestra, whose life is almost as much in rehearsal as in performance.67

Boult's harsh assessment, though shared by other conductors such as Bülow, Gustav Mahler, , and , clashes dramatically with those of the musicians under Richter's baton. They did not question his musicianship in matters of interpretation because he had proven it over and over again in matters of practical instrumental skill. This was their domain, and Richter earned their respect by showing that he could be part of it--they knew he had played in Viennese orchestras as a young man-- and, yet, also be an effective leader.

But few people can be aware of the extraordinary personal knowledge of every instrument that he brings to bear on the training at rehearsals of his orchestra. In order to indicate how he wishes any particular passage interpreted, he frequently takes an instrument--be it string, wood, wind, [sic.] or brass--and plays the phrase himself.68

67Boult, Music and Friends, p. 12.

68Kuhe, Recollections, p. 280. 263

Wynn Reeves, a member of the London Symphony Orchestra's first violin section during Richter's tenure as conductor, recalls that he "was one of the greatest musicians I have ever played under, with a wonderful insight into whatever he was interpreting. . . . He never descended into the slightest hint of effect for effect's sake."69 Richter's farewell concert in England was conducted with the London Symphony Orchestra rather than the Hallé Orchestra. It took place on April 10, 1911 and featured Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger, J. S. Bach's third Brandenburg Concerto, the Variations on a Theme of Haydn by Brahms, Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Though Arthur Nikisch had been sharing conducting chores with Richter for several years, it was Edward Elgar to whom the directors of the London Symphony Orchestra turned as a replacement. Richter was pleased that the reins of the orchestra would be in the hands of the man he considered to be the greatest English composer, who was also his closest English friend.

With his reputation as a great Wagnerian conductor established as early as the 1880s, it is surprising that Richter never traveled to America. If he was as attracted to the high salary he was paid in England as people said he was, he would have had a strong incentive to cross the Atlantic, for there were similar riches awaiting his appearance in the new world. All around him, musicians were making the long journey. Some, like his dear friend, Dvorák, stayed for extended periods of time. Among Richter's acquaintances who went to America for concertizing, besides Dvorák, were Brodsky, Joachim, Patti, Nikisch, Mottl, Seidl, Henschel, and Mahler. It was not that he was overlooked. In the early 1880s he was asked by an agent of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Henry Higginson, to accept the conducting position with that budding ensemble. Richter said no. He was approached in 1907 by Oscar Hammerstein of the Manhattan Opera House

69Quoted in Pearton, LSO, p. 34. 264

in New York, but, again, the Hungarian conductor refused the offer. The Boston Transcript reported that he harbored a crude notion of life in America throughout his life.

[Richter is] stupidly unbelieving about America. . . . He knows in cold fact that a great orchestra flourishes here in Boston and a great opera-house in New York, but to him they are the accidents of a mysterious life in a world that he can not comprehend, that has lain altogether outside his existence and experience.70

On several other occasions the subject of an American engagement was broached, but he was steadfast in his belief that Europe provided all the opportunities he desired in which to ply his artistic craft. However, the Boston newspaper was correct in detecting a resistance based on a false understanding of life--especially artistic life--in America. There were other reasons which kept Richter out of the states. Wagner's last opera, Parsifal, was produced in New York without the permission of the composer's heirs, namely Cosima. This was blatant disrespect to the honor of the deceased composer,

Richter felt, and he blanketed the entire new world with his disdain as a result. Furthermore, he was perturbed that America had rejected a performance of Strauss's Salome because of objections to its subject matter. This was pure hypocrisy, as far as Richter was concerned, and he expressed his outrage in a letter to some Viennese friends in 1907.

Strange to say, the "Parsifal Pearl" has been laid before the sensation-loving opera frequenters in America without the least embarrassment being evidenced; but when it comes to the performance of a passionate theatrical play, this is prohibited, and for reasons which do not appear to us valid. Quite as pious as the Americans are the inhabitants of Breslau, Cologne, Mayence, Milan, Turin, and other places where "Salome" has been performed without question. . . . No, my worthy colleagues in art, to America I shall not venture. My principles, my views of artistic honor and artistic duty, are of too old a date to be changed for all the dollars of the New World. But everywhere in the Old World where good music is valued I will gladly go.71

70"Wagner's 'Prima-Donna Conductor'," The Literary Digest 53 (1916): 1660.

71"Musical Notes: Dr. Richter and America," The Birmingham Mail, March 13, 1907. CHAPTER THIRTEEN RICHTER'S LEGACY

Hans Richter's contribution to music history defies a laconic summation, but there are several salient points which may be stressed. He possessed an incredible memory, which enabled him to conduct a multitude of symphonic works without a score. He was following the lead of Wagner and Hans von Bülow in this regard, but few of his peers kept pace. In the process of leading orchestras without written music in front of him, he was able to gain the enormous benefits of communication through eye contact, total immersion in the aural dimension of his activity which led to enhanced involvement with the musicians under his command, and an appreciation of the architectural scope of the music. One of his contemporaries even claimed that Richter knew Wagner's operas so well that "he can write out from memory the full score of any one of them."1 While this may be sensationalistic, there is no doubt that he possessed a truly remarkable ability to commit long compositions to memory, for the evidence is overwhelming.

. . . one must begin with his prodigious memory--possibly excelled by that of the late Hans von Bülow alone--which enables him not merely to conduct the great masterpieces of Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, and other composers by heart, but in some cases to dispense with a book even at rehearsal. Hans von Mow once wittily divided conductors into two classes,--those who kept their heads in the score, and those who kept the score in their heads. Richter is the greatest living representative of the second class.2

It is difficult to find any reference to Richter's conducting prowess without mention of his powerful memory. Equally remarkable, and occasionally distressing to his musicians, was Richter's skill as an instrumentalist and his practical knowledge of all the instruments. He had

265 266

learned to play three instruments--piano, horn and violin--at a professional level by the time he was twenty-three years old. His first professional position was as a hornist in Vienna's Kärntnertor orchestra. During his residences at Triebschen, Wagner's home in Switzerland, he regularly participated in the chamber music performances which occurred on a near-daily basis. While there, he played viola in the sessions focusing on Beethoven's late quartets which took place under Wagner's guidance in 1870-71. His eventual mastery of so many orchestral instruments, however, cannot be fully explained by these early experiences. Richter was simply a gifted musician who seemed to naturally absorb the intricacies of instrumental technique. At one of the rehearsals for the premiere performance of Die Meistersinger in Munich in 1868, Richter demonstrated his proficiency on the horn at a moment's notice. The principal horn player complained that his part was unplayable as written, and Bülow, who was conducting, had to suspend the rehearsal. Richter, out of righteous indignation at the implicit slur on Wagner's music, borrowed a and played the part to perfection. One year later, he showed his horn-playing skill for Richard Wagner himself. The occasion was the composer's fifty-sixth birthday. Before Wagner had awakened in the morning, Richter planted himself under his master's window at Triebschen and played Siegfried's horn call from the opera which he had just copied. "Wagner thought he was dreaming because then no one but him knew this melody. Then he remembered, 'This could only be Richter, who copied the score!' He jumped out of bed and saw his 'dear apprentice' happily waving to him."3 Any orchestral horn player can testify to the difficulty of this passage from the Ring, the performance of which not only shows that

1Kuhe, Recollections, p. 280.

2Charles L. Graves, "Hans Richter," The Spectator 97 (1902): 833.

3"Ein Familienalbum erzahlt," Frankische Presse, Dec. 9, 1966. 267

Richter possessed unusual ability as a hornist, but also his close, and often playful, relationship with Wagner. It should also be recalled that, when the composer charged Richter with the task of preparing the premiere performance of his Siegfried Idyll for Cosima's birthday in 1870, Richter not only recruited and rehearsed orchestral musicians from Lucerne for the occasion, he also played the first trumpet part in the performance without any prior experience on this instrument. A German critic, Tappert, provides a glimpse into Richter's versatility. "Richter is as much at home in the orchestra as a fish in the water. As real Kapellmeister we see him now with a viola in his hand, and suddenly we find him behind the big drum, or tinkling the triangle."4 Such anecdotal evidence abounds concerning the conductor's practical skills as an instrumentalist. Graves provides more objective evidence in The Spectator.

His knowledge of the instruments is not intuitive like that of Berlioz . . . but based on actual familiarity. He began life as a horn-player, and has a working knowledge of every instrument in the band. Hence if he wants a particular effect and the player declares he cannot produce it, Dr. Richter is always able to show him how it is to be done. No wonder then that he has his men in the hollow of his hand, for they know it is not the least use demurring to his demands. Again, it is precisely because of his thorough knowledge of the technique of all instruments that Dr. Richter is able to recognize when an individual player has done a good piece of work, and, it may be added, there never was a conductor who was readier or more happy in his acknowledgement of merit in others.5

In terms of the physical manifestation of his conducting, Richter was a picture of clarity and economy of gesture. Critics often contrasted his style with the exaggerated manner of his contemporaries, and reported that his musicians responded positively to his brevity. It was said that his larger gestures produced more dramatic results because of their relative rarity. "He is free from antics; every movement has significance and every

4Quoted in "A Great Operatic Conductor," The Nation 103 (Dec., 1916): 572.

5Graves, "Richter," p. 833. 268

attitude has dignity."6 Schonberg agrees that Richter

used very little physical motion. His tiny baton had a thick cork handle that he grasped firmly with the entire fist. His wrist was loose, backed by the elbow, and the swing of his baton had an imperious point. Seldom did he raise his arms above his shoulders. In the pit of the Vienna Opera House he sat on a comfortable wicker chair, beating clearly and directly.7

A 1902 article by Charles Graves, the critic of The Spectator, contains similar remarks: "He sees no virtue in unnecessary exertion, and has never confounded conducting with calisthenics or serpentine dancing."8 Yet Richter was not an inactive conductor by any means, especially with dramatic music. Claude Debussy witnessed him in action on several occasions, and marvelled at his left hand usage.

This left hand is undulating and diverse; its suppleness is unbelievable! Then, when it seems there is no possibility of attaining a greater wealth of sound, up go his two arms, and the whole orchestra leaps through the music with so furious an onset as to sweep the most stubborn indifference before it like a straw. Yet all this pantomime is unobtrusive, and never distracts the attention unpleasantly, or comes between the music and the audience.9

The independent use of his left hand, primarily to indicate expressive nuance, is another hallmark of the Hungarian-born conductor. Debussy was one of many who were amazed at his ambidextrous gestures. Richter's prudent use of physical motion with the baton stemmed from an entirely self-conscious belief that his mission as a musician was that of conveying a composer's musical meaning to an audience. He was proud to be a technician, and he purposely

6Johnstone, Criticisms, p. 210.

7Schonberg, Conductors, p. 183.

8Graves, "Richter," p. 833.

9Quoted in Schonberg, Conductors, pp. 181-83. 269

restrained his emotional involvement in the music he was performing. This restraint placed him in marked contrast to the conducting style of both Hans von Bülow and the mentor they shared, Richard Wagner. In fact, it alienated Richter from Wagner at times, because the composer suspected that the young conductor's controlled poise reflected a lack of musical insight. When it came to passionate music such as Tristan und Isolde, Wagner, and most observers, preferred conductors like Nikisch, Seidl, and Bülow. But for the less tragic strains of Die Meistersinger, Richter was his favorite. According to Arthur Johnstone, who, as critic of the Manchester Guardian from 1896 until 1904 watched Richter conduct the Hallé Orchestra on numerous occasions, he possessed all the ingredients of a great Wagnerian conductor, including

mastery of the principles discovered by Wagner respecting orchestral dynamics, such as the necessity of equably sustained tone without crescendo or diminuendo, as a basis to start upon the conditions determining proper balance of strings and wind, the nature of a round-toned piano delivery (to be studied from first-rate singers), the manner of producing long crescendos and diminuendos, also of producing a true piano and a true forte (Wagner having pointed out that old-fashioned orchestras never played anything but mezzo-forte); mastery of Wagner's system of phrasing, his far- reaching investigations with regard to cantabile passages, his treatment of fermate, his distinction between the naif allegro and the poetic allegro; mastery and practical realization of all Wagner's other ideas concerning musical interpretation or public performances.10

Several other features distinguished Richter's English conducting career. He brought great performances of the classic central European musical repertoire to England. These included works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Dvorák, Saint-

-Saëns, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, and J. S. Bach. Chiefly, though, he brought the music of Beethoven and Wagner to England, performing it with a fiery brilliance which had not been heard before. His support for British music was neither more nor less than one would expect from a musician steeped in the Austro-

10Johnstone, Criticisms, pp. 209-10. 270

German musical tradition. He consistently supported British composers--such as Elgar, Mackenzie, Stanford, and Parry--whose music was connected to that tradition. If he neglected men like Delius, Verdi, Debussy, and Vaughan-Williams, it was not out of spite or avarice; he simply was not inspired by their music. Richter knew exactly what music he liked, and deserves some credit for not trying to do more than he was capable of. To that music which he did find meaningful he brought an almost religious zeal to impart the composer's intent, and his noble artistic conscience commanded respect from all who came in contact with him. "In music that he knew and loved, Richter undoubtedly was an overwhelming force, conducting with bigness, security and a sort of cumulative propulsion, directing without frills, going straight to the heart of the matter with firm rhythm and massive strength.11 Richter is also remembered for his warm, unaffected personal style. In the literature on this great conductor, the adjective most associated with his name is "genial."

Yet, he was a strict disciplinarian when the situation called for it, as often occurred in rehearsals where he confronted an orchestra which numbered over one hundred musicians. The highly informative Musical Times article on Richter in 1899 gives an excellent first-hand account of his leadership style in rehearsal.

Very little is said by the conductor; his gestures, though never obtrusive, speak louder than words. Perhaps there is a little want of attention. A sudden cessation of the beating, and the conductor's arms are folded. His dignified pose meets the eyes of the players as they discover that the baton is motionless. Not a word is uttered; the statuesque attitude is eloquent to a degree; and after a brief silent pause the baton is raised and the movement is re-started.12

11Schonberg, Conductors, p. 180.

12"Hans Richter," The Musical Times 40 (July 1, 1899): 446. 271

This genial conductor was not afraid to confront his musicians, as numerous anecdotes attest. Unlike Bülow and Wagner, however, he never threw a tantrum on the podium and always maintained respect for his players regardless of their musical weakness. In summary, Richter will be remembered most of all for being one of the greatest Wagnerian interpreters who ever wielded a baton. He did not have the intensity of Mahler, the passion of Nikisch or Mottl, nor the understanding which conductors like Walter and Strauss had of the classic school as represented by Mozart and Haydn. He did have uncanny insight into the architectural design of larger compositional forms, and was able to effectively communicate this to his listeners. An amazingly accurate sense of pitch enabled him to enforce good intonation in his ensembles. His memory was astonishing. It was not unusual for Richter to conduct an entire two-hour concert by memory. He also possessed an understanding of the acoustical properties of orchestral instruments to a degree which was unsurpassed in his time. This Hungarian-born musician had no comparable peer as an interpreter of Wagner and Beethoven, yet he also championed the music of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Bruckner, and Elgar--so much so that he resists categorization as strictly a Wagnerian conductor. His was an interpretive rather than a creative genius, and his own awareness of this singular focus

made him that much more effective as a musician. APPENDIX A

Desmond Ryan's Review of the "Orchestral Festival Concerts" of 1879 (The Sunday Times [London], May 11, 1879.)

The Wagner Wind-Bag

The Wagner Wind-bag has burst, and those who vested their faith in its substance and solidity have but the poor satisfaction of knowing that it contained "airy nothings," and nothing beyond. How, with the experience of the Wagner Festival at the Albert Hall in 1877, impresarios could have been found with courage sufficient to dare the inevitable, we know not; but that such individuals--such modern Quixotes--still do exist, is patent from the very fact of the "Orchestral Festival Concerts" being organised. At Kensington Gore the show was of an uncommon kind: we beheld Wagner, the Godhead of musical art-work, descending from his shrine to hob-nob with mortals--aye, and to grin through horse-collars for them, if necessity so directed affairs. It was Mokanna with the silver-veil removed; the conjurer showing how the trick is done; the mountebank taking his audience into his confidence and disclosing his trade secrets; the famous poet drinking beer out of a pewter and smoking a cutty pipe. Never in history occurred such a descent from the sublime to the ridiculous. Wagner built up his fortunes mainly upon his assumption of inscrutability; the vulgar mind imagined, no doubt, that behind all this mystery the truth must be somewhere concealed, and gave its support accordingly. Bowling over precedent after precedent, like a Titan playing at skittles, Wagner marched along his path, his followers--keeping at a goodly distance in his wake--daily increasing in numbers. "He must be a wonderful being," said these, "who can dare the censure of the world in acting thus defiantly"; and they followed faster than before. At length the leader reaches his journey's end. "Now," says he, "we are in the land of artistic beauty. It is true that we have neither plains or hills, flowers, shrubs, or trees, land or water, day or night, slumber or wakefulness; but look where you may and you will find an admirable assortment or admixture of vivid colours. With these alluring tints before our eyes, what care we if form be abolished and the ideas of , grace, and proportion be banished?" Then every one of the herd went mad over colour and despised all form and definition. But by and bye Wagner discovered that his pet province was no Tom Tiddler's ground, where gold, and eke silver, might be had for the simple trouble of picking it up. So he bethought him of another country, where colour was not much thought of, and where form was deemed worthy of admiration--the inhabitants being, moreover, prone to loosening their moneybags for the sake of impecunious aliens--and thinking "Now I will assume a genial aspect, and treat these form-loving people to the spectacle of myself making a repast off my own words," he left his own land and carried his project into effect. Then his disciples ejaculated, "Behold the great man!--how liberal

272 273

his views! how comprehensive his mind! how elastic his convictions! See how he foregoes all that is dear to him--how he espouses a cause at which his spirit revolts in order to gratify these deluded and ignorant folk with some reflection of his own glorious refulgence." Unparalleled generosity! Unheard of nobility of soul! The great colorist who forwent his pet principles all for the sake of ignorant barbarians, returned home with a neat little strip of paper on which certain cabalistic symbols--thus expressed, £1,100--were engraven. While the great-little man remained with his new-found friends they rather admired him; but when he had departed, laughing in his sleeve, no doubt, at the easy way in which this sheepish nation could be led, they began to see that they had been rather "done," and that they had parted with their pelf to a man who had not the merit even of being true to himself. What, after all, had he shown them? His own novelty, adapted to old framework, and therefore robbed of all its originality; a phase of art which was not consistent in its principles or to its ostensible object; a number of daubs doing duty for pictures; some rough-hewn blocks of marble figuring as statuary! Then, after a little good-humoured resentment, bygones were allowed to become bygones; Wagner had gone his ways, and no one cared a brass farthing if he never quitted his Arcadia any more. The bombastic "Art work of the Future" had resolved itself into some very tiresome, blatant, and noisy performances, varied by some remarkably bad singing, and the "Festival" had wound-up by a general hand-shaking and kissing all round by the promoters. Let sleeping dogs lie, is a homely proverb, and a wise one; and we cannot attribute the possession of an extra amount of wisdom to the enterprising gentleman or gentlemen who thought fit to rouse the dormant Cerberus, and set him barking at our heels once more. Nothing could possibly be gained in an artistic sense; Wagner has given us nothing new since his Nibelungen Ring, and that, together with its precursive stage works, has been laid under plentiful contribution. In a pecuniary sense the outlook was at least hazardous; the English music-loving people do not admire cacophony, whether caused by Wagner's instrumentalists or by a saw-grinder, and the German residents in London are hardly up to supporting a venture of such magnitude, unaided. A more miserable spectacle then the interior of St. James's Hall on Monday evening (when the first of the Orchestral Festival Concerts was given), or one less calculated to inspire those assembled with an idea of "festivity," we could not conjure up by force of imagination. The old description of "a beggarly array of empty benches" is the only verbal picture that can be given. The few people sitting scattered about the room boasted but a very few English faces; and had one forgotten the venue for a moment he might have imagined himself in some Teutonic centre of civilisation, instead of the English capital. Of course, the German auditors approved the German music, the German music, the German conductor (Herr Hans Richter), and the German leader (Herr Hermann Franke), just as they would approve pickled herrings, sour kraut, black bread, bologna sausages, and smoked goose-breasts. In one sense, their saxon enthusiasm was warranted. Herr Richter is undoubtedly one of the finest conductors that ever handled a baton. Perhaps his persistent refusal to have the score before him points to a love of sensational display, for, be his memory ever so accurate, there would be no harm in verifying it; but it is the fashion to air one's power of remembrance in public, and Herr Richter casts his lot in with Dr. Hans von Bülow, Herr Rubinstein, and their 274

smaller imitators. We have never witnessed more able orchestral direction than that of Herr Richter (who, it will be remembered, directed the performances of the Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth); he appears to have a kind of magnetic influence over the band, and they move in accordance with his direction as though his will were irresistible. We will confess that some of the orchestral playing was remarkable for its finish and smoothness, and that the pianissimo passages, one and all, were given with a delicacy which has never been surpassed; but the band was only a "scratch" one, and the quality of the strings was not always good, while the wind instruments at times were decidedly coarse. However, to quit such details, and regard the Wagnerian music per se, given under circumstances as favourable to its success as most perverted versions of stage works can hope for, the result was disappointing. Even at that most dismal of concert halls--the Royal Albert Hall--the effect was better. There was then more room for the music to assert its magnitude above the mere matter of noise; at St. James's Hall every "forte" passage became confusion worse confounded. We do not feel called upon to criticise excerpts from works which are unfitted for concert performance, even when "specially adapted" by the composer. If they are stage works they must so remain, and no "alterations" can change their nature. As well think of putting an extra long pair of ears on a horse and dubbing him a Jerusalem pony. However, for the sake of keeping record we will quote the programme. That of the first concert was as under:

[First Concert: May 5, 1879]

Part I

Kaisermarsch Wagner Scene, "Blick'ich umber," Tannhäuser (Herr Georg Henschel) Wagner Introduction to Act III, Meistersinger Wagner Duet, "Wie aus der Ferne," Fliegende Holländer (Frau Schuch-Proska and Herr Henschel) Wagner Aria, Die Extführung [sic] aus dem Serail (Frau Schuch- Proska) Mozart Overture, Manfred Schumann

Part II

Symphony in A, No. 7 Beethoven

According to our tastes, the Symphony--which, after all, was the test-performance of the evening--was taken too slowly in the first two movements, otherwise it was given with a nice attention to nuance, and an especially free use of pianissimos. The second concert (Wednesday afternoon) had for its scheme the following morceaux: 275

[Second Concert: May 7, 1879]

Part I

A Faust Overture Wagner Aria, Le Nozze di Figaro (Frau Schuch-Proska) Mozart Symphonic Poem, "Les Preludes" Liszt Aria, "Che faro," Orfeo (Fräulein Redeker) Gluck Introduction and closing scene (Tristan und Isolde). Wagner Walkürenritt" (Die Walküre) Wagner Scene, "Wotan's Abschied" and "Feuerzauber" (Herr Henschel) Wagner

Part II

Symphony No. 5, in C minor Beethoven

As neither of these programmes included any novelty we are spared criticising them. The C minor symphony has frequently been better played under Mr. Manns's direction at Sydenham; we should not have easily condoned slips in the performance then such as appeared in the new St. James's Hall version. The vocalists acquitted themselves ably, one and all. Frau Schuch-Proska has a really fine soprano voice and an effective delivery, moreover, she sings in tune--not always an inseparable quality in a German artist. The programme of the chamber concert (Thursday afternoon) must be left to speak for itself. Wagner, it will be observed, is conspicuous by his absence:

[Third Concert: May 8, 1879]

Part I

Quintett, F minor, for pianoforte, two violins, viola, and violoncello (Herren Grünfeld, Franke, Heimendahl, Holländer, Van Biene) Brahms Song, "Zwiegesang" (Frau Schuch-Proska, violin obbligato [sic], Herr Franke) Rheinhold Becker Scherzo, from pianoforte Concerto, in B flat minor, Op. 32. Arranged for two pianofortes for the "Orchestral Festival Concerts," by the composer. (Herren Scharwenka and Grünfeld) X. Scharwenka Songs, "Des liebsten Schwur," Op. 69, No. 4; "Tambour- liedchen," Op. 69, No. 5 (Fräulein Redeker) Brahms Toccata, C major, Op. 7, for pianoforte (Herr Grünfeld) Schumann 276

Part II

Quartett, F major, for pianoforte, violin, viola, and violoncello. MS. first time. (Herren C. Villiers Scharwenka, Franke, Holländer, Van Biene) Stanford Three Songs from Der Trompeter von Seckingen (Herr Henschel) G. Henschel Fantasie, F minor, Op. 49, for pianoforte (Herr Scharwenka) Chopin a. "Mondnacht" Songs b. "Aus meinen Thränen" Schumann c. "Die Rose, die Lilie" d. "Die Elfe" J. Rietz (Frau Schuch-Proska) Improvisation on Themes by Wagner (Herr Grünfeld)

On Monday evening the conclusory entertainment will take place, when more Wagner and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony will be performed. 277


Hermann Klein's Review of Wednesday, May 3, 1882 Richter Concert at St. James's Hall (The Sunday Times [London], May 7, 1882, p. 7.)

With Hans Richter for our theme, superlatives must be the order of the day. The modest, genial prince of orchestral conductors is in our midst once more, and his presence all but condemns to mediocrity that which a moment ago we thought the best of its kind. It needed but the first few grandiose chords of Wagner's Kaisermarsch, that resounded through St. James's Hall on Wednesday evening, to remind the forgetful what are the qualities that stand forth alone in a band trained by Herr Richter, and that distinguish him from all other conductors of classical compositions. While he is absent there may be folk who say--What is there in this Richter after all, that we should make so much of him? He returns--and the doubtful ones "hide their diminished heads," wondering how they have ever doubted.

Yet of these, judging by the crowded and fashionable gathering of dilettanti that came to greet the Viennese celebrity, there cannot be many. Herr Richter has established his fame in England and commands the presence and support of hundreds of our countrymen who, worse luck, are far too chary of help towards native musical institutions. But we do not grudge him this well-earned recognition of his powers. Rather let us consider that good ultimately accrues of our having among us so illustrious a musician, and one capable of raising our standards to the highest pitch that orchestral excellence has yet attained.

So much may be said without the necessity for again insisting on the abilities that make Herr Richter what he is. There are now few amateurs who cannot tell of the wondrous command and grasp he holds over his forces; the masterly influence that enables him to impart his own spirit and idea to each player; the extraordinary memory that permits him to dispense with book from end to end of a programme; and last, but not least, the sympathetic nature, the artistic feeling, and the scholarly erudition that make his readings of almost every master so truthful and reverent.

Each year that Herr Richter has returned, a distinct improvement has been perceptible in his orchestra. The advance, if we are not mistaken, was just as marked as usual the other night. Herr Franke's arduous duties in the managerial department have necessitated his resignation of the post of chef d'attaque; but it is now divided between two first-rate men, Herr Schiever and Mr. V. Buziau, while at every principal's desk there sits a man admirably fitted for the position. Taking into consideration the unusual proportions of the band, its sonority of tone is astonishing; the faultless balance and beautiful evenness of quality being scarcely less remarkable to the cultivated listener. 278

Of the Kaisermarsch, we have already spoken. It was superbly played, and so were the Die Freischütz and Tannhäuser overtures, an uproarious storm of applause following the conclusion of each piece. The symphony of the evening was the Eroica, and it is not too much to say that this great work has never before been given with such exquisite delicacy and refinement of style since Herr Richter's perfect art has shown us what could be done with the "Immortal Nine" of Beethoven.

So far we have been able to comment upon the concert in terms of unmeasured eulogy. Yet another item remains to be dealt with, and here we must be more guarded lest our feelings of wonder and surprise overweigh and disturb the calm judgment of criticism. We allude to the performance of Rubinstein's D minor concerto by the youthful pianist, Eugene D'Albert, whose first appearance in London this was since his lengthened stay with Herr Richter in Vienna. Summing up in a single sentence, young D'Albert's gifts and failings as displayed in this tour de force, it may be said that he played the concerto just precisely as it might have been played by its composer--the indomitable Rubinstein himself. In a word, the performance was not that of a boy, it was that of a man: brilliant, powerful, able, and artistic, but--either too slavish an imitation of the peculiarities of style that characterize the lion of pianists or a strange, unfortunate contraction of mannerisms that are scarcely pardonable in a youthful performer, even though he be a genius.

Eugene D'Albert plays too well to need to condescend to a "slap-dash" style of execution that savours strongly of clap-trap. The fact that Rubinstein wears long hair and constantly passes his hands through it, then smashes them down in the key-board and "paws" at the notes with much the same action as that of a dog's forelegs when swimming, is no reason why our promising young English pianist should conduct himself after a similar fashion. Otherwise he has vastly improved since we heard him last, and has palpably benefited by further study and association with a musician of Herr Richter's calibre. His playing, when it is subdued, is replete with poetic feeling and the charm of growing artistic appreciation; his command of the instrument, in passages of the utmost difficulty, is at all times phenomenal in so youthful an executant. He earned the other night a rich and well-merited success, and for every reason we hope young D'Albert will go on climbing the ladder with the same rapidity and sureness of hold that has hitherto marked his upward career. 279


Review of Crystal Palace Concert, October 27, 1883 (The Times [London], October 30, 1883.)


Last Saturday's concert at the Crystal Palace, although not musically very remarkable, differed in one respect from all the other performances previously given there or elsewhere. The programme, with two exceptions, presently to be noted, consisted entirely of the compositions of Englishmen by birth or habitation, and those Englishmen knights. What could have been the object of such a distinction it is not easy to see. Did the directors wish to illustrate the exceptional liberality with which the accolade is granted to the representatives of the most peaceful of arts? Did they intend to teach a moral lesson of the futility of such honours? Or, what is most probably, did they merely speculate with commercial intent on the abstract reverence for titles which is supposed to be characteristic of freeborn Britons? If so, they were mistaken, for in spite of the favourable weather the hall was not crowded. In any case the experiment is not likely to be repeated. The first knight to make his appearance was Sir Herbert Oakeley, represented by a Festival March, "Edinburgh," written in commemoration of a Royal marriage, and, like other piéces d'occasion, remarkable for lively rhythms and brilliant orchestration rather than for depth of thought. Next followed Sir W. Sterndale Bennett's poetic overture "," too well known to require further comment. Limiting ourselves for the present to orchestral works, we come to by far the most important item of the program, Sir George Macfarren's Symphony in E minor, composed for the British Orchestral Society, and produced at their concert of March 26, 1874. It is in many respects a remarkable work and a very favourable specimen of its author's style--much more favourable than his oratorio, King David, performed at the recent Leeds Festival. For here the composer does not venture on the dangerous ground of "programme music" or dramatic characterization, on neither of which he is at home, but restricts himself to those well established forms of which he is a master. The first movement is a conception of serious purpose, sustained with singular continuity of musical thought. The andante, on the other hand, is of lighter structure. It is surnamed "Serenade," and the title is justified by the instrumentation, the violoncello and other singing instruments discoursing a flowing theme, while the harp may well stand in place of the guitar generally associated with gallant cavaliers singing under ladies' windows. A little more spontaneous melody and a little more of that gift of orchestral colouring which cannot be acquired by any amount of study would secure universal acceptance to this movement. The gavotte and musette, which take the place of scherzo and trio, do not show that peculiar grace which some modern French composers-- in Mignon for instance--have imparted to these old dance-forms. As an appropriate substitute of the scherzo, which in itself was a development of another 18th century dance, the minuet, the movement, however, will pass muster. The finale is a well- 280

constructed and effective allegro. In it, as in the andante, some prominence is given to the opening theme of the first movement in which, it may be supposed, the key-note of the entire work is struck. The symphony was well received by the audience. The two remaining orchestral pieces of the programme, Sir Robert P. Stewart's prelude to his cantata, The Eve of St. John, and Sir Arthur Sullivan's overture "Di Ballo," may be passed over briefly; the former, because it is without striking individual features of any kind, the latter because its graceful strains are familiar to every admirer of its versatile composer's art. The vocal selections consisted of Sir Michael Costa's recitative and air from Naaman, "Confounded be they all," sung by Miss Hilda Coward, who also gave Sir Henry Bishop's "Lo! here the gentle lark," a bravura piece such as was in use half a century ago, on which the singer and Mr. Alfred Wells (flute obbligato) had bestowed more trouble than the intrinsic value of the music seemed to warrant. Madame Patey gave the "Evening Prayer" from Sir Michael Costa's Eli, to which she added Sir 's pathetic setting of "By the sad sea-waves." English musical knights apparently not affecting the violoncello, Mr. Edward Howell, the representative of that instrument at Saturday's concert, was compelled to have recourse to the works of two "plain Misters," or rather of a "Herr" and a "Signor." Goltermann's concerto and Boccherini's charming "Andante and Allegro," for violoncello, although not very important in themselves, served at least to prove to those previously unacquainted with the fact that in Mr. Edward Howell we possess a consummate master of his instrument.



Excerpt from Eduard Hanslick's "Letter from London," 1886 (Hanslick's Music Criticisms, Trans. Henry Pleasants [New York: Dover, 1988], pp. 264-67.)

[If] there has been, indeed, conspicuous and indubitable progress in London's musical life, it is represented by the series of orchestra concerts named for their conductor, Hans Richter. I shall, for the moment, pass over his programmes, which have introduced to England so much that is new and interesting. It suffices simply to cite the fact that England has never previously heard our classic masterpieces so perfectly played. It was only through Richter that the English learned to understand and love the Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis. Talent for conducting is a specific gift, evolving from a blend of special physical and spiritual attributes not often encountered. Richter's eminently musical nature, his lightning-quick grasp of what a piece of music is about, and his astonishing memory are combined with an ever-alert enthusiasm for whatever it is that he happens to be conducting. What the personality of such a conductor can accomplish was revealed by comparing the Richter Concerts with those of the Philharmonic Society. Both orchestras comprise essentially the same group of musicians. But watch how Richter guides this orchestra with his hand and his eye!

Richter's concerts have for eight years been counted among the most indispensable and distinguished factors of London's musical life. The manner in which he achieved this position is characteristic. In May 1877 there was a great Wagner Festival in the Albert Hall, where only Wagner's compositions were to be played, with Wagner himself conducting. Prior to Wagner's arrival, two London conductors attempted to prepare the orchestra in the most difficult pieces, including the unknown excerpts from Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, and the Ring. It was hopeless; conductors and orchestra got nowhere. In this moment of peril, with the entire undertaking threatened, Hans Richter appeared, seized the baton as Tell seized the rudder, and brought the shipwrecked music safely to shore. The musicians thanked him with assurances that he alone had clarified this complex music for them and made its performance possible. At the festival itself Wagner, nervous and exhausted, conducted only a few easier pieces from Lohengrin and Tannhäuser. Richter conducted all the rest. His success permitted him to express the wish to conduct some of Beethoven's symphonies in London. His friend Franke jumped at the idea and arranged, in 1880, three Richter Concerts. Since then there have been nine of them every season.

The orchestra numbers a hundred, for Wagner concerts more. While other concert institutions in London are content with a single rehearsal, and that rather inhibited by the presence of a half-price audience, Richter has two and sometimes, when especially difficult novelties are involved, even three, with the public excluded from all of them. Richter is extraordinarily strict and exacting at rehearsal, but he is generous in 282

his acknowledgement and recognition of the exemplary discipline and industry of the English musicians. Each concert costs about £400, including one rehearsal; box-office receipts with a full house run to £600. Even more characteristic of the expansiveness of English musical life are the tours which Richter undertakes with his entire orchestra. This spring [1886], they played in Nottingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Oxford. In every case the financial risk was covered by local music-lovers. The Railway Administration renders the most generous support, transporting the orchestra in special cars at reduced rates. The six-day tour of Scotland, which Richter undertook last autumn, cost only £160.

The traditional musical festivals in the English provinces, some of them lasting several days, have long excited the admiration of continental music-lovers. Richter enjoyed the distinction, exceptional for a foreigner, of being chosen as director of the last Birmingham Festival. He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music by Oxford University. I hardly know whether this distinction should be considered as having gained in importance or lost as a result of the fact that it was also bestowed upon the Princess of Wales, who plays the piano a little.

Richter's appearance is regularly greeted at all his concerts by prolonged applause. His pre-eminence among conductors in London is undisputed. Charles Hallé and Manns1 are the next best, and it is significant that both are Germans. 'Immense is Richter, and immense his obstinacy', I read recently in an English review. This pronouncement discloses better than anything else how, mixed in with England's universally high estimate of Richter's talent, there is also a certain reservation about his 'immense obstinacy'. What is involved here is Richter's favouring the compositions of Wagner and the Wagnerites in the construction of his programmes. There is a school of thought which argues that the English have not yet made and cultivated the acquaintance of so much good music that they are in any need of exposure to the newest mysteries of Bruckner and D'Albert. But that is an internal English affair which a visitor would be well advised to leave to the English. As far as Richter's Wagner cult is concerned, however, I find the objections of some of the English critics well-founded. The recent extra-concert in the Albert Hall, when Richter offered excerpts from all of Wagner's operas, from Rienzi to the Ring, three hours of it, was bad enough. But it was nothing compared with the Richter concert, given on two successive evenings in St. James's Hall, which consisted of the entire, uncut second act of Tristan und Isolde and the third act of Siegfried. This represents not only an immoderate but also a false form of Wagnerism, since Wagner's last operas, particularly, cannot do without the scenic setting.

I find Tristan und Isolde a mixed blessing in the theatre; to hear it in the concert hall if sheer martyrdom. There was something almost comical about a bald, bespectacled Tristan and a fashionably groomed Isolde singing their long love duet from notes, stiffly

1Sir August Manns (1825-1907), conductor of the Crystal Palace Saturday Night concerts from 1885 until 1901. 283

rising up from and settling down into their arm-chairs like a couple of buckets in a well. Finally at the moment when the lovers are surprised by King Mark, the most exciting moment of the opera, they both sat there in untroubled repose while the king arose and addressed his reprimand not to the 'most friendly of friends', who had conducted himself in such an unfriendly fashion, but to the audience in St. James's Hall. It must be obvious that Wagner is not well served by such projects, whose absurdity is surpassed only by their dullness. And what can it all mean to the English, who do not know the plot and cannot follow the text? Whatever it means, they sit to the last note, as if glued to their seats, and applaud with all their might. Richter can refer to this phenomenon as proof that he has satisfied a genuine popular need. This need, however, to hear Tristan and Siegfried, should be gratified in the theatre, not in the concert hall. And where there is no want of enthusiasm for Wagner, there is also no want of money--least of all in England. 284


Hermann Klein's Review of Monday, May 3, 1886 Richter Concert at St. James's Hall (The Sunday Times [London], May 9, 1886, p. 7.)


Speaking the other night at the Academy Banquet, the Prince of Wales said he always looked upon that event as marking the commencement of the London season. Time was when the opening of the Italian Opera equally betokened the rising of the curtain on that section of the musical season which comes after Easter. Now, however, the once fashionable institution has become far too irregular in arrangement to be regarded as a starting-point for anything save heavy outlay and general disappointment, and a more reliable landmark has taken its place in the shape of the Richter Concerts. Here we have an undertaking which has gradually but surely made itself one of the leading elements of our musical life and which is as unfailing in recurrence as a planet in its orbit. I have already given particulars of the exceptionally attractive prospectus put forth by Mr. Hermann Franke for the current series of concerts. Included in this are many features of decided interest, some of which will impart to the Richter schemes the freshness and variety they had lacked for the previous two or three seasons. None of these features were forthcoming in the programme of the opening concert on Monday. As a set-off Beethoven's Choral Symphony, which is generally the bonne bouche provided at the final concert, was not laid under contribution to lend special éclat to the start, and this purpose the colossal work duly fulfilled in an artistic sense, although it certainly failed to draw the usual overflowing audience. I am not inclined to argue in consequence that the Choral under Hans Richter's guidance wields a less powerful attraction than it used. The simple fact is that the Viennese conductor's admirers never muster strongly at the outset, and probably, for some reason or other, the rarest combination he could devise would not serve to bring them together in full force at his first bidding.

Monday's performances showed the characteristic qualities of the Richter orchestra in the same favourable light as former seasons. The temptation to enter into comparisons between the Richter and the Philharmonic bands is great, but I shall resist it because nothing is to be gained by the task. Where one body gains the other loses, and vice-versa. Enough that this country may be proud of owning two such magnificent if not matchless orchestras. Apart from its extraordinary sonority of tone, the special peculiarities of the Richter band are purely the outcome of the genius and individuality of its conductor. We know that with the music of certain composers he is capable of producing effect whereof no other chef d'orchestre has mastered the secret. We also know that his marvellous gift of memory is animportant, although by no means the sole important, factor in that rare power which enables him to hold the resources of every 285

player in the hollow of his hand. No conductor knows better how things ought to be done; none, perhaps, knows so well how to get his wishes executed. Hence the absolute unity of idea and expression, the remarkable mechanical precision, the beautifully delicate nuances, the perfect contrasts of light and shade that make his orchestra what it is. The only item of Monday's concert demanding more than mere record were Sach's Address to Walther and the final chorus from Die Meistersinger and the debut of Mr. Franke's Vocal Quartet in the Choral Symphony. Mr. O. Fisher was the interpreter of Sach's address, and the young bass deserves credit for the vigour and spirit with which he acquitted himself. His declamation was admirable, if thoroughly German, in its emphasis and feeling. The Richter Choir did not shine brilliantly, either in the Meistersinger chorus or the finale of the symphony; but the solos in the latter were rendered by Miss Hamlin, Miss Lena Little, Mr. Winch, and Mr. Fisher in as creditable a manner as the nature of their tasks would permit. To dilate further upon the achievements of the orchestra alike in the symphony, the Meistersinger overture, the Siegfried Idyll, and the first Liszt Rhapsody, would be superfluous. The audience had plenty of provocation for its enthusiasm, notably after the two last-named pieces, which have never been more superbly played. Dr. Richter was the recipient of a cordial greeting, and had frequently to respond to tumultuous applause. 286


Important Premier Performances Conducted by Hans Richter in England: 1887-1908.

Type of Date Location Premiere Composer Work

1887 May 16 London English Dvorák Symphonic Variations May 23 London English Bruckner Seventh Symphony June 6 London London Parry Symphony in F June 13 London London Cowen Fifth Symphony June 27 London World Stanford Irish Symphony

1888 June 4 London World Mackenzie Overture to Twelfth Night Aug. 29 Birmingham Birmingham Sullivan The Golden Legend

1889 July 1 London World Parry Symphony in E minor

1891 June 1 London London Peter Cornelius Overture to The Barber of Baghdad June 29 London English Bruckner Third Symphony July 20 London World Stanford The Battle of the Baltic

1895 May 27 London World Stanford Piano Concerto in G Oct. 29 Birmingham Birmingham Tchaikovsky Pathétique Symphony

1896Dvorák Oct. 26 London World The Golden Spinning Wheel 287

Type of Date Location Premiere Composer Work

1897 May 24 London English Strauss Don Juan May 31 London World Cowen Sixth Symphony

1898 May 23 London English Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherezade

1899 May 29 London English Glazunov Sixth Symphony June 5 London World Siegfried Wagner Overture to Barenhäuter June 5 London English Tchaikovsky Entracte and Air de Ballet from Voyerode June 12 London English Tchaikovsky Overture to Hamlet June 19 London World Svendsen Zorahayda 19 June London English Rimsky-Korsakov Suite from Snegourotchka June 19 London World Elgar Enigma Variations Oct. 23 London English Dohnanyi Piano Concerto in E minor

1900 Oct. 3 Birmingham World Elgar Dream of Gerontius

1902 Jan. 30 Manchester World Dohnanyi Second Symphony

1903 Oct. 14 Birmingham Birmingham BerliozDvorák Harold in Italy Oct. 15 Birmingham English Bruckner Te Deum Oct. 15 Birmingham Birmingham Symphonic Variations 288

Type of Date Location Premiere Composer Work

1904 Jan. 29 Manchester English Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra Feb. 18 Manchester English Bartok Kossuth

1905 March 2 Manchester English Sibelius Second Symphony

1908 Jan. 27-Feb. 8 London World Wagner The Ring (in English) Dec. 3 Manchester World Elgar First Symphony Bibliography

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