Academy of Music
Chamber (includes Solo)
23 July 2015
Advises audience members to arrive early in order to get a seat.
Advises audience members to arrive early in order to get a seat.
"New York has heard the last performance of Gottschalk for many a day, and the largest number of its citizens which the Academy could accommodate heard him yesterday, at the farewell matinée. Rarely, if ever, has so fine a tribute, in the point of numbers and applause, been paid to any artist at a concert matinée, and never, perhaps, during his career, did the artist exhibit more feeling, delicacy of touch and poetic sentiment than on that occasion. These were remarkably displayed in his Murmures Eoliens, his accompaniment to the cradle song, and the final piece, 'Home, Sweet Home,' in which he seemed to aspire to leave the memory of his sweetest strains with his listeners. In the duo on Un Ballo in Maschera, Sanderson’s dashing polkas, and the paraphrase on the 'Battle Cry of Freedom' Gottschalk’s brilliancy and force were better illustrated. Miss Simons – whose voice and execution have improved surprisingly since her first essay in these concerts – was very favorably received, and sang charmingly the two ballads selected for her, as well as the tripping tarantella, composed by Muzio, and the brilliant waltz from Faust. Everything, of course, was encored, and good-naturedly repeated, the marches from Faust and Tannhauser, on six pianos, included; so that the audience were treated to two concerts instead of one.”
“The excitement occasioned by the announcement of the last appearance of Gottschalk for many years, perhaps, subsided with the matinee on Saturday morning. It was anticipated that a numerous audience would be present but not that the Academy of Music would be crowded as it was on this occasion. Every seat was taken, and every standing spot was occupied. New York turned out to bid a hearty, a generous goodbye to the petted musical idol of the city.
It would be useless to go through the programme, as it would be but a recapitulation of our previous criticisms. Every piece he played was encored, over and over again; the people seemed determined to hear as many last notes as possible. Gottschalk played his best; the galaxy of beauty which surrounded him, the enthusiastic cordiality of his reception, and the excitement of the occasion, seemed to inspire him, and all the old grace, and passion, and tenderness of style came back to him, and its exquisite fascination was felt by every one in the house.
The whole performance was a veritable triumph, and Gottschalk will carry away with him pleasant and grateful remembrances of the closing day of his residence among us. He bears with him the warmest wishes of hosts of friends and admirers that his tour may prove productive both of honor and profit, and that he may return to us crowded with [illeg.] won in new fields of labor.
Miss Simons shared the farewell honors, and will bear with her a reputation won in a brief and brilliant week, which will stand [illeg.] in good stead wherever she goes. Signor Muzio arranged these farewell concerts most admirably. There was nothing left undone that could add to their interest, and their success has proved that the public fully appreciate his labors in their service. Mr. Harry Sanderson acquitted himself throughout all these concerts most admirably, and both as pianist and composer, has risen much in public estimation. Mr. Charles Fradel and the other gentlemen pianists did good service, and, together with Gottschalk and Sanderson, brought out the splendid tones of the six grand Chickering pianos, and filled the Academy like a full orchestra.”
New York heard this week, for the last time, the magic piano of Gottschalk—for the last time this year at least, and perhaps for several years. Friday’s concert at Niblo’s and Saturday’s matinee at the Academy were veritable triumphs. Friday, after the brilliant performance of the Battle Cry of Freedom on six pianos, one of the spectators mounted the stage and presented a silver crown ornamented with amethysts and rubies to the favorite artist, and made a short very well-turned speech, in which he said that Americans would retain the memory of Gottschalk with pride like the Europeans preserve [those of] Mozart, Mendelsohn [sic] and Beethoven. Gottschalk obviously didn’t expect this surprise; he refused to let the crown be put on his head, and was happy to accept it in saluting the public with an emotion that he didn’t seek to hide. He returned to the piano, and played Murmures Eoliens, a charming piece, where he gave play to the emotion with which the ovation had imbued him. [Goes on to say that Gottschalk has the power to seduce hearts as well as ears; compares him to Brigham Young; G. is leaving on the steamer Ariel to Panama; thence on the Constitution to San Francisco; leaving NY from Pier 43, North River, at the foot of Canal St.]….
Goodbye to Gottschalk and hello to those who remain. It’s the case to pay a small compliment to his friend and emulator, Harry Sanderson, who was present at his last concerts, and who is also a pianist of great merit. For if America produces distinguished [female] singers, it also possesses of its own invention several pianists of great talent. Sanderson is the first after Gottschalk, his equal perhaps, and, if he doesn’t acquire a renown equal to that of Gottschalk, it doesn’t mean his qualities are not of the first order. [A propos singers, there is one to add to the list that I gave the other day….That is Signora Agatha Statesti…who produced a veritable sensation in Florence.]
“The Gottschalk matinee, on Saturday, was a tremendous success. The Academy of Music, where it took place, was filled from pit to dome. Not even with the attraction of a complete opera troupe have we seen the house more fashionably attended. Mr. Gottschalk may well remember the occasion with pride. It will furnish him with a substantial hint that his absence is not desired, and that he may return home again whenever the disposition comes upon him. Mr. Gottschalk played superbly, and in the duos was admirably sided by Mr. Harry Sanderson. Miss Lucy Simons sang with grace and neat artistic finish, and the marches (from the 'Tannhauser' and 'Faust') were thundered forth by an army of pianists, led by Gottschalk, Sanderson and Fradel. The troupe takes its departure to-day for California.”
"In the future, Americans will treasure your name, as do the Europeans Mozart’s, Beethoven’s and Mendelssohn’s.” Those were the words, which were called out last week to the departing pianist, Gottschalk, in the name of his admirers and in connection with the bestowal of a silver laurel wreath. And these words will be transported to Germany, where we will be laughed at and complained about. And rightfully so. Our situation must be sad, if such words can be articulated and applauded in a public forum. Just think of the effect in Berlin, for instance, if someone there were to call out something like that to Taubert [Gottfried Wilhelm, 1811-1891] in a concert hall: the laughter and hissing would have no end. May we be forgiven for putting the name of a cultured composer together with that of a piano virtuoso, who writes pieces to bring his effects to the man. Twenty years ago even Schumann would have found no mercy either in the press or in the concert hall if he had been named alongside Mozart and Beethoven, and here a piano performer saltimbanque can enjoy this accolade, unconcerned [about criticism]. If anything, it just shows how little real musical culture there is among the American people. When one reads the newspapers of the [American] interior areas, one truly does not know whether to take the journalistic outbursts about Gottschalk as irony or ignorance: “Gottschalk, the Father of Music” – “Gottschalk, the Master of All Masters” – “Gottschalk, the Unattainable,” and such bombast. And who is to blame for this nonsense, for this craziness and depravity of musical taste – who is guilty of the fact that at least in country towns musical progress has been held back many years? [It is] none other than the press in big cities and perhaps even more in New York, which confers its concept onto the whole country. When one accords these virtuosos their proper place here, it is difficult for them to achieve a different one in the countryside. To them one would not extend a free ticket here to exploit the country, and we would want to see that person who could have done it. We don’t blame impresarios for wanting to make as much money as they can from their living merchandise; but we find it lamentable that even today the charlatans of New York art are able to deceive [the public] as easily as they did years ago, and that it still requires so little to specify the musical judgment of the whole country about this or that artist. We have nothing against Mr. Gottschalk: as expressed in the better pieces of his repertoire, we consider him an outstanding representative of his school, with his own fundamental validity. But we bewail the blatant injustice, inflicted on the development of people’s musical taste, by those in this country who gave him their— in the actual sense of the word — incredible rank in art and its genuine interests. One may say whatever one wants, but neither Mr. Gottschalk nor Mr. Wehli, or whatever names they might wish to use, who have appeared or continue to appear in the various menageries of impresarios here, can contribute to the ennoblement of this country’s musical taste.
The higher one places them, the more they bungle, and therefore, for all those who earnestly believe in the musical art of America, it should be their task, which they are now unfortunately charged with, to strive to make that extraordinary significance into the impossibilities.