Gulbransson (26 May 1873 in Oslo – 18 September 1958 in
Tegernsee, Germany) was a Norwegian artist, painter and
designer. He is probably best known for his caricatures
From 1890, he worked for many Norwegian magazines,
including Tyrihans, Pluk, Paletten, Fluesoppen,
Sfinx and Trangviksposten (1899–1901). In 1900 he
studied at the Académie Colarossi in Paris.
In 1902 he moved to Germany to work for the
satirical magazine Simplicissimus in Munich after
editor Albert Langen had been in contact with author
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson looking for Norwegian talent.
With publicity increasing Gulbransson's fame, and
even though he lived in Germany between 1923 and
1927, he drew for Tidens tegn in Oslo.
In 1929 he became Professor at the art academy in
Munich. In 1933 the art academy in Berlin arranged a
special exhibition to celebrate Gulbransson's 60th
birthday, which was shut down by the Nazi party
after only two days.
Simplicissimus editors Franz
Schoenberner and Thomas Theodor Heine have claimed that
Gulbransson actively cooperated with the Nazis from 1933 on,
and this co-operation was sharply criticized by the writer
Klaus Mann. During World War II, after his own home country
was occupied by the Germans, he produced caricatures against
the Allies, in particular against Winston Churchill. In 1941
he was made an honorary member of the Society of Berlin
Artists and in 1942 of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
On the occasion of his
70th birthday in 1943 he was awarded the Goethe
Medal for Art and Science and was made Emeritus
Professor of the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.
illustrated many books, including the children's
books Det var engang (Once upon a time), which was
published simultaneously in Norway and Germany in
1934, and Und so weiter (And so on) which was
published in Germany in 1954.
cartoons contain a clear, precise streak, and reject
portrait art in the decorative style of the time. He
became known as one of the foremost caricaturists of
the century by most Norwegians.
married three times. His 1906 marriage to Grete
Jehly produced a son, Olaf Andreas Gulbransson, who
became a noted church architect. His third marriage
was with Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's niece, Dagny
gave his name to the Olaf Gulbransson Prize, won by
cartoonists such as Volker Kriegel and Michael Sowa.
In 2004 the artists Lars Fiske and Steffen
Kverneland published the book Olaf G., a
retrospective comic book about Olaf Gulbransson.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Olaf Gulbransson 1909: "Manoeuvre: Emperor William
II explains the enemy's positions to Prince Ludwig
Manet Edouard.Le Bon Bock (Portrait of
Oil on canvas, 94 x 83 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia
This painting was presented at
the 1873 Salon. It is somewhat classical in manner, Hals-like
in its virtuosity and relatively dark in tone. It won a
"mention honorable" at the Salon.
The painting was widely
identified as a French Alsatian patriot drinking his
regional beer. The picture came to serve as a popular symbol
of the recent loss of the Alsace-Lorraine region by France
to the Germans and a liberal political symbol of national
introspection. This association of Le Bon Bock with
democratic ideals inspired Emile Bellot, a printmaker and
the model for Manet's corpulent beer drinker, to organize
the Bon Bock Society in 1875. For almost fifty years this
group hosted monthly dinners in and around Montmartre for
its membership, which consisted mostly of artists, writers,
that an increasing number of the future Impressionists are still
working outside Paris, there is a growing sense of common
purpose among the artists, which culminates in the formation of
the Sociite Anonyme des Artistes, the primary aim of which is to
mount group exhibitions free from selection by a jury.
Theodore Duret buys Renoir's Study in Summer for 400
francs from a dealer, and then Lise with a Parasol
from the artist for 1200 francs.
Cezanne stays with Dr Gachet at his new house in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Inspired by Gachet, who is an enthusiastic engraver, Pissarro
decides to takes up etching again.
The sixth exhibition of Durand-Ruels Society of French Artists opens
in London, including work by Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissarro and
Chrysanthemums In A Chinese Vase
Morisot paints at Fecamp in Normandy. Durand-Ruel buys several
paintings from Monet and pays Degas 1000 francs for unspecified
MAYOpening of the Salon.
Renoir's Riding in the Bois de Boulogne is rejected.
Riding in the Bois de Boulogne
1873 Intended for the Salon of 1873, this painting was, to Renoir's
chagrin, rejected by the jury. In size - it was the largest picture
he had ever painted — and in subject matter, it seemed suitable for
that institution, and its rejection was one of the factors that
inclined Renoir towards the idea of an independent exhibition.
Manet exhibits Repose: A Portrait of Berthe Morisot
Le Bon Bock, which is enthusiastically received. Other
works hung include a pastel by Berthe Morisot and a painting by Mary
Monet, Pissarro and Sisley do not submit.
Repose: A Portrait of Berthe Morisot
1870 Exhibited at the Salon of 1873, this was the second portrait by
Vianet of Berthe Morisot, painted when she was thirty. Its loose,
sketchy style aroused considerable criticism, mixed with some praise
for its 'modernity'. Morisot later told her daughter that she was in
considerable discomfort while sitting for the portrait as her left
leg was drawn up underneath her, and Manet would not let her alter
15th The Exposition Artistique des Oeuvres Refuses
(organized, like the Salon des Refuses of 1863, on the initiative of
the artists themselves) opens in a disused drill hall. It arouses a
great deal of interest, and Renoir's Riding in the Bois de
Boulogne is well received.
Monet is introduced to Gaillebotte. He builds a studio boat at
Argenteuil, where Renoir visits him.
Courbet - who had been imprisoned for presiding over the demolition
of the column to Napoleon in the Place Vendome during the
Commune — is released from jail because of ill health. Shortly
afterwards he flees to Switzerland.
14th Van Gogh joins the London branch of Goupil's gallery.
Sisley paints in Louveciennes and Pontoise.
Manet and his family spend the summer in Etaples, a fishing village
Woman with Fans
Oil on canvas
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Renoir rents a studio at 35 rue St-Georges, in Montmartre.
14th Manet makes sketches of the trial of Marshal Bazaine,
court-martialled for surrendering to the Prussians at Metz in 1870.
Bazaine receives a twenty-year sentence.
28th Faure commissions The Dancing Examination
from Degas, reputedly for 5000 francs.
The Dancing Examination
1873-5 This, the first large-scale painting by Degas of a group of
dancers, was one of six works commissioned by the singer Faure. It
is noticeable that the dancers are paying little attention to the
maitre de ballet, the renowned Jules Perrot, and it is now
thought that his figure was added at a later date.
18th Manet sells five paintings to Faure at prices ranging
from 2500 to 6000 francs.
Cezanne meets Pere Tanguy, the dealer and supplier of artist's
materials, who starts to sell his work and gives him valuable
16th Degas buys Pissarro's Market Gardens at Osny from
27th A group of artists, including all the future
Impressionists, meets in Renoir's studio to ratify the constitution
of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes - an association set up to
promote sales through group exhibitions.
In 1873 Durand-Ruel brought out a lavish catalogue in the form of a
three-volume album of engravings reproducing 300 works of art that
he currently had in stock. In his preface the critic Armand
Silvestre attempted to analyse the appeal of the Impressionists:
At first sight one is hard put to distinguish between the works of
Monet, those of Sisley, and the style of the last of them, Pissarro.
After a little study, however, one comes to realize that M. Monet is
the most skilful and the most daring, M. Sisley the most harmonious,
and the most timid, M. Pissarro the most direct and the most naive.
These nuances are not, however, our only concern. What is certain is
that the painting of these three landscapists bears no relation at
all to that of the other [non-Impressionist] masters whose works we
have been considering, and that we can trace its ancestry to a point
which is distant and indirect, except for a closer temporal relation
to the works ofM. Manet. It is a form of painting that states its
premises with conviction and with a power that imposes on us the
duty of recognizing and defining what one may call its indeterminate
What immediately strikes one when looking at a painting of this kind
is the immediate caress which the eye receives; above all else it is
harmonious, and what really distinguishes it is the simplicity of
the means whereby it achieves this harmony. In fact one very quickly
discovers that its secret is based on a fine and exact observation
of the relation of one tone to another. In reality it is the scale
of tones, reconstructed after the great colourists of the century, a
sort of analytical process, which does not change the palette into a
kind of banal percussion instrument, as one might first be tempted
to believe. The meaning of these relationships in their precise
accuracy, is a very special gift, and one which constitutes the real
genius of a painter. The art of landscape runs no risk of vulgarity
from this sort of study...
It is M. Monet who, by the choice of the subjects themselves,
betrays his preoccupations most clearly. He loves to juxtapose on
the lightly ruffled surface of the water the multicoloured
reflections of the setting sun, of brightly coloured boats, of
changing clouds. Metallic tones given off by the smoothness of the
waves which splash over small even surfaces are recorded in his
works, and the image of the shore is mutable - the houses are broken
up as they are in a jigsaw puzzle. This effect, which is absolutely
true to experience, and may have been borrowed from the Japanese
school, strongly attracts the young painters, who surrender to it
The rustic interiors of M. Pissarro are considerably more complex
than one might have expected. Do the painters cancel each other out?
Certainly not, since nobody knows who will insert, in its proper
place, that stone which each of them contributes to the great
edifice of art. This uncertainty gives to art its real unity. Each
one has his part to play.
What could help to secure the eventual success of these young
painters is the fact that their pictures are done in a singularly
bright tonal range. A blond light pervades them, and everything is
gaiety, clarity, spring festivals, golden evenings, or apple trees
in blossom — once again an inspiration from Japan. Their canvases,
uncluttered, medium in size, are open in the surface they decorate;
they are windows opening on the joyous countryside, on rivers full
of pleasure-boats stretching into the distance, on a sky which
shines with light mists, on the outdoor life, panoramic and
Faure in the Role of Hamlet
Collector and singer
Photograph of Faure in the role of Hamlet.
Faure (1830-1914) was
one of the most popular baritones of his day. A
friend of Durand-Ruel, they spent 1870 to 1871
together in London, where Faure"s singing was very
well received, and lived in Brompton Road. An
admirer of the Impressionists, in 1873 he bought a
group of Manets at prices ranging from 2500 to 6000
francs; he also became friendly with Degas and
purchased eleven paintings from him.
A year later the singer bought back six paintings,
with which Degas was dissatisfied, from Durand-Ruel
for 8000 francs. Faure handed them over to the
artist, together with 1500 francs, on the
understanding that Degas would give him four
paintings on which he was currently working.
The artist finished two of these in 1876, but did
not deliver the other two until 1887 - and then only
as a consequence of legal action. The dispute soured
their friendship. Faure stopped buying the artist's
work, and three years later sold all the pictures by
Degas that he had collected.
On his retirement from the stage in 1880, Faure
commissioned Manet to paint a portrait of him as
Hamlet in Ambroise Thomas's opera of that name.
During one period his collection included
sixty-eight works by Manet, twenty-three by Monet,
thirty' by Sisley, and a smaller number of Renoirs
and Pissarros. In April 1878 he sent forty-two of
his pictures for sale at the Hotel Drouot, but
withdrew most of them when they failed to reach
their reserve prices.
Symphony No. 2 in C minor was completed in 1872, and
revised, like most of Bruckner's other symphonies, at
various points thereafter. This work is sometimes known
as the "Symphony of Pauses".
It was composed after the
Symphony "No. 0" in D minor (which was itself composed after
the Symphony No. 1 in C minor). It is the only "official"
symphony (that is to say,
excluding "No. 0") without a dedication: Franz Liszt tacitly
rejected the dedication, and Richard Wagner chose the
Symphony No. 3 in D minor instead. The premiere was given
with Bruckner himself conducting in 1873.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bruckner: Symphony No.2
Symphony No.2 in C minor, WAB102
Musikverein, Vienna, 13 4/2008
The Carl Rosa Opera
Company was founded in 1873 by Carl August Nicholas
Rosa, a German-born musical impresario, to present opera
in English in London and the British provinces. The
company premiered many operas in the UK, employing a mix
of established opera stars and young singers, reaching
new opera audiences with popularly-priced tickets.
It survived Rosa's
death in 1889, and continued to present opera in
English on tour until 1960, when it was obliged to
close for lack of funds. The company was revived in
1997, presenting mostly lighter operatic works
including Gilbert and Sullivan. The company "was
arguably the most influential opera company ever in
Carl Rosa was born Karl August Nikolaus Rose in
Hamburg, Germany, the son of a local businessman. A
child violin prodigy, Rosa studied at the
Conservatorium at Leipzig and in Paris. In 1863 he
was appointed Konzertmeister at Hamburg, where he
had occasional opportunities to conduct. He soon had
considerable success as a conductor both in England
and the United States.
During an American tour in 1866–67 as conductor of a
concert troupe that included the Scottish operatic
soprano Euphrosyne Parepa, Rosa and Parepa were
From 1869 to 1872,
Rosa and his wife toured their own opera company
through America, with Parepa as the star and Rosa as
the conductor. It brought opera to places that had
never seen any, performing Italian operas in
English, which made them more accessible to American
In 1872, the Rosas returned to England and also visited
Europe and Egypt. In September the next year, they
inaugurated the "Carl Rosa Opera" with a performance of
William Vincent Wallace's Maritana in Manchester, on 1
September, and then toured England and Ireland. Rosa's
policy was to present operas in English, and that remained
the company's practice. Parepa died in childbirth in January
1874, and Rosa married a second time in 1881, to Josephine
(d. 1927), with whom he had four children. In November 1874,
Carl Rosa Opera made its first of many visits to Scotland
with a two-week season at Glasgow's Prince of Wales Theatre.
The company's first London season opened at the Princess's
Theatre in September 1875, playing Mozart's The Marriage of
Figaro, with Charles Santley as Figaro and Rose Hersee as
Cartoon from the
In 1876, Rosa staged a
second London season, which featured the first
performance in English of Wagner's The Flying
Dutchman, with Santley in the title role.
For the next fifteen years, the company prospered
and earned good notices, with provincial tours and
London seasons, frequently in conjunction with
Augustus Harris at the Drury Lane Theatre. Such was
the success of the company that at one point three
Carl Rosa touring troupes were set up. In October
1892, Rosa's Grand Opera Company received the royal
accolade, with a command performance of Donizetti's
La fille du régiment at Balmoral Castle.
The French-American soprano Zélie de Lussan sang the
heroine, Marie, and Aynsley Cook "vastly amused
Queen Victoria as Sergeant Sulpice". In 1880, George
Grove, editor of the authoritative musical reference
work, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians,
wrote: "The careful way in which the pieces are put
on the stage, the number of rehearsals, the eminence
of the performers and the excellence of the
performers have begun to bear their legitimate
fruit, and the Carl Rosa Opera Company bids fair to
become a permanent English institution."
The company introduced
many works of important opera repertoire to England
for the first time, performing some 150 different
operas over the years. Besides Santley and Hersee,
Blanche Cole, Minnie Hauk, Georgina Burns, Joseph
Maas, Barton McGuckin, Giulia Warwick and William
Ludwig were some of the famous singers associated
with the company during its early years. I
ts successes included
productions of Cherubini's Les deux journées (1875), The
Flying Dutchman (1876), with Santley in the title role, the
first English-language production of Carmen (1879), starring
Selina Dolaro in the title role and Durward Lely as Don
José, Rienzi (1879), Lohengrin (1880) and Tannhäuser (1882).
Alberto Randegger served as musical director of the company
from 1879 to 1885.
The company also encouraged and supported new works by
English composers. Pauline in 1876 (Frederic Hymen Cowen),
Esmeralda in 1883 (Arthur Goring Thomas), Colomba in 1883
and The Troubabour (Alexander Mackenzie), and The Canterbury
Pilgrims in 1884 (Charles Villiers Stanford) were five of
the operas commissioned by the company. Earlier English
operas by Wallace, Michael Balfe and Julius Benedict were
also included in the company's repertoire – not just
standard works like The Bohemian Girl and Maritana, but
less-familiar operas such as Balfe's Satanella (1858) and
Wallace's Lurline (1860).
survival of the company
Carl Rosa died suddenly in Paris, on 30 April 1889,
and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. Two
years before his death, Rosa had turned his opera
enterprise into a limited company, and it was in
good financial and artistic shape at the time of his
death. Hamilton Clarke was appointed conductor of
the company in 1893. In 1897, the company gave the
first British performance of Puccini's La bohème in
Manchester under the supervision of the composer.
The company then gave a season at Covent Garden, at
reduced prices, aimed at attracting "the masses" to
opera. By 1900 the company was facing financial
problems from which it was rescued by the conductor
Walter van Noorden and his brother Alfred, who took
over and restored financial and artistic standards.
The company presented two seasons at Covent Garden
in 1907–08 and 1909, including new productions of
Tannhäuser and Tristan and Isolde conducted by
Eugène Goossens II. The company survived World War I
and the sudden death of Walter van Noorden in 1916,
touring the British provinces. Many young British
singers joined the company, including Olive Gilbert,
Parry Jones, and Eva Turner, who sang Cio-Cio-San
and Santuzza when the company presented three
postwar seasons at Covent Garden. In 1924, after
another financial crisis, H. B. Phillips became the
company's owner and director, and placed it once
more on a sound financial footing. Regular London
seasons alternated with large-scale provincial tours
during the 1920s and 1930s. Although some
productions had to be curtailed during World War II,
the company nevertheless presented seasons in London
and the provinces. Singers of the 1930s and 1940s
included Dora Labbette, Joan Hammond, Heddle Nash,
Norman Allin and Otakar Kraus. Conductors included
the refugees Walter Susskind (1942–44) Vilém Tauský
(1945–49) and Peter Gellhorn.
startled by the bogey of Italian Opera in an 1886
cartoon by Alfred Bryan
End of the old company and
birth of the new
Phillips died in 1950. In 1953 the Carl Rosa Trust was
formed in association with the Arts Council, who agreed to
subsidise the company, now directed by Phillips's widow,
Annette. The company gave seasons at Sadler's Wells in 1955
and 1956. In the 1950s, the musical director was Arthur
Hammond. Singers during this period included the dramatic
soprano Ruth Packer and tenor Charles Craig. The productions
were traditional, but the repertory included some operatic
rarities such as Puccini's Manon Lescaut and Berlioz's
Annette Phillips retired as director of the company in 1957
and was replaced by Professor Humphrey Procter-Gregg. At the
same time, the board of Sadler's Wells Opera made an
approach to merge the two opera companies. This approach
caused outrage in some operatic quarters, and Sadler's
Wells's musical director (Alexander Gibson) and
administrative heads (Norman Tucker and Stephen Arlen)
resigned in protest. In response to the outcry, the board of
the Welsh National Opera also made an attempt to merge with
Carl Rosa Opera. In the ensuing furore, Procter-Gregg
resigned, as did the chairman of the Carl Rosa Trust, Sir
Donald Wolfit, and trustees Astra Desmond and Norman Allin.
The Arts Council, which was accused in the House of Lords of
"doing their level best to kill [the Carl Rosa company off
altogether", withdrew its grant. The Carl Rosa Trust raised
money privately, and promoted a month's season at the
Prince's Theatre in 1960, but the company's final curtain
descended after Don Giovanni on 17 September 1960. Sadler's
Wells took over some of the company's members and many of
its touring dates.
The new Carl Rosa Opera
Limited was revived in 1997 under the artistic direction of
Peter Mulloy. Since then, it has performed West End seasons
and toured in the UK and internationally, offering a new
repertoire of Gilbert and Sullivan, continental
operettas and a few serious operas such as La bohème, often
performed in the original languages. Recent conductors have
included David Russell Hulme and Martin Handley. Directors
include Timothy West.
Enrico Caruso (February 25, 1873 – August 2, 1921) was
an Italian operatic tenor. He sang to great acclaim
at the major opera houses of Europe and the
Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from
the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from
the lyric to the dramatic. Caruso also made
approximately 290 commercially released recordings
from 1902 to 1920. All of these recordings, which
span most of his stage career, are available today
on CDs and as digital downloads.
Life and career
Enrico Caruso came from a poor but not destitute
background. Born in Naples in the Via San
Giovannello agli Ottocalli 7 on February 25, 1873,
he was baptised the next day in the adjacent Church
of San Giovanni e Paolo. Called Errico in accordance
with the Neapolitan language, he would later adopt
the formal Italian version of his given name, Enrico
(the equivalent of "Henry" in English). This change
came at the suggestion of a singing teacher,
Guglielmo Vergine, with whom he began lessons at the
age of 16.
Caruso was the third of seven children and one of
only three to survive infancy. There is a story of
Caruso's parents having had 21 children, 18 of whom
died in infancy. However, on the basis of
genealogical research (amongst others conducted by
Caruso family friend Guido D'Onoforio), biographers
Pierre Key, Francis Robinson, and Enrico
Caruso Jr. & Andrew Farkas, have proven this to
be an urban legend. Caruso himself and his brother
Giovanni may have been the source of the exaggerated
number. Caruso's widow Dorothy also included the
story in a memoir that she wrote about her husband.
She quotes the tenor, speaking of his mother, Anna
Caruso (née Baldini): "She had twenty-one children.
Twenty boys and one girl – too many. I am number
Caruso's father, Marcellino, was a mechanic and
foundry worker. Initially, Marcellino thought his
son should adopt the same trade, and at the age of
11, the boy was apprenticed to a mechanical engineer
named Palmieri who constructed public water
Naples in future years, Caruso liked to point out a
fountain that he had helped to install.) Caruso
later worked alongside his father at the Meuricoffre factory in
Naples. At his mother's insistence, he also attended
school for a time, receiving a basic education under
the tutelage of a local priest. He learned to write
in a handsome script and studied technical
draftsmanship. During this period he sang in his
church choir, and his voice showed enough promise
for him to contemplate a possible career in music.
Caruso was encouraged in his early musical
ambitions by his mother, who died in 1888. To raise
cash for his family, he found work as a street
singer in Naples and performed at cafes and soirees.
Aged 18, he used the fees he had earned by singing
at an Italian resort to buy his first pair of new
shoes. His progress as a paid entertainer was
interrupted, however, by 45 days of compulsory
military service. He completed this in 1894,
resuming his voice lessons with Vergine upon
discharge from the army.
At the age of 22, Caruso made his professional stage
debut in serious music. The date was March 15, 1895
at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. The work in which he
appeared was a now-forgotten opera, L'Amico
Francesco, by the amateur composer Domenico Morelli.
A string of further engagements in provincial opera
houses followed, and he received instruction from
the conductor and voice teacher Vincenzo Lombardi
that improved his high notes and polished his style.
Three other prominent Neapolitan singers taught by
Lombardi were the baritones Antonio Scotti and
Pasquale Amato, both of whom would go on to partner
Caruso at the Met, and the tenor Fernando De Lucia,
who would also appear at the Met and later sing at
Money continued to be in short supply for the
young Caruso. One of his first publicity
photographs, taken on a visit to Sicily in 1896,
depicts him wearing a bedspread draped like a toga
since his sole dress shirt was away being laundered.
At a notorious early performance in Naples, he was
booed by a section of the audience because he failed
to pay a claque to cheer for him. This incident hurt
Caruso's pride. He never appeared again on stage in
his native city, stating later that he would return
"only to eat spaghetti".
During the final few years of the 19th century,
Caruso performed at a succession of theaters
throughout Italy until, in 1900, he was rewarded
with a contract to sing at La Scala in Milan, the
country's premier opera house. His La Scala debut
occurred on December 26 of that year in the part of
Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème with Arturo
Toscanini conducting. Audiences in Monte Carlo,
Warsaw and Buenos Aires also heard Caruso sing
during this pivotal phase of his career and, in
1899–1900, he appeared before the Tsar and the
Russian aristocracy at the Mariinsky Theatre in
Saint Petersburg and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
as part of a touring company of first-class Italian
The first major operatic role that Caruso was
given the responsibility of creating was Loris in
Umberto Giordano's Fedora, at the Teatro Lirico,
Milan, on November 17, 1898. At that same theater,
on November 6, 1902, he would create the role of
Maurizio in Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.
(Puccini considered casting the young Caruso in the
role of Cavaradossi in Tosca at its premiere in
1900, but ultimately chose the older, more
established Emilio De Marchi instead.)
Caruso took part in a "grand concert" at La Scala in
February 1901 that Toscanini organised to mark the
recent death of Giuseppe Verdi. Among those
appearing with him at the concert were two other
leading Italian tenors of the day, Francesco Tamagno
(the creator of the protagonist's role in Verdi's
Otello) and Giuseppe Borgatti (the creator of the
protagonist's role in Giordano's Andrea Chénier). He
embarked on his last series of La Scala performances
in March 1902, creating along the way the principal
tenor part in Germania by Alberto Franchetti.
A month later, on April 11, he was engaged by the
Gramophone & Typewriter Company to make his first
group of acoustic recordings, in a Milan hotel room,
for a fee of 100 pounds sterling. These 10 discs
swiftly became best-sellers. Among other things,
they helped to spread 29-year-old Caruso's fame
throughout the English-speaking world.
management of London's Royal Opera House, Covent
Garden, signed him for a season of appearances in
eight different operas ranging from Verdi's Aida to
Don Giovanni by Mozart. His successful debut at
Covent Garden occurred on May 14, 1902, as the Duke
of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto. Covent Garden's
highest-paid diva, the Australian soprano Nellie
Melba, partnered him as Gilda. They would sing
together often during the early 1900s.
memoirs, Melba praised Caruso's voice but considered
him to be a less sophisticated musician and
interpretive artist than Jean de Reszke—the Met's
biggest tenor drawcard prior to Caruso.
The Metropolitan Opera
The following year, 1903, Caruso traveled to New
York City to take up a contract with the
Metropolitan Opera. (The gap between his London and
New York engagements was filled by a series of
performances in Italy, Portugal and South America.)
Caruso's Met contract had been negotiated by his
agent, the banker and impresario Pasquale Simonelli.
Caruso's debut at the Met was in a new production of
Rigoletto on November 23, 1903. This time, Marcella
Sembrich sang opposite him as Gilda. A few months
later, he began a lasting association with the
Victor Talking Machine Company. He made his first
American records on February 1, 1904, having signed
a lucrative financial deal with Victor. Thereafter,
his recording career ran in tandem with his Met
career, the one bolstering the other, until his
death in 1921.
Enrico Caruso, c. 1910
Caruso purchased the Villa Bellosguardo, a
palatial country house near Florence, in 1904. The
villa became his retreat away from the pressures of
the operatic stage and the grind of travel. Caruso's
preferred address in New York City was a suite at
Manhattan's Knickerbocker Hotel. (The Knickerbocker
was erected in 1906 on the corner of Broadway and
42nd Street.) Caruso commissioned the New York
jewelers Tiffany & Co. to strike a 24-carat-gold
medal adorned with the tenor's profile. He presented
the medal in gratitude to Simonelli as a souvenir of
his many well-remunerated performances at the Met.
In addition to his
regular New York engagements, Caruso gave recitals
and operatic performances in a large number of
cities across the United States and sang in Canada.
He also continued to sing widely in Europe,
appearing again at Covent Garden in 1904–07 and
1913–14; and undertaking a UK tour in 1909.
Audiences in France, Belgium, Monaco, Austria,
Hungary and Germany heard him, too, prior to the
outbreak of World War I. In 1909, Melba asked him to
participate in her forthcoming tour of Australia;
but he declined the invitation because of the
significant amount of travel time that such a trip
Members of the Met's
roster of artists, including Caruso, had visited San
Francisco in April 1906 for a series of
performances. Following an appearance as Don Jose in
Carmen at the city's Grand Opera House, a strong
jolt awakened Caruso at 5:13 on the morning of the
18th in his suite at the Palace Hotel. He found
himself in the middle of the San Francisco
earthquake, which led to a series of fires that
destroyed most of the city. The Met lost all the
sets, costumes and musical instruments that it had
brought on tour but none of the artists was harmed.
Holding an autographed photo of President Theodore
Roosevelt, Caruso ran from the hotel, but was composed
enough to walk to the St. Francis Hotel for breakfast.
Charlie Olson, the broiler cook, made the tenor bacon and
eggs. Apparently the quake had no effect on Caruso's
appetite, as he cleaned his plate and tipped Olson $2.50.
Caruso made an ultimately successful effort to flee the
city, first by boat and then by train. He vowed never to
return to San Francisco and kept his word.
In November 1906,
Caruso was charged with an indecent act allegedly
committed in the monkey house of New York's Central
Park Zoo. The police accused him of pinching the
bottom of a married woman. Caruso claimed a monkey
did the bottom-pinching. He was found guilty as
charged, however, and fined 10 dollars, although
suspicions linger that he may have been entrapped by
the victim and the arresting officer. The leaders of
New York's opera-going high society were outraged
initially by the incident, which received widespread
newspaper coverage, but they soon forgot about it
and continued to attend Caruso's Met performances. Caruso's fan base at
the Met was not restricted, however, to the wealthy.
Members of America's middle classes also paid to
hear him sing—or buy copies of his recordings—and he
enjoyed a substantial following among New York's
500,000 Italian immigrants.
Caruso created the role of Dick Johnson in the
world premiere of Puccini's La fanciulla del West on
December 10, 1910. The composer conceived the music
for the tenor hero with Caruso's voice specifically
in mind. With Caruso appeared two more of the Met's
star singers, the Czech soprano Emmy Destinn and
baritone Pasquale Amato. Toscanini, then the Met's
principal conductor, presided in the orchestra pit.
Later career and personal life
From 1916 onwards, Caruso began adding heroic parts
such as Samson, John of Leyden, and Eléazar to his
Caruso toured the South American nations of
Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil in 1917, and two
years later performed in Mexico City. In 1920, he
was paid the then-enormous sum of 10,000 American
dollars a night to sing in Havana, Cuba.
The United States had entered World War I in
1917, sending troops to Europe. Caruso did extensive
charity work during the conflict, raising money for
war-related patriotic causes by giving concerts and
participating enthusiastically in Liberty Bond
drives. The tenor had shown himself to be a shrewd
businessman since arriving in America. He put a
sizable proportion of his earnings from record
royalties and singing fees into a range of
investments. Biographer Michael Scott writes that by
the end of the war in 1918, Caruso's annual income
tax bill amounted to $154,000.
Prior to World War I, Caruso had been
romantically tied to an Italian soprano, Ada
Giachetti, who was a few years older than he was. Though already married, Giachetti bore
Caruso four sons during their liaison, which lasted
from 1897 to 1908. Two survived infancy: Rodolfo
Caruso (born 1898) and singer/actor Enrico Caruso,
Jr. (1904–1987). Ada had left her husband,
manufacturer Gino Botti, and an existing son to
cohabit with the tenor. Information provided in
Scott's biography of Caruso suggests that she was
his vocal coach as well as his lover.
Statements by Enrico Caruso, Jr. in his book tend to
substantiate this. Her relationship with
Caruso broke down after 11 years and they separated. Giachetti's subsequent attempts to sue him for
damages were dismissed by the courts.
Towards the end of the war, Caruso met and wooed
a 25-year-old socialite, Dorothy Park Benjamin
(1893–1955). She was the daughter of a wealthy New
York patent lawyer. In spite of the disapproval of
Dorothy's father, the couple wed on August 20, 1918.
They had a daughter, Gloria Caruso (1919–1999).
Dorothy lived until 1955 and wrote two books about
Caruso, published in 1928 and 1945. The books
include many of Caruso's letters to his wife.
A fastidious dresser, Caruso took two baths a day
and liked good Italian food and convivial company.
He forged a particularly close bond with his Met and
Covent Garden colleague Antonio Scotti – an amiable
and stylish baritone from Naples. Caruso was
superstitious and habitually carried good-luck
charms with him when he sang. He played cards for
relaxation and sketched friends, other singers and
musicians. Dorothy Caruso said that by the time she
knew him, her husband's favorite hobby was compiling
scrapbooks. He also amassed a valuable collection of
rare postage stamps, coins, watches and antique
snuffboxes. Caruso was a heavy smoker of strong
Egyptian cigarettes, too. This deleterious habit,
combined with a lack of exercise and the punishing
schedule of performances that Caruso willingly
undertook season after season at the Met, may have
contributed to the persistent ill-health which
afflicted the last months of his life.
Illness and death
On September 16, 1920, Caruso concluded three days
of Victor recording sessions at Trinity Church in
Camden, New Jersey. He recorded several discs
including the Domine Deus and Crucifixus from the
Petite messe solennelle by Rossini. These recordings
were to be his last.
Dorothy Caruso noted that her husband's health
began a distinct downward spiral in late 1920 after
he returned from a lengthy North American concert
tour. In his biography, Enrico Caruso, Jr. points to
an on-stage injury suffered by Caruso as the
possible trigger of his fatal illness. A falling
pillar in Samson and Delilah on December 3 had hit
him on the back, over the left kidney (and not on
the chest as popularly reported). A few days
before a performance of Pagliacci at the Met (Pierre
Key says it was December 4, the day after the Samson
and Delilah injury) he suffered a chill and
developed a cough and a "dull pain in his side". It
appeared to be a severe episode of bronchitis.
Caruso's physician, Philip Horowitz, who usually
treated him for migraine headaches with a kind of
primitive TENS unit, diagnosed "intercostal
neuralgia" and pronounced him fit to appear on
stage, although the pain continued to hinder his
voice production and movements.
During a performance of L'elisir d'amore by
Donizetti at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on
December 11, 1920, he suffered a throat haemorrhage
and the performance was canceled at the end of Act
1. Following this incident, a clearly unwell Caruso
gave only three more performances at the Met, the
final one being as Eléazar in Halévy's La Juive, on
December 24, 1920. By Christmas Day, the pain in his
side was so excruciating that he was screaming.
Dorothy summoned the hotel physician, who gave
Caruso some morphine and codeine and called in
another doctor, Evan M. Evans.
Evans brought in
three other doctors and Caruso finally received a
correct diagnosis: purulent pleurisy and empyema.
Caruso's health deteriorated further during the
new year. He experienced episodes of intense pain
because of the infection and underwent seven
surgical procedures to drain fluid from his chest
and lungs. He returned to Naples to recuperate
from the most serious of the operations, during
which part of a rib had been removed. According to
Dorothy Caruso, he seemed to be recovering, but
allowed himself to be examined by an unhygienic
local doctor and his condition worsened dramatically
after that. The Bastianelli brothers,
eminent medical practitioners with a clinic in Rome,
recommended that his left kidney be removed. He was
on his way to Rome to see them but, while staying
overnight in the Vesuvio Hotel in Naples, he took an
alarming turn for the worse and was given morphine
to help him sleep.
Caruso died at the hotel shortly after 9:00 a.m.
local time, on August 2, 1921. He was 48. The
Bastianellis attributed the likely cause of death to
peritonitis arising from a burst subphrenic
abscess. The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel
III, opened the Royal Basilica of the Church of San
Francesco di Paola for Caruso's funeral, which was
attended by thousands of people. His embalmed body
was preserved in a glass sarcophagus at Del Pianto
Cemetery in Naples for mourners to view. In
1929, Dorothy Caruso had his remains sealed
permanently in an ornate stone tomb.
Historical and musical significance Caruso's 25-year career, stretching from 1895 to
1920, included 863 appearances at the New York
Metropolitan Opera before he died at the age of 48.
Thanks in part to his tremendously popular
phonograph records, Caruso was one of the most
famous personalities of his day and his fame has
endured to the present. He was one of the first
examples of a global media celebrity. Beyond
records, Caruso's name became familiar to millions
through newspapers, books, magazines, and the new
media technology of the 20th century: cinema, the
telephone and telegraph. Caruso toured widely
both with the Metropolitan Opera touring company and
on his own, giving hundreds of performances
throughout Europe, and North and South America. He
was a client of the noted promoter Edward Bernays,
during the latter's tenure as a press agent in the
United States. Beverly Sills noted in an interview:
"I was able to do it with television and radio and
media and all kinds of assists. The popularity that
Caruso enjoyed without any of this technological
assistance is astonishing."
Caruso biographers Pierre Key, Bruno Zirato and
Stanley Jackson attribute Caruso's fame not
only to his voice and musicianship but also to a
keen business sense and an enthusiastic embrace of
commercial sound recording, then in its infancy.
Many opera singers of Caruso's time rejected the
phonograph (or gramophone) owing to the low fidelity
of early discs. Others, including Adelina Patti,
Francesco Tamagno and Nellie Melba, exploited the
new technology once they became aware of the
financial returns that Caruso was reaping from his
initial recording sessions.
Caruso made more than 260 extant recordings in
America for the Victor Talking Machine Company
(later RCA Victor) from 1904 to 1920, and he earned
millions of dollars in royalties from the retail
sales of the resulting 78-rpm discs. (Previously, in
Italy in 1902–1903, he had cut five batches of
records for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company, the
Zonophone label and Pathé Records.) He was also
heard live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera
House in 1910, when he participated in the first
public radio broadcast to be transmitted in the
Enrico Caruso as Lionel in Martha
Caruso also appeared in two motion pictures. In
1918, he played a dual role in the American silent
film My Cousin for Paramount Pictures. This film
included a sequence depicting him on stage
performing the aria Vesti la giubba from
Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci. The following year
Caruso played a character called Cosimo in another
film, The Splendid Romance. Producer Jesse Lasky
paid Caruso $100,000 each to appear in these two
efforts but My Cousin flopped at the box office and
The Splendid Romance was apparently never released.
Brief candid glimpses of Caruso offstage have been
preserved in contemporary newsreel footage.
While Caruso sang at such venues as La Scala in
Milan, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in
London, the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg,
and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, he was also
the leading tenor of the Metropolitan Opera in New
York City for 18 consecutive seasons. It was at the
Met, in 1910, that he created the role of Dick
Johnson in Giacomo Puccini's La fanciulla del West.
Caruso's voice extended up to high D-flat in its
prime and grew in power and weight as he grew older.
At times, his voice took on a dark, almost baritonal
coloration. He sang a broad spectrum of roles,
ranging from lyric, to spinto, to dramatic parts, in
the Italian and French repertoires. In the German
repertoire, Caruso sang only two roles, Assad (in
Karl Goldmark's The Queen of Sheba) and Richard
Wagner's Lohengrin, both of which he performed in
Italian in Buenos Aires in 1899 and 1901,
During his lifetime, Caruso received many orders,
decorations, testimonials and other kinds of honors
from monarchs, governments and miscellaneous
cultural bodies of the various nations in which he
sang. He was also the recipient of Italian
knighthoods. In 1917, he was elected an honorary
member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national
fraternity for men involved in music, by the
fraternity's Alpha chapter of the New England
Conservatory of Music in Boston. One unusual award
bestowed on him was that of "Honorary Captain of the
New York Police Force". In 1960, for his
contribution to the recording industry, Caruso
received a star located at 6625 Hollywood Boulevard
on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Caruso was
posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement
Award in 1987. On February 27 of that same year, the
United States Postal Service issued a 22-cent
postage stamp in his honor. He was voted into
Gramophone Magazine's Hall of Fame in 2012.
Feodor Chaliapin, in
full Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, also spelled Fyodor
Shalyapin (born Feb. 1 [Feb. 13, New Style], 1873, near
Kazan, Russia—died April 12, 1938, Paris, France),
Russian operatic basso profundo whose vivid declamation,
great resonance, and dynamic acting made him the
best-known singer-actor of his time.
Chaliapin was born to
a poor family. He worked as an apprentice to a
shoemaker, a sales clerk, a carpenter, and a lowly
clerk in a district court before joining, at age 17,
a local operetta company.
Two years later he went to study in Tiflis (now
Tbilisi, Georgia), and in 1896 he became a member of
the private Mamontov opera company, where he
mastered the Russian, French, and Italian roles that
made him famous. In 1895 he debuted at the Imperial
Mariinsky Theatre as Mephistopheles in Charles
Gounod’s Faust. In 1901 he sang at La Scala under
Arturo Toscanini, alongside Enrico Caruso.
interpretation of the title role in Modest
Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov was his most famous. His
other major dramatic parts included Philip II in
Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlos, Ivan the Terrible in
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov, and the
title (and, for him, the signature) role in Arrigo
Boito’s Mefistofele. His great comic
characterizations were Don Basilio in Gioachino
Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Leporello in
Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
at the major opera houses in Milan (1901, 1904), New
York City (1907), and London (1913). A man of
lower-class origins, Chaliapin was not unsympathetic
to the Bolshevik Revolution. He left Russia in 1922
as part of an extended tour of western Europe.
Although he would never return, he remained a
tax-paying citizen of Soviet Russia for several
His first open break with the
regime occurred in 1927 when the Soviet government, as part
of its campaign to pressure him into returning to Russia,
stripped him of his title of “The First People’s Artist of
the Soviet Republic” and threatened to deprive him of Soviet
citizenship. Prodded by Stalin, Maksim Gorky, Chaliapin’s
longtime friend, tried to persuade him to return to Russia
but broke with him after Chaliapin published his memoirs,
Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer (trans.
from French 1932, reissued 1973; originally published in
Russian, Maska i dusha, 1932), in which he denounced the
lack of freedom under the Bolsheviks. After leaving the
Soviet Union, Chaliapin performed frequently with the
Metropolitan and Chicago opera companies in the United
States and with Covent Garden in London. He also toured
every continent, frequently with his own opera company.
Although occasionally considered unorthodox, he was admired
as a versatile and expressive recitalist, remembered for his
repertoire of Russian songs. He made some 200 recordings
from 1898 to 1936, starred in the movie Don Quixote (1933),
and published the autobiographical Pages from My Life
(1926). In 1984 his remains were disinterred from
Batignolles Cemetery in Paris and reburied in the
Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, alongside Russia’s most
revered cultural figures.
Joseph Maximilian Reger (19 March 1873 – 11 May 1916)
was a German composer, conductor, pianist, organist, and
Born in Brand, Bavaria, Reger studied music in Munich and
Wiesbaden with Hugo Riemann. From September 1901 he settled
in Munich, where he obtained concert offers and where his
rapid rise to fame began. During his first Munich season,
Reger appeared in ten concerts as an organist, chamber
pianist and accompanist. He continued to compose without
interruption. From 1907 he worked in Leipzig, where he was
music director of the university until 1908 and professor of
composition at the conservatory until his death. In 1911 he
moved to Meiningen where he got the position of
Hofkapellmeister at the court of Georg II, Duke of
Saxe-Meiningen. In 1915 he moved to Jena, commuting once a
week to teach in Leipzig. He died in May 1916 on one of
these trips of a heart attack at age 43.
He had also been active
internationally as a conductor and pianist. Among his
students were Joseph Haas, Sándor Jemnitz, Jaroslav Kvapil,
Ruben Liljefors, George Szell and Cristòfor Taltabull.
Reger was the cousin of
Hans von Koessler.
Joseph Maximilian Reger
Reger produced an enormous output over little more
than 25 years, nearly always in abstract forms. Few
of his compositions are well known in the 21st
century. Many of his works are fugues or in
variation form, including what is probably his best
known orchestral work, the Variations and Fugue on a
Theme by Mozart based on the opening theme of
Mozart's Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331.
He also wrote a large amount of music for organ, the
most famous being his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
and the Fantasy and Fugue on BACH. While a student
under Hugo Riemann in Wiesbaden, Reger met and
became friends with the famous German organist, Karl
Straube who premiered many of Reger's works for that
particularly attracted to the fugal form and created
music in almost every genre, save for opera and the
symphony. A similarly firm supporter of absolute
music, he saw himself as being part of the tradition
of Beethoven and Brahms. His work often combines the
classical structures of these composers with the
extended harmonies of Liszt and Wagner, to which he
added the complex counterpoint of Bach. His organ
music, though also influenced by Liszt, was provoked
by that tradition.
Some of the works for solo string instruments turn
up often on recordings, though less regularly in
recitals. His solo piano and two-piano music places
him as a successor to Brahms in the central German
He pursued intensively, and to
its limits, Brahms's continuous development and free
modulation, often also invoking, like Brahms, the aid of
Reger was a prolific writer
of vocal works, Lieder, works for mixed chorus, men's chorus
and female chorus, and extended choral works with orchestra
such as Psalm 100 and the Requiem. He composed music to
texts by poets such as Otto Julius Bierbaum, Adelbert von
Chamisso, Joseph von Eichendorff, Emanuel Geibel, Friedrich
Hebbel, Nikolaus Lenau, Friedrich Rückert and Ludwig Uhland.
His works could be
considered retrospective as they followed classical and
baroque compositional techniques such as fugue and continuo.
The influence of the latter can be heard in his chamber
works which are deeply reflective and unconventional.
In 1898 Caesar Hochstetter,
an arranger, composer and critic, published an article
entitled "Noch einmal Max Reger" in a music magazine (Die
Redenden Künste 5 nr. 49, s. 943 f). Caesar recommends Reger
as "a highly talented young composer" to the publishers.
Reger then thanks Hochstetter with the dedications of his
Op. 25 and 34.
Max Reger at work, painting of Franz Nölken, 1913
He had an acrimonious relationship with Rudolf Louis, the
music critic of the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, who
usually had negative opinions of his compositions. After the
first performance of the Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 90, on
2 February 1906, Louis wrote a typically negative review on
7 February. Reger wrote back to him: "Ich sitze in dem
kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe Ihre Kritik vor
mir. Im nächsten Augenblick wird sie hinter mir sein!" ("I
am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your
review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!").
in full Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff, Rachmaninoff
also spelled Rakhmaninov, or Rachmaninov (born March 20
[April 1, New Style], 1873, Oneg, near Semyonovo,
Russia—died March 28, 1943, Beverly Hills, California,
U.S.), composer who was the last great figure of the
tradition of Russian Romanticism and a leading piano
virtuoso of his time. He is especially known for his
piano concerti and the piece for piano and orchestra
titled Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934).
Rachmaninoff was born on an estate belonging to his
grandparents, situated near Lake Ilmen in the
Novgorod district. His father was a retired army
officer and his mother the daughter of a general.
The boy was destined to become an army officer until
his father lost the entire family fortune through
risky financial ventures and then deserted the
family. Young Sergey’s cousin Aleksandr Siloti, a
well-known concert pianist and conductor, sensed the
boy’s abilities and suggested sending him to the
noted teacher and pianist Nikolay Zverev in Moscow
for his piano studies. It is to Zverev’s strict
disciplinarian treatment of the boy that musical
history owes one of the great piano virtuosos of the
20th century. For his general education and
theoretical subjects in music, Sergey became a pupil
at the Moscow Conservatory.
At age 19 he
graduated from the conservatory, winning a gold
medal for his one-act opera Aleko (after Aleksandr
Pushkin’s poem Tsygany [“The Gypsies”]). His fame
and popularity, both as composer and concert
pianist, were launched by two compositions: the
Prelude in C-sharp Minor, played for the first time
in public on September 26, 1892, and his Piano
Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, which had its first
performance in Moscow on October 27, 1901. The
former piece, although it first brought Rachmaninoff
to public attention, was to haunt him throughout his
life—the prelude was constantly requested by his
The concerto, his first major
success, revived his hopes after a trying period of
In his youth, Rachmaninoff
was subject to emotional crises over the success or failure
of his works as well as his personal relationships.
Self-doubt and uncertainty carried him into deep
depressions, one of the most severe of which followed the
failure, on its first performance in March 1897, of his
Symphony No. 1 in D Minor. The symphony was poorly
performed, and the critics condemned it. During this period,
while brooding over an unhappy love affair, he was taken to
a psychiatrist, Nikolay Dahl, who is often credited with
having restored the young composer’s self-confidence, thus
enabling him to write the Piano Concerto No. 2 (which is
dedicated to Dahl).
Rachmaninoff in the early 1900s, before he
graduated from the Moscow Conservatory
At the time of the Russian Revolution of 1905,
Rachmaninoff was a conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Although more of an observer than a person
politically involved in the revolution, he went with
his family, in November 1906, to live in Dresden.
There he wrote three of his major scores: the
Symphony No. 2 in E Minor (1907), the symphonic poem
The Isle of the Dead (1909), and the Piano Concerto
No. 3 in D Minor (1909).
The last was composed especially for his first
concert tour of the United States, highlighting his
much-acclaimed pianistic debut on November 28, 1909,
with the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch.
Piano Concerto No. 3 requires great virtuosity from
the pianist; its last movement is a bravura section
as dazzling as any ever composed.
In Philadelphia and Chicago he appeared with equal
success in the role of conductor, interpreting his
own symphonic compositions. Of these, the Symphony
No. 2 is the most significant: it is a work of deep
emotion and haunting thematic material. While
touring, he was invited to become permanent
conductor of the Boston Symphony, but he declined
the offer and returned to Russia in February 1910.
The one notable
composition of Rachmaninoff’s second period of
residence in Moscow was his choral symphony The
Bells (1913), based on Konstantin Balmont’s Russian
translation of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
This work displays considerable ingenuity in the
coupling of choral and orchestral resources to
produce striking imitative and textural effects.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Rachmaninoff went into
his second self-imposed exile, dividing his time between
residences in Switzerland and the United States. Although
for the next 25 years he spent most of his time in an
English-speaking country, he never mastered its language or
thoroughly acclimatized himself. With his family and a small
circle of friends, he lived a rather isolated life. He
missed Russia and the Russian people—the sounding board for
his music, as he said. And this alienation had a devastating
effect on his formerly prolific creative ability. He
produced little of real originality but rewrote some of his
earlier work. Indeed, he devoted himself almost entirely to
concertizing in the United States and Europe, a field in
which he had few peers. His only substantial works from this
period are the Symphony No. 3 in A Minor (1936), another
expression of sombre, Slavic melancholy, and the Rhapsody on
a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra, a set of
variations on a violin caprice by Niccolò Paganini.
Rachmaninoff’s last major work, the Symphonic Dances for
orchestra, was composed in 1940, about two years before his
Rachmaninoff at the piano (1936 or before)
Rachmaninoff’s music, although written mostly in the 20th
century, remains firmly entrenched in the 19th-century
musical idiom. He was, in effect, the final expression of
the tradition embodied by Tchaikovsky—a melodist of Romantic
dimensions still writing in an era of explosive change and
Victor Ilyich Seroff
Sergei Vassilievich Rachmaninoff.
Portrait by Donald Sheridan.
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano
and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of
1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first
performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900. The
complete work was premiered, again with the composer as soloist, on
9 November 1901, with his cousin Alexander Siloti conducting. This
video contains all three movements played by Rachmaninoff.
The Maid of Pskov
(Russian: Псковитянка, Pskovityanka), is an opera in
three acts and six scenes by
The libretto was written by the composer, and is based
on the drama of the same name by Lev Mei. The story
concerns the Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his efforts to
subject the cities of Pskov and Novgorod to his will.
The original version of the opera was completed in 1872,
and received its premiere in 1873 in St. Petersburg,
The third and final version
was completed in 1892, and is considered "definitive". This
version was made famous by Chaliapin in the role of Ivan the
Terrible. It was introduced to Paris in 1909 by Diaghilev
under the title Ivan the Terrible, on account of the
dominance of his role, and because of European audience's
familiarity with his name.
Rosa Newmarch has
characterized the music for the solo singers as mainly of
"'mezzo-recitative' of a somewhat dry quality, but relieved
by great variety of orchestral color in the accompaniments".
The first product of the composer's interest in this work
was a lullaby composed in 1866. Rimsky-Korsakov then set to
work in full earnest on an operatic treatment in the winter
of 1867-1868. There are 3 versions of the opera. The
original version was composed in the years 1868–1872, and
received its premiere in 1873. The composer revised the
opera in the years 1876–1877. Later he completed a final
version in the years 1891–1892.
The Veche Scene by Matvey Shishkov.
Design for the premiere of The Maid of Pskov.
(Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1873).
The world premiere was given in St. Petersburg on 13 January
(O.S. 1 January), 1873 at the Mariinsky Theatre, conducted
by Eduard Nápravník.
Other notable performances
included those in 1895 in St. Petersburg's Panayevsky
Theatre given by the Society of Musical Gatherings. The
Russian Private Opera performances in Moscow in 1896,
conducted by Bernardi, with scenery by Korovin and Vasnetsov,
included Feodor Chaliapin as Ivan the Terrible.
In 1909 at the Théâtre du
Châtelet in Paris, in a Sergei Diaghilev production, the
opera was conducted by Nikolai Tcherepnin and Chaliapin sang
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Feodor Chaliapin as Ivan IV and V. A. Eberle as Olga
(Russian Private Opera, 1896)
Svetlanov conducts Rimsky-Korsakov
- Overture to 'The Maid of Pskov'
Tchaikovsky's (Tchaikovsky Peter Ilich
) Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 was composed
in 1872. One of Tchaikovsky's joyful compositions, it
was successful right from its premiere and also won the
favor of the group of nationalistic Russian composers
known as "The Five", led by Mily Balakirev. Because
Tchaikovsky used three Ukrainian folk songs to great
effect in this work, it was nicknamed the "Little
Russian" (Russian: Малороссийская, Malorossiyskaya) by
Nikolay Kashkin, a friend of the composer as well as a
well-known musical critic of Moscow. Ukraine was at that
time frequently called "Little Russia".
The premiere of the complete symphony took place in
Moscow under Nikolai Rubinstein on February 7, 1873.
Despite its initial success,
Tchaikovsky was not satisfied with the symphony. He revised
the work extensively in 1879-80, substantially rewriting the
opening movement and shortening the finale. This revision is
the version of the symphony usually performed today,
although there have also been supporters of the original
version. Among those advocates was the composer's friend and
former student, Sergei Taneyev, who was himself a noted
composer and pedagogue.
Form 1. Andante sostenuto—Allegro vivo (C minor).
A solo horn playing a Ukrainian variant of "Down by
Mother Volga" sets the atmosphere for this movement.
Tchaikovsky reintroduces this song in the development
section, and the horn sings it once more at the
movement's conclusion. The rather vigorous second
subject utilises a melody which would also be used
subsequently by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in his Russian
Easter Festival Overture. The end of the exposition, in
the relative E-flat major, leads straight into the
development, in which material from both themes is
heard. A long pedal note leads back to the second
subject. Unusually, Tchaikovsky does not repeat the
first subject theme in its entirety in this section, as
is conventional, but instead uses it solely for the
coda. 2. Andantino marziale, quasi moderato (E-flat major).
This movement was originally a bridal march Tchaikovsky
wrote for his unpublished opera Undine. He quotes the
folk song "Spin, O My Spinner" in the central section. 3. Scherzo.Allegro molto vivace (C minor).
Fleet and scampering, this movement does not quote an
actual folk song but sounds folk song-like in its
overall character. It takes the form of a da capo
scherzo and trio with a coda. 4. Finale.Moderato assai—Allegro vivo (C
After a brief but expansive fanfare, Tchaikovsky quotes
the folk song "The Crane", subjecting it to an
increasingly intricate and colorful variations for
orchestra. A more lyrical theme from the strings
provides contrast before the symphony ends in a rousing
C major conclusion.
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Tchaikovsky : Symphony No.2 in C
minor, Op.17 "Little Russian"
Symphony No. 2 "Little Russian"
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Leo Slezak (18
August 1873 – 1 June 1946) was a world-famous Moravian
tenor. He was associated in particular with Austrian
opera as well as the title role in Verdi's Otello. He is
the father of actor Walter Slezak and grandfather of the
actress Erika Slezak.
Life and work
Born in Šumperk (Mährisch-Schönberg) the son of a miller,
Slezak worked briefly as a blacksmith, an engineer's
fitter and served in the army before taking singing lessons
with the first-class baritone and pedagogue Adolf Robinson.
He made his debut in 1896 in Brno (Brünn) and proceeded to
sing leading roles in Bohemia and Germany, appearing at
Breslau and, in 1898-99, at Berlin. From 1901 onwards he was
a permanent member of the Vienna State Opera's roster of
artists, achieving star status.
international career commenced in London at the
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he sang
Siegfried (a punishing role that he would soon drop
from his repertoire) and Lohengrin in 1900. (He
would return to Covent Garden in 1909 after
undertaking further vocal studies in Paris the
previous year with a great tenor of a previous era,
Jean de Reszke.)
Slezak secured a
three-year contract with the New York Metropolitan
Opera in 1909. Met audiences acclaimed him in
performances of works by Wagner and Verdi.
Along with Italy's Giovanni Zenatello, he became the
most famous Otello of his generation, famously
performing the role at the Met with Arturo Toscanini
He was a convivial
person, and many anecdotes reveal his amiable sense
of humour. The best-known example is as follows:
during a performance of Wagner's Lohengrin, a stage
hand sent the swan out too early, before the tenor
could hop aboard. Seeing his feathered
transportation disappear into the wings, Slezak
ad-libbed to the audience: "Wann fährt der nächste
Schwan?" ("When does the next swan leave?").
Slezak had a
versatile repertory which embraced 66 roles. They
included notably Rossini's Guillaume Tell, Manrico,
Radames, Walter, Tannhäuser, Hermann and, as we have
seen, Otello and Lohengrin.
He sang 44 roles in Vienna alone, where he chalked
up 936 appearances in 1901-12 and 1917–27 and became
an idol of audiences.
A tall barrel-chested man, Slezak possessed a large and
attractive lyric-dramatic voice which enabled him to
undertake all but the very heaviest Wagnerian parts such as
Siegfried or Tristan. He had a distinctive tonal quality,
too, which became markedly darker after his studies with de
Reszke in 1908. Slezak was a master of mezza-voce singing
and he could also deliver haunting head notes.
Unfortunately, with time and hard use, his top register
developed a strained and unsteady quality when used at full
volume, as can be heard on some of his recordings.
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Frances Alda as Desdemona and Slezak in the title
role of Verdi's Otello at the Metropolitan Opera in 1909.