Ueber Sänger und Singen

Victor Rokitansky
1891 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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more » ... rian bibliographer cannot do without them. The correspondence begins in I84I, when also that with Liszt opened, and continues till I868, seven years later than the close of the so long concurrent series; but as the earlier and later letters are few, it may be said that the time covered in the volume lies between I849 and I860-almost the entire period of Wagner's exile. The master, it will be remembered, fled from Germany in I849, after the Dresden insurrection had failed, andwas permitted to return in I868. In a very excellent preface, Mr. Shedlock mentions several cor)siderations calculated to increase the value which readers may set upon the collection he has so clearly translated and ably edited. For instance, he lays stress upon the fact that though Wagner and Liszt were great fFiends, close and intimate communion of soul was never established between men so widely separate in position, character, and mode of thought. But the three Dresdeners to whom these letters are addressed were Wagner's boon companions. " His Dresden friends," writes Mr. Shedlock, " were all in a comparatively humble station in life, and in ' modes of thought ' one with him . . here there are colloquialisms, strong expressions, jokes, &c., such as are not to be found in the letters to Liszt. There are details with regard to Wagner himself, to his wife, his home-life, his bird, and his dog, which tell their own story. To mention only one small instance. To Liszt he writes two lines about the death of his ' dear little parrot,' but to Uhlig a whole letter. I would specially ask readers of these letters not to forget their specially private character: the bitter remarks about certain musicians of note, the violent denunciations of men standing in high places, and the liberty of speech in which he occasionally indulges must all be considered privileged. They evidently were never intended for the public eye." This extract has the natural effect of whetting curiosity with regard to the contents of the letters. It promises a sight of Wagner en tobe de chczmbre-in the condition familiar to a man's valet, who, the proverb says, never regards his master as a hero. There rernains, of course, the question how far it is right and proper to intrude upon a distinguished person's intimacies, and follow him to his dressing-room, but that was for the possessors of the letters to consider. They thought no harm in printing them, and it would be an excess of chivalry were the public to decline the benefit of whatever information the correspondence imparts. It is impossible in a notice like the present to deal critically with the letters. Such an operation requires ample space to be filled by leisurely reflection. In such a case reviewers are apt to select a few "plums" from the book under notice, and give them, in the blooming condition of untouched fruit, to the interested reader. We are tempted so to deal with an extract from the parrot letter to which Mr. Shedlock refers:-" Our parrot-the most amiable creature and most tenderly attached to me, the little talking, singing, whistling spirit of my secluded little home-was of late often unwell; I had to get a veterinary surgeon and then it gradually improved; I set to my work with such diligence that I forgot everything. On the day before the copy was finished the poor thing so longed to come out to me thatmy wife could not resist, and brought it to me on my writingtable; it wished to sit at the window through which the sun was shining-I closed the curtains in order to be able to work: altogether it fidgeted me and my wife had to take it away again. Then it uttered that sad cry so well known to me. Afterwards it was agreed that I really ought to send for the surgeon. I said 4 It won't be anything serious,' and thought to myself: ' To-morrow you will finish your work; then you may go.' Early next morning, it wassuddenly dead. Ah ! if I could say to you what has died for me in this dear creature ! It matters nothing to me whether I am laughed at for this." The reader may think that Wagner in dressing gown and slippers is more attractive than the same person in full paint and on the war path. It is to that end we have made the extract. Buy the book. Ueber Sange7 7{}zC1 Singen. Von Victor Rokitansky. LVienna: A. Hartleben ] ALTHOUGH there is no lack of more or less excellent works concerning the production and culture of the singing voice, there will always be room for an addition to their
doi:10.2307/3361566 fatcat:ihaivxp4dfgmnepxi3vs5ndb24