The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

one knows, Senta plunges silently into the sea after the words: "Preis' deinen Engel und sein Gebot! Hier steh' ich, treu dir bis zum Tod!" [Treasure your angel and his command, I remain true to you until death!] Now, Fräulein Klein felt called upon to develop this scene in a more piquant manner. She let the last word, "Tod," fall into the sea, and then followed it in, first having startled the unsuspecting listeners from their accustomed repose with a ghastly shriek. Fräulein Klein probably wished to indicate by this shriek that Senta had suffered a sudden attack of hydrophobia. This conception is, at least, original, although I cannot suppress some mild doubt as to its propriety. Herr Reichman, on the other hand (his was an especially beautiful performance as the Dutchman) was content with more harmless emendations. He prefers the more conventionally operatic Allmächtigen [Almighty] to Allewiger [eternal] and happily confuses "Ach!" with "O!" and "O!" with "Ach!" Herr Reichmann, however, is a leading baritone, and leading baritones are great men, and great men do not concern themselves with trifles. Oh, would that I were a leading baritone!

1.
Franz Wüllner ( 1832-1902), German pianist and conductor. He conducted the premieres of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in Munich in 1869 and 1870. He supplied the recitatives for a new German version of Oberon, first produced in Vienna in 1881.
2.
The reference is to an aphorism not by Schumann, but by Georg Philipp Telemann ( 1681‐ 1767), cited by Schumann in a discussion, in his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, of Schubert's last works: "And if Telemann demands that a true composer should be able to set to music a placard [Torzettel], then he would have found his man in Schubert." (Vol. 8. p. 177 [ 1838].

72. Brahms's Symphony No. 4 1

January 24, 1886

A lucky thing for the famous sculptor Thorvaldsen that his good genie gave him the happy notion of sculpting a scene from the life of Alexander the Great. 2 The prospects for this artist's enduring celebrity might otherwise not have been bright. But now that he has had the unearned distinction of having inspired the famous Kopi, 3 i.e., the composer Johannes Brahms, to write a new symphony, he is assured of immortality for all eternity.

Unfortunately, no information has been forthcoming from reliable sources as to what kind of sculptures may have imposed upon Herr Brahms the awesome obligation of writing three symphonies. If we were to indulge in idle speculation, inclining greatly to the assumption that Friedländer's old disabled veterans 4 constitute an essential element of those symphonies at least as far as freshness of invention and variety of expression are concerned -- one

-184-

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