The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview
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2.
Gustav Dömpke ( 1851-1923), an East Prussian critic who, thanks to Hanslick's urging and sponsorship, had come to Vienna in 1879 as critic of the Allgemeine Zeitung. He was a great admirer of Brahms (and Hanslick), and an outspoken anti-Wagnerian. He returned to Königsherg in 1887 to become music critic of the Hartungsche Zeitung. in which position he distinguished himself as a propagandist for Bach and Brahms.
3.
As a student of Johann Wenzel Tomaschek ( 1774-1850) in piano, theory and composition (in his native Prague). Hanslick had composed a number of small piano pieces and songs. From the latter, some thirty years later, and with the assistance of Brahms, he selected a group of "the relatively most successful," and had them published (by Simrock) in a volume titled "Lieder aus der Jugendzeit" [Songs from the Time of Youth]. The title was made a condition for his blessing of the project by Brahms in order, as Hanslick explained in his autobiography. Aus Meinem Leben, "to account, to some extent, for the now old-fashioned simplicity of the melodies."

76. Alfred Grünfeld

[Undated]

The recital given by Alfred Grünfeld, brother of the well known impresario [ Ludwig], came off brilliantly, as it does annually. One rejoices with him in noting that his pianistic activity is accorded the recognition it deserves. To repeat that his technic has reached the ultimate would be carrying coals to Newcastle. 1

Grünfeld is, in the better sense of the term, a darling of the public. He is no unprincipled libertine, no compiler of fashionable esthetic trends whose socially and technically developed culture extends to the choice of his tailor. How I detest the traveling salesmen of music, those international gigolos who turn up here today, there tomorrow, knowing a bit of every language, and truly so well equipped that in newspaper offices -- those cornerstones of world history -- they can accompany their obeisance with an appropriately elegant turn of phrase. What disturbs me, however, is the instant recognition of Grünfeld by Hans von Bülow, that immortality-seeking clown convulsively clambering up and down the ladder of fame. If Bülow, that surly constable of the artistic turnpike, suddenly sings Grünfeld's prize song, it may be assumed that he did so only in order, cost what it might, to get somebody else's goat. Bülow remains the pure musical hedgehog. Quills perpetually raised, he thinks the entire world must inevitably prick itself on them. But that is not the way it is. Blood flows only from those who tap them fearfully. Grünfeld tapped them forthrightly and cheerfully, and the tiny hedgehog duly released a little manifesto which, settling on the editor's desk in the guise of a dove of peace, cooed sympathetically in Herr Grünfeld's direction. 2

Let's have a look at Grünfeld's program. A rather mixed bag! Schubert and

-193-

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