Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Wisdom of Marchesi

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Wisdom of Marchesi

Article excerpt

prov-e-nance (prov'o-nans) n. Place of origin, source. [Lat. Provenire, to originate.]

[Editor's Note: I am greatly indebted to Dr. Kimberly Broadwater, Associate Professor of Music at Mississippi Valley State University, for providing a transcription of the article that appears here. Dr. Broadwater is engaged in a research project that includes every article on vocal music written in Etude magazine between 1893 and 1922 and examines them in historical context. This piece by Marchesi appeared in the October 1913 issue. The legendary mezzo is eloquently introduced by the magazine's editor at the time, James Francis Cooke.]


[The name of Marchesi is so well known in the musical world that it seems somewhat idle to essay an introduction to the following article. Mme. Marchesi was born Mathilde Graumann, in Frankfort-am-Main, March 26, 1826. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant who lost his fortune. Thereupon she took up the study of music and determined to become a professional musician. In Vienna she studied with Nicolai and in Paris with Garcia. Sixty-five years ago she appeared in concert in London with great success. She taught at the Vienna Conservatory from 1854 to 1861 in which year she moved to Paris. Her next position was at Cologne (1865) where she remained for three years. Then she returned to Vienna (1868) remaining at the conservatory for ten years. This was followed by three years of private teaching after which she returned to Paris at the height of her fame and soon was surrounded by a coterie of remarkable students many of whom became historically renowned in the world of song. This list includes such names as Gerster, Eames, Calvé, Melba, de Marska and others. In 1852 she married Marchesi de Castrone (Salvatore de Castrone, Marchesi della Rajata). This distinguished musician and teacher was a pupil of Lamperti, Garcia and others. He sang in New York as early as 1848. Later he met with wide success on the European continent. He composed many songs and vocalises. Mme. Marchesi's daughter Blanche (Baronne Caccamisi) made her operatic debut in Prague in 1900. In 1899 she gave successful recitals in the United States. She now resides with her mother in London.-Editor of The Etude.]

My work is done. I owe to the world one thing-to say the truth. There are many things I say to-day which I have hesitated to write down for years; but to-day, when I am reaching the highest age that man can reach, I have no more time to disguise my thoughts or to display useless modesty.

As THE ETUDE has kindly invited me to speak to students, especially to the aspiring singer, through its medium, I will try (although at my age it is a difficult task and may make me more enemies than I already have the honor to possess) to say some things which will be of the highest importance to each one of them and which may guide them through the great difficulties that students encounter when they start searching for a teacher. I shall have to restrain myself to say all I would like to say regarding the really atrocious state of things in the world of singing teaching. I do not speak without due deliberation and I have no animosity toward any person. I would not say anything so iconoclastic that it might take away the daily bread from those teachers who in their teaching might not agree with the opinions I have evolved from a lifetime of experience. But I can not hesitate between the teacher who teaches what he does not know and the innocent student who wishes to learn what he does not know, because the student may be guided through wrong paths by which he never will reach the goal.

I have given my life to students. My last word shall be a word of help to them. The questions I will treat are of vital interest and for many a girl may prove her salvation. …

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