The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
The Harbor of Refuge

HE WAS not yet done with the world nor the world with him. "Old age hath yet his honor and his toll," he might have sung if he had not been so resolutely hard set against any admission of age. "I will not grow old!" he wrote on his fifty- fourth birthday, and gave to the outcry the accent of an underscoring, which was unusual stress for him. As if he were still at the outset of a career, he had things good and bad left in his horoscope. For the time being all seemed fairly bad. The season that followed the "triumphant march" he deemed to justify the worst he had ever thought of his situation. He continued to lead the New York and the Brooklyn Philharmonic concerts, but they were usually unsatisfactory to him. Every rehearsal was what he called a "fight." The term was not so belligerent as it sounds. What he meant was that at the rehearsals, which were too few and too hurried, he must strive with might and main to get the men back somewhere near the standard he desired. If by toil and trouble he succeeded for a time, he knew that the next week they would be playing again helter skelter and he would have all the work to do over again with still smaller chances of winning at it. He had a conviction, in which he was probably right, that his mental mood was reflected in the work of the men he was conducting and that, being now in a state of persistent low pressure, the quality of the concerts suffered from this cause also. It fell to my own lot, as I am presently to relate, to observe some remarkable instances of this telepathy. One can easily

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