The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Hugo Wolf; Henry Pleasants | Go to book overview

the Scheffel epic, individuals without character and situations without substance. As compensation we are offered processions and battles, cannon fire and church bells, soldiers' songs, farewell songs and welcome songs, but no lullabies. There are no drinking songs, either, but there is an aria about gout, and then peasant dances, mocking choruses and a splendid ballet. The naive listener misses only two things: plot and music. Each must limit itself to utterly external considerations if they are to be noticed at all, the first to the occasional change of scene while the dramatic progress remains unchanged, the latter to noisy instrumentation of the most vulgar sort in the absence of any trace of melodic invention. It moves along melodiously, to be sure, and makes a show of conciseness and plasticity. Love's labor lost! One can no more make original melodies out of antiquated phrases than make a new gown out of old rags. Every melodic figure betrays its threadbare condition. Every melody is stillborn. A decent burial - that is all that Der Trompeter von Säkkingen may expect.

Among the cast (I speak of the second dress rehearsal), Herr Mayerhofer (Baron) came off best. His humor is well suited to catch the dryness and woodenness of the role, and he succeeded as far as humanly possible. Frau von Naday (Maria) and Herr Sommer (Werner), however, outdid themselves in histrionic incompetence and vocal inadequacy, insofar as beautiful singing is concerned. Herr Stoll was quite a comical Damian. Fräulein Meisslinger played the Countess Wildenstein with much dignity and great energy, Herr Hablawetz the Count with military bearing. The suitor Konradin, as played by Herr Horwitz was not wanting in joviality. The character might profit from greater virility. About the ballet we shall write in the next number.

1.
Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, by Viktor Nessler ( 1841- 1890), an Alsatian composer who spent most of his professional life in Leipzig. He wrote many operas and operettas, of which only Der Trompeter von Säkkingen won an enduring place in the repertoire. It was first performed in Leipzig on May 4, 1884.
2.
Josef Victor von Scheffel ( 1826- 1886), now remembered only for Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, an epic poem written in 1854.

74. A Tenor Messiah

February 7, 1886

Emil Götze, 1 the famous tenor from the Municipal Theater in Cologne, has become the overnight idol [Götze] of the Vienna public. For some time, now, we have heard mysterious rumors about the emergence of a fabulous tenor. Such a one has been craved as manna by the people in the desert. One has had dreams and visions in broad daylight of the future tenor messiah -- but has

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