The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Hugo Wolf; Henry Pleasants | Go to book overview

77. The Wagner Society

March 14, 1886

One must credit the Vienna Academic Wagner Society with knowing how to make programs. Grown to maturity in an evolutionary phase whose significance remains to this day, understandably enough, a mystery to our distinguished music critics, this wholly contemporary artistic society has already achieved among the better element of the public a popularity that, as the last big concert demonstrated, places at least the visible success of its endeavors beyond question.

A concert of so serious a nature as that here under discussion, given during the carnival season, without subscription support, a concert that could justify its rather sudden scheduling with the credentials neither of the Philharmonic Society nor of the Society of Friends of Music, looked at askance by our distinguished music critics, heard by them with deaf ears and reviewed by them with distorted understanding -- that such a concert would attract a numerous, attentive and enthusiastic audience incomparably different from the shady mob at our subscription concerts, is a significant indicator to be noted in happy astonishment by all ordinary, extraordinary and disorderly (to whom I belong) members of the Academic Wagner Society, namely, to emerge more often than heretofore from the narrow confines of the "private soirées," and put on concerts in the grand manner. Why forever address the congregation in the catacombs of the Kleiner Musikvereinssaal? That congregation is adequately resistant to bad music, beef and modern liberalism.

To make the policy of its master the property of all is the present task of the Wagner Society. This policy has as its goal, as we all know, the maintenance and activation of the Festspiclhaus in Bayreuth. One has gone further, recently by giving concerts whose proceeds go toward covering the cost of travel to Bayreuth and admission to the Festspielhaus for indigent musicians and other impecunious enthusiasts of the Wagnerian art. Until recently, however, such concerts could be attended by only a small number of Wagner devotees. This was much to be regretted, since, as I have said, the Wagner Society exhibits immeasurably greater artistic discretion in the composition of its programs than any other of our capital's musical institutions.

when, at last, it became necessary to exchange the Bösendorfersaal for the Kleiner Saal of the Society of Friends of Music, it became apparent all too soon that this operation, also, was a smokescreen. The Bösendorfersaal would

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