The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview
2.
Vicente Martin y Soler ( 1754- 1810), Una Cosa Rara was first produced in Vienna on November 17, 1786, and Mozart responded to its success by quoting a theme from it in Don Giovanni.
3.
Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf ( 1739-1799). The most enduring of his many operas, Doktor und Apotheker, was produced in Vienna on July 11. 1786.

84. A Salute to Suppé

May 9, 1886

It seems as though the Tilaresa sisters will have had the last word in the concert season now drawing to a close. As far as the eye and a good tracking nose can determine, there is not a concert announcement to be seen.

The kiosks, usually so colorfully adorned with advertisements of coming events, have a monotonous, gloomy look. It is the lovely season when a music critic can assess these cultural installations in terms of harmony of color. He may now enjoy inner satisfaction in approaching these ominously oracular edifices, the mere sight of which, at other times, arouses fear and revulsion. Now his gaze rests peacefully upon the melancholy physiognomy of these round monsters. The secret charm they previously possessed, by which anyone thirsting for music was basely lured from the straight and narrow into their cursed circle, is gone. The language they now speak falls strangely upon the ear. With the last concert announcement they have played out their role -- and it was the Tilaresa sisters who administered the coup de grâce.

What about these amiable Samaritans? Although outwardly not at all like the Siamese Twins, the two ladies in their accomplishments had such an intimate relationship to one another that it was impossible to decide which of the two was the superior. They always sang together, presumably in order to rob the audience of any opportunity to make those comparisons that must inevitably have favored the one or the other -- a touching example of sisterly affection and artistic selflessness. The voices sounded like canaries and nightingales, but as to which was canary and which was nightingale I haven't a clue. I suspect that each was both.

And what did these charming songbirds sing? A lot of nice things: a duet from Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mendelssohn's "Migrant Birds' Departure"1 and a duet from Suppé's Boccaccio. One was surprised to meet Suppé, an operetta composer, in the concert hall, as if the "serious" music of our "modern" classicists, destined for the concert hall in the truest sense of the term, were in the slightest degree preferable to Suppé's gay airs. One is boring, the other entertaining.

-212-

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