The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Hugo Wolf; Henry Pleasants | Go to book overview

Herr Bötel, from the Hamburg Municipal Theater, made a guest appearance as Arnold in William Tell. The singer is well and most favorably remembered from last year. His voice is as melting as ever, the high notes the same. Nor has he grown any taller, and I hardly know what further to say in his favor.

I arrived at Fräulein Hermine Spies's concert just in time to hear Rosenthal. Stepanov had been announced, to be sure, but it was, in fact, Rosenthal who played. Unprepared as he was (he didn't even have time to don evening dress), this little pianistic devil stormed over the keys like a roaring flood. He played godlessly (godlike sounds too commonplace), and demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the devil is the supreme authority in art. I don't remember exactly what he played. I think it was the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, a Waltz in A flat by Chopin, etc. When he finished I had the feeling of having escaped from a frightful deadly peril. As long as this exorcist cast his spell at the piano, I seemed to feel the glowing claws of Beelzebub at my neck, or I feared to be swept away in a heavy surf, or to be swallowed up in the fiery crater of a volcano. But I still live, thank God, to the delight of my fellow creatures and to the consolation of my unforgettable friend, Johannes Brahms.


109. Richter and the
"Siegfried Idyll"

March 27, 1887

At the last Philharmonic concert we heard among other things Richard Wagner 's "Siegfried Idyll." It is to be hoped, in the interest of this composition, that the Philharmonic will not make it a part of their repertoire, at least as long as Herr Richter remains the conductor. Is it, indeed, necessary that our worthy Kapellmeister demonstrate his friendly disposition toward anything related to Wagner's concepts by laying his hands on Wagner's works and mutilating them when even our revered Herr Hanslick is content with the sacrifices laid out on the altar of the goddess of impotence in honor of her chosen favorite, Johannes Brahms?

Why all this useless eagerness, all this importunate fawning? We are thoroughly convinced of the sincerity of his laudable conduct. Herr Richter is a clever practitioner, and practical people are held, as a rule, to be ultimately decent folk. They achieve respect and renown easily, and soon have "hay in

-271-

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