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A FAR CRY TO HEAVEN.
WHAT! dost thou pray that the outgone tide be rolled back on the strand, The flame be rekindled that mounted away from the smoldering brand, The past-summer harvest flow golden through stubble-lands naked and sear, The winter-gray woods up-gather and quicken the leaves of last year? Thy prayers are as clouds in a drouth; regardless, unfruitful, they roll; For this, that thou prayest vain things, 't is a far cry to Heaven, my soul,Oh, a far cry to Heaven!
Thou dreamest the word shall return, shot arrow-like into the air,
The wound in the breast where it lodged be balmed and closed for thy prayer,
And cravest thou fondly the quivering sands shall be firm to thy feet,
Edith M. Thomas.
SOME PUPILS OF LISZT.
NE sultry noonday in July, 1885, a small group of musical celebrities from Berlin stood hatless-having converted their head-covering into temporary fans -in the shade of a low, uneven row of ancient houses in the city of Weimar and expectantly watched the nearest turn in the street. Just as the heat was pronounced insupportable two well-known figures sauntered arm-in-arm around the corner-one, the venerable form of Franz Liszt, his flowing white locks surmounted by an oldfashioned tile hat, his shirt-collar thrown open revealing a throat which rivaled in color the high flush of his visage; and the other, Eugene d'Albert, a short youth with a round face and small black eyes, whose heavy shock of dark brown hair fell about his neck à la Liszt and was topped by an artist's wide-brimmed slouch hat, the crown of which just brushed the master's shoulder. It was not the odd contrasting couple which so forcibly impressed all beholders alike. It was the two great men of genius walking side by side-a tottering old man with one foot already in the grave, and his pupil, the younger by half a century and in the very spring-time of life: one, the great
est piano virtuoso of any time, behind whom lay an unprecedentedly brilliant career of more than three-score years; the other, though scarcely more than a lad, the most famous musical artist of his generation, with a future of unlimited possibilities just opening up for him. Little D'Albert had only three years previously severed his leading strings, and now with half Europe at his feet, the central figure in the musical world that his genius had conquered, he had returned to the guide and counselor of his student days. These two exchanged greetings with the gentlemen who had come, with D'Albert, on a twenty-four-hours' visit to the city, and then they crossed the stony way in a body to the cooler shade of Chemnitiuss' restaurant garden to partake of a dinner in Liszt's honor.
This noteworthy meeting of master and pupil always recurs to my mind when asked, "Do any of Liszt's later pupils give promise of greatness, or at least of proving themselves eminently worthy such a teacher?" If in reply I begin with Eugene d'Albert, it is because he was the first of the group to come prominently before the public; and justice to others compels me to add in the same sentence Arthur Friedheim, Alfred Reisenauer, Alexander Siloti, and Adèle aus der Ohe. It
is easy to begin but more difficult to end the list, for I might add those fine artists who came already formed, later than the first five, to the master: - Moritz Rosenthal, Conrad Ansorge, Bernhard Stavenhagen,- but the line must be drawn somewhere, though his tory will extend it. I venture the assertion that Liszt never at any time numbered among his pupils a more notable coterie of promising talent than during the last six or seven years of his life. The youth of this day live in a time when greater technical and artistic achievements are required to arouse a public grown critically exacting after a quarter of a century of the best music the world has ever enjoyed. Under Liszt's supervision these were always developed to the utmost. The history of modern piano-forte playing demonVOL. XXXV.-99.
strates the power of his influence in the shaping of the great virtuosos, and this last group of his training must be accorded a place in their foremost ranks.
Eugene d'Albert is more widely known than his youthful contemporaries. A lad of exceptional gifts and attainments, he made his Berlin début in 1882, at an age favorable to success. The masses were dazzled by such virtuosity in a youth of nineteen summers. The critics marveled at his power and the maturity of his intellect, but praised conditionally the "wonder child." After his second season he was no longer a mere "wonder child." He had earned his right to be classed with the greatest virtuosos and musicians of the day. His compositions for orchestra, and more especially for piano, are adding to his renown. Since Tausig-to whom the young artist bears a most striking facial resemblance perhaps no pianist has awakened such universal interest and enthusiasm as D'Albert. Germany claims him, and indeed she may, for it is a case of mutual adoption, though he is of English parentage and spent his early childhood in England. His father was the widely known and recently deceased composer of dance - music, Charles d'Albert. In an open letter, a few years since, the son denounced English music and his English training, attributing his success to German music and instruction. He received the latter from Hans Richter and Franz Liszt, with the second of whom he studied much the longer term. The master knew the boy was worthy of it and bestowed extreme care upon his education. About the time he reached his majority he wed at Weimar an actress of the Grand Ducal Theater, his senior by several years. Now in affluent circumstances, he passes his summers at Eisenach with his wife and infant son in his own villa, which commands a charming view of the Wartburg. As an artist D'Albert is versatile and eminently well rounded. Technical difficulties do not exist for him. He has a small hand, with a touch of exquisite delicacy and refinement,
which is also equally capable of immense power. The warmth and abandon of his style invariably affect his auditors with intense emotions. His interpretations of Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt claim equal merit. One day in speaking of his own "D minor Concerto," Rubinstein averred D'Albert's performance of it the most satisfactory he had ever heard. The very name D'Albert calls to life bits of Chopin's lovely "Berceuse" and Beethoven's "Sonata Appassionata," which received ideal treatment under his fingers. The young artist divided with Arthur Friedheim the honor of having given one of the greatest two-piano performances with orchestra heard in Berlin during that musically prolific and memorable season of 1884-85. The former played Liszt's "E flat major Concerto" and the latter the same composer's "A major Concerto."
Friedheim! What delightful musical memories and. happy recollections of the rare days spent together in Weimar that name excites! D'Albert left there before my time, and though I met him on his flying visits to Weimar, I generally think of him as I first saw him, seated at a piano on the concert platform.
One late afternoon in August, 1885, Liszt stood before a wide open window of his salon
on the second floor of the court gardener's residence in Weimar, and his thoughtful gaze wandered out beyond the long row of hot-houses and narrow beds of rare shrubs to the rich leafy growth which shaded the glorious park inclosing this modest home. He was in a serene state of mind after an hour at whist in which he had won the rubber, and now, while his young companions were putting the card-table and chairs back into their accustomed places about the room, he stood silent and alone. Any one of us would have given more than "a penny for his thoughts," a fact which he probably divined, for, without turning his head, he said: "Ansorge did indeed play beautifully!" referring to the young pianist's performance of his "A major Concerto" that afternoon in the class lesson.
"And the accompaniment was magnificently done too!" added one of the small party.
"Ah!" exclaimed the master, with an animated look and gesture which implied, "that goes without saying." "Friedheim," said he, and lifted his hand with a proud sweep to indicate his estimation of his favorite pupil, who had supplied the orchestral part on a second piano. After Friedheim's triumphal début in Leipsic in the spring of 1884, Liszt was so much gratified that he expressed with unwonted warmth his belief that the young man would yet become the greatest piano virtuoso of the age. He was then just twenty-four years old, and his career since that event points towards the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Arthur Friedheim is the most individual performer I have ever heard. A very few executants equal him in mere finger dexterity, but he surpasses them all in his gigantic strength at the instrument and in marvelous clearness and brilliancy. At times he plays with the unbridled impetuosity of a cyclone; and even while apparently dealing the piano mighty blows, which from other hands would sound forced and discordant, they never cease to be melodious. This musical, penetrating quality of touch is the chief charm of Friedheim's playing. He makes the piano sing, but its voice is full and sonorous. If he play a pianissimo passage the effect is as clear and sweet as a perfectly attuned silver bell, and his graduated increase or diminu
tion of tone is the acme of artistic finish. No living pianist performs Liszt's compositions so well as Friedheim. This fact was unanimously mentioned by the critics upon his first appearance in Berlin in a "Liszt Concert," in conjunction with the fear that he would not succeed as an interpreter of Beethoven and Chopin; which, however, the new virtuoso has since proved groundless. Friedheim is one of the most enjoyable and inspiriting of the great pianists. His playing of Liszt's "Second Rhapsody" produces an electric shock; and once heard from him "La Campanella" remains in the memory an ineffaceable tone poem. To me he has made likewise indelible Chopin's lovely "D flat major Prelude."
Friedheim is of medium height and weight; has regular, clear-cut features, dark brown eyes, and hair pushed straight back from a high, broad forehead, and falling over his coat-collar artist fashion. In his street-dress, with a bronze-velvet jacket, great soft felt hat, and a gold medallion portrait of Liszt worn as a scarf-pin, he is the typical musician. His resemblance to the early pictures of Liszt is as marked as that of D'Albert to Tausig. Friedheim was born and bred in St. Petersburg, though his parents are German. I know nothing of his early instructors, but it is sufficient to say that he was at least nine years with Liszt. Fortune favored him with a relative of unusual mental power who has made his advancement her life-work. To these zealous mothers of musicians the world is indebted for some of the greatest artistic achievements of every time and period. There are many celebrated instances where application is almost entirely lacking or fluctuating in the child of genius, and the mother supplied the deficiency of character until the artist was fully developed, and steadiness of purpose had become routine with him. One evening I was sitting with Friedheim and his mother in one of those charming restaurant gardens which abound in Weimar when we were joined by two of the Lisztianer, convivial spirits who led a happy-go-lucky existence. "Come, Arthur," said one, "we will go to the 'Armbrust' for a few minutes-music there to-night. Will be right back, Frau Friedheim." "No," replied the mother, pleasantly, " Arthur remains with me this evening." "But, mother, we will be gone only a few minutes, and I have already practiced seven hours to-day," entreated the son. "Yes, dear child, and you must practice seven more to-morrow. I think you would better remain with me," responded his parent. Friedheim good-naturedly assented to his mother's speech, for the nocturnal merry-makings of a certain clique of divers artists
ordered a carriage, and, without our knowledge, sent the coachman word not to come, declaring that he could walk and the young gentlemen should not spend their money for him. At the appointed hour we two reached the court gardens in a sprinkling rain, and, being informed of the official decision, immediately started a servant for a covered vehicle which was standing at the door when Liszt came down. He stepped into the carriage without asking an explanation, but on our way down the street he pointed to the prison and laughed significantly as he observed that it frequently became "an asylum for spendthrifts." Liszt lived within his income, and well too, though it did not permit the gratification of the same luxurious tastes that characterized his residence at the Altenburg many years ago. He deeply deplored extravagance in others. Liszt cited as a warning to us a dear friend of his, a German poet, who had spent his fortune in giving costly dinners, and referred to the poet's former opulence as a time when he was in "dinner
circumstances." He said he would like to be in "dinner circumstances" himself.
During the eleven years that Alfred Reisenauer passed with Liszt he was accounted by his fellow-students the greatest musical genius of his time. He was more thoroughly grounded in the precepts and more completely imbued with the traditions of the great master than any pupil he ever had. When I went to Weimar in 1884 this was a common saying among the Lisztianer if any one was lauded for fine work: "Oh, yes, it was well played, but Reisenauer would have done it better!" As a sight-reader, he was supreme. I have seen him take a complicated orchestral score in manuscript and play it off at the first reading with apparently the same facility that he would
have done the printed piano arrangement. Unfortunately for himself and humanity in general, that admirable managerial ability which had opened up careers for D'Albert, Friedheim, and Siloti has not been his heritage. As he and the first-named virtuoso are about the same age, youth is in his favor, and the world may yet have an opportunity to judge of his phenomenal talent and artistic superiority. Reisenauer is a native of Königsberg, where he studied several years with Louis Köhler, now deceased, whom he considered the first teacher of piano technique in Europe. At dusk one day in October, 1884, Liszt was still engaged with his pupils at the tri-weekly lesson. "Now," said he, "we will have one more piece and then stop. What shall it be?" He raised his eye-glasses to glance at the music placed on the table by those who desired to play, and remarked as he gathered
up a composition: "Oh, yes! Here, Reisenauer, you shall play this for us!" With that he settled himself comfortably on a sofa at the opposite end of the room, leaned back, and closed his eyes as if anticipating enjoyment. The crowd about the piano dispersed and found places along the wall. The young artist seated himself before the instrument and by the last gleams of fading light was barely able to decipher Liszt's impressive "Funérailles," one of the "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses." The character of the piece was suited both to the mood of the pianist and the dying day. As the music proceeded, the hush that had stolen over the assembly seemed to intensify with the twilight. By the very perfection of his art the performer made his auditors oblivious to his presence. Consciousness of the composer's meaning only remained. Night had come on, and the twinkling stars were just beginning to show through the great windows against a darkening sky, as, with bated breath, we listened to the final notes die away under Reisenauer's magic touch. Who is not loath to break the silence following a like inspired performance of a splendid artist? The master was the first to speak, but his voice was husky with emotion as he said, "I thank you, Reisenauer!" Adieus were quietly said, and we all slipped out of the room, still under the influence of the wonderful music. What fond remembrances and echoes of divine harmonies cling to that eternally desolated home in the Grand Ducal Gardens at Weimar! Alfred Reisenauer is one of the greatest artists identified with this period. Will he bury himself in the past, or rise to a sense of the duty that his genius imposes?
Early in the eighties there came to Liszt an unusually tall, overgrown stripling with hands and feet that seemed to belong to a later period. The ensuing years transformed the lad into a handsome, well-proportioned man, with winning manners and a graceful bearing. His frank, open countenance mirrored the upright, generous nature of a true gentleman, and with young and old alike he became a prime favorite. This was the Russian, Alexander Siloti, a former student at the Imperial Conservatory at Moscow under Nicholas Rubinstein. Liszt found in him a pupil of extraordinary musical gifts and perseverance, and a companion fitted by training and instinct to adorn the first society of Europe. His was a fine, well-balanced nature, in which even great musical talent did not outweigh the social qualifications. His courteous treatment and thoughtful attentions won the undisputed good-will of his colleagues. "Silotissimus," as Liszt sportively called him, richly repaid with strong partisanship the debt