Music-Study In Germany
By Amy Fay

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13 chapters

4 hour read


4 minute read

C OMPARATIVELY few books on music have enjoyed the distinction of reissue. Twenty-one editions is an amazing record for a book of so narrow a subject as "Music Study in Germany." The case of Miss Amy Fay's volume becomes all the more unusual, if one considers that her letters were written only for home, not for a public audience and further that within twenty years from the year of first publication, her observations had become more or less obsolete. The Germany of the years 1869-1875 was quite different from the Germany of 1900 and certainly of 1912, even down to German table-manners. The earlier "Spiessbürgertum" of which Miss Fay gives such entertaining glimpses even in high quarters with their pomp and circumstance, was rapidly being replaced, at least outwardly, by the more cosmopolitan culture of the fin de siècle , not to mention the ambition for political, industrial and commercial...


39 minute read

—— I N preparing for the public letters which were written only for home, I have hoped that some readers would find in them the charm of style which the writer's friends fancy them to possess; that others would think the description of her masters amid their pupils, and especially Liszt, worth preserving; while piano students would be grateful for the information that an analysis of the piano technique has been made, such as very greatly to diminish the difficulties of the instrument. How much of Herr Deppe's piano "method" is original with himself, pianists must decide. That he has at least made an invaluable résumé of all or most of their secrets, my sister believes no student of the instrument who fairly and conscientiously examines into the matter will deny. M. FAY PEIRCE. C HICAGO , Dec., 1880....


1 minute read

M ISS F AY'S little book has been so popular in her own country as to have gone through half a dozen editions, and even in German, into which it was translated soon after its first appearance, it has had much success. It is strange that it has not been already published in England, where music excites so much attention, and where works on musical subjects are beginning to form a distinct branch of literature. This is the more remarkable because it is thoroughly readable and amusing, which books on music too rarely are. The freshness and truth of the letters is not to be denied. We may laugh at the writer's enthusiasm, at the readiness with which she changes her methods and gives up all that she has already learnt at the call of each fresh teacher, at the certainty with which every new artist is announced as quite...


2 minute read

Die vorliegenden Briefe einer Amerikanerin in die Heimath, die im Original bereits in zweiter Auflage erschienen sind, werden, so hoffen wir, auch dem deutschen Leser nicht minderes Vergnügen, nicht geringere Anregung als dem amerikanischen gewähren, da sie in unmittelbarer Frische niedergeschrieben, ein lebendiges Bild von den Beziehungen der Verfasserin zu den hervorragendsten musikalischen Persönlichkeiten, wie Liszt, v. Bülow, Tausig, Joachim u. s. w. bieten. Wir geben das Buch in wortgetreuer Uebersetzung und haben es nur um diejenigen Briefe gekürzt, die in Deutschland Allzubekanntes behandeln. Hingegen glaubten wir die Stellen dem Leser nicht vorenthalten zu dürfen, welche zwar nicht musikalischen Inhalts sind, uns aber zeigen, wie manche unserer deutschen Zu-oder Mißstände von Amerikanern beurtheilt werden. Robert Oppenheim, Publisher. Berlin, 1882....


16 minute read

A German Interior in Berlin. A German Party. Joachim. Tausig's Conservatory. B ERLIN , November 3, 1869 . Behold me at last at No. 26 Bernburger Strasse! where I arrived exactly two weeks from the day I left New York. Frau W. and her daughter, Fräulein A. W., greeted me with the greatest warmth and cordiality, and made me feel at home immediately. The German idea of a "large" room I find is rather peculiar, for this one is not more than ten or eleven feet square, and has one corner of it snipped off, so that the room is an irregular shape. When I first entered it I thought I could not stay in it, it seemed so small, but when I came to examine it, so ingeniously is every inch of space made the most of, that I have come to the conclusion that it will be very...


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Clara Schumann and Joachim. The American Minister's. The Museum. The Conservatory. The Opera. Tausig. Christmas. B ERLIN , December 12, 1869 . I heard Clara Schumann on Sunday, and on Tuesday evening, also. She is a most wonderful artist. In the first concert she played a quartette by Schumann, and you can imagine how lovely it was under the treatment of Clara Schumann for the piano, Joachim for the first violin, De Ahna for the second, and Müller for the 'cello. It was perfect, and I was in raptures. Madame Schumann's selection for the two concerts was a very wide one, and gave a full exhibition of her powers in every kind of music. The Impromptu by Schumann, Op. 90, was exquisite. It was full of passion and very difficult. The second of the Songs without Words, by Mendelssohn, was the most fairy-like performance. It is one of those things...


17 minute read

Tausig and Rubinstein. Tausig's Pupils. The Bancrofts. A German Radical. B ERLIN , February 8, 1870 . I have heard both Rubinstein and Tausig in concert since I last wrote. They are both wonderful, but in quite a different way. Rubinstein has the greatest power and abandon in playing that you can imagine, and is extremely exciting. I never saw a man to whom it seemed so easy to play. It is as if he were just sporting with the piano, and could do what he pleased with it. Tausig, on the contrary, is extremely restrained, and has not quite enthusiasm enough, but he is absolutely perfect , and plays with the greatest expression. He is pre-eminent in grace and delicacy of execution, but seems to hold back his power in a concert room, which is very singular, for when he plays to his classes in the conservatory he seems...


16 minute read

Opera and Oratorio in Berlin. A Typical American. Prussian Rudeness. Conservatory Changes. Easter. B ERLIN , March 20, 1870 . On Wednesday the Bancrofts most kindly called for me to go to the opera with them. They came in their carriage, with two horses and footmen, so it was very jolly, and we bowled rapidly through Unter den Linden (the Broadway of Berlin), in rather a different manner from the pace I usually crawl along in a droschkie. They had fine opera glasses, of course, and we took our seats just as the overture was about to begin, so that everything was charming except that instead of Lohengrin, which we had expected to hear, they had changed the opera to Faust, which I had heard the week before. Faust is, however, a fascinating opera, and it is beautifully given here, albeit the Germans stick to it that it is Gounod's...


18 minute read

The Thier-Garten. A Military Review. Charlottenburg. Tausig. Berlin in Summer. Potsdam and Babelsberg. B ERLIN , June 5, 1870 . We've had the vilest possible weather this spring, but Berlin looks perfectly lovely now. There are a great many gardens attached to the houses here. Everything is in bloom, and is laden with the scent of lilacs and apple blossoms. The streets are planted with lindens and horse chestnut trees, and on the fashionable street bordering on the Thier-Garten, all the houses have little lawns in front, carpeted with the most dazzling green grass, and rising out of it are solid banks of flowers. The shrubs are planted according to their height, close together, and one behind the other, and as they are all in blossom you see these great masses of colour. It is like a gigantic bouquet growing up before you. The Thier-Garten is perfectly beautiful. It is...


17 minute read

The War. German Meals. Women and Men. Tausig's Teaching. Tausig Abandons his Conservatory. Dresden. Kullak. B ERLIN , July 23, 1870 . Just now the grand topic of course is this dreadful war that has just been declared between Prussia and France, and everybody is in the wildest state of excitement over it. It broke out so very suddenly that it is only just one week since it has been decided upon, and ever since, the drafting has been going on, and the streets are filled with regiments and with droves of horses, cannon, and all the implements of war. The trains are going out all the time packed with soldiers, and the railroad stations are the constant scene of weeping women of all classes, come to see the last of their dear ones. There is such a storm of indignation against Napoleon that one hears nothing but curses against...


46 minute read

Moving. German Houses and Dinners. The War. The Capture of Napoleon. Kullak's and Tausig's Teaching. Joachim. Wagner. Tausig's Playing. German Etiquette. B ERLIN , September 29, 1870. I must request you in future to direct your letters to No. 30 Königgrätzer Strasse, as we move in three days. The people who live on the floor under us wouldn't bear my practicing for five or six hours daily, and so Frau W. has looked up another lodging. The German houses are about as uncomfortable as can be imagined. Only the newest ones have gas and water-works, or even the ordinary conveniences that every house has with us. No carpets on the floors, stiff, straight-backed chairs, precious little fire in cold weather, etc. The rooms have no closets, and one always has to have a great clumsy wardrobe with wooden pegs in it, instead of hooks, so that when you go to...


39 minute read

Arrives in Weimar. Liszt at the Theatre. At a Party. At his own House. W EIMAR , May 1, 1873 . Last night I arrived in Weimar, and this evening I have been to the theatre, which is very cheap here, and the first person I saw, sitting in a box opposite, was Liszt, from whom, as you know, I am bent on getting lessons, though it will be a difficult thing I fear, as I am told that Weimar is overcrowded with people who are on the same errand. I recognized Liszt from his portrait, and it entertained and interested me very much to observe him. He was making himself agreeable to three ladies, one of whom was very pretty. He sat with his back to the stage, not paying the least attention, apparently, to the play, for he kept talking all the while himself, and yet no point...


20 minute read

Gives up Kullak for Deppe. Deppe's Method in Touch and in Scale-Playing. Fräulein Steiniger. Pedal Study. B ERLIN , December 11, 1873 . Since I last wrote you I have taken a very important step, which is this : After taking three or four lessons of Kullak I have given him up! and am now studying under a new master. His name is Herr Capelmeister Deppe. I suppose you will all think me crazed, but I think I know what I am about. He seems to me a very remarkable man, and is to me the most satisfactory teacher I've had yet. Of course I don't count in the unapproachable Liszt when I say that, for Liszt is no " professeur du piano ," as he himself used scornfully to remark. I made Herr Deppe's acquaintance quite by chance, at a musical party given for Anna Mehlig by an American...