Hallen & Hart played "The Idea" to a very good house at the Lansing last night. "The Idea" has the honor of being the only play on the road with absolutely no plot and absolutely no situations, yet for all that it has a good deal of fun. There is no hero and no heroine, no love, no hate, no villain, no courtship, no marriage, no trouble after marriage, even. There are only very enterprising "little fisher maidens" and a corpulent African and the family of Columbus and the Salvation army. Then there were dancers, dancers who danced white skirt dances and black skirt dances and embellished their dancing with somersaults that made one wonder if such things ought to be. Some of the songs were very funny and rather new. "When the Man in the Moon Goes to Sleep," and "Two Little Girls in Blue," brought down great applause. Mr. J. A. Libby sang well, but with considerable effort. Of course Hallen and Hart were irresistibly funny and Miss Fanny Bloodgood was irresistibly pretty. The company exhibited rather bad taste in introducing "After the Ball." Special mention should hereafter be made of all companies who cling to that archaic ditty. The song is not funny any more, and it is old enough to make the pyramids green with envy. On the whole the play was very good for farce comedy and the title supplied the one thing which the play achingly lacked, an idea.
That the concerts of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club of Boston , under the direction of Mr. Thomas Ryan, are thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by the people of Lincoln was proven by the large audience which was assembled at the Universalist church last night. Perhaps a word in regard to that organization will not be ont of place. Organized in 1849, its first concert was given in Boston. During the forty-four years since then it has held its place upon the concert stage, Mr. Ryan, to whose energy it owes its continued prosperity, being the only one of the original members who have remained with the club during the entire period.
It has numbered among its first violins such players as Jacbsohn, Listemann and Danreuther, and among its cellists Fries and Hecking . The players last night were all new to the people of Lincoln. They were Mr. Andie Verdier, violin virtuoso and concert master; Mr. Joseph Masacek, violin; Mr. Johan Rovdenburg, solo, flute and viola; Mr. Ludwig W. Hoffmanner, solo, violoncello, and of course Mr. Thomas Ryan, solo clarinette and viola. Miss Lila Jeul , the soprano soloist, will be pleasantly remembered by those who heard her last season. The opening number was the quintette in C. op. 29 by Beethoven . This was brilliantly played, but lacked in precision of attack and general ensemble. The mannerisms of Mr. Verdier, the first violinist, are not pleasant and we could not but wish that he would not make it so apparant that he was the concert master and also a violin virtuoso. This was apparent to both eye and ear throughout the entire evening.
The beautiful theme and variations for quartette by Schubert was delightfully rendered and was heartily applauded. The other numbers for strings were the charming and dainty minuet by Boccherini and an arrangement by Mr. Ryan of the well known trio in G for piano, violin and cello by Haydn. These numbers were both well rendered.
Miss Juel has a smooth, flexible voice of a pleasing quality. She sings understandingly and with the exception of a tendency to push her lower tones uses her voice to good advantage. Her fist song was "With Verdure Clad," From Haydn's "Creation." She gave a good honest rendition of the air, but was heard to better advantage in the Swedish folk song which she sang as an encore. Her second number was "Solfeig," By Edward Grieg , followed by a Spanish love song by De Roda.
The numbers selected by the players were all of a pleasing character and were well received, an encore being demanded after each number.
The fantasie for flute by Demmersemann was most satisfactorily interpreted by Mr. Rordenburg, who made good use of the opportunity to display his technique. We were especially pleased with the solo for violoncello, "Caprice Hongroise," by Dunkler , played by Mr. Hoffmann. His tone was good and he played with accuracy and a brilliancy that was contagious.
That Mr. Ryan was well received and that his clarinette solo, a fantasie of his own composition, was an interesting number it is needless to say.
Mr. Verdier was heard in a fantasie for violin, on a Russian romance, by Vieuxtemps . He plays with a purpose and brilliantly, and his number was among the best on the program, but we must take an exception to an occasional tendency to "scrape."
Mr. Ryan expects next year to be at the head of a musical institution in Augusta, Ga., but will make a number of concert trips at intervals during the season.
Hallen: Frederick Hallen teamed with Joseph Hart in the late 1880s, co-starring with him in Later On in 1889 and The Idea in 1892. He married showgirl Mollie Fuller c. 1891, and when the Hallen and Hart team broke up, Hallen and Fuller went into vaudeville as a team; they performed with the Scribner Show and in a Broadway production, Aunt Hannah, in 1900.
Hart: Comedian, actor, and songwriter Joseph Hart (c. 1861-1921) was born in Boston. He teamed up with comedian Frederick Hallen in a series of popular musical comedy shows, such as The Idea (1893), writing some of the songs by himself and some in collaboration with others. After he married singer-actress Carrie DeMar, the two formed a new team in vaudeville and musical comedy. Hart recorded a song in 1895 for Berliner Gramophone, and appeared in ten early silent shorts between 1902 and 1904, nine of them with versions of the popular Foxy Grandpa sketches he had done on stage. Hart and DeMar retired about 1918; Hart died of heart problems in 1921.
"The Idea": This Hallen and Hart "new something or other," as the New York Times called it, was "brisk, clean, and harmless, and funny two or three times more than now and then" (25 October 1892). It featured songs, dances, and a transformation scene wherein a gambling den became a Salvation Army meeting.
Lansing Theatre: The Lansing Theater, on the southwest corner of 13th and P Streets, was built in 1891, displacing the Funke Opera House as the largest and finest theater in Lincoln. The owners were J.F. Lansing (b. 1842), a Lincoln real estate man, and his brother-in-law Henry Oliver (b. 1857); Edward A. Church was the manager. According to the program of the opening week (November 23-28, 1891) the auditorium consisted of the orchestra and parquet seating on the main level, with dress circle at the rear and sides; three tiers of five boxes each and six loges were at the sides. Above were the balcony and the gallery. With standing room, about 2500 people could be present.
The building also housed offices, including that of Cather's friend and fellow reviewer, Dr. Julius H. Tyndale. It was renamed the Oliver Theater in 1898.
Columbus: Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was born in Italy but began his sea-faring career with Portugal's merchant marine. After King John of Portugal refused to finance a westward voyage to India, Columbus appealed to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Under their auspices, Columbus set sail in 1492 on the first of what would be four voyages of discovery that opened up the new world for exploration and exploitation. Columbus was considered unequivocally a hero at the time of the quarternary celebration of his first voyage in 1892; the Chicago world's fair was officially the Columbian exposition, celebrating his vision, courage, and seamanship.
Salvation army: Methodist minister William Booth made it his mission to minister to the poorest and most hardened people in the slums of London; the mission took on a quasi-military organization and was named the Salvation Army in 1878, with Booth as the general. Work in the United States began officially in 1880. Street corner bands and singers attracted the attention of passers-by and encouraged their attendance at revival meetings.
When the Man in the Moon Goes to Sleep: "When the Man in the Moon Goes to Sleep" was one of the popular songs from Hallen and Hart's The Idea. The score credits the song to Joseph Hart; it was published in New York in 1893 by Willis Woodward. The first verse begins: "A great many changes I'm sure we will see"; the chorus begins with the title line, "When the man in the moon goes to sleep."
Although the song is now apparently forgotten, it was sufficiently popular that student Robert Manley wrote a parody of it to be sung at the University of Nebraska's Glee Club concert; the text explained all the wonderful things that would happen "when the man in the moon goes to sleep," such as "we'll all go to chapel and never cut class" (Hesperian, 7 June 1895).
"Two Little Girls in Blue": A very popular "waltz song" with words and music by Charles Graham, published in 1893. The phrase took on a life of its own, and was used as the title of a Vincent Youmans musical in 1921. The first verse and refrain go: An old man gazed on a photograph in the locket he'd worn for years,His nephew then asked him the reason why that picture had caused him tears,Come, listen he said, I will tell you lad, a story that's strange but true,Your father and I at the school one day, met two little girls in blue. Two little girls in blue, lad, two little girls in blue,They were sisters, we were brothers, and learned to love the two,And one little girl in blue, lad, who won your father's heart,Became your mother, I married the other but we have drifted apart.
Mr. James Aldrich Libby: Singer James Aldrich Libby (c. 1872-1925) made the song, "After the Ball," a hit, selling over five million copies of the sheet music, when he sang it in Hoyt's comedy, A Trip to Chinatown in 1893.
Miss Fanny Bloodgood: Fanny Bloodgood does not appear in the New York Times dramatic index for this period, but there are several other actors and actresses with that surname (Harry and Mrs. Harry Bloodgood, and Clara and Margaret Bloodgood) and it seems likely that they were related.
After the Ball: This song by Charles K. Harris was one of the first big hits of the new popular music industry in the U.S., selling two million copies in sheet music form in 1892. A little maiden climbed an old man's kneeBegged for a story—"Do, uncle, please!"Why are you single; why live alone?Have you no babies; have you no home?""I had a sweetheart, years, years ago;Where she is now, pet, you will soon know.List to the story, I'll tell it all,I believed her faithless, after the ball." After the ball is over,After the break of morn —After the dancers' leaving;After the stars are gone;Many a heart is aching,If you could read them all;Many the hopes that have vanishedAfter the ball.
Mendelssohn Quintette club of Boston: The famous Mendelssohn Quintette club of Boston was the first professional chamber music group in the U.S.; it was founded in Boston in 1849 and finally disbanded in 1898. Their repertoire was not restricted to Mendelssohn, string music, or even quintets: several members doubled on wind instruments, and occasionally other instrumentalists or vocalists were added.
Thomas Ryan: Irish-American musician Thomas Ryan (1827-1903) was one of the founders of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club of Boston and was its leader for the nearly fifty years of its existence. The son of an army bandmaster, Ryan came to the U.S. in 1844; he played the viola and the clarinet, and also composed music for the group. His Recollections of an Old Musician was published in 1899.
Universalist church: The First Universalist Society of Lincoln was organized in 1870, and the cornerstone of a chapel laid in 1872; the church was at 724 S. 12th St. The Rev. E. H Chapin became its pastor in 1883.Mrs. Laura B, Pound, the mother of Roscoe, Louise, and Olivia Pound, university friends of Cather, was one of the first members of the Universalist Society. Cather used the Chapin name for characters in One of Ours (1922).
Simon E. Jacobsohn: Russian-American violinist Simon E. Jacobsohn (1839-1902) was born to a musical but poor family in Russia. He helped to support his family by playing at parties and dancing from the time he was seven, when his father died, until he was fifteen, when he began to receive some formal musical training on the violin, going to Germany when he was twenty. He served as concertmaster in Bremen from about 1860-1872, when he came to the United States to join Theodore Thomas's orchestra. In 1877 he joined the Mendelssohn Quintet of Boston; afterwards he taught and played in Cincinnati before moving permanently to Chicago about 1886. He was an influential teacher of violin at the Chicago College of Music until his death.
Bernhard Listemann: Bernhard Listemann (1841-1917), considered one of the best violinists in America in the late 19th century. He was one of the first concertmasters of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; by the turn of the century he was teaching at the Chicago Musical College. A Listemann Concert Company performed in the 1880s.
Gustav Danreuther: German-American violinist Gustav Dannreuther (1853-1923) was born in Cincinnati, but studied in Berlin and Paris, returning to the US in 1877. He played with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club of Boston from 1877-1880, when he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He founded the Beethoven String Quartet, which was later renamed for him as the Dannreuther Quartet, and joined the music faculty of Vassar College in 1907.
Christian Julius (Wulf) Fries: German cellist Christian Julius (Wulf) Fries (1825-1902) was largely self-taught. He moved from Holstein, Germany, to Norway in 1842, playing with the Bergen orchestra and with Ole Bull. He came to the U.S. in 1847, where he and his brother, violinist August Fries, became founding members of the Mendelssohn Quintet Club of Boston. In 1872 he joined the Beethoven Quintet Club; he gave many concerts and was a leading teacher, joining the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1889.
Anton Hekking: Cellist Anton Hekking (1856-1935) was born in The Hague. From 1873-78 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, although he had already served as principal cellist with orchestras in the Netherlands and in Russia. He was with the Mendelssohn Quintet of Boston in the late 1880s before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1889, and was with the New York Philharmonic from 1895-98. In much demand as a soloist and in chamber music groups, he was also a distinguished teacher in the US and later at the Stern Conservatoire in Berlin, where he died.
André P. Verdier: Violinist André P. Verdier (18549-1932) was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. about 1887. He played with the Mendelssohn Quintet in the 1890s, and had a solo career thereafter. In later life he taught in California, where he died.
Johan Rovdenburg: No other information has been found about this musician, probably of Dutch descent, who played viola and flute with the Mendelssohn Quintet Club of Boston in the 1890s. His name is given in various listings of the quintet's members as Roodenburg and Rodenburg.
Ludwig W. Hoffmanner: No other information has been found about this musician, probably of German descent, who played cello with the Mendelssohn Quintet Club of Boston in the 1890s. His name is given in one listing of the quintet's members as Hoffmann.
Lila Jeul: Swedish soprano Lila Juel sang with the Mendelssohn Quintet of Boston from about 1892-1894. The Yearbook of the (Collegiate) Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York (1895) listed her as principal soprano at the Fifth Avenue and 48th Street church.
Beethoven: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn to a family of musicians. His musical talents manifested themselves at an early age, and he became assistant court organist in 1782. His first known composition was published in 1783. He studied briefly with Mozart in 1787, and with Haydn in 1792 in Vienna. He became recognized as Mozart's successor both as a virtuoso performer on the piano and as a composer. By 1800 it was clear that he was going deaf, and he focused his energies on composing; many of his best and most popular pieces were composed in this so-called second or middle period. His genius was acknowledged all over Europe.
theme and variations for quartette: Possibly the second movement, in G minor, of Schubert's Quartet in D minor (composed c. 1825); in that movement, there are five variations on the theme, drawn from Schubert's song "Death and the Maiden."
Schubert: Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was born in Vienna, the son of a poor schoolmaster. He early showed aptitude for the piano, violin, singing, and composition; through the influence of Salieri, he was able to attend the Imperial and Royal City College in Vienna, where he received one of the best educations available to a non-aristocrat, and met many of the friends who helped sustain him in later life. He was a prolific composer with a particular genius for song, raising the German lied to an art form, though his symphonies, chamber music and piano music are equally celebrated.
Boccherini: Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) was born in Lucca, Italy, where his father was a musician. The young Boccherini became renowned as a cello virtuoso and as a composer; he helped in the development of the string quartet by making the cello line as important as that of the violin and viola; he also wrote the first quintet for strings. He moved from Italy to Paris in 1768, and then was persuaded by the Spanish ambassador to move to Madrid as a court composer and cellist to Carlos III. Late in life he lost his patrons during the upsets of the Napoleonic wars and died in poverty.
trio in G for piano, violin and cello: Haydn wrote three trios in G for these instruments (although the piano part may have been written originally for harpsichord); these three were composed in 1784, 1794, and 1795.
Haydn: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was born of poor parents in an Austrian village; his talent showed itself early, and he became a choir boy, first in a nearby town and then at the cathedral in Vienna; when his voice changed he lost his employment and his place in the choir school. He studied composition on his own, and began to compose music for his early patrons. In 1761 he went to the court of Prince Esterházy, becoming music director in 1766. A prolific, inspired composer, his fame spread throughout Europe. In 1790 and again in 1794, he was commissioned to compose and conduct six symphonies and other pieces in London. He is one of the greatest of Enlightenment composers, though his reputation underwent a slight decline as the darker and more emotionally turbulent music of the Romantic period became ascendant in the nineteenth century.
With Verdure Clad: A difficult and beautiful aria for soprano, sung by the archangel Gabriel, one of the three narrators in Haydn's The Creation. The aria describes the created land on the third day of creation.
Creation: While on a visit to London, Haydn was inspired by hearing Handel's oratorios. He used a German translation of Milton's Paradise Lost as the basis for his libretto; it was first performed publicly in 1798 and was a favorite thereafter. The oratorio begins with an overture expressive of the chaos before creation. The chorus and three soloists and the orchestra express the elements of the creation of the world.
The Creation was performed at the commencement concert in June 1895, the year of Cather's graduation.
Solveig: Probably one of Edvard Grieg's best-known works, "Solveigs sang" (also known as "Solvejg's Lied"), is from his Peer Gynt suite, no. 2, based on a text by Ibsen. It was first published in 1874-5 and revised in 1892 (op. 23, no.19). The song begins:The winter may pass and the spring disappear,The summer too will vanish, and then the year;But this I know for certain: that you'll come back again,And even as I promised you'll find me waiting then.
Less often performed is "Solveigs vuggevise" (op. 23, no. 26).
Edward Grieg: Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was born in Bergen, Norway. A holiday in the mountains of Norway as a youth had a powerful effect on him, both in the folk music he heard and the landscape itself. The great violinist Ole Bull helped him enter the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1858; on his return to Norway he was influenced by Richard Nordraak and the idea of developing a national music. He became the best-known of Norwegian composers. Many of his compositions were songs, and his orchestral and piano works also have lyrical qualities.
fantasie for the flute by Demmersemann: Jules Demersseman (1833-1866), despite his early death, composed many works for flute and other wind instruments; many of the fantasies are variations on operatic airs or melodies by other composers; one, however, has the title "Fantaisie sur un theme original."
Jules Demersseman: French flautist Jules Demersseman (1833-1866), born in the north of France near the Belgian border, became a student at the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of eleven, quickly earning a reputation as a virtuoso. He composed music for the flute, the newly invented saxophone, and other wind instruments.
fantasie for violin, on a Russian romance: Possibly Vieuxtemps' "Souvenir de Russie, fantasia," op. 21 (c. 1845). Less likely, perhaps, it may be his "Fantaisie caprice," op. 11, which premiered in Russia (1840), or one of his "Chansons Russes" (c. 1854).
Vieuxtemps: Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) was born in Belgium; a child prodigy on the violin, his first public performance was at the age of six. He toured Europe: in Germany, Schumann compared the teenaged performer to the great violinist Paganini. He studied composition, often performing his own works. He lived in Russia 1846-1851 as a court musician and soloist to the czar, and founded a violin school. He returned to France, touring extensively (including America in 1843-44, 1857-58, and 1870-71). In 1871 he returned to Brussels as a professor at the Conservatory there, but his playing career was cut short by a paralytic stroke in 1873.