Source File: cat.j00075.xml

Page Image

Nebraska State Journal


October 21, 1894
page 13

UTTERLY IRRELEVANT.

Lincoln has been doing pretty well in the line of laudable enterprises lately, and one of the most praiseworthy is the charity concert to be given at the Lansing nextmonth. The concert will be given as a benefit for the city poor and all the musicians will donate their services. Among the performers will be Mr. Seiveking , Mr. Hagenow , Mr. Gray , Mrs. Gray , Miss Gaylord , Mr. Seamark and Miss Hoffmann . The whole performance will be conducted in true concert fashion; only one number will be allowed each performer and in no case will encores be responded to.

          

This winter will be more of a concert season than we have ever known here before. The university conservatory of music will give a series of recitals and Mr. Zehrung has promised some great concerts. Lincoln has gradually worked up a great deal of musical enthusiasm, which is certainly genuine, even if it is not all of the very highest order. A great many people are willing to pay $2.50 to hear two hours of good music. And now it is about time that the matter of evening dress should be agitated. It is one of the few good features of the western theatre-going public that it insists upon its right of going to the theatre in negligee costume. Nobody cares to wear out very many pairs of elbow kids in applauding Corse Payton or "The Hustler." But a concert is a different matter. Good music is just a little above anything else that ever honors any stage, and everyone owes it a certain respect. The traditions of concert dress are rigid. It is always and invariably bad form to go to a concert in ordinary street costume. It is no more trouble to put on a dress suit than anything else and in a civilized community every man ought to possess a dress suit. Omaha, after insisting upon it for years, has at last made evening dress the rule, but a Lincoln concert audience is clad in everything from a shooting suit to white duck trousers. "Store" clothes are well enough in their place, but in a concert hall they are decidedly bizarre. It is worth while to dress for a concert on the same principle that it is worth while to dress for one's wedding. Music calls for the best of everything. It is a fact that people seem to be more receptive to higher influences when they are carefully dressed than when they are slouchy. Street dress at a concert is so wofully provincial; it always savors of Council Bluffs or St. Joe.

It is probable, though, that we will go on as we always have done; that the youths will go to concerts in striped shirts and scarlet neckties and the papas in dressing gowns and skull caps and the ladies muffled to their ears.

          

There is another thing that increased musical interest ought to bring about, and that is harmony among the local musicians. If there is to be any real musical advancement the musicians must be at the bottom of it. If any musician wants to succeed he must work up the local interest in music and not spend his time reviling every other man in town who can play the piano. It's a bad personal advertisement. All mediocre musicians are born jealous; the great ones have no need to be. It is a bad state of affairs when one workman will not acknowledge the skill of another of his craft. The surest proof that a man is little is that he is unwilling to admit that anyone else is tall.

          

The London Times says that Queen Victoria has been giving a party. Now that is surely a very unwise and frivolous thing for the queen to do. Victoria isn't in the habit of giving things. Of course she has to give a wedding breakfast now and then, and when any one of her immediate family dies she generally gives him a funeral. Then occasionally she has to give a silver spoon to some new grandson or donate some motherly advice to the erring Wales, but that is about the limit of her generosity. Tennyson has drivelled his meaningless prettiness over the queen and has gone into such rhapsodies of meter because she reared a large family economically that we all look at her through rose glasses. The real history of Victoria has yet to be written, and when it is it will be a revelation to many people, and especially to her own subjects. It is an indisputable fact that in her youth she was handsome, much the best-looking of any of the Hanover women. But after her first bloom wore off she grew stout and coarse, as Queen Caroline and Queen Charlotte did before her. The Hanover monarchs always married plain women, and their mistresses were always several shades uglier than their wives. The Dutchmen had no taste in women. As to the queen's public life, she has managed to to do nothing indifferently well. By cutting off festivities and reducing the court to a state of funereal melancholy and economy she has amassed a fortune and succceeded in being the most niggardly monarch of a niggardly line. She has also done well by her numerous offspring. She has profitably disposed of her plain daughters and profligate sons in most of the wealthy courts of Europe. No one ever heard of one of her children marrying into a poor kingdom. She has been as cold to her daughters-in-law as she was to her own children and her own husband. She has married off all the nobility of England as she pleased, willing or unwilling. She engaged poor May of Teck , who is a good creature if she does write very bad poetry, to Duke Clarence , and when the duke died because he had too much of his papa's princely blood in his veins to live long she turned May over to George in less than a year. She has written the dullest and most insipid of diaries and had the bad taste to publish it. She has painted some pictures which certainly did not adorn the English art department in Chicago last year. At present she is a very hot-tempered, disagreeable old woman, who swears loudly in German at the slightest provocation, drinks a great deal more beer than is good for her and throws the empty bottles at her servants heads for amusement. It is not probable that she has ever wandered about London incognito in search of adventure and flirtation, as Victor Hugo accuses Elizabeth and Anne of doing, but it is possible that she has visited all the 10-cent stores and pawnshops in London buying up plated silverware and paste diamonds to bestow upon the earls' children when she stands godmother for them.

          

The queen's sordidness, if not her niggardliness, has descended unto her hopeful son the prince. He is a bon vivant in a grovelling manner, like his ancestors, not in the dashing way of the Stuarts. His sports are as cruel and brutal as his tastes are low. No Sturt was ever cruel; only weak and fatally fond of pleasure. The prince is thoroughly bourgeoise, a Dutch tradesman in spite of his titles. The first time Yevette Guihert, the naughty French dancer, met him at a little supper after the performance, she cried: "A king! Bah! In Paris the street sweeps are more kingly." As Yevette probably knows his royal highness better than any other one person, she is good authority.

          

It would be pleasant to meet a singer once who acknowledged that she read her notices. Actresses make no denial of it at all, but a singer generally informs you that she knows just how well she can sing and doesn't bother with newspapers. I have met a good many singers who assured me that they never read their notices, and the next morning when walking down the street with them I have frequently been obliged to take them by the arm and lead them, lest, while they were so deeply buried in the announcement column of the morning paper, they would stumble and break their precious necks.

          

A good many actors are breaking away from old ties and leaving their old managers this season and the said managers are loudly wailing of their ingratitude. The fact is the actors are not much to blame. It is so seldom that an actor gets an understanding manager, and most actors are too much managed. Over-management has broken down many a good actor. Every actor has some instinct of what he is fitted for. He gets a manager, a man without an artistic temperament, without ideas of art, who decides that he is fitted for something entirely different, and who in all kindness sets about melting the actor down and casting him over. The only thing left for the actor is to politely but firmly refuse to be melted. Take the case of Bernhardt alone. One manager declared she must be a singer, which would have been bad. Another insisted that she must be a comedienne, which would certainly have been worse. When she was fifteen her parents and uncles and aunts decided that she must go into a convent and be a nun, which, heaven knows, would have been worst of all.

          

It is laughable, this passion the canaille have for running a genius. Almost every butcher and baker and candlestick-maker has discovered some little genius and is endeavoring to develop him. Of course, as a rule, his genius is not a genius at all, and his swan is only a goose with its feathers rumpled. But if he happens to be something of a genius the case is even more absurd. Here is a man essentially commonplace, who has the common needs and the common desires and lives the common life, attempting to manage and control a man who is not of the common, whose every strength lies in the fact that his needs, desires and life are different from those of every other man on earth. He decides to generously find time to manage this genius. This artist shall paint the pictures he would paint if he could, write the books, act the plays that he would act. This artist is a Bohemian and wears a blouse. He will put clean linen on him and make him a gentleman. He desires him to be popular—that is his idea of greatness—to have nothing ill said about one. Now the artist, poor fellow, has but one care, one purpose, one hope—his work. That is all God gave him; in place of love, of happiness, of popularity, only that. He is not made to live like other men; his soul is strung differently. He must wander in the streets because the need of his work is with him; he must shun the parlors of his friends and seek strange companions, because the command of his work is upon him. Conventions which are necessary to other men suffocate him and bring upon him the deathly sickness which warns him. He needs ceaseless variety and change, a thousand complex inexplicable things, whereas his manager needs only beefsteak. If he has the courage he throws off the yoke of management. if not the strength to work leaves him, and he drifts on,

"Doing the work of all his several friends And serving every purpose except his own."

The fewer friends he has the better; every friend means one more manager. Friends demand weekly dividends on the interest they invest in one. When a man has nothing on earth but a purpose people might hold their tongues and leave him alone with it. Leave him to fail alone with it if God shall put upon him the chagrin of failure, to succeed alone with it if God has reserved for him that fulness of joy. He cares only for that purpose. They might leave him that.

          

If people are going to be foolish enough to be married they might as well do it with a glare of torches and a blaze of trumpets, and have a church wedding and give the community the benefit of it. Then they can have Wagner's wedding march on the organ, and it's worth getting married to have that. It's a leading question, anyway, whether it's the march or the minister that really marries people.

          

There are some stage questions which have never been solved yet. Among them are why the maids always wear red dresses and always dust the same piece of furniture through the whole play; why the villains always wear silk hats and smoke cigarettes; why the leading lady always wears black in the fourth act and faints in the fifth.

          

There was a time when Miss Rice was known as the sister of Mrs. Raymond , but she certainly needs no name but her own now, not even Mrs. Raymond's. Miss Rice's work at the Cochrane-Wood's wedding was a surprise to her best friends and warmest admirers. Besides the two wedding marches, which are always beautiful, she played five numbers while the crowd was gathering. A triumphal march by Archer , Mendelssohn's "Spring Song," a march by Smith , communion in G by Batiste and the "Hymn of the Nun" by Nely . Very much of the beautiful effect of that very effective wedding was due to Miss Rice. Her rendering of the "Spring Song" and Batiste's communion in G was full of delicacy and meaning, and those two selections alone were enough to make this weary world look a littleless tired for days to come.

          

The question that is now agitating the critics of the two continents and the little island that feels larger that both those continents is shall a first night criticism be done on the night of the performance or at the end of the week. The arguments in favor of the latter method are that the critic has time to carefully reconsider his views, correct his judgment and polish his metaphors. If the people want a critic to determine the destiny of a play or to write literature the weekly method is much the best. But it is very doubtful if the people want that. They want to see something that will speak their own sentiments for them or that will contradict their opinions and give them the satisfaction of defending their position against that blockhead of a critic. Of course a critic cannot always or even often speak the voice of the multitude. He is only one weak and erring man, who sees more poor plays than are good for him, and is likely to be a little embittered. Neither can he be perfectly fair; he can only be honest. His judgment is faulty, like every other man's; it is influenced more or less by what he had for supper. But the question is, is it not likely to be weakened more by six suppers than by one? Of course a week's consideration must improve the intellectual and critical element of his notice, but ten to one it weakens the emotional element, and that after all is the most precious and volatile element, the one that goes to the hearts of the people. A critic's first instincts are the best because they are the truest. He cannot listen to argument on a point, he must not reason with himself; he must take his impression as he gets it and rush it upon paper. He must take it before it becomes an opinion or freezes into a deduction; while it is an emotion, a feeling, imperfect and half formed perhaps, but living. That is the great object; to have a notice alive, to have the glare of the footlights and the echo of the orchestra in it. The highest art in a next morning's notice is to reproduce to some extent the atmosphere of the play, to laugh if it was funny, to weep a little if it was sad, to say plainly and frankly if it was bad. Some individual notice of the actor is necessary, but even there the object is to reproduce in writing as far as possible the faults or merits which make up his artistic personality. The man who, after last year's season of grand opera in Chicago, said that Nordica was Rhine wine, Eames ice water, Melba champagne, but Calve was a whole drunk, was as great a critic as Mr. Barron himself. This ability to reflect the feeling, the pitch, the morale of a play has been the secret of the success of all great critics. It is not a matter of judgment, but of sympathy. A morning notice should be an echo of the play, an accompaniment played in the same time and key. Mr. Winter's forte was in his ability to reproduce the feeling and the atmosphere of Shakespearean drama. He cannot handle comedy or emotional drama; his limit is Shakespeare , because his tastes and sympathies are Shakespearean. Even his favorite artists, Mary Anderson and Ada Rehan , have been women of the classic Shakespearean type. For the artists of the warmer school he has no real admiration. Mr. Sarcey , the great French critic, so perfectly reproduces the meaning and manner of a play that Brender Matthews says: "To read him makes me homesick for Paris, and I put away the paper and go to bed and dream of the towers of Notre Dame and the lights of the Seine, and all night long I hear the great rumble of applause that shakes the pillars of the Theatre Francaise three thousand miles across the sea."



Notes

Go back charity concert: Margaret R. Seymour, in her thesis, Music in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the Nineteenth Century: A Study of the Musical Culture of a Frontier Society (UNL,1968), notes a charity concert at which Martinus Sieveking and August Hagenow, among others, performed in December 1894 (220-21). Sieveking played Rubenstein's Melody in F and led the orchestra; Hagenow was the violin soloist.

Seymour listed Hattie and Ed Becker, sister and brother of Sadie Becker, a prototype for Cather's Lucy Gayheart, as other performers at this concert. The Beckers had lived in Red Cloud in the 1880s.

Go back 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.

The Oliver Theater, Lincoln, Nebraska. The theater was originally named The Lansing Theater.

Go back Mr. Martinus Sieveking: Dutch composer and pianist Martinus Sieveking (1867-1950) was born in Amsterdam, where he studied with composer Julius Röntgen. He was a prolific composer, though many of his pieces are described as "salon music." However, he was also a talented arranger: many of his versions of Chopin's music are still standard. Sieveking taught at the conservatory of music in Lincoln from 1893-95, and toured America in 1895-96, performing at Carnegie Hall in New York. A tall, handsome man, he became a close friend of the famous strongman, Eugen Sandow (1867-1925), developing his body according to Sandow's principles. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Sieveking taught piano in New York and composed and performed music for player piano companies. He died in Pasadena, California.

Go back Mr. August Hagenow: August Hagenow came to Lincoln from Chicago in 1886; he was a violinist, but also conducted bands and orchestras in Lincoln. He joined the faculty of O. B. Howell's Nebraska Conservatory of Music in 1889, the same year he married Emma S. Seifert. In January 1894 he opened the Hagenow School of Music, but was bought out by Willard Kimball of the University School of Music in June 1894. Hagenow joined the faculty of the University School of Music, becoming director of the university band from 1903 to 1911.

Go back Mr. William Leonard Gray: The Lincoln city directories for 1892-95 list William Leonard Gray as a teacher at the Nebraska Conservatory of Music; he was living at 1313 L Street in 1894.

Go back Mrs. Mary Latimer Gray: Mrs. Mary Latimer Gray of 831 S. 13th Street is listed in the 1894 Lincoln city directory as a teacher at the Nebraska Conservatory of Music.

Go back Miss Minnie E. Gaylord: Minnie E. Gaylord (born in 1874 in Minnesota) was the daughter of Luther T. Gaylord, a clerk living at 1718 Q Street at the time of the 1892 Lincoln city directory. The 1900 census lists her as a hairdresser living in a large boarding house or hotel at 1516 O Street.

Go back Mr. Hubert J. W. Seamark: Hubert J. W. Seamark, who is listed as a music teacher in Lincoln city directories of the early 1890s, was living at 845 G Street in 1893 and 1894. Seymour notes that he sang in a quartet with Mrs. C. S. Lippincott, Eugenia Getner, and W. K. Tuttle in a concert on 4 February 1896. He is listed in the 1909 Lincoln City Directory as a musician with the Elite Theatre, where his wife, Olive M. Seamark, was a pianist.

Go back Jessie Hoffman: This was probably Jessie Hoffman, who was listed in the 1895 Lincoln city directory as a music teacher. She lived with her mother, Rosa Hoffman, widow of D.S. Hoffman, at 1344 J Street; she is no longer listed, at least under this name, in the 1897 directory.

Go back University of Nebraska Conservatory of Music: The University of Nebraska offered instruction in music but had no regular department of music. In 1892 Chancellor James H. Canfield proposed the establishment of a Conservatory of Music to be affiliated with but not funded by the university; however, its students would receive university credit (and provide music for university functions). Willard Kimball of the Grinnell College Conservatory of Music was invited to establish the new conservatory; the building, at the corner of 11th and R Street, just across from the campus, opened in 1894.

Go back Mr. Frank C. Zehrung: Frank Connell Zehrung (1858-1942) was born in Cedar Rapids, IA, the son of John and Mary Connell Zehrung. According to Who's Who in Nebraska, he was educated at Lincoln High School and at the University of Nebraska. He was in the drug store business from 1879 to 1897, and managed the Funke Opera House from 1894 to 1900. In partnership with L. M. Crawford he managed the Oliver Theatre (formerly the Lansing Theatre) from 1899 to 1917. He married Jessie L. Voris (d. 1944) in 1911. He was active in civic affairs, as a member of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary club, and the Order of Elks, and he served as five terms as mayor of Lincoln: 1913-15, 1921-27, and 1931-33.

Zehrung's drug store was at 1213 O St. until 1894.

Go back evening dress: Evening dress for men consisted of a black suit with a swallow-tail coat, white, stiff-fronted shirt, white tie and waistcoat, and patent leather shoes. Women's evening dress was usually of fine materials, low-cut, with short or no sleeves, and long gloves.

Go back negligee costume: Informal clothing, especially that worn around the house.

Go back elbow kids: Long, elbow-length evening gloves were often made of fine kid leather.

Go back Corse Payton: Actor and manager Corse Payton (1866-1934) was born in Centerville, Iowa; he made his stage debut at the age of 16 in his family's company; his elder sister married Benjamin Spooner of the Spooner Family company. He organized his own company, Corse Payton's Comedy Company, in 1891 and toured the Midwest until taking his company east in 1895. An undated playbill that has been preserved notes that Payton "carries an entire [railroad] car load of Special Scenery, his own carpets, furniture, bric-a-brac." By 1900 he had his own popular theater, Corse Payton's Lee Avenue Theatre, in Brooklyn, NY, where his company performed two shows a day, with seats at 10, 20, and 30 cents each. Reputedly future stars such as Mary Pickford, Ed Wynn, and the Gish sisters served in his company at various times. Later he managed stock companies in Newark, NJ, and Jamaica, NY. He married Etta Reed, the leading lady of his company; after her death in 1915 he married another actress, Henrietta Brown (d. 1958).

Go back The Hustler: The New York Times reviewer called The Hustler "the usual variety exhibition" when it opened at the Bijou Theater in New York (24 November 1891). The original company included John and Henry Kernell; Gus Mills, a female impersonator; Barney Reynolds, Mollie Thompson, and Rose and Hilda Laporte. The Kernell company played in the New York area theaters for several years, occasionally changing some of the specialty acts, according to Odell (XV).

Go back shooting suit: A suit made for hunting, usually with many pockets on the jacket to hold ammunition and other gear.

Go back white duck trousers: Duck, a strong linen or cotton cloth, finer than canvas, was often used for men's informal trousers, especially in the summer, in the nineteenth century.

Go back Council Bluffs: Council Bluffs, Iowa, is across the Missouri River from the larger city of Omaha, Nebraska. It is so named because Lewis and Clark met with members of the Otoe tribe there in 1804. The area began to be settled in the 1830s and was named Kanesville in the 1840s, when it became a launching point for Mormon immigration to Utah. The town assumed its present name in the1850s when it became a center for outfitting settlers heading west on the California and Oregon Trails.

Go back St. Joseph: St. Joseph, Missouri, was incorporated in 1843 and was important as the last major supply post for those heading west across the Missouri River. It served as one of the endpoints of the Pony Express in the 1850s; however, it became overshadowed by the growing city of Kansas City to the south.

Cather mentions St. Joe several times in her fiction; it is one of the cities the two friends visit in her story "Two Friends" (Obscure Destinies).

Go back The London Times: John Walter began publication of a newspaper in London in 1785, giving it the name of The Times in 1788. It soon became a profitable and influential newspaper, the first to send special correspondents to cover wars. However, it suffered in the late nineteenth century from competition from cheaper papers—the "penny press"—and nearly went under in 1890. Its new editor, Charles F.M. Bell, was part of its revitalization from 1890-1911. The paper was bought by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) in 1908, by John Jacob Astor in 1922, by Canadian Roy Thomson in 1967, and Rupert Murdoch in 1981.

Go back Queen Victoria: Queen Victoria (1819-1901) ascended to the throne in 1837, at the age of eighteen. She married a cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, in 1840, and they had nine children; she was deeply devoted to her husband, and their home life was considered exemplary. The death of Prince Albert in 1861 deprived her of both her husband and her most trusted advisor. She went into mourning for the rest of her life, and though she kept in close touch with affairs of state, for many years she refused to appear at public functions. She lost some of her popularity at this time, but a new rise in public affection culminated in her Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. As the longest-reigning British monarch, she presided over the decreasing power of the monarchy itself, but also over the rise of Great Britain as the dominant power of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Go back Alfred Tennyson: English poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was one of the most popular poets of the nineteenth century. He was one of the twelve children of a disinherited Anglican minister, and began writing poetry as a youth. He was educated at Cambridge University, where he met Henry Hallam, the friend whose death inspired "In Memoriam." Poems Chiefly Lyrical (1830) was published while he was still an undergraduate; his second volume of poetry (1833) included "The Lady of Shalott," but was severely reviewed, and he did not publish again for ten years. His Poems (1842) made him famous, a fame secured by The Princess (1847). He was appointed poet laureate of England in 1850 and made first Baron Tennyson in 1884. Other famous poems include The Idylls of the King, based on Arthurian legend, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Crossing the Bar," "Maud," and "Ulysses."

Go back rose glasses: Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, or everything in its most attractive light, is an expression that was probably popularized by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown at Oxford (1861): "Oxford was a sort of Utopia to the Captain. . . . He continued . . . to behold towers, and quadrangles, and chapels, . . . through rose-coloured spectacles" (OED).

Go back Hanover women: When Queen Anne of Great Britain died childless in 1714, the Protestant line of the House of Stuart came to an end; to avoid the Catholic Stuart heirs, throne of England went to the Elector George of Hanover (1660-1727), whose mother, Sophia (1630-1714), was a granddaughter of James I. The House of Hanover includes George I, George II, George III, George IV, William IV, and Victoria. Cather may mean to include the mistresses as well as the wives and daughters of the Hanovers; one of George I's mistresses, Ehrengard von der Schulenberg(1667-1743) was popularly known as "the Maypole" in Britain, while another, Charlotte Sophia Kielmansegge, was known as "the Elephant."

Go back Queen Caroline of Ansbach: Possibly Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), queen consort of George II of Great Britain and grandmother of George III, or Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), wife of George IV, who sought to divorce her after his father's death.

Go back Queen Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818) married King George III of Great Britain in 1761. The couple had fifteen children of whom thirteen survived, including the future George IV and William IV.

Go back a state of funereal melancholy: Queen Victoria had been in mourning since the death of her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861).

Go back profitably disposed of her plain daughters and profligate sons: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children. Her eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, was married to the future German emperor, Kaiser Frederick III. Her eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was married to the beautiful but relatively poor Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Princesses Alice, Helena, and Beatrice married German nobility, the Grand Duke of Hesse, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, and Prince Henry of Battenburg, respectively; Princess Louise married the British Duke of Argyll. Of Victoria's younger sons, Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, married the only surviving daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia; Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, married Princess Luise of Prussia, grand-niece of Kaiser Wilhelm I; Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, married Princess Helene of Waldeck-Pyrmont (a sister of Queen Emma of the Netherlands and a niece of Queen Sophia of Sweden).

Go back as cold to her daughters-in-law as she was to her own children and her own husband: Queen Victoria's diaries as well as the testimony of members of her court show that she was devoted to her husband, Prince Albert. She was, however, cold to her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, whom she tried to keep out of public affairs throughout his life.

Go back Princess May (Victoria Mary) of Teck: The Princess May (Victoria Mary) of Teck (1867-1953) was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck; her mother was a grandchild of George III, and Queen Victoria was one of her godmothers. She was engaged to marry the Duke of Clarence, Queen Victoria's eldest grandson, when he died in early 1892. The queen arranged Princess May's marriage to the Duke of Clarence's brother, the Duke of York (the future George V) in July 1893. They became a devoted couple, rescuing the royal family from the scandals of the past. Princess May became Queen Mary in 1910; she was the mother of the future Edward VIII (1894-1972) and George VI (1895-1952), and grandmother of Elizabeth II (1926-).

Go back Duke Clarence: Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence (1864-1892), was the eldest son of Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), and the grandson of Queen Victoria.

Go back turned May over to George in less than a year: Princess May's engagement to the Duke of Clarence ended with his death on 14 January 1892. She became engaged to his brother George, Duke of York, on 4 May 1893, as reported by a telegram from George to his friend Sir Charles Cust.

Go back dullest and most insipid of diaries: A diary of Princess Victoria Mary (May) of Teck was published in the New Review (London) in 1893 (vol. 9, no. 1)

Go back Victor Hugo: French writer and political activist Victor Hugo (1802-1885) made his name first as a poet in the early 1820s. Inspired by the French Romantic writer Chateaubriand, he called for the breaking of the bonds of the French classical tradition: this led to the so-called "battle of Hernani," the riot that followed the production of his play, Hernani, in 1830. His poetry, plays, and novels made him the leading writer of his day. His novel, Notre Dame de Paris (1831), published in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, won him fame throughout Europe; Les Miserables (1862) embodied his social concerns.

Go back as Victor Hugo accuses Elizabeth and Anne of doing: Two of Victor Hugo's plays dealt with the early Elizabethan period and may contain this suggestion: Amy Robsart (1828); which ran for only one night, and more likely, Marie Tudor (1833). Cather may mean Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother, not Queen Anne of Great Britain (1665-1714).

Go back Elizabeth Tudor: Elizabeth Tudor (1533-1603) was the younger daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Although Henry declared the marriage invalid after beheading Anne for adultery and treason, Elizabeth was declared third in the succession when her half-brother Edward was born. She survived a childhood and youth of plots by others under Edward and her elder half-sister, the Roman Catholic Mary I, before ascending to the throne in 1558 at the age of twenty-five. The rigorous education, self-control, and political skill she had learned as princess, in addition to her choice of wise and loyal counselors, enabled her to lead England to a place as one of the major powers of Europe. Nonetheless, she had to contend with plots against her at home and abroad, some of the most dangerous of which centered on Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, whom Roman Catholics saw as the legitimate heir to the throne; Elizabeth reluctantly signed Mary's death warrant in 1587. Despite the many offers for Elizabeth's hand in marriage, she remained "the Virgin Queen," and as a symbol of her country, gave her name to England's golden age of literature and power.

Go back Anne Boleyn: Anne Boleyn (c.1501-1536) was the second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. She was not a conventional beauty of the time, being dark rather than fair, but she was intelligent, well-educated, and vivacious. She became a lady-in-waiting to Henry's queen, Catherine of Aragon, in 1522. Henry wanted a male heir, and determined on a divorce; by 1525 he had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn. They were finally married in 1532, when Henry declared he, not the Pope who had refused him the divorce, was the head of the church in England. Anne gave birth to her daughter in 1533. By 1535 Henry had a new mistress, Jane Seymour; he accused Anne of adultery and treason. She was beheaded in 1536.

Go back Stuarts: The House of Stuart ruled Scotland from 1371 to 1707. When Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch of England died, the throne of England went to the Protestant James VI of Scotland, son of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. James's son Charles I was beheaded in the English Civil War; his son, Charles II restored the monarchy and was known for his pleasure-loving ways. James II, brother of Charles II, was the father of Mary II, and Anne (1666-1714), the last Stuart monarch, as both women died childless. James II, who converted to Catholicism, also fathered a Catholic son, James (known as "the Old Pretender"), debarred from the succession of Protestant England. The Young Pretender, James's grandson, is better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie (1766-1788). The two were the focus of various plots to regain the throne.

Go back Yvette Guilbert: French singer Yvette Guilbert is perhaps best known now for the 1890s drawings of her by Henry Toulouse-Lautrec in her trademark long black gloves.

Go back Bernhardt...a singer...a comedienne, which would certainly have been worse...be a nun: Bernhardt was educated in a convent from the age of ten to fifteen, and there it became her own desire to become a nun. The composer Auber suggested she become a singer, but the Duc de Morny had her sent to the Conservatoire of the Comédie Française. Next she became a minor actress at the Gymnase, a popular theater that specialized in comedies.

Go back doing the work...his own: The source of this quotation has not yet been found.

Go back church wedding: Nineteenth century weddings, except sometimes in upper-class society, were customarily held at the home of the bride's family, not in a church.

Go back Wagner: Richard Wagner (1813-1883) revolutionized European music, especially opera. He was born in Leipzig, Germany; although he was indifferent to formal education, he taught himself to play the piano and the principles of composition, partly by studying the scores of Beethoven's works. He was also deeply influenced by his reading of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Goethe. His first operas until Rienzi (1842) were unsuccessful; his next operas began to develop his more characteristic style; though The Flying Dutchman (1843), Tannhäuser (1845), and Lohengrin (1850) were popular, the critics were often hostile. His involvement with the Revolution of 1848 in Germany forced him to flee into exile in Zurich, where he wrote on social and musical issues, and composed the poem, The Ring of the Nibelung, upon which his four Ring operas were based. The difficulty of staging these titanic works led him to put them aside for such works as Tristan and Isolde (1859). His financial difficulties were alleviated when Ludvig II of Bavaria became his patron. Wagner toured Europe to raise money for a new kind of theater at Bayreuth, which would be capable of presenting the Ring; the work was first given in its entirety at Bayreuth in 1876. His last work was Parsifal (1882).

One of Cather's early stories, "A Wagner Matinée" (1904), dramatizes the effect of Wagner's later music on a Nebraska farm woman who has been isolated from music for thirty years.

Go back Wagner's wedding march: The wedding march in Wagner's Lohengrin (1850) is played by the orchestra at the opening of Act III. It is followed by the bridal chorus, sung by Elsa's ladies, which the Victor Book of the Opera (1912) translates as: Faithful and true, we lead thee forth Where Love, triumphant, shall crown ye with joy! Star of renown, flow'r of earth, Blest be ye both far from all life's annoy! Champion victorious, go thou before! Maid bright and glorious, go thou before! Mirth's noisy revel ye've forsaken, Tender delights for you now awaken; Fragrant abode enshrine ye in bliss; Splendor and state in joy ye dismiss!

Go back Stella J. Rice: Stella J. Rice (c. 1866-after 1909) was born in Iowa, the younger daughter of Edgar G. and Frances A. Rice, who ran a fancy-goods and millinery store. Like her sister, Carrie Belle Rice Raymond, Stella became an accomplished musician, especially on the piano and organ. She moved to Lincoln to join her sister in the mid-1880s and soon became active in the musical life of the city. In 1889 she joined the faculty of O. B. Howells' new Nebraska Conservatory of Music as the organ teacher.

Go back Carrie Bell Rice Raymond: Carrie Belle Rice Raymond (c. 1858-1927) was born in New York state, the daughter of Edgar G. and Frances A. Rice. In the late 1870s she married P. V. M. Raymond and had one son. She was an accomplished musician who directed the University of Nebraska chorus from 1894-1927 and served as organist and music director at First Congregational Church for 40 years. She also directed the University of Nebraska chorus.

Go back Cochrane-Woods wedding: The marriage of Nelle Cochrane and Frank H. Woods, both graduates of the University of Nebraska, was celebrated on 19 October 1894 and described in the 20 October 1894 Nebraska State Journal.

Go back two wedding marches: Wagner's wedding march from Lohengrin and Mendelssohn's wedding march, most likely from A Midsummer Night's Dream, were played at the Cochrane-Woods wedding.

Go back a triumphal march by Archer: Composer and organist Frederick Archer (1838-1901) was born in Oxford, England. He came to the US in 1881, becoming organist at Henry Ward Beecher's church in Brooklyn. He held positions as conductor or organist in Boston and Chicago before moving to Pittsburgh in 1895, where he conducted the Carnegie Music Hall's orchestra for two years. He composed songs and music for organ and piano.

Go back Mendelssohn: Composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) was born in Hamburg, Germany, the grandson of a famous Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn. He was a child prodigy who gave his first public performance at the age of nine, and had a piano quartet published at the age of thirteen. He wrote his first twelve symphonies between the ages of twelve and fourteen. Such works as the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826) showed the fulfillment of his early promise. In 1829 Mendelssohn visited England for the first time; on subsequent visits he became a favorite of Queen Victoria. His oratorio, Elijah, premiered in Birmingham in 1846. Others of his most famous compositions include the Italian symphony (1833); the violin concerto in E minor, op. 64 (1844); and his most popular and famous solo piano compositions, the Songs Without Words.

Mendelssohn's reputation declined in the latter half of the nineteenth century, perhaps in part because of his Jewish origins—although the family was baptized in 1816. Richard Wagner showed his scorn in a veiled way in an 1850 pamphlet on the Jewish influence on music.

Go back Mendelssohn's Spring Song: Felix Mendelssohn's "Frühlingslibe" or "Spring Song" is one of the most popular of his piano compositions; it comes from his Songs Without Words, Book 5, Op. 62, no. 6.

Go back march by Smith: Possibly English composer Sydney Smith (1839-1889), a pianist, teacher, and composer of showy and popular piano pieces.

Go back communion in G by Batiste: French composer and organist Antoine-Edouard Batiste (1820-1876) contributed to the revival of composition for the organ in the mid nineteenth century. He taught at the Paris conservatory and was organist at the church of St. Eustache in Paris for twenty years.

Go back Hymn of the Nun: Probably Cather means the Andante in F, subtitled the "Hymn of the Nuns," by French organist and composer L. J. A. Lefébure-Wely.

Go back Wely: Probably Cather means French organist and composer Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely (1817-1869), who was born in Paris and served as organist (famous for his improvisations) at various famous Parisian churches, including the Madeleine and Saint-Sulpice, from 1841 until his death. He worked closely with organ builders and his compositions employ the range of symphonic possibilities offered by the various stops. His Sortie in E flat major is one of his better-known surviving pieces.

Go back two continents: Here Cather is referring to Europe and North America.

Go back little island that feels larger that both: Britain, which historically has considered itself separate from the European continent, was then at the head of the largest empire in the world.

Go back Lillian Nordica: American soprano Lillian Nordica (1857-1914) was born Lillian Norton in Maine; her family moved to Boston in 1865, and Lillian graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music ten years later. She went to Europe to study in Milan (where she adopted the name Nordica) and made her debut in 1879. She quickly became one of the most important sopranos in Europe as well as in New York at the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her New York debut in 1891.

Nordica made three unhappy marriages, the last to a banker, George Young. She died in Java while on tour, after being shipwrecked for three days.

Cather later made use of some of the details of Nordica's life in her story, "The Diamond Mine" (1916).

Go back Rhine wine: Rhine wines are usually dry white wines produced from Riesling grapes from the Rhine valley in Germany, where the grapes have been grown since the fourteenth century.

Go back Emma Eames: American soprano Emma Eames (1865-1952) was born in China, though her family was from Maine. She was educated in Boston and later studied with the famous teacher Mathilde Marchesi. She made her debut at the Paris Opera in 1889, and her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1891; she retired from the Met in 1909, going on to give concert tours until 1914; later she was a distinguished teacher of voice.

Eames married painter Julian Story and baritone Emilio di Gigorza, divorcing both. Her autobiography is Some Memories and Reflections (1929).

Image at: Wikimedia

Audio: http://www.archive.org/details/VrsAcoustics-88006-EmmaEames

Go back ice water: Ice water, which had more prestige at this time, when ice was more difficult to obtain and keep, then as now was considered a characteristically American drink.

Go back Madame Melba: Nellie Melba (1861-1931) was born Helen Porter Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia. Though she was trained as a pianist and organist, she did not begin to study singing until she attended Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne, where tenor Pietro Cecchi encouraged her to make singing her profession. She married Charles Armstrong in 1882; they were divorced in 1900. In 1886 she went to London and became a student of famed vocal teacher Mathilde Marchesi. She made her operatic debut in 1887 and from 1888 to her retirement in 1926 she was affiliated with London's Covent Garden Opera house. She quickly became an international star, making many world tours, and singing occasionally with the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1893 until 1910. Foods such as peach Melba and Melba toast were named for her. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1918.

Go back Emma Calve: Singer Emma Calvé, born Rosa Emma Calvet (1858-1942), was born in France and brought up in Spain. She studied under influential voice teacher Mathilde Marchesi, and made her debut in Brussels in 1882. She sang in Paris before making her London debut in 1892, where she sang Carmen; she became the greatest Carmen of her time. Calvé was also famous in the role of Santuzza in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana (1890). She retired in 1925 to teach. Her autobiography is I Have Sung Under Every Sky (1937).

Go back Mr. Elwyn Alfred Barron: E. A. (Elwyn Alfred) Barron (1855-1929) became drama critic for the Chicago Inter-Ocean in 1879; he wrote plays such as A Moral Crime (1885), Lady Ashley (1886), When Bess Was Queen and Out of the Storm (both produced in 1894), and a dramatization of Romola (1896). After he retired from the Inter-Ocean in the mid-1890s he lived abroad for a time, and wrote several novels.

Go back William Winter: William Winter (1836-1917) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1857. He became part of literary circles in New York and became drama critic for the New York Tribune from 1865-1909. He was among the conservative critics who resisted the rise of realism in the drama. His volumes of criticism and reminiscence, such as Other Days (1908) and The Wallet of Time (1913), are valuable as histories of the drama and especially of the actors and actresses of the period.

Go back William Shakespeare: William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-on-Avon, in Warwickshire, England. Documents of the time show his father, John Shakespeare, to have been a well-respected tradesman who held office in the town. His mother, Mary Arden, came from an old land-owning family. He was probably educated at the grammar school in Stratford; at the age of eighteen he married Anne Hathaway, by whom he had three children. Not until eight years later, in 1592, does his name start to appear connected with the London stage. By 1594 he was a part of the Lord Chamberlain's company, which by 1598 had their home at the Globe theater. His plays were successful with both the public and royalty, enabling Shakespeare to buy various properties in London and Stratford. He retired to Stratford about 1613, where he died.

Many anecdotes and legends grew up in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries about Shakespeare's life, whose authenticity cannot be now be proven, but some of which have been widely accepted: that his father was a butcher, that Shakespeare as a youth got into trouble poaching deer, that he held horses at the stage doors when he was trying to break into the London theater, that he was lame, or that he caught the fever of which he died in a drinking bout, for instance.

Some of his fellow actors collected his plays in 1623 in what is now known as the First Folio. The only works Shakespeare himself seems to have published are the early poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, a young nobleman who may also have been the subject of many of Shakespeare's sonnets, apparently written over the decade from 1593-1603.

Shakespeare's authorship of the plays ascribed to him began to be seriously questioned only in the late eighteenth century, largely on the ground that he was too humbly born and poorly educated to be capable of writing such great works. The most serious alternatives—and the question was warmly debated in the nineteenth century—put forth were Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and the Earl of Oxford.

Go back Mary Anderson: Actress Mary Anderson (1859-1940) was born in California before her parents moved back to Kentucky, where her father died while serving in the Confederate army. She was educated in convent schools in Louisville, and at the age of thirteen decided to become an actress; her stepfather encouraged her ambition, and she made her debut in Louisville in 1875 at the age of sixteen, as Juliet. She played in stock companies managed by John McCullogh and John T. Ford, then formed her own company in 1876, making her New York debut in 1877. In 1883 she made her debut in London, where her beauty and dedication to her art made her one of the first American actresses to be acclaimed in Europe; she played Rosalind at the newly opened Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford. Her Hermione, in A Winter's Tale, ran for a phenomenal one hundred consecutive performances. In November 1888 she returned to America with A Winter's Tale, but she fell ill the following March, and retired from the stage. Returning to England, Anderson married Antonio F. de Navarro in June, 1890, by whom she had two sons; they lived in retirement at a country house in Warwickshire.

Cather refers to Anderson's success in A Winter's Tale in My Ántonia (177), and to her fame in The Song of the Lark; in "Two Friends" Trueman and Dillon talked for years of having seen Anderson in St. Louis, and Dillon calls her "our Mary" because she was a Catholic girl (181).

Mary Anderson Mary Anderson as Galatea in "Pygmalion and Galatea" Mary Anderson Mary Anderson as Juliet Mary Anderson

Go back Ada Rehan: Ada Crehan (1857-1916) was born in Ireland, but grew up in Brooklyn. She went on stage when she was fourteen; when she played in Mrs. Drew's Arch Street Theater company her name was misspelled as Rehan on the program, and she adopted it as her stage name. She played in stock companies before making her New York debut in 1875, but continued to play supporting roles until Augustin Daly invited her to join his company in 1879. There she achieved her greatest success, becoming the leading lady of his company, playing opposite John Drew. A European tour in 1884 confirmed her stardom. She excelled in Shakespearean comedies as well as roles adapted from the French drama; her greatest role was said to be Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew (first played in 1887). After 1893 she divided her time between New York and London, but when Daly died in 1899, her career floundered, and she retired in 1905. Ada Rehan as Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew" Ada Rehan Ada Rehan Ada Rehan

Go back warmer school: Probably the 'emotional' style of actresses such as Bernhardt and Morris.

Go back Mr. Francisque Sarcey: French critic Francisque Sarcey (1827-1899) began his career as a journalist in Paris in 1858 and his career as a drama critic the following year. His "Feuilletons" in Le Temps, beginning in 1867, established him as the most important drama critic in France; he was particularly interested in acting (he reviewed Sarah Bernhardt's debut) and in stage presentation, rather than the drama as literature. His Souvenirs d'âge mur (1892) was translated into English in 1893.

Go back James Brander Matthews: American critic James Brander Matthews (1852-1929) graduated from Columbia Law School in 1873, but turned to a literary career and then became professor of literature at Columbia in 1892, and professor of dramatic literature in 1900. He wrote on American literature and local color, as well as on drama, the stage, and actors and actresses. One of his early works was French Dramatists of the Nineteenth Century (1881, revised 1891). His five-volume Actors and Actresses of the United States and Great Britain was published in 1886, and his Studies of the Stage in 1894; he also published essays and fiction.

Go back Notre Dame: The Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris, on the Ile de la Cité in Paris, was begun in 1163, replacing a sixth century cathedral; it was completed in the Gothic style about 1345. It began to suffer depredations in the eighteenth century, and damage during the French Revolution: reportedly it was used as a warehouse for foodstuffs. It was neglected in the early nineteenth century until the popularity of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) aroused public interest; restorations (and the building of a spire) began in 1845. It became one of the great symbols of Paris.

Images of Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris

Go back Seine River: The River Seine flows through Paris, dividing it into the Left Bank on the south and the Right Bank on the north. The banks of the Seine, especially the ancient areas around Notre Dame and the Ile de la Cité, have been a favorite subject for painters.

Go back Théatre Française: The French national theater, the Théatre Française, was founded by Louis XIV in 1680, and a theater was built with the help of a royal grant in 1681. The theater's company, also known as the Comédie Française, has been performing ever since, with the exception of a period during the French Revolution. The theater building, known originally as the Théatre des Variétés amusantes, in the rue de Richelieu, reopened in 1799, where it has been ever since. It suffered a fire in 1900 but was quickly rebuilt.

Image of Paris Comédie-Française


RETURN TO TOP