Happy Easter, 1903

Happy Easter everyone! Here is a glimpse into an Easter for Edith Vail Ross in 1903.


1903, Easter in Washington, DC 1903, Easter in Washington, DC

A 110 years ago Edith Vail Ross spent a mid-April Easter accompanied by Mrs. Schirmer in Washington DC and was joined for a few days by her friend May Seymour who was performing in nearby Baltimore. They stayed at the Raleigh Hotel and had a full schedule of sightseeing and music concerts. They saw “all that they could” and specifically named the Washington Monument, the White House and Mt. Vernon as places toured. At the White House they strolled the grounds and Edith actually ran into an acquaintance from Troy, New York accompanied by her father. Only a few rooms of President Theodore Roosevelt’s White House were open to visitors and they soon headed towards the Monument. Edith was especially overjoyed with her visit to Mt. Vernon and “could scarcely believe” she was in Washington’s home.

Here is a photograph of Edith’s friend May Seymour…

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Earthquake Survivors, 1906

On this day in 1906 at 5:11 am Pacific Coast time a huge earthquake devastated San Francisco. It has been widely described as a force that shook up to a full minute and was felt from Oregon to LA all the way to central Nevada. The Conried Metropolitan Opera Company had performed “Carmen” the evening before and most of the performing artists and musicians had only been asleep a few hours before they were jolted awake by the forceful tremor. Edith Vail Ross and Paul Eisler, not yet married to each other, survived the day as did all of the other members of the opera company. Accounts of their escape were finely captured years later by their youngest son Dr. Paul Erich Eisler in his reference book, The Metropolitan Opera, The First Twenty-five Years.

imageAn interview conducted with Katherine Moran Douglas for the book she relates, “I was sharing a suite with your mother [Edythe Vail]. We got up immediately and ran out of the room in our nightgowns. After a few moments we went back in and dressed quickly…We were invited by the wife of the theatre owner to come to their house which was on Clay Street out beyond the devastated area. Caruso came in a taxi and stayed with us while they were getting water… Scotti arrived a few minutes later with an empty cattle truck and he and I and your mother and Caruso toured the broken streets in that truck on our way to meet everyone at Golden Gate Park…After we met everyone we agreed to take the ferry to Berkeley the next morning. Caruso and Scotti took us back to the house on Clay Street and they went to the Family Club, a branch of the Bohemians in New York. We, your mother and I, first saw Caruso and Scotti in front of the hotel about fifteen minutes after the quake, both dressed in pajamas. The stories you read about them being immaculately attired in ascots and stickpins are pure baloney!

Paul Eisler’s experiences surviving the earthquake were captured in an interview with his son also provided in the book, “Hertz and I were living in a suite. When the quake came, Hertz’s bureau pinned him against the wall and he couldn’t get out of bed. I heard him yell and rushed in and between us we got it loose. We both dressed quickly in the minimum attire and rushed down the back stairs to the street. There we found Goerlitz, Blass, Burgstaller and Louise Homer. We stayed in the park in front of the hotel and watched until a horse and wagon came by. We rented them from the man for $100 and told him we would return them the next day. We all piled in, Homer included and started looking for a restaurant. We finally found a little tavern on a side street and drank beer and ate cheese and crackers for an hour or so. Eventually we started for the Family Club and when we arrive there we met Dippel and Journet. Later Caruso and Scotti arrived and we all slept a few hours on chairs, sofas and the floor. We later took the horse and wagon to the police station and left them, explaining where we had gotten them. The name was on the wagon and I am sure it was returned. We finally found a cab driver who agreed to take us to the ferry where we met the others.”

Note – The $100 that Paul Eisler paid for use of the horse and wagon translates to about $2,500 by 2014 standards.

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire from Red Channels on Vimeo.

1905, Lotta's Fountain, San Fransisco (Wikipedia)

1905, Lotta’s Fountain, San Fransisco (Wikipedia)

This morning (2014) San Francisco officially recognized the 108th Anniversary of the Earthquake and Fire with events that started at 5:00 a.m. at Lotta’s Fountain at Geary, Kearny and Market Street. At 5:11 sirens were heard to coincide at the moment the quake struck, then a fire hydrant was painted gold to commemorate the water that eventually overcame the fire which roared through the city following the quake. The restaurant Lefty O’Doul’s will conclude the morning’s commemoration with a Bloody Mary breakfast honoring the memory of the survivors.

Cheers, cheers to both Edith and Paul for the luck and wits to survive!

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“Zauberin”, Enchantress; 1905 Paul Eisler Piano

Paul Eisler's musical composition published in 1905

Paul Eisler’s musical composition published in 1905

I had seen this item in catalogs and a few far flung library lists but had never seen a copy until Oregon State University graciously granted an inter-library loan request my local librarian made on my behalf. What a feeling it is to finally see this composition by Paul Eisler after wondering all these years what the cover looked like, what notes were there and what words were set to it. Inside of this copy is a small notation in pencil along the margin that the item was a gift from W. Gifford Nash in 1936 and I am grateful to that family. I may be a romantic but I find it a wonderful thing that Mr. Nash held on to his copy of “Zauberin” for about 30 years. then made a donation to Oregon State University that implemented its standard archival steps and housed it for another 78 years. Finally when Eisler’s own family made a request in 2014 to see it, the University shared the piece of music on a cross-country journey wrapped up in a bubblewrap sleeve to my local library where I was able to retrieve it for a few days.

According to the Oregon State University Archives the “Nash Family Music Collection consists of published music (primarily for the piano, with a few pieces for the violin, flute and choir) owned by Wallis Nash and his family. It also includes The Student’s Technique: Modern Method for Piano, published by W. Gifford Nash in 1904. Wallis Nash (1837-1926) immigrated to Oregon from England in 1879. A writer, lawyer, and builder of the Oregon Pacific Railroad, Nash served on the Oregon Agricultural College Board of Regents from 1886 to 1898. While he lived in Corvallis, Nash played the organ and directed the choir at the Church of the Good Samaritan. His daughter, Dorothea Nash (Class of 1895), was a music teacher. His son, W. Gifford Nash, taught piano in Portland during the early 1900s and was Professor of Piano at Montana State University from 1915 to 1920.” And so it was that the Nash family could make the Eisler family a shared gift from the past.

I don’t know when “Zauberin” was composed but it was published in 1905. It was performed several times that I have been able to find notes of, but given how history can slip away unnoticed I am sure there were plenty of other performances.

Nahan Franko

Nahan Franko, Conductor

In February 1905 the records of the Metropolitan Opera indicate that that “Zauberin” was a part of the program of the TWELFTH GRAND SUNDAY NIGHT CONCERT conducted by Nahan Franko.

Olive Fremstad, Opera Singer

Olive Fremstad, Opera Singer

The evening started off with Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture; then La Cenerentola: Aria Arcangelo Rossi; Olive Fremstad with Le Prophète: Ô prêtres de Baal; and then Francisco Nuibo with Carmen’s La fleur que tu m’avais jetée;

Emma Eames, Opera Singer

Emma Eames, Opera Singer

and then Emma Eames sang the Jewel Song from Faust; and then Zilcher: Serenade; Fanchetti: J’y Pense; then the tremendous Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1 by Liszt; several selections from Olive Frenstad singing Grieg’s Peer Gynt: Sov du dyreste gutten min and Et syn and Med en primulaveris, and then Otto Goritz with Das Goldene Kreuz: Wie anders war es AND – DRUM ROLL PLEASE!- Eisler’s Die Zauberin; followed with Emma Eames singing from Gounoud, Gallia with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and closing with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Alfred Hertz

Alfred Hertz, Conductor

In the following year Eisler’s composition of “Zauberin” made another appearance at the Met as noted in the Metropolitan Archives as part of the FIRST GRAND SUNDAY NIGHT CONCERT on December 2, 1906 conducted by Paul’s Eisler’s good friend Alfred Hertz. That evening opened with Beethoven: Egmont: Overture; then Franz Stiner in Un Ballo in Maschera: Eri tu; then Louise Homer performed Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson et Dalila; Carl Burrian sang Winterstürme from Die Walküre; then Geraldine Farrar came onstage to sing from Don Giovanni “Vedrai carino“; then Liszt’s Les Préludes; followed by the Prelude from Lohengrin: then Carl Burrian sang from Nöchtes Vertrau’n also from Lohengrin; then Louise Homer came onstage again for O don fatale from Don Carlo; AND – DRUM ROLL PLEASE!Eisler’s Die Zauberin; followed by Hildach: Der Lenz both sung by Franz Stiner; Geraldine Farrar came onstage to sing three pieces Goldmark: Die Quelle and Pessard/Bonjour Suzon and Chadwick: Butterfly and Maiden and this grand evening closed with Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav. The Metropolitan Archives states “No pianist is listed for this concert. However, Franz Stiner’s programming of a song by Paul Eisler suggests that Eisler was the accompanist.” as he was for numerous concerts and tours by Met artists.

Louise Homer

Louise Homer, Opera Singer

Paul Eisler's composition published in 1905, the beginning

Paul Eisler’s composition published in 1905, the beginning

Above is the fist page of “Zauberin” which has a dedication to a Mrs. Marie Helene Peiser. I haven’t been able to find out much about her other than she lived with her husband, the doctor Louis Peiser, in Brooklyn New York. The couple were naturalized American citizens originally from Germany and may have been of assistance to Paul in his early years of working in the United States and his travels between the US and Austria.

middle passage of "Zauberin", Paul Eisler's composition published in 1905

middle passage of “Zauberin”, Paul Eisler’s composition published in 1905

Final passage of "Zauberin" Paul Eisler's composition published in 1905

Final passage of “Zauberin” Paul Eisler’s composition published in 1905

If there are any enterprising piano players out there and singers of “medium voice” I would love to hear this piece in action again!

Text of the "Zauberin" poem by Georg Scherer, that Paul Eisler set to music, published in 1905

Text of the “Zauberin” poem by Georg Scherer, that Paul Eisler set to music, published in 1905

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Paul Eisler on Tour with Andreas Dippel, 1903

February 14, 1903 - Paul Eisler plays piano, on tour with German tenor Andreas Dippel

February 14, 1903 – Paul Eisler plays piano, on tour with German tenor Andreas Dippel

Paul Eisler first arrived in the United States in 1902 according to the ship “Cuxhaven” manifest notes when he arrived again in New York City in 1904. Under the heading “Whether ever before in the United States? And if so when and where” and along side his name is the response “Yes, 1902. Different places“. Different places he did go because he was on a cross country tour with the German tenor Andreas Dippel at least in the beginning of 1903.

The announcement leads with “The Apollo Club’s second concert will be given Tuesday Evening in the Lyceum Theater at 8:15 o’clock and the Minneapolis musical public is looking forward with a great deal of interest to the appearance of the distinguished German tenor, Andreas Dippel, for he has no superior on the operatic or concert stage. His numbers selected for the program are without question the best of his concert repertory. The Club’s patrons will be happily surprised in the appearance of Paul Eisler, a distinguished pianist, who has been sharing honors with Herr Dipple on his Southern Tour.”

The above graphic shows a portion of the Saturday edition copy of the Music section from The Minneapolis Journal dated February 14, 1903 that notes the upcoming Tuesday evening concert at The Lyceum Theater of the well known Andreas Dippel and Paul Eisler described as “a distinguished pianist, who has been sharing honors with Herr Dipple [sic] on his southern tour.” The only thing that could make Minneapolis part of a “Southern Tour” was if everything had begun in Canada, but I haven’t any information if that happened or not.

The Lyceum Theater in Minneapolis in 1896

The Lyceum Theater in Minneapolis in 1896

The program, as published in the newspaper, notes that Paul Eisler will play solo three pieces and they are “Nocturne” by Chopin, “Moment Musical” by Schubert and “Feuerzauber” by Wagner-Brassin. Eisler accompanied Dippel on twelve other selections that evening and The Apollo Chorus, host for the evening, was “acapella” for another four.

To get a feel on how those three solo pieces might have sounded played back to back listen to some modern recordings.

First for the Nocturne – the program doesn’t say which passage of the Nocturne was selected for the evening and the complete set is practically a concert in its own self. So, he are some guesses, listen to Arthur Rubinstein play Nocturne Op.9 No.2

Or perhaps it was Nocturne Op.27 No.1, again here is Arthur Rubinstein

For the second selection listen to Horowitz play Moment Musical by Franz Schubert

For the third selection listen to Chitose Okashiro play “Feuerzauber” by Wagner-Brassin

This is an interesting read and I have included it for everyone but especially for Charlotte (British Charlotte!). Andreas Dippel was asked to write some thoughts on vocal training from the point of view as a parent for a hypothetical daughter.
“… She must have, first of all, fine health, abundant vitality and an artistic temperament. She must show signs of being industrious. She should have the patience to wait until real results can be accomplished. In fact, there are so many attributes that it is difficult to enumerate them all. But they are all worth considering seriously. Why? Simply because, if they are not considered, she may be obliged to spend years of labor for which she will receive no return except the most bitter disappointment conceivable. Of the thousands of girls who study to become prima donnas only a very few can succeed, from the nature of things. The others either abandon their ambitions or assume lesser roles from little parts down to the chorus.

You will notice that I have said but little about her voice. During her childhood there is very little means of judging of the voice. Some girls’ voices that seem very promising when they are children turn out in a most disappointing manner. So you see I would be obliged to consider the other qualifications before I even thought of the voice. Of course, if the child showed no inclination for music or did not have the ability to “hold a tune,” I should assume that she was one of those frequent freaks of nature which no amount of musical training can save.

Above all things I should not attempt to force her to take up a career against her own natural inclinations or gifts. The designing mother who desires to have her own ambitions realized in her daughter is the bane of every impresario. With a will power worthy of a Bismarck she maps out a career for the young lady and then attempts to force the child through what she believes to be the proper channels leading to operatic success…

…The first new language to be taken up should be Italian. Properly spoken, there is no language so mellifluous as Italian. The beautiful quantitative value given to the vowels—the natural quest for euphony and the necessity for accurate pronunciation of the last syllable of a word in order to make the grammatical sense understandable—is a training for both the ear and the voice.

Italy is the land of song; and most of the conductors give their directions in Italian. Not only the usual musical terms, but also the other directions are denoted in Italian by the orchestral conductors; and if the singer does not understand she must suffer accordingly.
After the study of Italian I would recommend, in order, French and German. If my daughter were studying for opera, I should certainly leave nothing undone until she had mastered Italian, French, German and English. Although she would not have many opportunities to sing in English, under present operatic conditions, the English-speaking people in America, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and Australia are great patrons of musical art; and the artist must of course travel in some of these countries…

It is better to leave the study of repertoire until later years; that is, until the study of voice has been pursued for a sufficient time to insure regular progress in the study of repertoire. Personally, I am opposed to those methods which take the student directly to the study of repertoire without any previous vocal drill. The voice, to be valuable to the singer, must be able to stand the wear and tear of many seasons. It is often some years before the young singer is able to achieve real success and the profits come with the later years. A voice that is not carefully drilled and trained, so that the singer knows how to get the most out of it, with the least strain and the least expenditure of effort, will not stand the wear and tear of many years of opera life.

After all, the study of repertoire is the easiest thing. Getting the voice properly trained is the difficult thing. In the study of repertoire the singer often makes the mistake of leaping right into the more difficult roles. She should start with the simpler roles; such as those of some of the lesser parts in the old Italian operas. Then, she may essay the leading roles of, let us say, Traviata, Barber of Seville, Norma, Faust, Romeo and Juliet, and Carmen.

Instead of simple roles, she seems inclined to spend her time upon Isolde, Mimi, Elsa or Butterfly. It has become so, that now, when a new singer comes to me and wants to sing Tosca or some role that (sic) the so-called new or verissimo Italian school, I almost invariably refuse to listen. I ask them to sing something from Norma or Puritani or Dinorah or Lucia in which it is impossible for them to conceal their vocal faults. But no, they want to sing the big aria from the second act of Madama Butterfly, which is hardly to be called an aria at all but rather a collection of dramatic phrases. When they are done, I ask them to sing some of the opening phrases from the same role, and ere long they discover that they really have nothing which an impresario can purchase. They are without the voice and without the complete knowledge of the parts which they desire to sing.

Then they discover that the impresario knows that the tell-tale pieces are the old arias from old Italian operas. They reveal the voice in its entirety. If the breath control is not right, it becomes evident at once. If the quality is not right, it becomes as plain as the features of the young lady’s face. There is no dramatic—emotional—curtain under which to hide these shortcomings. Consequently, knowing what I do, I would insist upon my daughter having a thorough training in the old Italian arias…” From “Great Singers on The Art of Singing“, by James Francis Cooke, page 110-111

Here is a short recording of Andreas Dippel from 1906 as recorded on Thomas Edison’s Wax Cylinder device.

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Celebrating Edgar Allan Poe in Music

Edgar Allan Poe, head-and-shoulders portrait,/ William Sartain. Creator(s): Sartain, William, 1843-1924, artist Date Created/Published: New York : Max Williams Company, c1896. Medium: 1 print : mezzotint. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-pga-04119 (digital file from original print) LC-USZ62-136223 (b&w film copy neg.) Call Number: PGA - Sartain (W.)--Edgar Allen Poe (C size) [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Edgar Allan Poe, head-and-shoulders portrait,/ William Sartain. Creator(s): Sartain, William, 1843-1924, artist Date Created/Published: New York : Max Williams Company, c1896. Medium: 1 print : mezzotint. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-pga-04119 (digital file from original print) LC-USZ62-136223 (b&w film copy neg.) Call Number: PGA – Sartain (W.)–Edgar Allen Poe (C size) [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Happy Birthday Edgar Allen Poe!
January 19, 1809 was the birthday of Edgar Allen Poe.

I have been searching for decades now for items from the lives of Edith Vail Ross and Paul Josef Martin Eisler and it was to my great surprise when I stumbled across this music and arrangement for high voice by Paul Eisler set to a poem of Edgar Allan Poe:

Cover to Paul Eisler's music set to the Edgar Allan Poe "Hymn to the Virgin", about 1919

Cover to Paul Eisler’s music set to the Edgar Allan Poe “Hymn to the Virgin”, about 1919

I have never heard this played or sung – anyone want to give it a try?

Page 1 of Paul Eisler's music set to Edgar Allan Poe's "Hymn to the Virgin", about 1919

Page 1 of Paul Eisler’s music set to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hymn to the Virgin”, about 1919

Page Two of Paul Eisler's music set to the Edgar Allan Poe "Hymn to the Virgin", about 1919

Page Two of Paul Eisler’s music set to the Edgar Allan Poe “Hymn to the Virgin”, about 1919

Page 3 of Paul Eisler's music set to Edgar Allan Poe's "Hymn to the Virgin", about 1919

Page 3 of Paul Eisler’s music set to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hymn to the Virgin”, about 1919

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1889 Ross Family Christmas in Rutland Vermont

10 year old Edith's letter about her Christmas. 1889, Vermont

10 year old Edith’s letter about her Christmas. 1889, Vermont

Edith writes:
“Dear Grace, –
I will write you a few lines and tell you what I got Christmas. I got a lovely doll, a pair of kid gloves, a new dress, a paper knife, two St. Nicholas, a little wine glass, a book with scenes in it, a cup and saucer, some candy, some money, three handkerchief, a pretty card, a little writing desk to hold in my lap, a bureau sachet, a nice collar, some tooth powder, a little fancy basket, a red plush work box a box of stationary and in my work box there was a little New Year Card and in the inside there was a very pretty little calender and it folded up, it was real pretty. Inez has got well of diphtheria and now I have been sick, when are you coming to see us again, you and all the rest of the folks? We are going to have a musical here Friday night and have singing and playing we have a boarder and there is going to be others. Excuse this very poor writing if you can read some of it you will do well. Answer this letter as soon as you can.
With love,

“The boarder” was distant cousin Willis Ross who lived with Edith’s family several years until he married Anne Goulding in 1894 and set up a household of his own. Willis and Annie Ross had two sons and Willis had a career as a lawyer and judge in Rutland County. Willis Ross and Edward V. Ross were both members of the Mason Society and assisted with the construction financing of the Mason building in downtown Rutland. Their names can be found in several stain glass window arrangements still in the Mason building.

“Inez” was Edith’s younger red haired sister who was seven years old at this Christmas Edith writes of. Inez died at the age of eight of complications from diabetes. Edith and her mother made a habit to visit her gravesite in Poultney, Vermont every July 29th on what would have been her birthday.

The Paper Knife” may or not be this particular paper knife a.k.a letter opener that I received years ago.

Antique Paper Knife / Letter Opener

Antique Paper Knife / Letter Opener

The “two St. Nicholas” may be these magazine/bound volumes. I don’t have these unfortunately.

ST. NICHOLAS illustrated Children's Magazine- 1889 - VOL. XVI PART I & II

ST. NICHOLAS illustrated Children’s Magazine- 1889 – VOL. XVI PART I & II

In the Spirit of Christmases past, watch Georges Méliès short film from 1900 “Rêve De Noel” [The Christmas Dream]. AND if you haven’t seen the movie “Hugo” released in 2011, do yourself a Christmas favor and see it!

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Children of Vienna; Leontyne Price sings, 1961

Another Christmas Spirit offering –
Painting by child artist Bretl Hanus, a student of Franz Cizek. Painting by child artist Bretl Hanus, a student of Franz Cizekthe Viennese founder of modern Art Education for youth.

Listen to Leontyne Price sing “O, Holy Night!” and “Ave Maria” in this 1961 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic.

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