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