Violinist Daisy Kennedy in 1912 with Paul Eisler, Kapellmeister, Vienna

Sometimes the little tidbits from the past family life come falling into place like beautiful snowflakes on a Saturday morning.  One such dazzling snowflake has been Daisy Kennedy, an Australian violinist born in 1893. My first find was this performance announcement of Kennedy’s that lists Paul Eisler on the piano and as the conductor:image

Image of and postcard written by Daisy Kennedy likely in 1912.  http://discog.damians78s.co.uk/k-m/daisy-kennedy/

Image of and postcard written by Daisy Kennedy likely in 1912. http://discog.damians78s.co.uk/k-m/daisy-kennedy/

It was an “a-ha!” because it matches in format and style a different performance announcement I have from the same time period that Edith Vail Ross Eisler had folded into a letter sent home to her parents in Vermont from Vienna.  It counts as a “dazzling snowflake” because I don’t have much from this time period of Edith and Paul Eisler’s lives so each item counts heavily.  Two years after the 1912 performance announcement above Daisy Kennedy married the Russian pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch. You can hear Benno and Daisy (on the clip about halfway thru in a recording from the 1920’s) on this you tube clip: 

Here is another recording of Daisy Kennedy from 1919 playing Camille Saint-Saëns Rondo Capriccioso. This Saint-Saëns piece wasn’t played on the evening of the 1912 concert with Eisler but it is worth listening to for her dynamic ability as a performer just jumps out.

Daisy Kennedy had an amazing education, concert career and family life that spanned nearly a century. You can read more about her on this link: http://discog.damians78s.co.uk/k-m/daisy-kennedy/

As for the Concert on the evening of April 15 1912 in the Bösendorfer-Saale if you want to hear how the evening long ago may have sounded use your imagination along with these few clips! At the time Daisy Kennedy was 19 years old and had made her debut just the year before in 1911.

Representing the opening piece of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor, op.61 you can listen to the violin of Leonidas Kavakos on this clip which unfortunately has the annoying doe-eyed static image of an animae violinist staring out the whole time, but the music is perfect.

The second piece section of the evening Kennedy played J.M Leclair’s “Le Tombeu” with Paul Eisler on piano.  Here is a wonderful sounding selection performed by Les Folies Françoises and Patrick Cohën-Akenin. I haven’t any idea why a teddy bear with it’s head lopped off with scissors is presented as a static image, but I guess it is just a day of odd imagery from the land of youtube.

The fourth selection – Hear the Vienna Philharmonic Women´s Orchestra play J.S.Bach’s well known “Air” conducted by Izabella Shareyko and performed at St. Thekla Church, Vienna Wieden.

And the evening’s closing piece was a selection from Belgium violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps, “Ballade et Polonaise”. In this clip from 1947 hear Jascha Heifetz:

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Caruso sings Cantique de Noël; A Gift from 1916

Enrico Caruso, around 1910, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-61510 (b&w film copy neg.), Library of Congress

Enrico Caruso, around 1910, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-61510 (b&w film copy neg.), Library of Congress

Need a three minute holiday gift for yourself? Indulge in a short listen to Enrico Caruso! This opera legend left a legacy of many early recordings that showcase his rich voice and the highlight of this blogpost – the French carol, Cantique de Noël [O, Holy Night] – is a great example. Recorded in 1916, it has remained well preserved in audio form.

In addition to his vocal talents Caruso was an avid cartoonist and his exuberant sketches are highly collected in the modern market. Over the last twenty years or so I have been told by different people that several cartoon sketches were made of Edith Vail Ross Eisler by Caruso, But… I have never seen one. so…, if you ever do run across one, snag a picture, let me know where it is – ANYTHING!

Here is an action shot of Caruso sketching at a charity event in Southampton, Long Island, New York:

Enrico Caruso, 1873-1921, drawing caricature sketches in booth at charity fair in Southampton, L.I., from right of sitter, onlookers in background. Digital ID: (digital file from b&w film copy neg.) cph 3b09197 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b09197 Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-61527 (b&w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Enrico Caruso, 1873-1921, drawing caricature sketches in booth at charity fair in Southampton, L.I., from right of sitter, onlookers in background.
Digital ID: (digital file from b&w film copy neg.) cph 3b09197 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b09197
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-61527 (b&w film copy neg.)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

And onto the musical highlight! Here is another Holiday gift of voice, Enrico Caruso, a friend of Edith and Paul Eisler, singing Cantique de Noël:

Placide Cappeau’s Cantique de Noël

Minuit, chrétiens, c’est l’heure solennelle,
Où l’Homme Dieu descendit jusqu’à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.
Le monde entier tressaille d’espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.
Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur!
De notre foi que la lumière ardente
Nous guide tous au berceau de l’Enfant,
Comme autrefois une étoile brillante
Y conduisit les chefs de l’Orient.
Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche:
Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,
A votre orgueil, c’est de là que Dieu prêche.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.
Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave:
La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.
Il voit un frère où n’était qu’un esclave,
L’amour unit ceux qu’enchaînait le fer.
Qui lui dira notre reconnaissance,
C’est pour nous tous qu’il naît, qu’il souffre et meurt.
Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!

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A Friend from 1935 singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” [Silent Night/Holy Night]

Ice Skating, St. Moritz, Switzerland, about 1910-1915

Ice Skating, St. Moritz, Switzerland, about 1910-1915

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? Here is a small present – listen to one of Edith and Paul Eisler’s friends, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, sing “Silent Night” in this radio broadcast clip from 1935.

From the youtube description: “The great Austrian-American contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936), one of the legendary singers from the “Golden Age of Opera”, singing “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht” (Silent Night, Holy Night) in a radio broadcast on 21 December 1935, preceeded by a spoken introduction with Schumann-Heink herself (and Wallace Beery) talking about the origin of the song and her associations with it.”

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Happy Thanksgiving

Digital ID: (digital file from original neg.) ggbain 11155 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.11155 Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ggbain-11155 (digital file from original negative). Published between 1910-1915, George Grantham Bain Collection. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Digital ID: (digital file from original neg.) ggbain 11155 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.11155
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ggbain-11155 (digital file from original negative). Published between 1910-1915, George Grantham Bain Collection.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Elijah Ross, paternal grandfather to Edith Vail Ross, had in his home library a large volume of poems by the Scottish author Robert Burns published in 1850. Elijah was born in Shrewsbury, Vermont in 1819 but after being orphaned very young he lived out the remainder of his childhood under the guidance of C.B. Harrington in Middletown Springs & Poultney, Vermont, where he made his marriages into the Vail family. With the Scottish last name of Ross it is no surprise to find an extensive book of the famed Scotsman Robert Burns with the signature of Elijah Ross in the inside cover. Aside from that traditional owner signature I have found no markings inside the volume that made any note of which poem(s) Elijah may have favored over another, but the book does open easily to page 131. That bent bookspine may or may not be a clue to a selection from the collection but I will take my clues where I can find them. The short grace by Burns listed there I find wonderful and it is easy to conjure up a vision of Elijah Ross presiding over a family dinner table with this selection:

A Grace Before Dinner

O thou, who kindly dost provide,
for every creature’s want!
We bless thee, God of Nature wide,
For all thy goodness lest;
And, if it please thee, heavenly Guide,
May never worse be sent;
But whether granted or denied,
Lord, bless us with content.*

It is the “May never worse be sent” line that makes me chuckle every time I read it.

Here is also something to be thankful for – the second movement of Antonin Dvořák Serenade for Strings in E major with film footage of Prague in 1912! The film portion is special for two reasons, 1) Prague was the family home of Paul Josef Martin Eisler’s mother Fanni Sekeles Eisler and 2) Edith and Paul Eisler lived in Vienna from 1909-1914 and were frequent visitors to Prague making this 1912 footage an accurate look of the city as it appeared to them.

Happy Thanksgiving!
* From page 131 of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert a Burns with Explanatory and Glossorial notes and a Life of the Author by James Curries, M.D., 1850

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Striking A Deal- Piano Lessons for a Portrait

Artist: Firmin Baes, 1899, "The Piano Lesson", painting on canvas, http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/firmin-baes/the-piano-lesson-1899

Belgium Artist: Firmin Baes, 1899, “The Piano Lesson”, painting on canvas, http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/firmin-baes/the-piano-lesson-1899

Family history often reduces people into short summaries and that was certainly the case for me with Edith and Paul’s legacies growing up. The short version of their lives was the flat “Edith sang. Paul played piano.” To my surprise when I dug around I certainly found more than that. Edith’s talents extended to the piano as well as vocals. She handled languages well and she had a knack for socializing an evening party. Paul’s musical talent was extensive at the piano as well as the cello, organ, and he was skilled at composition, arrangements, conducting and being a leader for his fellow musicians. Tapped again and again with the task to accompany both debut and established singers he had a smooth ability for both exquisite piano work and showcasing his singer onstage, which of course they loved him for it.

Monogrammed 'EVR' Envelope, August 1903, New York City to Rutland, Vermont

Monogrammed ‘EVR’ Envelope, August 1903, New York City to Rutland, Vermont

In her letters Edith certainly presents a multitude of interests that transforms her from ” just a singer” to a vibrant young lady involved in musical interests, her friends, evening social events, fashion and religion. She takes charge of details and isn’t shy to tell her mother about a new shirt waist that needs extra starch so that it “doesn’t hang like a rag” and the necessity of rejecting a newly made blouse a tailor made too large. Her mother in Rutland has some hired household help (named Alma) to assist with the washing and ironing and Edith relays very specific instructions about how the different fabrics should be handled to the point of well I hate to say it but “extreme bossiness.” Or cough, cough …you could insert other adjectives. She volunteers in one letter “I forgot to tell you about my new linen skirt. When Alma irons it I wish she would be careful + iron up + down the skirt not around it as it will stretch and I don’t want it to loop out around the hips. So have her be sure + not stretch it that way – then that thin white waist which Papa bought when down here. I think needs a little starch so that it won’t be limp as a rag and I wish A.(Alma) would iron it carefully as it is a very pretty waist. If you have time I wish you would put a band across the waist line in back where you see it pinned out so I will have something a little substantial to pin into.“(Aug 9, 1903)

Anyway among the minutia details of vocal lessons, fabric choices and sightseeing adventures (see the previous five or so posts) packed in a few letters one can also glean the fact of Edith’s ability on the piano. It seems that she struck a deal that in exchange for her drawn portrait she would give piano lessons. And this wasn’t the first time Edith had taken on the role of a piano teacher.

Miss Margaret McKay who had begun to board with Miss Schirmer earlier in the summer had started to use Edith as a model for some of her sketch work. One drawing in particular was turning out well and her likeness was “true”. Edith started to secretly wish she could have it. Edith wrote home in June of 1903 “Miss McKay is making a picture of me – a sketch in pastels of the whole figure. I’ve had two sittings and it is coming out very well. She says she doesn’t know how good a likeness she will get, as that is an uncertain thing. She says that if is a very good piece of work she may want to keep it as it may help her get into the illustrating class and on the other hand if it looks like me and is good she would like to give it to Miss Schirmer. I wish she would give it to me so I could give it to you, but we’ll have to see, perhaps we will get it in the end.

By August Miss McKay had moved out and readied to begin at Teacher’s College at Columbia. She may or may not made the piece a part of her entrance portfolio, but the drawing did make it back to Edith’s possession just as she had hopedfor. Miss McKay’s autobiographical writings in The Parson School archive and Edith’s own surviving letters indicate that when Edith returned to Vermont on the train for a week long visit with her parents in August 1903 she took the drawn portrait with her as a gift. Edith’s letter home in mid- August indicate that she had taken on Miss McKay as a beginning student who came for half hour lessons on the piano twice a week. Edith asked her mother to retrieve from the attic her old beginner’s instruction book that she used for lessons previously for “all the children”. She felt sure it would be in the attic (oh the attic!) but if it wasn’t stored there than her very last student “Lea” would have it. Edith was trying to remember the different lessons in the book for Miss McKay who she describes “She has had eight lessons in her life and is simply crazy to get so she can play a little, so I offered to help her…”

A written insert note in a large decorative bible presented to Edward Vail Ross from the Methodist congregation in Poultney, VT expressing their gratitude for his Organ playing., 1877

A written insert note in a large decorative bible presented to Edward Vail Ross from the Methodist congregation in Poultney, VT expressing their gratitude for his Organ playing., 1877

It is logical that Edith would be thoroughly schooled in the piano as both of her parents were musical as well. Edward Vail Ross played the organ for his Methodist Church in Poultney, Vermont as a young man in the 1870’s and it was there that he spent time courting his bride-to-be Helen S. Beals who sang in the choir. Helen could also play piano and a few surviving letters written in the 1860’s from her own grandmother, Amanda Parker, encouraged the young Helen “Nellie” Beals to have a new song ready on the piano the next time she (Grandmother Parker) came to visit. It is no surprise then that in 1903 Edith’s parents encouraged and supported her dreams of a singing career.

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Helen Gould’s Art Collection on View at Hotel Martha Washington, 1903

In mid August 1903 Edith Vail Ross wrote home to Rutland, Vermont about another adventure she and Miss Schirmer had in New York City.

“Yesterday P.M. Miss Schirmer and I went down to Hotel Martha Washington which has been built within a year or two and is entirely for women. There are single rooms and suites of two and three with bath. We looked at one but Miss S. doesn’t think she would like to live there. ‘Too many women’ she says! However we had a treat down there for all of the paintings from Helen Gould’s house and some of the statuary is exhibited there in the parlors as her house is being repaired. They were beautiful and we enjoyed looking at them very much.”

Martha Washington Hotel. You can see by this photo of one of the many parlors of the Hotel Martha Washington there was plenty of available wallspace for an art collection to be displayed.

Photo shows Helen Miller Gould (1868-1938) at her wedding to Finley Johnson Shepard, Jan. 22, 1913. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2008) Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Photo shows Helen Miller Gould (1868-1938) at her wedding to Finley Johnson Shepard, Jan. 22, 1913. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2008)
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Helen Gould was one of four children of wealthy financier Jay Gould. She graduated from the New York School of Law in 1895 and was a philanthropist. She had three secretaries that worked on the “begging letters” left on her doorstep daily. Read More about Helen Gould on the Daytonian in Manhanttan blogpost The Lost 1869 Gould Mansion — No. 579 5th Avenue I don’t know much about how some of her art collection was on display at the Hotel Martha Washington in August 1903, but I don’t doubt Edith’s words that it was a temporary display of beautiful pieces.

Helen Gould shocked many by marrying at the “late” age of 43. An unusual stipulation of her father’s will and inheritance was that all of the siblings must approve and consent to each of the siblings marriage suitors.

Photo shows Mr. and Mrs. Finley Shepard attending the Newport Cup polo match at Meadow Brook Field, Long Island, June 14, 1913. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2009 and New York Times, June 15, 1913) Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Photo shows Mr. and Mrs. Finley Shepard attending the Newport Cup polo match at Meadow Brook Field, Long Island, June 14, 1913. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2009 and New York Times, June 15, 1913)
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

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Duss At Madison Square Garden, 1903

the old madison square garden from madison square park june 1903
The photo above is of Madison Square Garden, June 1903, taken from Madison Square Park. Before Madison Square Garden and Penn Station were all jammed together, the Garden had the castle-like appearance you see above.

In August 1903 Edith Vail Ross headed to Madison Square Garden to hear John Duss’ Orchestra play his show “Venice in New York”.

Advertisement for "Duss" in the New York Times, July, 1903 from http://temposenzatempo.blogspot.com/2011/09/kun-arpad-violin-prodigy.html

Advertisement for “Duss” in the New York Times, July, 1903 from http://temposenzatempo.blogspot.com/2011/09/kun-arpad-violin-prodigy.html

I have never heard a thing about Anyone named Duss and I had a devil of a time trying to figure out the name from Edith’s scrawling handwriting, but eventually some pieces fell into place. I found this no-so-flattering explanation online [the rest of this post is from the site listed below the text]:

“In his autobiography Duss wrote that the management of the Madison Square Garden, so impressed with his performance in 1902, invited him to perform a summer concert series in 1903. He wrote: “The offer was so flattering that I could not turn it down. However one stipulation was that I conduct the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra and that is what came to pass.” Duss did not mention that he already controlled the orchestra.

John Duss conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is an elaborate spectacle during the summer of 1903. Spending $100,000 Duss built a pasteboard replica of Venice inside Madison Square Garden. A water filled canal with gondolas surrounded an island. Boatman manned the gondolas taking concert goers around the island, A copy of the Rialto bridge took patrons to the island. The orchestra played in front of a large curtain painted with an image of St Mark’s Square. In the promotions for the summer concert series Duss compared himself to John Philip Sousa. Opera singer Madame Nordica and Edouard de Reske performed with the orchestra conducted by Duss.

The New York Times wrote the following description of the event: “Conductor Duss continues swinging his wand in Madison Square Garden, and the Metropolitan Opera-House Orchestra, headed by Nahan Franko, accompanies him valiantly. Large crowds meanwhile assemble in the pasteboard Venice and look at the pretty sight—a veritable toy land—and venturesome visitors glide along the toy canal in toy gondolas. Over on the so called island, a wooden platform encircled by the canal, Wuerzburger beer flows freely for the less imaginative, and there is a buzz of many voices, the gliding about of many fleet-footed waiters and on warm nights a whirring of many electric fans. But Duss’s wand still waves on magnificently.”

After the first show the New York World reviewer wrote: “Ego was the chief characteristic of the Duss concert.” Duss was known for turning his back to the orchestra to conduct facing the audience. The critics thought he was an egotistical buffoon. After the conclusion of the Madison Square Garden summer season Duss took the Metropolitan Orchestra on a North American tour performing in Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, Omaha, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, and many other cities. Duss paid all of the expenses from Harmonist society funds. Despite the many negative reviews on his Venice concert series Duss performed another summer season with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York in 1904.” From
https://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory/pittsburgh-music-story/classic/john-duss

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