December 13

The Ophicleide

What do Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Giuseppe Verdi, Sir Arthur Sullivan, and Richard Wagner have in common? They all composed for the ophicleide! Patented in 1821 by French instrument maker Jean Hilaire Asté, the ophicleide was used in military bands and orchestras well into the 20th-century, though it has now been largely superseded by the tuba.  Moreover, author, composer, and organist Dr. Orlando Mansfield described this instrument as “ugly” and “curious” in a 1929 issue of The New Music Review and Church Music Review.

The New Music Review and Church Music Review, Vol. 28 No. 335 (October 1929): 407.

An early image of an ophicleide designed by instrument makers Griesling & Schott.
Berliner allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Vol. 6 No 2 (10 January 1829): [1S] 16/17.

Hector Berlioz wrote briefly about the ophicleide in his Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes.  This text was later translated and reprinted in Dwight’s Journal of Music.

Dwight’s Journal of Music, Vol. 10 No 22 (28 February 1857): 170.

An illustration of an ophicleide with a fingering chart and compass.
Cäcilia, No. 34 ([1828]): [1S] 128/29.

Berlioz selected this “monstrous” “bull” of an instrument to feature prominently in the fifth movement of his Symphonie fantastique.  When paired with its bass wind instrument cousin, the serpent, the duo creates an ominous atmosphere when performing the Medieval Latin hymn, “Dies Irae”. Let’s listen to it.

Nevertheless, the ophicleide’s “growl, grunt, or roar” led it to be the subject of humorous caricatures and some pointed comments in the press.

The Musical World, Vol. 9 No. 208 (23 December 1841): 404.

This caricature depicts, in a refreshing manner, the ophicleide as brazen and powerful.
L’Illustration, Vol. LXXXII (28 July 1883): 61.

In fact, the effort required to produce a sound on the instrument even led some to speculate that it could cause health problems.

The Musical World, Vol. 9 No. 196 (30 September 1841): 215. 

Caricatures also depicted the large size of the instrument itself.
L’Illustration, Vol. XXV (4 February 1860): 77.

While the ophicleide may have developed a reputation for being unwieldy and odd, a small community of musicians continues to perform on this unusual instrument. Some, like the Sydney Ophicleide Quartet, achieve an admirable level of tonal beauty and virtuosity.

RIPM search tip: To read more anecdotes and reviews of the ophicleide, search “ophicleide” as a keyboard in RIPM’s Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals.

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December 6

RIPM’s “Illustrations of the Week”
The Covers of Ars et labor

Today, we feature five sumptuous covers from the Italian journal, Ars et labor: Musica e musicisti (1906-1912), issued by the famed Milan publishing house, Ricordi.

Vol. 63 No. 12 (15 December 1908)

 

Vol. 61 No. 3 (15 March 1906)

 


Vol. 61 No. 7 (15 July 1906)

 


Vol. 67 No. 12 (15 November 1912)

 


Vol. 63 No. 6 (15 June 1908)

 

RIPM search tip: Ars et labor: Musica e musicisti (Milan, 1906-1912) can be found in full text in RIPM’s e-Library of Music Periodicals. To view this journal specifically, select the periodical in Browse Mode!

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The Covers of Ars et labor
December 1

Some Tidbits and Anecdotes from RIPM:
Jenny Lind

Proposed By Marten Noorduin

Here are a few entertaining anecdotes from the musical press about Jenny Lind. As today is Friday, perhaps they will set the right tone for your weekend.

 

Strenna Teatrale Europea, Vol. 11 No. 1 (1848): [II pc].

 

In the 1850s American showman P.T. Barnum arranged a tour of the United States for the Swedish Nightingale, the celebrated soprano Jenny Lind. These three anecdotes and two illustrations reflect the immense success of the tour.

 

The sale of tickets for a Jenny Lind concert in America
L’Illustration, Vol. XVI (23 November 1850): 325.

 

Saroni’s Musical Times, Vol. 1 No. 51 (14 September 1850): 601.

 

The Musical World, Vol. XXVI [XXIX] No. 38 (20 September 1851): 605.

 

The Message Bird, Vol. 2 No. 36 (15 January 1851): 590.

 

Punch; Or, London Charivari, Vol. 19 (1850): 146.

 

Throughout her career, musical tributes for the Swedish Nightingale abounded. In fact, the collection of The National Museum of American History holds the sheet music of an 1846 piece written in honor of Jenny Lind composed by Anton Wallerstein and entitled, “Jenny Lind’s Favorite Polka”. If one believes that the popularity of her name was limited to the 19th-century, here is a surprising 1956 example reflecting its presence in the 20th.

RIPM search tip: Searching “Jenny Lind” as a keyword in both RIPM’s Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals generates a list of 4,554 results!

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Jenny Lind
November 29

RIPM’s “Illustration of the Week”
Making Waves at the Opera

This week’s illustrations feature three 19th-century images offering a unique operatic vision from the depths of the ocean and from above its surface. For an 1843 production of the now obscure three-act opera, Le naufrage héroïque du vaisseau, Le Vengeur (The Heroic Sinking of the Ship, The Avenger), this is how extras at the Cirque-Olympique created the illusion of a calm sea …

The calm of the sea
L’Illustration, Vol. II (23 December 1843): 261.

… and one turned violent.

The rough sea
Ibid.

Though there were many technological advances on the stage during the 19th-century, by 1866, charting the seas was not one of them.

L’Illustration, Vol. XLVIII (29 September 1866): 205.

 

RIPM search tip: To browse numerous images of opera scenes in RIPM’s Retrospective Index and Online Archive, fill in the following fields: Keyword = Opera; Type = Illustration. Those records labeled “ROA” are available in full-text.

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Making Waves at the Opera
November 22

RIPM’s “Illustrations of the Week”
Arthur Sullivan in The Musical World

An amusing feature of the London journal The Musical World is a series of illustrations by the English tenor Charles Lyall.  One of his many subjects was English composer Sir Arthur Sullivan.  Though he also composed serious choral, ballet, and orchestral works, Sullivan is best known for his fourteen “comic operas” created with librettist W.S. Gilbert.  They are often referred to as “Savoy operas,” named after the Savoy Theatre, a London venue built specifically to showcase Gilbert and Sullivan operas.  Many of these works, like the Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, continue to have broad international success.
On the 117th anniversary of his passing, we present these four illustrations.

This depicts Arthur Sullivan after receiving an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in 1876.

The Musical World, Vol. 54 No. 28 (8 July 1876): 467.

After traveling to Egypt in 1882, there was much speculation that Sullivan was composing a symphony on Egyptian themes.  The symphony never materialized, but Lyall fueled the rumor with this illustration.

The Musical World, Vol. 60 No. 14 (8 April 1882): 212.

Sullivan’s conducting was often criticized as being unenergetic and restrained.

The Musical World, Vol. 56 No. 39 (28 September 1878): 626.

He invariably sat in the usual high chair and seemed to keep his eyes always on the score in front of him.  His beat was restrained and rather cramped, his baton moving across the top or up and down the sides of the score.

David Bispham, A Quaker Singer’s Recollections (New York, 1920): 174-175.

An illustration entitled, “In Purgatory,” depicts Sullivan tormented by Anton Rubinstein at the piano (left), Richard Wagner (upper right), and a variety of devilish gremlins.

The Musical World, Vol. 56 No. 33 (17 August 1878): 530.

A common, humorous trademark of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas is the patter song, featuring a rapid paced, tongue-twisting text sung by a comic bass or baritone.  Here is a famous example: “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” from Act I of the Pirates of Penzance.

Remarkably, Arthur Sullivan’s voice was captured on a very early recording by George Gouraud, Thomas Edison’s representative in England. At a dinner party on 5 October 1888, Sullivan remarks on the newly invented phonogram.

 

RIPM search tip: To view Charles Lyall’s illustrations, select the Advanced Search option of the Retrospective Index and fill in the following fields: Keyword = Charles Lyall; Periodical = Musical World, The [1836-1891]; Type = Illustration.

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Arthur Sullivan in The Musical World
November 17

RIPM’s “Illustrations of the Week”
Scenes from a Parisian Café Chantant

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk the streets of Paris in the 19th-century? You are strolling along the cobblestone streets, taking in the sights and sounds, when suddenly a song by Aristide Bruant catches your ear. Enticed, you follow the sounds into a dimly-lit room and hear this:

There, in one of Paris’s famous cafés chantants, you cast your eyes around and see a host of eccentric characters—performing, serving, listening, and, of course, drinking.

 

 

                     The bouquet seller                                                Le garçon de café                                                                                              The waiter

 

Les habitués
The regulars

 

Les consommateurs
The customers

Perhaps you would like to hear to another song by Aristide Bruant, and while listening, view these images again.

Musica, Vol. 7 No. 74 (November 1908): 167.

The seven images depicting scenes in cafés chantants were published on 6 December 1851 in L’Illustration, the first illustrated newsweekly in France. Between 1843 and 1899, the journal published over 3,350 engravings of musical interest, offering an expansive visual account of musical activities in 19th-century Europe.  We will continue to feature a number of illustrations from this journal in the weeks ahead.

RIPM search tip: To access 356 related records to cafés chantants, search “café chantant” as a keyboard in both RIPM’s Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals.

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Scenes from a Parisian Café Chantant
November 13

The Musical Press Laments the Death of Rossini

L’Illustration, Vol. L (5 October 1867): 212, published in Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1  (Quebec: Presses del’Université Laval, 1982): 603

A portrait by Adolphe Mouilleron of Rossini, one year before his passing

 

On today’s date in 1868, 149 years ago, Gioachino Rossini—composer of more than three dozen operas, including the ever-popular opera buffa, The Barber of Seville—died in Paris at the age of seventy-six.  Though retiring from opera composition in 1829, nearly four decades before his passing, the success of Rossini’s prolific early years made him a widely renowned public figure.  This popularity is reflected in the attention given to his death in the musical press, with many journals reporting the news on their front pages. Here are some examples.

L’Art musical, Vol. 8 No. 51 (19 November 1868): 401.
The Musical Standard, Vol. 9 No. 225 (21 November 1868): 197.
Gazzetta musicale di Milano, Vol. 23 No. 47 (22 November 1868): 377.
Neue Berliner Musikzeitung, Vol. 22 No. 47 (18 November 1868): 373.

 

As eulogies of the composer appeared in the press, the Parisian illustrated newsweekly, L’Illustration, visually documented Rossini’s funeral proceedings.  As indicative of his widespread adoration, much of Paris attended.

L’Illustration, Vol. LII (28 November 1868): 340, published in Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1 (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 619.

The sprinkling of holy water in the Church of the Holy Trinity

 

L’Illustration, Vol. LII (28 November 1868): 341, published in Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1 (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 620.

The funeral procession leaving Church of the Holy Trinity

 

L’Illustration, Vol. LII (28 November 1868): 344, published in Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1 (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 620.

Lowering of the coffin into  the vault of the city, in Père-Lachaise Cemetery

 

Rossini was sought out and courted, not merely on account of his fame as a composer, but for his wit, his humour, his amiability, and general goodness. With him has departed one of the most remarkable geniuses and one of the kindliest spirits of the nineteenth century.

The Musical World, Vol. 46 No. 47 (21 November 1868): 789.

 

RIPM search tip: For more on Rossini’s death, first, in both RIPM’s Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals, set the span of years in the “Date” field from “1868 to 1869”.  This limits one’s search to the year of his death and one year following.  Then, search “Rossini” as a keyword.

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November 8

RIPM’s Illustration of the Week
Clara Wieck–A Child Prodigy

On today’s date in 1830, eleven-year-old Clara Wieck (later, Clara Schumann) gave her debut solo piano concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, sparking a career lasting more than sixty-years as both a distinguished performer and gifted composer.

We celebrate Wieck’s remarkable achievements with a portrait from her younger years published in the Parisian journal, Musica, and two enthusiastic reviews of her debut.  The first was published by the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung [AMZ] and the second was a translated and condensed version of the original AMZ report, published in the London journal The Harmonicon

Musica, Vol. 6 No. 59 (August 1907): 126.

A Young Clara Wieck (later, Clara Schumann)

 

Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Vol. 32 No. 46 (17 November 1830): 752-753.
The Harmonicon, Vol. 9 No. 2 (February 1831): 47.

 

RIPM search tip:  A search for “Clara Wieck” in both RIPM’s Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals reveals that her name appears in 800 records. A search for “Clara Schumann” … 6,600 records!

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Clara Wieck–A Child Prodigy
November 6

Adolphe Sax:
Building a Business in 19th-Century Paris

Adolphe Sax—the Belgian musician, instrument maker, and inventor—was born on today’s date in 1814.  While known primarily for creating the saxophone, he also invented a large number of other instruments bearing his name, and developed a clever strategy for creating his brand.

La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, Vol. 39 No. 17 (28 April 1872): 136.

An advertisement featuring images of Adolphe Sax’s many instruments

 

In recognition of his birth, we highlight the manner in which the press reflected his successful business enterprise in 1840s Paris.

Jules Worm, “Adolphe Sax. —D’après une photographie de MM Mayer et Pierson,” L’Illustration, Vol. XLII (5 September 1863): 175, published in H. Robert Cohen, Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1  (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 518.

Soon after arriving in Paris in the spring of 1841, Sax received much attention in the press and the strong advocacy of critics, composers, and performers.  For example, Hector Berlioz championed Sax, hailing him in the 12 June 1842 issue of the Journal des débats, as a leading figure in the development of woodwind and brass instruments.

Mr. Adolphe Sax of Brussels, whose work we have just examined, has without doubt made a powerful contribution to the revolution which is about to take place.  He is a clever, far-sighted man, of penetrating and clear intelligence, self-willed with a persevering spirit able to withstand all trials, enormously skilled, always ready to replace even specialist workmen incapable of understanding and realizing his plans.  At the same time, he is a shrewd man, an acoustician, and when necessary, a smelter, a turner and chiseler.

Hector Berlioz, “Instrumens de musique—M. Ad. Sax,” Journal des débats politiques et littéraires (12 June 1842): 3.

In his 1844 Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, Berlioz featured the saxophone in a section devoted to new instruments.  This text was later translated and reprinted in the Musical Review and Musical World.

The Musical Review and Musical World, Vol. 11 No. 24 (24 November 1860): 339.

The well-known critic and conductor François-Joseph Fétis also wrote favorably of Sax’s instruments.  In a translated review of Halévy’s opera, Le Juif errant, Fétis remarked on the dramatic effects of the newly-invented saxtuba, as well as the “sympathetic sonorousness” of the saxophone.

The Musical World, Vol. 30 No. 31 (31 July 1852): 490-91.

Internationally acclaimed performers were also advocates for his instruments.  While in Paris in 1844, the Distins—a family quintet of British brass musicians—acquired the first saxhorns.  Soon after, La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris mentions in a brief concert report the relationship between Sax and the traveling performers.

The next morning Mr. Distin and his family, also from the United Kingdom of Great Britain, performed on Adolphe Sax’s excellent instruments, in the hall of Mr. Herz, and produced their accustomed effect. The pieces:  “Robert, you whom I love,” the finale of Lucia, and especially God Save the King, delighted the almost all English audience, who also had the pleasure of applauding an English pianist, Mr. Julien Adams, who performed a Weber piano concerto quite well.

La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, Vol. 11 No. 13 (31 March 1844): 116.

By 1843 Adolphe Sax had established his workshop, building an impressive range of both woodwind and brass instruments.  But more than variety, it was the quality of production that underlay Sax’s manufacturing.  As Horwood states, “he intended to produce each part of every instrument under his personal strict supervision so that any instrument bearing his name as an indication of its quality would have been wholly and completely made in the Sax workshop.”[1] By 1844, his workshop on rue Saint-Georges was, as these engravings indicate, already efficient, successful and bursting with activity.

The ground floor of Sax’s workshop

 

Édouard Renard et Henri Valentin, “Fabrique d’instruments de musique de M. Sax,” L’Illustration, Vol. X (5 February 1848): 357, published in H. Robert Cohen, Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 1 (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 148.

The workshop’s second floor

 

With the creation of his workshop and backing of the musical elite, Adolphe Sax began marketing his products to the masses.  While touring musicians like the Distins promoted his instruments internationally, concerts at the Salle Sax, rue Saint-Georges, depicted below, allowed the public to experience the design and sound of Sax’s latest creations.

Jules Gaildrau, “Audition des instruments récemment inventés par M. Adolphe Sax,” L’Illustration, Vol. XLIV (16 July 1864): 48,  published in H. Robert Cohen, Les Gravures Musicales dans L’Illustration, Vol. 2 (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1982): 535.

Sax also extensively promoted his creations with advertisements such as the first illustration above, and the following two.

La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, Vol. 31 No. 16 (17 April 1864): 128.
La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, Vol. 30 No. 31 (2 August 1863): 248.

In celebration of the bicentennial of his birth, saxophone professor and researcher José-Modesto Diago Ortega produced an interesting video that cleverly permits one to view the engravings of Sax’s workshop (depicted above) from within.  It’s well worth viewing.

Lest we think that he has been forgotten, Google recently spotlighted Adolphe Sax both in a search engine “doodle” and in an excellent presentation of his instruments by the Google Cultural Institute, in collaboration with the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota.

 

RIPM Search Tip: For more information on Adolphe Sax, search for “Sax” in the Retrospective Index and e-Library of Music Periodicals.  For more focused results, select a specific language before searching!

 

[1] Wally Horwood, Adolphe Sax 1814-1894—His Life and Legacy (Hertfordshire, UK: Egon Publishers, 1983), 44.

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Building a Business in 19th-Century Paris
November 1

RIPM’s Illustration of the Week!
A Lithograph of Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn died 170 years ago on 4 November 1847.  In his honor we present this beautiful lithograph of the composer, by an unidentified artist. It appeared in a biographical study published in 1836 in London’s The Musical World.

The Musical World, Vol. 4 Supplemental Pages (1836): [1p.]

His hair was black and curling, the forehead of the highest order of intellectual beauty, the nose somewhat bent, the lips well chiseled, the shape of the face oval, the eyes irresistible, brilliant, and spiritual.

Elise Polko, “Reminisces of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy,” translated by Grace Wallace (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869): 77.

 

RIPM search tip: A search for “Mendelssohn” in RIPM’s Retrospective Index reveals that his name appears in 12,529 citations!

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A Lithograph of Felix Mendelssohn