Concerts in March and April 1907

March Highlights

  • In March there were 135 concerts, of which there were 25 piano, 19 orchestral, 16 chamber, 9 violin, and 33 voice recitals. There were 16 choral concerts, more than usual because of Easter on March 31. During Holy Week there were performances of both Mendelssohn oratorios and both Bach Passions. There were four Bach cantatas on the Philharmonic Choir’s last concert of the season (March 4th). A special “monster” performance of Mendelssohn’s Paulus with about 300 performers was held in the Zoological Garten’s Exhibition Hall as a benefit for the victims of the shipwreck in February (26th).
  • Singing Societies: Besides the Philharmonic Choir, Berlin choral organizations performing in March included the Singakademie, which did two performances of the St. Matthew Passion, the St. Ursula Frauen Chor (3rd), the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche Chor (6th), the Rykestrasse Synagogenchor (10th), the Caecilia-Melodia Männergesangverein (11th) the Erck’schen Männergesangverein (12th), the Lehrer-Gesangverein (14th), and the Berliner Liedertafel (7th, 19th).

  • Premieres: March 11: The premiere of Hans Pfitzner’s incidental music to Käthchen von Heilbronn was not a success. On the same Philharmonic concert, Eugène Ysaÿe played two violin concertos by Saint-Saëns (A major and b minor).
  • Christian Sinding’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, which was on the Königliche Kapelle’s concert on the 22nd, was also a disappointment. Sinding has written much, much better music that this, wrote E.E. Taubert in Die Musik.
  • Gregor Fitelberg put on a concert of all new music by young composers from Warsaw on the 21st, which included his own Symphony in One Movement, op. 20 and his “Tondichtung each Gorki,” “Das Lied vom Falken,” Op. 18, and Szymanowski’s Symphonic Fragment, Op. 15.
  • More violinists: Henri Marteau was also in town and premiered a violin concerto by Lauber with the New Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Fritz Steinbach (4th).
  • The sixteen-year-old student of Marteau, Florizel von Reuter, gave two concerts in March and four more in April (!). On one of the concerts he also conducted his own tone poem “Attila.”
  • Alexander Sebald (1869-1934), a Hungarian violinist, accomplished the feat of playing all 24 Paganini Caprices on the 26th.
  • Pianists: Alfred Reisenauer (2nd) and Eugen d’Albert (15th) played the Brahms Handel Variations, while the Brahms Paganini Variations were on the programs of Ignaz Friedman (11th) and Leopold Godowsky (15th). More pianistic excess: on the evening of March 15 there were 5 pianists simultaneously giving concerts (Leopold Godowsky, Therese Slottko, Felicitas Reifmann, Alberto Jonas, and Eugen d’Albert).
  • Grand Dames: March 22: The pianist Teresa Carreño (1853-1917) gave a single recital this year in Berlin, with pieces by Edward MacDowell and Smetana. Her performance was marveled at as youthful and stylish, and as technically powerful as ever. She had made her debut with the Philharmonic in 1889, and gave her last performance there on March 24, 1916, when she played a concert of three concertos: the Tchaikovsky b minor, Chopin e minor and Liszt E-flat.
  • March 25: The 59-year-old Lilli Lehmann sang Isolde’s” Liebestod” and Constanze’s “Marter aller Artern” at the Philharmonic’s benefit concert.

April highlights

April was the final, frantic month of the winter concert season: the subscription series of the orchestral, choral, and chamber groups mostly concluded in March. In April traveling groups, special events, and concerts put on by individuals continued, but even these dried up by May. This concert calendar, which squeezed nearly a thousand concerts into six or seven months, was not standard in Europe. In April there were 77 concerts, almost half the number of the previous month.

Signs of the end of an era

Several chamber music concerts commemorated the tenth anniversary of the death of Brahms. One of these, on March 28th, turned out to be the last concert of the Piano Trio of Heinrich Barth, Emanuel Wirth, and Robert Hausmann. This group’s subscription concerts had begun in 1878, almost thirty years earlier. Wirth had been out for most of 1906 and the beginning of 1907 while undergoing two eye operations, but was able to return for this last concert.[note]Wirth retired from the Hochschule in 1910.[/note] Their program included the Brahms C major Piano Trio, op. 87, which the Trio had been the first to perform in Berlin in 1883.

Richard Mühlfeld, who had just two months to live, was the soloist for the Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Trio on this concert. He is pictured here with Robert Hausmann; in 1891 they were part of the premiere of both works.

The final concert of the season by the Joachim Quartet (6th) also turned out to be their last. Joachim died in August, and both Hausmann and Halir died of heart attacks in the next two years, while still in their fifties.

  • April 3 and 9: The singer-actor Ludwig Wüllner gave concerts with his accompanist Coenraad Bos, but on these occasions he played violin. The first commemorated Brahms’s death with the three Violin Sonatas. The multi-talented son of the conductor Franz Wüllner performed violin sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and his father on the second concert.
  • April 12 and 14: Edvard Grieg conducted the Philharmonic in two concerts of his music. The soloists were Ellen Gulbranson, Rosa Bertens, and pianist Halfdan Cleve.It was the last time he would visit Berlin; he died in September.
  • April 20: Pietro Mascagni, a favorite of the Kaiser, conducted the Philharmonic, with a program of his own music and Beethoven’s Fifth.
  • April 29 and 30: the 25th anniversary concerts of the Philharmonic featured the “three B’s”: on the first there was a Bach cantata, the Brahms German Requiem, and the Beethoven “Emperor” Piano Concerto. The second had Arthur Nikisch conducting Brahms’s First and Beethoven’s Ninth as a single concert.

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  1. ok, so the next thing you need to look at is ticket prices in relation to income. In other words, how affordable would it have been for a middle class employee to go to a concert, say, once or twice a week? In the absence of sound reproduction equipment and the cost of buying recordings, could the average music lover have been able to get their fill of music without having to resort to their own instrument at home?

    1. I have the sense that it was not that different from today. I read in a tourist guide that in 1901 Berlin, the price for a “cuvert”at a first class restaurant would be about 80 Pfennigs, while a Straßenbahn ticket was 10 pfennigs. Roughly speaking, the “popular” concerts were an average of 1 Mark. So if you went out to dinner once a week, you could just as well go to a concert, and maybe you could afford both.
      How much did the middle class earn? A report from 1907 gave the average salary of a musician in the Hamburg opera orchestra as 150 M. a month, while in Frankfurt, it was 1938 M. a year. It gets complicated to work out how much that was in our terms. If you would consult the website “Measuring Worth”, perhaps you could report back to me.

      1. While I am working on your assignment, my other thought was how interesting the programming is. There seems to be an equal commitment to building/maintaining a canon as well as trying out new works. Is that the impression you are getting?

        1. That’s a very difficult question. There was plenty of cultural despair. But yes, I do get the impression that many different kinds of new music got a healthy amount of performances, audiences, and reviews.

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