Concerts in December 1907
For most musicians, December means Christmas concerts, but for Berlin it also meant plenty of Beethoven, since his birthday on the 16th was always observed.
Two all-Beethoven birthday concerts were given by the two main orchestras, with very similar programs, probably due to coincidence:
16 December: Philharmonic, Arthur Nikisch.
Overture to Coriolan
4th Piano Concerto, L. Godowsky, soloist
Leonore Overture No. 3
Symphony No. 5.
20 December: Königliche Kapelle, Felix Weingartner.
All 3 Leonore Overtures
4th Piano Concerto, E. von Dohnányi, soloist
Symphony No. 8.
There was also another performance of the Ninth Symphony–the fourth this year by a major ensemble.1The others were by the Stern Gesangverein on 4.2; Kgl. Kapelle on 30.3; and the Philharmonic on 2.4. This time Karl Panzner conducted the new and struggling Mozart Orchestra.2It disbanded at the end of the season in 1908. His ambitious choice for the opening work of this concert was Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony.
No fewer than seven cellists gave concerts this month. Two were women, two were from New York, and the first three listed below had studied at the Hochschule with Hausmann:
- Heinz Beyer (b. 1875; concert on 9.12) was from Berlin.
- Monroe Bostelmann (18.12) from Brooklyn, NY, played Beethoven and Brahms Sonatas with Josef Weiss at the piano. Apparently the pianist was up to his tricks. The critic Arthur Laser, who had criticized Weiss’s behavior earlier, announced: “It is time to make an energetic protest against the kind of playing that Herr Weiss favors. If he does not take art seriously, he should practice his craft where caricatures are fully appreciated, namely in the Variéte-Theater.”3“Es its wohl endlich an der Zeit, gegen solches Spiel, wie es Herrn Weiß betriebt, energisch zu protestieren. Wer Kunst nicht als ernste Sache betrachtet, soll sie da ausüben, wo Karikaturen volle Würdigung finden, nämlich im Variéte-Theater. Sein Partner Bostelmann konnte dem Charlatanismus nicht verfallen, da es ihm an der nötigen Kunstfertigkeit dazu gebricht.” Laser, Die Musik (1907): 111. Bostelmann (1880-1920) was from a New York musical family; his father was a violin maker and his brother Louis Bostelmann a successful violinist. He returned to the US in 1909, where he apparently abandoned his musical career.4I found Monroe’s death date in this item about his wife: “Bostelmann née M. von Roeder immigrated to the United States in 1909 after marrying American cellist Monroe Bostelmann. The two lived in New York for a period before oddly uprooting to Mexia, Texas to pursue cotton farming. Bostelmann’s husband died mysteriously in 1920, likely from heat exhaustion, prompting Bostelmann to relocate to New York with her teenage daughter.” Zack Nally, “Mysteries go deep, both in oceans and family histories,”
carolinacoastonline.com June 14, 2019 (http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/sports/article_4762fa4e-8e7f-11e9-83af-f3c5d438f339.html, accessed November 16, 2019).4
- Sara Gurowitsch (1889/1892-1981; concert on 20.12) was a child prodigy from a Russian musical family who lived in the Bronx. She finished her education in Berlin at the Hochschule and received a Mendelssohn Prize stipend in 1906. Critics of her December concert found her sound inadequate for a large hall. She returned to New York and made her American debut with the New York Philharmonic, playing the d’Albert Cello Concerto, which was very popular at this time. She also performed with the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch on 12.12.1910, and with the New York People’s Symphony Orchestra on 10.11.1913. After her solo career, she taught for many decades.
- Elsa Ruegger (1881-1924) had made her Berlin debut back in 1895. As she grew up, she maintained a steady career that included U.S. tours. She taught from 1907-14 at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory. After the War began, she moved to Detroit and married violinist Edmund Lichtenstein. They spent several years in San Francisco teaching and giving concerts, then returned to Detroit in 1918. Her two concerts (13.12, 17.12) with pianist Paul Goldschmidt were warmly endorsed by the critics: on the first concert’s program of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, her performance of the 5th Bach Suite was “absolutely perfect.”
- Carlo de Guaita (1885-1912; concert on 6.12) received praise from the critics for his performance, which included Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with a piano accompaniment. Guaita was from Venice, where he had studied and formed a piano trio called the Trio Italiano (with Virgilio Ranzato and Umberto Moroni). He then became a student of Hugo Becker at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule. When Becker took the position at the Berlin Hochschule after Hausmann’s death, Guaita was also appointed there as teacher and “Vertreter” of Becker in 1910. “Vertreter” was presumably a step up from “Vorbereiter”–a substitute for the teacher as opposed to the person who prepared you for your lesson with the teacher. He also joined the Berlin incarnation of Henri Marteau’s Quartet. I was not able to find any more information about his subsequent career, however, and finally found the reason: Guaita died from meningitis on 30 September 1912, age 27.5Death notice in Die Musik referencing a “Gehirnhautentzündung.”
- The 20-year-old Max Orobio de Castro (1887-1962; concert on 28.12), from Amsterdam played D’Albert’s Concerto and the Rococo Variations, this time with orchestra, with Landon Ronald conducting (it was also his debut in Berlin). He became principal cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1916-1919, then had a long career teaching at the Amsterdam Conservatory. His older brother Artur had studied violin with Joachim at the Hochschule.
- The Belgian cellist Marix Loevensohn (1880-1943)
(concert on 9.12) Marix Loevensohn had a long and extraordinary career as a soloist, orchestra player, chamber musician, and concert organizer; there must be more written about than I have found so far. He was born to French parents in Courtrai, Belgium; graduated from the Brussels Conservatory at fourteen, winning first prize, and made his debut in London a year later in 1895. His father, also named Marix, was a famous art collector; Marix Jr. had a collection of valuable cellos that he used for performing. His compatriot Eugene Ysaÿe conducted the orchestra for his Berlin debut on 12 March 1907, a three-concerto affair of Haydn, Schumann, and Saint-Saëns. He immediately got involved with premieres of new music and performances of early music in Berlin: his concert on 23 October included the Berlin premiere of Gernsheim’s Cello Concerto, and on 9 December he played a “sonata for two cellos” by Handel with Heinz Beyer (the cellist named above). He started teaching at Klindworth-Scharwenka at the same time as Elsa Ruegger, and in 1908 organized a series of exclusively French concerts in Berlin, with a number of French composers performing their own works. In 1911 he began the Loevensohn Concerts, dedicated to promoting new music with an ambitious 24-concert season. This series continued up until World War One.
After Germany declared war on Belgium, Loevensohn returned home and joined the army. An article in the Musical Courier published after the war described how Loevensohn “was mustered as a volunteer into the Garde Civique. After that he fought at Termonde and in the siege of Antwerp, and then joined the intelligence service of the army corps. In his capacity as reconnaissance officer he crossed the German lines a number of times. With the rest of the Garde Civique he was demobilized at the end of 1915, and as ‘hotel interpreter’ managed to reach his home in Brussels, but he never ceased to serve his country.
In Germany meantime the report of his death as a soldier of the German Army was published. An inquiry from Mengelberg reached him and he managed to get a denial back to the Dutch conductor, who thereupon asked him whether he would take Hekking’s place as solo cellist of the Amsterdam Orchestra. Seeing a chance to escape the German domination and possible slavery he accepted, and crossing the border in 1916 took with him the documents which instructed the Allies concerning the position of the batteries protecting the submarine bases in Flanders. At the border he was stripped and put through a minute examination. For an hour or so his life hung in the balance but—nothing was found.”6César Saerchinger, Musical Courier, issue dated September 11 (1919): 17.
After the war he continued at the Concertgebouw in the orchestra and as a member of the Concertgebouw Quartet. He also taught at the Brussels Conservatory and continued to champion new music by composers such as Henriette Bosmans. She dedicated her Cello Sonata of 1919 to him and they premiered it in Amsterdam on September 13, 1919.
All I have been able to find about Loevensohn’s later life indicates a tragic end: he died while in hiding in Montauban, France on 24 April 1943, at age 63.