Obituaries for Joseph Joachim

A consolation in modern times

Julius Korngold in the Neue Freie Presse

It was a consolation to know this man was alive, when Salome confused the mind, the large, hours long symphonies assaulted the nerves….The memory of Josef Joachim remains eternal and so long as witnesses of his playing will live, works like the C# minor Quartet in German concert halls will not sound without his noble form emerging behind the players.1Neue Freie Presse (August 16, 1907) p. 1 Morgenblatt Nr. 15439.

A link to the past

Beverley Halley in the Musical Standard

Joachim is dead! A great spirit has passed away from amongst us! We are the poorer. Another link with past has gone… [His influence] is most needed to-day to correct the extravagances of modern developments….It is impossible to overestimate the value of Joachims constant presence in England, when we consider what he has done to make us familiar with the greatest works of the masters of pure music.2Musical Standard (August 31 1907):140-141.

Detached from modern musical life

Neue Musik-Zeitung

Joachim, nurturing and propagating a pure, profound art such as Beethoven’s quartets and Bach’s violin works, always strove for the heights of the “ideals” hovering before him, and in the end stood apart from the stream of time that is ever regenerating itself anew, detached from its desires and achievements, from its sorrows and joys: so also did his death fall outside of the days that are given over to the outer showplace for the struggle in modern musical life. He didn’t belong to it.3“Und wie Joachim, der Pfleger und Verbreiter einer reinen tiefen Kunst wie Beethovens Quartette und Bachs Violinwerke, immer mehr von höhen des ihm vorschwebenden “Ideals” zustrebte und zuletzt außerhalb des Stromes der stets sich neue gebärenden Zeit stand, von ihrem Wollen und Vollbringen, von ihren Schmerzen und Freuden losgelöst: so fiel sein Tod auch außerhalb der Tage, die den äußern Schauplatz für die Kämpfe im modernen musikalischen Leben abgeben. Er gehörte nicht dazu.” Neue Musik-Zeitung (1907): 496-500.

The last of his kind

Arthur M. Abell in the Musical Courier
It is impossible to overestimate what Joachim has done in establishing and maintaining classic traditions. There is something grand and inspiring about Joachim’s career. His life was so absolutely ideal, so unselfish, so free from all mercenary motives, so wholly consecrated to his art. No other musician since Liszt was so absolutely above material considerations, so true to art.  There is something ennobling and inspiring in such a career, and Joachim must needs leave deep footprints in the sands of time. He was a veritable high priest of his art–the last of his kind, and our sordid materialistic times will probably never see his like again. As an artist Joachim stood above reproach, on an exalted plane, and his name will go down to posterity as one of the greatest personalities in the history of music.

Leopold Schmidt in the Berliner Tageblatt
Joachim was the last of a generation that was untouched by the advertising and profit-addled tendencies of today, that in idealistic high-mindedness gave expression to that which it had to be…A long since vanished age was embodied in Joachim, that he alone represented in the end, and will take with him to the grave.4Joachim war der Letzte einer Generation, die noch unberührt war von reklame- und gewinnsüchtigen Neigungen der Jetztzeit, die sich in idealistischer Gesinnung auslebte in dem, was sie sein mußte…. In Joachim verkörperte sich eine längst entschwundene Zeit, die er zuletzt allein noch vertrat, und die mit ihm zu Grabe getragen wird.” Berliner Tageblatt, 16 August 1907, 2.


A Lonely Tragedy

Paul Bekker
There is something proud, impressive, to this holding to hard won conviction, in this unswerving opposition to the artistic ruling powers of today. It is part of the personality type in order to bear the consequences of that kind of stubborn opposition: the loosening of fellow feeling with the forward striving forces, the increasing isolation in the middle of the richest music hustle and bustle of the world. There is something tragic about this futile struggle against an unconquerable stream of time. The recognition of this tragedy is expressed by the phrase that accompanied Joachim in life: Free, but alone.5Paul Bekker, Klang und Eros – Gesammelte Schriften, Band 2: 212.
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