Concealed between the lines of any factual account of the doings of Bruno Walter (born Schlesinger) since his banishment from Germany and his arrival once again at the podium of the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, there is a remarkable phenomenon.
A factual account would deal with his conducting German works or works at least markedly Teutonic, almost to the exclusion of all else, from the first concert (Oct. 5), when Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony and “Coriolanus” Overture and Brahm’s first Symphony formed the program to today’s all Wagner festivity in Carnegie Hall.
Here is the Jew’s answer to persecution. Here is steadfast, admirably determined “sticking by one’s guns.” Here, too, is the “stiff-neckedness” of a people exemplified anew. And in it all there is more than a touch of the deeply, subtly ironic.
Is not Walter perhaps saying:
“You have chosen to extirpate me, to drive me away into the world. And I have gone into the world to proclaim again the grandeur which once was your’s, and the magnificence which you still might be, were you not, alas, insane.”
The implied paradox in the above finds a technical counterpart in the case of Josef Lhevinne, the distinguished pianist, who opened his New York season at Carnegie Hall last week-end with an all-Chopin program.
Lhevinne is a technical giant. His feats are dazzling, almost superhuman. Yet this very brilliance defeats its own ends. Lhevinne permitted it to run away with him, and this led to more than one “blurred” melodic line. Included, incidentally, in the day’s bill, were all the twenty-four Preludes (Op.28).
This week in the New York music world will give Hitlerites small comfort. Arthur Schnabel, widely acclaimed as the greatest living exponent of Beethoven, will play five of the master’s piano sonatas at Carnegie Wednesday evening. Friday evening, Isidor Achron will appear in the same hall with a Chaconne which Busoni refurbished after J. S. Bach had finished with it; the Prelude and Fugue in A minor which Liszt played around with after Johann Sebastian had called it a day, and the Bach Overture from Cantata, No. 28, which Saint-Saens saw fit to remodel. Haydn, Chopin, Borodin, Scriabin and Liszt works complete the bill.
Fritz Kreisler, another Jew of some importance, will make his seasonal bow Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night Arnold Schoenberg, the composer who fled Teutonic fury, will be given a “one-man show” by the Pro Arte Quartet; Ruth Rodgers, soprano; Rita Sebastian, contralto, and Nadia Reisenberg, pianist, under the auspices of the League of Composers, at Town Hall. After the concert, this city’s music notables will meet Schoenberg at a reception the League is giving him in the rooms of the Town Hall Club.