KATHRINE LOIS SCOBEY
OLIVE BROWN HORNE
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY
Copyright, 1905, by
KATHRINE LOIS SCOBEY and OLIVE BROWN HORNE.
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London.
W. P. 22
That the purpose of the public schools is the training of children for a
higher citizenship, a more extensive helpfulness in affairs pertaining
to the common good, no one questions; but we need expect no
manifestation of a greater integrity, unless lofty ideals are kept
constantly before them. Neither painter nor sculptor can produce a
greater expression of beauty than that which has been built up in his
own consciousness; no individual can produce a greater expression of
manhood or womanhood than that which he holds in his own mind. It is
important, therefore, that a high standard be set for the children in
our schools to-day.
The question then arises as to how this result may be attained.
Educators agree that the study of biography is a potent factor in the
achievement of this end. A new field for biographical study is found in
the lives of the great musicians, who furnish many examples of untiring
effort and persistent endeavor, for almost without exception their lives repeat the oft-stated but none too often emphasized verity that success
comes only to him who earns success.
We trust that this little volume may aid the many who are striving to
enrich the thought concepts of the children under their care.
K. L. S.
O. B. H.
- John Sebastian Bach
- George Frederick Handel
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Francis Joseph Haydn
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Felix Mendelssohn
- Frederick Chopin
- Robert Schumann
- Franz Peter Schubert
- Richard Wagner
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
- JOHN SEBASTIAN BACH
- THE CHILD HANDEL
- GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
- WOLFGANG AND MARIAN BEFORE THE EMPRESS
- MOZART AS A CHILD
- MOZART AT THE ORGAN
- WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
- FRANCIS JOSEPH HAYDN
- LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
- BEETHOVEN AT THE HOUSE OF MOZART
- BEETHOVEN IN HIS STUDY
- FELIX MENDELSSOHN
- SONGS WITHOUT WORDS
- QUEEN VICTORIA, PRINCE ALBERT, AND MENDELSSOHN
- FREDERICK CHOPIN
- ROBERT SCHUMANN
- FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT
- RICHARD WAGNER
- SIEGFRIED AND THE DRAGON
- RICHARD WAGNER AT BAYREUTH
- ARRIVAL OF LOHENGRIN
- ORTRUD AND ELSA
- LOHENGRIN'S FAREWELL
JOHN SEBASTIAN BACH
JOHN SEBASTIAN BACH
THE CHILD MUSICIAN
Long ago, in a little German town, lived a jolly old miller. From
morning till night he sang about his work, for he loved music dearly. He
had learned to play upon the lute, which is an instrument with strings.
The miller used to take his lute with him to his work. He was fond of
playing while the merry clacking of the mill beat time for him.
This miller was the great-great-grandfather of John Sebastian Bach, who
said of the miller, "The grinding of the corn and the music of the lute
must have sounded merrily together."
John Sebastian Bach was born in Germany, as were most of our great
composers. His father was a musician. All his uncles and cousins were
musicians. His grandfather, too, was a musician. So it is notstrange
that the child wished to become one also, for he grew up among people
who cared for little else besides music.
In his native village little John worked and played, went to school, and
studied music much as other German children did. Here, too, he marched
through the streets with his playmates, singing hymns. For centuries it
had been the custom for the school children to sing in the streets.
John was left an orphan at the age of ten, and went to live with his
eldest brother in a neighboring town. In his new home he continued his
studies. Besides his school work, his brother gave him lessons on the
piano. The brother, an organist, had a book in which he had copied many
fine compositions. He kept it on a high shelf in a bookcase.
Little John had learned so rapidly under his brother's instruction that
soon he could play almost as well as the organist himself. However, he
was eager to know more about music. He thought, "If only I could use my
brother's book, I could learn faster." But he was not allowed even to
touch it. He used to look at it and long for it as it lay upon the high
One night, when the house was dark and still, John arose from his bed
and crept softly downstairs.Standing tiptoe on a chair, he succeeded
in obtaining the treasure. How happy this made him!
He could scarcely keep from laughing aloud at his good fortune. Hugging
the book close in his arms, he scampered back to his room. He wished to
copy every note of the music, but he had neither lamp nor candle. He
could work only by the light of the moon, so it was six months before
his task was completed.
At school John studied arithmetic, grammar, Latin, and Greek. There,
too, several hours each week were spent in the study of music. The boy
had a sweet soprano voice and was always happy when the time for music
came. The school choir often sang at church services and weddings.
Clearer and sweeter than any other could be heard the voice of little
The lad learned something about organ playing during the next few years.
These were years filled with hard work; but they were happy years,
nevertheless. He no longer sang in the white-robed choir, but devoted
his time to the piano, violin, and organ.
In the olden days there stood in Hamburg a church, named for the good
St. Katherine. The organist of this church was a man of great skill,
whose fame had spread throughout the land. Even little John Sebastian
Bach had heard of him, andlonged to hear him play the great organ at
One fine morning he started to make the long journey on foot. The lad
little knew how tired he would become before he reached Hamburg. Once
inside St. Katherine's, however, he forgot his weariness and his bruises
and the long miles of dusty road over which he had traveled. He thought
of nothing but the wonderful music.
John was not satisfied with hearing the great organist once. Several
times he went to Hamburg, walking all the way. Once, when returning from
a visit, he was walking along the highroad, and came to an inn. Being
very hungry, he put his hand into his pocket and drew forth one small
coin. That was not enough to buy him a dinner.
He seated himself outside the door to rest. The odors of the dinner
coming from the kitchen made him hungrier than ever. Some men at dinner
in the inn saw the forlorn little figure outside the door. They guessed
how tired and hungry the boy must be. "Poor little lad," they said to
one another, "let us give him a surprise."
Meanwhile, John Sebastian had made up his mind that he must go on. He
was just rising to his feet, when a window was thrown open and twoherrings' heads were tossed out. He ran to pick them up. Imagine his
surprise to find in each a shining piece of money.
BACH IN PUBLIC LIFE
At an early age, John Sebastian Bach began to earn his own living. He
had no thought of earning it by any other means than music. When he was
eighteen, he obtained a position where he played the violin in the
duke's band. He was greatly pleased with court life. His grandfather, a
musician, too, as you will remember, had once lived at the same court.
Young Bach did not remain a year in the service of the duke. At the end
of summer he accepted a position as organist in a small town. From 1703
until 1723 Bach went from place to place as organist and teacher.
Sometimes he was church organist; sometimes he was court musician for
some noble prince. At all times he was poorly paid. Bach often received
no more for a year's work than many men receive for a month's work.
Although Bach played well on the violin and piano, he was most skillful
as an organist. Indeed, his fame was spreading throughout all Germany.He often went on journeys to try new organs. On those trips he sometimes
played for kings and nobles.
Once he played an organ solo for the crown prince. The crown prince was
greatly pleased with Bach's pedal solo. Would it not seem strange to
hear music and to see the hands of the musician at rest? That was what
the prince heard and saw. When the beautiful music had died away, he
drew from his finger a ring set with precious stones. He gave it to the
musician, saying, "Never before have I listened to such a wonderful
In 1717 a noted French organist came to Germany. In his own land, people
thought there was no better organist than he. The Frenchman traveled
through Italy, and found no one there to equal him. When he arrived in
Germany, he played for the king and was highly praised. The proud
Frenchman then thought that no one else in the world could play so well
Now it happened that Bach had a friend at court, who had heard the
French organist play. He said to himself: "Bah! our own German organist
can do much better than that. I will invite him to come to Dresden and
we will have a contest."
So he wrote to Bach, who at once set out forDresden. Soon after his
arrival, a royal contest was held. The musician from France played
first, and, to speak truly, he played well. Then Bach came forward. When
he had finished, the applause was great, and all his friends felt sure
that he would win.
It was decided to continue the contest the next day; so the king named
the time and place. Promptly at the appointed hour, Bach appeared. The
large audience waited impatiently for the Frenchman. At last they sent a
messenger for him; but he could not be found. He had left Dresden early
The people said to one another, "Surely, the Frenchman is afraid to meet
our great Bach." "France has no musicians to equal those of our own
land." Bach played so wonderfully that morning that the king afterward
sent him a hundred pieces of gold.
Before Bach's time, pianists and organists used only the three middle
fingers in playing. Bach taught all his pupils to use the thumb and
little finger as well. Some of the music books that he wrote for his
pupils are still in use.
It was the custom, long ago, for organists to write the music which was
sung in their churches. For this reason, many of Bach's compositions are
When Bach was thirty-eight years old, he and his family moved to
Leipzig. Here he had a position as choir master of the Thomas School.
The salary was very small, and the work was hard. It was Bach's duty to
teach music to all the boys who attended the school.
Part of his work in that city was to direct the music in four churches.
He trained the boys of the Thomas School to sing sacred music. Every
Sunday they were divided into four choirs, one choir singing in each
Once upon a time Bach paid a visit to King Frederick the Great. It
happened in this way. Bach's son had for seven years been in the service
of the king as a musician. The king was very fond of music and played
well upon the flute. He had often said to young Bach, "How much I should
like to know your good father!"
The son always repeated the king's words to his father, saying, "Father,
will you not come to the palace and pay me a visit?" "Some day I will
go," was the reply. And one day the great organist kept his promise.
Every evening before supper the king had music in his rooms. At these
concerts the king himself played the flute. One evening the musicians
wereall in place, ready to begin. An officer came in. He handed the
king a list of the strangers who had arrived that day. Holding the flute
in his hand, Frederick the Great glanced hastily over the names. Halfway
down the list he stopped, for he saw the name Bach. Without reading
further, he turned quickly to his orchestra, saying, "Gentlemen, old
Bach has come."
Bach, who had gone to his son's rooms, was summoned to the castle. He
had not time even to change his traveling clothes for a court dress.
What a strange appearance he made as he came among the gentlemen of the
Frederick the Great received the master musician with much kindness, and
led him through all the rooms of the castle. The king asked him to play
the piano. The court musicians followed them from room to room. Whenever
Bach played, the king stood behind his chair, exclaiming, "Only one
Bach! Only one Bach!"
When the great musician returned to Leipzig, he composed some music in
honor of his royal friend.
On the 30th of July, 1750, at the age of sixty-five, the "Father of
Music" passed away. Very little notice was taken of his death. No choirsang hymns at his funeral; no cross ever marked the spot where he was
Almost a hundred years after Bach's death, Felix Mendelssohn began to
play his music. Then people began to appreciate and love the old master.
They were sorry that so little had been done for him. Through the
efforts of Mendelssohn, a monument was erected in Leipzig to Bach's
Even if no monument had been erected, we should honor his name. His
works are his best monument and will last as long as people love music.
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
THE WONDER CHILD
It is a bright, sunshiny morning. In an old town in Germany a coach
stands waiting before the door of a surgeon's house. The horses are
impatient to begin the journey. They toss their heads and paw the
ground. The driver speaks sharply, trying to quiet them.
Presently the house door opens. An old gentleman comes out and seats
himself in the carriage. He waves his hand and calls good-by to a little
boy on the steps. The coach door slams and the horses are off.
For a moment the child gazes through his tears at the departing
carriage. Then, with a bound, he is off as fast as his sturdy little
legs will carry him. The boy does not seem to mind the heat and the dust
as long as he can keep the carriage in sight.
When the first stop is made, the boy appears before his father. "Why are
you here, my son?Did I not bid you remain at home?" "Oh, father,"
pleads the boy, "I want so much to see the castle. Do take me with you!"
The child is so earnest and promises so faithfully to be good that the
father places him on the broad seat beside him and away they go. Through
streets and lanes and highways, from one town to another, they journey
on, until they come to the wonderful palace of the duke.
The surgeon has come this long distance to visit his grandson, who is a
servant in the palace. The travelers intend to remain in the castle
The child became a favorite in the duke's household. He made friends
with the members of the duke's choir, who allowed him to go to chapel
with them. Sometimes they lifted him on the organ bench and bade him
One Sunday afternoon, when he was playing, some people entered the
chapel. Among them was the duke, the owner of the castle. The child paid
no heed to the duke and his friends, but went on with his playing. "Who
is making such sweet music?" said the duke. When he had gone a few steps
farther, he saw before the organ a boy but seven years of age. He called
the child to him and said,"What is your name, little one?" "I am
George Frederick Handel," answered the boy, trembling.
The duke spoke kindly to the little fellow, soon winning from him his
secret. The lad told his new friend how dearly he loved to play and how
much he should like to study music. He finished by saying that his
father would not allow him to spend his time in that way.
The duke filled the little musician's pockets with shining gold pieces
and called the father. He urged the surgeon to allow his son to study
music. For a long time the two men talked together. At last the surgeon
said that a teacher should be found for the boy as soon as they reached
George Frederick Handel was born in Germany, in 1685, on the 23d of
February. Although the weather was cold and stormy, the babe was carried
the very next day to the church and there baptized. According to the
Lutheran custom, the child had a godmother and two godfathers.
When he was still very young, the parents of the child noticed that he
was fond of music. Little George Frederick liked toys that made a noise.
His friends made him presents of drums and horns. He learned to play a
Jew's-harp and a flute.
At first, the father laughed at the childish music.When he saw that
the boy cared for nothing else, he said that he wished to hear no more
music in the house. Indeed, he would not even allow George Frederick to
go to any house where music could be heard. The old surgeon wished his
son to become a lawyer.
Although music was forbidden, George Frederick loved it more than ever.
Every day the chimes in a neighboring church gladdened his heart.
Several times each week he heard sacred music sung from the church
The chimes and the tower music were a great comfort to little Handel.
About this time, too, he was made happy by having a spinet of his own.
With the help of his nurse, he hid his instrument in the garret.
A spinet is somewhat like a piano. The wires of little Handel's spinet
were wound with cloth. This so deadened the sound that his father could
not hear it. George Frederick spent much time in the garret, and often
went there to practice when every one else in the house was fast asleep.
THE CHILD HANDEL
All this happened before the visit to the duke's castle. When he
returned, his father kept the promise made to the duke by choosing a
teacherfor the boy. George Frederick and his teacher soon became the
best of friends. The lad worked hard, and at the end of three years
could play the organ, violin, and harpsichord.
Young Handel's teacher was a church organist. When he went away, he
often allowed the boy to take his place. The boy improved so rapidly
that at length his master declared he could teach him no more.
Little Handel had many studies besides his music. Although his father
had allowed the boy to study music, he still wished him to become a
lawyer. He was greatly pleased when he saw how earnestly the lad worked
at his Latin and mathematics.
George Frederick began to compose when he was only ten years old. After
his master had said he could teach him no more, young Handel continued
his studies. He learned much by copying works from the old masters.
In 1696 George Frederick took a long journey, going with some friends to
Berlin. The prince and princess invited the wonder child to the court
because they liked music. The child surprised and delighted all who
heard him play. "How long have you been studying that you have learned
to play so well?" asked the prince. "For threeyears," replied the lad,
"and I have the kindest teacher in all Germany."
In the great German capital little Handel met many famous musicians, one
of whom was an Italian monk. His own father could not have been kinder
to the child than was this priest. He took delight in teaching the boy
and listened to his playing by the hour.
The prince was proud to count the little musician as his friend. He
wrote to Handel's father, saying: "I am willing to send your son to
Italy at my own expense. There he shall have the very best teachers."
The surgeon was delighted that George Frederick had so pleased the
prince. He thanked him for his kindness, but said, "I am now an old man
and can not spare my boy."
Soon after this, young Handel returned to his native town. He had not
been long at home when his father died. Remembering his father's wish,
the boy studied law until he was seventeen.
While Handel was studying law at the university, he was organist in a
large church. So well did he perform his duties that he became famous
for his music. Strangers were glad to be in the town over Sunday, that
they might hear him play.
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
HANDEL'S EARLY WORK
In 1703 Handel decided that music should be his life study and work. He
left the university and went to Hamburg. There he obtained a position in
an orchestra. It was a poor place, and he was paid very little. The
other members of the orchestra never suspected that he could fill a
One day the leader of the orchestra was absent. The musicians planned to
play a joke upon Handel. "Come," said they to him, "you lead the
orchestra to-day." They laughed merrily among themselves as he took his
place. "Now we shall have some fun," they said to one another. Imagine
their surprise when Handel conducted the orchestra even better than the
leader could have done.
While Handel was in Hamburg, he wrote four operas. Although he was not
well paid for the work, he saved some money. He was very generous, and
took great pleasure in sending Christmas gifts to his mother.
After two years of hard work in Hamburg, Handel had laid aside enough
money to take him to Italy. In 1706 he said good-by to his friends and
set off on his journey across the Alps. For three years he lived under
the blue Italian skies. During that time helearned to speak the
language of the country. He worked hard and wrote opera after opera.
In Florence his first Italian opera was given. It was listened to with
the greatest delight. The grand duke was so much pleased that he
presented Handel with a hundred pieces of money and many other valuable
From fair Florence, the young musician went to Venice, the city of
bridges and gondolas. The Venetians soon grew to be as fond of him as
the Florentines had been. They spoke of him as the "dear Saxon," because
he came from that part of Germany which is called Saxony.
One evening Handel was invited to a masquerade. He planned to disguise
himself so that no one should know him. He might have succeeded had it
not been for one thing. He went to the masquerade, and for some time not
a single person knew him in his strange costume. Finally he seated
himself at the harpsichord, the room becoming quiet as he played. Some
one was heard to exclaim: "None but the great Saxon could play like
that! It is Handel!"
Whenever his operas were sung in Venice, the theater was packed. One
night every seat was filled. The audience was eager for the music to
begin. At the end of the first act there was a storm of applause.During the remainder of the opera, at every little pause in the music,
the building rang with shouts of, "Long live the good Saxon!"
In the spring of 1710 Handel returned to Germany. He paid a visit to his
mother, but did not stay long. In Italy he had made many English friends
who invited him to visit London. It was about the beginning of December
when he crossed the sea to England. Little did he dream that the
remainder of his life would be spent on English soil.
HANDEL IN ENGLAND
Handel was twenty-five years old when he went to England. He had not
been there long before he composed an opera. The music of this opera
became very popular. Often when friends met on the street, they said,
"Have you heard Handel's opera?" Soon it was hummed and whistled
Long ago, the river Thames was well loved by the kings and queens of
England. When they wished to spend a pleasant holiday, nothing was so
enjoyable as a sail down the river.
One fine morning in August, King George and his family returned to
London after a pleasant day spent on the water. The people had seen the
royal boats floating past in the morning and were ready to welcome their
king on his return. They built big bonfires on the banks of the river.
From time to time salutes were fired. The people crowded the bridges and
banks to see the royal procession.
Soon the boats of the king came in sight. How the banners waved and how
the flags fluttered in the breeze! How the water splashed as the oars
rose and fell! "That must be the king's own boat that we see yonder!"
shouted the people. "Yes, there is the king under that crimson canopy!"
But hark! the sound of music comes floating gently across the water. How
soft is the melody in the still night air! Whence come those sweet
Not far from the royal barge are several boats filled with musicians. In
one of the boats stands a young man, the leader of the musicians. He
must have trained them well, for the fine music attracts the attention
of the king.
"Who is the leader of the musicians?" asks the king of one of the
gentlemen near him. "It is Handel, your Majesty," replies the courtier.
"Anddid he compose the music which we now hear?" asks the king. "Yes,
your Majesty," is the reply.
The people on the banks of the river become quiet as one piece of
beautiful music after another is heard. King George thinks that each is
better than the one that preceded it. At last, when the royal barge is
no longer in sight, the sweet sounds die away.
The next day the king invited Handel to the court and asked him to
become the teacher of the young princess. He also promised the composer
that he should receive two hundred pounds sterling every year. It was
not unusual in those days for a king to settle a sum of money upon a
poet or musician.
One day Handel walked out into the country. He was caught in a shower
and found shelter in a blacksmith's shop. The jolly old smith was
singing at his work and beating a tune upon the anvil as he sang. The
composer caught the clanging music of the hammer on the anvil. When he
went home, Handel put the tones that he had heard into some music, which
he called The Jolly Blacksmith.
By the year 1726 the composer was so much pleased with England that he
decided to live there. He sometimes went back to Germany to visit; but
England was his home.
During the first years that Handel lived in London, he composed many
operas. Great crowds of people went to hear them sung; sometimes twenty
dollars was paid for one seat. Sometimes hundreds of people were turned
away from the theater. King George and Queen Caroline often attended the
operas. That was a great honor for Handel.
It is not as a composer of operas that George Frederick Handel is
remembered to-day. Indeed, if he had written nothing but operas, we
should hear little of him now. In 1741 he composed an oratorio more
beautiful than any other that has ever been written. It is called The
Messiah. If Handel had written nothing but this one oratorio, his name
would live forever.
The music was composed in twenty-four days. The Messiah means The
Christ. The words which are sung to Handel's music are taken from the
Bible. The music is so wonderfully written that one scarcely needs the
words to know the story.
While Handel was composing the music of The Messiah, he thought much
of the life of Christ. His heart was filled with sorrow when he thought
how He was crucified. The words of one of the solos speak of Christ as
"a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." When Handel was writing
the musicfor these words, a friend, coming in, found him in tears.
Some one once asked Handel how he could write such beautiful music. He
replied, "While I was writing The Messiah, I did think I saw all
heaven before me and the great God himself."
There are many choruses in The Messiah. The one best liked is the
Hallelujah Chorus. When The Messiah was first sung in London, the
king was present. He listened in silence to the wonderful music. When
the Hallelujah Chorus was reached, he rose and stood with bowed head.
The whole audience followed his example. This has now become a custom.
Whenever and wherever The Messiah is sung, the people rise and remain
standing until the last Hallelujah has died away.
Handel was fifty-six years old when he wrote The Messiah. The
remaining eighteen years of his life were filled with work. He wrote
many other oratorios. In the year 1752 the master musician became blind.
In spite of his blindness, he worked on, dictating many pieces of music,
while some one wrote for him.
His misfortune did not make Handel sad. He was still cheerful and happy,
and was never heard to complain. Until the end of his life he carried on
George Frederick Handel died in London in 1759, and was laid to rest in
the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. Now the soft light from the
great rose window falls gently upon a marble statue of the musician.
The statue represents Handel standing and looking upward. Upon the
marble table beside him is carved a sheet of music from The Messiah.
Here may be seen the words of one of the most beautiful parts of the
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
THE CHILD MOZART
Far, far away over land and sea lies the little town of Salzburg. What a
beautiful place it is! Old Mother Nature herself has given it its charm.
The town lies in the midst of a smiling plain. On one side are the
forest-clad hills, dark and green. Behind the town rise the mountains,
steep and rugged. As the great white clouds float across the blue sky
above, their shadows are seen on the bare rock of the mountain sides
Here in 1756, in the home of a musician, a little child was born. The
fair-haired baby boy was very welcome. He was the pet and plaything of
the whole household. His sister Marian was especially fond of him. She
was four years older than her little brother. She looked forward to the
time when he would be old enough to play with her.
The baby's father was an organist and violinist. He played in the king's
chapel. The child's mother was a beautiful, loving woman. So it is not
strangethat little Wolfgang Mozart, for that was his name, became a
No two children ever had a happier childhood than Marian and Wolfgang
Mozart. Their father and mother were always planning how to make them
happy. Leopold Mozart, the father, was not a rich man, but his heart was
full of love and tenderness.
Dearly did little Wolfgang love his father. He never went to bed without
kissing him on the tip of the nose, and singing a little good-night
song. He used to say, "Next to God comes papa."
Leopold Mozart devoted much time to the training of his two children.
When Marian was quite small, he began to give her piano lessons. The
child learned rapidly. Little Wolfgang, three years old, liked to listen
while his sister was having her lesson.
One afternoon Marian's father was giving her a music lesson. Wolfgang
stood close to the piano, as he was fond of doing. He was as quiet as a
little mouse. All through the lesson he watched and listened. When it
was over, he surprised his father. He searched for a few moments among
the white keys. Then with his baby fingers he played one of Marian's
exercises. He was onlya tiny lad, and yet he played the exercise
correctly. Leopold Mozart caught his little son in his arms, exclaiming,
"Who would have thought the baby understood what I was teaching Marian?"
Little Wolfgang was fond of games and had many toys. Often some little
friend played with him. Wolfgang was happiest when they had music in
their games. Indeed, he would not play when there was no music. Even
when they carried their playthings from one room to another, the one who
went empty-handed must sing a march.
When the boy was four years old, his father began teaching him. He
learned music easily, often mastering a piece in half an hour. A year
later he began to compose little pieces, which his father wrote down.
One day Leopold Mozart came home from church with a friend. He found his
son daubing notes on a sheet of paper. The child dipped his pen to the
very bottom of the inkhorn each time. He made many blots on his paper;
but he was not discouraged. He wiped them off with the sleeve of his
coat and went cheerily on.
"What are you doing there, my boy?" asked his father. "I am writing a
concerto and have almost got to the end of the first part," replied
The father took the paper and showed it to his friend. They laughed
heartily at first. After a time, however, they saw that it was written
according to rule. The father said, "It is a pity it can not be made use
of. It is so difficult that no one could play it." "It is a concerto,"
said Wolfgang, "and must be studied till it can be played properly. See,
this is the way it should be given." Going to the piano, he tried to
play it for them.
Wolfgang Mozart was the most gentle and loving of children. He would say
many times a day to those about him, "Do you love me well?" Sometimes
they laughingly replied, "No." At this answer, tears would run down the
little fellow's cheeks.
MOZART'S FIRST TRAVELS
Marian and Wolfgang had studied so hard and practiced so faithfully,
that their playing was remarkable. Indeed, they played so well that, in
Wolfgang's sixth year, their father decided to take them to Munich.
In 1762 they set out for that city, where they remained for three weeks.
Many people attended the concerts which the Mozart children gave. All
who heard them were delighted with their playing.
Later in the same year Leopold Mozart took his children to Vienna.
Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a larger city than Munich. Part of
the journey was made by boat. How much Marian and Wolfgang enjoyed
seeing the blue waters of the Danube! They could look far away across
the green fields which border the river, to the mountains beyond.
While the Mozart children were in Vienna they were invited to play at
court. The empress and her husband were great lovers of music. Little
Wolfgang, with his delicate face and large soft eyes, became a great
favorite in the palace. They liked his music too. Sometimes he played
hours at a time for the empress. The emperor called him his "little
One day the emperor said in jest to little Wolfgang, "It is not very
difficult to play with all one's fingers. To play with only one would be
far more wonderful." The young musician showed no surprise. Using only
one finger he began at once to play with great clearness.
He afterward asked that the keys of the piano might be covered. A cloth
was spread over them and he continued to play as well as before. It
seemed as though he must have practiced playing in that way.
WOLFGANG AND MARIAN BEFORE THE EMPRESS
Wolfgang was not at all spoiled by the praise he received. He did not
think of the empress as a sovereign. To him she was only a kind, loving
friend. Sometimes he would spring into her lap, throwing his arms about
her neck, and kissing her.
The empress had a little daughter called Marie Antoinette, who
afterwards became queen of France. One day, at the palace, Wolfgang was
playing with her. He slipped on the polished floor and fell. Marie
Antoinette helped him to his feet. "You are kind and I will marry you,"
Before the Mozart children returned to Salzburg, the empress sent them
each a present. To Marian she gave a beautiful white silk dress.
Wolfgang's gift was a lilac-colored suit, trimmed with bands of gold
Wolfgang often wore this suit when he played in concerts. With his
powdered curls, bright knee buckles, and little sword, what a picture he
must have made!
Up to his sixth birthday, Wolfgang had played only the piano. On his
return from Vienna he brought with him a small violin which had been
given him there. He often amused himself with it.
MOZART AS A CHILD
A short time afterwards, two friends came to visit the Mozart family.
Both were violinists.Leopold Mozart and his friends were going to
play some new music together. One of the guests was to play the first
violin and the other the second violin. Leopold Mozart played the bass
Now you must know that the second violin is the easier part. Wolfgang
asked if he might play that part. His father said, "No, my son, you have
never received any violin lessons. You could not possibly play it well.
Run away now."
Wolfgang was so hurt at these words that he began to cry bitterly. As he
was going away with his little violin under his arm, one of the guests
said, "Let the child stay and play the second part with me." At last the
father consented. "You may play with us," he said, "if you play very
softly and do not let yourself be heard."
The music was begun,
playing the second part. Soon
the violinist who was playing the same part saw that he was not needed.
Without saying anything, he laid down his violin. The father, too,
noticed how well the child played and shed tears of joy at the sight.
The picture gives you an idea of the bronze statue of Mozart, made in
1883 by the artist, Barrias. The original is in Paris; but an excellent
copy stands in the Art Institute of Chicago.
MOZART IN FRANCE, ENGLAND, AND HOLLAND
After visiting Vienna the Mozart family spent some months quietly at
home. This time was well used by the children. Never a day went by that
they did not devote many hours to their studies. Their progress was
amazing. In fact they improved so much that their father concluded to
take them on another tour.
This time they were to go to Paris. The summer after Wolfgang's seventh
birthday, Leopold Mozart set out with his children. They stopped at so
many towns and cities that it took them five months to complete the
journey to Paris.
They decided to give a concert in Frankfurt, one of the German towns
that they visited. At that time Goethe was a lad of fourteen. He
attended the concert and never forgot little Wolfgang Mozart. Years
afterward the poet wrote, "In imagination I can still see the little man
in his wig and sword."
The first Paris concert was a great success. The people applauded again
and again. When the children came upon the stage, the men clapped their
hands, and the ladies waved their handkerchiefs. In writing about this
very concert to a friend,Leopold Mozart said, "We burned more than
At New Year's the Mozart children were presented at the French court,
where they were kindly received by the king and queen. The queen had
Wolfgang placed beside her and talked with him in German. He had the
honor of playing the great organ in the king's chapel. Those who heard
him play both the piano and the organ could not decide which he played
The children of a royal family are not often allowed to play with
children of lower rank. The king's daughters admired Wolfgang and Marian
Mozart very much. The princesses and the little musicians had many romps
together in the palace.
From the French capital the Mozarts went to London. On their journey the
children saw the sea for the first time. They liked to watch the great
waves break against the cliffs. They clapped their hands with delight
when the spray dashed over the rocks on the shore. They liked to run
down upon the beach to meet the incoming waves. "See, brother,"
exclaimed Marian, "how the sea runs away and grows again."
MOZART AT THE ORGAN
The young musicians gave many concerts in London. The English people
were even better pleasedwith their playing than the French had been.
They were invited to Buckingham Palace, where Wolfgang amazed his
hearers by playing difficult music at sight.
King George was very fond of music and Handel was his favorite composer.
He was surprised that this little fellow could play much of Handel's
music. One day, at the palace, Wolfgang played while Queen Charlotte
sang. He was very proud to be chosen to play for the queen.
The queen's music master was a son of the great Sebastian Bach. He took
quite a fancy to little Wolfgang. They became good friends and often
played together. One day Bach took his little friend on his knee and
they played a sonata together. First Bach would play a few measures;
then Wolfgang would play three or four. They continued in this manner
until they had played the whole sonata. Those who did not see them could
not have told that the sonata had been played by two persons.
In London, Wolfgang Mozart had his first singing lessons. They were as
easy for him as his piano lessons had been. While in that great city he
wrote six sonatas. He sent them to Queen Charlotte, with a little
At the end of fifteen months Leopold Mozart and his children left
England. They had been invited by the Princess Caroline to visit
Holland. So once again they crossed the rough English Channel. They
spent several happy months among the Dutch people. The good Princess
Caroline was very kind to them. Wolfgang composed several pieces of
music for her.
In November, 1765, the child musicians returned from their long journey.
They had been traveling for three years. They had been petted and
honored at all the great courts of Europe. They had received many
beautiful presents, yet they were glad to be in Salzburg once again.
MOZART IN ITALY
After much serious study at home, Mozart went to Italy. His father
thought that it would benefit him to visit that country. Musicians and
artists from all over Europe went there to study. The finest musicians
played in the large cathedrals. No better music could be heard in the
world than in that country. It was worth a journey of many miles to hear
one of the organs, when played by a master.
Leopold Mozart wished his son to hear this music and to become
acquainted with the great Italianmusicians. He hoped that he could
talk with the composers. He told him to visit the art galleries and
study the paintings. All this Wolfgang did and more, too.
He spent much time in the art galleries. He listened to much beautiful
music and became acquainted with musicians and composers. Besides all
this, he practiced regularly, and he studied French. He spent several
hours each day composing.
In a letter to his mother, Wolfgang wrote: "To-day I had the pleasure of
riding on a donkey. Every one in Italy rides a donkey, and I thought I
must try it too." In the same letter he asked: "Does my little canary
still sing in the key of G? Is there any one to pet my dog, now that I
am so far away? Take good care of him."
Wolfgang and his father visited many Italian cities. There were no
railroads in those days, so the father and son journeyed from place to
place in a carriage. That is a slow and very tiresome way to travel, and
Wolfgang sometimes became weary and impatient. Then he would jump from
the carriage and race with the horses.
Often they stopped at some quaint old inn for lunch. The meal was
occasionally served out of doors. How good the honey and fresh milk
tastedafter the long dusty ride! How sweet were the figs and how juicy
After visiting Florence, Verona, and other cities, Leopold Mozart and
his son arrived in Rome. It was the week before Easter. Wolfgang liked
to attend the services held each day in the magnificent cathedrals. He
liked to watch the priests moving softly about the altar. He liked the
faint odor of the incense and the glimmer of the candles.
When the great organ pealed forth, he forgot all these things. He forgot
even his father, seated at his side. He had never heard such music
before. It seemed to him like music from heaven.
In some of the churches there was singing as well as organ music. One
day, while in Rome, Wolfgang visited the Sistine Chapel. He heard some
singing that he never forgot. A choir of about thirty voices sang a very
beautiful, yet very mournful, piece of music.
When the music began, all the candles were burning brightly. As the
singing went on, the candles were extinguished one by one. The chapel
became more and more dim. The choir sang softly and still more softly.
At last not one candle was left burning. No sound could be heard but the
sad, sad music and the sobs of the people.
Throughout the whole service, the child Mozart sat with clasped hands
and bended head. When the music died away, he arose and walked home in
silence. He went to his own room and wrote from memory the music which
he had heard.
It is a rule of the Sistine Chapel that only the members of the choir
shall have copies of this music. Many others had asked permission to
copy it. They had always been refused. Many had tried to write it from
memory; but they had always failed. So it was a wonderful thing that
this youth had written the difficult music from memory. When Wolfgang
showed the music to his friends, they could not believe that he had
written it correctly.
"Let us have a concert," they said. "Let the lad sing the chapel music
for us. We shall hear whether or not he has remembered it correctly."
The concert was held. Young Mozart sang the music from his own copy. It
was perfect from beginning to end.
While Wolfgang was in Rome, the Pope bestowed a great honor upon him. He
made him a Knight of the Golden Spur. That was one of the greatest
honors that he could have received in Italy. Wolfgang was very proud to
wear the beautiful golden cross.
From Rome, the Mozarts went to Naples. There Wolfgang gave a concert
before a large audience. When he was in the middle of a sonata, the
people became uneasy. They whispered to one another; they pointed to the
hands of the young musician; they became more and more excited.
Young Mozart wondered at the noise, yet he went on with the sonata. At
last his father learned the cause of the disturbance and explained it to
his son. He told him that the people believed there was a charm in the
diamond ring which he wore upon his left hand. "If the ring is not a
charm," they said, "how can he play so rapidly with the left hand?"
When Wolfgang heard this, he laughed merrily and took the ring from his
finger. When he began to play again, the audience thought the music was
even more wonderful than before.
In 1771 Mozart made a second trip to Italy, and wrote the music for a
royal wedding. The empress was so pleased that she presented him with a
gold watch set with diamonds. On one side of the watch was a beautiful
portrait of the empress. Can you not imagine how proud he was to be the
owner of such a treasure? Do you not fancy that he always kept it?
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
MOZART, THE COMPOSER
Mozart's boyhood and youth had been filled with sunshine. At many of the
courts of Europe he had been praised and petted. Kings and queens were
proud to be numbered among his friends. The remainder of his life was
not so bright, and he learned how sad a thing it is to be without a home
When Mozart was twenty-one years of age, he set out for Paris,
accompanied by his mother. They traveled in a carriage, as Wolfgang and
his father had done in Italy. On their way to the French capital they
made several stops. Mozart gave a concert in each of the towns in which
The people of Paris had been so kind to Mozart when he had visited it
long ago, that he expected the same treatment again. In that he was
disappointed. He was now a man and they treated him as a man.
Mozart was looking for some work as a musician and composer, but found
none. That made him sad. It troubled him, too, that the Parisians were
no longer eager to hear his music; but a still greater sorrow came to
him. His dear motherdied in Paris, and Mozart returned to Salzburg
During the next few years, Mozart spent much time in composing. Among
his compositions were several operas. An opera is much like a play,
except that all the parts are sung instead of spoken. When a composer
wishes to write an opera, he generally selects some beautiful story or
poem. He then writes music that will help to tell the story.
In an opera some parts are sung by many voices; others are sung as
solos. The composer must arrange parts of music for women's voices.
Some, too, must be suited to the voices of men. Still other music must
be written for the orchestra. All this requires a musician of great
In August, 1782, Mozart married and settled in Vienna. His wife was the
daughter of a musician. Mozart and his wife were always poor; yet they
were very happy.
Once upon a time Mozart was invited to write an opera for a festival. By
and by the work was all finished except one part for the orchestra. The
singers had learned their parts and all was ready but the one piece of
music. When it lacked only one day of the time when the opera was to be
given, Mozart had not completed his work.
The day passed by, but nothing had been done. Evening came, and Mozart
had a merry time with his friends. He knew that the music must be
written that night; so he asked his wife to sit up with him while he
When he grew sleepy, she told him fairy stories. She made the stories of
Cinderella and Aladdin's Lamp so funny that Mozart laughed till the
tears rolled down his cheeks. In spite of the tales he grew so sleepy
that he felt obliged to lie down. His wife promised to call him after he
had slept an hour.
The hour passed and Mozart was sleeping soundly. Another hour and still
he did not waken. At last, when his wife called him, he arose and began
his work. In two hours he had written a beautiful composition for the
Mozart was fond of playing at night and often played for hours at a
time. If he sat down to the piano at nine o'clock in the evening, he
seldom left it before midnight.
In 1785 Mozart's father visited Vienna. He attended a concert given by
his son. He was pleased to see that the emperor was there. Leopold
Mozart watched him to see how he was enjoying the music. At the end of
the concert the emperor rose and, waving his hat, cried, "Bravo,
Mozart!" Thefather was delighted that his son had won the emperor's
While in Vienna, Mozart's father talked with the great musician Haydn,
who said, "I declare to you before God and as an honest man that I
regard your son as the greatest composer I have ever heard."
This was high praise from so great a man as Haydn. It was a fine
compliment, too, to have the emperor shout "Bravo"; yet Mozart was poor
and often sad. He worked hard and composed much beautiful music.
Sometimes he received no pay for his work; sometimes he was cheated out
of money that he had honestly earned.
Once the king asked Mozart to write music for a court concert. He put it
off until he had no time to write the part which he was to perform
himself. So he went to the concert with his part unwritten. He placed a
sheet of paper on the piano, and looked at it as if the notes were
The king, who was peeping everywhere, happened to look at the sheet of
paper. Surprised to see nothing but empty lines, he said to Mozart,
"Where is your part?" "Here," replied the musician, tapping his
Mozart is best known as a writer of operas. Most of his operas were
composed in Vienna. One ofthem is called The Marriage of Figaro.
Another is named The Magic Flute. Many people like it the best of any
opera that Mozart ever wrote. It was composed a short time before his
Mozart was ill before The Magic Flute was finished. After it had been
completed, he grew much worse. His only pleasure, during his suffering,
was to hear the news of how well the people liked his opera.
Only the day before his death, he wished that he might hear the music of
The Magic Flute once again. A friend who was with him at the time went
to the piano, and played and sang some parts of it. This seemed to cheer
the sick man greatly.
On the 5th of December, 1791, the master passed away. No stone marked
Mozart's grave, and to-day no one knows where the great composer was
laid to rest. More than a century after his death, the people of his own
city erected a fine monument in his memory.
When Haydn heard of Mozart's death, his eyes filled with tears. He
exclaimed, "Oh, my friends, will the world ever find such an artist
again?" Years afterward, when some one spoke of Mozart, Haydn wept
bitterly. "Pardon me," said he, "but I can never hear the name of my
gentle Mozart without breaking my heart."
FRANCIS JOSEPH HAYDN
THE CHOIR BOY
Once upon a time there lived, in a tiny village in Austria, a
wheelwright and his family. The wheelwright was poor, industrious, and
God-fearing. He lived in a cottage which seemed almost too small for the
large family of children. But they were so happy together that they did
not mind a little crowding.
The second of the Haydn children was a boy, whom the good old village
priest had christened Francis Joseph. He lived a merry life, romping
with his brothers and sisters. They liked to play about the door of the
shop where their father was making wheels and carriages.
FRANCIS JOSEPH HAYDN
Better than this, they liked the Sundays, when the good father was at
home all day. After dinner they were sure to have some music, and Joseph
looked forward eagerly to this time. The father had a good voice, and
well did he sing the nativesongs of his country. Although he sang
well, he did not know one note of music from another.
The wheelwright's wife played the harp while her husband sang. Little
Joseph used to bring his stool close beside his mother to listen as she
played. Sometimes he kept the time by clapping with his chubby little
hands. Sometimes he joined his sweet childish voice with his father's.
When Joseph Haydn was still very small, he was sent toddling off to
school. When lessons were over and all the rest of the children
scampered to their play, Joseph lingered in the schoolroom. His eyes
grew round with wonder as the master played upon his violin.
"That is easy," thought the boy; "I will find two smooth pieces of wood
and make myself a violin." And he did. At the next Sunday afternoon
concert Joseph took his place as usual on his little stool; but he
carried the violin, which he had made, in his hands. At the first notes
from the harp he began to move one piece of wood across the other in
perfect time with the music.
Before Joseph was quite six years old, he was able to stand up in the
choir of the old village church and lead the singing. His voice was not
strong, but it was true and sweet.
The father was proud of his son. He said to himself: "The boy must be
taught music. Perhaps some day he will become a great musician. If I
were not so poor, I should send him to a teacher."
By and by a visitor came to the Haydn home. This man was a musician and
the wheelwright's cousin. It was not long before he noticed Joseph's
talent for music. "Let the lad come home with me," he said to Joseph's
father, "and he shall sing in my choir and be taught music properly."
The father gladly gave his consent. When the mother was asked, she was
at first unwilling. "He is still so young," she said, "I fear that he
will not be well cared for. I have always taught him to be neat and
clean. Away from home he might fall into bad habits. I can not let him
The father and cousin begged her to change her mind, telling her that
the boy would learn much about music. They promised that he should be
well cared for. At last she consented and with tears in her eyes made
Joseph ready for his journey.
Joseph himself, six years old, was not at all sad at parting. He was
very glad to go with his cousin to the great town. He said good-by to
the schoolmaster and his playmates. He went once more to the little
village church and knelt before the goodold priest for a blessing.
Last of all he said good-by to his mother. The good woman kissed her son
tenderly and bade him be obedient and faithful in his studies.
For three years the boy lived with his cousin. On Sundays and feast days
he sang in the choir of the church. On week days he worked hard at his
music and other studies.
The week before Easter the choir sang each day at the church. On one day
there was a procession of choir boys chanting hymns. A band played while
the boys sang. The drummer could not march in the procession that day,
and Joseph was asked to take his place. Joseph listened carefully as his
cousin taught him how the drumsticks should be handled.
Having no drum to use, he stretched a cloth over the top of a meal tub
and used that for a drum. On this he practiced until he could beat the
time perfectly. When he had finished he was covered with meal dust, but
he felt sure that he should make no mistake in the procession. And no
mistake did he make.
When Joseph had been with his cousin about a year, a visitor from Vienna
took dinner with the choir master. The two men had finished their mealand were chatting together. Said the choir master, "But you should hear
my Joseph sing. I brought him from the country and he is now one of my
choir boys. One afternoon in his father's house I heard him singing and
keeping perfect time with two pieces of wood."
"Let me hear the lad," said his friend. Quickly was the boy called from
the kitchen. He came into the room and stood, shy and trembling, before
the two men. When his cousin asked him to sing, Joseph forgot his fear.
Back went the little head, out came the notes, clear and true as the
song of a bird.
When the song was finished, the visitor called Joseph to his side. "Can
you trill for me, my boy?" "No, sir; I have never been taught; but I can
try." Taking the child on his knee, the stranger showed him how to
trill. Then Joseph tried and did well. His new friend was so delighted
with his little pupil that he filled his hands and pockets with bright
Now you must know that the stranger was none other than the chapel
master of a great church in Vienna. He said to Joseph's cousin, "That
boy sang so sweetly and learned to trill so easily that I want him in my
choir." It was soon settled that the boy should go to Vienna. In a short
time hebecame a member of the choir in St. Stephen's Church in that
The boy was eager to learn all that he could about music. If he heard
the great organ when he was at his games with the other boys, he would
leave them at once. He would tiptoe into the dimly lighted church.
Seating himself in one corner, he would not stir until the last echo of
music had died away.
During all the years that Joseph Haydn was a choir boy in Vienna, he had
very little money to spend. He saved every penny that came into his
hands. When he was thirteen, he bought two books that he might know more
of music. He spent every spare moment in study.
He learned much about music, but was never taught to compose. This did
not prevent him from trying. Joseph knew that he must study harder than
he had ever done.
When Joseph Haydn was about sixteen years old, his voice changed.
Because it became harsh and deep, the chapel master no longer wanted him
in the choir.
One cold winter night he left St. Stephen's Church and wandered through
the streets of Vienna, hungry and without a home. What would have
happened to the poor boy had he not met a friend, we do notknow. The
kind friend was a barber, who said, "Our rooms are small and our food is
simple, but you are welcome to both."
The lonely boy gladly accepted the invitation of the barber and went
with him to his humble home. The room in the attic was indeed small and
poorly furnished. The wind and the rain came through the cracks, and the
snow sometimes sifted down upon his bed. Yet he was not altogether
He soon found work and was able to pay the barber for his room.
Sometimes he played the violin at a ball. He liked that because he was
always given a good warm supper afterward. Again he earned a trifle by
giving music lessons.
Haydn and some other young men often wandered through the streets
playing. They were fond of going out on moonlight nights to serenade
some musician. Haydn often composed the music which the band played.
One night they went to serenade the leader of the opera. They stood
under his window with their violins. Soon the moonlit garden was filled
with the sweetest music.
At a pause in the music a window was flung open and out came a
nightcapped head. Loudly spoke a voice, saying, "Who is playing there?"
"Who wrote the music?"
"I did, sir."
The old gentleman came down, saying, "Come with me." He led the way to a
large room where a fine piano stood. He explained to young Haydn that he
wanted him to compose the music for an opera which he had written. Haydn
agreed to do the work, for which he was to receive a hundred and thirty
pieces of money.
After this, Haydn was no longer poor. He rented a better room, but he
never forgot the barber's kindness. Some years later he married the
barber's daughter, Anne.
Haydn was fond of a joke. One time, as he and a friend were walking
together, they passed an inn. The sound of music came from within. "Did
you not write that music, Haydn?" said his friend. "Yes," answered the
composer. "Let us enter and have some fun with the players."
Once inside the inn, Haydn demanded, "Who wrote that music which you are
"Joseph Haydn," was the reply.
"Well, it is not fit to be heard," said Haydn.
That made the musicians angry. They became still more angry when they
saw how the two strangerswere laughing. The players could not see the
joke, until, as the two friends left the rooms, one of them said, "You
need not mind, for I am Joseph Haydn, myself."
THE CHAPEL MASTER
In olden times a prince often kept an orchestra in his own palace. It
was necessary to have a leader for the orchestra. The leader, who
trained the musicians and wrote music for them to play, was called the
chapel master. In 1761 Joseph Haydn was given a fine position. He became
chapel master in the household of a noble prince.
This prince lived in a magnificent palace. His friends were the kings
and queens of Europe. When these royal visitors came to the palace, he
entertained them with concerts and operas.
To furnish such music, the prince needed a large orchestra, and singers
as well. He paid his musicians large sums of money, and treated them
with great care. He required them to dress in white stockings and
It was a part of Haydn's work to train all the musicians in the palace
and to compose music for them. He was also expected to have a new piece
of music ready for the prince each morning. Theprince was a musician
himself, and Haydn worked hard to please him.
For almost thirty years, Joseph Haydn lived in the palace of the prince.
During that time he wrote hundreds of pieces of music. He is best known
for his symphonies and quartets. Every line that he wrote was bright and
cheerful and full of sweet melody. His fame spread throughout Europe.
Visitors who came to the palace went home and spoke of the beautiful
music that Joseph Haydn composed.
Haydn received invitations from France, Italy, and England, asking him
to visit those countries. He loved the prince so much that he did not
accept these invitations. He felt, too, that no one could take his place
as the prince's chapel master.
In 1790 the noble prince died. Soon after, an English musician, visiting
Vienna, urged Haydn to go to London. He said that the English people had
long wished to hear him play. Deep in his heart Haydn had always wanted
to visit England, and nothing but his love for the prince had kept him
in Vienna. He decided to make a trip to London.
The great composer had many friends among the young musicians of Vienna.
One of them was Mozart. He was much younger than Haydn, butthey were
the dearest of friends. It was Mozart who first called the great chapel
master, Papa Haydn. Soon many of his friends used that name in
speaking of him.
When Mozart heard that Haydn was going to England, he was very sad. He
said to Haydn, "You are too old a man to make such a long journey. You
do not know languages enough to travel through so many countries." "It
is true that I speak few languages," replied Haydn, "but I know one
language that every one can understand."
Haydn stayed in London about a year and a half. During that time he
wrote several symphonies and conducted many concerts. At every concert
all the seats were filled.
Every one in London wanted to see the Austrian composer and to hear his
music. Even the king and queen attended Haydn's concerts. At one of
these concerts, the seats were sold for a guinea apiece. At another, the
ladies were asked to wear their smallest hoop skirts, so that there
should be more room for the crowds that wished to attend.
During the eighteen months spent on English soil, there was scarcely a
day on which Haydn was not invited out to dinner. He was entertained
even at the royal palace.
While he was having all these gay times, Haydn spent many hours each day
in hard work. He had not forgotten the lessons of industry his mother
had taught him. His mornings were spent in composing, and he refused to
see visitors before two o'clock.
One of the greatest pleasures that Haydn had in London was to hear
Handel's music sung. The Messiah was given by a thousand players and
singers. Haydn's seat was near the king. When the Hallelujah Chorus
was sung and the vast audience rose, Haydn burst into tears and
exclaimed, "Handel was the master of us all."
After his return to Vienna, Haydn wrote The Creation. This work has
made his name famous. He said, "While I was composing The Creation, I
knelt down every day and prayed to God to strengthen me for my work."
Every country has its national hymn. The national hymn of Austria is
God save the Emperor, written by Francis Joseph Haydn.
The last time that Haydn left his home, he heard The Creation given.
He was an old man and very feeble. As he entered the hall, all eyes
turned lovingly toward him. Many times, during the evening, storms of
applause filled the hall. Haydn was very much moved, for he knew that
most of it was for him.
During Haydn's last illness, Vienna was occupied by Napoleon and his
troops. The voice of battle often reached Haydn in his quiet home, but
he had no fears. Napoleon and his officers treated the great musician
with much respect. How Haydn wished that he might shoulder arms and
march against the enemy of his country!
Haydn died in 1809 at the age of seventy-seven. A short time before his
death, he called his servants to his bedside and asked to be carried to
the piano. There he played and sang the Austrian national hymn, God
save the Emperor.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
EARLY LIFE OF BEETHOVEN
Some day you may be fortunate enough to cross the broad Atlantic and
visit European countries. If you are, you will surely wish to go to
Germany. Many hundreds of travelers go there every year to take a trip
down the Rhine. It is said to be the most beautiful river in all the
There are many interesting things to be seen on a trip down the Rhine.
On one side green vineyards slope down to the river. On the other side
rocky bluffs rise abruptly from the water's edge. Old castles stand on
many of the bluffs. Some of the castles are in ruins and are almost
hidden by the overgrowing ivy.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Many are the cities and villages that have been built along the banks of
the Rhine. Some of the cities are quaint and old-fashioned. Bonn is such
a city. The people of Bonn are very proud of a certain low building that
faces a narrow street.They take every traveler to see it. They point
over the door to a tablet on which are carved words meaning, "In this
house Ludwig van Beethoven was born, December 17, 1770."
Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the great German composers. In fact,
many people consider him the greatest composer that the world has ever
known. Whether this be true or not, certain it is that his music is
loved in every land. Nearly a century and a half has passed since Ludwig
van Beethoven was born in his humble home in Bonn. Ludwig's father was a
singer. He was a good-for-nothing sort of fellow. He never earned enough
money to support his family well.
He was paid about one hundred and twenty-five dollars a year for singing
in a church. Besides this he made money by giving music lessons. He
spent the little money that he had carelessly. He often spent it for
himself when it was greatly needed by his wife and children.
Indeed, if it had not been for the good old grandfather, things would
have gone hard with the Beethoven family. As long as he lived, he was a
great help to them in every way. There were several Beethoven children,
but Ludwig was his grandfather's pet and was named for him.
Ludwig was only three years old when his grandfather died. Well did the
boy remember the old gentleman's scarlet coat and flashing eye. Well did
he remember, too, his love and kindness.
The mother of the great Beethoven was a patient, hard-working woman. He
never forgot the lessons of truth and obedience he received from her.
Beethoven always spoke tenderly of his mother and never forgot her
patience. When he was a young man, he wrote, "She was a dear, good
mother and my best friend."
Little Ludwig was hardly out of his cradle before his father gave him
music lessons. While he was still a tiny lad, he was compelled to
practice many hours each day. When he was only four years old, the
neighbors often saw him sitting on a bench by the door, sobbing. He
cried because he knew that he must soon go in to work at his scales.
Ludwig's father hoped that his son would learn music rapidly. He wished
to have him play in concerts as Mozart had done when a boy. He thought
that in this way much money might be earned. So he kept the lad almost
constantly at work at his music. Ludwig practiced almost all the time
when he was not at school or sleeping.
The boy studied two instruments, the piano andthe violin. At first his
father was his only teacher. But soon a regular music teacher was
employed. The boy practiced hours at a time. When we think how much work
was required of the little fellow, we almost wonder that he did not hate
his music. But this was not the case. On the contrary, he liked it
better than anything else in the wide world.
By the time Ludwig van Beethoven was ten years old, he had become a fine
organist. He had received some lessons on the organ. His teacher was
organist in the prince's chapel. Once upon a time this man was called
away from Bonn. Wondering whom he could get to play in his absence, he
thought and thought. Finally he said: "Perhaps the boy, Beethoven, could
take my place. I will give him the chance, and we shall see what the lad
How proud was the boy when his teacher honored him in this way! He said
to himself: "I must do my very best. I do not want my master to be
ashamed of his pupil." He put forth his best efforts, and every one who
heard him had words of praise for his playing. When the master returned
and heard of it, he said, "Some day this boy will be as famous as
The organist in the chapel at Bonn did not know how true his words were.
He did not dream thatone day the German people would be proud to erect
a monument in Bonn to this same Beethoven. Little did he imagine that
the one word Beethoven would be considered sufficient to carve at the
base of the monument.
With the other Beethoven children, Ludwig was sent to school. He had
lessons in all the common school studies and in French, Latin, and
Early in his teens, Ludwig was appointed second court organist. He was
paid for this work, but the knowledge of great composers which he gained
was worth more to him than the money he received.
Although in after years Beethoven was untidy, he cared much for dress
when he was court organist. Every one turned to look at the little
fellow in his sea-green coat and white flowered waistcoat. With his hat
under his arm and with his sword at his side, young Beethoven looked
very much like one of the gentlemen of the court.
BEETHOVEN IN VIENNA
The year 1787 was one which Beethoven never forgot. That was the year in
which he first went to Vienna. He was at that time seventeen years old.For many months he had been longing to visit the Austrian capital.
For a long time Beethoven had been saving his money to take this trip.
Like all other young musicians of those days, he had a great desire to
study in Vienna. He hoped, too, that he should be fortunate enough to
play for Mozart. In this he was not disappointed.
You may imagine how happy Beethoven must have been to meet Mozart one
day and to be allowed to play for him. He played selections from the
great composers, until Mozart said: "Many others can do what you have
just done. I have heard that you often compose as you play. Sit down
again and compose for me."
The young musician was excited, but he was not afraid. He knew that he
should succeed. He had often composed as he played, and felt sure that
he could do it now. For a few moments only there was silence. Then the
boy's fingers moved swiftly over the keys, and the room was filled with
the sweetest music. Not once did the lad falter, not once did he make
the slightest mistake.
BEETHOVEN AT THE HOUSE OF MOZART
Mozart was astonished. He was amazed that this German boy showed such
skill. He listened for a while in silence; then he arose and tiptoed
fromthe room. He whispered to some friends, "Keep your eye on this
youth. He will make a noise in the world some day."
Beethoven had been in Vienna only a short time when he received sad news
from home. A letter from Bonn told him that his mother was dying. He
hastened home, and reached there only a few days before her death.
Beethoven was very sad. He wrote to a friend, "Who was happier than I so
long as I could speak the sweet name of mother? There is none to whom I
can say it now."
Beethoven decided to remain in Bonn. He felt that he must do something
to help support the family; so he made up his mind to give music
Among his pupils was a lad from one of the wealthiest families of Bonn.
The mother in this family was a woman of culture and refinement. She
often invited Beethoven to her home and talked with him as his own
mother might have done.
She gave him the finest books to read. He became interested in the best
writings. He read the poems of Goethe with great pleasure, and was fond
of English poets as well. He spent many hours studying the works of
Shakespeare and Milton.
For five years Beethoven taught music in his native town. During this
time he made many friends. One of these was a count, and a very good
friend he proved to be.
After Beethoven's first visit to Vienna he longed to go there again. His
friend, the count, had often heard him express this wish. The gift of a
piano and some money from the count helped Beethoven to obtain his wish.
In 1792 he went to Vienna to study music. He became the pupil of Haydn.
He did not have many lessons from that teacher, for Haydn soon left the
When Mozart was twenty-five he had published nearly three hundred
compositions. Beethoven at the same age had published almost none. After
his arrival in Vienna, however, he began to write down some of the
beautiful music which filled his mind. These compositions won for him
many friends among the families of rank in Vienna.
Princes and nobles vied with one another in entertaining him. They saw
in him a musician of great promise. They were proud that such a composer
had chosen Vienna for his home. They appreciated his music and were
always glad to hear it.
Scarcely a day passed that Beethoven did notplay in the home of some
person of wealth. During the first few years that he spent in Vienna, he
did not appear in concerts. He played only in the homes of his friends,
where his symphonies delighted all hearers.
Beethoven was an eccentric man. His friends were people of fashion, but
he cared little for style. In fact, he was often untidy in his dress.
His clothes were loose and ill-fitting. His hair was long and unkempt.
His aristocratic friends were polished and courteous in their manners.
Beethoven was impolite and even rude at times.
In spite of all these faults, his friends were fond of Beethoven. It has
been said of him, that he "never let go of what seemed to him the
right." He was honest and sincere in all that he did. He was
warm-hearted and generous. For all these things he was loved.
Among Beethoven's friends was a prince. He and his wife lived in a
beautiful palace and kept many servants. They invited Beethoven to live
with them. He was a member of their household for several years.
BEETHOVEN IN HIS STUDY
The prince had four musicians in his home. These men played together to
entertain the prince, the princess, and their friends. Beethoven
devotedmuch time to the training of these musicians. He spent many
hours in teaching them the works of the famous composers.
Those years in Vienna were filled with hard work for Beethoven. He
learned to play upon many instruments. He studied the horn, viola,
violin, and clarinet. He did this that he might know better how to write
music for the orchestra.
The citizens of Vienna were a music-loving people. Many of them had
never had an opportunity of hearing Beethoven play. They were anxious to
listen to some of his own compositions; but he did not like to play
before a large audience. At last he appeared in public. In 1795 he gave
several concerts. One of these was for the benefit of Mozart's widow and
When Beethoven was about thirty years old, a sad misfortune befell him.
He realized that he was becoming deaf. He tried the best doctors, but
they could do nothing for him. His deafness slowly increased.
When the musician first knew of his deafness, he told no one. He seldom
went to the homes of his friends, for he could not bear to have them
know that he was deaf.
Beethoven was never happier than when he wasin the country. He spent
all his summers there. Every day he wandered for hours through the
woods. When he became deaf, he wrote to a friend, "It makes me sad to
think that others can hear the notes of a far-off flute or a distant
shepherd's song, and I can not."
To another friend he wrote: "My deafness troubles me less here than
elsewhere. Every tree seems to speak to me of God. How happy am I to
wander through the cool paths of the forest! No one can love the country
as I do!"
Even though he was deaf, Beethoven sometimes tried to lead the
orchestra. One time a symphony of his was played at a concert. Every
seat in the large hall was filled. Beethoven took his place, and at a
signal from him the music began. It was the Ninth Symphony. The people
listened in silence to the beautiful music. When the last note had died
away, the room was perfectly quiet for a moment. Then a storm of
applause broke forth.
Beethoven, with his back to the people, did not hear it. He knew not
that his symphony had so greatly pleased them. The clapping grew louder
and louder. Then one of the musicians touched Beethoven upon the arm. He
turned and saw what he had not been able to hear. As the deaf musicianbowed, the eyes of many were filled with tears.
Beethoven often went to the park when he wished to write. There, in the
thickest part of the wood, some of his most beautiful music was
composed. He sat in the fork of an old oak and wrote, sometimes a
symphony, sometimes a sonata.
The master was once invited to try a new organ in a large monastery. A
few friends went with him. When they arrived, the chapel was almost
empty. No one could be seen except a few monks at their prayers and some
peasants sweeping out the long aisles.
Beethoven went at once to the great organ. At first the music was soft
and sweet. Gradually the tones grew richer and fuller. The music rose
and fell until the beautiful tones were echoed from every corner of the
Little by little, the church, at first so empty, became filled with
groups of black-gowned monks. Beethoven had no thought of the silent,
listening people and they had no thought of him. The heavenly music had
turned their thoughts to God. The lips of the monks moved in prayer, and
the peasants, before so busy, had dropped their brooms and were standing
with folded hands and bowed heads.
Beethoven was a hard worker. Strange to say, the greater part of his
work was done after he became deaf. He often rose at three in the
morning to write a concerto or a symphony. Sometimes he worked far into
the night, composing a sonata or a serenade. His published works number
several hundred pieces of music.
The last years of the great master's life were sad. For a long time he
had been unable to hear the notes of his loved piano. "He, the maker of
sweet sounds, could not hear his own voice, or catch the words that fell
from the lips of those he loved."
During his last illness Beethoven found great comfort in reading music.
A friend sent him some of Haydn's compositions. Beethoven passed many
pleasant hours reading them. He found much comfort, too, in Schubert's
Beethoven died in 1827. A few days before his death he said, "I shall
soon go upon the long journey." His last words were, "I shall hear in
THE MOONLIGHT SONATA
It happened at Vienna. One moonlight evening, in early summer, a friend
called upon Beethoven.He said, "Come, let us walk together in the
moonlight." Arm in arm the two friends strolled through the city. In
passing through a dark, narrow street, Beethoven paused suddenly.
"Hush!" he said. "What sound is that? It is from my sonata in F. Hark,
how well it is played!"
It was a mean little dwelling before which the two friends paused to
listen. The music went on. Almost at the end of the beautiful sonata,
the music ceased, and low sobs were heard instead. A girl's soft voice
said, "I can go no farther. It is too beautiful. I have not the power to
play it as it should be played. Oh, what would I not give to go to one
of Beethoven's concerts!"
"Ah, my sister," said another voice, "why wish for that which you can
not have? We can scarcely pay our rent."
"You are right," answered the girl, "and yet I wish for once in my life
to hear some really good music."
"Such a wish will never be granted," said her companion.
Beethoven looked at his friend. "Let us go in," he said.
"Go in! Why should we go in?"
"I will play for her," said the master, in a low tone."This girl has
the soul of a musician. I will play for her, and she will understand."
Without waiting for an answer his hand was upon the door.
As the two friends entered the room, they saw a pale young man sitting
by a table making shoes. Near him sat a young girl. She was leaning
sorrowfully upon an old-fashioned harpsichord. Her long golden hair fell
over her neck and shoulders. Both the young man and the girl were very
poorly dressed. Both started and turned toward the door as the strangers
entered the room.
"Pardon me," said Beethoven, "but I heard the music and was tempted to
enter. I am a musician."
The girl blushed, and the young man appeared annoyed. "I also heard
something of what you said," continued Beethoven. "Shall I play for you?
Shall I give you a concert?"
Beethoven's manner was so friendly and his voice so kindly that a smile
took the place of the frown on the young man's face. The four, who but a
moment ago were strangers, became friends at once.
"Thank you," said the shoemaker, "but our harpsichord is so poor and we
have no music."
"No music," echoed Beethoven. "How then does the young lady play so—"
He stopped suddenly, forthe girl turned her face toward him, and for
the first time he saw that she was blind.
"I beg your pardon," he stammered, "but I had not noticed before. Then
you play by ear?"
"Yes, entirely," the girl answered.
"And where do you hear music, since you attend no concerts?" asked
"I used to hear a lady practicing near us. During the summer evenings
her windows were often open, and I walked to and fro outside to listen."
The girl seemed shy, so Beethoven said no more. He seated himself
quietly before the harpsichord and began to play. Never before had
Beethoven played as he played that night for the blind girl and her
brother. From the moment that his fingers began to wander over the keys,
the very tone of the instrument seemed to grow sweeter.
The brother and sister were silent with wonder. The young man laid aside
his work, and the girl sat perfectly quiet. She leaned forward a little
as if afraid lest she might miss a single note of the sweet music.
Suddenly the flame of the one candle wavered, sank, flickered, and went
out. Beethoven paused. His friend rose quietly and threw open the
shutters. A flood of soft moonlight filled the room, so that itwas
almost as light as before. The moonbeams fell brightest upon the piano
and the player.
But the music had stopped. The master's head dropped upon his breast,
and his hands rested upon his knees. He seemed lost in thought, and sat
thus for some time.
At length the young shoemaker arose. Eagerly, yet timidly, he approached
the musician. "Wonderful man!" he said in a low tone, "who art thou?"
One of the composer's rare smiles flitted across his face. "Listen!" he
said, and with a master's touch he gave the opening bars of his own
sonata in F.
The girl seemed to know that no one but the composer of the music could
have played it so well. "Then you are Beethoven," she exclaimed.
Beethoven rose to go, but they begged him to stay. "Play to us once
more—only once more."
He again seated himself at the piano. The moon shone brightly through
the window. Looking up thoughtfully to the sky and stars, he said, "I
will compose a sonata to the moonlight." Touching the keys lightly, he
began to play a sad and lovely melody. The music filled the room as
gently as the soft moonlight creeps over the dark earth.
Then the time changed. The music became brighter and more rapid. One no
longer seemed tosee the moon gliding through fleecy clouds. Instead,
one thought of sprites and fairies dancing merrily together.
Once again the music changed. The notes were as rapid as before, but
they seemed fraught with sadness. It was such music as fills the heart
"Farewell to you," said Beethoven, pushing back his chair and turning
toward the door. "Farewell to you."
"You will come again?" said the brother and sister in one breath.
He paused and looked tenderly at the face of the blind girl. "Yes, yes,"
he said, "I will come again and give you some lessons. Farewell! I will
come soon again." His new friends followed him in silence and stood at
the door until he was out of sight and hearing.
"Let us hasten home," said Beethoven to his friend. "I must write out
that sonata while the music is still in my mind." When they reached
home, Beethoven seated himself at once and began to write. He worked
until daybreak. When he had finished, he had written the Moonlight
If you were to go into the woods and hear the rustling of the leaves,
the singing of the birds, and the babbling of the brook over the stones,
could you come home and describe these things by playing on the piano?
Without saying anything, could you tell your mother what you heard?
Could you make the piano talk for you? Could you make it babble as the
brook did? Could you make it sing the songs of the birds?
There once lived a child in Germany who could do all this. His name was
Felix Mendelssohn. He loved to go into the woods. When he returned, he
would go straight to the piano. At such times his sister Fanny loved to
hear him play. When he had finished, she would say, "Oh, Felix, did a
bird sing like that to-day?"
SONGS WITHOUT WORDS
This brother and sister lived in a beautiful home. Their father was a
rich banker. He liked to buy things that he thought would please his
children. Their mother was a gentle woman, who enjoyedmusic and could
play the piano well. She could speak many languages.
Felix had a dear old grandfather. The child used to climb on his
grandfather's knee and beg for a story. The one he liked best told how
he got the name Mendelssohn. "Long, long ago," the grandfather would
say, "I lived in a small town in Germany. My father was a schoolmaster,
whose name was Mendel. Every one in the village knew Mendel, the
school-teacher. I used to go about a great deal with my father. When
people saw us coming, they would say, 'Here is Mendel and here is
Mendel's sohn, too.' So as I grew up, I was not called Moses Mendel,
but Moses Mendelssohn."
The child Felix understood then that his last name meant, "the son of
Mendel." His first name means "happy," and he was well named. There
never lived a brighter, sunnier-tempered little lad.
Felix's mother was his first teacher. She began to give her children
music lessons when Felix was only three years of age and Fanny was
seven. At first the lesson lasted for five minutes; but as time went on,
the lessons were made longer.
Soon they had other studies. They rose every morning at five o'clock and
began their work. Besides their music and drawing, they had all thestudies that you have and foreign languages besides. Do you not think
they were busy little people? When Felix was eleven years old, he could
speak French, German, and English.
Though he studied hard, he was a jolly boy. After being hard at work
writing his music, he would run into the garden, clearing high hedges
with a leap. He could climb a tree as nimbly as a squirrel. Felix and
his little friends played all sorts of games in the big garden.
Of all his playmates Felix had none so dear to him as his sister Fanny.
The two children were always together, and told each other all their
secrets. Felix thought there was no one so kind and patient as Fanny.
Fanny thought Felix was the dearest little brother in the world. She
often helped her brother with his music.
A composer is one who writes music. Felix became a composer while he was
still a small child. When he was eleven, he had composed sixty pieces of
music. He had a teacher who helped him with his compositions. This man's
name was Zelter. He was very proud of Felix, for he had no other pupil
who made such progress.
All of the Mendelssohn children liked music. They had a concert every
fortnight at home. Atthese concerts, Fanny played the piano, Paul the
violin, and a younger sister sang. Some of their friends often helped by
playing other instruments. When several instruments are played together,
there must be a leader to beat the time. This task fell to Felix, and he
liked it, too.
Let us imagine that we are at one of the concerts. See, Felix is so much
smaller than the others that he mounts a stool, so that the players can
see him more plainly. Now they are ready to begin. See how the eyes of
the little leader shine! He tosses back the waving black hair from his
shoulders. When he raises his arm, the playing begins. How beautiful it
is! Can it be that the little Felix has composed this music? Yes, for
when the music has stopped and the clapping has died away, his mother
says, "Never before, my son, have you written such beautiful music."
The father, too, was pleased with these concerts. He often invited his
friends to come in and listen. Mr. Zelter was always there, and
encouraged the children to play what Felix had composed.
Although Felix was born in Hamburg, he spent most of his life in Berlin.
In 1825 his father bought a beautiful home in that city. There was a
garden of seven acres. Fine old trees shaded thelawn. The house had
many beautiful rooms. The one Felix liked the best was his mother's
sitting room, which had three arches opening into another. The hall thus
formed would seat many people. What a fine place for the family
Felix was a wonderful performer on the piano. When he was eight years
old, he played better than many people who had studied for years. If his
hands had not been so small, he could have done even better. When the
lad was nine, he played at a concert given in a large hall.
In his thirteenth and fourteenth years, Felix was very busy with his
studies. He liked to play without his notes. He memorized selections
from the works of the greatest musicians. He was especially fond of
Bach's and Beethoven's music.
In many of their studies Fanny did as well as Felix. How they enjoyed
working together! They loved each other more and more as the years went
on. Felix cared for no other praise so much as Fanny's.
GOETHE AND MENDELSSOHN
All American children know and love the poet Longfellow. All German
children know and love the poet Goethe. When Felix Mendelssohn was alittle boy, Goethe was an old man. Many times Felix heard his father and
mother speak of the great German poet. Often Felix and Fanny read his
You remember that Mr. Zelter taught Felix music. Mr. Zelter and Goethe
were great friends. Sometimes they wrote letters to each other;
sometimes the music teacher visited the poet at his own home. In the
letters Mr. Zelter often spoke of his pupils in music. Once he wrote: "I
want to show you my best pupil. May I bring him to your home?" You will
guess, of course, that the "best pupil" was Felix Mendelssohn.
After a few days the answer to the letter came. The poet said that he
should be pleased to see Mr. Zelter and his pupil. Felix had not known
that this visit was being planned. His teacher had told him nothing
about it until the answer from Goethe arrived. Felix danced up and down
for joy when he heard about it. He ran to tell Fanny the good news. He
promised to write and tell her all about his visit.
The parents were overjoyed at their son's good fortune, and made
everything ready for the journey. In the fall of 1821 Felix and his
teacher left Berlin. The lad was only twelve years oldand had never
been away from home before. He wished very much that Fanny might go with
him. Before he started, his mother gave him good advice. As he kissed
her good-by, he promised to remember all that she had told him.
Felix was so anxious to see the great poet that he was glad when the
journey was over. He stayed more than a fortnight in Goethe's house.
Every day he played for his friend, who was delighted at his skill.
Sometimes he played for two hours without rising from the piano.
Felix received many letters from home. In one of these his father
"My dear Son:
"Keep a strict watch over yourself. Be very particular in your
behavior at meals. Speak clearly and to the point. Take pains to
use the correct word. I have no need to remind you to obey your
friend, for you are a good boy."
One day Felix received a letter from his mother. How pleased he was. She
said: "Would I were a tiny mouse, to have an eye on my Felix far away! I
should like to see how he behaves as an independent lad. Snap up every
word that falls fromGoethe, for I want you to know all about him when
While Felix was away from home, he sent many letters to his parents. He
wrote long letters to Fanny, too. In one letter he told what great
friends he and Goethe had become. He said: "Every morning I receive a
kiss from the great German poet. Every afternoon I have two kisses from
my friend and father, Goethe."
Goethe was very much pleased with his little visitor. Felix was happy
too. He liked to rise bright and early in the morning. What frolics he
and the poet's grandchildren had in the great garden! They romped and
ran all the morning, but in the afternoon Felix played for Goethe.
Goethe's friends often came to hear Felix play. One morning, at eleven
o'clock, the child was called in from the garden. When he entered the
music room, he saw a number of guests, among whom was a prince. Felix
was asked to give them a little music.
Quickly he went to the piano, and opening it, played a few simple
melodies. His listeners were charmed. Pleased with their praise, the
little musician played on and on. The more the guests heard, the more
they wished to hear. They begged thechild to go on; so he played the
music of his favorite composers for them. The perfect quiet of the room
showed how much the company were enjoying the sweet music. The boy's
happy face told how much pleasure it was giving him. From eleven in the
morning until ten in the evening Felix played, with only two hours'
Another time Felix played for other guests. Goethe said: "Well, come,
you have played only pieces you know. Now we will see whether you can
play something that you do not know. I will put you on trial." He went
out and came back with a roll of music in his hand. He said: "Now we
will try you. Do you think you can play this?"
He placed some sheets of music on the piano. The notes were very small
and closely written. The music was far from easy reading, but Felix
played it, not making the slightest mistake. Indeed, one might have
thought that he had practiced it for years.
All the people clapped their hands, except Goethe, who said: "That is
nothing. Others could read that too. Now I will give you something you
can not do. Take care!"
He laid another paper on the piano. It certainly did look strange, for
the notes looked like splashesof ink. Felix was surprised and laughed
merrily, saying, "Who wrote that, Father Goethe?"
Just then Mr. Zelter came up behind Felix and looked over his shoulder.
"Why!" he exclaimed, "that is Beethoven's writing. One can see that a
mile off. He always writes as if he used a broom-stick for a pen and
then wiped his sleeve over the wet ink."
The boy kept his eyes on the music. Goethe said: "I told you that you
could not do it. Now begin." Without a word Felix began, and played it
through once. He stopped several times, saying, "No, not that way." When
he had finished he exclaimed, "Now I will play it to you." The second
time not a note was missing.
Once three members of the king's band were invited to Goethe's house.
Mr. Zelter took them to the music room, where sheets of music were
scattered all about. The musicians examined them. The notes were written
in a firm, neat hand. On every sheet was the same name, Felix
Mendelssohn. The musicians had never heard of such a composer, yet they
thought that the music was fine.
The three men took their instruments from their cases. While they were
busy tuning them, Felix came springing into the room. He was a
handsome,bright-looking boy, with clear and sparkling eyes. His waving
black hair fell over his shoulders. After looking about him for a
moment, Felix went forward and cordially shook hands with each of the
Goethe had come in with Felix. Pointing to Mr. Zelter, he said: "My
friend has brought with him a little gentleman from Berlin. He has
already given us great surprise as a musician. We wish now to see if he
can compose as well as he plays. Will you help me?" Turning to Felix, he
gently stroked the lad's long, glossy locks, saying, "Let us hear what
this young head has thought of."
The boy took his notes at once, and gave each of the musicians a part.
The little composer looked at the players with sparkling eyes. They laid
their bows on their strings, and the performance began.
When it was finished and the musicians laid down their instruments,
Felix sprang up. He looked eagerly about him, for he wanted to hear
something about his work. Goethe said: "Excellent, my boy! You have only
to look at the faces of these gentlemen to see that your piece has
pleased them. But they are waiting for you in the garden." Without a
word, the boy left the room.
After he had gone, the musicians began to talk of Felix. One of them
said, "Did young Mendelssohn compose the music that we just played?"
"Surely, a child could not have done such work," said another. They
turned to Mr. Zelter, who said, "Felix did the work entirely alone."
Felix never forgot the time spent under Goethe's roof. It was the
beginning of a long friendship. When he went home, he had much to tell.
The next autumn the boy paid a second visit to Goethe. He was
accompanied by his father, mother, and sister Fanny. Goethe was happy to
see his young friend again.
They had not been in the house long, before Goethe went to the piano and
opened it. He said, "Come, and wake up for me all the winged spirits
that have long slumbered here. You are my David. If I am ever ill and
sad, you must banish my bad dreams by your playing. But you may be sure
that I shall never throw a spear at you as Saul did at David."
After that Felix visited Goethe many times. They often wrote letters to
each other, and at holiday time they exchanged gifts. In 1832, when
Felix Mendelssohn was twenty-three years old, the great poet died.
MENDELSSOHN'S TRAVELS AND WORKS
You must not think that Felix spent all his time in visits and
pleasures. Indeed, his vacations came seldom and were very short. Most
of his time was spent in hard work. He had learned to draw and paint
nicely. He could speak French and English as well as his own language.
He was fond of reading English books. He admired the works of Sir Walter
Scott. As he especially liked to study Shakespeare's writings, he read
his plays again and again.
When he was seventeen years old, he wrote one of his most beautiful
compositions. It is called Overture to Midsummer Night's Dream. Young
Mendelssohn and his sister had been studying this play of Shakespeare's.
They were delighted with the fairy story. If you could hear the
beautiful music of the overture, you might imagine that you were in
fairyland. You might fancy that you heard the songs of the elves and
Young Mendelssohn's father believed that much could be learned from
travel. When Mendelssohn was about fifteen, he traveled in France and
Switzerland. Soon after he was sixteen, his father took him to Paris,
where he made the acquaintance of several great musicians. From these
men he learned much that was of value to him.
When he was twenty years old, he decided to devote all of his time to
music. He had spent considerable time in traveling. He had studied so
hard that he might have entered a university, had he wished. From that
time on, he was to earn his living as a musician.
One day his father said: "My son, you have decided to be a musician. In
what city do you intend to carry on your work?" Mendelssohn did not know
where he wished to live. His father said: "Do not decide at once. Travel
in different countries of Europe. Visit the large cities, and become
acquainted with the great musicians; then make up your mind where you
can best do your work."
So in April, 1829, Mendelssohn went to London and stayed until November.
English people were delighted with his music. At one concert the
Overture to Midsummer Night's Dream was played. They thought that they
had never heard such musicbefore. They often invited Mendelssohn to
play in the large churches. He played the great organ in St. Paul's
Before he returned to Germany, he visited Scotland, as he wished to see
Sir Walter Scott. Mendelssohn was charmed with the scenery of Scotland,
and made many sketches while in that country. He wrote home, "When God
Himself paints the landscape, it becomes strangely beautiful."
While in Scotland, Mendelssohn visited some islands near the coast. He
had a stormy voyage on the Atlantic, but at last he reached land. On one
of the islands is a noted cavern called Fingal's Cave. Mendelssohn
visited this wonderful spot. He had never seen anything like it before.
The cave was dark and filled with echoes; the gray sea moaned among the
pillars of the cavern. The wind seemed to sigh and sob as it swept
through the empty passageways. Mendelssohn often spoke of his visit to
When he returned to Berlin, his sisters asked Felix to tell them
something about the noted cave. "It can not be told, only played," he
replied, and straightway seated himself at the piano. The music that he
played told his sisters how the waves dashed against the rocky walls. It
described to them the moaningand sighing of the wind. Later the music
was written down. It is called the Fingal's Cave Overture.
After several months spent in England, Mendelssohn returned to Berlin.
After a little while, he went to Italy, visiting Rome, Venice, and
Florence. He worked daily at his music. He visited the art galleries. He
enjoyed meeting the leading musicians.
From Italy Mendelssohn journeyed to Switzerland. From there he went to
Paris, where the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture was played. Leaving
France, he went once more to London. While he was in the great English
city, the first book of Songs without Words was printed.
"How could there be a song without words?" you ask. Just as Felix, long
ago, told in music the story of his walk in the woods, so now he told
other stories with other music. One of the airs in the first book of
Songs without Words is called the Hunting Song. What do you suppose
you could hear in that music?
Mendelssohn visited England many times. In the year 1842 he met Queen
Victoria. The queen's husband, Prince Albert, invited Mendelssohn to
visit the palace, for he wished him to try his organ. The great musician
accepted the invitation and went to the palace.
Copyright, 1901, by Photographische Gesellschaft
QUEEN VICTORIA, PRINCE ALBERT, AND MENDELSSOHN
While they were talking, the queen entered. "Goodness, what confusion!"
she said. The wind had littered the room with sheets of music. She knelt
down and began to pick them up, Mendelssohn and Prince Albert helping
her. Then Mendelssohn began a song. Before he was through the queen and
the prince joined in. The queen then sang alone one of Fanny
Mendelssohn's songs. Turning to the composer, she said: "Have you
written any new songs lately? I am very fond of singing your music."
This pleased Mendelssohn greatly.
Soon the queen went to drive, and Mendelssohn's visit came to an end.
Before he left, Prince Albert gave him a beautiful ring, saying, "This
gift is from the queen. She begs you will accept it as a remembrance."
Mendelssohn played at many concerts. He never would perform a piece that
he had not carefully studied. He used to say: "Whatever is worth doing
at all, is worth doing well. That takes time."
Mendelssohn's greatest work is an oratorio. Now you must know that an
oratorio is a composition for many voices and instruments. The words of
the songs and choruses are taken from the Bible. This great oratorio,
written in 1846, is called Elijah.The words are set to exquisite
music. Ten years before Mendelssohn had written another oratorio, called
St. Paul, which is very beautiful also. Even now these two oratorios
are often sung.
Several volumes of Songs without Words were written. Some of the
daintiest and most beautiful music Mendelssohn ever wrote is found among
these songs. One of the loveliest and best known of them all is the
Spring Song. Have you ever heard it?
Mendelssohn used music as we do words. Once a young English girl put
some roses and carnations on the piano for him. The sweet flowers
pleased him. He thanked the thoughtful giver in a little musical poem.
When he was in London, he received news that his sister Fanny was to be
married. Mendelssohn could not go to her wedding; so he wrote her a
letter. It did not express the thoughts that he had in mind. He tore the
letter in pieces and composed some music, which he sent instead.
Fanny Mendelssohn had great talent as a musician. She composed some
pieces of music, some of which were published. Do you remember that
Queen Victoria sang one of her songs? Fanny Mendelssohn died when she
was forty-two years ofage. If she had lived longer, perhaps the world
would know more about her music.
When Mendelssohn heard of his sister's death, he was heartbroken. He
felt that his best friend was gone. He remembered how her acts of
kindness had brightened his life. He recalled her words of appreciation
Mendelssohn once had a visitor whom he entertained for a while by
showing his statues and pictures. Then he said, "Now let us go to an
open-air concert." He led the way to a lonely corner of the garden,
where a nightingale was pouring out its soul. "He sings here every
evening," said the great musician, "and I often come to listen. I sit
here sometimes when I want to compose."
Mendelssohn enjoyed hearing his own music. Some young people once
planned a concert for him. He was so delighted and so eager to hear it
that he and his lovely young wife arrived much too early. While his
songs were being sung, his whole face beamed; his eyes sparkled with
pleasure. He called out after each song, "Again, again, please once
more." They had to sing the Lark's Song three times.
In 1847, when he was thirty-eight years of age, Felix Mendelssohn died.
His own life was a beautifulone, and he filled the lives of his
friends with love and sunshine. He once wrote a little verse of poetry
which shows the spirit of his life:—
"Love the beautiful,
Seek out the true,
Wish for the good,
And the best do."
A POLISH LAD WHO BECAME FAMOUS
Many famous men were born in the year 1809. We are proud to number among
them several of our own countrymen. President Lincoln was born in that
year and also Oliver Wendell Holmes, the genial American poet. That year
gave birth to England's sweet singer, Alfred Tennyson. Two of the
greatest musicians, also, were born in 1809. They were Felix Mendelssohn
and Frederick Chopin.
Frederick Chopin was born in that part of the Russian Empire which is
called Poland. Poland, however, has not always belonged to Russia. At
one time it was one of the largest and strongest kingdoms of Europe. The
Poles governed their own country, had their own language, their own
church, and their own flag. All these were dear to the Polish people;
and when, instead, they had Russian laws and saw Russian flags floating
over them, they were filled with sorrow.
The Poles did not give up their freedom without abitter struggle.
They have long been famous for their bravery and patriotism. In war the
Polish soldiers fought like heroes. At three different times large parts
of their country were seized by surrounding nations. Still the brave
Poles were happy in the little land that was left, for were they not
free? When even that was lost, they became sad indeed.
Poland was made a part of Russia before Frederick Chopin was born; but
the Polish people were hoping that some day they might gain their
freedom. The children were taught to love their native land. They
learned the songs that their fathers and grandfathers had sung in
battle. They were told stories of the brave deeds of Polish soldiers. So
it is not strange that every boy and girl in all the land wished to do
something toward gaining Poland's freedom.
If you saw some foreign flag instead of the stars and stripes waving
above you, should you not wish to do something to restore our banner to
its place? That is just what Frederick Chopin wished to do for the flag
Poland is a flat country; indeed, the word Poland means plain. Here
and there one finds a hill, and there is one range of hills whose peaks
rise a thousand feet above the plain. If we visited Poland in the
winter, we might find the fields covered withsnow for months at a
time. The rivers would be frozen and the forests dark and leafless.
If we visited Poland in the hot summer, we should see many fields of
waving green grain. The wheat, oats, and barley are very pretty as they
sway back and forth in the wind. The fields of flax with their blue
blossoms are far prettier, for they look like a piece of the beautiful
blue sky come down to earth.
In a Polish village not far from Warsaw lived Nicholas Chopin and his
family. Although many years of his life had been spent among the Poles,
he was a Frenchman by birth. His wife was a noble Polish lady, gentle
and tender. In early manhood, Nicholas Chopin had left France to seek
his fortune in Poland. He had served in the war and had been promoted to
the rank of captain. When the wars were over, he became a tutor in a
noble family. He taught a count's children the French language.
Nicholas Chopin and his wife lived in a humble little cottage, and were
very happy. They had four children, three daughters and a son. All of
the Chopin children became famous. Frederick won for himself a
When Frederick was a little fellow, he could nothear music without
crying. When he heard the songs of his country, tears filled his eyes.
As the years passed by, he no longer wept at the sound of music. In
truth, he grew to love it more and more, and chose to spend much time in
its study. He liked the piano more than any other instrument. When he
grew to manhood, his taste did not change, and the piano was still his
favorite. Indeed, most of his compositions are for the piano.
Frederick studied music with two of the best teachers in all Poland. He
began his lessons when very young and learned rapidly. He once said: "No
boy could wish for finer teachers than I had. The most stupid person
could not help learning from them."
Frederick certainly was not stupid, for he was invited to play at a
public concert when he was not yet nine years old. His good mother was
proud that this honor had been shown her boy. She dressed him most
splendidly in the native costume of Poland. Then, kissing him good-by,
she bade him do his best.
At the concert, when the lad stepped out to play, all eyes were fixed
upon him. All through the evening the people watched the beautiful child
and marveled at his skill as a player. The modest littlefellow did not
dream that his playing was wonderful. He did not know that the people
were interested in the different compositions that he played. He
thought, in his childish way, that they cared only for his pretty
When he returned home, his mother said, "Well, my son, what did the
people like best?"
"Oh, mother," exclaimed the child, "everybody was looking at my collar."
When Nicholas Chopin taught the children of the count, he was not only
their tutor, but their friend. Later, when he set up a school for boys,
he retained the friendship of the nobility. On this account Frederick's
playmates were children of high rank. One of his little friends was
Paul, the son of the grand duke.
Frederick was once invited to the palace to play for the grand duke's
guests. He not only played well, but bore himself as a little gentleman.
For this reason he was often invited to play.
One day the people in the Chopin neighborhood were surprised to see a
fine carriage approaching. It was drawn by four horses, yoked abreast.
The silver mountings on the harness glittered in the sunlight. A boy,
richly clad in velvet, was seated in the carriage. Beside him sat his
The neighbors wondered not a little what brought the duke's carriage to
their street. They were surprised to see it draw up before the house of
Nicholas Chopin. They were still more surprised when they saw the lad,
Frederick, enter the splendid equipage and drive away.
A great musician once gave four concerts in the town hall of Warsaw. She
heard much, while in the city, of the talented boy, Frederick Chopin.
She said, "I should like to see this child and hear him play." A friend
took Frederick to visit the musician. She was so pleased with his gentle
ways and fine playing that she made him a present of a watch. On it were
engraved the words, "Given to Frederick Chopin at the age of ten."
Frederick had no sooner begun music lessons, than he began to compose.
He composed music even before he knew how to use a pen. Often little
melodies ran through his mind, and he wished that he could write them.
He had not yet learned to write, so he asked his teacher to do it for
When he was ten years old, he wrote a march for the grand duke. The duke
was greatly pleased and had it arranged for the band. When the soldiers
drilled or marched on parade, Frederick Chopin's march was often
Although Frederick would have liked to spend all his time at his music,
he was not allowed to do so. He went to school every day. His father
often said to him, "I am glad that you do well in your music; however,
you must not neglect your other studies."
Frederick worked so faithfully in his father's school that, by the time
he was fifteen, he was ready to enter the high school. His favorite
studies were Polish history and literature. He often stood at the head
of his class. Twice, while he was in the high school, he carried off the
Wherever Frederick went, his pleasing manners won him many friends.
Indeed, even in after years, he was so thoughtful of others that he made
few enemies. He often said: "My mother is the best of mothers. I can
never forget the training that she gave me when a lad." If the boy had
not remembered his mother's training so carefully, he would not have
been asked so often to the homes of the great.
He was once invited to spend his holidays with some friends in the
country. Such great fun as he had that summer! There were walks and
drives in the cool, shady forest. There were ponies and prancing horses
to ride. There were birds to watch and flowers to pick. Oh, yes, there
was fun in plenty for the boy!
One day Frederick went into one of the rooms of his father's school. The
master was not there. An assistant was in charge. The boys had become
noisy and would not heed the commands of the teacher. Young Chopin
noticed how unruly the little boys had become. He said, "If you will be
quiet, I will tell you a pretty story."
The boys promised. Frederick took his place at the piano, for he meant
to tell them the story—in words? Oh, no, in music. If you had been
there, the music would have told you just as plainly as words, this
Bold robbers set out from their cave in the hills to plunder a house.
Nearer and nearer they come. At last the house is reached, and they
halt. Noiselessly they place their ladders under the windows. They are
just about to enter, when hark, there is a noise within. For a moment
they stand still in their fright. Then off they run to the cave. There,
where all is so dark and still, they lie down. Soon they fall fast
When Frederick reached the end of the story, he played softly and still
more softly. Looking up, he saw that the children, like the robbers, had
fallen fast asleep.
Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, was once inWarsaw. Frederick Chopin,
who was becoming well known for his compositions, was invited to play
for him. It is said that Alexander was greatly pleased; and in truth he
must have been, for he gave Frederick a diamond ring.
In the summer of 1826 Frederick went with his mother and sisters to a
watering place. His father thought the young man had been working too
hard and needed a rest. Sometimes he would wander about for hours,
silent and thoughtful. At such times his friends knew that his mind was
upon his music. Often he sat up till midnight working upon a mazurka or
a waltz. He had a piano in his bedroom. Sometimes, when all the
household were asleep, he would spring from his bed, rush to the piano,
and strike a few chords. If the chords pleased the young composer, he
would turn to his desk and write the notes before he forgot them. His
parents thought that all this study, combined with his school work, was
more than Frederick ought to do. So off he was sent for a long holiday.
While on his vacation, Frederick gave a concert, for which many tickets
were sold. All of the money was given to two children, who had lost
their mother. Frederick's heart had been moved to pity when he heard
their sad story. He rejoiced whenhe knew that enough money had been
obtained to send the little orphans home.
CHOPIN'S EARLY MANHOOD
It was not until Frederick Chopin graduated from the high school that it
was decided that he should devote all of his time to music. This
decision gave him great joy. He immediately set out with a friend for
Berlin. Of all the music that Chopin heard there, he liked none so well
as Handel's. He met Mendelssohn and many famous musicians during his
At the end of a fortnight he returned to Warsaw, making the trip in a
stagecoach. At an inn in a small town the coach stopped to change
horses. The travelers were told that they must wait an hour. Chopin and
his friend took a stroll about the town. Finding it a dull place they
returned to the inn. The hour had gone by, but still no horses were
harnessed to the coach. No guard, bugle in hand, sat upon the high seat,
ready for the journey.
Entering the inn, Chopin was delighted to find an old piano in one of
the rooms. It did not seem to be a fine instrument, but it proved to be
better than it looked. When Chopin opened it and played a few notes, he
found it to be in good tune. Now that hehad found a good piano, he
cared little how long the delay might be. He played on and on, without a
thought of his journey.
One of the travelers, hearing the music, came and stood in the doorway.
One by one the other travelers gathered about the piano. The sweet
sounds charmed the listeners into silence. One old German even let his
beloved pipe go out. The keeper of the inn and his two pretty daughters
joined the group. Chopin, forgetful of time and place, continued to
play, and his audience, silent and full of wonder, continued to listen.
They were suddenly startled by a deep voice, "Gentlemen, the horses are
ready." The innkeeper roared at the intruder, and the passengers cast
angry glances at him. Chopin started from his seat, but was surrounded
by his new friends. They begged him to continue his playing. "But we
have been here some time," said Chopin, "we must depart now."
"Stay and play, noble young artist," cried the innkeeper. "I will
furnish you the fastest horses, if you will stay but a little longer."
They all pressed round, urging Chopin to remain. Seating himself, he
played even more beautifully than before. When the last tones had died
away, the innkeeper exclaimed, "Three cheers for the youngPole." At
this all joined in and the room rang with their lusty shouts.
While Chopin played a last mazurka, the ladies filled the pockets of the
coach with wine and dainties. When at last he rose to go, the innkeeper
seized him in his strong arms and carried him to the coach.
In after years, when Chopin had received the praises of all Europe, he
used to tell the story. He said, "My success in the old inn and the
cheers of those music-loving Germans are dearer to me than any other
praise that I ever received."
A few months after his return to Warsaw, Chopin visited Vienna. His
friends urged him to give a concert, and at last he consented. The
concert, given in the opera house, was a great success. The people of
Vienna were surprised that a youth of nineteen could produce such music.
They never dreamed that so great a musician could come from Poland.
Chopin had been at home but a short time when war broke out in Poland.
He was very eager to join the army, but his parents would not give their
consent. Even if he had gone to the wars, he could never have used a
sword. His hands were too small and delicate for such work.
When Chopin found that he could not fight for his beloved country, he
turned to his music. In a fewyears he had written scores of
compositions. Few of them have pretty names. He simply called them
waltzes, marches, and mazurkas.
CHOPIN IN PARIS
In 1831 Chopin set out for Paris. He visited a number of cities and gave
many concerts on his way. He was glad to arrive in France, for it was
his father's native country, and he had long wished to visit there. He
had no idea, however, that he should never see Poland again. He little
thought that the remainder of his days would be spent in Paris.
At the time of his arrival in the French capital, Frederick Chopin was a
young man of twenty-two. He found life a hard struggle in the great
city. He could not sell his compositions, and few cared to hear him
play. He became discouraged and made up his mind to try his fortunes in
The day before he expected to sail for America, a Polish friend invited
him to spend the evening at the home of a wealthy baron. The homesick
young man accepted the invitation gladly. When asked to play, he charmed
all the company. After his performance, a number of persons came to the
youngman to compliment him upon his skill. He was asked by many for
music lessons. His great talent and refined manners made him a general
Soon after he wrote home: "I shall not go to America now, for I am happy
in Paris. I have work in plenty and the best of friends. Among them are
princes and nobles. Many fine musicians have come to me for lessons.
From the praises I receive, I might imagine myself a great artist;
however, no one knows so well as I, that I still have much to learn."
During these years Poland was in great distress. Many Poles who had lost
both home and fortune went to Paris. Chopin showed great kindness to his
needy countrymen. He was glad to do all that he could for them, often
sharing his lodgings with some homeless Pole. He could not fight for his
country, but he did all in his power for the Poles in Paris.
Franz Liszt was one of Chopin's intimate friends. One evening, when
several musicians were together, Liszt played one of Chopin's
compositions. As he played, he changed a few notes here and there. When
he had finished, Chopin said, "I beg you, my dear friend, when you play
my music, to play it as it is written or not at all." "Play it yourselfthen," said Liszt, rising from the piano. "With pleasure," answered
Chopin. At that moment the wind put out the light. When they were about
to relight it, Chopin said, "No, the moonlight is enough." His hands
then wandered over the keys, and for more than an hour he played so
beautifully that his listeners were in tears. "You are right, my
friend," said Liszt; "such music as yours ought never to be changed, for
you are a true poet."
A friend once said to the Polish musician, "Chopin, how is it that you
have never composed an opera?"
"Ah, my friend, let me compose nothing but music for the piano. It takes
a much wiser man than I to compose operas."
Chopin had brought many compositions with him when he came to Paris.
After the year 1832 he composed very rapidly. Among the music written at
that time were marches, rondos, and mazurkas. These were the things he
loved to write, but the music composed in Paris was far better than that
written in Warsaw. One of Chopin's most noted works is his Funeral
March. Its tones are sad and mournful but wonderfully beautiful.
In 1835 Frederick Chopin visited Germany. He had heard much of Clara
Wieck's skill as a pianist and wished to know her. He met her in
Leipzig,at her father's home. She played for him a sonata of
Schumann's. When she had finished, those present asked Chopin to play.
At first he refused, but they begged so earnestly that at last he took
his place at the piano. He touched the keys with a wonderful, fairylike
lightness, and the tones which came from the piano were pure and
delicate. As in France, so in Germany, he was everywhere hailed as the
greatest master of the pianoforte.
While Chopin was in Germany, he spent much time with his friend, Robert
Schumann. Together they visited an excellent pianist, at whose home they
spent several hours. Chopin charmed his small audience by his playing.
No sooner had he left than his hostess sent to the music shop and bought
all of Chopin's compositions that could be had.
When Chopin was about thirty years of age, he lost his health. Hoping
that he might improve, he went to an island in the Mediterranean.
Although he seemed better for a short time, he never regained his
The year before his death he visited England and Scotland. He never
liked to play in public, much preferring to play for a few friends, for
a crowd made him timid. However, in London he gave a concert for the
benefit of the distressed Poles.
Frederick Chopin died in the arms of his sister, in Paris, in the autumn
of 1849. As he lay dying, he asked a friend to sing for him. In low,
soft tones she sang a psalm. When the chant was ended, the great
musician passed away.
When Chopin was laid to rest, all of the great musicians of Paris
attended his funeral. His own beautiful Funeral March was played. All
who knew Chopin felt that they had lost a gentle and loving friend.
As a writer of music for the pianoforte, Chopin stands at the head. In
America alone, more of his music is sold each year than was sold during
the whole of his lifetime.
BOYHOOD OF SCHUMANN
"Left, face! Forward, march!" Clear rang out the words of the little
commander. Quickly the straight ranks moved across the playground. Back
and forth they marched, every one in step. When the drill was over, the
little general dismissed his troops. Day after day the boy soldiers
drilled on the playground. Each day they chose a color bearer, but the
commander was always the same. Among all the boys, no other made so good
a general as Robert Schumann. Although his manner was gentle, the lads
knew that his orders must be obeyed.
Robert Schumann was born in a quaint little Saxon town in Germany. His
birthday was the 8th of June, 1810. His father, a studious man, kept a
bookstore in the town. His mother was a good woman, busy caring for her
five children, of whom Robert was the youngest. One of Robert's
grandfathers had been a surgeon and the other hadbeen a minister, so
why it was that Robert cared for music no one knew. But care for it he
did with all his heart.
He was the happiest boy in all Saxony when his father told him that he
might study music with the organist at St. Mary's. He was seven years
old when he had his first lesson. By the time he was eight, he could
compose dances for his little friends. His teacher was proud of the lad
and often said: "Robert, God has given you a great talent, and very
precious is such a gift. Use it well."
Robert once thought of a new game, which afterward became a great
favorite with his playmates. The game was once carried on in this way.
Robert went to the piano and played for several minutes. Then, turning
about, he said, "Whom was I describing in that music?" All the children
shouted, "Franz!" That was the very person Robert had in mind, and the
music had told the children very well that it was none other than the
merry, laughing Franz. Then the young musician turned to the piano
again. The music was no longer bright and gay, but low and sweet. When
the last note had been played, the children clapped their hands and
exclaimed: "Robert, you are a capital player.You have told us as
plainly as can be that you were thinking of little Gretchen."
When Robert Schumann was nine years old, he attended a concert given by
a young English musician. The young Englishman played remarkably well.
Robert had never heard such music before. He wondered if he could ever
be so skillful. "At least," he said to himself, "I can try." From that
moment, the desire to become a musician never left his mind. He always
kept a programme which the pianist had touched, and every time he looked
at it he thought: "Each day I must do my best. I shall succeed in no
Sometimes Robert forgot his good resolutions. He had much rather play
pretty tunes than practice his scales. It was not so pleasant to toil
over his lesson as to play the songs that he liked. When he grew older,
he saw the mistake he had made and tried to make up lost time by working
at his music in earnest.
Robert Schumann was interested in his studies at school and in the games
on the playground, but most of all he was interested in music. He formed
an orchestra which consisted of two violins, two flutes, a clarinet, and
two horns. Robert was conductor of the orchestra and played the piano.
Thispiano was a fine instrument, a gift to Robert from his father.
When the little leader could find no music which his musicians could
play, he composed some for them himself.
"Let us do our best with this concerto," Robert often said to the boys
of the band, "that my father may be pleased when he comes." Then, so
interested did they become in the rehearsal, that they did not notice
the father as he came softly into the room. When the concerto was
finished, he said: "You have done well, my lads. Here is some new music
as a reward."
Once Robert's teacher gave a concert. A chorus of many voices sang a
beautiful piece of music. No orchestra played while the chorus sang;
their only accompaniment was a piano. The audience was amazed to see a
small boy take his place at the instrument and play the accompaniment
with skill. The boy was Robert Schumann.
While Robert was in the high school, he set the one hundred and fiftieth
Psalm to music. He composed not only the music for the singers, but also
an accompaniment for the orchestra. About this time, too, he often
appeared in public concerts.
In 1825 Robert's father died. The boy felt his loss keenly, for no one
else had encouraged him in hismusic as his father had done. His mother
loved him dearly, but she wished that he might become a lawyer rather
than a musician. She hoped that he might graduate with honors from the
law school. She dreamed that her boy might one day become the finest
lawyer in the empire.
SCHUMANN A LAW STUDENT
At last the long course at the high school was completed. Then Robert
Schumann left his native town and journeyed to Leipzig to become a
student of law. He had no desire to be a lawyer, but he loved his mother
too dearly to disobey her wishes. Now Robert should have spent every
moment at his studies, and he knew this all too well. Instead, he spent
many, many hours with his loved instrument or with friends who cared for
naught but music. He did not mean to slight his work, for he had made up
his mind not to disappoint his mother. He wrote her from Leipzig: "I
have no taste for the law. My studies are dry and irksome; but I have
resolved to become a lawyer. When a man determines to succeed, he can
indeed do all things."
At the time that Schumann was attending the university, Frederick Wieck
was one of the bestpiano teachers in Germany. Schumann had made rapid
progress with this teacher. He spent more time than ever at the piano
and grew more and more to dislike his lectures at the university.
After some twelve months spent in Leipzig, Schumann wrote to his mother,
asking permission to go to Heidelberg to continue his studies. He wished
to hear the lectures of one of the most famous lawyers in Germany. Now
you must know that this famous man was also a musician. Perhaps Schumann
knew this and cared more for the music than for the law. At any rate he
was very happy when his mother granted his request, and he left Leipzig
with a light heart.
Schumann had not had his piano sent to Heidelberg, and he missed it
greatly. Two or three days passed, and he had not once touched an
instrument. One day, while he was out walking, so the story goes, he
passed a music store and saw some pianos in the window. Schumann was a
timid man; but his desire to play overcame all his fears, and he walked
boldly into the shop. Seating himself before one of the pianos, he
played for three hours. At the sound of the sweet tones, the men in the
shop put aside their work and gathered about the musician. Schumann did
not see the group oflisteners, did not hear their cries of wonder, nor
notice their applause. His thoughts were far away.
It was not long before Schumann found lodgings and hired a piano. He was
very happy in his new home. He said to a friend, "I look from my window
and see a splendid old mountain castle. The green hills covered with
oaks meet my view on every side. I feel like a prince, and a real prince
could not ask for anything more lovely than the view from my window."
Although Schumann had gone to a new city, he retained his old habits. It
was much more pleasant to go to the open piano than to dust-covered law
books. We are told that he practiced seven hours a day, and that the
evenings were spent with music-loving friends. Yes, life was bright and
happy for Schumann then.
Every moment that he spent among his law books was hard work for
Schumann; but he would practice a sonata or a symphony for hours at a
time and consider it mere play. He was often invited by his friends to
take long drives. Even on these little pleasure trips, he always carried
a dumb keyboard with him. On it his fingers performed the most difficult
passages, as the carriage rolled over thebroad avenues of the city or
by the side of some winding stream.
It was in 1828 that Schumann went to Heidelberg, and in September of the
same year he took a little trip into Italy and Switzerland. He talked
but little of the grand old mountains, the clear Swiss lakes, and the
blue Italian skies. Though he said nothing, the beauty of it all sank
deep into his soul, and every song which he wrote afterwards was the
sweeter for it.
On this journey Schumann heard some of the greatest musicians of his
time. One of these was a violinist famed for his skill. As Schumann
listened, he thought: "I should be perfectly happy if I could play as
well on the piano as that man plays upon the violin. I need try no
longer to become a lawyer. It is of no use. When I return to Heidelberg,
I shall ask my mother's permission to devote all my time to music."
The letter was written. Before the mother made reply, she wrote to
Leipzig and asked the advice of Frederick Wieck, Robert's former
teacher. In response he wrote, saying that it might be a good plan to
give Robert six months to show what he could do as a pianist. So it was
decided that Schumann should give up law and study music in Leipzig.
SCHUMANN THE MUSICIAN
In Leipzig, Schumann found lodgings near Wieck's home and again took up
his music studies. He was so anxious to excel that he was willing to
begin with the simplest music, although he could read a concerto at
sight. He practiced even more than his teacher thought was best. The
third finger of his right hand seemed weaker than the other fingers. In
order to make it strong, he fastened it in a strained position and kept
it so for hours at a time.
Instead of the hand growing stronger, it became crippled. This made
Schumann very sad. He knew then that he could never become a master of
the piano. He did not, however, give up his music, though he could play
so little. The hours formerly spent in practice were now used for
composition. Had it not been for the change in Schumann's plans, perhaps
he would have become famous in Germany only as a pianist, but now the
world knows him as a composer.
It happened that Schumann met in Leipzig a young girl, who loved music
with all her heart. She was Clara Wieck, the winsome daughter of
Robert's teacher. She had a marvelous talent formusic and even when a
child played the piano with remarkable skill. She appeared often in
public concerts and was much petted and praised. Praise, however, did
not spoil her. In fact, each day she became more gentle and lovable. She
and Robert Schumann became fast friends.
Among Schumann's other friends in Leipzig were some young men. They were
all interested in music and met every evening for study. When a new
piece of music appeared, they discussed its good points. At that time
much poor music was written, and many poor musicians were receiving
praise that they had not earned. The young men knew that this was not
right. They wished that the good musicians might become better known.
This circle of friends were thoughtful, earnest young men,—friends of
the good, enemies of the bad. They could think of no way to make matters
better. One evening Schumann said to them: "Let us publish a paper that
will help things to grow better. We will boldly speak the truth, and if
a man's work is poor, we will pay no heed to him. If any musician does
well, he shall have our praise."
As the young men agreed, the paper was started. Robert Schumann was
chosen editor. His articles for the little paper were well written and
he neverspoke ill of any one. He once wrote kindly of Mendelssohn's
work. When Mendelssohn saw the article, he said: "I am quite delighted.
Such praise comes from a pure heart. Ten thousand thanks to the man who
In 1832 Schumann composed his first symphony in G minor. One movement of
this symphony was played at a concert, and the pianist was none other
than the wonder-child, Clara Wieck. The people at the concert often
heard good music, but the girl's playing amazed them. They applauded her
again and again; they waved their handkerchiefs and tried in every way
to show their admiration.
This symphony of Schumann's was never published. His compositions were
not popular. "As surely as every gleam of sunshine found its way into
Mendelssohn's music, so every shadow found its way into Schumann's." For
this reason many did not care for the music which Robert Schumann wrote.
Still he worked on, not caring for the praises of men. He was happy in
this—that he could express in music the beautiful thoughts that filled
While Schumann had been busy with his paper and his compositions, Clara
Wieck had become a beautiful young woman. Schumann saw her oftenat her
father's house and grew to love her dearly. In 1840 she became his wife.
We have told you that Clara Schumann had been called a wonder-child. At
the time of her marriage, she was known as the finest pianist in all
Germany. She played Chopin, Bach, and Beethoven at the concerts which
she gave in many large cities. In all of these places she was highly
All of Robert Schumann's best music was written after his marriage. In
one year alone he composed over a hundred songs, and what beautiful
songs they are! In almost every country the songs of Schumann are well
known. Just as Wagner is known as a writer of operas, so Schumann is
known as a writer of songs. Some of his most famous songs are: The
Stranger, Butterflies, and The Poet Speaks.
Robert and Clara Schumann worked together at their music in their cozy
little home. They were very happy, and home was the dearest spot in the
world to them. Sometimes they made long concert tours, but they always
rejoiced when they could return to Leipzig once more. On one of their
concert tours, they visited northern Germany, Sweden, and Russia. In all
of those countries they met with the greatest success.
While they were in Russia, they spent some time in St. Petersburg, where
they were invited to court. The royal family and all the nobility showed
them the highest honors; and when Clara Schumann played, she received
the compliments of all. Even the princess came to the Schumanns, begging
them to remain in St. Petersburg.
Clara Schumann was fond of playing her husband's music. In Russia, the
people liked one of Mendelssohn's compositions better than anything else
that she played. It was the Spring Song, one of the beautiful Songs
without Words. So delighted were the people when she played it, that
they called for it again and again. The emperor demanded it three times.
Outside of his own home Robert Schumann was a very silent man. It is
said that he once went to a friend's house, entered the music room with
a friendly nod, went straight to the piano, and opened it, softly
whistling the while. Seating himself, he played a few chords, followed
by a charming melody, closed the piano, and walked out, nodding his head
in a friendly way. Then off he went without a word to any one.
Although at different times Schumann lived in various cities, most of
his compositions were written in Leipzig. He was a hard worker, in one
yearwriting thirty pieces of music. Some of his well-known
compositions are The Pilgrimage of the Rose, the music for Faust,
and the music for Byron's Manfred.
In 1845 Schumann was obliged to leave Leipzig on account of failing
health. He chose Dresden for his home. He heard no music, for his doctor
had forbidden it. He led a very quiet life, seeing few friends. It was
at that time that he made the acquaintance of Richard Wagner. At the end
of the year his health was much improved. He took up his work once more
and wrote his second symphony.
During the next eight years Schumann wrote many beautiful compositions.
He lost much time, however, on account of ill-health.
Two years before his death, Schumann and his wife took a trip through
Holland. The composer was very much pleased to find that the Dutch
people knew his music and loved it well.
On his return to the Fatherland, his health failed utterly. His mind,
which had not been strong for some time, grew weaker day by day. During
the last months of his life he spent much time at his beloved piano. He
died in 1856 and was buried in Bonn.
FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT
(Hark, Hark! the Lark.)
FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT
God sent his singers upon earth
With songs of gladness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men
And bring them back to heaven again.
One winter's night in 1797 a little child was born in Vienna. He was
called Franz Peter, and his father was Schubert the schoolmaster. The
home into which the child came was one of poverty. There was a large
family of children to be cared for, and there was but little money with
which to feed and clothe them.
On the day that Franz Schubert was born in that humble home, Haydn was
sixty-five years of age, and the great Beethoven was a young man of
twenty-seven. Mozart had passed away six years before. Little did
Schoolmaster Schubert and his good wife dream that their little son
would one day make the name Schubert as famous as any of these.
Famous, indeed, did the family name become through Franz Peter. And
to-day, if you were tovisit Vienna, you would find his first home
marked with a gray stone tablet. Carved into the marble are words
meaning Birthplace of Franz Schubert.
Franz started to school when he was six years old. A year or two later
he began the study of music. His teacher soon found that the boy already
knew a great deal. At the close of a lesson one day, he said to the
child, "Who has been your music teacher?"
"May it please you, I have had none but yourself."
"How, then, have you learned so much about music?"
Then the boy told his story. He said that a playmate of his was an
apprentice in a piano factory. Franz often begged to be allowed to go to
the shop. At last his friend said, "You may go with me just this once."
When he was ready to go home, Franz could not be found in the workshop.
The apprentice hurried from one room to another. At last he found the
little lad in the room where the pianos stood. He had been having a
delightful time, picking out exercises on the white keys. Many times
after that he went to the piano factory. Soon he had taught himself all
that most children learn in a great many lessons.
The boy's singing teacher often said to the schoolmaster, "I have never
before had such a pupil."One day he came to the father with tears in
his eyes, saying, "Whenever I want to teach Franz anything, I find he
knows it already."
The boy's father was anxious that Franz should become a member of the
choir in the emperor's chapel. Those who sang in the choir first passed
an examination in music. Then they were allowed to enter a school where
music and other studies were taught.
Franz often saw the choir boys in their uniforms trimmed with bands of
gold, and studied harder that he might one day enter the choir. When he
was eleven years old, he passed the examination. The chapel master said,
"You sing well, indeed, my boy."
When Franz arose to sing for the chapel masters, some of the boys began
to point their fingers at his poor clothes. Franz could hear them
whispering among themselves, "He must be a miller's son." When he began
to sing, the whispering ceased. The sweet, pure tones filled the great
room and the silence was unbroken.
One day the chapel master saw some music that Franz had composed. He
said to himself "Franz Schubert is no ordinary child. He must study
composition in earnest. He shall have the finest harmony teacher."
Franz and his new teacher became fast friends. The lad was eager to
learn, but the master found little to teach. He used to say, "He has
already learned everything, and God has been his teacher."
During the years that Franz attended the choir school it was his custom
to visit his parents on Sunday afternoon. The schoolmaster and three of
his sons had formed a quartet. The father played the violoncello, Franz
the viola, and the others the first and second violins.
Although Franz was the youngest, he was the first to notice a mistake.
If it was one of his brothers who made the mistake, Franz would frown.
If it was the father who played a wrong note, no notice of it was taken
the first time. If he played incorrectly the second time, Franz would
smile and say modestly, "There must be something wrong, father."
THE WRITER OF SWEET SONGS
It was in 1813, when Franz Schubert was sixteen years old, that a great
change came into his life. His voice lost its purity and sweetness. He
could no longer reach the high notes with ease. For these reasons he was
obliged to leave the chapel choir.
The boy knew that he must earn his own living.He became an assistant
in his father's school. There, day after day, for three years, he taught
the little children their A B C's. He did not enjoy his work, and the
moment school was over he busied himself with something far dearer to
him than teaching. Composition was his heart's delight, and he spent all
his leisure time in writing music.
One of the best compositions of his early years was a mass in F. It was
given in a large church, where Franz went to hear it. It so happened
that his old teacher was there and heard the young man's music with
great pleasure. At the close of the mass, he came hurrying to his
friend, exclaiming, "Franz, you are my pupil—one who will do me much
Teaching and being taught—that was the way in which young Schubert
spent a year or two after he left the emperor's chapel. Teaching the
primer class in his father's school and being taught the science of
writing music was the work which filled his hours.
Many of Franz Peter's friends spent their leisure time in outdoor games.
Should you not think that young Schubert would have been glad to join
them when school was over? He often wished that he might join his
comrades, but he would say: "No, I can not go. There is much work to be
Few composers ever spent so busy a year as did Schubert in 1815. Indeed,
it was the busiest year of his life. In those twelve months he composed
church music, operas, symphonies, and a hundred songs. He never wrote
songs more tender or sweet than those written at that period.
Often, when Schubert read a poem that pleased him, he set it to music.
The words of many of his songs are the poems of some of the best German
writers. He was particularly fond of Goethe's works and set many of his
poems to music. The words of two of Schubert's most beautiful songs,
The Erl King and Gretchen at her Spinning Wheel, were written by
Although Schubert wrote so many beautiful songs, the German people knew
little about them. Perhaps they might never have known them well, had it
not been for a good friend of Schubert's. This man was a singer. He
admired Schubert's songs and sang them well. In fact, he sang them at
almost every concert in which he appeared. He it was who first gave The
Erl King in public.
There is a story telling how Schubert chanced to write the well-known
song, Hark, Hark, the Lark. Returning one evening in July from a long
walk, he strolled into the park to rest. On one of thebenches he found
a friend reading Shakespeare. When his friend had finished reading,
Schubert picked up the volume. Idly turning the pages, his eye fell upon
the verses beginning, "Hark, hark, the lark at heaven's gate sings."
As he read, music fitting the words passed through his mind. Hastily
taking pencil and paper, he drew the staves, and, without once glancing
up, he wrote every note of the music.
Schubert had only a few friends, but these were near and dear to him.
The "King of Song," as we sometimes call him, was a man unselfish and
true. To the last days of his life he was poor. He never complained, nor
was he sad on this account.
In many respects, Franz Peter Schubert had a different life from most
other great composers. He never played at the courts of queens and
emperors. He was never given diamonds or other costly presents. He
seldom played at concerts. He never had the joy of hearing his
compositions cheered again and again. He never saw an audience sit
silent under the charm of his music.
Many songs that Schubert wrote have never been published. Among his
best-known works are The Wanderer, Hedge Roses, The Wanderer's
Night Song, The Pilgrim, Prayer before the Battle, and the
Slumber Song. He also set to music Scott's Lady of the Lake.
We must not forget that, although Schubert is best known as a song
writer, he also wrote much exquisite instrumental music. One of the
loveliest compositions for the piano is the Serenade. Many serenades
have been written, but no other is so lovely as Schubert's Serenade.
Although Schubert and Beethoven lived at the same time, they seldom saw
each other. It was during Beethoven's last illness that he first came to
know Schubert's compositions. A friend brought him a number of
Schubert's songs to read, and the master was delighted. In the
procession of friends at Beethoven's funeral, Schubert was one of the
Scarcely a year had passed before Schubert, too, had passed away. He was
buried in Vienna, near the graves of Mozart and Beethoven. A stately
monument marks the last resting place of "The Writer of Sweet Songs."
(The Erl King.)
Once a boy a wild rose spied,
In the hedgerow growing;
Fresh in all her youthful pride,
When her beauties he descried,
Joy in his heart was glowing.
Little wild rose, wild rose red,
In the hedgerow growing.
Said the boy, "I'll gather thee,
In the hedgerow growing!"
Said the rose, "Then I'll pierce thee
That thou may'st remember me."
Thus reproof bestowing.
Little wild rose, wild rose red,
In the hedgerow growing.
Thoughtlessly he pulled the rose,
In the hedgerow growing;
But her thorns their spears oppose.
Vainly he laments his woes,
With pain his hand is glowing.
Little wild rose, wild rose red,
In the hedgerow growing.
THE WANDERER'S NIGHT SONG
Night descends in peace o'er the trees,
Each trembling leaflet, e'en the breeze,
Hath slumber blest.
The little birds cease their ev'ning song.
Wait awhile, wait awhile, ere long
Thou too shalt rest;
Wait awhile, wait awhile, ere long
Thou too shalt rest.
(Die Walküre.) (Sword Motif.)
EARLY LIFE OF WAGNER
Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, in 1813. He was the youngest of a
family of nine children. His father died when Richard was only a baby.
Mrs. Wagner was left with a large family of little children to care for.
Her eldest son was a lad of but fourteen years of age.
After her husband's death, Mrs. Wagner received a small pension from the
government. She was a thrifty little woman and made the best use of
every penny of her small income. It was not sufficient, however, to feed
and clothe her large family of boys and girls.
An old friend of the father came to her aid. He helped the Wagner
children in many ways. In 1815 he became their stepfather. Shortly
afterward they moved to Dresden. The children's new father was an actor,
and he had been appointed to a position in the Royal Theater in that
city. In afew years the four eldest brothers and sisters became
The boy, Richard, heard nothing talked about so much as music and the
theater. When he was allowed to go to the theater he clapped his hands
for joy. When his mother thought it best that he should stay at home, he
was sometimes naughty. He would stand in a corner and cry.
Richard was a delicate child and on this account was greatly petted. Up
to the time that he was nine years old, he had no lessons either at
school or at home. He spent his time with his stepfather. The two good
friends took many long rambles into the woods. On these little trips
Richard took a sketch-book and pencil. His father tried to teach the boy
to draw, but soon made up his mind that Richard would never become an
At that time almost every family in Germany had a piano. There was one
in the Wagner household. Richard's mother managed to give her little
daughters music lessons, but Richard had none. He was not even taught
his notes. He sometimes fingered and thumbed the keyboard as every boy
likes to do. The bits of music that he could play he had learned by ear.
He heard his sisters practicing their music lessons.He liked one piece
that they played better than any other. It was a wedding song. He heard
it played so often, that he could hum it to himself. One day, when
alone, he went to the piano and tried to play it. The first time he was
not pleased with his efforts; but the second time he could play it
perfectly. His mother, overhearing, stopped her work to listen.
Richard's stepfather was ill at this time. When his wife told him how
well the boy had played the wedding song, he was delighted. Richard was
asked to play it again. He did so, and his father said, "Can it be that
the child has a talent for music?"
Soon after the stepfather died. As Richard grew to manhood his father's
words came back to him again and again. It was six years, however,
before he began really to work at music.
In 1822 it was decided that Richard should attend a boy's school in
Dresden. For some time his uncle had been helping the lad with his
lessons. He was to enter a school that he might have more studies.
School opened on the 22d of December. The Wagner children were all busy
preparing for the Christmas tree. The three days before Christmas were
always such happy days in this German home. Richard did not wish to
begin school until after the holidays; so he coaxed and pleaded to stay
at home.His wise mother would not give her consent, for she did not
wish him to miss even a day at school. But he begged that he might just
help trim the tree, and was allowed to rise at dawn to do his share.
Richard Wagner always spoke very tenderly of his mother. He called her
his "dear little mother." In after years he said to a friend: "I can not
see a lighted Christmas tree without thinking of my mother. I can not
keep the tears back when I remember how she toiled to give her children
At school, Greek was Richard's favorite study. He liked history and
geography also. He was a patient worker, and never gave up a point
before he had mastered it. For five years he remained at the school in
Dresden, working so well that he became a favorite with his teachers.
During these years he had a few piano lessons, but made little progress.
In 1827 Richard's mother moved to Leipzig, and for three years the boy
attended school there. Later he entered the university in that city.
When Richard was about fifteen years old, he listened to some of
Beethoven's music for the first time. The boy thought the symphonies of
that great composer were the most beautiful that he had ever heard. They
ran through his mind all the day, and he dreamed of them at night. He
thought Beethoventhe greatest composer in the world. He longed to be
like him. Richard now decided how his life should be spent; he, too,
would be a musician.
Then for the first time young Wagner worked at his music in earnest. He
had an excellent teacher who encouraged the boy to do his best. The lad
soon began to write music. Beethoven, the great composer, was his daily
study. He knew much of the master's music by heart. The Ninth Symphony
was his especial favorite.
(Siegfried) Siegfried's Horn Call.
WAGNER AND HIS WORK
The early years of Wagner's manhood were spent in different cities of
Germany. Sometimes he was leader of a chorus. Sometimes he was composing
operas. At all times he had a hard struggle to support himself. His
compositions were not popular, for no one had ever written such music
before, and the people could not understand it.
SIEGFRIED AND THE DRAGON
It was while Wagner was managing an opera company in a small German town
that he was married. He and his wife soon went to the easternpart of
Germany, but did not remain there long. They were heavily in debt.
Wagner was paid little for his work and had no idea how to save his
Stories reached his ears of the large sums of money which composers
received for their work in Paris. He resolved to go to France. In Paris
he met with disappointments and failures. He had wished to have one of
his operas sung there, feeling sure that the French people would admire
his music after hearing it. But the Paris opera company would not even
consent to sing it.
Then Wagner tried to obtain some position as a musician. He was willing
to take the poorest appointment and do the hardest work, but he failed.
For many months the Wagners, sad and lonely, lived in Paris.
After three weary years in France, Wagner returned to his native
country. How happy he was to see the land of the Rhine! He said to his
wife, "Is it not good to be in the Fatherland again?"
When he lived in Paris, he wrote an opera and sent it to Dresden. It was
accepted and the opera company of that city sent for Wagner to come to
take charge of the music. This took place in 1842. Three years before,
he had left Germany because thepeople did not care for his music. Now,
they were glad and proud to welcome him on his return from France.
After several weeks, all was ready for the first performance of Wagner's
opera. The theater was crowded. The singers who took part had said much
in praise of the music, and every one was anxious to hear it. They were
not disappointed. Indeed, they all praised it highly, and Wagner became
the hero of the hour.
Not long after this, another of Wagner's operas was sung in Dresden. It
is called The Flying Dutchman. It was so well liked that every one in
the city was glad to honor the composer. That made Wagner very happy.
His life was filled with joy, for he was doing the work that he loved.
How different were these days from those spent in Paris—those days of
hunger and poverty! Now that all was sunshine and happiness, Wagner's
life in France seemed like a bad dream.
Tannhäuser, one of Wagner's greatest operas, was written in Dresden.
Sung for the first time in 1845, it was even better liked than his first
two operas. After it had been given, people stopped the composer on the
streets to give him words of praise.
The best loved of all Wagner's works is Lohengrin.Not only in Europe
is this opera known and loved, but in America as well.
In 1848 Wagner was obliged to leave the country on account of political
troubles. Switzerland became his home. The beautiful scenery there
afforded the composer much pleasure. The snow-capped Alps could be seen
all about, and in many places clear mountain lakes reflected the blue
Wagner lived in Switzerland about ten years. In that time he composed
several operas. He wrote not only the music for these operas, but the
words as well. The words alone form beautiful poems. Four of the operas
written in Switzerland tell the old fairy story of the gold hidden at
the bottom of the Rhine. Indeed, the first one of them is called The
Rhinegold. Richard Wagner put the legend into poetry and then composed
exquisite music to fit the words.
While Wagner was in Switzerland, the German people were learning to love
his music more and more. You remember that Lohengrin was written just
before he left Germany. At that time it had not been sung.
RICHARD WAGNER AT BAYREUTH
Franz Liszt, a friend of Wagner's, became greatly interested in
Lohengrin. Under his direction it was sung in a small town. All who
heard it liked thebeautiful story and still more beautiful music.
Soon nearly every one in Germany had heard Lohengrin, the beautiful
opera of the Swan Knight.
Wagner, far from home, was cheered by the news that his opera was well
liked. He longed to hear it himself. He said: "Nearly every German has
heard Lohengrin. Soon I shall be the only one who has not heard it."
After many years Wagner returned to the Fatherland. He and the king of
Bavaria became great friends. The king had heard Lohengrin sung many
times. It was his favorite opera. It is said that he used to dress
himself in armor like Lohengrin's and sail about the lake in a swan boat
for hours at a time.
The king thought the theaters in Germany were not well built. He thought
that a special opera house should be erected in which Wagner's operas
could be given. Plans were made and a model opera house was built.
Many people throughout Germany became interested in Wagner's opera
house, as it was called. The money that they gave, with the sum given by
the king, paid for the building. The building, which Wagner himself
planned, is still used, and Wagner's operas are still sung there.
The last opera that Wagner composed is called Parsifal. Many think it
is finer even than The Rhinegold and Lohengrin. Like Lohengrin it
tells a story of the Holy Grail.
In 1870 Wagner was married for the second time. The last years of his
life were spent in Venice, with his wife and children. Theirs was a
bright and happy home, for the gentle Wagner was a kind and loving
father. All the people of Venice loved him. In a short time all the poor
and needy of the city knew the great-hearted man, for he was ever ready
to help those in trouble.
Wagner's unselfish life and sweet character won him many friends. At his
death people on both sides of the Atlantic mourned for him.
The great composer died in Venice, and his body was taken to Germany for
burial. At every station on the way to Germany, fresh flowers were
scattered on the casket. The king sent a beautiful wreath, on which were
words meaning, To the Deathless One.
(The Rhinegold.) (Motif.)
The Holy Grail
An old, old story of the cup from which Christ drank has come down to us
through the ages. This cup was called the Holy Grail. At Christ's death
an angel bore the cup away. It was taken to a far-off castle, where it
was hidden from the sight of men.
The knights of the castle guarded the Grail well, for it was a sacred
treasure. When, once a year the Holy Grail was unveiled, a white dove
flew down from heaven and hovered over it. Only the pure in heart could
see the cup. Throughout the year the knights performed righteous deeds
that they might be worthy to look upon the Grail.
The knights of the castle were brave men and true, and they fought for
none but those who battled for the right. Victory was theirs, and they
conquered through the power of the Truth.
The Coming of the Knight
In the tenth century Henry was king of the Germans. Once each year the
king visited all of his provinces. It was the custom for the peopleto
ask him to settle any disputes that had arisen during the past year.
On one of these visits, so the story goes, the king found the people of
one province in great trouble. As they had no ruler, the king sent forth
a messenger to tell the people to meet him the next day on the bank of
The day dawned bright and clear. The king took his seat on the throne
which had been placed for him in the shade of the great Oak of Justice.
At his command a nobleman approached the throne. It was Frederic,—a
tall man, with black hair and eyes. He wore always a scowl upon his
face, and an angry light gleamed from beneath his heavy brows.
Near him stood Ortrud, his wife. She wore a rich robe of crimson velvet.
The proud woman watched the movements of all about her, and not a word
that was spoken escaped her.
"I am happy, O King, that you have come to help us in our trouble," said
Frederic. "Hear the truth. When our good duke lay dying, he intrusted
his children, a boy and a girl, to my care. Well did I love and guard
them, looking to the time when the boy should become ruler of the
"One day, the girl, Elsa, took her brother by the hand. Laughing and
singing, the two went forth into the woods together. Elsa returned
alone, saying that her brother was lost in the wood. Her eyes were red
with weeping, and her voice trembled when she spoke. To all my questions
she only replied, 'I know not where he is.'
"I spoke sharply to the maid. Pale and shuddering, she turned from me.
Then did I know that Elsa had taken her brother's life, so that she
herself might one day become ruler of the province."
The king listened in silence to Frederic's story. He was sad and
troubled. He could not believe that the young princess had been guilty
of so great a crime. He resolved to question the maid himself; so a
messenger was sent for her in haste.
The crowd of people who had assembled waited in silence for their
princess. Soon many voices were heard to whisper: "See, she comes! Our
own princess! Now we shall know the truth!"
As she approached, the crowd parted to make room for Elsa and her
ladies. The soft robes of the maidens were of palest blue. The young
princess was dressed in pure white. Her long bright hair gleaming like
gold in the sunlight, fell softly about her shoulders. As they drew near
the throne, thepeople stood apart, and Elsa knelt before the king
alone. Gently he questioned her. The girl's blue eyes were filled with
tears as she answered, "My poor brother! My poor brother!"
"Fear nothing, Elsa. Tell me all," spoke the king. His voice was so kind
and his manner so gentle that the young princess knew she could trust
him as a true friend.
She said: "When I have missed my brother, I have often gone alone to
pray. One day as I was praying, I fell asleep. I had a beautiful dream.
In the midst of shining clouds, I saw a knight in gleaming armor. A
golden horn hung at his side, and he leaned upon his sword. In a sweet
voice he spoke words of cheer to me. Then I awoke. My heart was filled
with joy, for I thought, 'He will defend me. He will prove that I have
done no wrong.'"
So clear was Elsa's tone that all the people believed her words. Then up
spoke Duke Frederic. "I know the maid is guilty," he said. "Let any one
who thinks her innocent stand forth and fight with me. And may God help
The king said, "Elsa, are you willing to trust to this knight of your
dream? Will he come, think you, and defend you against Frederic?"
"Yes," whispered the maiden, "he will come, for he has promised."
At the king's command the trumpeter blew a long, clear blast from his
horn. Then he called in a loud voice, "Let him stand forth who in the
right of Heaven comes here to fight for Elsa."
There was a long silence; but no answer came to the summons. Again and
yet again the trumpeter repeated his call. A hush fell upon the waiting
people. Elsa and her ladies dropped upon their knees and prayed for the
help which had been promised.
Suddenly there was a cry from the water's edge: "Look! A boat! A swan!
They draw near! In the boat stands a knight. How his armor gleams in the
At these words Elsa rose from her knees and looked toward the shore. She
saw the knight spring from the boat. Ortrud, too, saw him. She saw his
shining silver armor and the golden horn hanging at his side. She saw
his bright yellow hair and the long blue coat that fell from his
ARRIVAL OF LOHENGRIN
All this she saw and remained as cold and proud as before. Then she
caught a glimpse of the swan's soft white feathers and the golden chain
that formedhis harness. At this sight she trembled and grew pale.
Turning to the swan, the knight sang a beautiful song as he sent it
away. "Farewell, my faithful swan!" he sang.
While the swan sailed slowly down the river the knight advanced to the
king's throne. "I have come, O King," he said, "to do battle for the
Princess Elsa." Then did Elsa and all the people mark his noble bearing.
Never before had they seen a knight so strong and fearless.
"Elsa," said the knight, "will you be my wife if I win from the Duke
"Yes," she answered.
"Then promise me three things. Never ask my name, my race, nor whence I
Elsa was about to speak, but the knight begged her to think again before
she promised. "I promise," said the maiden.
Then the battle took place. With a few swift strokes the swan knight
defeated the duke. However, in his kindness of heart, he spared
Frederic's life. Then a great shout rose from the people. "The Princess
Elsa is innocent," they cried. "Our good princess has done no wrong!"
Before Ortrud married Duke Frederic, she hadlived in a castle in a
dark wood. People said that she could use magic. Indeed, some said that
she could change people into whatever shape she chose.
It was into the same dark wood, in which Ortrud had lived, that Elsa and
her brother had gone, laughing and singing. And it was from the same
dark wood that Elsa had returned alone. However, Ortrud had gone to the
wood before the young princess and her brother. Had any one noticed,
when she returned, late that afternoon, he would have seen an evil light
in her dark eyes, and a cruel smile upon her lips.
(Lohengrin.) (Wedding Song.)
The day after the battle was the day set for the wedding of Elsa and the
swan knight. Many people had gathered to see the beautiful princess walk
from the palace to the church. First came Elsa's ladies, two by two.
Their long trailing gowns were rich and costly. They formed an aisle and
waited for the princess to pass through.
Very fair and happy the princess looked as she came slowly down the
palace steps. When thepeople saw her, a glad cry of welcome arose. In
her soft bridal robe and with her fair hair floating about her, she
looked as beautiful as an angel.
At the door of the church Elsa was met by the knight, who was to lead
her to the altar. As they moved slowly through the church, the wedding
march was heard from the great organ.
When the marriage was over, the day was spent in feasting and
merrymaking. It was not until twilight that Elsa and the knight were
alone. By an open window they sat, talking in low tones. After some time
Elsa grew sad and silent. She heeded not the words of the knight. She
forgot the promise she had made and begged he would at least tell her
"My name sounds so sweet from your lips," she said. "May I never have
the pleasure of speaking yours?"
"Ah, Elsa," said the knight, sorrowfully, "speak not of this. Let us
talk of other things."
"It is because you do not trust me, that you will not tell me," she
said. "You think your secret would not be safe with me."
In vain the knight tried to soothe the troubled princess. He begged her
to remember her promise, but she would not listen to his pleading.
ORTRUD AND ELSA
"What is your name?" she cried.
"Ask me not."
"Where is your home?"
"I can not tell thee."
"From what race do you come?"
The words had scarcely passed her lips when she was aware that the Duke
Frederic had entered the room. Seeing the evil light in his eyes, she
thrust the knight's sword into his hand, saying, "Oh, do not let him
With a quick movement the knight turned upon his enemy, who soon lay
dead at his feet. To the men who came with Frederic he said, "Carry the
duke's body to the king."
He lifted the half-fainting Elsa to the couch. Kissing her upon the
forehead, he said, "Alas! we shall be happy no more." As he left the
room, he turned at the door, saying, in a low, sad tone, "To-morrow,
before the king, I will tell you all that you ask."
Departure of the Knight
The next day the king was again seated on his throne under the Oak of
Justice. It had been whispered that the stranger knight would make known
to all, his name, his home, and his race.A great crowd had gathered to
hear the knight speak.
Silence fell upon them as the dead body of the duke was borne before the
king. Soon Elsa followed; her step was slow; her face was sad and pale.
Her eyes no longer shone with happiness. The hearts of all who saw her
were filled with pity.
Presently the knight appeared. He wore the same shining armor that he
had worn on the day of his arrival. The golden horn still hung at his
side; the long blue cloak fell from his shoulders.
Pointing to the dead body of Frederic, he said, "Yesterday, at eventide,
this man tried to take my life. I slew him to save myself. I pray thee,
O King, tell me if I did wrong." Before the king could speak, the people
answered for him, "The knight has done no wrong."
Speaking slowly and in sad tones, the knight continued his story.
"Already the Princess Elsa has broken the promise she made to me.
Because she has asked my name, my home, and my race, I can dwell no
longer among you. I come of a race of noble knights. Proud am I of my
home, for it is the castle to which the Holy Grail was borne by angels
long ago. Neither have I cause to be ashamedof my name. I am
Lohengrin, son of that pure knight who guards the Holy Grail.
"Many times my brother knights have gone on errands of love and mercy.
The power of the Holy Grail guards them in all they do. On such an
errand was I bent when I came to defend the maid Elsa."
Looking up through their tears, the people saw the swan floating toward
them. Lohengrin, too, saw the swan approaching, and went to Elsa's side.
Filled with love and tenderness was his voice as he spoke to her. "Oh,
Elsa," he said, "hadst thou been true to thy promise, in one short year
I might have told thee all. In one short year would thy brother have
been returned to thee. Now, when he comes back to thee and I am far
away, give him this ring, this sword, and this horn."
So filled with sorrow was Elsa that she could speak no word to
Lohengrin. As the knight made his way to the river bank, all faces were
turned toward him in sorrow—all, save one. Ortrud, who had been
standing in the shadow of the great oak, came forward. With a wicked
smile she said, in a loud voice, "Yon snowy bird was once a boy, the
brother of the Princess Elsa. I changed him to his present form."
As soon as Lohengrin heard these words, he sankupon his knees. Long he
remained at prayer. As he knelt, a pure white dove floated down from
heaven and hovered over his head.
Rising from his knees, Lohengrin loosed the golden chain from the neck
of the swan. As he did so, the swan vanished from sight, and a fair
youth in shining armor appeared in its place.
The people recognized the youth as Elsa's brother and thanked God for
the power of the Holy Grail which had brought their prince again to
At the sight of the young prince, Ortrud sank lifeless to the ground.
Rejoicing that Elsa and her brother were together once more, Lohengrin
sprang into the boat. The dove, catching the golden chain in its tiny
beak, guided the boat down the river, and the knight was seen no more.
- ā as in māte
- ă as in ăm
- ä as in ärm
- ȧ as in ȧsk
- ē as in ēve
- ĕ as in ĕnd
- ẽ as in fẽrn
- ī as in kīte
- ĭ as in ĭll
- ō as in nō
- ŏ as in ŏdd
- ū as in ūse
- o͞o as in fo͞od
- o͝o as in fo͝ot
- ac-com´pa-ni-ment. Music to be played with a song, or with one or more other musical instruments.
- Aus´tri-an. Belonging to Austria, a country of Europe.
- Bach (bäk).
- Ba-va´ri-a. A kingdom of Germany.
- Beethoven (bā´tō-ven).
- Buck´ing-ham. The king's palace in London.
- Chopin (shō-păn´).
- clar´i-net. A wind instrument blown on a single reed.
- concerto (cŏn-sẽr´tō). A long musical composition, written to be played with an orchestra.
- Danube (dăn´ūb). A river in Austria.
- Dresden (drĕz´den). A city in Germany.
- dumb keyboard. Noiseless keyboard.
- E-li´jah. A prophet spoken of in the Bible.
- Eu-ro-pe´an. Belonging to Europe.
- Figaro (fē-gȧ-rō´). The hero of one of Mozart's operas.
- Florentines (flŏr´en-tēns). People of Florence, a city in Italy.
- Frankfurt (fränk´fo͝ort). A city in Germany.
- Goethe (gẽ´tĕ).
- Hamburg (häm´bo͝org). A city in Germany.
- harp´si-chord. An old-fashioned piano.
- Haydn (hā´d'n).
- Heidelberg (hī´del-berg). A city of Germany.
- largo (lär´gō). A musical piece in slow time.
- Leipzig (līp´sĭk). A city in Germany.
- Liszt (lĭst).
- Lohengrin (lō´en-grĭn). The knight of the swan, son of Parsifal.
- Ludwig (lo͞ot´vĭg).
- lute. A musical instrument with strings.
- Marie Antoinette (mȧ-rē´ äntwä-nĕt´). Wife of King Louis XVI of France.
- ma-zur´ka. A Polish dance, or the music which accompanies it, usually in ¾ or ⅜ time.
- Mediterranean (med-ĭ-tẽr-rā´ne-an). A sea south of Europe.
- Mendelssohn (mĕn´dĕls-sōn).
- Mozart (mō´zärt).
- Munich (mū´nik). A city in Bavaria, Germany.
- oratorio (ŏr-ȧ-tō´rĭ-ō). A Bible story set to music.
- Ortrud (or´trūd).
- overture (ō´vẽr-tūr). A musical composition usually coming first in an oratorio or an opera.
- Parisians (pȧ-rizh´ans). People of Paris, a city of France.
- Parsifal (par´si-fȧl).
- Phbus (fē´bŭs). God of the sun.
- pianoforte (pĭ-ȧn´ō-fōr-tā). A piano.
- quartet (kwa̤r-tĕt´). A piece of music for four voices or for four instruments.
- rehearsal (rē-hẽrs´al). A private recital of a play or opera before a public performance.
- Rhine (rīn). A river in Germany.
- rondo (rŏn´dō). A lively musical composition.
- Salzburg (zȧlts´bo͝o rg). A city of Austria.
- Sax´on. A native of Saxony.
- Sax´on-y. A kingdom of Germany.
- Schubert (sho͞o´bẽrt).
- Schumann (sho͞o´män).
- Sebastian (sē-băs´chan).
- Sistine (sis´tĭn).
- Sohn (sōn). German word meaning "son."
- sonata (so-nä´tȧ). A composition in three or four parts for a piano, organ, or other musical instrument.
- staves. Groups of five lines and four spaces on which notes are written.
- Stephen (stē´ven).
- symphony (sĭm´fo-nĭ). A musical composition written in three or four parts for the orchestra.
- Tannhäuser (tän´hoi-zẽr).
- Thames (temz). A river of England.
- Venetians (ve-nē´shans). People of Venice.
- Venice (vĕn´ĭs). A city of Italy.
- Verona (vā-rō´nȧ). A city in Italy.
- Vienna (vē-ĕn´nȧ). A city of Austria.
- viol (vī´ŭl). A musical instrument much like a violin, but larger.
- viola (vī´ō-lȧ). An instrument larger than a violin, but smaller than a viol.
- violoncello (vē-ō-lŏn-chĕl´lō). A bass viol.
- Wagner (väg´nẽr).
- West´min-ster Ab-bey. A large, beautiful church in London.
- Wieck (vēk).
- Wolfgang (volf´gȧng).