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The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2 By Rupert Hughes Characters: 42988

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

"Passions are like dogs: the big ones need more food than the little ones."-HENRY T. FINCK, "Romantic Love and Personal Beauty."

There is both temptation and material enough for as many musical love stories, as there are novels in the handwriting of Sir Walter Scott, but this being a limited work, the covers already begin to bulge and creak, and it will be necessary to crowd into one swift mail-coach such other composers as we can hardly afford to leave behind.

In some cases, this summary treatment is all the easier because little or nothing is known of their love affairs, while in others it will be purely a case of regretful omission. It is the chief difficulty and the chief regret, whom and what to omit. There are composers whom to neglect argues oneself ignorant, yet who composed no love affair of immortal charm. There are composers of whom few ever heard, whose magnum opus was some romance that still makes the heart-strings tingle by the acoustic law of sympathetic vibration. For example, there are two old crusading troubadours.


You never heard, perhaps, of Geoffrey Rudel, who "died for the charms of an imaginary mistress." He fell in love with the Countess of Tripoli, never having seen her. He loved the very fame of her beauty. He set sail for the East, and endured the agonies of travel of those days. Whether anticipation was better than realisation, we cannot know to-day, having no portrait of the countess; but at least anticipation was more fatal, for it wrought him into such a fever, that when at last Tripoli was reached, he was carried ashore dying. The countess had heard of his pilgrimage, and had hastened to greet him, only to be permitted to clasp his hand and to hear him gasp, with his last breath: "Having seen thee, I die satisfied."

There is a distressing ambiguity about the troubadour's last words.

And so there was the other troubadour, the Chatelain Regnault de Coucy. His mistress was a married woman, whom he left to go to the Third Crusade. In the inveterate siege of Acre, he was mortally wounded before those odious Paynim walls; but, with his dying breath, he begged that his heart be taken from his breast and sent home to her who had owned it. The stupid messenger, arriving at home, betrayed to the husband what it was he had been charged to deliver, and the husband chose a most medi?val revenge: he had the heart of the troubadour cooked and placed before his wife. When she had eaten, he told her what sweetmeat it was she had so relished. Thereafter, she starved herself to death. The same story is told of the troubadour Guillem de Cabestanh; but it is good enough to repeat.

There was another old troubadour, Pierre Vidal, of whom an ancient biographer wrote that he "sang better than any man in the world, and was one of the most foolish men who ever lived, for he believed everything to be just as it pleased him and as he would have it be." But the biographer contradicted his own beautiful portrait by telling how poor Pierre sang once too well to a married woman, whose husband took him, jailed him, and pierced his linnet tongue.


If we cannot omit these troubadours, how can we overlook Martin Luther, whose musical attainments the skeptics are wont to minimise, as others deny his claim to that magnificent ejaculation: "Who loves not wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long." No one claims that Luther wrote his own compositions, but that he dictated them to trained musicians who wrote down, and then wrote up such melodies as he played upon the flute. But whatsoever may be the truth of his position as a composer, no one can deny him either a passion for music or a domestic romance. The runaway monk told the truth, when he said: "I married a runaway nun."

When he was forty-one, with his connivance, a number of nuns fled, or were abducted, from a convent. One of them, Catherina von Bora, found an asylum in Luther's own home. After looking about for a good husband for her, at the end of a year he married her himself. She was then twenty-six years old. The married life of the jovial reformer was happy; but when he died, he left her so poor that she was obliged to take in boarders, until she met her death by the same means that had brought her marriage,-a runaway.


The earlier English composers have not been without their heart interests. We have already pried into Purcell's romance. Old John Bull, at the age of forty-four, could give up his professorship to marry "Elizabeth Walker, of the Strand, maiden, being about twenty-four, daughter of ---- Walker, citizen of London, deceased, she attending upon the Right Honourable Lady Marchioness of Winchester." Four years later, he became the chief of the prince's music, with the splendid salary of £40 a year.

Sir William Sterndale loved a Mary Wood, and wrote an overture called "Marie des Bois," and after this atrocious pun, married the poor girl in 1844, and they lived happily ever after, or at least for thirty years after.

Those other oldsters, Blow, Byrd, and Playford, were married men; and Arne, the composer of "Rule Britannia," married, at the age of twenty-six, Cecilia Young, an eminent singer in H?ndel's company, and the daughter of an organist. She continued to sing, and he to write music for her. At the age of sixty-eight he died, singing a hallelujah. Whether she echoed his sentiments we are not told, but she lived seventeen years longer.

Balfe married a German singer, Rosen, who afterward sang in some of his operas.

One of the few other British composers who attained distinction was John Field, who, like Balfe, was Dublin-born. He was the inventor of Chopin's Nocturne. The story is told that he had a pupil from whom he could not collect his bills. Finally in sheer despair he proposed, and, when she accepted him, found his only revenge in telling everybody he met that he had only married her to escape the necessity of giving her further lessons, which she would never pay for. The story seems to be, however, neither true nor well-found, for in spite of his awkwardness and the hard life he led at the hands of his teacher Clementi, who made him serve as a combined salesman of pianos and a concert virtuoso, he was said to have married a Russian lady of rank and wealth. She was really a Frenchwoman named Charpentier whom he had met in Moscow. She was a professional pianist, and bore him a son; then she left him, and changed her name, as did even the son. He was one of the many composers who should have been kept in a cage.


As for Clementi, he was chiefly notable for his miserly qualities, by which he rendered miserable three successive wives.

The pianist Hummel, whom I always place with Clementi in a sort of musical Dunciad, is credited with having won a courtship duel against Beethoven, in which Clementi as the winner-or was it the loser?-married the woman.

Another rival of Beethoven's in public esteem was Daniel Steibelt, forgotten as a virtuoso, but not to be forgotten for his splendid vices which range from kleptomania up, or down as you wish. He married a young and beautiful woman, who doubtless deserved her fate, since we are told that she was a wonderful performer on the tambourine. He succeeded to the post of Boieldieu, the eminent opera composer, who began life under poor matrimonial auspices, seeing that his mother was a milliner, from whom his father managed to escape by means of an easy divorce law issued by the French Revolutionists.


The father married again, but with what success, I do not know. But at any rate, his son followed his example and married Clotilde Mafleuray, a dancer, who made him as unhappy as possible. It was said that he was so wretched that he took to flight secretly; but it is known that his departure was mentioned in a theatrical journal in good season. None the less, though the flight may not have been surreptitious, it may well be credited to domestic misery. He buried himself in Russia for eight years, which may be placed in music's column of loss. Returning to Paris then, he found a clear field for the great success that followed. Soon after, in 1811, he formed an attachment with a woman who bore him a son in 1816. Her tenderness to the composer is highly praised; she must have given him devotion indeed, for he married her in 1827, eleven years after the birth of their son, who became also a worthy composer. At the age of fifty-four, consumption and the bankruptcy of the Opéra Comique, and the expulsion of the king who had pensioned him, broke down his health. He lived five years longer.

All I know of the domestic affairs of the great French opera-writer Grétry is that he left three daughters, one of whom, Lucille, had a one-act opera successfully produced when she was only thirteen years old, and who was precocious enough to make an unhappy marriage and end it in death by the time she was twenty-three.


The Frenchman Hérold, son of a good musician, made ballet-music artistic while he paced the dance of death with consumption, and died in his forty-second year, a month after his masterpiece, "Le Pré aux Clercs," had been produced and had wrung from him the wail: "I am going too soon; I was just beginning to understand the stage." He had married Adele élise Rollet four years before, and she had borne him three children, the eldest of whom became a Senator; the next, a daughter, married well, and the third, a promising musician, died of his father's disease at twenty.

Bizet, like Hérold, died soon after his masterpiece was done. Three months after "Carmen's" first equivocal success, Bizet was dead, not of a broken heart, as legend tells, but of heart-disease. Six years before he had married Geneviève, the daughter of his teacher, the composer Halévy. In his letters to Lacombe he frequently mentions her, saying in May, 1872: "J'attends un baby dans deux ou trois semaines." His wife, he said, was "marvellously well," and a happy result was expected-and achieved, for in 1874 he sends Lacombe the greetings "des Bizet, père, mère, et enfant." He began an oratorio with the suggestive name of "Sainte Geneviève," which his death interrupted. His widow told Gounod that Bizet had been so devoted that there was not a moment of their six years' life she would not gladly live over again.

César Franck married and left a son. At his funeral Chabrier said, "His family, his pupils, his immortal art: violà all his life!" But Auber, though too timid to marry or even to conduct his own works, was brave enough to earn the name of a "devotee of Venus."


Some of the most eminent musicians were strictly literary men, to whom music was an avocation.

Thus Robert Schumann was an editor, who whiled away his leisure writing music that almost no one approved or played for many years. Richard Wagner was well on in life before his compositions brought him as much money as his writing. Hector Berlioz was a prominent critic, whose excursions into music brought him unmitigated abuse and ridicule. The list might be multiplied.

The tempestuous Berlioz was in love at twelve. The girl was eighteen; her name was Estelle, and he called her "the hamadryad of St. Eynard." Years later she had grown vague in his memory, and he could only say, "I have forgot the colour of her hair; it was black I think. But whenever I remember her I see a vision of great brilliant eyes and of pink shoes." When he was fifty-seven years old, he found her again and his old love revived. But before that time there was much life to live. And he lived it at a tempo presto con fuoco.

He went to Paris, which was a cyclone of conflict for him. At the age of twenty-seven he won the Prix de Rome and went for three years to Italy, not without the amorous adventures suitable to that sky.

Returning to Paris, he found the city in a spasm of enthusiasm over Shakespeare, especially over the Irish actress Smithson, whom he had worshipped from afar, before he had gone to Rome, thinking that he only worshipped Shakespeare through the prophetess. The remembrance of her had inspired him to write his "Lelio" in Italy. When he was again in Paris, he gave a concert, played the kettle-drums for his own symphony, and through a friend managed to secure the attendance of Miss Smithson. She recognised in him the stranger who had dogged her steps in the years before. The poet Heine was at the concert, and his description of the scene is as follows:

"It was thus I saw him for the first time, and thus he will always remain in my memory. It was at the Conservatoire de Musique when a big symphony of his was given, a bizarre nocturne, only here and there relieved by the gleam of a woman's dress, sentimentally white, fluttering to and fro-or by a flash of irony, sulphur yellow. My neighbour in my box pointed out to me the composer, who was sitting at the extremity of the hall in the corner of the orchestra playing the kettle-drums.

"'Do you see that stout English woman in the proscenium? That is Miss Smithson; for nearly three years Berlioz has been madly in love with her, and it is this passion that we have to thank for the wild symphony we are listening to to-day.'

"Every time that her look met his, he struck his kettle-drum like a maniac."

Then he married the plump enchantress and knew a brief happiness. But he gradually woke to the fact that the dowry she brought him was mainly ill-luck, bad temper, and a monument of debts which she acquired by a new series of Shakespeare performances under her own management. By this time Paris had forgotten the barbarian Shakespeare and ridiculed the former queen of the stage. Then Madame Berlioz fell from a carriage and broke her leg. This took her permanently from the stage, where she was no longer a success. A few managerial ventures brought her a handsome bankruptcy. Berlioz gave benefit concerts and wrote fiendishly for the papers to pay her debts, and always provided for her. But there was no more happiness for the two, though there was a child. I have said that Miss Smithson brought Berlioz a dowry of bad luck and bad temper. The worldly goods with which Berlioz had her endowed, were no better. He had begun the marriage with "300 francs borrowed from a friend and a new quarrel with my parents." He also contributed a temper which is one of the most brilliant in history.

A few years after the birth of their child, his wife grew jealous, and accused him of loving elsewhere. He reasoned that he might as well have the game, if he must have the blame, and thereafter a travelling companion attended him when he surreptitiously eloped with his music, and his clothes. In his "Mémoires," he paints a dismal picture of his wife's ill health, her jealous outbreaks, the final separation, and her eventual death. Then he married again. "I was compelled to do so," is his suggestive explanation. His new experiment was hardly more successful; but in eight years his wife was dead.

He found some consolation for his manifold troubles in Liszt's Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein, and wrote her many letters which La Mara published under the title of "The Apotheosis of Friendship."

Then at Lyons he met again Her of the pink slippers, now Madame Fournier, and a widow. He was fifty-seven and she still six years his elder. He grew ferociously sentimental over her, and almost fainted when he shook her hand. He tried to reconstruct from the victim of three-and-sixty years the pink-slippered hamadryad who had haunted him all his life. He wrote of the meeting:

"I recognised the divine stateliness of her step; but oh, heavens, how changed she was! her complexion faded, her hair gray. And yet at the sight of her my heart did not feel one moment's indecision; my whole soul went out to its idol as though she were still in her dazzling loveliness. Balzac, nay, Shakespeare himself, the great painter of the passions, never dreamt of such a thing." [For that reason the novelty-mad Berlioz tried it. He wrote to her:] "I have loved you. I still love you. I shall always love you. I have but one aim left in the world, that of obtaining your affection."

But it was not alone her physical self that had grown old; her heart-beat, too, was andante. She consented to exchange letters; her pen could correspond with him, but not her passion. She wrote him: "You have a very young heart. I am quite old. Then, sir, I am six years your elder, and at my age I must know how to deny myself new friendships." So Berlioz went his way. His disapproval of Liszt and Wagner alienated the friendship of even the princess, and his stormy career ended at the age of sixty-six.


Charles Gounod wrote as amorous music as ever troubled a human heart. Like Liszt he was a religious mystic, and Vernon Blackburn has said that the women who used to attend Gounod's concerts of sacred music "used to look upon them as a sort of religious orgy."

The details of Gounod's picturesque affairs have been denied us. And the translator of his "Mémoires" regrets that he not only kept silence on these points, but seems to have destroyed all the documents. His "Mémoires" are disappointing in every way. Even his references to his marriage are about as thrilling as a page from a blue book. His account of his love and his wedding are on this ground really worth quoting, as a curiosity of literature, it being observed how little he has to say of romance, how much of his relatives-in-law.

"Ulysse was produced the 18th of June, 1852. I had just married a few days before, a daughter of Zimmerman the celebrated professor of the piano at the Conservatory, and to whom is due the fine school from which have come Prudent, Marmontel, Goria, Lefébure-Wély, Ravina, Bizet, and many others. I became by this alliance the brother-in-law of the young painter Edouard Dubufe, who was already most ably carrying his father's name, the heritage and reputation which his own son Guilliaume Dubufe, promises brilliantly to maintain."

Even to his friend, Lefuel he wrote:

"I am going to be married the next month to Mlle. Anna Zimmerman. We are all perfectly satisfied with this union which seems to offer the most reliable assurances of lasting happiness. The family is excellent and I have the good luck to be loved by all its members."

He mentions briefly in later pages that his father-in-law died a year after his marriage, and that two years later he lost his sister-in-law, to whom he gives several lines of a cordial praise, which he singularly denies his wife, though he states that a year after the marriage she bore him a girl child, who died at birth, and that four years later she bore him a son. On the afternoon of this day he was to conduct a very important concert; when he returned, he found himself a father. He is here generous enough to say: "On the morning of the day when my son was born, my brave wife had the force to conceal from me her sufferings."

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out, Gounod took refuge in London, and there wrote his "Gallia." The soprano r?le was taken by a certain Georgina Thomas, who had married Captain Weldon of the 18th Hussars. When she met Gounod, she was some thirty-three years old, having been born in 1837. She took up professional singing for the sake of charity, and Gounod and she became romantically attached. She helped him train his choir, established an orphanage at her residence for poor children with musical inclinations, and published songs by Gounod and others, including herself, the proceeds going to the aid of her orphanage. At this time she claimed to have acquired the ownership of certain works of his. Gounod thought, he said, that he had found in her "an apostle of his art and a fanatic for his works," but he also found that her charity had an excellent business foundation, for, when their love affair came to an end, she claimed her property in his compositions.

He refused to acknowledge her right, and when she clung to his "Polyeucte," he rewrote it from memory. She sued him for damages, and the English courts ordered him to pay to his former hostess $50,000. But he evaded payment by staying in France. Mrs. Weldon was also a composer, and she had edited in 1875 Gounod's autobiography and certain of his essays with a preface by herself. The lawsuit as usual exposed to public curiosity many things both would have preferred to keep secret, and was a pitiful finish generally to what promised to be a most congenial alliance. The love affair began like a novel and ended like a cash-book.


As for the Italians, we know that Paesiello, who was a famous intriguer against his musical rivals, was a devoted husband whose wife was an invalid and who died soon after her death. Cherubini married Mademoiselle Cécile Turette, when he was thirty-five, and the marriage was not a success. He left a son and two daughters. Spontini, one of whose best operas was based on the life of that much mis-married enthusiast for divorce, John Milton, took to wife a member of the érard family. In the outer world Spontini was famous for his despotism, his jealousy, his bad temper, and his excessive vanity. None of these qualities as a rule add much to home comfort, and yet, it is said that he lived happily with his wife. We may feel

sure that some of the bad light thrown on his character is due purely to the jealousy of rivals, when we consider his domestic content, his ardent interest in the welfare of Mozart's widow and children, and the great efforts he made to secure subscriptions for the widow's biography of Mozart.

Furthermore, Spontini in his later years, when deafness saddened his lot, deserted the halls of fame and the palaces of royalty, where he had been prominent, and retired with his wife to the little Italian village where he had been born of the peasantry. And there he spent years founding schools and doing other works for the public good. He died there in the arms of his wife, at the age of seventy-five; having had no children, he willed his property to the poor of his native village.

It is strange how much wrong we do to the geniuses of the second rate, when they happen to be rivals of those whom we have voted geniuses of the first rate; for the Piccinnis and the Salieris and the Spontinis, who chance to fight earnestly against Glucks, Mozarts, and others, often show in their lives qualities of the utmost sweetness and sincerity, equalling that of their more successful rivals in the struggle for existence.

For instance, there is Salieri, who was accused of poisoning Mozart, a monstrous slander, which Salieri bitterly regretted and answered by befriending Mozart's son and securing him his first appointment. When Salieri was young and left an orphan, he was befriended by a man, who later died, leaving his children in some distress. Salieri took care of the family and educated the two daughters as opera singers. His generosity was shown in numberless ways, and if by mishap he did not especially approve of Mozart, he was on most cordial terms with Haydn and Beethoven. He gave lessons and money to poor musicians; he loved nature piously; was exuberant; was devoted to pastry and sugar-plums, but cared nothing for wine. All I know of his married life is that when he was fifty-five he lost his son, and two years later his wife, and he was never the same thereafter. It is a shame to slander him as men do.


One of the most remarkably successful men of his century was Rossini, son of a village inspector of slaughter-houses, and a baker's daughter. Once, while the husband was in jail on account of his political sympathies, the mother became a burlesque singer, and when the father was released, he joined the troupe as a horn-player. Rossini was left in the care of a pork-butcher, on whom he used to play practical jokes. He always took life easily, this Rossini. At the age of sixteen he was already a successful composer, and had begun that dazzling career which mingled superhuman laziness with inhuman zeal. Among his first acquaintances were the Mombelli family, of whom he said in a letter that the girls were "ferociously virtuous."

In 1815, he then being twenty-three, he first met the successful prima donna Isabella Colbran, who was then thirty years old and had been singing for fourteen years on the stage. She was still beautiful, though her voice had begun to show signs of wear. Rossini seems to have fallen in love with her art and herself, and he wrote ten roles for her. It was she who persuaded him away from comic to tragic opera. The political changes of the period soon changed her from public favourite to a public dislike, and Rossini, disgusted with his countrymen, married her and left Italy. It was said that he married her for her money, because she was his elder and was already on the wane in public favour, and yet owned a villa and $25,000 a year income. However that may be, it was a brilliant match for the son of the slaughter-house inspector, and the wedding took place in the palace of a cardinal, the Archbishop of Bologna. As one poet wrote, in stilted Latin:

"A remarkable man weds a remarkable woman. Who can doubt that their progeny will be remarkable?"

It might have been, for all we know, had there been any progeny, but there was not. It is pleasant to note that Rossini's ancient parents were at the wedding. Then the couple went to Vienna, where Carpani wrote of Colbran's voice: "The Graces seemed to have watered with nectar each of her syllables. Her acting is notable and dignified, as becomes her important and majestic beauty."

In 1824 they were called to London. Here they were on terms of great intimacy with the king. In this one season the two made $35,000. Rossini complained that the singer was paid at a far higher rate than the composer; besides, she sang excruciatingly off the key and had nothing left but her intellectual charms. From England Rossini went to equal glory to France. At the early age of forty-three, he took a solemn vow to write no more music, a vow he kept almost literally. In 1845, his wife, then being sixty years of age, died. Two years later he married Olympe Pelissier, who had been his mistress in Paris and had posed for Vernet's "Judith." Rossini was a great voluptuary, and was prouder of his art in cooking macaroni than of anything else he could do. But much should be forgiven him in return for his brilliant wit and the heroism with which he kept his vow, however regrettable the vow.


Of Bellini, that great treasurer for the hand-organists, a story has been told as his first romance. According to this, when he was a conservatory student at Naples, he called upon a fellow student and took up a pair of opera glasses, proceeding to take that interest in the neighbours that one is prone to take with a telescope. On the balcony of the opposite house he saw a beautiful girl; the opera-glasses seemed to bring her very near, but not near enough to reach. So, after much elaborate management he became her teacher of singing, and managed to teach her at least to love him. But the family growing suspicious that Bellini was instructing her in certain elective studies outside the regular musical curriculum, his school was closed.

Then a little opera of his had some success, and he asked for her hand. His proposal was received with Neapolitan ice, and the lovers were separated, to their deep gloom. When he was twenty-four, another opera of his made a great local triumph, and he applied again, only to be told that "the daughter of Judge Fumaroli will never be allowed to marry a poor cymbal player." Later his success grew beyond the bounds of Italy, and now the composer of "La Sonnambula" and "Norma" was worthy of the daughter of even a judge; so the parents, it is said, reminded him that he could now have the honour of marrying into their family. But he was by this time calm enough to reply that he was wedded to his art.

This conclusion of the romance reminds one of Handel-a thing which Bellini very rarely does. He died when he was only thirty-three years of age, and at that age Handel had not written a single one of the oratorios by which he is remembered. In fact, he did not begin until he was fifty-five with the success which made him immortal. It was the irony of fate that Bellini should have died so young, while a brother of his who was a fourth-rate church composer lived for eighty-two years.


The virtues of senescence are seen in the case of Verdi, who did some of his greatest work at the age when most musicians are ready for the old ladies' home. His first love affair has been the subject of an opera, like Stradella's. In fact it has much of the garish misery of the Punchinello story. Verdi was very poor as a child, and was educated by a charitable institution. He was greatly befriended by his teacher, Barezzi, in whose house he lived, and like Robert Schumann, he showed his gratitude by falling in love with the daughter; Margarita was her name. But Barezzi interpreted the r?le of father-in-law in a manner unlike that of Wieck, and to the youth to whom he had given not only instruction, but funds for his study and board and lodging while in Milan, he gave also his daughter, when the time came in 1836, Verdi being then twenty-three years old. Two years later, the composer left his home town of Busseto with one wife, two children, and three or four MSS. He settled in Milan. He was a long time getting his first opera produced, and it was not until 1839 that it made its little success, and he was engaged to write three more. He chose a comic libretto for the first, and then troubles began not to rain but to pour upon him. But let Verdi tell his own story:

"I lived at that time in a small and modest apartment in the neighbourhood of the Porta Ticinese, and I had my little family with me, that is to say my young wife and our two little children. I had hardly begun my work when I fell seriously ill of a throat complaint, which compelled me to keep my bed for a long time. I was beginning to be convalescent, when I remembered that the rent, for which I wanted fifty ecus, would become due in a few days. At that time if such a sum was of importance to me, it was no very serious matter; but my painful illness had not allowed me to provide it in time, and the state of communications with Busseto (in those days the post only went twice a week) did not leave me the opportunity of writing to my excellent father-in-law Barezzi to enable him to send the necessary funds. I wished, whatever trouble it might give to me, to pay my lodging on the day fixed, and although much annoyed at being obliged to have recourse to a third person, I nevertheless decided to beg the engineer Pasetti to ask Merelli on my behalf for the fifty ecus which I wanted, either in the form of an advance under the conditions of my contract, or by way of loan for eight or ten days, that is to say the time necessary for writing to Busseto and receiving the said sum.

"It is useless to relate here how it came about that Merelli, without any fault on his part, did not advance me the fifty ecus in question. Nevertheless, I was much distressed at letting the rent day of the lodgings go by. My wife then, seeing my annoyance, took a few articles of jewelry which she possessed, and succeeded, I know not how, in getting together the sum necessary, and brought it to me. I was deeply touched at this proof of affection, and promised myself to return them all to her, which, happily, I was able to do with little difficulty, thanks to my agreement.

"But now began for me the greatest misfortunes. My 'bambino' fell ill at the beginning of April, the doctors were unable to discover the cause of his ailment, and the poor little thing, fading away, expired in the arms of his mother, who was beside herself with despair. That was not all. A few days after my little daughter fell ill in turn, and her complaint also terminated fatally. But this even was not all. Early in June my young companion herself was attacked by acute brain fever, and on the 19th of June, 1840, a third coffin was carried from my house.

"I was alone!--alone! In the space of about two months, three loved ones had disappeared for ever. I had no longer a family. And, in the midst of this terrible anguish, to avoid breaking the engagement I had contracted, I was compelled to write and finish a comic opera!

"'Un Giorno di Regno' did not succeed. A share of the want of success certainly belongs to the music, but part must also be attributed to the performance. My soul, rent by the misfortunes which had overwhelmed me, my spirit, soured by the failure of the opera, I persuaded myself that I should no longer find consolation in art, and formed the resolution to compose no more! I even wrote to the engineer Pasetti (who since the fiasco of 'Un Giorno di Regno' had shown no signs of life) to beg him to obtain from Merelli the cancelling of my contract."

This story is sad enough, Heaven knows, without the melodramatic frills that have been put upon it. You will read in certain sketches, and even Mr. Elbert Hubbard has enambered the fable in one of his "Little Journeys," that Verdi's wife was ill during the performance of the opera, that the first act was a great success, and he ran home to tell her. The second act was also successful, and he ran home again, not noting that his wife was dying of starvation. The third act, and he was hissed off the stage, and flew home, only to find his wife dead. The chief objection to the story is the fact that his wife died on the 19th of June, 1840, and the opera was not produced until the 5th of September that same year. But it is tragic enough that he should have been compelled to write a comic opera under the anguish that he felt at the loss of his two children and his wife, and that his reward should have been even then a dismal fiasco.

He was dissuaded from his vow to write no more, and it was in a driving snow-storm that his friend Merelli decoyed him to a field, in which so much fame was awaiting him.

This Merelli had first become interested in Verdi from overhearing the singer Signora Strepponi praising Verdi's first opera. This was before the failure of the comic opera and the annihilation of Verdi's family.

When Merelli had at length decoyed Verdi back to composition, his next work, "Nabucco," was a decided success, the principal part being taken by this same Strepponi. She had made her début seven years before, and was a singer of dramatic fire and vocal splendour, we are told. Her enthusiasm for Verdi's work not only fastened the claim of operatic art upon him, but won his interest in her charms also, and Verdi and she were soon joined in an alliance, which after some years was legalised and churched. She shortly after left the stage without waiting to "lag superfluous" there. Thenceforward she shared with Verdi that life of quiet retirement from the world in which he played the patriarch and the farmer, breeding horses and watching the harmonies of nature with almost more enthusiasm than the progress of his art.

So much for the Italian opera composers. How do the Germans compare?


The old composer Hasse, like Rossini, being himself the most popular composer of the day, married one of the most popular singers of her time, and scored a double triumph with her. This was the famous Faustina.

Mendelssohn's friend, Carl Zelter, was a busy lover, as his autobiography makes plain. One of his flirtations was with an artistic Jewess, with whom he quarrelled and from whom he parted, because they could not agree upon the art of suicide as outlined in Goethe's then new work, "The Sorrows of Werther."

Albert Lortzing was married before he was twenty, and lived busily as singer, composer, and instrumentalist, travelling here and there with a family that increased along with his debts. It was not till after his death, and then by a public subscription, that his family knew the end of worry.

Similarly the public came to the aid of Robert Franz, before his death, thanks to Liszt and others. For Franz, who had married the song composer, Marie Hinrichs, lost his hearing and drifted to the brink of despair before a series of concerts rescued him from starvation.

Heinrich Marschner was married three times, his latter two wives being vocalists. Thalberg married a daughter of the great singer Lablache; she was the widow of the painter Boucher, whose exquisite confections every one knows. They had a daughter, who was a singer of great gifts.

Meyerbeer in 1825 lost his father, whom he loved to the depth of his large heart. At the father's death-bed he renewed an old love with his cousin, Minna Mosson, and they were betrothed. Niggli says she was "as sweet as she was fair." Two years later he married her. She bore him five children, of whom three, with the wife, survived him and inherited his great fortune.

Josef Strauss, son of a saloon-keeper, married Anna Streim, daughter of an innkeeper. After she had borne him five children, they were divorced on the ground of incompatibility. How many children did they want for compatibility's sake? Their son Johann married Jetty Treffy in 1863; she was a favourite public singer, and her ambition raised him out of a mere dance-hall existence to the waltz-making for the world. When she died he paid her the exquisite compliment of choosing another singer, before the year was over, for the next waltz. Her name was Angelica Dittrich.

Joachim Raff fell in love with an actress named Doris Genast, and followed her to Wiesbaden in 1856; he married her three years later, and she bore him a daughter.

The Russian Glinka was sent travelling in search of health. He liked Italian women much and many, but it was in Berlin that he made his declarations to a Jewish contralto, for whose voice he wrote six studies. But he married Maria Pétrovna Ivanof, who was young, pretty, quarrelsome, and extravagant. She brought along also a dramatic mother-in-law, and he set out again for his health. His wife married again, and the scandal of the whole affair preyed on him so that he went to Paris and sought diversion recklessly along the boulevards.

His countryman, Anton Rubinstein, married Vera Tschekonanof in 1865. She accompanied him on his first tour, but after that, not.

The Bohemian composer Smetana married his pupil, Katharine Kolar; he was another of those whose happiness deafness ruined. He was immortalised in a composition as harrowing as any of Poe's stories, or as Huneker's "The Lord's Prayer in B," the torment of one high note that rang in his head unceasingly, until it drove him mad.


Among the beautiful figures, whom the critical historian tries to drive back into that limbo, where an imaginary Homer flirts with a fabulous Pocahontas, we are asked to place the alleged one love of Schubert's life. Few composers have been so overweighted with poverty or so gifted with loneliness as Franz Schubert. His joy was spasmodic and short, but his sorrow was persistent and deep.

He, who sang so many love songs, could hardly be said to have been in any sense a lover. Once he wrote of himself as a man so wrecked in health, that he was one "to whom the happiness of proffered love and friendship is but anguish; whose enthusiasm for the beautiful threatens to vanish altogether." Of his music he wrote, that the world seemed to like only that which was the product of his sufferings, and of his songs he exclaimed: "For many years I sang my Lieder. If I would fain sing of love, it turned to pain; or if I would sing of pain, it turned to love. Thus I was torn between love and sorrow."

He had a few flirtations, and one or two strong friendships, but the thought of marriage seems to have entered his mind only to be rejected. In his diary he wrote:

"Happy is he who finds a true friend; happier still is he who finds in his wife a true friend. To the free man at this time, marriage is a frightful thought: he confounds it either with melancholy or low sensuality." One of his first affairs of the heart was with Theresa Grob, who sang in his works, and for whom he wrote various songs and other compositions. But he also wrote for her brother, and besides, she married a baker. Anna Milder, who had been a lady's maid, but became a famous singer and married a rich jeweller and quarrelled with Beethoven and with Spontini, was a sort of muse to Schubert, sang his songs in public, and gave him much advice.

Mary Pachler was a friend of Beethoven's, and after his death seems to have turned her friendship to Schubert, with great happiness to him.

But the legendary romance of Schubert's life occurred when he was twenty-one, and a music teacher to Carolina Esterházy. He first fell in love with her maid, it is said, and based his "Divertissement à l'Hongroise" on Hungarian melodies he heard her singing at her work. There is no disguising the fact that Schubert, prince of musicians, was personally a hopeless little pleb. He wrote his friend Schober in 1818 of the Esterházy visit: "The cook is a pleasant fellow; the housemaid is very pretty and often pays me a visit; the butler is my rival." Mozart also ate with the servants in the Archbishop's household, though it ground him deep.

But Schubert was too homely even for a housemaid, so in despair he turned to the young countess and loved her-they say, till death. Once, she jokingly demanded why he had never dedicated anything to her, and the legend says he cried: "Why should I, when everything I write is yours?"

The purveyors of this legend disagree as to the age of the young countess; some say she was seventeen, and some that she was eleven, while those who disbelieve the story altogether say that she was only seven years old. But now you have heard the story, and you may take it or leave it. There is some explanation for the belief that Schubert did not dare to love or declare his love, and some reason to believe that his reticence was wise and may have saved him worse pangs, in the fact that he was only one inch more than five feet high, and yet fat and awkward; stoop-shouldered, wild-haired, small-nosed, big-spectacled, thick-lipped, and of a complexion which has been called pasty to the point of tallowness. Haydn, however, almost as unpromising, was a great slayer of women. But Schubert either did not care, or did not dare.

He reminds one of Brahms, a genial giant, who was deeply devoted in a filial way to Clara Schumann after the death of Schumann, but who never married, and of whom I find no recorded romance.

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