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New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, January 27, 1907, Image 36

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Reminiscences of Emma Thursby
A Pen Pic/ ure Showing Some of the Great Singers
Varied Experiences in the World's Musical Centers
" Mr. Gilmore. I Have
Cume to Engage You
for a Concert." I Said.
THE beginning of my professional career
as a singer came about through the
interest of John A. Gray, a noted printer
< i his time, who had a lane establish
ment on Franklin Square. ;. He came to
my mother one day, and asked, "Won't you let
Emma sing in church?" As I was only twelve
years old, ere was some hesitation; but finally
he had his way, and I was taken to Dr. Porter's
church on iiedford-ave., to sing in the choir.
While there had not been any suggestion of pay
ment fur my services, 1 think, perhaps, I should not
have been allowed to enter into the arrangement
but for the bope that it might lead to something; for
our means v. ..re small, he large business interests of
ir.y father in Williamsburg having been almost lost
through the mismanagement of others after his
death. And sure enough, in a month or two offers of
a salary came- from other churches.
"If she is worth paying, we will pay her," was
Mr. Gray's answer. And a contract was signed,
*')'■ the agreement that I should be released if an
other chun h offered me four hundred dollars. This
soon followed, and finally I was singing in the Broad
way Tabernacle, at the largest salary up to that
toe ever j>uid to a church singer.
with this money 1 was enabled to pay the entire
««* of my musical education. (And I would say here
•-hat I Hank every young singer should do the same,
"hen we earn our own way, it not only teaches us
the value < f money, but it teaches us the value of
•he lessons that we take, and to turn every mo
ment of these advantages to account.)
A Tiny Manager
Meeting with Patrick Sarsfield Gihnore,
the lamented bandmaster, was a funny one,
md •■•■ oft. j, laughed over it later. At that time I was
i-^all girl of fourteen singing in the choir of the
«=dJwd-av»-. lurch in Williamsburg. One rainy
enveloped in a waterproof and carrying a big
laajwclla, j c;i]l^j on him .it his home on Twelfth-st.
"' came into the room with an air of quizzical
plainly expecting another aspirant who
"Sated his belptb get on her feet. " Mr. Gilmore,"
* said, without waiting for any questions, for I
WU>er EUSpected his manner, "I have come to
~&& you and your band lor a concert." He was
plainly Surprised; but the engagement was made,
«na the concert was a very successful one.
long after tins Mr. Gilmore reciprocated. and
me for a tour of the entire country with his
hS^ rat * On * "' s l " •• ■ rti were the beginning of
whT ni * own ' ar '"'' r and ln at of Mine. Nordica,
t« riT' 1 a I Jl*^*ranoesJ I*^*ranoes throughout her native land
'!{'. " iy < '' %vn - with Gilmore's band.
■r, ? V ' as n '' '" rr^»^ry l»andmaster; his acquaint
*•«<-• viiih jnuMcal literature was remarkable, and
If WUS UU) " u k his music that I found the arias that
I I**} fT°«« for Jiis sister-in-law, Alo V :,ia Weber.
»«oa t think that my teacher, Mine Rudersdorf, had
r-JrT. h '" 1I ' i . <A them. She saw at oik that they
,'v/ '" uliarly adapted to my voice, and taught
.1 11 l " """. and it was with them that I made my
ft,, , / UC<<;HSI ' S - Gilmore was a very kind man,
Jr^Shtful " { Ihose alxiut him in a great, big heart
*}> a"'! v true Irish gentleman.
g" was always Mr. Gilmorc's custom to put "The
j-.r pT^ngl'-dp T^ngl'-d Banner" at the clone of the program
was ' . • ys t^ at ' ang with him, when his popularity
Al Us n«ght. The custom grew with me, and,
«-.t .i ship concert one Fourth <>i July, while < i
t<> England, I sang it as ;i matter of course. On the
same occasion Mr. Booth gave a monologue, and < He
Hull played the violin.
Sir Edward Thornton, the British Ministei ai
Washington, was in our audience that day. At the
close <■£ "The Star Spangled Banner" h<- sprang
to his feet , his face beaming with enthu
and exclaimed, "I didn't know you had such a
Prince (ieorge "f Hohenzollern, a nephew oi
the <>I<l Emperor, was another enthusiast for <>-it
national anthem. He was a very cultivated man,
had written a number of plays, and was a yj< -a; lover
of music. In his early life h<- had been a strong
admirer of lime. Pasta, the noted singer. Her ac
companist ha<l been Maurice Strakosch, who was
also my manager and aa ompanist ; and so an intro
duction w.is brought about.
Prince George would sit bj the h"ur to listen, to
me practise; but nothing that I sang seemed to stir
a deeper chord in him than that same "Star Span
gled Banner"; once, when I sang i; in a concert in
Baden, with three generations of Emperors in the
audience, h<- hurried up to me and said, " Y"u must
sing it again!"
At the time the Americans present thought it bad
taste that I should sinjj our national anthem to the
rul«-r of another people, little knowing thai tli<: Em
peror had heard of it in advance from his nephew,
and expressed a strong wish to have it included in
th<- program. The old Emperor William, the Crown
Prince, later Emperor Frederick, and th>- present
Emperor William were there The dear old Em
peror, so genial and charmingly courtly, was wild
o\«t "The Star Spangled Banner."
Popularity of an American Song
THE three royalties sat in front of the rest of th<
audience, and I could see the excited glow on
his face as I sang it. Just how deeply it stirred
him I did not know until years afterward. When
Mrs. Corbin, wife of the General, then Miss Patten,
was received by him in audience, he said t<> her,
"I always thought that we had the most beautiful
national air in the world, until I heard your Miss
Thursby sing The Star Spangled Banner. "
My first tour abroad was made without an;, man
ager, and my entire training has been American.
I think I may say that I am the only American t
whom this pleasant lot has fallen. My teachers
were Aehille Errani and Mine Rudersdorf. She it
was who so kindly made all the arrangements for
my London appearances before 1 started. My
debut at the Phuharmonk there was so successful
that I was reengaged, and sang at the Crystal Palace
and in other series under the direction of such men
as Sir Michad Costa, Sir Julius Hen. diet. Mr
Mannes and Sir Charles Hatte*.
From London we went over to F'ari< My fii I
engagement, unknown and unheralded, was to have
In-en made with Pasddoup's Orchestra, bui a sudden
death in his family postponed the affair. A friend
advised me to sing with his rival Colomu . whoa yeai
or two ago made
such a tine impres
sion in New ork.
1 was anxious and
nervous, for I knew
how difficult the
I'aris public was.
I shall never for
get the rehearsal;
Tb« M«.icu«. Stood Up Wh«. I H.d F.ni.hed.
the musician stood ..[ and i>eai <:i their in^tn.
ments when 1 had I snnn
courage for the n< x\ da • con
cert was one thai no artisi iouW witness unmoved
U ben I fii t came out then ■••..,■ • I ai terribli
which gets on one's nerves, for no <•!!<• km w who !
was or an) thin^ about me I had chosen for mj tirsi
number Mozart 'f "Alia Speranza Adorata." one o!
t ho arias I had found among Gilmore' music, which
always ;i kind ol tali man with me, and I in
variably began with it whin I »"ul<!. Later 1 -.n..
\'-.-< h's " Air With Variat k>ns
1 was overwhelmed by the demon tration that
followed. If you have seen an enthusiast^ i'an
audience, you will understand me when I say thai it
i'l like a torch tow hed to .i cott< n held. i '.•
nexi day the papers were very | Ito me, and
I.i 'I>l' 'up came back to town furious l>ei.iu<e his
concert had noi been the one to cause the commotion
But he overlooked it, and engaged me for the next
Sunday. Gounod, Ambroise Thomas, and man)
othergreai musicians were in the audience. It was in
Paris that they struck a special medal for me at th<
Conservatoire after I sang there, and on anothei
si"ii th<- Soeit'te dcs Concerts sent me a testimonial
igned by Ambroise Thomas, Gounod, Vk tor Masse,
Keyer, Ma senet. and other celebrities, petitioning
me to abandon my decision never to sing in opera
Influence of an Early Promise
A LITTLE later.when Mr Strakosch undertookmy
management, and while 1 was singing fifteen
concerts with orchestra in Barcelona, with Saint -
Sai m- . 1 1 s « 1 Mas: enei asoi inductors, the telegrams kept
coming from the Grand * »] nr. i in Paris, where they
wished to engage me But I had been brought uj>
with the <>M puritanical ideas aboul opera. Now
the point of view lias changed, if 1 had it t" <1 •
over again, 1 should certainly have adopted an
operatic career Hut before I lirst sailed iron.
America, my besi friends, one alter another, would
come :in<l say sadly, "Promise me never tn sing n.
opera!" I promised, and 1 kept it. 1 didn't know
then that 1 could change my mind.
Many happy days followed in succeeding summers
when I sang under Mr. Strakosch 's managemeni in
Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Denmark, Sweden,
and Norway. My love for Norway was aroused on
my lust visit there, when Bergen j.' ;iVt -" »"«■ ;"> m -
forgettable welcome After my concert for the
()le Bull monument fund, twenty thousand pe< -
pie ir ivded the square in trout of the hotel. 1
stepped out on the balcony with John Lund, a noted
political figure. Leaning forward, he asked the
people to sin^'. There were thousands of them and
they broke into the folk songs of Norway.
It was an impressive scene, this multitude of
people, standing in the l-ri^lit twilight of the north
ern summer ni.^lit and pouring forth in tremendous
volume the songs thai (Irie^ and Ole Hull made
famous an unforgettable occasion. When they were
through a silence fell. I knew what they were waiting
for, ami stepped forward and sang in the stillness.
In that same square 1 was enabled later to have
rected a monumeni to <)K- Hull, whose
ove of his people and their liberty was s. ■
trong. He it was who had the lirst ila;^
• I Norway, long before the present inde
ii ndi nee of his country.
It was my privilege to sing in the con
erts of the final tour that the great violinist
lade in America and 1 was often a guest
uring the summer in his home, the Jam.
Russell Lowell house
ai Cambridge, Mas
sachusetts. There
Longfellow, who was
j.assii matelv devoted
to Ole Hull's playing,
was often a visitor,
and there I tirM met
Whittier, the poet.
The dear old man
then seventy,
and had never seen
,i dance. < hie night
Olea, Mr. Bull's
daughter, danced a
Korwegian spring
They thought
Whittier would be
ed ; but he said.
Please repeat it. Ir
is the lirst dance I
ever seen, and
I think it very beau-
King Oscar I met

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