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The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1916-1920, August 10, 1919, Section 3 Magazine Section, Image 26

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What the Music
Remarkable Achievements Reflect
Genuine Originality of Man Who
Trusted All to 'His Own Genius
and Found His Chief Joy in
Being an Impresario
WHEN the newspaper men of
London surrounded Oscar
Hammerstein on the eve of
the opening of tho opera house he had
built In the British' metropolis and
implored him to say with-what 'he was
going to open, tho Impresario ,'fcfiri
America repuea: -
"With debts."
A new word, a real American word
ought to bycolned to fit Oscar Ham;
mersteln. He loved the word 'Im
presario' and rolled It constantly on
his tongue, but It Is too foreign to de
scribe Hammerstein and his activities.
At the funeral the other day there
were many men In tears who hadn't
wept for years. These were tho men
who had been most closely associated
with Hammerstein in the climax of
his life and musical career at the Man
hattan Opera House. They were men
who had at times suffered from his sin
gular personality. They appreciated
the fine qualities of the man and for
got in their admiring remembrance of
Ms genuine originality the squalls
through which they had passed with
him at the helm. Their tears were gen
uine and made a beautiful tribute to
the good things, and they predoml
nated in this strange character.
Money a Sienna, Not nn End.
Money to Oscar Hammerstein was
but a means to an end. It would be
using too big a phrase to nay that ho
was an idealist and beUoved in art for
art's sake. His early hardships and
the defects of his education kept htm
from that pose. He liked money be
cause it permitted his joy in life to
develop, and this Joy came from be
ing an Impresario.
It is not quite cortain that he really
enjoyed music or in a lifetime devoted
to It in a peculiar personal way that
ho ever understood the goddesy. He
made no effort to enter her kingdom
by the recognized door, and ho scoffed
at tho preliminary steps which lead to
the altar. May wo not say, without
putting ourselves In that unpleasant
class that takes a certain ghoulish
pleasure In decrying the dead, that if
he had educated himself in muslo or In
the other arts and sciences he dallied
with, Oscar Hammerstein would have
lett-a greater name and -would himself
have been a .happier and wiser manT
This Is a mere plea for convention
ality in art! a plea fopthe belief that
to know anatomy and perspoctlve does
no harm to the most idealistic and
color drunken pointer, that the study
m of what the world has tn great archi
tecture benefits the man who designs
summer cottages.
Art has her Immutable rules and the
true worshipper learns them first and
then departs from them.
Aa overweening confidence In one's
elf; a conceit that It la the fashion to
ceil nowadays pathological vanity, Is
a marketable quality. We see what It
seHa for every day. But when the
bargain Is mads the purchaser ac
quires wisdom. He rarely buys such
a commodity again. This conceit, this
vanity is the attribute that nature
employs very often to get her work
done'.' Especially when that work is
something grandiose! and scares tho
careful man who is In the habit of
measuring accurately his own capa
bllltles. Poor devil, his very care to
tw accurate in making the measure
ments often prevents him from doing
w uui ia conventional things.
Modesty In our world Is the angel of
the fireside- and the evil demon of tho
This strange combination of man
who has but departed from life was
a genius and he look advantage of
trot fact by seldom or rarely pre-'
paring himself or his materials -for an1
overwhelming success. He rrl53e"
wonderful record through his belle"! In
himself, he accomplished things he
might not have attempted It the trait
of foresight had been granted along
with his other great endowments, but
It would be fatal to say . . . fatal'
to all rules of probability, what he
might have accomplished with this
gift added.
Hammerstein was a natural genius
In many directions and he had never
any hesitation In making the state
ment "I am a genius," said he boldly and
as if defying contradiction, "as a me
chanic, as an inventor, as a chemist,
and most of all as a musician.''
Oddly enough; for statements like
this, while 'they may dazzle, generally
lead to laughter, what he said he dem
onstrated. He was a mechanical
genius without knowing very much of,
physics. The stage hands and car
penters and mechanicians used to go
to blm when their mechanical troubles
got beyond them, and with no pains at
all, without explanation of how he did
It. and it may bo without knowing how
he did it, he straightened out their
difficulties. It was the same In ar
tistic things about which ho may not
have been expected to know very
much; he had a remedy for tangles
of this fcind also and applied It with
out regard to precedent. The confi
dent manner In which he went at aU
things half solved them, and there may
have, been that fine aualltv of "horse
sense" added to his other assortment
of traits.
That he dldnt ftDDly It to oersonal
criticism was for tho result the sad
dest part. He built him a house
rather early In his career in the Mount
Morris Park neighborhood whore he
was his own architect This house
was a mixture of majestic architec
tural features, incongruous for Its
size, and meretricious ornament which
would Indicate in the builder corre
sponding traits and tastes. It was, he
thought at tho time, the house he
wanted and It served the purpose of
impressing the ignorant, but Hammer
stein learned' better In a very short
time and decided that it "was not the
bquse he wanted. Throughout his
career of builder, however, ho con
tinued to do what he liked. The re
sult -was that ho has left no perfect
architectural monument.
What la Conscience?
Lack of knowledge in an .art. If it
be but deep enough and urged by a
powerful pride, Is a. force. That has
been proved to the dismay of many
devotees of art who would gladly lay
down their lives at her shrine. Never,
It would seem, has the dismay spread
so wide as it goes to-day. The suc
cess men .achieve In making them'
selves remarked, opposed and accepted.
who lack the qualities that the cold
principles ox art demand in her VO'
tarles, is very, confusing to a student
of art,. He sees a painting or a statue
or a building gain the admiration
of the world when the books all teach
him that each Is falw In principle. In
his lack of worldly wisdom he takes
It for granted that a painter, a sculp
tor, a musician, must have an artistic
conscience and that every artist fits
himself by study and reflection to ex
pose It What the student does not
define correctly Is the word "con
s U i iimmit ItTii ar.....- n MMBfJB I fciM Wis, In i il 1 Mi -HI 1U inf9IMU?H'4))hi3 I
science." It Is the reflection in our
selves of our neighbors' opinions of
us. If you don't value their opinion
there need be no conscience.
Hammerstein didn't Everything ho
did was done because he wanted to do
it, and to do It In his own. way. There
is-'much' To 'adnflnP ihr-tbe 'bigness11!;
his courage and In the way that he'
sacrificed money, past achievement
everything ho had gained by work and
thought to do something "beyond" that
tempted this proud, self-confident
spirit This lndepenence of mind
saved him, in his career of builder in
the midst of sordid battles with con
tractors and every sort of annoying
commercial controversy, from going
under as smaller men would have gone.
Wafted .forward on the strong breeza
of his own Judgment which he ner
learned to .distrust he went from dis
appointment blithely .to new achieve
ment But no man can go througn.
sucn an ordeal wltnout marks on his
soul, and there Isn't a doubt but that
Hammerstein had them. At this period.
between the building and the loss of
Olympia and the construction of the
Victoria Theatre, a certain morose-
ness, which he tried among his friends
to throw off, Indicated the marks In
side. But at this very period ho was
dreaming his most shining dream
. . . to throw off the old vaude
ville man and put on the impresario.
What Blade Hnmjnertcln ?
What made Hammerstein? What
early training, what hereditary traits,
what education or lack of education.
what Influence of people .contributed
to the full growth of this barbarlo
Born in Berlin, he had run away
from a despotlo father whose Ideas of
education were to make an "all round"
son without permitting natural bent
to have a say. Ho had to study scl-
Former War Dog Becomes Fire Fighters' Mascot
WHEN the men of the gas bat
tallon of the Seventy-seventh
Division let loose their
pigeon messengers during the rainy,
spirit depressing days of the Argonns
Forest and Mouse fighting It often
happened that tho birds never reached
the friendly loft In the front or rear
lines. The story of how the birds fell,
wounded by shrapnel. Is now history.
But the story of the stray dogs which
associated themselves with the battal
ions heading for the front lines, and
then accredited themselves by doing
the most daring of things is yet to be
told. Americans who soldiered in
France will never forget the stray
dogs that made friends with the
doughboys. Every contingent that
landed at Brest, St Nazalre, La Pol
lice, Bordeaux or other port was bound
to come upon one of these stray dogs
Inland. Like au war refugees the dogs
were always hungry and they quickly
realised the doughboys were friend
worth having.
Over tn the quarters of Engine Com
patty No. 19, at 355 West Twenty-fifth
street, there is a small undorslzed Dal
matian who wags his tall when one
calls him, "Ted." Wflfh this dog goes
an Interesting history of how, before
me nrcmen came into possession or
him, he lived, with and did errands f of
the herolo men who made up the gar
battalion of the Seventy-seventh Dlvl
slon. This mascot, a thoroughbred
Lost When Oscar Hammerstein Died
ence, especially chemistry; he had to
learn bookkeeping and other things ho
hated, and the only relaxation per
mitted htm the lad found In the bow
French War dog, was known on the'
western front by all tho soldiers of the
division as "Phosgene." He Introduced
himself to Company O of the gas bat
talion soon after the St Mlhlel action
and was befriended by Sergeant Harry
J, Bailey. A few handfuls of slum
gullion and cornod "willie" convinced
the stranger that his associates tad
"beaucoup chow," Ono night the gas
battalion found themselves up on the
front lines observing German artillery
fire, which hadu plentiful mixture of
gas shells. Some pigeons went bock
with messages, but an hour later the
men stationed upat the front realized
their messengers wore falling them
Then tho thought of training the dog,
whom all endearingly called Phosgene,
occurred. In very short time the men
by dividing themselves into small
groups and hiding In the dense wood
land of the Argonne Forest trained
the dog to carry messages from one
group to another.
Time and again thereafter In actual
battle Phosgene made, good, tramping
back and forth from rear to front
lines with a message hidden under his
collar, which some of the men had
made for him and on which was
placed a silver plate with the divisional
name and company letter of tho outfit
to which tho dog was' accredited. Tho
dog had many narrow escapes from
bursting shells, but ho always carried
He was a marvel at leaping across
shell holes and trenches. The least
noise when he was at the front from
the direction of the enemy was sure
.to be detected by the dog. He seemed
of his violin. After the parent had
beaton him unmercifully with a skate
strap young Oscar sold his violin for
$35. ran away to Hamburg and
to know Just what he was doing and
how it should bo done. He showed
great aversion to German prisoners,
and when a line of Boches were
marched by he would daft out and
bark defiance at them. I
After the armistice was signed Phox-
geno came back with the division. It
was an easy matter to smuggle blm
aboard a transport at Brest and carry
him to Camp Merritt when the gas
battalion arrived in this country.
Then every one in the hurry and ex
citement of getting nomo overiooxea
the dog. He was being sadly neglected
when Fireman William Kennolly of
Engine Company 19 found him at the
camp. Kennelly was Just about to
leave the service, and after ho had
solemnly promised the men that he.
wou'id get the dog a good berth In the
engine house over in Chelsea village
they allowed htm to take their friend.
The firemen changed his nam from
Phosgene to Tud."
In telling about Ted. and his now
career with tho city lire department.
Captain Ferdinand Butenschoen of No.
19 said: "Why, all the village la crazy
about the dog. When any one looks
at his collar and sees that he has been
to war they make friends with Ted
forthwith. He Is a very Intelligent
little fellow. Whenever wo get an
alarm hero he runs around the chauf
feur to see If he Is going to crank up
the motor on the hosa tender. You
see we only turn the motor over when
we are scheduled to go out on a sta
tion. Otherwise we do not touch the
apparatus. Well, this dog watches to
ses If the crank Is touched, and when
crossed the ocean to America In the
steerage. Hero he workod In a cigar
factory tor $2 a week, and when by
showing his boss some Improved way
to cut tobacco leaves this wage was
Increased to $5 weekly ho married.
Now his mind was turned to In
venting Improved machinery for the
cigar manufacturing business. Ills
patents proved valuable and coirc
apondlngly his own value to an em
ployer rose. Ho became editor of a
little sheet known as tho Tobacco
Trade Jnrnal. In a word, a life of
comparative comfort opened before
Then, as later, he deliberately turned
his back on such a lifo. His ambition
was to be a theatrical manager, and
when he had enough money saved up
from the tobacco business ho leased
It is ho leaps right up on the rear of
tho wagon and rides to the fire with
us. Sometimes tho mon fool him by
making bellevo they are going to
'crank her up,' and tho dog Jumps
up on the roar. Then they run away
and laugh at him. He climbs slowly
down and surveys tho crowd with a
look in his eyes whjch plainly means
f lease aon t iooi mo iiko mac
"I am very glad that he rides on the
wagon, because It moans he will not
meet the fate of other fire house mas
cots who run ahead of the apparatus
and get killed. Ho Is a wlso little fel
low and, like a" lot of 'tho boys from
around here who went to war, he
learned something in France."
Peddling in Uniform
TCt THEN you seo a man In uniform
yy peddling souvenirs do not Jump
v v to tho conclusion that he Is a
poor soldier In need. In all probability
ho Is an impostor using tho American
uniform as a stock In trade for mak
ing a living. It Is your duty to notify
tho nearest policeman and have his
case investigated.
Col. Arthur Woods, assistant to the
Secretary of War, has written to tho
chief of police In every city In the
United States asking for the coopcrtv
tlon of the police In dealing with the
peddler, panhandler and street faker
In the unlfbcm of tho army and navy,
Tho uniform, he says, is as sacred as
the flag itself, and the police forcos
of tho country can do no finer thing
than "go to any limit to protect If
the Stadt Theatre, opposite the Thalia
Theatre in tho Bowery, and produced
thero "An Errant Knight" It wns a
Unlit to l'lenae nimaelr.
Without being discouraged, he cm-
barked In tho construction line and
put up first the Harlem Opera House
and second the Columbus Thentro.
These preceded Olympia and Victoria,
and among his later buildings In this
city aro tho Manhattan Opera House
and the Lexington Avenue Opera
House. Tho buildings ho erected for
opera In Philadelphia and London need
not affect what Is to bo said about
those which stand for his monument
In New York. The latter are invari
ably characterized by an unfinished
air. as well aa a lack of oomfort which
Is harder to support than their lack of
elegance. In every Instance Hammer
stein built to suit himself and not his
"I wasn't thoroughly taught to bo a
builder, a machinist, a chemist, or any
thing else," said he, nursing a grudge
of a lifetime against his fathor, "Had
I boon; who knows what -I may have
accomplished In one of them? But It
Is as well, for my passion la muslo. I
should have been a great composer."
Feeling thuB while still in the. prime
of life and with vaudeville at the Vic
toria marking triumphal tlmo for him,
what would have been more natural
than for the operatic aspirant to study
the arts of harmony and counterpoint
whatsoever drudging first steps divine
music requires? But no; sedulously
and oven contemptuously avoiding
theso suro paths (for they certainly
lead Bomewhere), ho set ,to work to
compose a light' opera or two. One of
these, "Snnta Maria," was produced
without success.
Ill Unparalleled Feat.
Nevertheless, from that failure, Ham
merstein passod at once to the proud
position of a world Impresario. In
1906 the Manhattan Opera House
proved hospitable to a flock of singing
birds from Europe of a degree of
splendor rivalling tho aviary of the
Metropolitan Opera House. One man
unassisted had gathered them thero,
It was njcat without a parnllej.
It Is not Just to soy that the triumph
of this first ueuson of opera at the
Manhattan Operu House was merely
a success of circumstance, duo to tho
growing boredom which a succession
of broken tenors and fleshy German
sopranos living on the relio of repu-
I of the Metropolitan, fitxaagehj enough.
this man born In Germany had buz
little admiration for German lingers.
"They all want too much money,"
he used to say, whatever ho felt c(
admiration for the great Wagner. He
know little Indeed of musical history
and confined himself to two or three
modern composers, French and Italian,
but his outspoken contempt tor tht
"old masters" found warrant In thi
taste of tho public.
His first operatlo season bore out
his judgment. At the start of tht
second, "Thais" on Its first night at
tracted a house of curiosity. It drew
real admirers before tho first wcekwia
donn and the same may be said of
other modern scores first Introtod
by Hammerstein. But while hla Judg
ment of what the public wanted In
opera In those days hit the bull'a ere,
his triumph Is not properly to be at
tributed to chance. It Is a great Usk
to summon from nothing a fine com
pany for opera, a great orchestra, the
Scenes, the costumes. Indoed to evolve
the setting merely In a house without
tradition Is a task tnat would etagsM
most Imaginations. Hammerstein car
ried It out In cold blood.
IIoiv lie Doncht an Opera.
Ho meant first of all to triumph,
and the cause of music, if it were tote
' furthered, came secondary. His doubt
about "Pelleas and Mell.sande" as ex
pressed by himself and the comiwr
clal decision ho rendered in the esse
of "Thais" would prove that no care
was to be omitted which should at
tract people to his opera. He had never
heard a certain new opera, but while
waiting In tho drawing room of Cava
Hori In Paris as she was running ove
some new music with a tenor. Ham
merstein Jumped to tho conclusion that
tho piece was the much heralded Kore,
and cutting snort his Interview wlt'i
the diva ho rushed to the rompofw "
sign a contract frr the exclusion ri-hti
for America.
"But will you not hear my music!
asked the famous Massenet
"Afterword! Afterward' '' rej'llcdlt
busy Hammerstein,
Following that eventful firt 5"?
when all signs had fallnd and onlv the
audacious Impresario had won. Hair.
morutein became In outward appear
ance and manner a changed man Ilii
mien now lived up to what lie tlioutht
was tho true impresario model Oon
were tho shirtsleeve days and FilfOt
the hoarso voice singing its oR"
strange compositions. Now in immac
ulate garb under tho famous high h"'
Hammerstein demanded and rc-c!N
tho bomago of his singers and the
deference of tho nubile. AcceptM-fl-'
an arbiter of music, ho turned hlscrlV
leal faculties to other arts beside n
did not hesltato to pass upon a tooK
or a picture. He was of Uie moderns
In all theso things. Listen to a thing
he often said, for It is lllumlnaung
the man:
II In Scorn of tho CIrmIc
"What do wo need of the art and
literature and music of dead people'
Theso were mado for tliclr own as
and raco by tho men who.a names
read on tombstones. They never
thought of America or tho twenties
century when they compo-ed and m
hear thorn here like eavesdroppers.
Tho Richard Strauss operas are
, 4 V ,-1
our day and we can nror -without
eavesdropping, npparerw.
Hammerstein presented "Salome" aa
"Electra" a3 If their composer no
thrown his scores at the puoiiu -Hommorsteln's
lart year at the Mn
hattan Opera House he offered
mado of both theso ultra mw
Bcores. Such generosity stunned nn
Now came tho moment when Wm
merstcif was to be bribed to fllnt'
A cold million and two hundred thou
sand dcllars took him for a period
yoars out of the character ho 0("r''
loved to play. In explaining '
rangement ho made with the U'(C"
of the Metropolitan Opera House w
Impresario laid stress on the bud mui
cal year he had endured in Mn"
with the elder house and h1'"
polntraont In Philadelphia and Low0"
and his need of rest ,v-
Most men would hare taktrn
money and enjoyed life on It r j
Hammerstein, Or rather Just to H"
mersteln. Ills way of e-Mojlng
was to produce; lie could not rust '
xpent a Inih-e part of tlie mon.'
building the ioxlngton Avenue w--
- . . ..... . fnr APre
uouso unu lie itveu nuninh -
20, 1020, to como around. Wilcb wou.
removo tho legal restrain' thai : iw
him from producing opera. A 6 '
on his dying bed In tho Lenox AJ
nue Hospital, without fearing tj1" "
was his dying bed, ho ouii""
great plana,
r r .
urn ' .., ' '

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