February 24, 2016

The New York City Opera Archives at Columbia University

  1. A New York City Opera archive exists.
  2. How do I know? 
  3. I made some enquires. 
  4. What do I know? 
  5. The NYCO archives comprises records of recent productions which are not digitized (i.e. not drowned), boxes that were "saved" when Sandy flooded NYCO's offices at Broad Street in lower Manhattan (paper and digitized files), and boxes that were underwater, soaked with oil, and salvaged—what could be salvaged actually—by first being freeze-dried, and then scanned digitally. Of course, since there was no catalogue of the original material, there is no way to tell what has been lost. 
  6. This material was sent to the Columbia University library where it sits, uncatalogued, with no finding aid. 
  7. Who paid for all this? 
  8. Taxpayer money from FEMA. 
  9. If you want to see the NYCO archives, Columbia University is going to have to upload the data into its system and create a finding aid. So far, however, that has not happened. 
  10. This writer encourages interested parties to contact the Columbia University library for more information. 

February 20, 2016

The Simple Method of Francesco Cortesi

My main difficulty in "placing" has been in getting a sufficiently bright tone—all my middle and upper voice being deficient in frankness. Doubtless you remember how I had been taught to sing "open" tones up to (middle C) and thence upward to make "covered" ones. The quoted words are, perhaps as good terms to apply as any, but the trouble is that I had not learned how to direct my voice so as to keep any definite texture in it, and the result was that all the tones below in C were veiled, uncertain on intonation, and wholly lacking in character of timbre, whole those above were forced into such pose as they had, and were quite incapable of modulation. In brief, there was almost nothing spontaneous and sure in my entire range. 

At first, with habit and wrong ideas so strongly fixed, it was most difficult to get any tone freely and frankly delivered, but the maestro's patience conquered gradually. For several lessons that dreaded tone (middle C) would come in the old way—dead in sound, devoid of resonance. One Friday he said to me: "Now we can get no further until that tone is given freely and clearly." That was enough for me to know. Taking a full breath I tore out the tone, doing something with it that convinced me that at least it was not impossible to get out of the old groove. The treatment was heroic, perhaps even perilous, but it was radical and proved the maestro's point—that the old ways could be broken and changed. I did not sing again until the following Monday, but was then able to go on with less mental obstruction. No singer can tell until he has been tried, the paralyzing power of false theories, and especially those which are base upon what little we can know of the muscular operations in the singing throat. 

The struggle with the middle C was not, let me explain, for the sake of getting an "open" tone thereon, but to wrench myself away from old mannerisms of production—things learned from so-called "scientific" teachers. The particular trouble in this matter was that I had been taught to press the larynx down as far as possible. The result was the dull, veiled middle tones, and no mental sense of directing the voice so as to produce anything firmer and brighter. Pressing down the larynx, forsooth! One might as well attempt to cool this July weather by pushing down the mercury in the thermometer. Larynx, tongue uvula—all are perhaps in some measure indicators of what is going on, but it is folly to work directly with or upon them in order to place a voice. None of the teachers who muddle over anatomical matter in detail, and thereby create a distressing and hampering consciousness of muscular arrangement, ever turn out an artist—one who makes a really legitimate and successful career. 

—Francis Walker, Letters of a Baritone (1895): 106-109. Walker was a student of Francesco Cortesi.

*****

Francis Walker, the well-known baritone, teacher and lecturer, opens the seventh annual session of his summer school of singing in Florence, Italy, on June 27, and with every prospect of a large measure of success. His own personally conducted party will consist of twenty-five people, who will sail with him on June 3, in the Palatia, of the Hamburg-American Line, and will go to Naples, there spending four days to visit Capri, the Blue Grotto, Sorrento, and Pompeii. Thence the party will go to Rome for five days before proceeding to Florence. In the Tuscan capital the school will be housed in a hotel to make which, some forty years ago, three medieval palaces situated on the Arno were put together. A year ago it was renovated and prepared especially for the school. so that now it possesses all its old time charm of quaintness, and yet is modernized and made convenient in every detail.

Mr. Walker’s list will soon be closed as far as the company sailing June 3 is concerned, but with a house of one hundred rooms he is prepared to accommodate a large number of students. Most of them will go to profit by study with the Italian maestro di canto, Signor Francesco Cortesi. There will also be a special class of students of drawing and painting taught by Alfred Houghton Clark, of New York, and the school will include a limited number who go for a summer rest rather than exacting study, and will undertake only a language or a course of art lectures. With a long list of competent instructors the curriculum is so varied and attractive as to suit students in many lines of work.

Mr. Walker’s school is the only one of its kind in Europe. It has passed through all the preparatory stages and vicissitudes natural to such an enterprise and is now on a solid basis and has demonstrated its worth. Florence is its home by every right and for every reason. The climate is lovely, the heat far front excessive, and, indeed, in no part of Italy is there such torrid heat to be found as here on our Atlantic seaboard. Then Florence contains all that students of any art need to stimulate the imagination and open all temperamental avenues of expression. Finally, the conditions found there enable Mr. Walker to offer all the advantages of his school at an almost incredibly low rate, at the same time giving thorough daily instruction in most branches.

Francis Walker, after several years of arduous and scholarly work under the management of a lecture bureau, has now been settled one season in New York, as a teacher of singing and has already shown his worth as a trainer of voices and gained a position strong and unique. With Signor Cortesi he shares the work of superintending the vocal teaching during the term in Florence, and supplements the maestro’s experience and his acquaintance with the best traditions with a knowledge of the peculiar needs of American singers. and a keen appreciation of their difficulties with the Italian and English languages. Ten weeks may seem a brief time in which to afford students much aid, but it must be remembered that individual difficulties are taken in hand at once and eradicated or lessened by reasonable teaching, and that daily private lessons for ten weeks mean the formation of good habits of tone'production in place of wrong ones, so that the benefit is continuous and far reaching. No one better than Mr. Walker understands that the process of training a voice is not one of imparting either facts or theories to the intelligence of the student, but most distinctly that of giving him, by constant repetition of right results, the power to reproduce those results at will.

New York has no more attractive studio than the spacious one in the van Dyck, built for Mr. Walker last autumn, and it has been the scene of many musicales in which the celebrated baritone, and his friends and pupils have taken part in the presence of crowds of the city's music lovers. Special receptions have also been given to artists visiting New York, as in the recent case of Mme. Eleanor Cleaver and Ingo Simon. These singers, by the way, have been for three years studying with Delle Sedie, in Paris, and learning that he and Signor Cortesi were old friends and advocates of the best Italian traditions and methods, they were not long in deciding to join Mr. Walker's school on the close of the present London season, and profit by a summer with the Florentine master.

The Musical Courier, April 30, 1902: 35. 

*****

On Wednesday morning, May 5, Francis Walker died at his home in San Diego, Cal., having been a sufferer from heart trouble for several years although not actually incapacitated until two months ago. Funeral services were conducted Friday morning, May 7, cremation following. Mr. Walker was unmarried, but leaves three brothers, C. P. Walker and J. M. Walker of Winnipeg. Canada, and F. P. Walker of Fargo, N. D.; a sister, Mrs. W. B. Ruggles, of Scotia, N. Y., and a number of nephews and nieces.

Before his retirement from public life in 1903, Mr. Walker was one of the best known and most admired baritones on the American concert stage. He determined to become a singer while still a mere lad, and studied as best he could in the small western town where he lived. Later he went to Chicago where he studied with Dr. George F. Root, followed by years of concert work and appearances in light opera, a field in which he was particularly successful. But he was not satisfied with the progress he was making in music, and accordingly went to Italy. Late in December of 1882, he reached Florence, where he spent five years of study under the guidance of Cavaliers Francesco Cortesi. 

The Musical Courier, May 20, 1920: 41. 

*****

One can scarcely pick up a musical journal in these days without finding some remarks about how to sing or how not to sing, some going into the matter very thoroughly from a physiological standpoint, etc., etc., and then one constantly hears of some one who has discovered just how the art of singing is accomplished and has an infallible guide for all who would wish to learn. 

Most of the stuff that one reads on the subject of the “only method,” etc., is pure buncombe, and those who want to learn should deliberately forget about all that they read on the subject. 

I have in mind now a man who was here this season for study, who was so full of theories that no one could teach him anything. He had books without end, and was continually quoting what this one or that one said, and, in fact, I am afraid that he paid more attention to the “method” as he had tried to learn it from books than to what his master had to say. 

Then there are those who have found various “helps" for placing the tone, position and the like. 

I never had any singing lessons in my life before I came to Italy, but I had sung a great deal Semi-professionally in church and in concerts, and have had teachers tell me to do thus and so to improve the quality of tone. Once upon a time when I was working up something for a concert the conductor, who claimed to be an authority on voice building, gave me this sort of an exercise. Said he, “bend over until your hands nearly touch the floor, but let the body be perfectly limp and free, and then sing "la, loo, la, loo,” this to get the tone “out” he said. 

I was listening to a teacher once, a man who sings very well and ought to know how he does it, but his directions to a scholar while practicing a song were, “Now raise the larynx or now lower the larynx'' I asked this man once with whom he studied Oh! I studied vowels with Professor ——, and consonants with Professor ——, he said. 

Another man whom I know has his scholars use a different vowel sound for each note of the scale, and so on. 

I once read a book on the voice and how it is produced, written by men who are undoubtedly experts so far as the physiological part goes, and later I bought a book of vocal exercises written by them on the physiological basis, and I practiced faithfully the vocalises as set forth, but did not see that they did me any good whatever. 

A writer of prominence, one of whose articles I was reading a few days ago, speaking of the method as taught by the old Italian masters, said that “they understood the art of teaching people to sing, but did not know anything about the principles of voice production.” Well, Va bene, say I, for the old masters; give me first the man who will teach me how to sing, and if I never learn why I sing well, it will not make a great deal of difference. 

As I said before I have sung a great deal all of my life, and thought that I sang fairly well, although I was concious that there was something lacking in the quality of tone that I produced, and some trying things in the baritone repertoire I could not sing at all, because my voice would not last long enough. When I decided to come to Italy to study, I made up my mind first that I would proceed as if I knew nothing and had no idea on the subject of singing, but would £nd entirely on the masters and do just as I was told. 

And then, as to the maestro, I came over here to study with Sig. Francesco Cortesi, as I was confident that he was thoroughly competent, having known of several who, when they went to him, were poor singers and when they finished were artists. 

Sig. Cortesi is a veritable master of the old school, having graduated from the conservatory at Bologna when Rossini was its president, and in those days a musical education embraced all branches, and especially the art of singing. 

Think of the teachers in our fair land and how few of them ever made a sudy of singing before they began teaching. One young man I know of, who never, to any one's knowledge, studied singing at all tho' an amateur organist of some ability is now teaching successfully, from a business standpoint. Another I heard of last summer, who for many years was a leading violinist in New York, and another was a piano teacher of prominence, but now they are giving vocal lessons at, of course, $5 or $6 per lesson. 

When I commenced the lessons, I was told first to go every day for one-half hour, and all that the master said about my voice was that it was too open and the tone should be “covered” or gotten “forward” more. These terms I had heard many times, but never understood the significance of them until I was given exercises to sing which compelled me to ‘‘cover.’’ 

What struck me at first was the absolute simplicity of the method; nothing mysterious about it, no suggestions as to “bending double,” pinching the nose shut or any directions except to stand erect, hands folded behind the back and sing ah “naturale.” 

The first exercise consisted of octave skips, commencing at A below middle C, sung to the syllable la staccato, and sung three times until E above middle C was reached. After that came an exercise consisting of an octave skip as above, to the syllable ah, and from the top of the scale rapidly down and then up again; and then scales in various modes to limber up the voice, get a good breathing method, etc. At every lesson the scales would occupy ten or fifteen minutes. The next step were solfeggi, which were sung first to the syllable la, and afterward to the do, re, mi, etc., this to get elasticity of the mouth. 

The do, re, mi exercises bothered me greatly for awhile, as in Italy C, C# or Cflat is always sung as do, but I finally managed so that I could rattle off the syllables pretty well. 

At first it seemed pretty hard to “cover" so much, and it seemed as if my voice sounded very nasal, and it was also very difficult to get through a half-hour lesson with comfort, and I was not allowed to practice anything at home except a few scales, for say ten minutes before I went to my lessons. 

Some teachers, whom I know and have heard of, get their pupils started on something to sing. “A little song” right away, but not so with the maestro, for two weeks or more I did nothing but sing scales and solfeggi, and then I was given two little short things, one by Rossini, from the Cenerentola, and the other by Mercadante. Then I got nothing new for two or three weeks more but by this time I was told to buy a simple aria, by Donizetti, and later took up a very florid aria, by Mercadante. By and by the old Italian method began to show its effect. I began to feel and hear more color in my voice, and it began to “come’’ much easier, and after four or five months of work I found that I could sing without fatigue, music that before I came here seemed to me to be cruelly difficult and well-nigh impossible for a baritone. 

But enough about myself, else I will be accused of bragging. 

And how is it all done? Well, I say simplicity personified no mystery whatever; no model of a larynx to show how one's throat should work; in fact, all thought of the throat would seem to be eliminated, and all effort concentrated on putting the tone forward or in the head, by simply wanting it to go there assisted, of course, by vocalises that help to accomplish the desired result. 

But there is another branch of the old Italian method which is almost unknown in the United States, and that is the “lingua Italiana,” and it is certainly a great help in voice placing, and the pronunciation must be good to get the best results. We Americans and, in fact, all English speaking people are apt to articulate either in a throaty or nasal way, but in speaking Italian as “she should be spoke,” clear and distinct enunciation must be secured, and the quicker that is accomplished the easier will it be to sing freely. 

Now a word to those who would come here to study, if any there be who read these few lines of mine. 

Get a room for the winter with plenty of sunshine, as Italian stoves are none to good and it is hard to make an Italian servant understand that we Americans want a warm room. Don't go to a fashionable hotel or pension, as there will be too much going on in the society line. Don't go out every night in the week expecting to be strong and fresh all of the time for the musical work. The body must be fresh if the throat would be. 

Do not practice, in any manner, except as prescribed by the master. I know of a young man who was so enamoured of a fine tenor whom he heard sing very often, that he continually kept at work reaching for high tenor notes until he had a sore and strained throat, and then he had to stop entirely for a month or more. 

Do not be in a hurry to get your voice placed. Have patience and follow implicitly the instructions of the master; eventually complete satisfaction will follow. Last of all, do not go to a poor teacher; there are as many of that class here as in any city of the same size in America, I think.

Florence, Italy. 

—Thomas Pennell, "The Old Italian Method as Taught by a Master of the Old School," The Musician, November, 1897: 301. 

*****

A school desiring the services of a faithful, conscientious teacher of singing, according to the best traditions of the old Italian meihod, would do well to correspond with Mr. Thomas J. Pennell, 20 Cliff street, New Rochelle, N.Y. Mr. Pennell will be glad to arrange for private lessons at his studio in New York City during the coming season. Appointments for personal interview may be made by addressing him at his residence as above. Mr. Pennell is a pupil of Cavaliere Francesco Cortesi, of Florence, Italy.  

Christian Work: Illustrated Family Newspaper, September 14, 1899: 435. 

*****

Francesco Cortesi, insegnante di canto nel R. Istituto Musicale di Firenze, morì il 3 gennaio scorso. Era nato nel 1826. Apparteneva ad una famiglia di artisti. Suo padre fu un celebre coreografo; sua sorella, Adele, fu una tra le più reputate cantanti del suo tempo e si ritirava dalla scena per unirsi in matrimonio col banchiere Servadio.

Francesco Cortesi e il senese Pinsuti avevano udito a Bologna le lezioni di composizione, date da Gioachino Rossini, direttore e insegnante in quel Liceo.

Il Cortesi scrisse varie opere, tra le altre La colpa del cuore, eseguita al Regio di Torino nel 1872 e anche al Pagliano di Firenze, in quest'opera, ch’ebbe lieto successo, i critici riscontrarono molti pregi. La Casa Editrice Ricordi ha pubblicato varie pregevoli composizioni dell'esimio maestro. Per un lungo periodo di anni, il Cortesi fu maestro concertatore in alcuni dei principali teatri d'Italia. Era ormai fra i decani dei l'insegnamento musicale. Fece ottimi alunni. Come estetico, professò principi larghissimi.

Ars et labor: musica e musicisti, 1904: 121.

February 8, 2016

Fraulein Schoen-René Left Last Evening for New York

Fraulein Schoen-René in Minneapolis 
Fraulein Schoen-René left last evening for New York to sail next week on the Friedrich der Grosse for Europe. She will go to London to be the guest of Madam Melba, and where she will also call on Manuel García. The famous teacher will soon celebrate his 102 birthday, and Fraulien Schoen-René makes an annual visit to his house her rule. From London she will go to Paris to be present at the birthday celebration of Madame Viardot García, her former teacher, and also meet Scott Woolworth and introduce him to Madame García. A trip to the Rhine, where members of her family live, will be followed by a visit to Bayreuth to attend the performance of "Der Ring der Nibelung," "Tristan und Isolde," and "Parsifal," a visit to Salzburg for the "Mozart" festival, which will be conducted by Felix Motler and Lilli Lehmann. 

George Walker in Minneapolis, one of the pupils of Fraulein Schoen-René, is to make his debut in the Royal Opera house, Berlin, Sept 8, in the role Marcell in "The Huguenots" and Fraulein will be present at the performance, as she will be visiting her sisters at that time. 

Dr. Robert Bachman of the United States Navy, who is on recruiting duty in Minneapolis, has taken Fraulein Schoen-René's house on Grove place for four months. He will entertain his sister, Miss Bachman and a friend from Pittsburgh for some time. 

The Minneapolis Journal, Sunday, July 1, 1906: 4. 

****

Once, in Garcia's studio, I was given a most instructive lesson in the diagnosing of voices. He asked me to listen with him to two singers who had come from America. They were under the impression that they had studied with a teacher who was a representative of the Garcia technique, but in the singing that followed there was no trace of it. Manuel Garcia then asked them to sing some exercises and vocalizations, which seemed to them a strange request. It was a most amazingly amateurish exemplification of tone production. When asked to project the pure Italian vowels, they could not do it. One a baritone had a very throaty voice, and the other a tenor, sang with a nasal quality. The climax came when the poor fellows asked whether they might take lessons from him, during the few weeks of their stay in London. "No, no," he exclaimed emphatically, "I do not want to commit a sin!" Then the tenor asked in a disagreeable way, "That means dismissed?" "Yes," said Garcia, soberly, "and with the advice to give up the idea of a professional career." The two left not very encouraged. 

In silence I looked at the Maestro and observed his speechless dismay. Tears of sympathy filled my eyes. Glancing up at rne, he said, "Yes, my child, that is the only answer tears." Fortunately, his sadness was changed to joy by a knock at the door. 

Plançon, thinking the Maestro was alone when he saw the young men come out of the studio, entered and greeted him with a jolly and smiling countenance. Garcia was delighted. "Sing me," he begged, "a few of your beautiful tones, so that may be sure that correct singing still exists." Seated at the piano, he sang scores and scales. Manuel Garcia's expression lost its discouraged sadness and became radiant, as he exclaimed, "That is singing through the mask and not through the nose! The nose is the waste-basket of the brain but not considered for resonance." (Mask, in musical language, is used to express all the resonance cavities of the face, as opposed to the cavities of the nose only.) Suddenly turning to me, he grumbled, "Why do they sing and speak with that nasal quality in America?" I, who also detest the ugly nasal speaking voice and had fought against it so long, answered, "Master, it comes from ignorance from not knowing that mask and nose are two separate resonances." "Yes," he said, "I think you are right. God may forgive them, but I cannot." 

Garcia sometimes had a very humorous way of expressing himself. I remember his once saying, "A basso with a low C and a tenor with a high C, both are socially impossible!" 

On his hundredth birthday, March 17, 1905, Manuel Garcia was in good health and high spirits. The anniversary was made an important occasion by admirers of many different nationalities. He had already, by order of the King of Sweden, been created "Chevalier de L'Ordre de Mérite," in recognition of his services to Jenny Lind and other great Swedish artists, and been made an honorary M.D. of the University of Konigsberg, and "correspondent" of the University of Stockholm. 

The grand old man began his activities on that day by driving to Buckingham Palace where Edward VII decorated him with the Insignia of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Leaving the Palace, he drove to Hanover Square, where, at the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, more honors were conferred on him, both for his musical achievements and his medical research. 

There, also, by order of the Kong of Spain, he was invested with the Royal Order of Alphonse XII. The Prussian Minister for Public Instruction, on behalf of Emperor Wilhelm II, presented him with the Great Gold Medal for Science. Addresses followed by representatives of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Music, and universities and medical societies of many countries. After this, Garcia was presented with his portrait by Sargent, commissioned by his pupils, friends, and numerous admirers. 

At the close of the ceremonies, he made a speech of thanks, and then the entire assemblage filed past to do him homage. With all his particular friends, the old gentleman shook hands. 

That same evening Garcia attended a banquet in his honor at the Hotel Cecil, where he heard and responded to more speeches. 

Two days later there was a private celebration, at which he received a large and elaborate birthday cake. Mine. Viardot and Mme. Marchesi were present, both at that time about eighty years of age. Garcia humorously chided them, saying he was astonished that they had not prepared a program of songs and duets in his honor. 

Neither Garcia's admirers, so anxious to pay tribute to him, nor the sovereigns who had issued the royal commands for him to appear at these exhausting ceremonies, seemed to have taken into consideration the possibility of overtiring the old man, and Garcia, who considered himself indefatigable, would never have protested. His exertions wearied him, however, more than he realized, for when I wrote him at that time, asking permission to come again to him for advice the following summer, my letter was answered by his wife (the wife of his second marriage), who told me that he was ill with influenza brought on by overtaxing himself on his birthday. She said that his doctors advised him to retire, but that he was sure he would recover and again resume his professional life at one hundred years of age! 

In the year of 1906, I received another letter from Mme. Garcia, telling me that her husband had regained his health and that I should come to see him. I made my preparations to go to London. That same night I had a strange premonition. I dreamed that upon entering his house I saw Manuel Garcia lying on the sofa in the little reception room which I so well remembered. Before him stood Brahms and Beethoven, looking down upon his body, which was dwindling away to a mere nothing. 

On the way to the boat, the following morning, I bought a newspaper. In great letters, the headlines of the front page announced: 

MANUEL GARCIA, THE GREATEST SINGING TEACHER 
OF THE WORLD, AGED 101 1/2, Is DEAD 

With a shock I realized that my dream had become a reality, and I embarked for Paris to see Pauline Viardot, his sister. 

—Anna E. Schoen-René, America's Musical Inheritance: Memories and Reminiscences (G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York) 1941: 109-112.

****

Anna E. Schoen-René specialized in the art of teaching men with Manuel García from 1901-1905, having been a student of his sister Pauline Viardot-García beginning in 1889. Additional information regarding "singing in the mask" and the teachings of the Gracias can be found in Hidden in Plain Sight: The Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method Based upon the Famous School of Manuel García (2013).  

Note: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, it would seem that the "Felix Motler" in the first article was probably "Felix Mottl" —reporters of this period not always getting things right. As it is, I had already changed the reporter's spelling of "Lehman" to its correct form "Lehmann" when making this post. Was the original information relayed on the "new" telephone or jotted down without checking? It happens more than you think. 

February 1, 2016

The Great Schoen-René

Exposition Hall in Minneapolis where Schoen-René presented concerts with leading artists  

AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, there lived an extraordinary woman in Minneapolis. She wore a mannish jacket always, while her hair was cut short. Wherever she went she was accompanied by a great Dane, Thieras, a dog which had been sired by Prince Bismarck's great Dane, also named Thieras. She was authoritative in manner, brooked no contradiction, and spoke English with a decided accent. You suspected she was German, which was, indeed, the case. If you talked to her for five minutes, the conversation would almost inevitably run to music, and you would wonder how under the sun any woman living in 1900 Minneapolis could possibly know so much about music and musicians. 

For she knew all the great musicians of the day—the De Reszkes, Calvé, Nordica, Gadski, Melba, Sembrich, Lilli Lehmann, Pauline Viardot-García, Campanari, and countless others. In fact, she had entertained most of them at her home, a brown-stone affair on the island. You could see at a glance that she had been superlatively well educated in music. She was decidedly Old World, and her brilliant eyes would flash as she would tell you of her "mission" to bring some real understanding of music to the pioneer city which had grown up around St. Anthony Falls. 

Everyone in Minneapolis knew her. She was the great Schoen-René, impresario, vocal teacher, commanding personality, musical evangelist, civic institution. She had come to Minneapolis only a few years before, and her coming had been quite accidental. Having been brought over to America to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, her health had been broken down, and her vocal career had been cut short. So she had come out to the (to her) strange and far-away city of Minneapolis, where a sister of hers was teaching German at the University of Minnesota. Getting a fresh grip on life out here, she entered vigorously into the musical life of the city and was shortly dominating it. With Schoen-René to participate was to dominate. For a time she had a studio on the site of the present Leader store, then moved to the Metropolitan Music Building next door to the present Dyckman—or, perhaps, about where Pete Juster now flourishes. 

It was difficult for Schoen-René to tolerate rivals in the musical field, but there was one musician here, also German-born, whose education was fully as comprehensive as hers . . . in fact, indeed, more comprehensive. His name was Emil Oberhoffer. Rivalry between the two soon took the form of an epic feud. Minneapolis was still in its age of innocence, and the town was divided into two camps. If you were in the Schoen-René camp, you were practically supposed to shoot anybody in the Oberhoffer camp at sight. And if you were in the Oberhoffer camp, you were practically supposed to shoot anybody in the Schoen-René camp at sight. What was had in Minneapolis of the day was a Montague-Capulet musical world. The two camps warred over choral societies, university activities, operatic festivities, and what have you . . . in fact, anything that musicians could war over. 

The orchestra was just in the offing, and both wanted it, but Oberhoffer got it. Schoen-René's disgust knew no bounds. Up and down Minneapolis she proclaimed her opinion that Oberhoffer was a lout and a musical illiterate who didn't know a rondo from a hydrant. Oberhoffer's opinion of Schoen-René was equally low and he doubted if Schoen-René had ever heard of Wagner. It was a wonderful war while it lasted, but along about 1907 Schoen-Rene returned to Germany, and hostilities gradually died away, Oberhoffer being left in possession of the field. 

Last week Schoen-René, still a nightly force in the musical world, died in New York. Minneapolitans with long memories will inevitably go back to the early days when the doughty, powerful, militant personality was impressing itself so strongly on the life of the city. Unquestionably here was one of the really great characters of Minneapolis. 

—William J. McNally. "The Great Schoen-René." Minneapolis Tribune, November 21, 1942: 4.

****

ANNA E. SCHOEN-RENÉ (1864-1942), known as the "Prussian General" to her students, became a student of Pauline Viardot-García in Paris after first studying with Francesco Lamperti in Milan. Having been prepared for an operatic career by Viardot-García, Schoen-René traveled to New York City in 1893 in order to make her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, but became seriously ill during the crossing. She spent the next three years recovering at her sister’s house in Minneapolis, where she began teaching voice. Viardot-García subsequently sent Schoen-René to her brother Manuel in London for a special course in teaching men which resulted in Schoen-René becoming the García's leading exponent. Schoen-René became an American citizen in 1906, taught in Berlin until the end of the First World War, then returned to New York City where she joined the Juilliard School faculty in 1925. Her memoir America's Musical Inheritance: Memories and Reminiscences was published in 1941. Considered the leading voice teacher of her time, Schoen-René's students included Lucie Manén, Florenzio Constantino, Risé Stevens, Mack Harrell, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Judith Doniger, Lanny Ross, Ludwig Wüllner, Putman Griswold, Ruth Berg, Elizabeth Delius, Mady Christians, Richard Malkin, Viola Philo, Robert Geis, Robert Parker, Arthur de Voss, Marshall Bartholomew, Ruth Schaffner, Alice Howland, Eleanor Steele, Hall Clovis, Hallie Stiles, Arturo di Fillipi, Celius Dougherty, Alice Sjoselius, Lillian Flickinger, George Meader, Jane Pickens, Sonia Essen, Paul Robeson, Anny Konetzni, Thelma Votipka, Lillian Blauvelt, Lanny Ross, Florence Easton, Karin Branzell, Florence Austral, Charles Kullman, Marie Tiffany, Maria von Maximovitch, Julius Huehn, Eva Gauthier, George Britton and Margaret Harshaw.