May 6, 2010

Herman Klein in New York

Those who know the name Herman Klein  (he preferred the English pronunciation of his given name) mostly likely think of his extensive contribution to The Gramophone, his many books on singers,  as well as his being the editor of Manuel Garcia's Hints on Singing (see previous post).   However, it is less remembered that Klein was a teacher of voice, which brought him to New York in December of 1901 after having taught at the Guildhall School of Music in London for fifteen years.   Newspapers articles heralded his arrival with letters from the great Maestro, the famous tenor Jean de Reszke, and the illustrious Adelina Patti.

Klein opened a studio at 120 West 71St. Street, and stayed there a year before moving uptown to 154 West 77th St.  His first residence (a mere two blocks from my apartment) lost its stoop at some point, while the second has fared better: many of the original exterior and interior details are still intact. 

120 West 71st St - NYC

Mon Abri, Cricklewood

My Dear Mr. Klein, 
I hear you are going to live in America and to establish yourself there as a teacher of singing.  At a moment when the art of singing is in a condition of decadence, I am glad to be able to express my confidence in your ability to carry on those traditions which I imparted to you during a period of four years.  It is gratifying to me to know that the great American people appreciate the sound theories of the old school and they will assuredly find in you one among its few capable exponents.  Wishing you every success, believe me.

Yours very sincerely,

M. Garcia

154 West 77th St- NYC

Victoria Lodge, Deanville, August 12, 1901
My Dear Friend, 
I learn with great pleasure that it is your intention to teach singing in New York.  No one possesses more thoroughly than yourself the true and pure traditions of the "bel canto," or those of the Wagnerian drama, and it is be the fusion of these two schools that you will be able to render important service to American students.  As regards the method of placing the voice, the art of breathing &, we are absolutely in accord.  There remains only for me to wish you the success that you merit, and which has so often obtained notice in England.  Accept my dear friend, as always, the assurance of my devoted sentiments.  

Jean de Reszke

CRAIG-Y-NOS CASTLE, November 12, 1901

Dear Mr. Klein:

I have received your letter of November 8, announcing your approaching departure for New York, and your intention to settling in that city as a teacher of singing. I think the Americans are to be most heartily congratulated, and I feel sure they will appreciate your excellent method and your great musical ability. I remember quite well studying two of Wagner's songs with you some years ago. Wishing you every success, and hoping to see you in London before you sail, with kind remembrances from myself and my husband, believe me, Yours very sincerely,

Adelina Patti Chederstöm

Klein taught in New York for eight years before returning to London, sailing on the Minnewaska- a new steamer for the Atlantic Transport Line- in June 1909, with six of his New York students in tow.   He wrote about his experience in Unmusical New York: a brief criticism of triumphs, failures and abuses (1910).  The title alone suggests a certain bitterness.  This may be a result of his failed attempt as first chairman of the National Association of Singing Teachers (later renamed as The New York Singing Teachers Association) to introduce examinations and certification into the profession.

New Yorkers would have none of it.  

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