December 1, 2010

Manuel Garcia the Nonagenarian

The Musical Courier, 1898

Manuel Garcia is a small man, thin and wiry, and now bent somewhat from the shoulders. He is smaller and more slender of frame than Madam Viardot. His face is long and thin, with the sallow tinge that bespeaks his Spanish blood.  His eyes are lit by intelligence and keen, lively, interested penetration.

Like Madame Viardot, there is nothing old, tumble-down or heavy about M. Garcia.  Except for the slight stoop where his ninety-four years have made their home, he is young, alert, bright, interested, quick and merry as at thirty. To hear him run up and down stairs is a marvel; to see him step about through his rooms with grace and light agility is to take a lesson:  to receive his gallant and light attentions is to make you feel at court.

There is a slight family resemblance between him and the Viardot we know so well through these pages.  His manner of conversation is still more like hers. There is the spirit, life, light, delicate cynicism, uplifted nobility and surprising interest in people and things which make a talk with the great artist memorable.

“Neither can one say who is going to be a representative teacher. The faithful pupil may, after leaving, unite new thought of his own coining, and tradition be completely changed. Many who have been pupils do not at all represent the professor who trained and developed them.”

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