March 5, 2012

García's Singing Lesson

Manuel García (1805-1906)

Stories of Manuel Garcia, the famous centenarian musician, who died a few days ago in London, are in order. An indomitable will power gave him great ascendency over each pupil: his science and cleverness enabled him to know at once if he had to deal with a pupil of promise or not, and unlikely apsiranis were not allowed to waste his time and theirs. An acquaintance describes a typical incident: "I remember a notable case in point. A very rich woman offered the master any price if he would only teach her daughter. He refused, knowing well he could never obtain serious work from her; but as the mother persisted, he hit upon a compromise. He asked the women to be present during a lesson, and he undertook, if the girl still wished to learn singing after hearing it taught, to teach her. The lesson began. The pupil, who seemed to the listeners an already finished singer, had to repeat passage after passage of the most difficult exercises before the master was satisfied; he insisted upon the minutest attention to every detail of execution. Mother and daughter exchanged horrified glances and looked on pityingly. The lesson finished, the master bowed the women out, and, in passing the pupil. the young girl whispered to her. "It would kill me!" Senor García, returning from the door, said contentedly, "They will not come again; thank you, mon enfant, you sang well."

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