Price: $185.00

FINE CONDITION

SOFIE MENTER & DAVID POPPER

Two page letter signed by the pianist, Baden-Baden, February 12, 1890.  The letter is written to William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915), an organist, tenor and pedagogue who at the time was a Director and Treasurer of the Royal Philharmonic Society.  We offer with a beautifully reproduced engraving of the pianist perfect for display with the letter.

The pianist was well aligned with the Royal Philharmonic Society having awarded her honorary membership in 1884.  Menter asks Cummings if he is coming to Leipzig.  She mentions she will be travelling to Berlin and Leipzig and that she would be in Frankfurt on the 19th and Leipzig on the 20th and later said she will be in Frankfurt from the 17th to the 19th for concerts.

The pianist would appear in London in April and May, 1890 for concerts.  We were able to locate three concerts she gave whilst in London that year, on April 19, she played the Schumann concerto with the Crystal Palace Orchestra with August Manns conducting.  The concerto was followed by four curtain calls, she played three encores, a piece by Scarlatti, a Liszt Hungarian rhapsody and Liszt’s piano transcription of Beethoven’s “Wonn der Wehmuth”.  The second part of the concert she performed her own Fantasia on Hungarian Melodies for piano and orchestra.  The second concert she performed at the Crystal Palace was as an accompanist to the opera bass Charles Manners.  The assumption would be that she was given free reign to liberally insert solo piano pieces.  But it was a tradition by that point for leading pianists to act as accompanists for solo recitals there for voice, violin and cello.  The third concert was with the Royal Philharmonic Society under Frederick Cowen on May 22nd, Cummings company where she performed the Weber Konzertstücke for piano and orchestra, followed by a solo performance of the Liszt Hungarian rhapsody #5 in E minor.   

The playwright George Bernard Shaw saw Menter for the first time at the Crystal Palace on April 19th.  He immediately developed a crush on Menter as stated in his review of the performance under his music critic nom de plume Corno di Bassetto in The Star newspaper.  His words verbatim on April 25, 1890.

I confess to a weakness, not altogether musical for Madame Sophie Menter.  There is an enormous exhilaration and sense of enlarged life and freedom communicated to me by her superlative victorious power and adroitness.  I worship the magnetic muscle: I admire her puissant hands: I expand in the reflection of her magnificent strength, her suppleness, her swiftness, her inexhaustible, indefatigable energy…….to the superb Sophie, solid, robust, healthy, with her mere self conscious an example of sufficient delight to her playing Schumann was like bringing a sensitive invalid into the fields on a sunshiny day and making him play football for the good of his liver.

Shaw then went on to write a dramatic narrative of what Menter would have said to Schumann about his concerto.  Shaw was not particularly impressed with the work, nor Schumann who he goes on to describe as anemic and weak.  His viewpoint was that Menter was better than the concerto itself.  He would later write about Menter,

Produces an effect of magnificence which leaves Paderewski far behind. 

Shaw was a tough and acerbic critic who was quick to point out musicians flaws, so this was the highest praise!

Perfect for display.

 

 

 

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