§ Lady Macfarren, Recollections of Dr. Joachim

I first saw Joachim at a vistit Professor Macfarren and I paid to his uncle, Mr. Figdor, residing at Tulse Hill. It was a grey, warm afternoon, and I saw a tall, genial youth, who I was told was a great violin player. I had a long game of ball with him, several times resumed, on the lawn, whilst Professor Macfarren and his uncle walked up and down on the paths at the sides of the garden. There was no music, and I remember no other people.

The song ‘Kleine Blumen, kleine Blätter,’ mentioned in your article, recalls to me that Joachim said he would like to write a song for me, and I looked out several sets of words. I must have told him of my regret that I could not sing Beethoven’s song to the above words, which I was very fond of, as it was too high for me and does not lend itself favourably to transposition. I have a dim remembrance of my surprise and pleasure to see these words set by Joachim for me. The copy was inserted into Professor Macfarren’s album.

We had returned from America in 1850, and in the first days of the Crystal Palace concerts I remember our hearing Joachim play the Beethoven Concerto and his joining us afterwards. We had our (then) little girl with us, and Joachim swung her on his shoulder to take her to look at the bears, pronouncing the word as rhyming with tears, which amused us all.

In 1854 or ’55 we took a small house in a large piece of ground in Alpha Road, St. John’s Wood, and there we saw the most we ever did of Joachim, of whom I treasure a store of delightful recollections. He was fond of the place, its shrubs and trees. He loved every spring to see the lovely blossom of an old medlar tree; took the liveliest interest in all our doings, down to some pigeons in an old shed, where he would go up a ladder to see all about them. He always brought his violin, took our early dinner with us, and if Professor Macfarren was writing anything new he wished to hear it, often playing a voice or solo part from my transcription. In successive years he brought many works to us that were appearing in Germany of Bach and others, his own fine Hungarian Concerto and other things. He played them over and over again with the earnest enthusiasm we all had noted so long. Those were happy, memorable occasions. Many a book I heard of only from him, and he often noted what we were reading in English.

In my memory he stands as one of the dearest of friends, who gave me much invaluable musical advice, for which I shall remain indebted whilst I live.

— Lady Macfarren, Recollections of Dr. Joachim, The Musical Times (October 1, 1907): 662.

JJ Reutlinger Paris Old BNF PS2


April 17 [1901]

Lunched with Felix Moscheles. He had just finished and sent off a picture which so delighted Robert Browning that the poet became its godfather and presented it with a handsome sonnet. Amongst other guests were Joachim and Herbert Gladstone. The former was in great force. It is strange to see a man who has lived to become a classic and is associated with severity and sublimity so genial and so good a story-teller. He told us how he was getting his hair cut in Kensington, and the hairdresser proposed to snip off a certain lock which the violinist always wears behind his ear. If it is not long enough to fit into that resting-place, it falls over his forehead as he bends over the fiddle and disturbs him playing. So he is careful to keep it long.

“I should have it short,” said the hairdresser.

“Oh, no,” said Joachim, alarmed.

“Oh, yes,” the barber insisted. “Have it cut off. It makes you look like a philosopher ——”

“The barber was evidently thinking of Locke,” interrupted a frivolous guest.”

“It makes you look like a philosopher,” continued Joachim, ignoring the interruption, “or one of them German fiddlers who come over.”

— Sir Henry William Lucy, The Diary of a Journalist, New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1922: 134.

§ Harry B Cohn, the Montreal violinist and critic, was in Berlin for several days. While here he attended a concert of the celebrated Joachim Quartet. Asked how he liked their playing, Mr. Cohn replied: “I fully realized that there is only one quartet on earth—the Kneisel Quartet, of Boston.”

— The Musical Courier, New York (5 March 1902): 35.

§ One day his friend (and the friend of Thackeray), the late Rev. W. H. Brookfield, took him to the house of the great philosopher at Chelsea [Carlyle], and introduced him as the eminent violinist, &c. Brookfield had another engagement, so he said: ‘I’ll leave you two together,’ and departed. As Carlyle was just about to take his morning ‘constitutional’ he asked Joachim to accompany him. During a very long walk in Hyde Park the Chelsea sage talked incessantly about Germany—the kings of Prussia, Moltke, Bismarck, the war &c. At last Joachim thought that he ought to say something, so he innocently asked his irascible companion: ‘Do you know Sterndale Bennett?’ ‘No,’ replied Carlyle—(pause)—’I don’t care generally for musicians. They are an empty, windbaggy sort of people.’

— The Musical Times, London 775/48 (1 September 1907): 577.

§ Mr. Ap’M. […] has been favored with an anecdote of Joseph Joachim, in Teuton:—

Der Violinvirtuose Joachim wollte in diesem Winter in Hannover das Schlittschuhlausen [sic] noch erlernen fiel dabei tüchtig hin und sein Lehrmeister, der Bahnwärter, sagte ihm: “Ja, ja so licht is dat nicht, als Viggelin speelen.”

[This winter in Hanover, the violin virtuoso Joachim wished to learn to skate, and fell down hard. His teacher, the railroad signalman, said to him: “Ja, ja. It’s not as easy as playing the fiddle.”]

The Musical World, London (23 April 1864): 269.

§ Once at a dinner with his intimate friends, the sisters Anna and Julie von Asten, Joachim asked “Do tell me why you have no red wine on your table to-day?”

One of the hostesses replied, “My dear Joachim, you told us last time you were here that you did not like wine with your dinner, and therefore we ordered Munich beer.”

Joachim: “To-day I want some wine very much, and I think you would do well to follow my example, for depend upon it wine is much wholesomer than beer.” Naturally the ladies hastened to fulfill the wishes of their guest, and commissioned their servant to purchase wine from a neighbouring wine-merchant. With a hearty laugh Joachim stopped them, and, feeling in the breast pocket of his coat, produced the following letter, which he proceeded to read to his astonished hostesses:—

“HONOURED HERR PROFESSOR,—Having heard that you move in good society, we permit ourselves to ask if you feel disposed to recommend new customers to our firm. You could in this way with great ease considerably augment your income, for on every order you would receive a commission of 25 per cent.—Faithfully yours,

“N. N., Wholesale Wine-merchant.”

The whole manœuvre with the red wine was only in order to see how far he was qualified for such a post! Amid roars of laughter the company testified to his qualifications as a wine-agent.

— Andreas Moser (Lila Durham, trans.), Joseph Joachim: A Biography (1831-1899), London: Philip Welby, 1901: 317-318.

§ … on a misty afternoon, with a young cousin, a friend of Miss Horsley’s, [the author] went to inquire for Mrs. Horsley, the mother of the family, who was dangerously ill in her house on Campden Hill. There was a garden in front of the house, and the door opened as we came up, and then some one who had been watching from the window ran out quickly from within, passing the maid who had come to the door, and saying: “I saw you crossing the garden. Come in, come, both of you. Come quietly; my mother is very, very ill. But Joachim is here, he has come to play to her; she wanted to hear him once more….” In a dim, curtained back room looking across another garden the dying mistress of the house sat propped up with cushions in a chair. Joachim stood with his back to the window, holding his violin, and we waited in silence by the doorway while he played gravely and with exquisite beauty. The sad solemn room was full of the blessing of Bach, coming like a gospel to the sufferer in need of rest.

—  Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Blackstick Papers, New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908: 60-61.

§ [Felix Weingartner] described his encounter with Joseph Joachim when, in 1907, as part of the preparation for the upcoming centennial Haydn activities, they were both invited to sit on the advisory committee of the Breitkopf & Härtel complete Haydn edition. Weingartner had had little prior contact with Joachim, who was suspicious of Weingartner’s Wagnerian and Lisztian sympathies. Non the less, at the meetings Joachim (then a man of over seventy, who would die later that year) more than once took Weingartner’s hand and asked, ‘Truly, was not Haydn indeed a great man?’

— Leon Botstein, “The consequences of presumed innocence: the nineteenth-century reception of Joseph Haydn,” Haydn Studies, W. Dean Sutcliffe (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998: 6.

§ Landon Ronald, More about Melba

A few days afterwards I received an invitation to spend Sunday at Marlow, as Joachim was staying with the prima donna. I must admit they made a funny couple together. The heavy, ponderous, learned Hungarian fiddler, used to being listened to with awe and baited breath; and the vivacious, chaffing, light-hearted prima donna, throwing all seriousness to the wind, and heartily disliking hero-worship in her own home. They were in very truth the two extremes meeting, and yet Joachim’s fascination and admiration for Melba were very real and very sincere. As far as I remember there was only one other person present, Mr. Arthur Davis, a Stock Exchange magnate, a well-known “first-nighter” and patron of concerts and opera. After dinner some informal music began. Joachim played with me several of the Brahms-Joachim Hungarian dances, and played them wonderfully. Then Melba sang a Mozart aria with violin obbligato, and eventually Joachim and I played the Kreutzer Sonata of Beethoven. Just as we were about to begin the last movement, I discovered to my dismay that we had missed the last train back to town. Davis and I had to get back, so what was to be done? There was only one way—a special train! The local station-master placed every possible obstacle in the way, but eventually, on being persuaded that the matter was of vital importance to the State, the special train was duly obtained. It was composed of one saloon carriage and an engine, and when Davis was called upon to pay for it I remember him remarking that it was the greatest and cheapest concert he had ever been to in his life.

—   Landon Ronald, Variations on a Personal Theme, London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 1922: 62-64.

§ JJ, Tovey, and Adila Fachiri

…but the most important friend she [Adila Fachiri] made among her great-uncle’s friends was undoubtedly Donald Tovey, then in his early thirties, as tall, dominating, authoritative and knowledgeable as Joachim himself.

The young Englishman was a scholar, composer, pianist, and conductor, of equal merit. Also one of the best educators in his musical generation. Joachim said of him that he knew more about music than any man living. According to Casals, Joachim also said that he could easily talk about music with Schumann and Brahms, but not with Tovey, ‘he knows too much’.

When Adila entered the room to meet this paragon for the first time, her great-uncle said, ‘I want you to meet the greatest musician since Brahms’. Tovey was kindly, however, and respectful when Adila joined the two in the Bach Double Concerto in D minor. He was tolerant and self-restrained and interested in other people’s points of view; and he and Adila became great friends. But Adila regarded him for the rest of his life with awe. It was her own word.

When Tovey only thirteen he had played a sonata of his own with Joachim: and later in his life Casals, whose declared opinions must be respected, made the startling comment: ‘The Brahms Concerto played by Schnabel was remarkable, but Tovey’s rendering was superior to his.’

— Joseph Macleod, The Sisters d’Aranyi, Boston: Crescendo: 48-49.

§ Bernard Scholz on Joachim and King George V of Hanover

Moritz Hauptmann, together with his tiny wife, had come to Hanover at the invitation of the King; he was to be accorded special honors, and the King asked Wehner, who was a close acquaintance of Hauptmann’s, what the old man might find especially pleasing. Wehner suggested the performance of one of Hauptmann’s violin sonatas, and the King agreed. Now, he had until then no idea of the existence of these sonatas; but that did not prevent him that evening from calling out to Joachim: “Dear Joachim, please play one of Hauptmann’s beautiful sonatas that I love so much; you know, of course, the one you always have to play for me!” Joachim was livid that he should have a role in such a comedy foisted upon him; later on, I had the greatest difficulty persuading him that the King had only wanted to honor the old master and give him pleasure, and that this untruth did not harm anyone. [i]

[i] Scholz/WEISEN, p. 147. On April 1, 1860, Hauptmann wrote to Hauser: “Susette [his wife], Helene, and I spent the first fortnight of March in Hanover, by special invitation of the blind King, who for a long time has wanted to know me personally. He likes some of my compositions, which are often sung to him by his new Cathedral Choir…. Their Majesties were very gracious. One evening, Joachim and Wehner played my G minor Sonata, Op. 5, and Frau Platzhoff sang the Violin Songs. His Majesty complimented my highly on the Sonata, which he thought very poetical, and he encored the Andante; the whole Sonata was repeated at a second Soirée. They were most friendly.” [Hauptman/CANTOR II, p. 140.]

§ E. Konold, Eine kleine Erinnerung an Joachim.

Während meiner Berliner Studienzeit im Winter 1900/01 wohnte ich dem Festbankett der Neuen Bach=Gesellschaft bei, das den Abschluß des damaligen Bach=Festes in Berlin bildete. Joachim, der die Seele der Veranstaltungen gewesen war, fehlte natürlich nicht. Ich hegte den begreiflichen Wunsch, den großen Geigenkünstler auch persönlich kennen zu lernen, und mein Tischnachbar, Dr. Waldemar von Wasielewski, der Sohn des bekannten Verfassers des Buches “Die Geige und ihre Meister”, war so liebenswürdig, mich dem Meister vorzustellen. Es entspann sich ein kleines Gespräch über meine musikalischen Bestrebungen, nach dessen Verlauf mich Joachim fragte, ob ich denn nicht Lust hätte, mich ganz der Musik zu widmen. “Dazu bin ich doch wohl schon zu alt,” erwiderte ich, “auf dieser Welt wird wohl nichts daraus werden; aber wenn ich einmal in den Himmel komme, so werde ich mich bei der Abteilung für Musik melden.” Mit einem gütigen und halb wehmütigen Lächeln das ich nie vergessen werde, klopfte mir Joachim auf die Schulter und sagte: “Dann melden Sie sich bei mir; ich komme vor Ihnen hin!”

Stuttgart.                                                                               E. Konold.

—Neue Musik-Zeitung, Carl Grüninger (ed.), Stuttgart-Leipzig: vol. 28, no. 23 (5 September 1907): 500.

§ William Mason, Joseph Joachim

“Leipsic, Wednesday, September 19, 1849.” Under this date I find in my diary a note to the effect that Joachim the violinist made me a friendly call at half-past ten o’clock. I had previously called on him to present a letter of introduction which I had received in Hamburg from Mortier de Fontaine.

Joachim made a marked impression upon me as being genial and unassuming in manner. He very cordially invited me to come to his room, saying, “We will play sonatas for violin and pianoforte together.” This afforded a fine opportunity to a young piano-student, and, coming as it did without solicitation or expectation, was all the more appreciated. Less than two weeks later, on September 30, I heard him play the Mendelssohn violin concerto at the first Gewandhaus concert of the season, and was enchanted with his musical interpretation of the beautiful composition.

—William Mason, Memories of a Musical Life, New York: The Century Co., 1902: 62.